They might be known as Academy Award winning performances, but in reality that only serves to further just how overrated the work is. There is a huge misconception with the general mainstream audiences that an Oscar winning performance means a great performance. Not always. There have been just as many truly terrible performances awarded the Oscar as there have been those for the ages.
The Academy quite often gets it right, truly they do, but just as often if not more they get it wrong allowing sentiment or the fact they feel someone is owed (whatever that means). Sadly it has always been political, though more so now than ever before. It all changed drastically in the nineties when Miramax began to campaign heavily for their films and artists. It became so bad that it was said Miramax will get Martin Scorsese to wash your car for your Oscar vote for ‘Gangs of New York’ (2002). To think that Miramax was pimping out their artists for Oscar votes was beyond shameful. There was a time hitting campaign trail meant doing talk shows and interviews, now it is insane what they go through.
A great performance is something very special, it speaks to your soul, it does not diminish in power with the passing of time. In so many instances the performances listed bested better performances, brilliant work that was for the ages.
There was a time when the winners of the New York Film Critics Award for Best Actor, the winners of the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards and the National Society of Film Critics for Best Actor were the shoo ins for the award, now they are often not even nominated. Each member of each group receive screeners long before the film is released, allowing voting to take place before Oscar season really launches with the announcement of the Golden Globe nominees. Someone may be the leader for months, but then a film comes out at almost the last minute and snatches victory.
For me, it is very telling what they do onscreen after winning an Oscar. Do they do better work, do they find themselves in the race again or is it years before, or never? Was their win a one time thing and based on them being for a short time the flavor of the month? That can often be enough to win. If anything good has evolved, it is that sentimental Awards do not happen as frequently, no longer does being over seventy assure one of a win.
The list below explores the performances I believe to be unjust winners because somebody else should have won the Oscar that year.