Ideally, the Oscars that are annually awarded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to movies and filmmakers garner admiration and respect from onlookers. More often than not, though, the opposite occurs.
At times, this is because the Oscar winners either didn’t age well or they failed to accurately reflect the time they were made in. In worse cases, they’re dismissed as elitist since they cater more to perceived gatekeepers than mainstream audiences.
10 Bohemian Rhapsody Winning Best Editing Was Difficult To Take Seriously
Bohemian Rhapsody was hounded by tons of controversies, including its win for Best Editing in 2019. The Queen biopic’s Academy Award sparked mockery online, with many angry and confused as to how a movie that overused quick-cuts not unlike how Taken 3 did could even be nominated, let alone win, the top editing prize.
Many cited Queen’s first meeting with their manager as the worst example, since it was just a simple conversation that somehow resulted in almost 60 snappy cuts in the span of one minute and 22 seconds. Editor John Ottman has since apologized, saying that Bohemian Rhapsody was not his best work and it only embarrasses him in hindsight.
9 How Green Was My Valley Is Only Remembered For Overshadowing Citizen Kane
Gruffydd Listens To A Child In How Green Was My Valley
Today, Citizen Kane isn’t just considered to be one of the most influential watershed movies ever made, but one of the all time best. The 14th Academy Awards told a different story. Not only did Orson Welles’ movie lose eight of nine nominations, it was effectively shut out by the now-vilified How Green Was My Valley.
John Ford’s generational family drama wasn’t bad, but it was a predictable bet that was rewarded for playing safe while Citizen Kane was ostracized for going against the era’s norms. Additionally, Welles’ movie was subjected to a smear campaign from newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst, who viewed Kane as an attack on his credibility.
8 Forrest Gump Was The Least Challenging Best Picture Of Its Year
Forrest Goes For A Run In Forrest Gump
The 67th Academy Awards went down in history for having one of the most impressive Best Picture line-ups ever seen. Here, Quentin Tarantino’s counterculture Pulp Fiction went up against the epic Stephen King adaptation The Shawshank Redemption for the top prize. Instead, the idyllic and saccharine Forrest Gump won Best Picture in 1995.
At its worst, Forrest Gump was an unchallenging melodrama that seemingly affirmed what could charitably be described as a conservative view of American history. Unlike its Best Picture rivals, Forrest Gump’s retroactive analyses have been unkind, with modern viewers getting more annoyed by Forrest’s naivety than charmed.
7 The King’s Speech Became The Embodiment Of Oscar-Winning Mediocrity
King George V Faces The Crowd In The Kings Speech
Today, The King’s Speech is only remembered for how forgettable it is and how its director went on to make Cats. The historical drama about King George V overcoming his speech impediment just in time for World War II wasn’t the worst of its kind, but paled when contrasted to daring competition like Black Swan, Inception, or The Social Network.
Adding to the vitriol was how biopic won shortly after the Academy adjusted its Best Picture rules to make more room for genre movies following The Reader’s backlash. As far as critics were concerned, the Academy was still biased towards dramas that mainstream viewers barely cared for, with The King’s Speech being proof of this.
6 The Reader Became The Definition Of “Oscar Bait”
Hanna Learns How To Read In The Reader
During her appearance on the comedy show Extras, Kate Winslet parodied herself by portraying an actress who was so desperate for an Oscar that she starred in a movie about the Holocaust. Some time later, this skit became prophetic when Winslet was declared Best Actress for her role in The Reader, a movie about the Holocaust.
What made this controversial wasn’t just Winslet’s character (basically an illiterate Nazi), but what her movie represented. Besides accusations of downplaying the Holocaust, The Reader being rewarded for pandering to the Academy’s prestige biases while ignoring genre fare like The Dark Knight and WALL-E caused such an uproar that the rules for Best Picture nominees were changed.
5 Shakespeare In Love’s Aggressive Awards Campaign Set A Negative Precedent
Shakespeare Lives Out Romeo And Juliet In Shakespeare In Love
In a vacuum, Shakespeare In Love is an inoffensive if disposable historical romance that shined a new light on William Shakespeare’s life and literary legacy. As the 71st Academy Awards’ big winner including Best Picture and Best Actress, however, Shakespeare’s rom-com is a cynical ploy engineered to win Oscar trophies.
From its release to the Oscars ceremony, producers launched a zealous campaign for Shakespeare In Love while smearing the reputation of Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. The underhanded tactics worked and were even copied by other studios, but in the long run, Shakespeare In Love’s mediocrity was exposed and any merits it had were nullified by how it won.
4 Roman Polanski Tarnished The Best Director Trophy Forever
Roman Polanski Directs Adrian Brody In The Pianist
Ever since winning big at the 75th Academy Awards, The Pianist has been mired in controversy for reasons outside of its actual quality. Issues include Adrian Brody’s method acting which was deemed pretentious, the movie’s subject matter (i.e. The Holocaust) which cynics saw as pandering to the Academy, and everything about its director.
Polanski won Best Director, despite his known history of sexual assault and worse. Notably, Polanski didn’t attend the ceremony in Hollywood, Los Angeles because he was still living in France to evade arrest. In light of the #MeToo movement and more, the Academy’s rewarding of The Pianist has been heavily lambasted and scrutinized.
3 Annie Hall’s Legacy Gets Bleaker As Time Passes On
Alvy Shows Annie The City In Annie Hall
Even momentarily ignoring director/writer/star Woody Allen’s history of sexual indecency, Annie Hall has not aged well at all. What once was a quirky love story between a charming academic and a free-spirited woman has been exposed to be self-pitying wish-fulfillment on Allen’s part, especially since he cast himself as the leading man, Alvy Singer.
Worse, Alvy’s treatment of the titular Annie was viewed as objectification at best and emotionally abusive at worst. Allen’s past accusations of grooming and molestation made it impossible to separate him from Annie Hall, which made its wins in the 50th Academy Awards (including Best Picture and Director) and legacy all the more controversial.
2 Crash Ages Worse With Each Passing Year
Alvy Shows Annie The City In Annie Hall
Even when it was named Best Picture in 2005, Crash was a controversial and already despised winner. The ensemble drama tackled discrimination patronizingly, and its themes can be summarized as “racism exists.” Most controversially, the openly racist Sgt. John Ryan was excused and made sympathetic because he had a terminally ill parent.
In the years since, and especially in light of anti-racism movements and demands for police reform, Crash has been routinely deemed one of (if not) the worst Oscar winners of all time. Crash’s stars rarely (if ever) talk about it, and director Paul Haggis even expressed doubt and regret over his movie winning at the 78th Academy Awards.
1 Green Book Was Somehow Deemed More Culturally Impactful Than Black Panther
Tony Drives Don In Green Book
Black Panther wasn’t just one of 2018’s biggest blockbusters, but a cultural phenomenon. T’Challa’s movie was a great step forward for Black representation, with many thinking it was an obvious Best Picture winner. Instead, it lost to the conservative Green Book, unfortunately echoing Driving Miss Daisy’s controversial win over Do The Right Thing in 1990.
As a Civil Rights-era biopic told mostly from a white man’s perspective, Green Book was already controversial before it won. In light of political movements, Chadwick Boseman’s passing, Black Panther’s legacy, backlash from Dr. Don Shirley’s family, and revelations of director Peter Farrelly’s past sexual indecency, Green Book fell into infamy and obscurity just months after its big night.