10 Most Outrageous Oscar Snubs

The best and brightest of the film world? Sometimes, the Academy gets it wrong.

pulp fiction travolta jackson

Awards season is upon us, and it's time for Hollywood to give itself a pat on the back. As 2002 teen choice award winner Matt LeBlanc will attest, any prize is nice to have – but if you're an actor, you'll be wanting to get that Oscar.

The academy award is the grand prize of film, and the venerable pannel wouldn't just give the little gold baldie out to any old claptrap. No, we can rest assured that, each year, and in each category, justice will be done. Or so we'd hope, anyhow.

The unfortunate truth is that sometimes peculiar decisions are made. Whether that be a flavour of the month film that is showered with praise at the time but ends up on the cultural scrapheap, or a prize given to an individual to make up for said individual not winning a prize previously, the awards process is almost guaranteed to generate controversy.

Assembled before you are the ten head-scratchingest, most logic defying choices made by the Academy's esteemed committee. The type of decisions that make you wonder if they bothered watching the films – that make you query whether an awards show for something so subjective is even worth having.

10. Milk (Best Actor - Sean Penn)

pulp fiction travolta jackson
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Whatever you think of his outspoken personality, politicking, and that one time he snitched on a Mexican drug lord, you'd be hard pressed to deny that Sean Penn is one of the great actors of his generation. His previous Oscar win for Mystic River was well merited, coming at the end of a winning run of intense acting jobs, and as Harvey Milk, he's great in an against-type performance. So why is he on this list? Well, frankly, it was Mickey Rourke's year.

There has never been an actor more suited for a role than Mickey Rourke as The Wrestler's Randy “The Ram” Robinson. With his flowing '80s locks and surgery scarred face, Rourke looks less an actor than a battered lump of ham, the likes of which Rocky Balboa might practise his punches on. Rourke aches his way through Aronofsky's film, injecting his performance with every drop of anguish and remorse he's ever felt in his life. He was, it was felt at the time, a shoo-in.

What's more, he clearly wanted it, and wanted it bad. Perhaps that was his ultimate undoing - in his renaissance-fuelled enthusiasm, he gave perhaps one interview too many in which his somewhat oafish side came out. Rourke, the washed up '80s idol, was ultimately passed over in favour of perennial serious actors' darling Sean Penn.

What's sad is that the Mickey Rourke comeback train never really left the station (his post-Wrestler filmography doesn't make for inspiring reading). Whether or not the Oscar would have made a difference, we'll never know - but his Wrestler performance remains the centrepiece of an interesting, kind of weird, career.


Yorkshire-based writer of screenplays, essays, and fiction. Big fan of having a laugh. Read more of my stuff @ www.twotownsover.com (if you want!)