Posted on Saturday, January 24th, 2009 by David Chen
I know this will come as a shock to most of you, but when the 2008 Oscar nominations were announced the other day, a lot of people were upset that The Dark Knight got snubbed for Best Picture (and that Nolan got passed over for Best Director). Imagine that: Internet people getting upset that The Dark Knight is somehow not getting enough recognition. It’s wild, right?
All of the uproar led one Academy Award voter to state, “I plan on casting a write-in vote for [The Dark Knight] on the final ballot.” This raises the question: Could The Dark Knight win best picture as a write-in candidate? Hit the jump for the answer.
One of the factors that prompted the creation of write-ins was the 1935 snubbing of actress Bette Davis for what many considered to be one of the best performances of the year in John Cromwell’s Of Human Bondage. Outraged at this development, celebrities demanded the ability to write-in votes for Davis. Even The Hollywood Reporter got into the act, insinuating that the voting process that year was somehow mishandled. In response, in February 1935, Academy president Howard Estabrook announced that voters could write-in their personal choices for the winner of each category. Write-in votes would then be counted, just like any other votes.
At the 1936 Oscar ceremony, Hal Mohr became the first person in history to win an Oscar based on write-in votes alone. Mohr won an Oscar for cinematography for his work in the 1935 film, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (he had not been nominated). But due to the myriad of issues that were generated by the write-in process, not to mention the general confusion for all parties, the Academy changed the rules to forbid write-ins after 1936. This made Hal Mohr the first and last person ever to win an Oscar through a write-in campaign.
In other words: Sorry guys. There is no way The Dark Knight will be taking home a Best Picture or a Best Director trophy come February 22nd. But look on the bright side – at least it was nominated for a ton of other technical awards!
Some research for this post was derived from Emanuel Levy’s book, All About Oscar: The History and Politics of the Academy Awards. You can reach David Chen at davechensemail(at)gmail.com.