[Puzzleblogger Kevan Choset, March 6, 2006 at 11:13am] Trackbacks
Oscar Records:

Besides the upset for Best Picture at last night's Oscars, the awards were also notable in that the Best Picture winner (Crash) only won in three categories (Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing). What was the last Best Picture winner not to win more than three Oscars?

Besides Crash, no other movie this year won more than three Oscars (though three movies -- Brokeback Mountain, Memoirs of a Geisha, and King Kong -- tied with Crash). What was the last year in which no movie won more than three Oscars?

Visitor Again:
Who cares?
3.6.2006 12:40pm
Michael A. Vickers (mail) (www):
Rocky, 1979.

And the Godfather before that.
3.6.2006 12:45pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
It wouldn't be trivia if it wasn't trivial, visitor.
3.6.2006 12:53pm
Observer (mail):
Crash was the only nominee I saw and it was unwatchable - I turned off the DVD after 15 minutes and put "Law and Order/SVU" re-runs on.
3.6.2006 12:56pm
Frank Booth (mail):
Thanks for your opinion. I have all the time in the world to enjoy the "law and order/suv" comment. Where can a find more of your comments?
3.6.2006 1:15pm
Observer (mail):
Frank - It's "SVU" for Special Victims Unit, not SUV.
3.6.2006 1:20pm
Visitor Again:
Yes, that was a snotty remark I made. Forgive me; I was in a foul mood trying to reach a client who disappeared just before a deadline I needed him for.
3.6.2006 1:27pm
Mark at UofC:
Observer: You missed out. Crash is phenomenal movie. You clearly just don't have the patience to appreciate real art.
3.6.2006 1:51pm
Jaybird (mail):
I concur. Whether or not you appreciated Crash is not a matter of taste, as whether or not you appreciated most movies X or movies Y, but a matter of straight-up morality. If you did not like it, you are immoral.

Same for Brokeback Mountain, actually.

Capote as well! You should also disapprove of the Death Penalty.

Good Night And Good Luck is another surprisingly "Matter Of Morality And Not A Matter Of Taste" movie.

And, to top it off, Munich finishes it off (but feels bad about doing it).

If you didn't like any of these movies, you are a bad person. If you didn't see them, you are even worse.

Tomorrow I will talk about why Hollywood isn't making as much money as it used to. It has to do with free will. Don't miss it!
3.6.2006 2:13pm
I thought this post was about OSCAR. *sigh*
3.6.2006 2:51pm
Observer (mail):
I guess I like artistic movies as much as the next guy - I just saw "My Left Foot" and that was pretty wonderful - but "Crash" was tenditious agitprop masquerading as art.
3.6.2006 3:10pm
KMAJ (mail):
The political message movies are, for the most part, boring. Those who agree with their intent or message tend to expound with elevated praise. If I want real world knowledge, I prefer to do my own research and not rely on the messages of the Hollywood elite. Escaping from day to day reality is why most people go to movies, not to be subliminally preached to. The Oscars tends to be an exercise in Hollywood patting themselves on the back while snubbing those movies the public makes huge box office successes.

One only has to look at the box office reciepts for 2005. Brokeback Mountain is 26th, Crash is 49th, Munich is 63rd, Good Night, and Good Luck is 90th, Capote is 97th. Capote provided the Best Actor, Syriana, which was 58th, provided the best supporting actor, Constant Gardener, which was 79th, provided the best supporting actress. Only the best actress award, of the major awards, came from a movie that was moderately well recieved by the public, Walk the Line, which was 16th.

When Oscar does not nominate blockbuster movies that the public embraces, viewership for the awards goes down, a 27.1 this year, versus 30.1 last year when Lord of the Rings final epic of the trilogy was up for the award and 29.8 when Million Dollar Baby won it in 2004.
3.6.2006 3:47pm
The Human Fund (mail):
I thought "Crash" was a pretty entertaining movie with a good cast. But, I've been accused of being easily entertained, and I'm hardly that knowledgeable about the art of movies.
3.6.2006 3:47pm
Quarterican (mail):
Y'know, Observer, I largely agreed with you re: Crash (though, must say, I'm a sucker for strong performances and pretty lighting, which the movie had in spades), but turning it off after 15 minutes is ridiculous. If you weren't enjoying it, you weren't enjoying it, but I'm not sure you get to call it "tenditious agitprop masquerading as art" from the first five scenes. Hell, the agitprop had barely gotten going. I walked away from the video of "Saving Private Ryan" due to crushing boredom in the ten minutes after the opening battle sequence, but I don't go around criticizing the movie's aesthetics or content because of it, I just say: "I became so bored I desired to do my homework instead of continuing to watch." On the other hand, I sat through "Dancer in the Dark" and therefore am empowered to decry it as an evil, evil movie.
3.6.2006 3:54pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
You want art?? Check out "Lost and Delirious"(2001)a poignant tale of forbidden love in a girls boarding school. It features a pre "OC" Mischa Barton, a post "Coyote Ugly" Piper Perabo, and the 3rd girl in the threesome makes the first 2 look like Larry and Moe. It won Best Cinematography award in 2002 from the Canadian Society of Cinema. Gay cowboys don't hold a candle to Lesbian schoolgirls.
3.6.2006 4:04pm
While I do believe the Academy has a tendency to intentionally snub box office success stories, I don't think that that high ticket grosses are a de facto measure of quality art.

If nobody trekked all the way to Italy to see the David of Michaelangelo, I don't think it'd be less of a good artwork.

If Shakespeare never sold another book, we shouldn't be compelled to say "Replace him with Danielle Steele!"

And though I'm not arguing any of these films are Shakespeares or Michaelangelos, we should be willing to evaluate their artistic merits without resorting to straw polls and award show Nielsen ratings. (And yes, some of these works of art are at least a little political, some verging on agitprop. Like Picasso's Guernica, Gilbert Stuart's Portrait of Washington, or Virgil's Aneid. Let's get over that).

While I do disagree with some of the Academy's choices, I can't really look at any of them and say, "Well, gee, they're manifestly unqualified. Wasn't there a single Jerry Bruckheimer star vehicle this year?"
3.6.2006 4:12pm
My wife and I made it about 1 hr into Crash before turning it off. She is a minority (Chinese American) and both of us found a good bit of the movie to be offensive. Although, both of us were more offended by the unrealistic, preachy script. If that is what people think race relations are in this country it's not surprising we aren't solving anything.

That said, I didn't watch the Oscars, instead my wife and I watched a good part of the DVD release of "Once upon a time in the West"
3.6.2006 4:29pm
Jamesaust (mail):
Your comments remind me of the quip (I believe) attributed to Milton Friedman about running the money supply - just program a PC to calculate whether to tighten or loosen and send the Federal Reserve Board members packing. By your system, we need only a PC to calculate maximum ticket sales to award an Oscar (I assume a single "grand" Oscar, else how would you pick winners for individual categories).

Looking at the list of 'top 10' 2005 movies, one is struck by several things. One, many are quite pedestrian in ambition or accomplishment - "Madagascar" anyone? If we made prisoners at Git-Mo watch it more than once, we'd be fingered for war crimes. Two, most are movies with a child interest, hence, multiple ticket sales, hence the high ranking. Third, few of these 10 could be called original, rather they are extensions of an existing "franchise" or copies (sometimes almost frame-by-frame) of earlier versions. Fourth, many are "date movies" - movies made to match the lowest common denominator when a couple (or group) are standing outside the theatre deciding among their choices -- not too mushy, not too loud, not too slow, not acted by unknown actors, not exceptionally negative or sad or depressing, in other words, not art, which by its own nature is distinctive.

The closest that any movie comes to being both popular and "Oscar-able" is #16 - Walk the Line. What you call "political message movies" are often precisely the type of movie Hollywood wishes to honor - thoughtful, reflective films that will be remembered for more than a few months on more than endless cable-tv reruns and that will influence future moviemaking. Of the 10, Wedding Crashers (a comedy - strike 1) is the only likely candidate.
3.6.2006 4:36pm
Anon1ms (mail):
Is there a more trite phrase than that the Oscar's are "Hollywood patting itself on the back."

Of course it is! Just as any industry acknowledges its "stars," be they journalists, fundraisers, insurance agants, firefighters, etc., so does the film industry.

If the Oscars bother you so, there is the "Peoples' Choice Award" show to watch.
3.6.2006 4:43pm
Porkchop (mail):
AWH wrote:

My wife and I made it about 1 hr into Crash before turning it off. She is a minority (Chinese American) and both of us found a good bit of the movie to be offensive. Although, both of us were more offended by the unrealistic, preachy script. If that is what people think race relations are in this country it's not surprising we aren't solving anything.

My wife is Korean-American, and she thought the movie was great. We (she and I) were not offended. If one can't discuss the rawest of issues, then there's not much point in discussing anything.

We live in an urban area with a lot of racial and cultural diversity. We didn't find the script at all unrealistic -- there are lots of prejudiced people out there. We deal with it all the time. They may be in the minority (no pun intended), but their impact can outweigh their numbers -- kind of like the anti-cartoon rioters, I suppose.
3.6.2006 5:15pm
Syd (mail):
You want records? There are two Best Pictures which received that Oscar and no others. One of the wasn't even nominated for anything else. See if you can name them.
3.6.2006 5:35pm
I think this was the most important Academy Awards in a long time. If nothing else, it forced people to finally open their eyes to a truth that we seldom like to acknowledge. It really is hard out here for a pimp.
3.6.2006 6:15pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Using nothing but criteria of political correctness, Ann Coulter made 5/7 correct Oscar guesses last week. Better than most movie critics: Even if it wasn't one of her more amusing columns. Not only is Ann fuinnier, smarter, and a hell of a lot better looking than Molly Ivins; she can predict better too.
3.6.2006 6:25pm

Sorry, I'm more than happy to discuss difficult issues, but I didn't see it as "discussing the rawest of issues". Instead I thought it was an ivory tower view of racism. I've lived on the south side of chicago among other places and didn't find the movies portrayal to be at all accurate. It's good to hear that some people liked it though.

3.6.2006 7:27pm
JMan (mail):
The one that won Best Picture without any other nominations was Grand Hotel. (Greta Garbo saves it from being incredibly tedious.)
My count is that there are two other movies that won Best Picture and nothing else: Broadway Melody and Mutiny on the Bounty.
3.6.2006 7:36pm
JLR (mail):
It appears no one has answered the original question yet.

My first guess was Oscars for 1981, except that, after checking, Chariots of Fire won 4 and Raiders of the Lost Ark also won 4 (5 if you count a special achievement award).

Then I thought of Oscars for 1948 (when Laurence Olivier's Hamlet won), except, after checking, Hamlet won four Oscars that year.

Then I surely thought it was the Oscars for 1968, when I remembered a bumper crop of great movies (and that Streisand and Hepburn tied for Best Actress Oscar). Sure enough, Oliver!; Funny Girl; Lion in Winter; The Producers; 2001: A Space Odyssey; Romeo and Juliet; and Rosemary's Baby (inter alia) all won Oscars.

But after checking, Oliver! won 5 Oscars (plus a sixth honorary Oscar) for the 1968 Oscars.

So I'm just going to make this guess, even though it's probably technically wrong, because I really like this movie: "All Quiet on the Western Front" won Best Picture for 1930, and I believe it only won 2 Oscars.

Technically, no movie that year won more than 3 Oscars (at least, I'm assuming that -- I haven't double-checked, but I believe back in 1930 there weren't too many Oscars to be had). And I know "All Quiet" won 2 Oscars because it wasn't just Best Picture, but also had its director Lewis Milestone named as Best Director.

So I'm going with 1930 and "All Quiet on the Western Front" as my attempt to answer the question.

I look forward to finding out the answer.

3.6.2006 8:23pm
jpaulg (mail):
I thought the animated films Wallace and Grommitt: Curse of the Were Rabbit, and Howl's Moving Castle and even The Corpse Bride were better films than all the nominees for the best picture. At least they were entertaining.

I was disappointed that at least one of the blockbusters, probably Harry Potter or Batman didn't get a nod simply because by nominating such a film the academy could have avoided all fuss over why they nominated 5 angst ridden morality plays for the 5 best films of the year.
3.6.2006 8:24pm
Syd (mail):
Jman's correct. I missed The Broadway Melody (1 for 3)

Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) was 1 for 8.
3.6.2006 9:18pm
Syd (mail):
On the question from Kevan, my guess is 1938 (The Adventures of Robin Hood led with 3, one more than the Best Picture winner).
3.6.2006 9:24pm
Syd (mail):
Jaybird (mail):
Capote as well! You should also disapprove of the Death Penalty.

Capote isn't against the Death Penalty.
3.6.2006 9:26pm
JMan (mail):
I think it is 1947. Three for Gentleman's Agreement. Three for Miracle of 34th Street.
3.6.2006 9:36pm
I was thinking of Saving Private Ryan last night. I really despised the coward guy who set with his gun on the stairs while his buddies upstairs were slautered. That scence haunts me. But what I was really wondering about was close to the end. When the German soldier was captured that had done the deed and the coward shot him dead. Was that a WAR CRIME by todays Amenesty International and ACLU and left wing ideology. I never heard anyone comment on that at the time.
3.6.2006 9:48pm
Michael A. Vickers (mail) (www):
I believe I had the correct movie (I answered under comment #2), but I had the wrong year. Rocky, 1976.
3.6.2006 10:35pm
Michael A. Vickers (mail) (www):
Whoops, sorry can't get a permalink to work, but you can search the DB on the site.
3.6.2006 10:37pm
Syd (mail):
There were a couple of movies that won four Oscars in 1976 ("Network" and "All the President's Men.").

"Cabaret" won eight the year "The Godfather" won three.

We were looking for the last year no movie won more than three.
3.6.2006 11:18pm
Syd (mail):
I should say, we were also looking for the last year no movie won more than three. I think Michael's right about the first question.
3.6.2006 11:19pm
You mean Hitch and The Pacifier weren't nominated?!? I'm shocked...
3.6.2006 11:32pm
Can't find a good name:
I looked it up, and JMan is correct. The leading winners for 1947 ("Gentleman's Agreement" and "Miracle on 34th Street") each won only 3 Oscars.
3.7.2006 12:21am
Pendulum (mail):
I thought Crash was a wonderful movie.

I'm well aware of it's flaws: preachiness, lack of attention to character depth and development (mostly due to the large number of characters), and "lack of realism" in its script (if you even consider that a flaw).

Nonetheless, I found it a highly intelligent, thoughtful, and entertaining film. I found it ambitious in scope, suspenseful, and sometimes emotionally affecting. I thought it was a movie about premises and ideas, that nonetheless retained a rare tenderness about humanity.

If you found its drawbacks to outweigh its benefits, I'm disappointed, because I think you're missing out. I hope that this is because you truly were irked by the film's flaws, and not because ideological blinders compel you to dislike it.


Apparently, to use the Coulter guide to criticism, Hollywood feels it still "hasn't done enough for the blacks".
3.7.2006 5:44am
Kevan Choset (mail):
JMan is correct. The last year in which no film won more than 3 Oscars was 1948, when Gentleman's Agreement won Best Picture and two other categories, and no other movie had more than 3.

As someone pointed out early on, the last year in which the Best Picture winner did not win more than 3 Oscars was 1977, with Rocky. (But that year both Network and All the President's Men won 4 Oscars each.)
3.7.2006 10:31am
JLR (mail):
Thanks for the great trivia question Mr Choset!

In my opinion all of the other four 1977 Academy Award nominees for Best Picture (Network, All the President's Men, Taxi Driver, and Bound for Glory) would have made better winners than Rocky. Although it must be said that Rocky is a very good movie.

Bound for Glory probably wouldn't have deserved to win as much as Network, All the President's Men, or Taxi Driver. If I had to pick one of those three to win (which would be very difficult), I'd have to pick Network. It is an absolutely fantastic movie whose razor-sharp satire has yet to be matched in the movies since.

Thanks again for the trivia question!
3.9.2006 1:59pm