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The Strangest Oscar Nominations of All Time

February 24, 2017

Each year, the Academy Awards recognize the finest work in movies. Sometimes the Academy’s voters make some really odd choices.
Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin

The biggest movie star of 1927: Rin Tin Tin—a German shepherd. He was a very good boy that year, starring in four box office hits. Later that year, the first Academy Awards were presented, and when all of the votes were counted, the winner of Best Actor (for his body of work for the year) was Rin Tin Tin. But the Academy wanted their newly created awards to be taken seriously, so Rin Tin Tin was declared ineligible to receive the prize. The Oscar isbtead went to the guy who got the next most votes: Emil Jannings, for The Way of All Flesh and The Last Command.

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare died in 1616. More than 350 years later, the Bard got his first and only Academy Award nomination, for Best Adapted Screenplay. Sharing that nod was Kenneth Branagh, who brought Shakespeare’s Hamlet to the big screen. But Branagh didn’t do much adapting at all. His 1996 version of Hamlet was notable for being the first Hamlet film that didn’t make a single cut to the original play—every scene and every line of dialogue was intact.

Avatar’s Cinematography

Mauro Fiore won Best Cinematography at the 2010 Academy Awards for his work on Avatar. While that movie is certainly visually stunning, what Fiore did isn’t exactly traditional cinematography. The planet of Pandora and the blue-skinned Na’vi are almost entirely computer-generated—which means Fiore somehow won for his camera work on what’s more or less a cartoon.

Woody Woodpecker Song

“Heh-heh-heh-HEH-heh.” That’s “The Woody Woodpecker Song.” The earworm of a cartoon theme song is the first and only time a tune from a short cartoon has earned a nomination for Best Original Song. It debuted in the 1948 Woody Woodpecker short “Wet Blanket Policy.”

1996 Best Picture Nominees

The five nominees for Best Picture at the 1996 Academy Awards run the gamut from expected to highly unlikely. Balancing out the usual Oscar-nominated fare of historical dramas (Apollo 13), epics (Braveheart), and literary adaptations (Sense and Sensibility), are Il Postino and Babe. The former, a quiet Italian film about a lovelorn postman (played by Massimo Troisi, who died just after filming completed) is one of only a handful of foreign language films to be nominated for Best Picture. The latter, Babe, is a kids movie about a talking pig, whose lips move via the magic of special effects.

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