Special Report

21 Biggest Scandals in Oscars History

When viewers tune in for the 95th Academy Awards ceremony on March 12, they’ll no doubt see tearful acceptance speeches and over-the-top fashions. But for all its glitz and glamor, the Oscars sometimes provide another sideshow – scandal. 

The scandals range from charges of racism (Black actress Hattie McDaniel seated at the back of the room the year she took home the Best Supporting Actress award; #Oscarssowhite decrying the lack of diversity) to some truly cringeworthy performances. Remember when Rob Lowe sang and danced with Snow White? Yeah, we’d like to forget that too. 

Sometimes it’s the fashions that lay an egg, like Björk’s infamous swan outfit at the 2001 ceremony. Other times, audiences are stunned by actors using the occasion to make a statement, as when George C. Scott and Marlon Brando refused to accept their Oscars. (Here’s a list of famous people who’ve turned down major awards or nominations.) 

To assemble a list of the biggest scandals at the Oscars, 24/7 Tempo consulted entertainment media such as ET, as well as lists of Academy Awards controversies on Vanity Fair, Good Housekeeping, and other sites. We did not include perceived snubs for wins or nominations, but here’s a list of movies so good they should have won an Oscar – but didn’t.

Click here to learn about the 21 biggest scandals in Oscar history

This year, the nomination of Andrea Riseborough as Best Actress for “To Leslie” drew criticism for her team’s supposedly aggressive marketing tactics, but the Academy declined to rescind her nod. That was a mere kerfuffle compared to Will Smith’s slap of host Chris Rock at last year’s ceremony. People are still talking about the “slap heard round the world,” with Rock addressing it in a recent comedy special. What – if anything scandalous – will happen at this year’s Oscars? 

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