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The way the Academy works

Who said the Oscars were fair?

Who claimed that Best Film and Best Actor literally mean just that?

The Oscars have never been a level playing field, with the most deserving contenders often left with nothing, and some mediocrity winning merely on the basis of being 'Oscar-worthy.'

So, before you get your hopes up this year -- a particularly fine crop of films, it must be said -- here's a brief history of the last 10 Oscar years.

1996

The Year Of The Gibson

Even as Michael Radford's Il Postino won overwhelming critical praise, it wasn't an American-enough choice for the big prizes. On the other hand, Hollywood loves actors trying their hand at direction, so Mel Gibson's Braveheart won Best Picture and Best Director.

The Best Actor race featured Sean Penn (then too obscure), Richard Dreyfuss (too boring), Anthony Hopkins (too Anthony Hopkins) and Massimo Troisi (who? well, he should be happy with a nomination). The Oscar went to Nicolas Cage for Leaving Las Vegas -- a drunk, washed-out failure. Ideal Oscar material. Susan Sarandon picked up Best Actress simply because her role was beyond contention. Also, juries love the adjective 'uplifting.'

Also, Best Supporting Actor went to Kevin Spacey for The Usual Suspects -- an interesting choice, given his role was anything but a supporting one.

Text: Raja Sen | Design: Reuben NV

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