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The Oscar had their fair share of controversies over the years, some of which have caused heated debates and outrage among audiences and industry insiders.
Oscars are one of the most prestigious awards, and every artist hopes to win one during their career. The Oscars celebrated their 95th anniversary in 2023, and controversies have no doubt found their way to the show over the years. From Will Smith’s slap to the blunder on stage in 2017 when “La La Land” was named best picture instead of “Moonlight.” Let’s look at some of the most highly controversial moments in Oscar history.
In 2015 and 2016, the Oscars faced widespread criticism for the lack of diversity among its nominees. The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite went viral, and the Academy was accused of systemic bias against people of color.
2. La La Land/Moonlight Mix-Up
In 2017, the Academy Awards ceremony was marred by a huge mix-up when La La Land was mistakenly announced as the winner of the Best Picture award instead of the actual winner, Moonlight.
3. Marlon Brando’s Rejection
In 1973, Marlon Brando won the Best Actor award for his role in The Godfather, but he refused to accept it in protest of Hollywood’s treatment of Native Americans.
4. Roman Polanski’s Win
In 2003, Roman Polanski won the Best Director award for The Pianist, but his win was controversial due to his past criminal history. Polanski had fled the US in 1978 after pleading guilty to statutory rape.
5. Kevin Hart’s Resignation
In 2019, Kevin Hart was announced as the host of the Oscars, but he resigned shortly after due to controversy over past homophobic tweets.
6. Saving Private Ryan vs. Shakespeare in Love
In 1999, the Academy faced backlash when Shakespeare in Love won Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan, which many believed was the more deserving film.
7. Crash’s Upset Win
In 2006, the Academy faced criticism when Crash won Best Picture over the heavily favored Brokeback Mountain, which many saw as a more deserving film.
8. Harvey Weinstein Scandal
The Weinstein Company was responsible for producing numerous Oscar-winning films, but the company and its co-founder Harvey Weinstein were later embroiled in a scandal involving allegations of sexual harassment and assault. The scandal had a profound impact on the film industry as a whole.
9. Will Smith Slapped Chris Rock
Will Smith went onto the Oscars stage in 2022 and slapped Chris Rock when the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Smith’s shorn head. When Will was still winning the Best Actor award, this scene lit up social media. The Academy chose not to accept his prize but to banish him from all events for a period of ten years.
These controversies have sparked heated debates and discussions about the role of the Academy in recognizing and honoring outstanding achievements in film, as well as broader issues of representation and accountability in the entertainment industry.