THE OSCAR BOX In the box: Kim Newman, critic / novelist

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The Independent Culture
Kim, which was the most absurd Oscar ever awarded?

Driving Miss Daisy for Best Film, that was a pretty bad one. There was a whole period in the Eighties where you could guarantee that whatever took the Best Picture Oscar was by far the least interesting of the nominated films. That changed in the Nineties and some slightly more interesting films won, the exception being Forrest Gump.

I think the worst film ever to win the Best Picture Oscar is Around the World in Eighty Days. As for the worst acting performances, they don't go for the best acting but for the most acting. One popular winner who I though was overrated was Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot. It wasn't really a performance; it was an imitation of the symptoms, and Roger Moore could have done that. It's quite easy to play a catatonic or a cripple; what's difficult is playing, say, a bank manager.

And which was the great Oscar that got away?

The Academy always feel embarrassed that King Kong wasn't Best Picture of 1933. It's obviously an injustice that How Green Was My Valley beat Citizen Kane - that was the politics of the time.

Recently, I think that not nominating Jeremy Irons for Dead Ringers, and then giving him the award for not being very good in Reversal of Fortune the year after to make up for it was a fairly major injustice. With Dead Ringers, even if you didn't like the film, you had to admit that Jeremy Irons gave the best performance of the year, simply on a technical level. The reason he didn't get the nomination was that it was a film that the Academy found distasteful. It's not an opinion I would argue with, but if you're serious about recognising superior achievements in films, then you should reward them when they arise.

Interview by Scott Hughes

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