Many a movie-lover can think of the Oscar selection that made them stop respecting the Academy. For me, it was when Shakespeare in Love won Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan. For older film buffs, or real students of the cinema, it probably happened a lot earlier. I’m no film critic or student of the cinematic craft, but watching Saving Private Ryan not win the Oscar left my jaw on the ground. I think Harrison Ford, who had the dubious (in this particular case) honor of announcing the winner, was a little shocked, too, and had trouble masking it.
I would like to see the Academy create a new Oscar category that would reward long-past cinematic efforts that, in retrospect and in the court of moviegoing public opinion, should have won Oscars. Each year, one of these retrospective Oscars would be given to a producer, director, actor, actress, etc., from a film at least 10 years old, who should have won an award. There’d be just one such award per year for fear of overdoing it, and there would be no requirement that the film, director, actors, actress, etc., was nominated for an Oscar the year it came out.
If nothing else, such a category would help me respect the Academy just a teensy bit more–which is the metric by which all should judge themselves. They can spend the first three years giving Oscars to Saving Private Ryan, The Shawkshank Redemption, and Pulp Fiction. Sorry, Forrest Gump just doesn’t hold up over time for me; it should’ve been a distant third that year.