You’d think that when the Academy sits down to discuss who’s being nominated for an Oscar, they’d do some homework, ask questions and generally familiarize themselves with the body of work, before revealing their picks to the world and setting them in stone (or gold plated Britannium, which is what that golden little dude is made of). But sometimes, mistakes are made.
There’s actually been some rare instances where the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has has to revoke or disqualify a nominee, due to someone making a mistake. Sometimes is all on the Academy, but other times, it’s the filmmakers that have goofed it, and need to live with the shame of being so close, yet so far, to an Oscar. Leo knows how you feel.
Luckily for them, there’s only been a handful of times this has happened.
The Circus (1928)
Nominated for Best Actor, Best Writer, Best Director for a Comedy & Outstanding Picture
At the very first Academy Awards ceremony held in 1928, Charlie Chaplin was up for four (out of the total of 12) of the awards. Convinced and afraid that he would win all of them, the Academy revoked his individual nominations and instead presented him with an “Honorary Award” for his contributions to writing, acting, directing and producing The Circus.
So even though the guy was talented enough to write, act, direct and make a film happen, instead of walking away with 4 statues, he didn’t get any. Doesn’t seem fair.
Stout Hearts and Willing Hands (1931)
Best Live Action Short Film, Comedy
In the 5th edition of the Academy Awards, this short comedy film was listed as one of the nominees, but between the announcement and the final voting, the film was disqualified and replaced by another RKO Radio short called “Scratch As Scratch Can.”
There’s no documentation as to why the film was disqualified and no one can say why. It’s an Academy Awards mystery.
Best Motion Picture Story
In 1954, this epic John Wayne western was nominated for Best Motion Picture Story, but was shortly disqualified after the announcement was made. The reason given was that the author and screenwriter of the film Louis L’Amour had published a short story previously called “The Gift of Cochise.” As it wasn’t an original work written for the film, it was deemed ineligible.
High Society (1955)
Best Motion Picture Story
Known to be the last film of Grace Kelly before she became the Princess of Monaco, High Society was initially up for Best Motion Picture Story, and the two writers Edward Bernds and Elwood Ullman were to receive it. Except the Academy made a few mistakes. One; this musical comedy was based off of an earlier 1940 film called ‘A Philadelphia Story.’ The second reason was that they got the writers all wrong. Berns and Ullman didn’t write this 1956 film, but a 1955 Bowery Boys comedy of the same name (which was a series of films about a group of characters in New York City).
As the Academy confused the two movies, they had to admit the mistake and the two writers willingly took themselves off of the ballot.
Young Americans (1967)
Award for Best Documentary
This was an actual case where the Oscar was awarded, then taken away a month later. It was discovered that this documentary about a choir had played in a theatre in October of 1967, making it ineligible for the 1968 awards season. The award was then given to the runners up.
This is the only case where the award was actually given, then taken away after the ceremony.
The Godfather (1972)
Best Original Dramatic Score
During the 1973 awards, Francis Ford Coppola’s epic crime drama was up for 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Marlon Brando, walking away with 3.
Originally, however, there was an additional category it was up for; Best Original Dramatic Score, but the accolade was rescinded when the Academy found out that composer Nino Rota used some of his own score from the 1958 Italian comedy ‘Fortunella.’ He ended up winning the Oscar two years later for the score for ‘The Godfather Part. II.’
It sounded the same to me, but that’s why they’re the Academy and I’m just a guy who loves watching moves and getting popcorn butter all over my favourite shirts.
The 1973 Awards were also notable for ‘The Godfather’ bringing up this little incident, where Marlon Brando sent Sacheen Littlefeather to accept his award and condemn Hollywood’s treatment of American Indians.
As she wasn’t the actual winner and Brando wasn’t coming, presenter Roger Moore took the trophy home until an armed guard came to take it.
Closest he’s come to an Oscar.
A Place in the World (1992)
Best Foreign Language Film
This film was submitted by Uruguay as their official selection for the 65th Academy Awards in 1993. It was one of 5 films that got the final nomination, but was later taken off the ballot as it was, in actuality, an Argentine film. Apparently, director Adolfo Aristarain asked the neighbouring Uruguay to submit the film (as it’s a smaller country, so it might be regarded as a more notable achievement), and while some Uruguayans were a part of the film, and it was partly financed by the country, there wasn’t enough participation by Uruguay to make it legit. So because the submission was deceptive, the nomination was revoked.
Tuba Atlantic (2010)
Best Live Action Short Film
Tuba Atlantic is a 25-minute short film from Norway, about a 70-year-old man who only has six days to live and spends that time reconciling with his family. It’s actually a really moving and powerful film and really deserved recognition. While it was nominated in 2012, the film was taken out of competition due to the fact that it aired on Norwegian television before its theatrical release, which goes against the Academy’s rules.
Alone Yet Not Alone (2013)
Best Original Song
In 2014, the title song from this Christian film was nominated for Best Original Song. Two weeks after the announcement was made, it was disqualified. The Academy discovered that the song’s composer, Bruce Broughton, was a member of the executive committee of the Academy’s musical branch. Since he had access to the emails of everyone else on the committee, he emailed the other 239 members to remind them about his film during the voting period.
That’s definitely against the rules. He misused his position and it backfired on him.
Sucks to be so close to a golden statue, only to have it taken away so abruptly.