You have probably heard about the 2017 Oscars controversies by now. The most notable one was La La Land announced as Best Picture instead of the actual winner, Moonlight. The La La Land producers ‘happily’ handed over the Oscar statuettes to the real winners. Nonetheless, the debacle had to have hurt them, as well as the Moonlight producers. Before this, actor Casey Affleck was awarded the Best Actor nod. This was despite criticism over his nomination, due to accusations of sexual harassment against the actor. Mel Gibson also tipped the fairness scales with his Best Director win. Once the golden boy of Hollywood, controversy surrounding his public, anti-Semitic outbursts has followed him for the last decade. Due to this, his nomination also received a lot of criticism. However, this isn’t the first time there has been controversy at the Oscars. In fact, Oscars history is rife with it.
Marlon Brando won Best Actor in 1973 for the Godfather. However, he chose to boycott not just the award, but the Oscars altogether. His boycott was in protest to the treatment of Native Americans. He sent in activist, Sacheen Littlefeather, dressed in Apache clothing to declare his boycott. At the request of Brando, Sacheen refused to accept the Oscar, waving it away with an open palm. The statuette never made it into Brando’s hands, and was almost certainly retained by the Academy.
In 2002, Roman Polanski received his Best Director Oscar for The Pianist in the mail. In fact, you will probably never see him at the Oscars. That’s because Polanski is still on the run after fleeing sentencing over the rape of a 13-year-old girl. He is unable to enter the US for fear of immediate arrest. Polanski is no stranger to scandal though. In 1969, his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by the Manson Family at Polanski’s Californian home. And recently, he was in the news again with claims he forced Tate into threesomes and sex videos.
Most recently, in 2014, John Travolta mispronounced Idina Menzel’s name. The error came right before she was about to perform the Frozen theme song, “Let It Go”. First he gave her a robotic introduction and then he managed to call her “Adele Dazeem”. Afterwards, the actor blamed a rushed entrance, an encounter with Goldie Hawn backstage, and a change to the teleprompter for the botch-up. A year later the two returned to the Oscars stage and Travolta apologised. Yet, he did so in the weirdest and creepiest way possible.
The controversies mentioned here are only a few of many. There are suggestions that all Oscar fiascos are part of a ratings bid. Though, since it’s the biggest Awards show on the planet, that’s unlikely. The Best Picture faux pa is undeniably unfair. It robbed the Moonlight filmmakers and fans of the big reveal moment. Nevertheless, it can’t be changed and hopefully people will remember the film for its win, and not for the controversy.