SALT LAKE CITY — Lighthearted comedies have won an Oscar for best picture only a handful of times in the history of the Academy Awards. The nominees for the 90th annual Academy Awards, which airs Sunday, reveal that comedies continue to have a slim presence in the awards ceremony.
To get in the spirit of the Oscars, here are seven movies that, if we lived in a world where only comedies won best picture, might’ve won the award in their respective years, compared to the films that did win.
“Elf” vs. “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003)
If it were only a battle between elves, the hardworking elvish creatures who make toys and gifts for the world's young might have reigned victorious over the elves of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Woodland Realm.
Directed by Jon Favreau, “Elf” is the charming and humorous tale of an adopted elf who struggles to connect with his real father in New York City. If you haven’t watched the escapades of Buddy the Elf in a while, here are some of his quotes to jog your memory:
"You have such a pretty face. You should be on a Christmas card."
"Does somebody need a hug?"
"I just like to smile! Smiling is my favorite!"
“Dumb and Dumber” vs. “Forrest Gump” (1994)
While the slow-witted Forrest Gump teeters between being sympathetic and funny, thickheaded friends Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) manage to always be the right amount of imbecile for every scene. The onscreen chemistry between Carrey and Daniels makes the film a joy to watch more than 20 years later.
“The Princess Bride” vs. “The Last Emperor” (1987)
Both “The Princess Bride” and “The Last Emperor” dealt with matters of the court, but only one film featured the unequivocal acting chops of André the Giant (renowned for his feud with Hulk Hogan during WrestleMania III in 1987).
Directed by Rob Reiner, “The Princess Bride” stars Cary Elwes as the Dread Pirate Roberts (or just Westley) and Robin Wright as the “inconceivably” beautiful Princess Buttercup. Here are two quotes from the classic film:
Buttercup: We'll never survive.
Westley: Nonsense. You're only saying that because no one ever has.
Prince Humperdinck: Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped.
Count Rugen: Get some rest. If you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything.
“Ghostbusters” vs. “Amadeus” (1984)
"Amadeus" is a fictionalized account of Mozart, and the film draws heavily on the composer's music for its soundtrack. But the 1980s classic "Ghostbusters" also has its own catchy tunes, and Elmer Bernstein, the man behind the “Ghostbusters’” soundtrack, is just one reason the film is so great.
Following a ragtag team of ghost-catchers, the film stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Sigourney Weaver. Besides the impressive acting roster, the film is only improved by first-rate Hollywood effects as seen in the memorable scene below.
"Being There" vs. "Kramer vs. Kramer" (1979)
In addition to winning the award for best picture, the tear-jerker of a drama “Kramer vs. Kramer” received Oscars for best actress, best actor and best adapted screenplay during the 1980 Academy Awards ceremony. Comedy also got some attention that year, as the comedy-drama "Being There," starring "Pink Panther's" Peter Sellers, led Sellers to be nominated for best actor for his charming role as Chance, a simple-minded gardener who, through a series of mishaps, ends up becoming a Washington, D.C., political insider.
“Young Frankenstein” vs. “The Godfather Part II” (1974)
“Young Frankenstein” is a Mel Brooks film, but unlike “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” and “Blazing Saddles,” it feels like just the right amount of Brooks. And as good as "The Godfather Part II" may be, Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro) and Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) are nowhere near as hilarious as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (pronounced Frankin-‘steen’), the grandson of the infamous scientist.
“Some Like It Hot” vs. “Ben-Hur” (1959)
After Jerry (Jack Lemmon) and Joe (Tony Curtis) witness a mob hit in “Some Like It Hot,” they scramble to leave the town through any means necessary — even if that means joining the Society Syncopators, an all-female band headed to Miami.12 comments on this story
Both “Some Like It Hot” and “Ben-Hur” won Oscars for best costume in 1959, when the category was divided into color film and black and white. To match awards was quite a feat for “Some Like It Hot,” especially considering “Ben-Hur” had the largest budget in movie history at the time and, even more, considering it’s harder to fit a dress to a man than a suit of armor to a soldier. Here are two quotes from “Some Like It Hot”:
Sig Poliakoff: You got to be under 25.
Jerry/Daphne: We could pass for that.
Sig Poliakoff: You got to be blonde.
Jerry/Daphne: We could dye our hair.
Sig Poliakoff: And you got to be girls.
Jerry/Daphne: We could-
Joe/Josephine: No we couldn't!
Sweet Sue: Didn't you girls say you went to a conservatory?
Jerry/Daphne: Yes. For a whole year.
Sweet Sue: I thought you said three years.
Joe/Josephine: We got time off, for good behavior.