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Oscar Corrections

The always well-informed Edward Copeland wants to make sure that Oscar prognosticators don't perpetuate Oscar factoids that are wrong, he says:

I hate when Oscar errors start being repeated as fact. This happens every year. Someone gets a fact wrong — and who knows where it starts? — then more people either too lazy to check on facts for themselves or too ignorant to know better keep repeating the same mistake time and time again.

This week, it concerns Little Miss Sunshine after it won ensemble acting at the SAG awards, which for some reason people found surprising because they continue to operate under the false assumption that an ensemble acting prize is the same thing as a best picture prize when it's not and when a sizable chunk of SAG ensemble winners did not go on to win the Oscar for best picture and in one case (The Birdcage) wasn't even in the running.

Excuse me, I digress. The error that is being perpetuated is that when Driving Miss Daisy won best picture in 1989 without its director Bruce Beresford being nominated for director, it was the ONLY time it ever happened in Oscar history. WRONG! It was the first time it had happened since 1931-32 when Grand Hotel won without its director being nominated (Hell, Grand Hotel did even better than that —best picture was its ONLY nomination.)

First, I caught this mistake in the always factually challenged David Poland's column where he wrote:

Other stats working against the nominees include the fact that only one film has ever won Best Picture without a directing nod, Driving Miss Daisy. Does that mean the disqualification of Little Miss Sunshine? Oh yes... and it's been 29 years since the last comedy, Annie Hall, won Best Picture.

Now today, I find in an article by Richard Corliss at Time.com:

And only once did the Best Picture Oscar go to a film whose director didn't receive a nomination: in 1990 with Driving Miss Daisy and Bruce Beresford. So the odds against Little Miss Sunshine are 70 to 1. That a lot of Oscar history the indie movie has to buck.

To make matters even worse, Corliss also misspells Valerie Faris' last name as Feris and gets this fact wrong as well:

Sunshine has a more daunting historical obstacle to hurdle: its directors, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Feris, were not nominated in their Oscar category. That citation would have been sweet, whatever you think of the movie, since the Academy has never nominated a directorial pair, and because you could count the number of women nominated for Best Directors on the fingers of a maimed hand. (Three: Lina Wertmuller for Seven Beauties, Jane Campion for The Piano and Sofia Coppola, the only American woman, for Lost in Translation.)

Not only has a directing pair been nominated before — Warren Beatty and Buck Henry for Heaven Can Wait in 1978. A directing pair actually won when Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins took the directing prize for West Side Story in 1961.

If I could have earned a nickel for every incorrect Oscar fact I've seen written over the years, I'd be a very rich man right now — and people in the media wonder why they keep losing credibility with the public when they can't even get the simple shit right.

I wonder if Corliss—who can be pretty anal about getting his facts straight— posted his story online without getting the once-over from the usual phalanx of Time fact-checkers? It's tempting to pick up facts from other bloggers, but not usually a wise idea. I've been burnt by that. Once.


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