The 6 Most Undeserving Best Supporting Actress Oscar Winners
I love the Academy Awards. I watch them every year, even if I haven't seen many of the nominated films. Watching the Oscars feels like witnessing Hollywood history, and although I know people complain about the politicization of the entertainment industry, it's easy for me to put all of that aside (0ther than momentarily grumbling about it) one night a year.
I've also enjoyed studying the history of the Oscars, and along with that, I like playing armchair movie critic, looking back and judging which wins made sense and which winners were undeserving. The Academy usually gets it right, but occasionally, they make the wrong choice.
In the days leading up to this year's Academy Awards, I'm going to look at the four acting categories along with Best Picture and share the most undeserving winners in each category with you. I'll also speculate on who should have won instead.
Today, let's take a look at the Best Supporting Actress category. Here are the six most undeserving Oscar recipients. Enjoy!
6. Helen Hayes, Airport (1970)
The star-studded disaster movie was a hallmark of cinema in the 1970s. The basic plot of these films follows a cast of characters interacting in a particular environment where disaster awaits—if you've seen the Airplane comedies, probably the only lasting legacy of these pictures, you'll understand the concept.
Airport was the first of this genre of movies, and the cast included the legendary actress Helen Hayes, who played an elderly stowaway in a somewhat silly, non-challenging role that critic Pauline Kael referred to as "her lovable-old-trouper pixie act." The flight crew enlists Hayes' character to help foil a potential bombing on the plane.
The Academy Award nominations that year pitted the old guard against a new generation, and the Best Supporting Actress was no exception, with younger actresses like Karen Black and Sally Kellerman in bold films facing down older stars like Hayes and her co-star Maureen Stapleton.
But it was Hayes' name in the envelope, and she won her second Oscar, though she wasn't present to accept it. The critics seemed to be glad she was absent because, as one critic noted, her work in Airport was, "let's face it, just a teentsy-weentsy bit terrible."
Who should've won? Black's role in Five Easy Pieces may be one of the few long-lasting roles from that year, but the Oscar should've gone to Hayes' co-star, Stapleton, who played the bomber's distraught wife.