10 Most Unforgettable Oscar Controversies of All Time: Relive the Drama
It is difficult to be nominated, and winning requires much more than talent and kindness. Although the Academy Awards place some emphasis on excellence and diversity, the prizes ultimately go to those who conducted the most successful campaigns.
To level the playing field, the Academy has introduced numerous additional regulations over the years, such as limiting Q&As with directors and performers, curbing lobbying methods, and prohibiting post-nomination celebrations for a certain film or celebrity.
1. Will Smith's Slap
Those who believed the 2017 debacle was the most memorable Oscar event were due for a rude awakening in 2022. Will Smith nonchalantly came onto the stage and slapped emcee Chris Rock in the face after he made a joke about Will Smith's wife Jada Pinkett Smith being unaware of her Alopecia.
Thinking it was part of a skit, the audience began to laugh, but when Smith began angrily cursing at Rock, an unsettling stillness descended upon the Dolby Theatre.
2. Two Best Picture Winners
The 2017 Academy Awards were full of surprises and disappointments, so what better way to cap a botched ceremony than to announce the wrong winner for the night's final and most important award?
Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were chosen to give the Best Picture award, which was a close race between the blockbuster La La Land and the indie Moonlight. Beatty was noticeably perplexed as he began to read the card before handing it to Dunaway, who quickly proclaimed that La La Land had won.
3. Sacheen Littlefeather Accepted Marlon Brando's Award
Following one of the darkest moments in Oscar history, Sacheen Littlefeather‘s acceptance speech on behalf of Marlon Brando, it took the Academy nearly 50 years to formally apologize for how they treated her and Native Americans in general.
In actuality, Sacheen's acceptance speech at the 45th Academy Awards was more akin to a refusal speech written by Brando himself, which was too long to be read in the time allotted to each recipient by the Academy.
Sacheen mustered the guts to expose the appalling treatment of American Indians in Hollywood in front of the largely white industry people but was met with audible booing from the audience. Sacheen arrived with a message of love and witnesses a hostile and hostile environment.
4. The Anticlimactic Ending Of 2021's Oscars
The producers of the 2021 Oscars made the unfortunate error of attempting to foretell the ceremony's outcomes. The 2021 Oscars went awry because Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher, and Steven Soderbergh prepared the event to resemble a movie, which was a mistake. They hoped to close the event on an emotional and memorable note; their intentions were wonderful, but their execution was bad.
Typically, the most significant award of the evening, Best Picture, is announced last. Chadwick Boseman, who had tragically departed away the previous year, was to be honored with an extraordinary homage, but things did not go as planned after producers reordered the Best Actor category.
Yet, they were overconfident and forgot that the Academy Awards are selected by a democratic body. Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor for his portrayal in The Father despite not being present at the ceremony to accept the award.
5. Adrien Brody Kissed Halle Berry
Adrien Brody accepted his 2003 Oscar for Best Actor in an unexpected manner: he ran to the stage and, without hesitation, gave Halle Berry a lengthy, passionate kiss. No one in the audience knew what was happening, nor did Berry until he subsequently explained the contentious incident.
Berry, who at the time was most recognized for her role as Storm in the X-Men films, said she couldn't remember whether or not the kiss was good because she was “so concentrated on ‘what the f*** is going on right now?‘”.
In 2003, the kiss between the two was more adorable than completely awful, but it has aged terribly over the years. Brody indirectly placed Berry in a precarious position.
6. The Oscars Streaker
A streaker would be least likely to be observed at an Academy Awards ceremony. In 1974, however, the Academy Awards were interrupted by a nude guy running onto the stage just as David Niven was about to introduce the renowned actress Elizabeth Taylor.
Robert Opel was an active photographer who operated a thriving art gallery in San Francisco. The streaking was part of a nonconformist performance.
Opel crept up behind Niven and ran completely naked while flashing the peace sign. In the face of loud laughing, Niven handled the situation with a brief jest about his flaws. Interestingly, Opel was never charged with a crime and proceeded to perform naked at subsequent gatherings.
7. The Best Actress Tie
In 1969, Katharine Hepburn, renowned for several famous roles at the time, tied with Barbra Streisand, a newcomer to Hollywood. As soon as Ingrid Bergman opened the winner's envelope, the audience could clearly tell something was amiss based on her expression.
Streisand and Hepburn received 3,030 votes apiece in the Best Actress category at the 41st Academy Awards, ensuring that both were awarded the prize.
What should have been an extraordinary moment during the ceremony that transpired in an unremarkable manner because only Streisand took the stage? Hepburn has never attended the Oscars since “prizes mean nothing” to her.
8. Mistaken In Memoriam Photo
One of the most egregious errors at the 89th Academy Awards presentation went mostly overlooked by the public. During the traditional In Memoriam segment of the event, the slide show displayed the name of Janet Patterson, one of the world's most recognized costume designers, with a photo of Jan Chapman, a healthy Australian film producer.
Chapman and Patterson's longstanding friendship and collaboration only made matters worse. Chapman was horrified by the usage of her photograph in that context and by the fact that the mistake was barely detected.
9. The Wrong Frank
Frank Capra was a three-time Oscar winner for Best Director, but his 1933 loss was the most famous walk to the stage. Presenter Will Rogers, ignorant that both Frank Capra and Frank Lloyd had been nominated for the award, called on a “Frank” to the stage when presenting the Best Director winner.
Lloyd was the true winner, but Capra rushed to the stage before realizing that the emphasis was on Lloyd. Capra, who went on to direct the masterpiece It's a Wonderful Life, subsequently recounted the incident with regret: “I wish I could have scurried away like a wretched worm.”
10. Citizen Kane Missed Best Picture
Not to disparage How Green Was My Valley, a concise film from one of America's most refined directors, but its Best Picture award is the type of debate that only intensifies with time.
It may appear trivial, but it illustrates the Oscars' propensity to remain within their comfort zone. The film by John Ford is a nostalgic peek into the psyche of an adult man as he recalls the wonderful and painful memories of his youth.
Citizen Kane, on the other hand, has been considered one of the best films ever made, if not the best, ever since it was released, remaining at the top of Sight and Sound's lists of cinema's greatest works for 50 years.
Citizen Kane presented Academy members with something novel, innovative, and audacious; a story with incisive storytelling that challenged capitalist structures. Yet, the Academy chose the path of least resistance, carrying out the most scandalous snub in history.