2017 wasn’t the first time the Academy gave the Oscar to the wrong movie. The films we hail as classics aren’t always the ones that take home the night’s top prize.
Every year around this time, we debate Oscar best pictures, from what’s going to win to rethinking which films should have won to the greatest movies in Academy Awards history.
This isn’t about the best, though. This is about the worst.
Granted, bad movies usually don’t get a shot at taking the biggest prize on Oscar night, but mediocre projects and the occasional head-scratcher do make their way into best picture from time to time – and some even win. Which means maybe “Bohemian Rhapsody” does have a fighting chance going into the 91st annual Academy Awards on Sunday (ABC, 8 ET/5 PT).
Knowing that the actual best picture unfortunately doesn’t always win, here are the 10 worst winners that the Oscars have awarded, ranked according to comparative terribleness.
Ranked: The 10 greatest Oscar best-picture winners (yes, ‘The Godfather’ is included)
Oscars costume party! Get up close with iconic outfits from ‘Black Panther,’ ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and more
Dev Patel and Freida Pinto find love and a dance sequence at the end of "Slumdog Millionaire." (Photo11: ISHIKA MOHAN/FOX SEARCHLIGHT)
10. ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ (2008)
The story of a orphaned young man (a pretty great Dev Patel) who rise from the slums to win the Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” – only for his victory to be questioned because of his background – is 99 percent of a very fine film. But at the very end, the movie features a giant song-and-dance routine – a shout-out to traditional Bollywood – that a little-too-seamlessly transitions out of the final scene and yanks you out of a satisfying ending. (Honestly, it’s a weird pet peeve. And now I’ve got “Jai Ho” stuck in my head.)
Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes were dreamy in "Shakespeare in Love." (Photo11: LAURIE SPARHAM/MIRAMAX FILMS)
9. ‘Shakespeare in Love’ (1998)
As a concept, it’s a cool idea: Imagine a romance between Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) and a woman (Gwyneth Paltrow) who auditions, disguised as a man, for one of his plays that helps the Bard write “Romeo and Juliet.” Part romantic comedy and part experimental Shakespearean biopic with references aplenty, it’s a tempest of random stuff never settling into cohesion but does remind you that old William was kind of a hip cat.
Meryl Streep plays a Danish baroness who falls for a big-game hunter in "Out of Africa." (Photo11: UNIVERSAL PICTURES)
8. ‘Out of Africa’ (1985)
Hoo boy, this sprawling epic romance is great to look at, and there’s an embarrassment of acting riches with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford as a married Danish writer and a big-game hunter respectively who fall for each other in Nairobi. Which is all good if you can stay awake through the slow-paced narrative and 160-minute run time. When people speak of an “Oscar movie,” “Out of Africa” is the kind of thing you automatically think of – for better or for worse.
Ralph Fiennes stars as an adventurous cartographer in "The English Patient." (Photo11: PHIL BRAY/MIRAMAX FILMS)
7. ‘The English Patient’ (1996)
Take the excessive length of “Out of Africa” and double the melodrama. Congrats, you’ve got this World War II picture that’s both ambitious and pretentious. A horribly burned pilot (Ralph Fiennes), once a cartographer, tells the military nurse (Juliette Binoche) treating him about the time he fell in love with a married British woman (Kristin Scott Thomas) while mapping the Sahara. Much to the chagrin of her jealous husband (Colin Firth), unsurprisingly.
Phileas Fogg (David Niven, left, with Robert Newton) circumnavigates the globe on a bet in "Around the World in 80 Days." (Photo11: WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT)
6. ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ (1956)
Huge back in the day, “80 Days” is a breezy, all-too-cheery affair starring David Niven as an English dude who wagers that he can go around the globe in just under three months and runs into an all-star cast of colorful characters, including 40-plus cameos from Marlene Dietrich, Cesar Romero, Peter Lorre, Buster Keaton and Frank Sinatra. If that’s all it takes to win Oscar, “The Cannonball Run” should have cleaned up.
Jessica Tandy stars as Miss Daisy and Morgan Freeman plays her driver Hoke in "Driving Miss Daisy." (Photo11: WARNER BROS.)
5. ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ (1989)
In hindsight, it’s perhaps looked down upon more for being the movie about a black driver (Morgan Freeman) and his elderly white charge (Jessica Tandy) that won best picture over “Born on the Fourth of July” the same year Spike Lee’s influential “Do the Right Thing” didn’t even get a nomination. Still, “Daisy” is a emotionally manipulative, forgettable dramedy – one could even say Hoke-um – that has not aged well.
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