With the news that the musical score from The Dark Knight has been disqualified from Academy Awards consideration on the grounds that too many people were credited with composing it, outrage against the Academy's stringent, complicated rules has erupted afresh. In the interest of fueling this indignation and making the world an angrier place, let's take a belligerent march down memory lane and look at seven other controversial disqualifications.
The Jazz Singer disqualified for being a talkie. When the very first Academy Awards were held in May 1929, honoring films released between August 1927 and July 1928, everyone was talking about The Jazz Singer -- the first feature-length movie to use recorded sound in some of its talking and singing scenes. So great was the attention that the Academy disqualified the film from the inaugural Best Picture category, reasoning that its use of sound put it on an uneven playing field against the films still stuck in silence. Instead, the Academy gave Warner Bros. a special award "for producing The Jazz Singer, the pioneer outstanding talking picture, which has revolutionized the industry." It's true, too! I don't know if you've noticed, but pretty much all movies nowadays have talking in them.
Young Americans disqualified from Best Documentary category ... after it already won. Whoops. This is a sad case, and a unique one. The documentary, about the peppy Young Americans show choir, won the Oscar at the 1969 ceremony for being the best feature-length documentary of 1968. But a few weeks later, the Academy discovered that the film had screened at a theater in October 1967, making it eligible for that year's awards and not for 1968. The Academy actually took back the Oscar statues from the filmmakers, Alex Grasshoff and Robert Cohn, and gave the award to the film that had been first runner-up. When Grasshoff died earlier this year, his widow told the Los Angeles Times how heartbroken he'd been. Can you imagine?