Best Actor of 1992
Nominees: Robert Downey Jr. ("Chaplin"), Clint Eastwood ("Unforgiven"), Al Pacino ("Scent of a Woman"), Stephen Rea ("The Crying Game"), Denzel Washington ("Malcolm X")
And the award went to: Pacino, as a blind, retired Army man whose strident bravado masked a wrenching sadness.
But it should've been: Washington. His galvanizing work as the slain civil-rights leader is widely considered one the greatest performances of his career. Unfortunately, the Spike Lee–directed film was likely too controversial for the Academy. Washington also had the misfortune of going up against Pacino, a seven-time Oscar loser who was fast racking up his own collection of Susan Lucci jokes. Pacino won, despite an overblown performance filled with shouty line deliveries that left audiences' ears ringing. Not to mention a bad taste in their mouths.