Oscar Awards: Under the sign of controversy

The Oscar Awards ceremony has experienced scandals and controversies of all kinds since its first delivery in 1929

The Awards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Hollywood, better known as the Oscars, despite their always relative prestige, have not been exempt from a series of scandals and controversies over time, since that first time they were delivered, on May 16, 1929, during a banquet in the Blossom Room of the Roosevelt Hotel, in the nerve center of California. In any case, the sign of controversy has always accompanied these awards. Let us now see a chronological summary of these events:

the road to the oscar

1936: First rejected statuette

The film “The informer” (1935), directed by John Ford and whose screenwriter was Dudley Nichols, was awarded for its script, but Nichols declined the award in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America, which were then worked under very unfavorable conditions.

1940: Racism shows

Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American woman to win an Oscar for her role as Mammy in “Gone with the Wind” (1939). She was awarded Best Supporting Actress but segregationist conventions prevented him from sitting with his white colleagues,and forced her to occupy a table at the back of the room.

1941: Citizen Welle

It is often thought that “Citizen Kane” (1941), considered one of the best films ever filmed, won the Oscar for best film in its year, but only obtained the one for Best Original Screenplay. His achievements were not recognized at the time. And the award-winning film was on that occasion “How green was my valley!” (1941), which no one remembers today.

1964: The kiss and more racism

Sidney Poitier became the first African-American actor to win the Best Actor Oscar for his role in “The Lilies of the Valley” (1963). Now the actress Anne Bancroft wanted to congratulate the actor with a simple kiss on the cheek and that caused a scandal among the conservatives of that time.

1971: Another contempt

George C. Scott advised the Academy that he would decline any award he won for his role as General George S. Patton Jr. in the film “Patton” (1970), but he was nominated and won Best Actor.

Scott railed against the ceremony and He called it a “two-hour meat parade” and, as he put it, turned down the award.

1973: Brando and the Native Americans

Marlon Brando turned down his award in 1972, which he won for his role in “The Godfather” (1972), but instead of going to the gala, he sent an Apache Native American named Sacheen Littlefeather instead, who in his name he refused the award, as a protest against the representation of natives in Hollywood.

1974: everything was seen

In 1974, Robert Opel, a staunch defender of human rights and equality, He decided to appear nude at the Oscars to “vindicate the gay community.” The presenter, David Niven, maintained his smile as the Protestant ran past him without his clothes on.

1975: Against the war

“Hearts and Minds” (1974) was a documentary that criticized the Vietnam War and won the Academy Award in its category; and the producer Bert Schneider took advantage and launched an anti-war speech to thank the activists of the cause; which was not very well received by the audience and the organization of the gala.

1993: Ask for asylum

Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins were presenters at the awards gala, and they took advantage of their moment on the screen to get out of the script and ask for the reception in the United States of Haitians suffering from AIDS then isolated in the US base at Guantanamo. And they were banned for a while.

1993: Strong rumor

Marisa Tomei won Best Supporting Actress for her role in “My Cousin Vinny” (1992). She beat out Judy Davis, Joan Plowright, Vanessa Redgrave and Miranda Richardson, so it was believed that the presenter (Jack Palance) had misread the name, suffered a slip or some other cause, and that the Academy did not correct the error.

2000: very rare love

Angelina Jolie caused a stir by appearing on the red carpet with her brother James Haven and kissing on the lips. Some even spoke of “incest”, because in her speech after winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for “Girl, Interrupted” (1999) Jolie declared that she was “very much in love with my brother”.

2003: Brody and Berry kiss

Halle Berry presented the Best Actor award, which Adrien Brody won for “The Pianist” (2002), and when she went up to collect it, he grabbed Berry and kissed her. She later confessed that it hadn’t been planned, she just agreed. But the organizers judged it as “out of place”.

2003: Oscar for a fugitive

Roman Polanski won the Oscar for Best Director for “The Pianist.” The Franco-Polish filmmaker she was not there to pick him up, having fled the United States in 1977 before he was convicted after pleading guilty in the rape trial to the minor Samantha Geimer in 1977. The Academy has been harshly criticized for awarding “a rapist, confessed and fugitive.”

2006: Homophobia?

In 2006, “Crash” (2004) won Best Picture, but since the favorite was “Brokeback Mountain” (2005), the suspicion of homophobia flooded the media for the open treatment that Ang Lee’s tape gave to the subject.

2013: More jokes out of context

Seth McFarlane was the presenter at the gala and touched on several sensitive topics that served to qualify the event as hostile and sexist. Especially in a delicate topic like sexist abuse, because compared the violence in “Django Unchained” (2012) with the case of abuse of Chris Brown and Rihanna.

2015: Before the slap

Comedian and actor Chris Rock brought some Asian children on stage and made racist jokes. He said that Asian children are specialized in making telephones. The Academy was upset by these jokes; Ang Lee and 25 other academics of Asian descent even signed a letter protesting the skit.

2016: Very White

That year, the nominations for best actors and actresses, both leading and supporting, went to 20 white candidates. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith were two of the leading voices complaining about the lack of diversity, and the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite became a trend.

2017: Bad Reading

At the end of the ceremony, when “La La Land” (2016) had been announced as the winner for Best Picture, with the production team receiving the award, it turned out that the Oscar was for “Moonlight” (2016). The envelope had been misplaced. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway had read the result and were scarred by it, perhaps forever.

2017: Casey Affleck

There is an unwritten tradition that the Best Actress of one edition delivers the Best Actor Award in the next and vice versa. Therefore, Brie Larson, winner of the statuette for “The Room” (2015), presented the award to Casey Affleck for “Manchester by the Sea” (2016), but it was known of the demands that (since 2010) he had on his against for sexual harassment. Affleck publicly accepted his responsibility and apologized, but the Academy asked him not to present an award in 2018.

2020: what a coincidence

The Academy’s Twitter account published on Monday, February 3, 2020, a tweet with an image representing his list of predictions for the awards, without any message. A favorites list had never been officially shared. According to the list, “Parasites” (2019) would win the Oscar for Best Picture as well as Best Foreign Film, Sam Mendes would be Best Director, Joaquin Phoenix would win Best Actor and Renée Zellweger would win Best Actress. So it was.

2022: The slap.

Such was the impact of what happened at that year’s ceremony that the slap that Will Smith gave Chris Rock for the comedian’s joke alluding to the Oscar winner’s wife, was the most viral moment of all of 2022. And Well, now Smith faces a veto from the Academy to perform at the awards. We’ll see how long it lasts.

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