In the history of movies, we have had 88 films named as Best Picture of the Year. The films that win this top honor at the Academy Awards are often widely accepted by fans and critics as the right choice, but there have been numerous times where the winner was an awful choice compared to the other films nominated. Here is our ranking of the ten most overrated films to win Best Picture and the far superior movies that they beat. If you disagree or think we missed some, let us know in the talk backs below.
FORREST GUMP is not a bad movie, it is just not Best Picture material. Okay, I guess it is exactly the kind of movie the Academy always votes for, but in a year that also saw Robert Redford’s QUIZ SHOW and Frank Darabont’s classic THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, how the hell did FORREST GUMP win? Oh, yeah, it also beat PULP FICTION. That right there may be one of the greatest injustices in Oscar history.
CRASH, what a pile of crap. Paul Haggis himself doesn’t know how this movie beat Steven Spielberg’s MUNICH or Ang Lee’s groundbreaking BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. I mean, this is yet another film that pulls at the cliche heartstrings rather than doing anything truly genuine on screen. Academy voters have long been suckered into voting for films that analyze the human condition as well as race in our society, but there have been countless films that have done it better than CRASH.
THE HURT LOCKER took top honors despite being in an expanded Best Picture race featuring AVATAR, DISTRICT 9, UP, and INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. Yeah, Kathryn Bigelow’s war drama beat out nine other films despite being widely reviled by veterans of the Armed Forces. I have already delved into my unpopular opinion on the film but how in the hell did it beat out nine other films in one of the strongest races of the last twenty years?
GANGS OF NEW YORK, THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS, and THE HOURS were amongst the best films of 2002 but the resurgence of the movie musical gave CHICAGO the boost it needed to win top honors from the Academy. Despite the acclaim from many critics, CHICAGO feels more like a film of a stage production rather than a full movie experience. Compared to what Scorsese and Peter Jackson did that year, CHICAGO falls flat.
Tom Hooper is a god awful filmmaker. While his movies have nothing special about them, his workmanlike approach to filmmaking somehow does just enough to get him critical acclaim. From LES MISERABLES to this year’s THE DANISH GIRL, Hooper’s films all look just like THE KING’S SPEECH. Somehow this generic film won top honors at the Oscars and beat the far better BLACK SWAN, INCEPTION, and THE SOCIAL NETWORK.
Did you know that FARGO didn’t win Best Picture in 1996? Did you know that Cameron Crowe’s JERRY MAGUIRE was also nominated that year? They both lost to Anthony Minghella’s classy and stagnant THE ENGLISH PATIENT. I guarantee this is a movie you won’t remember much of even if you just watched it a few days ago. The actors and plot are very by the numbers and harken back to old Hollywood films but just don’t have the heart of the other nominees that year.
DRIVING MISS DAISY is a borderline racist film about an old white lady and her Magical Negro. Yeah, it is that cliche and stereotypical. In a year that saw the release of DEAD POETS’ SOCIETY and FIELD OF DREAMS, the Academy voters decided to go with a film about overcoming race by following a woman and her servant who happen to be two different skin colors. Yeah, this is one of those decisions that must have sounded good at the time but two decades later looks very bad.
Clint Eastwood’s boxing drama MILLION DOLLAR BABY is not only one of the most overrated films of all time but it also somehow beat Martin Scorsese’s THE AVIATOR and the Paul Giamatti dramedy SIDEWAYS amongst other nominees. MILLION DOLLAR BABY was not the best picture of the year but good old Clint somehow convinced the older Academy voters.
For our first film, we go all the way back to 1941. While John Ford’s period drama HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY is a beautiful film, it was by no means the best or most innovative film to hit theaters that year. Humphrey Bogart starred in the classic THE MALTESE FALCON but was also the year that Orson Welles’ CITIZEN KANE was released and became widely considered the best film of all time and it couldn’t even win top honors at the Oscars.