Crashing the Party: The Biggest Upsets in Oscars History

There’s just days to go until this year’s Oscars and everybody is naming their predictions for all of the big categories. But before you put your money down on what you’ve been told is a sure winner you might want to remember that sometimes the Oscars can throw up a massive upset. Take these 10 cases for example.

How Green Was My Valley’ beats ‘Citizen Kane’ (1942)

Citizen Kane’ may often top polls as the greatest film of all time, but back in 1942 the academy didn't even think it was the greatest movie of that year. The film about a Welsh coal mining family at the turn of the century starred Maureen O’Hara and took the Oscar over Orson Welles' masterpiece. It also took the Best Director and Best Actor Awards, beating Welles in both categories.

Rocky Sylvester StalloneSylvester Stallone as Rocky

Rocky’ wins Best Picture (1977)

In 1977 Sylvester Stallone’s 'Rocky' fought off stiff competition from ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘All the President’s Men’ to scoop the 1977 Oscar. The film was made on a budget of under a million dollars but managed to gross $225 million at the box office. The film was the true underdog of the 1977 ceremony being up against  'All the President’s Men’ and ‘Network’ as well as 'Taxi Driver' making Stallone’s win even more of a shocker.

GoodfellasRay Liotta [L], Robert De Niro [Center] and Joe Pesci [R] in 'Goodfellas'

Kevin Costner beats Martin Scorsese (1990)

We all know that Martin Scorsese doesn't have much luck at the Oscars but many thought he was assured victory in 1990 for ‘Goodfellas’, although he was up against Francis Ford Coppola. But the surprise winner turned out to be actor turned director Kevin Costner for the epic western 'Dances with Wolves'. Well at least it wasn't 'Waterworld'.

Marisa Tomei Wins Best Actress (1992)

In 1992 the outside choice for the Best Supporting Actress award was certainly ‘My Cousin Vinny’s’ Marisa Tomei, but Tomei beat veterans Joan Plowright and Vanessa Redgrave to take the prize. The winner was announced by Jack Palance who’s awkward presentation led to some wondering if he had in fact called out the wrong name. He hadn’t, but Marisa’s win would go on to be remembered as one of the most unexpected in history.

Harrison Ford The FugitiveKevin Costner in 'The Fugitive'

Tommy Lee Jones beats Ralph Fiennes (1994)

Tommy Lee Jones put in a good performance in ‘The Fugitive’ but many felt it wasn't as Oscar worthy as Ralph Fiennes’s turn as a Nazi in 'Schindler's List'. Although 'Schindler's List' won the Best Picture and Best Director award none of its cast took home honours.

The English PatientRemember When Juliette Binoche Won For 'The English Patient'?

Juliette Binoche beats Lauren Bacall (1996)

Despite decades of film roles Lauren Bacall had not been nominated for an Academy Award until 1996 when she starred in ‘A Mirror Has Two Faces’. The veteran actress looked set to finally win an Oscar until she was beaten by Juliette Binoche star of ‘The English Patient’. The film would win a massive 12 Oscars that night including ‘Best Picture’, however some felt it was largely due to the campaigning of Miramax’s Harvey Weinstein in the days before studio campaigning was banned.

Shakespeare in Love'Shakespeare in Love' starred Gwyneth Paltrow

'Shakespeare in Love' wins Best Picture and Best Actress (1999)

Shakespeare in Love caused two major upsets at the 1999 Oscars, one was their Best Picture win over ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and the other was Gwyneth Paltrow beating ‘Elizabeth’ star Cate Blanchette in the Best Actress category. The historical film became the surprise hit of the 1999 Oscars, but many feel it's worth noting it was another Weinstein production.

Adrian BrodyAdrian Brody in 'The Pianist'

Adrien Brody beats four former winners (2002)

Adrien Brody beat four of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, Daniel Day-Lewis and Jack Nicholson to become the youngest ever recipient of the Best Actor Oscar. What was more shocking, perhaps, was his reaction as he took the stage and planted a kiss on presenter Halle Berry.>

Crash'Crash' Beating 'Brokeback Mountain' Remains One Of The Biggest Oscar Shocks of all Time

'Crash' beats 'Brokeback Mountain' to win Best Picture (2006)

Everybody was surprised when ‘Crash’ beat ‘Brokeback Mountain’ to win the Best Picture award in 2006, even presenter Jack Nicholson who let out a ‘woah’ after reading the winner. There were also gasps in the audience, understandably as ‘Brokeback Mountain’ was thought to be certain to take the win. The win was so controversial that many accused the Academy of homophobia in the aftermath of the awards.

Kathryn Bigelow wins 'Best Director' (2009)

Kathryn Bigelow became the first female to win the Best Director award in 2009 for her critically acclaimed work, ‘The Hurt Locker’. What made it even better is that she beat ex husband James Cameron who was up for his big budget sci-fi epic ‘Avatar’. Whilst 'The Hurt Locker' impressed critics many thought that Cameron's big budget and special effects would assure him the win.


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