If The King’s Speech wins Best Picture at this week’s Academy Awards (which looks increasingly likely after all of the lesser awards it’s racked up in the last few weeks), it’ll be just the latest upset in the show’s 80-plus-year history. While the producers of The Social Network, which had been the Best Picture frontrunner for months, may be disappointed, they’ll be in some pretty prestigious company. Here’s a look at a few other notable upsets from Oscars past.
Crash over Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture (2006) Although Ang Lee’s cowboy romance seemed like a lock for the win, many speculate that the Academy’s reluctance to embrace a movie about homosexuality led to Paul Haggis’ race-relations drama taking the top prize.
Marisa Tomei for Best Supporting Actress (1993) Tomei’s win for My Cousin Vinny (over the likes of Miranda Richardson, Joan Plowright, Vanessa Redgrave and Judy Davis) was so shocking that for years the rumor persisted that presenter Jack Palance had accidentally read the wrong name.
Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture (1999) In the strongest demonstration of the power of awards-season marketing, producer Harvey Weinstein muscled out Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed World War II drama to make way for his enjoyable but slight period comedy.
Rocky for Best Picture (1977) Sure, it’s now known as a feel-good classic, but up against Taxi Driver and All the President’s Men, Sylvester Stallone’s underdog sports drama looks like a lightweight. Stallone’s career started with this surprise win, and pretty much went downhill from there.