Talking Oscar predictions is an easy game and as we roll into another awards season, bookmakers are already in overdrive regarding the odds on this year’s Oscar winners but such hotly tipped predictions do not always come true.
In 2012, all the talk was about George Clooney for his role in The Descendants and for months leading up to the Academy Awards he was touted as the winner in the best actor category but Jean Dujardin, who remained silent in The Artist, came along and took that honour home to France.
In 2002, Gangs of New York director Martin Scorsese was heavily backed to pick up a well deserved Oscar for best director but Roman Polanski spoiled his party when he took that accolade for his film The Pianist.
In the same year there was yet another surprise when Adrian Brody won best actor for the role of the piano player in the Polanski film. Predictions had Daniel Day Lewis as the winner of the best actor award for his psychotic portrayal of Bill the butcher in Gangs of New York.
In 1997, the academy seemed gripped by Titanic fever and decided to dish out a total of 11 awards to the film, including best picture and best director to James Cameron, but Titanic didn’t get it all its own way on the night. Hotly tipped Titanic star Gloria Stuart was beaten by Kim Basinger in the best supporting actress category for her role in L.A. Confidential.
Going all the way back to the Academy Awards of 1960 and Alfred Hitchcock was tipped to pick up his first Oscar for directing Psycho but, Billy Wilder took that award for The Apartment.
During the cinematic year of 1978, Grease was the word but two anti-war films slugged it out at the Oscars. Robert De Niro was supposed to walk away as the clear winner as best actor for his turn in The Deer Hunter but, it was John Voight who took that honour for his role as a wounded Vietnam veteran in Coming Home.
The following year at the 52nd Academy Awards, Robert Benton beat the heavily tipped Francis Ford Coppola in the category of best director. Benton’s Kramer vs. Kramer also won the award for best picture while Coppola’s Apocalypse Now would go on to win a permanent place in popular culture.
On the cusp of the new millennium the academy took on a new change in cinema in 1999. Predictions that year were completely all over the place as a new wave of cinematic change washed over the 72nd Academy Awards.
American Beauty portrayed a rather mundane suburban outlook but it managed to beat the favourite Cider House Rules for best picture. In the best actor category Denzel Washington was considered a certainty for his role in The Hurricane but Kevin Spacey took the award for his turn as the husband and father going through a mid life crises in American Beauty.
The year before saw a great shock in the form of Shakespeare in Love which beat bookmakers favourite, and heavily backed, Saving Private Ryan in the best picture stakes. The result of the best actor category also sprang a surprise when the relatively unknown Roberto Bengini beat the likes of Tom Hanks and Ian McKellan.
In 1955, at the height of McCarthyism, On the Waterfront won the best picture award while the heavily favoured and conservatively established Bing Crosby was beaten by the young and rebellious Marlon Brando for the best actor award. The surprises kept coming when Judy Garland, who was a well backed certainty to win the best actress award for her role in A Star is Born, lost out to Grace Kelly. Garland was in hospital at the time having just given birth but she was so well regarded as a certain winner for the best actress Oscar that TV cameras had been set up in her hospital room from where she could deliver her acceptance speech!
Perhaps the biggest upset in Oscar history to date occurred in 2005 when, at the 78th Academy Awards, Crash was announced as the winner of best picture beating the extremely well backed Brokeback Mountain. Ang Lee’s film had been such a heavily tipped certainty for best picture that many bookmakers actually paid out on it taking the award before the awards show even began!
So with that in mind, and this year’s Oscars just around the corner, I think I will be keeping my money in my pocket because betting on the Academy Awards is an unpredictably funny old game!
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