10 worst Best Pictures ever
So often through the history of the cinema, wildly over-appreciated films are nominated for and often win the Best Picture award. If you study closely the nominees and winners of each year right back to the beginning, you will find many films that caught the imagination of the public and/or critics for a short time but it was often enough to get them to the winner’s circle where that coveted little man awaits them. Within a year, they are forgotten or the Academy is red faced with shame about voting the film the winner.
What forever puzzles me is how such films manage to win? In some cases they become a flavour of the moment, but that does not make them the year’s best.
In honour of the Oscars this Sunday, I give you what I believe are the 10 most ridiculous Best Picture choices ever.
THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH (1952) Cecil B. Demille’s huge soap opera is easily the most undeserving Best Picture winner of all time. Such an ordinary film, considering it was up against High Noon and The Quiet Man. Yes we get a great look behind the scenes of a massive circus, and the huge job of moving from town to town for shows, but the stories within are downright silly. Demille just piled it on until it all became downright stupid.
THE ENGLISH PATIENT (1996) I concede it is beautifully filmed, the cinematography is stunning in its beauty, but the story is as slow as a camel wandering through the desert without a rider. And a love story must have a couple with sparks. The chemistry between Ralph Fiennes and Kristen Scott Thomas would freeze water. How it won nine Academy Awards remains a mystery.
GANDHI (1982) I have nothing but admiration for what the Mahatma accomplished with his non-violence campaign, but in this film it felt like at any moment he might walk on water as a demonstration of his being sent from the heavens. And so much was left out about him. They could have humanized him a little.
ROCKY (1976) Consider the films Rocky bested for Best Picture: All the President’s Men, Network and Taxi Driver, each among the very best of the decade. There are arguments for all three to win, but for Rocky? There is much to like in Rocky, very much a love story, clichéd without being cliché, but a better film than any of the three aforementioned? Not a chance.
CRASH (2005) The stunned look on presenter Jack Nicholson’s face said it all when he opened the envelope to reveal that Crash had bested Brokeback Mountain as the year’s best film. The film feels like a network TV film. King Kong (2005) should have had its spot.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965) So sugary sweet it’s cavity inducing, this adaptation of the smash Broadway musical was beautifully filmed, but takes itself far too seriously. Even star Christopher Plummer hates the film. How in the world did this defeat Dr. Zhivago? Shame on the Academy.
HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941) A very fine film, but a stronger choice than Citizen Kane? Sweet, sentimental, but next to the genius of Kane, ordinary. Citizen Kane changed everything about cinema and filmmaking. While How Green Was My Valley was gradually forgotten, Kane towers still.
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (1956) Less a movie than a road show series of location post cards, the film was one of those all-star cast fiascos where you spend most of the time spotting the stars. It only feels like 80 days while watching the film.
CHARIOTS OF FIRE (1981) Like an Olympic runner, this little film came out of nowhere to win Best Picture, snatching the glory from Reds, Raiders of the Lost Ark or On Golden Pond. It looked like Reds year; then, in a stunning, however undeserving move, this film sprinted to victory.
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951) Over A Streetcar Named Desire? No chance, no way. The film that altered and revolutionized the art of acting was by far the year’s best film, but Hollywood loves a musical. One thing I do admire about An American in Paris is that dance becomes a language within the film. But better than Streetcar? Never.