Sunday, September 16, 2012

10 Least Deserving Best Picture Winners


Earlier this week, I clocked which Best Pictures winners most shook up the Academy system. The antithesis to those game changers, as it were, are the least deserving winners of the top prize.

Now, please keep in mind that I’m not necessarily saying all of these films are horrible –in fact, most are rather solid – I’m simply stating that, given their competition, in no way did they deserve to win. I hope you enjoy my picks, and please feel free to list some of your own in the comments!

An American in Paris (1951)
Other nominees: Decision Before Dawn, A Place in the Sun, Quo Vadis, A Streetcar Named Desire
Okay, now, admittedly, musicals aren’t my thing. I understand that An American in Paris is a milestone of American musical films, but there’s simply no argument out there that can convince me it is better than A Place in the Sun or A Streetcar Named Desire. Granted, both of those flicks were edgy for their time (hell, they’re edgy now), so I can understand why they lost out. But that doesn't necessarily make it okay.

The Sting (1973)
Other nominees: American Graffiti, Cries and Whispers, The Exorcist, A Touch of Glass
The Sting is by far my favorite film on this list, so, again, don’t take this as a dig against George Roy Hill’s endlessly entertaining con artist thriller. But is it as revelatory as American Graffiti, or bold as The Exorcist, or as fucking perfect as Cries and Whispers? Nah.

Rocky (1976)
Other nominees: All the President’s Men, Bound for Glory, Network, Taxi Driver
I dig Rocky’s earnestness, but when you stack it up against two flawless features (Network, All the President’s Men) and Taxi Driver, the tell all to end all of films, then Rocky’s win simply is not justified.

Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
Other nominees: Born on the Fourth of July, Dead Poets Society, Field of Dreams, My Left Foot
I respect the overt sentimentality of Dead Poets Society and Field of Dreams (both of which are extremely rewatchable, I might add), and I love the heavy-handedness of Born on the Fourth of July and My Left Foot. These are four solid-to-remarkable films. Driving Miss Daisy is something you watch once in your eighth grade civics class. That’s enough.

Dances with Wolves (1990)
Other nominees: Awakenings, Ghost, The Godfather Part III, GoodFellas
I’m no fan of Dances with Wolves. I think it is long, inaccurate and just plain boring. And while I appreciate the people do indeed enjoy it, come on now, we’re talking about GoodFellas. Let me put this another way: when was the last time you watched Dances with Wolves? When was the last time you watched GoodFellas? Yup.

The English Patient (1996)
Other nominees: Fargo, Jerry Maguire, Secrets & Lies, Shine
There was no reason for The English Patient to not win. It’s sprawling, huge, and genuinely good. I get that. But still… taking into account the vividness of Fargo, the heart of Jerry Maguire and the honesty of Secrets & Lies, I can’t stand behind The English Patient here.

Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Other nominees: Elizabeth, Life is Beautiful, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line
Shakespeare in Love is the least deserving Best Picture winner of all time. By now it’s common knowledge that Bob and Harvey Weinstein all but bought this award by sending voters lavish gifts, a practice that has now been banned. So, yeah, they won it, but did they really win it?

A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Other nominees: Gosford Park, In the Bedroom, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the King, Moulin Rouge!
This might be the one time I am able to side with Lord of the Rings fans. Now, do I think The Fellowship of the Ring is a better film then A Beautiful Mind? My god no. But many (…most?) people do. Do I think A Beautiful Mind is better than the other three nominated films? Not a chance.

Crash (2005)
Other nominees: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night, and Good Luck, Munich
I lied. Crash is the least deserving Best Picture winner of all time. I could go on, but I’m done talking about this movie’s win.

The King’s Speech (2010)
Other nominees: Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone
From the moment I first saw The King’s Speech, I considered it nothing more than a glorified HBO movie. And that’s no insult – HBO cooks out quality films, but are the Best Picture worthy? Not in my mind. Every actor involved here is nothing short of superb, sure, but the movie is dull, especially when lined up with its competition.

45 comments:

  1. YAY! You did another list!

    The only film that I come close to hating is Driving Miss Daisy, but these are all great picks. Like you said, most them are rather solid.

    Not going to argue about Crash. I disagree, but I'm tired of defending it.

    I had the same reaction to The King's Speech, and I stand by that.

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    1. I know I've been hard on Crash in these two posts, but check it out. In 2005, I called it my favorite film of the year. I was completely taken by it. Now, I'd probably give it a B-, so it is by no means an awful film, but compared to those other four nominated films (Brokeback would get an A+ from me), it is vastly inferior.

      Again, this is all just my opinion, but I don't think Crash is a garbage film. It's just one that gets worse with time.

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    2. Fair enough. It was originally my favorite that year too. I'm not as praiseworthy of the film as I was on its original release either, but I'd still probably give it an A-.

      Also, I rewatched 25th Hour last night, and you're right: masterpiece.

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    3. What about The Artist? The Descendants, War Horse, and Hugo were all better. Even Drive and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy were better, and they weren't even nominated. Jean DuJardin deserved his Oscar though.

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    4. I think when I made this list, The Artist was very close to making the final cut. So many films deserved to win more than it, IMO. The Tree of Life chief among them.

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  2. To tell you the truth, I was about to write a long, winding comment about all your picks. But then you have already written a post, I don't need to write another one in comments do I? So, I will just say this. AGREED!! Every last one of these with every damn reason you give!

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  3. I have one, Oliver!. The film that won the Oscar in 1968, the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey came out which wasn't nominated for Best Picture. Boo!!!

    I fucking hate Driving Miss Daisy. It's sappy, it's overbearing, and too touchy-feely. Aside from the films that were nominated that year, there were better movies that came out that didn't get nominated for Best Picture. Glory, Do the Right Thing, Drugstore Cowboy, sex, lies, & videotape, Batman, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

    Crash over Brokeback Mountain, Shakespeare in Love over The Thin Red Line and Dances with Wolves over Goodfellas. FUCK THAT!

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    1. Yeah, I'm not a fan of Oliver! at all, but when I look at the nominated films that year, it might just be the best of the bunch.

      Driving Miss Daisy's win is batshit nuts. Period.

      Ha, fuck dat indeed!

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  4. Agreed on most picks with the exception of The English Patient,I think it's Anthony Minghella's best work and one of the best epics after Lawrance of Arabia,I would rather choose Out of Africa in this list.

    I've written a post before named If I could Choose the Past 83 Oscar Best Pictures…,gosh,I re-chose half of the winners.

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    1. Again, I love The English Patient, but certainly not more than the other four nominated films. (I also think Minghella's best film is The Talented Mr. Ripley, but to each his own!)

      As Out of Africa, Prizzi's Honor and Kiss of the Spider Woman are definitely better, but not as outrageous a win as some of the others I mentioned, you know?

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  5. Agreed on all of these, as we all know the academy voters have a fetish for period-pieces and romances. Hey, please check out my own list of 10 greatest Dream sequences on film on whatculture!.com. if you have the time.

    http://whatculture.com/film/10-greatest-dream-sequences-on-film.php
    please tell me what you think.

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    1. I'll scope out your list a little later!

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  6. Love this list!

    So many of these make no sense to me- Rocky, English Patient, A Beautiful fucking Mind, Crash.

    I would say on the most personal level, 2010 was the year that I properly got into the awards race because of The Social Network, and I literally prayed for that film to win. And then The King's Speech just ruined everything. Still, that win is better than bloody Tom Hooper beating David Fincher. I'll never forgive the Oscars for that (and the total rejection of Harry Potter but that's a whole another rant).

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    1. Thanks homeguurl!

      "A Beautiful fucking Mind" shit was hilarious.

      Yeah, Hooper's win is more baffling than The King's Speech winning it all. I knew The King's Speech was going to win, but Hooper... I just don't get that.

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  7. Awesome list!! 2010 was the first year I followed movies closely and I was shocked Inception or The Social Network didn't win. Ridiculous!

    As for the 2005 movies, I've only seen Crash from the 5 nominees (lol!) and I didn't mind it.

    Great list. It's funny that I didn't really enjoy Taxi Driver or Goodfellas (my bad) so I'm not too outraged they didn't win haha

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    1. 2010 was kind of an awards show disaster. For the most part, at least.

      I really, truly, honestly, don't think Crash is a bad film, I just don't think it deserves to be forever hailed as a Best Picture winner.

      My bold, presumptuous assertion of the day: You'll like Taxi Driver and GoodFellas more with time. Don't give up on them!

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    2. Sounds good! Always willing to give movies I didn't love another shot. Unless that movie is Sin City (random Sin City rant)

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    3. Ha, aw I LOVE Sin City. "That there is one damn fine coat you have."

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  8. Huh. So you're saying Crash is both a game-changing and a least deserving Best Picture winner? (Just trying to get this straight.)

    You know why The English Patient (which I liked, mind you, but not on a grand scale), Shakespeare in Love and The King's Speech won? Two words: Harvey Weinstein. Dude needs to stop promoting the bejesus out the films he or his studio produced.

    One Best Picture winner I'm not overly find of winning is American Beauty. (Yeah, I went there.) I mean, I was fine with its win for a while, even though I found the film a trifle overrated. What made me change my opinion? One viewing of The Insider.

    Oh, and for A Beautiful Mind? I would've been fine had that won Best Actor. (Yeah, I liked Crowe's performance more than Washington's, so sue me.) But top prize? Nah.

    (Also, what's with the Oscar posts all of a sudden? This doesn't seem like you at all.)

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    1. Crash's win is game changing because it proved ANYTHING can win, no matter how inferior the film is to the other nominees, so I definitely think it deserves to be on both lists.

      Yep, Weinstein is why those flicks won. No argument here.

      The Insider is a better film than American Beauty. I never thought I'd admit that, but a few years ago, I watched them back to back and couldn't help it. Truth.

      I think I'm one of four people alive who thought Will Smith should've won Best Actor in 2001. I'm not terribly fond of Washington's performance either.

      PS, I love your little "Yeah, I went there" and "So sue me" comments. Not everyone disagrees with you! haha

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  9. I'm glad someone else agrees that The Kings Speech was less deserving than some of the other films listed. Was it good? Yes. Was it great? I don't think so. I forgot how many great films 2010 had to offer until I saw your list...

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    1. The Academy seems to be on a real sentimental kick these past few years. Hoping they shake it up this year.

      Thanks for reading/commenting!

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  10. Great list Alex. I loved Shakespeare in Love and find it hilariously witty, epic, and romantic in it's own way but I still don't think it deserved to win Best Picture over The Thin Red Line and Shaving Ryan's Privates. Also, in my mind, Moulin Rouge! deserved Best Picture in 2001 but I understand I am alone in that boat.

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    1. Thanks Dan. Well even though you love Shakes in Love, I'm glad we can agree that it didn't deserve to win. And with the exception of LOTR, I would've liked to have seen any movie win over A Beautiful Mind, Moulin Rouge! included.

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  11. What a great list. I could not agree more about essentially all of these picks that I've seen. I would've loved to see LOTR win over A Beautiful Mind, Taxi Driver over Rocky, Brokeback over Crash and Goodfellas over DWW more than anything else. Four Flawless films for me.

    I would've added a few others. Mainly NCFOM over There Will Be Blood, Ordinary People over Raging Bull, The Artist over The Tree of Life, The Hurt Locked over an un-nominated A Single Man, Chicago over any other nominee, and (This one may get me into some trouble) Million Dollar Baby over The Aviator.

    Again, great list!

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    1. Thanks man! I'm a little confused, are you saying the choices in your second paragraph are ones you don't agree with? If so, I agree with all of your new picks. Well, except for Million Dollar Baby, although The Aviator is a damn fine film.

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    2. Sorry about the confusion. Yeah I don't agree with those second paragraph picks. I love Million Dollar Baby but it just can't top The Aviator for me.

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    3. It's all good man! I could stand to watch The Aviator again. Question I never had answered: why is the grass frequently blue in that movie? Same with the cornfields. Was he color blind? (Or at least color hue blind?)

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  12. Crash x1000000! That film was a total embarrassment, and it blows my mind how it even received consideration for a nomination.

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  13. Uuugghhhhhh.....Rocky. I had to force myself to sit still during that film.

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    1. Yup, it just does not stand up well over time. Good enough movie, but Best Picture...

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  14. Bloody The King's Speech. I still fume over that win. 2010 was a fucking good year for film and that film was chosen as the representative for that year. I mean, Inception has always been my favourite, but The Social Network should have won!

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    1. Yeah, completely agree. Black Swan is my fave of that bunch, but it should've been Social Network, hands down. I think after the bold few years the Academy had, they wanted to go with something more heartfelt. Oh well!

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  15. Oh my God, this list is perfect.

    I seriously hate Dances With Wolves so much. The English Patient was boring and The King's Speech, while it was a good film was NOT the best film out of the nominees that year. And Brokeback Mountain deserved to win over Crash.

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    1. Nice! Glad to see we agree on a lot of these. Thanks for the comment and Twitter follow!

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  16. Holy crap, Rocky won over All the President's Men AND Taxi Driver?!? Don't get me wrong -- I think Rocky was a pretty good film. But over All the President's Men and Taxi Driver? And I wouldn't have picked anything over Fargo. But The English Patient, Shine, and Secrets & Lies were all terrific in my estimation. I never really understood the love for Jerry Maguire. Great list!

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    1. Ugh, Rocky... I'm with you, I appreciate it too, but it is in no way a better film than its competition. Oh well!

      Jerry Maguire is a weird one for me. It's the kind of movie that I should in no way like, but I love to death. I can watch it on repeat. But still, Fargo, and Secrets & Lies deserved Best Pic over that and The English Patient.

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  17. Finally! I've found someone else who didn't care much for The King's Speech! Whenever I tell people I didn't really like it, they all react like I just insulted The Godfather or Citizen Kane. Thank you.

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    1. Definitely not a film for me. Fine for a Sunday night special on HBO, but BEST PICTURE....? Nah.

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  18. I'm quite glad someone else feels my pain over The Kings Speech winning Best Picture. It's a good film, but it has little repeat value unlike The Social Network, inception, and Black Swan. All of which I've watched multiple times and would've been MUCH better choices. I could go into The English Patient and Crashs wins but this post would be much longer. I will just say that Crashs win was inexcusable.

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    1. Agree with you all the way here. I've seen The King's Speech once, and that was plenty. Social Network, Inception, Black Swan... I can revisit them most anytime. And Crash... (sigh), forgetaboutit.

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  19. I might disagree with the adding of Rocky, like A LOT,...A LOT!!! Not because the film was better then All the President’s Men, Network or Taxi Driver, but because it is a great movie that deserved the praise that it got. It's the story of the underdog that wins, and it's fantastic that the real underdog won the best picture. And it's simply outrageous that a film so good as is Rocky can be considered for a top 10 worst best picture winners.

    I might agree with The Sting, though simply because The Sting is a really good movie but American Graffiti, Cries and Whispers and The Exorcist are real masterpieces.

    I would also add Chicago. It's okay but really better then Gangs of New York, The Hours, The Two Towers (someone worked really hard on them and the effort should be at least appreciated) or THE PIANIST. No fucking way.

    Or for that matter Titanic. Cameron made it so he can have money to explore the ship. And that's fine, but it isn't as good as As Good as It Gets, or good as Good Will Hunting and nor L.A. Confidential.

    It's interesting that you didn't put The Return of the King on this list.

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    1. You have to read my intro: "Now, please keep in mind that I’m not necessarily saying all of these films are horrible –in fact, most are rather solid – I’m simply stating that, given their competition, in no way did they deserve to win."

      Rocky isn't one of the WORST Best Picture winners ever, but, to me, one of the least deserving, when judging it next to its competition.

      I did consider Titanic, Chicago and Return of the King, but the listed 10 beat them out.

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