With a new decade just arrived, what better time is there to go back and correct the Oscar mistakes of years past. The Academy, whether they like to admit it or not, has made some questionable decisions over this last decade, but we can enter 2020 with a clean slate. Some of those head-scratching decisions from years past will be replaced with films and performances that were under the radar. Previous winners that were popular at the time have also been reassessed in favour of films that’ve gotten better with time.
Now, for the nitty-gritty details. We’re keeping the picks contained to the top six categories: Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Actress. If we didn’t limit the criteria, this post would include upwards of 100 entries. These swaps are also limited to films and performances that were already nominated. We won’t be retroactively naming Jake Gyllenhaal as 2015’s Best Actor for Nightcrawler – as tempting as it is.
Let’s get started with Oscar Hindsight is 2020!
2011: Best Picture/Director (The King’s Speech/Tom Hooper)
The King’s Speech is one of those light, entertaining films that sneak up on occasion and win a boatload of Oscars every few years. But those films don’t really linger, do they? There’s nothing inherently wrong with the very English film that won four Academy Awards in 2011, but, in retrospect,The Social Network has aged into the sort of instant classic that people can’t believe didn’t win every single award it was nominated for. On Metacritic’s compilation of best films of the decade, Social Network received 38 votes to King Speech‘s 1. Accordingly, Social Network wins Best Picture and David Fincher is awarded his first Oscar for Direction. Considering what a cinematic abomination Cats turned out to be, Hooper’s getting off pretty easy. The King’s Speech isn’t losing all of its Oscars though, I’m a reasonable man, which is why Colin Firth remains Best Actor.
2012: Best Picture/Director/Actor (The Artist/Michel Hazanavicius/Jean Dujardin)
The Academy was close on this one. Their inclination to pick a film that honored the legacy and magic of filmmaking was correct, they just picked the wrong film. The Artist replicated scenes and scores from famous classic films but rarely rose above empty imitation, whereas Hugo was imbued with a spirit of ingenuity and love of film. So, this time, Hugo is leaving the Dolby Theatre with Best Picture and Director. When you think about it, shouldn’t Martin Scorsese have two Best Director Oscars? While we’re at it, Brad Pitt gets swapped in for Best Actor for his mercurial turn as Billy Beane in Moneyball. It’s one of those 70s era character studies that you don’t see much of anymore, especially not with that movie star flair.
2013: Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz)
In a lineup dominated by acting legends, Christoph Waltz surprised many when he won his second Oscar, beating out a heavy lineup featuring Robert DeNiro (Silver Linings Playbook), Alan Arkin (Argo), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), and the man I’m giving the trophy to, Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master). Hoffman’s portrayal of Lancaster Dodd is blistering in its examination of inefficacies in religious institutions, while still possessing a beating heart. It was the type of role that Hoffman excelled at, and a reminder of how much his talent is missed.
2014: Best Director/Supporting Actor (Alfonso Cuaron/Jared Leto)
Steve McQueen was able to take home the Oscar for producing 12 Years A Slave, but 2014 was one of those years where Best Director and Picture were split. Given that we can look forward to the future and know that Alfonso Cuaron wins for Roma, we’ll award McQueen the Oscar for his precise direction and handling of a film that could’ve been overwrought or melodramatic, but instead floored everyone who saw it.
Great supporting actors are like the eponymous shark of Jaws, you don’t know when they’ll show up, but you’re always waiting for them. Jared Leto’s turn in Dallas Buyers Club was certainly showy, but not an authentic representation of the Trans community. In terms of convincing performance, Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) truly delivers as the supporting half of a thrilling two-hander with Tom Hanks where the film is never as transcendent as when both men are onscreen.
2015: Best Actress/Best Actor (Juliane Moore/Eddie Redmayne)
Julianne Moore is a cherished character actor. This much is not up for debate. But Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) is the type of spurned lover that entered the public consciousness and hasn’t left since David Fincher adapted Gillian Flynn’s bestselling thriller. Sure, Alex (Glenn Close) from Fatal Attraction and Body Heat‘s Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner) are iconic femme fatales, but Amy Dunne is playing in her own league of psychopathy with intent. She’ll be haunting movie waters for a long time.
Birdman won four Oscars in 2015, but, astoundingly, Michael Keaton was not included among the wins. That’s getting rectified here. Birdman succeeds because of Keaton’s meta-performance and if the film should win in any category, it should’ve been for Keaton’s incendiary turn as the egomaniacal former blockbuster lead who finds himself edging closer and closer to irrelevance on Broadway. It was career-best work from a typically underrated actor. I’d be shocked if it weren’t the clip they use for any acting montage from here on out.
2016: Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio)
Haha, just kidding. By just typing that I would even consider swapping Leonardo DiCaprio out for The Revenant, he probably already put a contract on my head, John Wick style. I’m sure he’ll understa- *receives pencil to jugular*
2017: Best Actor/Best Actress/Best Supporting Actress (Casey Affleck/Emma Stone)
Denzel Washington is one of the finest actors of all-time. As harrowing as the arc is for Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea, Denzel Washington’s turn in Fences is equally compelling if not more so. A father who yearns for his glory days, begrudges his son his success in a more enlightened time while taking life’s injustice out on his family, notably, his wife, played by Viola Davis. Category fraud prevented Viola Davis from winning her rightful place as Best Actress, so that opens a vacancy for Supporting Actress, which now goes to Janelle Monáe for Moonlight. Monae’s soulful turn as one of the few supportive presences in Chiron’s life was essential to the film and the reason why she’s being included. Yes, I said that there would be no additions for those who weren’t previously nominated, but category fraud allows for a loophole here.
2018: Best Picture (The Shape of Water)
The Shape of Water is one of those charming films like Chocolat and The Full Monty that seem to fade out as time passes. What hasn’t slipped from viewers’ minds, however, is the Sunken Place. The Academy’s bias against horror is well-covered ground, but reversing those questionable calls is the whole point of this post. Get Out took the moviegoing public by storm and its lasting impact on the current film landscape seems worthy of Best Picture.
2019: Best Picture (Green Book)
This entry is going to be a cheat of sorts. While there have been six ties in the history of the Academy Awards, the tie has never taken place for the big enchilada, Best Picture. Well, that changes here. With the Academy’s preferential voting system, one assumes Green Book won because it placed highly on ballots that didn’t feature the film at #1, seemingly due to the film’s (at the time) inoffensive nature. By splitting the top prize evenly among A Star Is Born and Roma, this move also placates the critics and moviegoers that drive the business. Just not in a way that makes it seem like Driving Miss Daisy 2.0 is the best in film that 2018 had to offer.
What do you think of our Oscar Hindsight is 2020? Would you have picked these films and performers to win in place of what actually won? Agree? Disagree? Have other ideas? Let us know in the comments!