crazychica0007 (crazychica0007) wrote in ohnotheydidnt,

Worst. Oscars. Ever.

Crash, Gladiator, Braveheart, Chicago, Beautiful Mind...

This is an article about what the writer thinks are the worst winners ever of an Oscars. The writer mainly pays attention to best movie, directing and acting categories. Also, he only talks about movies made in the 1990s and on.

Agree disagree?

Take a painful walk down memory lane as we offer you the Worst. Oscars. Ever.

By Sean Nelson
Special to MSN Movies

I don't have to tell you that the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences don't always get it right. In the past 20 years, in fact, they've been so screwball, off-the-charts wrong about so many awards that you could be forgiven for wondering whether they even read the ballots before they mark them up and mail them. Presuming, of course, they can read in the first place -- but that's another article. Friends, it's Oscar time, and that can only mean one thing: an agonizing night cringing in front of the TV set begging and screaming for something -- ANYTHING -- actually good to win. Sometimes it happens. Remember that one time when Frances McDormand took home a Best Actress statue for "Fargo"? Yes, that was nice. Now contrast that against the dozens of disappointments resulting from Oscars going to "Titanic," "Crash" and "Dances With Wolves" -- films that stormed the gates with their mediocre (at best!) melodrama and mealymouthed liberal guilt only to be rewarded with all the gold their producers could carry. It's almost enough to make you stop watching. Almost. Instead, you can watch the ceremony Feb. 24 and wince as "Juno" trounces "No Country for Old Men." In the meantime, consider this humble list of the academy's most egregious offenses against cinematic reason.

10. "Ghost," Best Original Screenplay, 1991
I don't really have anything to add to this. It's self-explanatory, more or less. "Ghost." Best. Original. Screenplay. It's just funny to think that anyone -- even people who work in the movie biz -- saw those words together on one line and thought, "YES!" And then made a check in the box, looked the ballot over and mailed it. It's funny, right? Kind of funny. Not funny ha-ha, of course. Funny sad.(Everett collection)

9. Best Supporting Actress, Tie: Marisa Tomei, "My Cousin Vinny," 1993; Mira Sorvino, "Mighty Aphrodite," 1996
As it turns out, these actresses are fantastic and do better and better work as they get older. But these awards were examples of academy tokenism at its most flagrant. Tomei's turn in "Vinny" was a lot of fun, to be sure; she stole every scene. But stealing those scenes didn't require much more than moxie, a broadly comic New York accent and tight bodysuits. Likewise with Sorvino, whose role as a whore with a heart of gold (and a brain of dust), relied on a single comic device: a funny voice. The voice was funny -- funnier than the late-period Woody Allen movie it served -- and it was a pretty OK turn. But the performances weren't comedic gems -- they were just better than the weak movies they supported. And young actresses thrust into the spotlight make a good Oscar show. But Tomei beat Judy Davis, Joan Plowright, Vanessa Redgrave and Miranda Richardson, each of whom had a legitimate claim to winning that year. Sorvino's competition was less arch, but certainly Kate Winslet in "Sense and Sensibility" and Joan Allen in (the otherwise unbearable) "Nixon" had the edge. (20th Century Fox Film Corp/Courtesy Everett Collection)

8. Ron Howard, Best Director, "A Beautiful Mind," 2002
What can one say about Ron Howard? Has he ever made a genuinely good movie? I liked "Parenthood," but it was basically a sitcom pilot. I liked "Splash," but it was basically a kids' movie. I liked ... uh ... no, that's it. I don't like anything else he's done, and that's because he's not so much a director as an assembler of movies. And some of his assemblies have made audiences cheer. "A Beautiful Mind" was one of the more successful of those, so give him a Best Director Oscar, even if Howard fudged the facts and the film was kind of dumb and insulting, right? Well, WRONG, because, you may recall, one Robert Altman was also a nominee that year, for "Gosford Park," which turned out to be his final masterpiece (though not his final film). Here was an opportunity to recognize a true giant, a real "best" in a field whose merits aren't easily quantified. And not in an honorary way, either. "Gosford Park" was a real achievement in direction: big cast, elaborate plot, period setting, and yet the film transcended the definitions of those elements to become a living, breathing piece of cinema. And fun! And accessible! But, no. Give it to Ron Howard instead. He's worth more money. You just know it made Altman chuckle. (Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection)

7. Halle Berry, Best Actress, "Monster's Ball," 2002
I'm all for physical beauty, and I'm all for unlikely winners, but there comes a time when you just have to be honest. Not only is Berry not much of an actress under normal circumstances -- I mean, she's fine, but really, she's there for her beauty, not her range -- but in this particular movie (which is subawful, by the way), she is atrocious. Bad at the Southern accent, bad at the slow-eyed grief, bad at the layers that attend being the mother of a problem child -- basically, bad at the whole package. And her sex scenes with Billy Bob Thornton aren't even bad. They're camp. When she pulled down her tube top and begged Thornton to make her feel good, it's clear the academy was eager to take his place, because nothing else besides tokenism or wish fulfillment can explain the rewarding of such a rotten performance. (Lionsgate Films)

6. Best Actor, Tie: Dustin Hoffman, "Rain Man," 1989; Tom Hanks, "Forrest Gump," 1995
I love Hoffman and I love Hanks. When either one is at his best, he's among the most powerful, versatile, compulsively watchable actors of all time. But let's get serious about why they were rewarded for these towering monuments of cinematic embarrassment. Funny -- cartoonishly funny -- voices for characters with mental difficulties (one an autistic savant, the other a kind of all-purpose dumb-ass), sustained for a whole movie until the sheer ridiculousness of the insulting vocalizations somehow became an asset to the -- let's face it -- miserably bad films they anchored. "Rain Man" is deep schmaltz about a yuppie (Tom Cruise) who kinda, sorta learns to love. "Forrest Gump" is far worse: a Republican fantasia that says promiscuous women deserve AIDS, political involvement leads to death and dismemberment, and the best strategy for happiness in life is never to think deeply about anything ever. Hoffman was lovable, it's true, but cloying. Hanks was so much worse that cloying, because you never lost sight of the hokey strings he was pulling. Gross on both counts -- and beneath both actors' dignity. Don't tell Oscar, though. (United Artists/ Courtesy Everett Collection)

5. Best Picture, Tie: "Forrest Gump," 1995; "Braveheart," 1996; "Shakespeare in Love," 1999; "American Beauty," 2000, "Gladiator," 2001; "A Beautiful Mind," 2002; "Chicago," 2003
It's kind of impossible to choose which one of these abominable-to-innocuous films actually deserves the honor of being called the most absurd Best Picture winner of all time. You could cite the triumph of "Oliver!" over "2001: A Space Odyssey " in 1969, but "Oliver!" isn't a bad movie, especially for a musical. It's just not an immortal epic like "2001." Even "Patton" beating "M*A*S*H" in 1971 seems like old Hollywood asserting its ideological and aesthetic imperatives over new Hollywood. But let's just run this down: "Gump"? See No. 6. "Braveheart"? Homophobic, bloodthirsty excrement. "Shakespeare"? Smug self-satisfaction at its least satisfying. "American Beauty"? Bourgeois moon howling with delusions of grandeur. "Gladiator"? You must be joking. Fun times, but barely a movie. "A Beautiful Mind"? An exercise in mocking the mentally ill by pretending their illness is a kind of wonderful magic (plus, dumb and boring). "Chicago"? Unfit to hold the jockstrap of "Oliver!" So, yeah. Just for context, here are a few of the nominated films that lost to these gems: "Pulp Fiction," "Saving Private Ryan," "Quiz Show" and the first two "Lord of the Rings" movies. (Paramount/Miramax/DreamWorks /Everett Collection)

4. "Million Dollar Baby," Best Picture and Best Director, 2005
Seeing the great Clint Eastwood win Best Director and Best Picture awards for "Unforgiven" in 1993 was one of the few unqualified thrills of Oscar memory. First, a perfect film made by the only director who could fully realize it, and second, the narrative: An artist underestimated as a lightweight former TV and action movie actor finally arrives to the glory and recognition he had long deserved. Perfect. Well done, academy. Now flash forward to 2005, just one year after Eastwood's abominable, though heavily nominated, "Mystic River" was edged out by Peter Jackson's triumphal "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King." Lo and behold, an even worse Eastwood production, a film that begins with the gripping story of a female boxer and her grizzled trainer, then devolves into a moribund morality play about the right to die, walks home with the statues. Clearly a case of the academy feeling good about itself for Talking About Issues and wanting to extend the "Unforgiven" narrative. No such luck. For another tale of directorial tokenism, see also: "The Departed," Best Picture/Best Director, 2007, in which Martin Scorsese, after years of benign and malicious neglect, was finally given his first Oscar. For his least-deserving film. Even "The Aviator" (up against "Million Dollar Baby") would've been better. But that's for another article. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

3. "Crash," Best Picture, 2006
Another raging example of Hollywood's intense desire to reward itself for "saying something." Only this time, they forgot to notice that the winning picture actually said nothing about race and class in America that you couldn't learn from reading a bumper sticker or wearing a ribbon on the lapel of your tux. Yes, Virginia, mean people do suck, and there is a vast inequity between white people and black people in not just America but the world. It's worth remembering, but is it worth dramatizing? Worth letting good actors sink their whiter-than-white teeth into roles that never rise above archetypes? Worth converting into a script that makes every situation an Important Moment? Worth watching? Worth nominating? Worth a Best Picture Oscar? Just for caring? I vote no. (Lionsgate Films)

2. "Dances With Wolves," Best Picture and Best Director, 1991
This was probably the first Oscar moment that ever made me actually shout at the TV, as though someone inside could hear. The idea that Kevin Costner's bloated, dew-moistened white-man's-burden epic (in which he managed to justifiably blame white America for its betrayal of the native people of this continent, and play the noblest white man who ever inherited the spirit of the Lakota tribe) could defeat Martin Scorsese's "GoodFellas," a masterpiece on so many levels that you lose count, is all the evidence anyone should need that the academy has skewed priorities. When was the last time anyone said, "Oh, man, let's watch 'Dances With Wolves' again! I love the part where it goes on for five hours and everyone learns a bunch of important lessons"? Meanwhile, I watched "GoodFellas" yesterday. Pow! (Everett Collection)

1. "Titanic," Best Picture, Best Director, and Just About Everything Else, 1998
I mean, come on. I know you were in junior high and your first ever boyfriend took you to see it and you guys both reached for the popcorn at the same time and your buttery hands clasped as DiCaprio and Winslet gazed moistly at each other while Celine Dion yawped out the worst song of all time (also a winner that year, by the way). I mean, COME ON! We're adults now. You can admit this film is worthless garbage. The sinking stuff is pretty cool, because James Cameron knows his carnage. But the story, the dialogue ("Jack? Rose? Jack!? Rose!?" repeat), the acting (even good actors can't transform tripe), the whole lousy premise is simply beneath any reasonably intelligent person's dignity. Tell that to the academy. Tell that to the world. "Titanic" was the first film to make $1 billion. And that's the story. (20th Century Fox Film Corp/Courtesy Everett Collection)


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