10 Weirdest Academy Award Achievements Of All Time

On Feb. 8, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will announce the nominees for its 94th annual Academy Awards. While film lovers will be watching to see who gets nominated and who gets snubbed, fans of off-kilter movie history will recall some of the strangest Oscar winners and nominees in the competition's history.

For those with a taste for the warped, here are the 10 weirdest Academy Award achievements since the first Oscars were handed out in 1929.

An Oscar In Less Than Three Minutes: The shortest film to win an Academy Award was “The Crunch Bird,” a 2-minute 20-second production by Detroit cartoonists Joe Petrovich and Ted Petok that won the Best Animated Short Subject Award for 1971. Petrovich and Petok submitted their work for Oscar consideration on a dare, never dreaming that such a micro-movie would gain the grand prize.

But “The Crunch Bird” was not the shortest film ever to be Oscar nominated – the 1-minute 41-second “Fresh Guacamole” from the animator PES was up for the 2012 Best Animated Short Subject prize.

Blink And You Miss An Oscar Nominee: Oscar trivia buffs know that Beatrice Straight’s 5-minute 2-second performance in “Network” (1976) was the shortest performance to win an Academy Award, but her screen time seemed epic compared to the work of Hermione Baddeley in the 1959 “Room at the Top.” Although Baddeley was only given 2 minutes and 19 seconds of screen time across three brief scenes, it was enough to earn her a Best Supporting Actress nomination, making her appearance the briefest to gain Academy notice.

The Ultimate Upset Winner: Few people expected Hal Mohr to win the 1935 Best Cinematography Oscar for “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” – if only because he wasn’t nominated. In the mid-1930s, the Academy changed its rules to allow write-in votes to go alongside the ballot nominees, but after write-in candidate Mohr won his award the rules were rewritten to prevent another write-in winner.

The Song’s All Wrong: For the 1942 Oscars, “Pig Foot Pete” was one of the 10 nominees for the Best Song award, but there were two problems with that nomination. First, the Academy linked the song to the film “Hellzapoppin’,” but it was not part of that soundtrack – it appeared in the Abbott & Costello film “Keep ‘Em Flying.”

And the second problem – “Keep ‘Em Flying” came out in 1941, making the song ineligible for consideration. Nonetheless, the Academy never corrected that error and the erroneous nomination is still recognized.

Back By Popular Demand: Charlie Chaplin had the unique distinction of being the only filmmaker to have re-releases of his work placed in Oscar competitions.

In 1942, Chaplin put forth an updated version of his 1925 silent classic “The Gold Rush” with a new music score and re-edited sequences. The changes were good enough for the Academy, which nominated the film for Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture and Best Sound Recording.

For the 1972 Oscars, Chaplin’s 1952 “Limelight” was nominated for Best Original Dramatic Score. The 20-year-old film was considered eligible because it never played in Los Angeles at the time of its premiere – Chaplin was suspected of being a Communist during the McCarthy era and no West Coast theater would show the film. “Limelight” won the category, earning the award for Chaplin and his collaborators Raymond Rasch and Larry Russell (both of whom passed away years earlier).

And The Nominee Is…No One: For the 1956 release “Friendly Persuasion,” Allied Artists decided not to give screen credit to Michael Wilson, who adapted Jessamyn West’s novel for the production. Wilson was blacklisted, and the Academy rules prevented artists on the blacklist from being nominated.

When the Oscar nominations were announced, the members of the screenwriters’ branch put forth “Friendly Persuasion” even though there was no credited writer. Wilson’s credit would be restored nearly two decades after he died.

Give That Oscar Back: Young Americans, the winner of the 1968 Best Documentary Award, has the unfortunate distinction of being the only film to have its Academy Award revoked. This nonfiction focus on the Young Americans musical choir was discovered to have theatrical playdates in 1967, thus making it ineligible for the 1968 award. “Journey Into Self,” the runner-up in the Oscar voting, was belatedly given the honor months after the awards ceremony.

The Afterthought Nominee: After the 1972 Best Dramatic Score award nominees were announced, Nino Rota’s nomination for “The Godfather” was revoked after it was discovered he reused music from the 1958 film “Fortunella.” The Academy's music branch was reconvened to vote on a replacement nominee – the first time something like that ever happened. John Addison’s score for “Sleuth” became the replacement choice, losing to the aforementioned “Limelight” score – and this was, obviously, the strangest year in that category’s history.

Dial-An-Oscar: Songwriters Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster managed to score a Best Song nomination for “A World That Never Was” featured in “Half a House,” a small independent film with a scant theatrical distribution. Because there were no funds to mount a full-blown awards campaign, Fain and Webster set up a phone number with a recording of the song and asked Academy members to call and listen to the tune. It wasn’t enough – “Evergreen” from the Barbra Streisand version of “A Star is Born” was the year’s winner.

Going To The Dogs: For the Best Adapted Screenplay competition among the 1984 films, “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle” brought in nominations for P.H. Vazak and Michael Austin. Vazak was a new name to the Oscar voters, but few realized that it was actually the Hungarian sheepdog belonging to Robert Towne, a previous Oscar winner for “Chinatown.” Towne was furious at the changes made to his script and demanded that his name be removed, using his dog’s moniker as the replacement. Thus, history was made with the first (and, to date, only) canine nominee for the Academy Award.

Photo: Bugs Bunny accepting his (ahem) Oscar in “What’s Cookin’ Doc?” (1944), courtesy of Warner Bros.

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