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They lost? Those times when Oscar didn't get it right

And the loser is . . .

Marlon Brando in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Anne Bancroft in "The Graduate." Al Pacino in "The Godfather." Bette Davis in "All About Eve."

They're among the indelible performances that Oscar has spurned, contributing to a list that's often more memorable than the official rundown of winners: Stanley Kowalski and Mrs. Robinson, Michael Corleone and Margo Channing - all rejected.

Such slights, misdeeds and surprises make the Academy Awards an irresistible, win-lose double feature, full of wincing, debating, guessing, wagering. Oscar sparks more arguments that Emmy, Tony and Grammy combined.

So this story is devoted to the glorious losers. For space and sanity, it begins in the 1950s (so apologies to losers of earlier decades, such as "Citizen Kane," "The Grapes of Wrath" and "Duck Soup.")

The envelopes, please.

1950 Slipping in

BEST ACTRESS Davis' fasten-your-seat-belts performance in "All About Eve" competed with Gloria Swanson's hypnotic turn in "Sunset Boulevard." But the Oscar went to Judy Holliday in "Born Yesterday."

1951 Nostalgia

BEST ACTOR Brando in "Streetcar" loses to Humphrey Bogart ("The African Queen"). Was this delayed compensation for the "Casablanca" affront?

BEST PICTURE "An American in Paris" dances over "A Place in the Sun" and "Streetcar."

1952 The worst, part I

BEST PICTURE Cecil B. DeMille's three-ring soap opera, "The Greatest Show on Earth," wins. The classic, politically charged "High Noon" is left to clean up after the elephants.

NOT NOMINATED "Singin' in the Rain"

1956 The worst, part II

BEST PICTURE The endless "Around the World in 80 Days" beats "Giant."

NOT NOMINATED John Ford's towering Western "The Searchers."

BEST ACTOR Kirk Douglas ("Lust for Life") loses to Yul Brynner ("The King and I").

NOT NOMINATED John Wayne ("The Searchers").

1958 Champagne and songs

BEST PICTURE "Gigi" wins, continuing the costume-musical theme.

NOT NOMINATED Alfred Hitchcock's peerless "Vertigo" and Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil."

1964 Culture clash, part I

BEST PICTURE "My Fair Lady" dances all night. (At least Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove" was nominated.)

1967 Culture clash, part II

BEST PICTURE "In the Heat of the Night" defeats "The Graduate" and "Bonnie and Clyde."

BEST ACTRESS Katharine Hepburn wins for "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," beating Bancroft as the carnivorous Mrs. Robinson.

1968 Past as future

BEST PICTURE The as-long-as-he-needs-me musical "Oliver!" nabs top honors.

NOT NOMINATED "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Planet of the Apes" and Mel Brooks' "The Producers." ("Funny Girl," however, was.)

1969 Duke-ing it out

BEST ACTOR John Wayne rewarded for Rooster Cogburn in "True Grit," putting away Ratso Rizzo and Joe Buck (Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight) in "Midnight Cowboy," which wins best picture.

1970 Warfare

BEST PICTURE Traditional, serious "Patton" wins over nontraditional, hilarious "M*A*S*H."

NOT NOMINATED Director Bob Rafelson for "Five Easy Pieces."

1971 The chase

BEST PICTURE "The French Connection" speeds ahead of "The Last Picture Show" and "A Clockwork Orange."

NOT NOMINATED "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" (and its director, Robert Altman).

1972 High crimes

SUPPORTING ACTOR Joel Grey ("Cabaret") robs Pacino ("The Godfather").

1973 Low crimes

BEST PICTURE, DIRECTOR "The Sting" and director George Roy Hill.

NOT NOMINATED "Mean Streets" and Martin Scorsese.

1976 Punchy, part I

BEST PICTURE In the year of "All the President's Men," "Network" and "Taxi Driver," best picture goes to "Rocky."

1980 Punchy, part II

BEST PICTURE "Ordinary People" KOs "Raging Bull."

BEST DIRECTOR Likewise, Robert Redford decisions Martin Scorsese.

1982 Size matters, part I

BEST PICTURE "Gandhi" named over "Tootsie" and "E.T."

1990 Whacked

BEST PICTURE "Dances With Wolves" rubs out "GoodFellas."

1996 Size matters, part II

BEST PICTURE "The English Patient" wins; "Fargo" loses.

1997 Sail away

BEST PICTURE The year of "Titanic," not "L.A. Confidential."

NOT NOMINATED Russell Crowe for "L.A. Confidential."

2001 Best snub

BEST ACTOR Temperamental Crowe ("A Beautiful Mind") loses to Denzel Washington ("Training Day").

2002 Off-key

BEST ACTOR Daniel Day-Lewis' stunning portrayal of Bill the Butcher in "Gangs of New York" rejected in favor of Adrien Brody in "The Pianist."

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