Think that the glittering Academy Awards are simply a celebration of the cream of the crop of the filmmaking industry? Think again. According to some of the more paranoid folk that inhabit this planet, there’s a lot more to the Oscars than meets the eye.
Some of the theories put forth by Academy Award conspiracists aren’t exactly breaking news. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the Oscars, like many things in life, are skewered to favour white film industry folk over the not so lily-white even without the recent #OscarsSoWhite controversy fresh in mind.
Nor does it take someone not of a predominantly Pollyanna mindset to surmise that more often than not there might just be a little bit of persuasion and bribery going on behind the scenes to encourage the Academy voting body to cast votes for certain films over others.
What might be surprising, however, is that the Academy Awards are apparently wide open and susceptible to such nefarious influences as Scientology, the Illuminati and – perhaps worst of all – politicians.
So, don your tinfoil hats because down the Oscars conspiracy rabbit hole we go.
12. Marisa Tomei’s Accidental Win
Back in 1993 the most surprising victory at the 65th
Academy Awards was Marisa Tomei’s win for Best Supporting Actress for her role
in My Cousin Vinny as co-star Joe Pesci’s feisty, fast-talking Italian American
fiancée Mona Lisa Vito.
Hollywood legend has it that the presenter of the award, actor Jack Palance, read the wrong name from the envelope due to either being drunk, stoned or suffering from bad eyesight according to which rumour you choose to believe.
The fire fuelling the rumour mill was kind of plausible. Although Tomei received critical acclaim for her role, she was a relative newcomer with only five films under her belt and up against heavyweight acting talents Judy Davis, Joan Plowright, Vanessa Redgrave and Miranda Richardson.
Her fellow nominees were selected for roles in more dramatic films whereas Tomei was nominated for a comedic movie, which usually aren’t favoured by Oscar voters, and My Cousin Vinny was released over a year prior to the 65th Academy Award ceremony as opposed to the typical Oscar bait season release.
Add to that Palance’s odd behaviour – at one point during the awards, he dropped to the floor and performed several one-armed push-ups – and you have all the ingredients for an Oscar win conspiracy that believers purport the Academy was too embarrassed to rectify.
The myth has since been debunked, however. Academy Award executives have stated that representatives from accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, the official Oscar ballot tabulators, are waiting in the wings to instantly correct any mistakes like the one rumoured to have led to Tomei’s win.
Nevertheless, the conspiracy persists even today more than twenty years later.