Winning an Oscar is a sign of greatness and excellence in the world of film. But who is the worst of the best? Here’s 10 the 10 worst Oscar winners.
10. ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ (1989)
Directed by Bruce Beresford, this adaptation of the Alfred Uhry play also garnered a Best Actress Oscar win for Jessica Tandy, who played Miss Daisy, an elderly Southern Jewish widow who, through a complex relationship with her black chauffeur, Hoke (Morgan Freeman), witnesses a change in the perception of race in America and an unlikely friendship between the two is formed. Though capturing strong performances by Tandy and Freeman (who was nominated for Best Actor), the film was a safe choice by the Academy, selecting a “dramedy” on the issue of race while virtually ignoring a harder-hitting film on the subject, ‘Glory.’
Other Nominees: ‘Born on the Fourth of July,’ ‘Dead Poets Society,”Field of Dreams,’ ‘My Left Foot’
Should Have Won: ‘Born of the Fourth of July’
9. ‘Oliver!’ (1968)
Musicals have always been popular with the Academy, but that doesn’t mean they’re always the right choice. Granted, a big-budget version of the popular stage musical adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic ‘Oliver Twist’ seems like a no-brainer. But at the end of the day, the film, helmed by legendary British director Carol Reed (who won Best Director), lacked the engaging performances that fellow musical ‘Funny Girl’ had, making the 153-minute running time excruciating to sit through. And the fact that ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ wasn’t even a Best Picture nominee casts a very dark cloud over the ’68 Oscars.
Other Nominees: ‘Funny Girl,’ ‘The Lion in Winter,’ ‘Rachel, Rachel,”Romeo and Juliet’
Should Have Won: ‘The Lion in Winter’
8. ‘A Beautiful Mind’ (2001)
Best Director winner Ron Howard’s look at the life of schizophrenic mathematical genius John Nash (played by Russell Crowe, who received a Best Actor nomination) has never been a popular Best Picture choice. There’s the film’s looseness with the facts (which isn’t a huge detraction, as it’s not the first or last to do that), but mainly the subject matter of a mentally troubled math whiz is a hard sell — and with the arc of the story resting on the skills of the actor playing Nash, Crowe’s performance has always been one of contention.
Other Nominees: ‘Gosford Park,’ ‘In the Bedroom,’ ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,’ ‘Moulin Rouge!’
Should Have Won: ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’
7. ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ (1956)
This is one of the biggest head-scratchers on the list. With other nominees including ‘Giant,’ ‘The King and I’ and ‘The Ten Commandments,’ this adaptation of the classic Jules Verne novel by director Michael Anderson (nominated for Best Director) was thought not to have a chance. What the Academy members saw in an English bloke attempting to navigate around the world in a hot air balloon over James Dean, Yul Brynner wooing Deborah Kerr, and Charlton Heston as Moses is beyond us.
Other Nominees: ‘Friendly Persuasion,’ ‘Giant,’ ‘The King and I,’ ‘The Ten Commandments’
Should Have Won: ‘The Ten Commandments’
6. ‘Shakespeare in Love’ (1998)
It’s not often a comedy gets Best Picture love from the Academy (the last one was ‘Annie Hall’ in ’77), and that’s just one of many hurdles this film cleared to walk away with a highly controversial Best Picture win. While the film’s premise — William “Will” Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) who, while suffering writer’s block, starts a love affair with Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow, who won Best Actress) that leads him to pen ‘Romeo and Juliet’ — is clever, saying it was better than Steven Spielberg’s World War II masterwork ‘Saving Private Ryan’ is problematic. Some could make the argument that the movie got the Oscar thanks to Harvey Weinstein. Distributing the film back in his Miramax days, he waged an aggressive multimillion-dollar campaign that had never been attempted by a non-studio title up to that time.
Other Nominees: ‘Elizabeth,’ ‘Life Is Beautiful,’ ‘Saving Private Ryan,”The Thin Red Line’
Should Have Won: ‘Saving Private Ryan’
5. ‘Chicago’ (2002)
Another film masterminded by Harvey Weinstein, this musical from director Rob Marshall (nominated for Best Director) — his feature debut — marked the second consecutive year a musical was nominated for Best Picture (‘Moulin Rouge!’ was nominated the year before), and the win was the first for that genre since ‘Oliver!’ (and you know how we feel about that one). But we’d rather watch that than sit through the song-and-dance numbers done by Catherine Zeta-Jones (winner of Best Supporting Actress), Renée Zellweger and Richard Gere.
Other Nominees: ‘Gangs of New York,’ ‘The Hours,’ ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,’ ‘The Pianist’
Should Have Won: ‘The Pianist’
4. ‘How Green Was My Valley’ (1941)
You may recall this touching tale spanning 50 years of an impoverished mining town … oh, wait, you can’t? Well, maybe you’ve heard of one of the other Best Picture nominees, ‘Citizen Kane.’ Yes, today John Ford’s sappy drama is known better for being the film that beat out Orson Welles’ magnum opus than actually, you know, being good. And the cherry on top: Ford also won Best Director.
Other Nominees: ‘Blossoms in the Dust,’ ‘Citizen Kane,’ ‘Here Comes Mr. Jordan,’ ‘Hold Back the Dawn,’ ‘The Little Foxes,’ ‘The Maltese Falcon,’ ‘One Foot in Heaven,’ ‘Sergeant York,’ ‘Suspicion’
Should Have Won: ‘Citizen Kane’
3. ‘Rain Man’ (1988)
The pairing of Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman created one of the most unlikely duos in movie history. And regardless of how touching the story is of a selfish yuppie (Cruise) who finds purpose in his life after embarking on a road trip with his autistic brother (Hoffman), the film (which also received Oscar wins for Hoffman and director Barry Levinson) has always felt too simplistic to be a Best Picture winner. So did the Cruise/Hoffman pairing work so well that it blinded the Academy to the film’s normalcy? Or was it just a weak nominee class? We think it’s the latter.
Other Nominees: ‘The Accidental Tourist,’ ‘Dangerous Liaisons,’ ‘Mississippi Burning,’ ‘Working Girl’
Should Have Won: ‘Dangerous Liaisons’
2. ‘Dances With Wolves’ (1990)
Director-producer-star Kevin Costner’s Civil War Western has all the elements the Academy loves: epic story, lead character immersing himself in a foreign culture, historically significant. But ‘Dances With Wolves’ wasn’t the ’90s version of ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’ Its pretentious look at the West and Native Americans is painful to watch at times, as its poor pacing and lack of a fulfilling ending made us more pissed at Costner (who also won Best Director) than what happens to the Native Americans in the movie. Worst of all: It beat Martin Scorsese’s modern-day classic ‘Goodfellas.’
Other Nominees: ‘Awakenings,’ ‘Ghost,’ ‘The Godfather: Part III,”Goodfellas’
Should Have Won: ‘Goodfellas’
1. ‘Crash’ (2005)
It was the winner that shocked Hollywood. But Best Director nomineePaul Haggis’s interweaving story involving a handful of characters of different races and social classes set over two days in L.A. is hardly groundbreaking. Though the Academy may have been distracted by the gaudy talent attached — Matt Dillon (nominated for Best Supporting Actor), Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howardand Ryan Phillippe, among others — at its core the film is very preachy. If the Academy really wanted to make a statement about social change, it should have chosen the film about two male cowboys with a “special relationship.”
Other Nominees: ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ ‘Capote,’ ‘Good Night, and Good Luck,’ ‘Munich’
Should Have Won: ‘Brokeback Mountain’