Well, it’s that time of year, kiddies. As I’ve made very clear in posts in the past, if there’s one thing that gets your friendly neighborhood Kaiderman a going, it’s Movies! I love all aspects of the film making process. I follow films from pitch and development, through production and even keep an eye on box office results to see how things worked out. All that time and effort culminates into award season, which we are balls deep in now. The height of awards season, regardless of what anyone might say on Access Hollywood, is the Academy Awards. With the nominations just a couple of days away, and the ceremony looming, I figured we’d talk some Oscars.

I thought this week we’d have a look back at some of the “Shockers” that rocked the industry. We’ll focus on the grand prize: Best Picture. I thought this year would be a great time to do this because, as many of you all ready know, the Academy has changed the format this year. This year the ceremony will feature 10 films in the Best Picture category, instead of the typical 5. While the true contenders, possibly even the winner, will most likely be fairly evident, the chances of an upset are much higher than normal now. And if there’s one thing the academy can do, it’s provide an upset. So, in honor of this, I present you with this week’s list (in order): THE 10 GREATEST BEST PICTURE UPSETS

And remember to just keep saying, “It was an honor just to have been nominated!”

10. (1939) GONE WITH THE WIND BEATS THE WIZARD OF OZ. Okay, there’s a couple of these that aren’t exactly “upsets” but are definately worth noting. This being the first. So, don’t get me wrong, I think Gone With The Wind is arguably the best picture ever made. That being said, The Wizard of Oz is such a beloved classic that it’s strange that it never got to hold the Golden Man. I mean, who doesn’t love a film that’s so good you don’t even care when people burst into song in the middle of a conversation. And Somewhere Over the Rainbow still wells me up!

9. (1996) THE ENGLISH PATIENT BEATS FARGO & JERRY MAGUIRE. Did any of you actually sit through The English Patient? That’s 9 hours of my life I’ll never get back! Look, Fargo is arguably the Coen Brothers best film and was unbelievably fun even though it had dark overtones. And Jerry Maguire was so damn good it made you forget Tom Cruise was a crazy Scientologist. It also made Cuba Gooding, Jr. relevant. No matter how brief a time that was. What I’m saying is, this one was a swing and a whiff… Jerry Maguire should’ve basked in Oscar gold. Show me the trophy!

8. (1951) AN AMERICAN IN PARIS BEATS A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. I suppose this one made sense at the time. A light hearted musical defeats a big screen adaptation of one of the greatest stage plays ever written. That would never fly today. Streetcar’s dark, moody grit and raw nerve stands proud on it’s feet to this day. Should’ve taken the trophy!

7. (1975) ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST BEATS JAWS. Da-nuh… da-nuh… DA-NUH, DA-NUH, DA-NUH, AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!! All right, I’ll admit that Cuckoo’s Nest is a kick-ass movie and it features Nicholson at his best. Still, Jaws is arguably one of the 10 greatest films ever made. I grew up in Huntington Beach, and could see the ocean (which was half a block away) from my parents bedroom window and still never even attempted surfing thanks to this film. Even now, at 31 years of age, I won’t even go in a swimming pool at night with the lights off thanks to this film. Suspense at it’s finest. Horror at it’s realist. Should’ve won the big prize.

6. (1999) SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE BEATS SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. Yet another example of Spielberg taking the high hard one. This one probably hurt even more because Spielberg won the Oscar for Best Director. The winner of which typically takes home Best Picture. I just don’t get this one at all. Shakespeare was an okay film. However, Saving Private Ryan was a great one. And the first 10 minutes is probably the best onscreen account of a real war-time battle. Oh well, Congats William… Congrats!

5. (1976) ROCKY BEATS NETWORK & TAXI DRIVER. This one I’m actually okay with but it made the list because it truly was an upset. Network is a critic darling and Taxi Driver was the heavy front runner going in to Oscar night that year. But Sylvester Stallone knocked out his heavily favored opponents much like his charcter in the movie. The sweet thing about this story is Sly was broke when he wrote Rocky… a script he wrote by hand on random pieces of legal paper. At one point he was offered (I believe) a million dollars for the script but he wouldn’t be given the starring role. He declined and struggled for a while before finally getting the movie made with himself as the lead. The rest, as they say, is history. Sure, Rocky didn’t win the gold belt from Apollo Creed that year… but he got the gold statue.

Sidenote: It’s getting harder to write new cheesy ways to say that last line!

4. (1980) ORDINARY PEOPLE BEATS RAGING BULL. If the word upset had never existed, it would’ve been invented as soon as Scorcese’s films started to be nominated for Academy Awards. This one was a shocker as Robert Redford and his film about Ordinary People stole the night’s top prize from one of Scorcese’s finest. Redford… the visionary director who went on to direct such timeless classics as The Horse Whisperer and The Legend of Bagger Vance. Wait… what the frack?

3. (1991) DANCES WITH WOLVES BEATS GOODFELLAS. This one still hurts. Scorcese took it on the chin again in 1991. To make things worse, it was from an actor turned director again… in his directorial debut no less. When they read Dances With Wolves from the envelope, you could here the collective air being sucked out of the room. I’ll admit, Scorcese has been robbed before but this one was like robbery and sexual assault. Goodfellas is Marty’s Magnum Opus… in fact, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this film… aside from the Academy, that is.

2. (1994) FORREST GUMP BEATS THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION & PULP FICTION. This one, like #10, isn’t a big upset necessarily. Forrest Gump is a great movie and very deserving. I just think this is one of the toughest Best Picture ballots there ever was. Pulp and Shawshank could’ve easily won Best Picture if they’d just come out in a different year. Here you have 3 of A.F.I.’s top 100 films of all time… how do you pick just one. In the words of a famous comedian… if you want to win an Oscar, make a film about the Holocaust or a retard!

1. (1977) ANNIE HALL BEATS STAR WARS. What? You’re still reading? Do I really need to explain this one? The comedy stylings of Woody Allen featuring Diane Keaton defeated a movie about the adventures of Han Solo, R-2 & C3po, Luke, Leia and Chewbacca (the greatest Wookie ever) as they fight with the rebellion to overthrow an intergallactic dictatorship in a galaxy far, far away. COME ON! Seriously, if you’re still confused, I suggest you see your doctor and request an MRI. Have him be real thorough while examing that pea that’s rattling around in that lump situated a few inches above your shoulders. And on a sidenote, if he can’t find your brain, request a colonoscopy. That’ll probably do it! Oh, and P.S., for all the Fanboys out there in blog-land… HAN SHOT FIRST!!!

That’s it for this week. Check back next Saturday as that is when new posts go up. Feel free to comment below. This was meant to be an interactive site, as much as I love the sound of my own voice. It will ask for your e-mail but it will not be shown to anyone, including me. You can also sign up to get this blog via e-mail at the top of the page. And, as always, if you like this site, TELL A FRIEND!


  1. Bruce wayne Says:

    1. Cuckoos nest over jaws is not an upset. Best screenplay, director, actor and actress but not best picture? Jaws is great fun but not even close.

    2. The first ten minutes of Ryan is possibly the best first ten minutes in any film.

    3. Ordinary People over Raging Bull should have been number one on the list.

    4. You know what I think about Star Wars, but better than Annie Hall? Brilliantly written, acted, filmed and directed. And no cliched sap. Sure, Star Wars set new standards for special effects and spawned a great franchise but you would not have known that at the time. Watch it for the filmaking; long takes with great dialogue. No quick cuts with music to tell you what emotions you should be feeling. Beat actress, best screenplay, best director. Best picture = no upset.

    • The voice of reason:
      1. First off, I LOVE CUCKOO’s NEST. Categorically, by the numbers, and your argument, it should have won. However, Best Pictures should stand the test of time. Jaws has become a phenomenon, that everyone loves, and thus is more deserving.
      2. Arguably, I agree!
      3. This is my personal list. Ordinary over Raging should probably be the collective number 1.
      4. Time has done the math on this one, my crime fighting friend. Enjoy your colonoscopy! 🙂
      You’re a Woody Allen fan and I’m a Star Whore so this argument will never go anywhere. And, aren’t you supposed to be working right now?

  2. Kai,

    I laughed out loud at your wit and observations – thank you because I’ve had nothing to laugh about all week but looking forward to your blog has become a highlight in my life and something I look forward to.

    Congratulations on your milestone and please keep writing as I know this is a gift you were born with and we are so happy to see you cultivate it. I’ve learned alot in each posting so thank you for that also.

    Here’s to two and then ten-thousand!!!!

    Your biggest fan – even before you had a blog

  3. i was only a bit sad when brokeback mountain didn’t win best picture.. i really can’t remember WHY, though. haha
    and denzel washington winning best actor for training day instead of russell crowe(beautiful mind) was a real BIG upset

    • Yeah, although Crowe kind of shot himself in the foot when he had that whole Gladiator-Insider-Beatiful Mind run. He was so arrogant in the press that I think it soured the voters opinion of him… cause that was a great performance.
      I still may do actor upsets… not sure yet so check back!

  4. Great list and write-up!

    I was personally pretty upset when Crash managed to beat Brokeback. Especially days after when some Academy members were quoted as saying things like “I just wasn’t comfortable with voting for the gay movie,” or how they weren’t even willing to see the film. Shakespeare in Love was also upsetting, I didn’t care for that movie one bit.

    • I didn’t hate Shakespeare but I certainly didn’t think it was a Best Picture film. As far as Crash, I think it was a really good film so I didn’t have it on THE LIST but I agree that Brokeback should’ve won. It was certainly a surprise at the ceremony. The unfortunate thing is that if Jake Gyllenhal and Anne Hathaway had switched parts, and this was a sweeping epic spanning the years of a forbidden heterosexual relationship, it probably would’ve won.

  5. woody allen makes me nervous…

  6. oh, p.s. movies are your passion, and it shows in your movie related blogs…always a good read, love!! “so much love, and also so much information.”

  7. great list. have to disagree with number one though

    • What can I say? I’m a Fanboy! There was probably no way to see it at the time but if you look at the impact Star Wars has had culturally, I just feel that it’s more deserving. And I believe AFI even ranked it higher on the all-time list, so… I don’t know. 😉

  8. You have a very distinctive voice even if you sound a little crazy (compliment ;). Well…ummm, I REALLY like The English Patient, and I don’t like Fargo. So, that’s that. I’d have voted for Shakespeare in Love too, so I guess I’m losing points. But I despise An American in Paris. But hate for Annie Hall? Tsk tsk.

    Dances with the wolves over GoodFellas? So obvious and sooo annnoying. I still can’t forgive Kevin Costner.

  9. Great list and reasons why upsets occured!

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