It’s usually no big surprise when movies get nominated for the Oscars, actors or actresses maybe, but films? Usually the big contenders are ones that are either critically acclaimed, released in the fall or released in very limited markets. But every now and then the Academy will throw a rather odd nomination into the mix just to shake things up. They usually don’t win, but it’s interesting that they recognize them. Here are a few movies that have found their way into the Oscar nominations that are considered either bad, campy, cult or just plain not Oscar material.
Borat (Best Adapted Screenplay)
Remember that raunchy mockumentary of Sacha Baron Cohen running around America as a culturally ignorant foreigner? The one where he chased a fat man down a hallway naked with a rubber fist? Yeah, that one received an Oscar nomination of all things for its script. Granted, there is a bitter irony in the character of Borat exposing the social flaws of society, but I would never had thought it’d be important enough for an Oscar nomination. Then again, it was released in the fall which is typically Oscar season. I can only imagine how the For Your Consideration flyers looked. They probably highlighted such pivotal scenes as cleaning bear crap out of an ice-cream truck and his forceful marriage proposal to Pamela Anderson.
Norbit (Best Make-Up)
One of the only films on this list to be nominated for both an Academy Award and a Razzie in the same year. Norbit received an Oscar nod for the make-up that turned Eddie Murphy into a scrawny nerd, an obese black woman and a funny talking Asian. Racist and offensive? You bet, but it’s the one element this movie actually did well despite a horrible script with low-brow gags. It’s also a far cry from the cosmetic nightmare that was White Chicks. As it stands, Norbit is like a Michael Bay film: the technicalities of a professional artist combined with the script of a 2nd-grader.
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (Best Original Song)
With such explicit songs as ‘Shut Your F*cking Face, Uncle F*cker’, one would never expect the South Park movie to receive a nomination. Not only did the song ‘Blame Canada’ get nominated, but it was performed on stage by Robin Williams with a full choir. The one explicit line in the whole song was replaced with a gasp. If Robin Williams ended up running his motor-mouth too fast and actually said the line on accident, it would’ve been one of the greatest Oscar moments of all-time.
Rocky III (Best Original Song)
Rocky movies have always been inspirational and part of that lies in the music. ‘Eye of the Tiger’ from Rocky III is easily one of the best pieces of music in the series and probably one of the best songs on Earth for pumping iron. While the first Rocky movie was a huge Oscar contender, the sequels didn’t recieve too much acclaim from the Academy. But the music continued to be a driving force of the series and even people who have never seen Rocky III can recognize the tune and its source movie.
Mrs. Doubtfire (Best Make-Up)
Though it was really a flimsy premise to get Robin Williams in drag for a family movie, Mrs. Doubtfire did have some surprisingly intricate make-up. Going far beyond applying blush and a wig, Robin Williams actually put on a rubber mask, a body suit and other artificial props to create the illusion of an old nanny. That had to have been a nightmare wearing all that for long scenes. I’d almost prefer the Godzilla suit that made the person wearing it almost die. It was quite a surprise to see such an odd and quite surreal family movie such as this receive a nomination, but if Norbit can receive a nomination for putting the structure of a fat black woman on Eddie Murphy, anything is possible. Except for Martain Lawrence. Give it up, man. Big Momma will never receive a nod.
Beethoven’s 2nd (Best Original Song)
When you hear the words Oscar and Beethoven, the last thing that comes to mind is the movie about the destructive dog. Anybody who was a kid in the early ’90s remembers the adventures of the large dog with a heart of gold that went on to several lackluster sequels that make the Air Bud franchise look almost tolerable. But here is the sequel, Beethoven’s 2nd, nominated for the song ‘The Day I Fall in Love’. Then again, the song was written and performed by Carole Bayer Sager, who has worked on acclaimed music for other movies like the theme for Arthur. So I guess talent and craft can stand out in a crappy movie. At least, for musicians anyway.
Speed (Best Sound Editing/Mixing, Best Editing)
The high-speed antics of Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock on a bus that must stay above 60 was certainly a thrilling piece of action. But most action movies don’t get recognized at the Oscars for their incredible stunts due to their base plots and simple scripts. Speed was not only nominated for a few technical awards, but actually won two of the three. Though it only won for their editing/mixing, it was quite a surprise to see a movie of this caliber at the Oscars. Too bad the sequel didn’t do as well.
Junior (Best Original Song)
If you were one of the unlucky few who have seen this movie about Arnold Schwarzenegger becoming pregnant, you probably remember the montage sequence. You know, the scene where he is practicing being a father/mother with other expecting moms? Remember the music that played over that scene? THAT received a nomination. The song ‘Look at What Love has Done to Us’ received an Oscar nod, which is the only nominations this train-wreck of a comedy will ever see.
Ghostbusters (Best Original Song)
You all know the tune. It’s one of the catchiest, easy-to-learn songs of any soundtrack considering half the lyrics are the words ‘GHOSTBUSTERS’. And apparently it was catchy enough to turn the heads of the Academy. Not only was it a chart-topping single, but a bad-ass music video featuring the full Ghostbusters cast and numerous cameos from other celebrities. It’s also surprising to learn that Ray Parker Jr has actually been accused of stealing the melody from Huey Lewis’ ‘I Want a New Drug’. And while this is probably the biggest song Ray Parker Jr will ever be known for, it’s easily song that will never get old.
The Karate Kid Part II (Best Original Song)
Yep, a Karate Kid movie received an Oscar nomination and for the one thing that most sports movies seem to nail perfectly: the music. It’s no coincidence that both Rocky and Karate Kid have been nominated in this category. ‘Glory of Love’ was originally written for Rocky IV, but ended up in The Karate Kid Part II. Since then the song has received multiple covers and multiple awards. Who would have thought that the adult contemporary styling of Peter Cetera could work so well for a sports movie to receive a nomination? If only it were enough to get Pat Morita an Oscar for best supporting actor.
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