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The Most Controversial Oscar Moments, Ranked

Oscars are the most prestigious awards for the film industry. It has been around for years now. This year we had the 94th Academy Awards on 28 March. But its glorious history is not free of controversies. Since it started in 1929, the Oscar has been the dream of every filmmaker across the globe. It has undergone a few changes but it hasn’t changed enough, many complain about Oscar lacking diversity. It has had quite a few controversies over the years including this year. Here are some of the most controversial moments picked from over the years.

1. Marlon Brando refused the Best Actor Award

Marlon Brando refused the Best Actor Award most controversial oscar moments
Marlon Brando refused the Best Actor Award

For the first time in the history of Academy Awards, an actor had refused to take the award. It was in 1973 when Marlon Brando won the Best Actor Award for The Godfather. He did this to protest against Hollywood’s representation of Native Americans in films. Also, he did not reject the award himself but sent Sacheen Littlefeather on the stage to do so. Also, Littlefeather was a Native American activist and actor. The audience was torn between whether to cheer for the two or not. John Wayne had to be held back by security to protect Sacheen Littlefeather as he attempted to attack her. Many others mocked the duo for their refusal of the award.

2. David Niven was interrupted

David Niven was interrupted most controversial oscar moments
David Niven was interrupted

It would not be wrong to say that the 1970s were really the years of controversies at the Academy Award. Just a year after Marlon Brando’s award refusal incident, this one occurred.  In 1974, David Niven was on the stage and was interrupted by a naked man, who ran on the stage. David Niven also is a winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1959 for his film Separate Tables. Later, the naked man was recognized to be a photographer and gay rights activist, Robert Opel. He ran up the stage and surprised the actor, as he flashed the peace sign. It is somewhat hilarious to think about now, but back then it was a huge controversy.

3. Roman Polanski won an award after fleeing the country

Roman Polanski won an award after fleeing the country oscar controversies
Roman Polanski won an award after fleeing the country

One of the worst examples of how the Academy Awards are sometimes biased towards the big names of Hollywood. Roman Polanski receiving an Award even after he had fled to the country to avoid being sentenced for a crime is the worst thing that has happened at the Oscars. A few years after Sharon Tate‘s murder controversy, in 1977, Polanski was again booked for drugging and raping a young girl. He even pled guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor, but before he could be sentenced, he ran off to Paris. Despite this, he was nominated as best director for The Pianist in 2003. And just to make it worse, he even won. But he was unable to receive the award.

4. Oscar was boycotted for no Black nominees

Oscar was boycotted for no black nominees controversial oscar moments
Oscar was boycotted for no black nominees

In the years 2015 and 2016, the Academy forgot to nominate anyone except people of Caucasian descent. All the 20 nominations were full of white people. It gave birth to the trending hashtags like #OscarsSoWhite and #WhiteOscars. These hashtags trended wildly on social media, the first time it happened at the 87th Academy Awards, and we hoped there will be a change. But even the following year the same thing happened. This led to a boycott of the awards led by Jada Pinkett Smith and director Spike Lee. Though now there are some changes made, Academy Awards still are more in favor of a particular group.

5. Will Smith slapping Chris Rock

Will Smith slapped Chris Rock most controversial oscar moments
Will Smith slapped Chris Rock

One of the burning topics right now is this one. No one is talking about the winners and nominees, as Will Smith slapping Chris Rock became the highlight of the Oscar 2022. While hosting on the stage, Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith that made the star uncomfortable. In response, Will Smith walked up on the stage and slapped the comedian. The actor did not stop at that. After getting off the stage he even made some angry comments filled with explicit words. He has faced a lot of backlashes, despite apologizing during his acceptance speech. Also, some want the actor to return his award.

Related: Oscars 2022: 94th Academy Award Winners Revealed

Written by Gargi Mishra

I am Gargi Mishra, an aspiring filmmaker. I look at the world through the viewfinder and love to study films. Write them and write about them.