As we draw closer to February 28th, the Best Picture category in this year's Academy Awards has been one of the most hotly contested in years.
Although some films will win out purely because of the context in which they're released or maybe a particular actor / director is the flavour of the month, there's been more than a few decided upsets in the past twenty years. So, with that in mind, we've identified seven films from the past twenty years that need to hand back their Oscars to the Academy - or, failing that, sign them over to our choice for that particular year.
It's the right thing to do, people. Beginning at the start of the '90s...
7. DRIVING MISS DAISY (1990)
Yes, it was a nice, pleasant film about an old lady who was driven around by Morgan Freeman. Yes, it warmed the hearts of everyone over 50 and yes, it was a calming experience for everyone involved. However, when you look at what it was up against that year, there's no way Driving Miss Daisy should have won. There just isn't. Looking back, Driving Miss Daisy is the equivalent of a warm cup of tea - warm, soothing, calming, but not exactly anything remarkable.
Hand your Oscar to... MY LEFT FOOT
6. FORREST GUMP (1994)
It's almost a cliché to have Forrest Gump on this list, but let's be honest for a second - this was arguably the most egregious of upsets in recent Oscar history. Consider what Gump up against - Pulp Fiction, Shawshank Redemption, Quiz Show, Four Weddings And A Funeral. Let's also consider what other films were released that year but didn't get nominated, let alone win - Ed Wood, The Lion King, The Hudsucker Proxy, Leon, SPEED, TRUE LIES?! Any of these films would have been a much better substitute for Gary Sinise's CGI legs.
Hand your Oscar to... PULP FICTION or THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
5. THE ENGLISH PATIENT (1996)
The English Patient is a beautiful, heartfelt, emotional journey of doomed love against the backdrop of World War II. It is also close to three hours long and doesn't really have much a pay-off in terms of time invested. Yes, it's very beautiful to look at. Yes, everyone does their jobs beautifully. But come on, after the first two hours, it's just getting repetitive. Plus, does The English Patient have a body being fed into a woodchipper? It must certainly does not.
Hand your Oscar to... FARGO
4. TITANIC (1997)
As a technical exercise, sure, Titanic worked. It had one of the most inventive uses of CGI, it made household names out of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, it is responsible for Celine Dion's continued career. Titanic was one of those incredibly rare instances where the Academy Awards chose a populist film over something more esoteric and arthouse. it doesn't happen all that often. But again, let's see what Titanic was up against that year. What's this? LA Confidential? As Good As It Gets? Good Will Hunting? Surely all these were better than Titanic, right? Titanic might be the highest-grossing film of all time - currently standing at close to $2 billion - but is it the best film of all time? No. In fact, it wasn't even the best film that year. LA Confidential was.
Hand your Oscar to... LA CONFIDENTIAL
3. CRASH (2005)
Crash was inspired by director Paul Haggis' own experience of his Porsche being stolen in Hollywood. Odd that Haggis should be party to one of the biggest thefts of the last decade. The year Crash won for Best Picture, it caused an uproar. The film was up against Brokeback Mountain, whom many felt was the superior film to Crash. Not only that, Crash wasn't nominated for a single Golden Globe in any of its respective categories, i.e. Best Drama, Best Comedy / Musical, Best Foreign Film. Furthermore, a good number of critics believed that the reason Crash won out over Brokeback Mountain was because the Academy's voting members were most likely uncomfortable with a film that featured homosexual sex and couldn't see it taking the Oscar.
Hand your Oscar to... BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
2. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (2008)
It's easy to see, looking back, how Slumdog Millionaire won out in 2008. The films against it - Milk, Frost / Nixon, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Reader - were all not necessarily Oscar-bait. In fact, the Academy had specifically left Brokeback Mountain out just three years hence. So how did it win? It was the only choice for the Academy voters. Milk was seen as too political a choice - it was tied to the 2008 Proposition 8 Campaign in California. Frost / Nixon, again, too political a choice - plus, there's a surprising amount of Republicans in the voting branch of the Academy. Curious Case of Benjamin Button, meanwhile, was too weird a story for the Academy. Brad Pitt ages backwards? No. Not a hope. The only thing left is The Reader and that's a film with a female lead who has sexual agency. So, no.
Hand your Oscar to... ANY OTHER FILM RELEASED THAT YEAR
1. THE KING'S SPEECH (2010)
A film about an English monarch who has a speech impediment now seems like utter Oscar-bait drama. The only other film The King's Speech was tied with was Inception. Incidentally, Inception was also nominated for Best Picture that year as well. Did it win? Of course it didn't. How could a film that challenged the perception of the human mind and had one of the most visually-stunning sequences of the last five years compare to Colin Firth clucking his tongue? Never mind Inception, what about The Social Network? Facebook has literally changed how people communicate in their daily lives, but a well-constructed, smartly-directed film about its creation? Nope, we need a film that's set during the '30s. In England.
Hand your Oscar to... AGAIN, ANY OTHER FILM RELEASED THAT YEAR