Saturday, April 01, 2006


And the losers are...

BLOGGER'S NOTE: Here are links to other posts related to this survey: the also-rans and the number of ballots they made, the films that got no negative votes and my 10 worst list ballot.

Boy, I didn't realize how many people hate musicals. No wonder the genre pretty much died (though I'd like to blame the number of votes cast against them on the awful aftertaste Moulin Rouge left in people's mouths. I also was struck about how the same list of 78 movies could evoke polar-opposite reactions. Self-Styled Siren said, "Unexpectedly, in going over the Best Picture list the Siren discovered that with the exception of Going My Way, which just makes her gag, there wasn't a single winner so bad she could derive no pleasure from it." In contrast, Ken Ridge said, "A best picture should enter the pop culture zeitgeist and stay there forever. The winner should be able to stand up to repeated viewings. None of (these) manage this." Still, others found a middle ground. Louis said, "Reading through the list of Best Picture winners, I was struck by how much mediocrity dominates the Academy's choices. There are really only a handful of greats, and since the early '80s — well, "mediocre" is putting it kindly for most of them." Dan Callahan concurred, saying "Going over the list, I was surprised by how many films are simply inoffensive, not good, not bad. But there have been some real clunkers in the last 16 years." Enough with the preamble — here are, based on 107 ballots, the 20 best picture winners that received the most points for the worst best pictures of all time.

No. 20: Chariots of Fire: Or as Mark Smith calls it "Chariots of Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz......." (A thought echoed by Richard Christensen). The last true surprise best picture winner, unless you count Crash, it didn't merit much love, with many citing how much better its competition was and how boring this movie was. As Ken Ridge summarized, "It won , which means Atlantic City, Reds, On Golden Pond and Raiders of the Lost Ark lost. I barely remember seeing Chariots once, and have never watched it again. Was it the music by Vangelis? Reds and Raiders are classics. Atlantic City means more today with the knowledge of what Atlantic City became. On Golden Pond has two charming final performances by legends and Jane's abdominal muscles." I myself rewatched Chariots a few months ago, seeing it for the first time in its proper aspect ratio — it didn't help. It was just as dull as I remember — and I still want to know how it won costume design for white shorts and business suits.

No. 19: Rocky: Says Self-Styled Siren, "There is a noble American tradition of boxing movies — and this is the one that gets the Oscar?" I think the real reason for its presence here is exemplified by Peter Vogt who said it "was OK at the time ... but compared to everything else nominated, stinker!" I think that's what really is behind its high ranking among the worst: it is ridiculous that it beat All the President's Men, Network and Taxi Driver, but the film itself isn't really bad, though it also has had its quality diluted by Sylvester Stallone's endless sequels to it (and he's planning another one!) Still, Richard Christensen labels it, "Chunky with cheese."

No. 18: Rain Man: "Piercing and lovely for the first hour. Then they go to Vegas and it turns into just another gleaming, shitty '80s movie," Matt Zoller Seitz writes. I think that pretty much sums it up, but what really wears on you after awhile is Dustin Hoffman's performance, which the late, great Pauline Kael so aptly labeled as "Dustin Hoffman humping one note on a piano for two hours and 11 minutes." I think that about sums it up as well as can be summed up, though Kael did take the whole Hollywood industry to task as well in the summation of her review, writing "If moviemakers don't risk shaking up audiences and making our nerves tingle, they're likely to fall back on hauling an autistic savant to Las Vegas, duding him up and teaching him how to kiss."

No. 16 (tie): The English Patient and Out of Africa: It seems somehow appropriate that two best picture winners involving Africa and airplanes should tie. As Self-Styled Siren said of Out of Africa, "Easily the most boring Oscar winner I have seen." As for The English Patient, it seems to me that most people fell for the effusive praise heaped on this one when it first came out but the moment that a Seinfeld episode punctured it for the bore that it really was, everyone woke up. Sure, there were good performances and some nice moments, but in the end, has anyone felt the need to go back and revisit it? The same can be said for Out of Africa.

No. 15: Shakespeare in Love: Tiffany Leigh categorizes this win as "Miramax willing a bad movie to victory with marketing." The marketing part is especially true, but I wouldn't call this a bad movie. Gwyneth Paltrow shouldn't have won best actress, but the script itself is clever. As Self-Styled Siren rises to the film's defense, describing it as "a marvelous romantic comedy, with a fresh and clever script by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard (one of the Siren's favorite playwrights). But because it beat Saving Private Ryan, people dump all over it." I agree that is probably the reason — though I still prefer Private Ryan of their nominees. I also think it's indicative of a lot of the ballots I received: recent films overwhelmingly dominate the picks, either by virtue of being better remembered or by many voters having not seen older winners at all. Needless to say, this survey is not scientific.

No. 14: The Sound of Music: The hills are alive with the sound of people who hate musicals. Sure, The Sound of Music is saccharine, but I was surprised by the level of dislike the movie merited. Mark Smith admits, "OK, I've never seen this all the way through, but my mother used to sing 'Do-Re-Mi' all the time and I generally hate musicals, especially about rich brats wearing cute little bow ties. I just KNOW that it's not for me." Richard Christensen, after placing Chicago higher on his list with the comment, "I don't like musicals," wrote of this one, "Did I mention that I don't like musicals?" Self-Styled Siren is more specific: "If it weren't for the Austrian Alps, Christopher Plummer (who called it "The Sound of Mucus") and Eleanor Parker (about 20 times more appealing than Julie Andrews, though her part is too short and usually cut to ribbons for TV showings) the Siren would not be able to sit through this. When Parker, as the Baroness, silkily mentions boarding school, can you honestly say you don't wanna holler, 'Amen'?"

No. 13: Chicago: Speaking of musicals taking a hit and overreliance on recent winners, here comes another one. Anne Thompson writes, "Screenwriter Bill Condon's fantasy conceit was brilliant, and rookie director Rob Marshall trained his cast well, but his mise-en-scene was irritatingly staccato. I'd have liked to see what Bob Fosse would have done with it. And I can't wait to see Condon's Dreamgirls." While Chicago was another example of Harvey Weinstein's marketing prowess, I certainly found it watchable enough and the Kander & Ebb score is great. It's too bad they hadn't found someone better than Richard Gere to play Billy Flynn. Oh, well. Besides, except for the possible exceptions of Roman Polanski's The Pianist or Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, I'm sure happier that it won instead of the interminable The Hours of the bloated The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, though admittedly Gollum might have been a better choice as Billy Flynn than Gere.

No. 12: Oliver!: Consider yourself hated — and no one seems to want more, though I'm sure Josh R might rise to its defense in the comments section. Personally, I think it is OK. I was surprised that no one who commented on Oliver! mentioned the non-nominated 2001: A Space Odyssey as a reason for hating it. Ellen O'Neill wrote, "The exclamation point in the title alone should disqualify it from Best Picture." Odienator, who ranked this as his worst best picture, said, "My ears still hurt. If The Third Man didn't prove that Carol Reed knows nothing about music, Oliver! put an Oscar winning exclamation point on the end of the sentence. There's a reason why the title has an exclamation point in it, as in THIS IS A LOUD EFFIN' MOVIE!" My own note: I love the music in The Third Man.

No. 11: Driving Miss Daisy: Here is another one that I think is fine, but not great, but seems to attract a lot of venom. Peter Vogt dismisses it as "step 'n fetch meets old Jew. Racist, bigoted... boring. ESPECIALLY in the year of Do the Right Thing." You won't get any argument from me that Spike Lee's masterpiece was the best of 1989, but I wouldn't go so far about Daisy. Odienator calls it, "Crash for the 1980s. If I were Hoke, that's exactly what I would have done with Miss Daisy's car." Mark Smith has a simpler reason for disliking it: "Just because of Dan Aykroyd."

No. 10: American Beauty: As I've mentioned before, I thought this movie was great when I first saw it, but it has weakened with each subsequent viewing. I have to wonder if the inverse is true and explains why recent titles dominate this list: The disgust is fresher in people's minds, so they forget how much worse other earlier ones were. Tiffany Leigh thinks that American Beauty "would have been better on HBO and called Six Feet Under." I do have to disagree there — at least American Beauty is done in about two hours, whereas Six Feet Under went on long past the time it was worth watching.

No. 9: A Beautiful Mind: This didn't make my list, but it came close. For me, once the film's conceit is revealed, it becomes like a Ping-Pong match: Nash is sane, he's not, he's sane again. As Matt Zoller Seitz so aptly put it, "Quite bad. Somehow its innate belief in its own decency makes it worse." I guess they felt the need to make it up to Ron Howard for not nominating him for directing Apollo 13 (though I'm not sure why they felt that way). The most memorable moment of A Beautiful Mind for me came not from the film itself, but from the Oscar ceremony when Howard's name was announced and losing directing nominees Robert Altman and David Lynch were seen hugging in the audience as if they were saying to one another: "I knew they'd screw us again, but for Opie?"

No. 8: Dances With Wolves: Again, I have to defer to the great Pauline Kael whose dissection of the film that beat GoodFellas remains one of my favorite reviews of hers of all time. "Costner has feathers in his hair and feathers in his head," she wrote. Kael goes on later to say, "There's nothing affected by Costner's acting or directing. You hear his laid-back, surfer accent; you see his deliberate goofy faints and falls, and all the closeups of his handsomeness. (The Indians should have named him Plays With Camera.)" Imagine if you will how much better the movie might have been if Costner's role had been played by a real actor. The early scenes, where he is supposedly suicidal, are downright embarrassing. Not only is it a travesty that this film beat GoodFellas, it's even more disturbing that GoodFellas was the only good nominee for best picture that year, where the Academy's other choices were Awakenings, The Godfather Part III and Ghost. I guess we should be grateful that they didn't go with Ghost. I'll give Pauline the last word on this one: "(Costner's) the Orson Welles that everybody wants — Orson Welles with no belly."

No. 7: Gladiator: Richard Christensen wrote, "Even Russell Crowe couldn't save this turkey; tons of money for CGI, zero bucks for a decent script." Matt Zoller Seitz goes further writing, "Aspires to be Spartacus by way of The Godfather, but its production values, moral intelligence and strong cast can't overcome a certain trash-and-flash factor. Ridley Scott
directed it, but brother Tony's spirit hovers nearby." For my money, this is by far the worst and most senseless of recent Oscar winners for best picture. It used to be a given that without winning at least a screenplay Oscar or a directing Oscar, best picture was off-limits. Gladiator managed to win without either and then Chicago repeated the feat two years later. I hope this isn't a trend — what is the point really of picking a best picture which Academy members didn't think was deserving of either writing or directing. Even The Greatest Show on Earth got a motion picture story prize. Perhaps Barbara Schwartz Brus sums it up best: "it was trite and superficial, a true dick flick."

No. 6: Braveheart: Freedom! — from more overwrought epics like Mel Gibson's effort. What does it say about the competition for best picture in 1995 that the best film was about a talking pig? Odienator writes, "A brave heart makes a shattered eardrum, a sore ass, and an upset stomach. Featuring Oscar winning makeup by the Sears paint department." Josh R went further in comments in the original thread about this survey writing, without naming the movie, "Brokeback may not inspire the Academy too much, but they sure have no problem with ugly gay stereotypes, particularly scenes intended to cause laughter when weak swishy-boys are tossed off balconies and the like. I often wonder if it's too late to revoke a certain Australian-born actor-director's US citizenship."

No. 5: Titanic: I've always argued that Titanic would have been a much better film if it were silent, where you could just admire the technical aspects of the film without being burdened with that god-awful dialogue. Ellen O'Neill said, "The worst script in the history of the world should not be so honored." At least the Academy had the foresight not to nominate the screenplay. Mark Smith dismisses the movie as "another snooze." Richard Christensen remembers his silent plea while watching it, "After an hour and a half, I was like, will somebody please sink this tub?" I will rise to the movie's defense on one point: Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet were so much better than this film deserves. To me, the moment that exemplified its silliness is when Billy Zane is chasing the pair around the sinking ship with a gun. Oh no — I hope he doesn't shoot them, then they might drown. Did James Cameron really need to add that absurdity to the already dramatic tension of a sinking ship?

No. 4: Around the World in 80 Days: At least not all the top vote getters were made since the 1980s. This one is legendary in its badness and everyone was in the mood to pile on. Self-Styled Siren says the movie "wears out its welcome, despite David Niven and the wonderful scenery. Of the cameos, only Charles Boyer and Ronald Colman actually play their parts, as opposed to popping onstage to milk applause." All it could inspire out of Peter Vogt was "crap crap crap crap crap." Anne Thompson sums it up with a mere three words: "Crude, rude, episodic." Matt Zoller Seitz calls it "A deal memo in Technicolor." However, I think I like Tiffany Leigh's description the best when she labels it, "The Cannonball Run of its day."

No. 3: The Greatest Show on Earth: "As much as I don't like musicals, I REALLY don't like circuses," Richard Christensen writes. Odienator intones, "Clowns...I hate clowns..." Matt Zoller Seitz writes, "Makes the circus seem boring." Tiffany Leigh labels it, "Irwin Allen without the natural disaster." Still, as bad as it is, others do appreciate aspects of it like I do. Self-Styled Siren writes, "This one, bad as it is, gives the Siren a small pang because she does enjoy it. It's most entertaining, in an Ignatius J. Reilly sort of way. Still, when she remembers C.B. DeMille's voiceovers, the ludicrous plot and Betty Hutton warbling "Come See the Circus," she has to list it." Craig P adds, "actually so bad it's kind of fun."

No. 2: Forrest Gump: "I had to go to the dentist, it was so saccharine," Peter Vogt wrote. Richard Christensen decries it as "a cynically manipulative weeper." I've never quite understood the disdain for this picture, which seems to stem from a political point of view people superimpose onto the film more than what is present in the film itself. Jen admits having mixed feelings about including Gump on her list saying, "I love Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump and Matt and I can still crack each other up just by saying "I got to pee" or reciting the different ways to prepare shrimp... but the movie's clumsy attempts at profundity completely sunk it for me." In comments on one of the survey's threads, Matt Zoller Seitz explains his evolution on Forrest Gump: "The first time I saw the movie, I didn't know quite what to make of it. Was it a spoof or straight-faced comedy-drama-fable? A satire of conservative heartland tendencies, or an endorsement? The second time I saw it I had a knee-jerk liberal reaction and felt it was pandering to the Silent Majority that thought the counterculture was the root of all evil. After more viewings I still go back and forth and I doubt I will ever settle on an either/or interpretation of any single element. The movie is either way shallower than its adherents think, or much deeper than haters want to admit. (Zemeckis is often hard to draw a bead on. He's so exuberant yet so cold, and he holds his cards very close to his vest.) But in the end, I think the bare minimum we can ask of a movie is that it withstand multiple viewings and diverse readings, and by those criteria, Gump is a good choice as Best Picture." As Wagstaff commented, "how anyone can deny that it was a well crafted, entertaining movie and instead deserves the ten worst treatment is beyond me."

No. 1: Crash: Perspective. That's what I really think people need on this one. Granted, I liked the movie, but the level of bile that has been hurled at this movie sort of boggles my mind. So many ballots listed Crash as the worst of all time that I begun to suspect that Diebold was somehow tampering with the results. The movie that won best picture less than a month ago is really the worst of all time? Again, I think it has to be attributed in some cases to not having endured some of the truly awful winners of the past and to it being the freshest crime in participants' memories. I have a feeling that if this survey had been held after Gladiator won or any of many other recent winners, that that one would be the one topping the survey. Mark Smith said, "Realized halfway through that I was simply HATING it." Peter Vogt described it as "Lifetime meets Hallmark with a "are you fucking kidding me?" screenplay. Couldn't even believe it was nominated." As Josh R commented, "I still don't see why you crazy people pick on Crash so much. I mean, I can appreciate that's it not to everyone's taste, but as the worst Best Picture winner of all time? Sheesh."

That's it, the whole thing. In the thread after this one are the point totals for the other best pictures and a ranking of the candidates by the number of ballots on which they appeared. In the thread behind that is my 10 worst list with my comments on the ones I voted for. Thanks to all who participated.

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I agree, Crash probably isn't the worst Best Picture winner in actuality, of all time, and the list shows a definite bias for recent films.
But I haven't seen all of the winners, and I can honestly say that it is the worst one I have seen.
Of course, I disagree with some of the selections - Oliver! might actually be one of my picks for the ten best to snag the top prize - but all in all, making allowances for the fact that very few of the participants in this survey (myself included) have seen all 78 winners, I think this is a pretty reasonable lineup. The early winners obviously had a bit of an advantage going in, since they occupy a relatively obscure position in the history of cinema beyond the fact that they somehow won best picture (meaning fewer people have seen them), but your voters were able to separate the good from the bad in terms of the more recent stuff - or at least to recognize mediocrity when they saw it. Of course, I disagree with Crash's inclusion on this list, but it was to be expected since, as you observe, the wounds are still fresh and the villagers aren't quite ready yet to put down their torches and pitchforks. Perhaps this survey will inspire more people to track down older films, which would be a good thing - and you've probably given them a good indication of which moldy old chestnuts are better left undisturbed.

Bloggers - if you haven't already, y'all need to see Casablanca before we vote on the best. It's supposed to be good, and I hear the girl is kinda cute.
In my defence, I despised Crash from the moment I saw that scene where a 6-year-old girl may or may not have had her brains blown out in slow-mo and you have to wait for a very long time to find out if she was and there is no decent purpose to make you wait at all. This was in last May, and even back then I thought it was worse than Cavalcade, which I then considered the worst Best Picture winner of all time.
And I think a few years from now, it's still likely to top this kind of poll. If Brokeback Mountain won - or hell, if any of the other nominees won - I don't believe either would make it to the Top 10 on this list.

That said, I've still got a couple objections. American Beauty is my favorite BP winner, and if it isn't the best, it's close enough to being the best and much further from being the worst than the earnest likes of Gentleman's Agreement or Rocky or Deer Hunter.

Shakespeare in Love was a wonderful comedy - light, sweet and unpretentious - exactly the opposite to that self-important I-coulda-been-a-schoolteacher load of Spielberg that nearly beat it (which would have been one of the 10 worst BP's had it won).

Oliver! wasn't the best film made in 1968, but again, close enough. On its own family-friendly terms, it's a delight. (Oh and whoever dissed The Third Man music just made a death wish)

Also, I've seen The English Patient more than once and it still stands up well (on the other hand, I would never want to sit through Out of Africa again).

I also didn't really mind Chicago, but I didn't like it enough to get defensive about it.

Finally, I think I forgot to vote for Dances with Wolves. It's a relief to see it still made it through without my support.
I'm having a bit of remorse about having included "Forrest Gump"-- but I'll stick by my "Crash" vote, while fully admitting that my hostility towards the film is fresh and raw and that probably drives it to the top.

Of course I've never seen "*80 Days" or "Greatest Show" which are so often pointed to as the lowest of the low. I pretty much took everyone's word for it that they were unwatchable and didn't waste my time. So I couldn't vote for those.

I can't get with the "Titanic" hate... bad dialogue, yup. Billy Zane running around with a gun, yah, that kind of sucked too, but the filmmaking was amazing and two very good and earnest lead performance held the whole thing together. Since my 8-year old daughter is lately obsessed with the movie I'ce had a chance to revisit it again... and again... and again. After a while you really can tune out lines like "Picasso- he''ll never amount to anything! Mark my words!"

Nice work, Copeland.

Now let's bring on the best list! We can slag on the Oscars all we want but it also struck me looking on the list how many great movies are on there-- movies I happily watch over and over.
Wow, EC, this was a monumental undertaking, but the result was worth the wait. I am stunned that SOUND OF MUSIC made it on the list, though. And SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE as well -- not as ambitious and stirring as SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, to be sure, but clever and sweet and more superficially "perfect," thus a logical candidate to unseat Spielberg's blockbuster, Miramax promo cash or not.

But I digress. Great job.
Josh R: I often wonder if it's too late to revoke a certain Australian-born actor-director's US citizenship."

Um...Mel Gibson was born in that great Austrailian town called Peekskill, New York. And since he's a Republican, don't expect his citizenship to be revoked!

Still, I agree with you about Braveheart.

EC, thanks for satisfying my drooling desire for lists. Even though I liked some of the movies on this list, I wasn't really shocked that any of them appeared on this list. Especially not The Sound of Music, which is, at the very least, watchable (if only to mock). Besides, it's the only film on this list to inspire a Rocky Horror style midnight show in NYC. I'll never forget when the Fox 5 NY news team interviewed a guy en route to one of those singalongs. He was wearing a brown paper box tied with string on his head. On purpose.
I'm just glad to see GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH and GUMP in the top 5. SOUND OF MUSIC probably ranks high because many of us in our 40s were forced by our parents to sit through that atrocity more than once and knew even then it was no MARY POPPINS.

As far as CRASH, it didn't even make my Top 10. It's bad, but not that bad. We need a little more time to know just how bad. And I was surprised WOLVES didn't rate higher.

Great tallying and great idea, Mr C!
Good show Mr. copeland! I hope this has taught you a valuble lesson in demoracy. You have to expand the pool of voters as far as possible (in this case movie-lovers) to iron out quirks and eccentricities (mine included.)
Braveheart. Ouch. I'm still cracking up at that "makeup from Sears paint department" bit. I'll add that the movie is just too friggin' green.
I have a soft spot for The Sound of Music, so I'm gonna watch it tonight just for spite. I'm already ready for the Best of the Best Survey.
I was well aware of GREATEST SHOW's reputation, but just the same, when I spied the handsomely packaged new dvd release on a shelf last summer, I licked my lips and said "I've found you." I took it over to my brother's. I knew he'd be gangbusters to watch it because, well, we're silly that way. My brother's air-conditioner had gone out and his house was very hot. Did I mention it was summer? Just as we were about to start the movie, some friends dropped by unexpectedly. If I was smart, I would've aborted our mission right then and thrown in another movie, but I wasn't smart. The movie was so awful, I had to devise impromptu drinking games in a hurry just to salvage the evening. Drink every time you see a giraffe, or every time Charlton Heston hikes up his manly britches. If you just happen to see a trainwreck, finish the bottle. Well, the whole thing was one long trainwreck and no amount of drinking could help. We were so hot, bored, and miserable. I'm still apologizing for that evening.
Nice job. Good presentation & lots of interesting data. Eerily, 19 of the 20 were on my list.
All things considered, I think the results here are pretty fair.

I'd argue against both AMERICAN BEAUTY & CHICAGO (am I the only person who actually ADORES this film?), but I won't fault people for voting them onto the list.

The other two lists you compiled (the "non-losers" and the seven winners) is just as fascinating. It'll be interesting to see how they match up to the results of the next poll.
Oh my god. I really didn;t want this to happen. Brokeback was the front runner for best picture so you were at least sure of that so you sent in your ballots and made bets because you were sure and a lot of you (even thoughb you might be too afraid to admit this) wanted another film to win. No? Because that was what I was reading in people's blogs and on websites and Crash made a killing without winning and did a good job of maintaining itself in the top 10 and it was becoming a people's darling until something horrific happened. THE ACADEMY DIDN'T COMPLETELY FUCK UP. No what we were supposed to do you asked yourselves so you filled blogs and articles outraged you called it Trash and started looking at one of your favroite films in a different perspective. It amazes me that you would rather be right than happy.
Huh? Anyone want to take a stab at what the hell anonymous is saying? He or she posted the exact same thing in the also-rans post, but I deleted it there.
Hmmm... it sounds as if Anonymous is accusing all of us of being elitist snobs who have decided to dump all over Crash because it won best picture? On top of which, we secretly didn't like Brokeback Mountain (I guess we liked it because it was fashionable and sensitive of us to enjoy the film?) but refused to admit it, and when the Academy did the right thing - that is, give the award to the better and more popular film - all we snobs decided to pretend that we never secretly liked Crash in the first place? That's as far as I've been able to untangle anonymous' ball of yarn. Why the point has been structured so incoherently and posted on this thread, I can only speculate, but I think that Anonymous wants us to know what bad people we are.
So I will go as anonymous too, cuz I don't so much feel like logging in.

I think a more realist view on Crash is America loves the underdog....always has, and don't see that changing any time too soon. When you're not the underdog anymore, eh, we mostly just like to see you fall on your ass. And I think that does apply to Crash to a certain extent. Maybe everyone here hated it from the beginning.....but there were a lot of folks that raved about it when it came out. But when it got the Oscar...well, it seems folks revert to acting like rebellious teenagers and since mom and dad like it, it's not cool anymore.
Well, you can have your chance. I plan to launch April's survey for the best of the best picture winners on Tuesday.
Anyone care to explain why I'm not supposed to like The Sound of Music? Sure, it's too long and saccharine, and it's got nun gags goofy enough to make a person's eyes roll halfway down the street, but where's the harm in that? It was designed to make people happy and empty their pockets. And it's Rodgers and Hammerstein for criminy! To single it out on a worst list feels like going out of your way to torture Elmo. I think everybody that put Sound of Music on their ballot should be fined 50 dollars every time they're caught humming one of the tunes while folding laundry or doing the dishes. And i happen to think all of the great musicals of that stripe were too long and bulked up by the time they made it to the screen, Westside Story, My Fair Lady, ect., but with the musical numbers you still get what counts. And Julie Andrews--Wow! Anybody else think Mary Poppins is smokin' hot? All haughty, laced up tight, and wearing gloves-- she's practically perfect in every way.
And now I wanna say something good about Around the World in 80 Days. It has some absolutely bitchin' Todd-AO tracking shots of people riding two to a side on Indian elephants thru the jungle. I can fantasize about those shots for hours. I just went over to imdb to look at 80 Days, and the full cast list of uncredited goes on for miles. Is that some kinda record?
Thanks for compiling all of these, Edward! It was fun to participate, even if I can't fully agree with the final results here. While many of these films were arguably the wrong choice of best picture in their given year (i.e., with a more deserving film in the running), I see very few of these films as inherently "bad", as you said, too, Edward. Although I admit to picking a few of the finalists myself - I picked Chicago, too, even though I don't see it as a "bad" film, just thought it overrated and lacking much originality or substance. And while Crash was embraced for the opposite reasons, I found it far too contrived to support. I don't think Rainman (which did make my list) is bad, it's just not very special or extraordinary, which is what I'd hope the Best Picture winner would be.

Btw, whatever problems Sound of Music has, it's got a lot to recommend it, and certainly doesn't compare in "badness" to My Fair Lady, which made my list, not Sound of Music. Torture!

I admitted to never seeing The Great Ziegfeld, which I've heard is really dated and bad, but did put Cimarron on the list, which is very dusty and musty.

Anyway, thanks again. This was fun.
PS: I kind of like Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, and Dances With Wolves (even if the latter has some issues). I do think the list reflects our own ages and the lack of availability or circulation of some of the older winners...
Forrest Gump is a perfect example of a Rorschach film: bombarding the viewer with disconnected images, ideas, and feelings to give the impression it's saying more than it is. (American Beauty is another example.) I defy anyone to find a logial progression from one scene to the next. What about the scene in which Gump addresses the anti-war protestors, and we don't hear what he's saying? What's the point of that? The film implies it is better to encounter the world by being simpleminded rather than grasp any ambiguities. It represents the desire of many Americans to retreat from society's complexities into a comfortable cocoon of benign ignorance. It also suggests that liberals deserve to die of AIDS.--Herman Scobie
I agree with anonymous. I don't hate Forrest Gump for the "message" (partly because I don't have a very high opinion of the 60s counterculture myself).

I just think it's badly made, trite, and Tom Hanks' "give me an Oscar" acting is virtually unwatchable. (Why do people pick on Dustin Hoffman for RAIN MAN? He wasn't that great, but Hanks was worse.) That guy who played Cameron Diaz's retarded brother in THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY was far more entertaining & deserving of an Oscar than Hanks.

All in all, I think that's a pretty good list. Of the movies I've seen, I didn't read a single title where I went, "Wow! I love that movie, that shouldn't be there," though I do think CHICAGO and SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE are fairly entertaining.

Actually, I have to say, the Oscars made a huge mistake early on. In their very first ceremony, they had two categories for Best Picture: Best "Artistic" Picture (which went to F.W. Murnau's SUNRISE) and I don't know what they called it, but it was a separate category for the big-budget epic type movie (which went to WINGS). Now, how smart is that? How can you, really, compare TITANIC with THE SWEET HEREAFTER (released the same year, and garnered a Best Director nom for Atom Egoyan)? But instead of continuing, they abandoned that format after just one year.

Why not just do that? Let James Cameron have his day in the sun, but that way you're not depriving the little, low-budget movies of the chance to win the top prize either. You just have TWO top prizes. It's a compromise, but so what? Otherwise, 9 times out of 10, the big lush, epic, expensive blockbuster always wins. If they'd done it that way, CHICAGO and THE PIANIST could BOTH have won the top prize, DANCES WITH WOLVES and GOODFELLLAS both take the gold, and more people go home happy.
Come on, people! It's clear people have poor attention spans and they didn't do their homework when they were going to school!

You people need to watch more of the classics and then make your decisions!
I agree, but so far the ballots I've received for the best best pictures have been weighed far more heavily toward the older winners than the current ones, so maybe they just hate the more recent ones more because they are freshest in their minds.
I agree that American Beauty's impact lessens after repeat viewings, but I wouldn't say it didn't deserve best picture that year (a loaded year for movies, but neccesarily those nominated; I mean: The Green Mile-wtf?).
I retrospect it plays like a sitcom, yes, but a real GOOD sitcom. And the high points (Lester's fit at the dinner table, Ricky and his magic bag, practically all of Chris Cooper's performance) still hit their mark.

As for the rest of the list, I haven't seen Crash yet, but I did see Gladiator.
How is that not number one?
Although highly entertaining, what is the message behind Forrest Gump? That a semi-retarded man with superhuman speed and superhuman luck, heeding Momma's good-'ol-fashioned advice, can become highly successful? Set to a soundtrack that SUCKS??!!? Momma always said, "Life's like a box of shit."
Nope, Saving Private Ryan lost to Shakespeare in Love, though Spielberg did win director for it.
To Ross, I was very impressed by CHICAGO and couldn't believe Rob Marshall didn't win for his inventive direction. Great to see a musical done that way.

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE is a terrific movie - very smart, very well acted (even Gwyneth for once), wonderfully directed.

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN didn't deserve to win, as it was an endless series of cliches, slightly altered to fit the gay theme, that was then used to blackmail people into saying they liked it.
Wow, this was an interesting read. Granted, I'm late in the game of discovering this article, but what a crummy, crummy list. I know this was voted on, but as someone who has actually seen ALL of the Best Picture winners (as well as a good chunk of the nominees) this list seemed more targeted at the Best Picture winners that were "popular" over the Best Picture winners that were truly "bad."

Granted, there are a few movies on here that deserve the dishonor of being on a worst list. "American Beauty," "The Greatest Show on Earth," and "Gladiator" are certainly dishonorable mentions on this list. But what about "Cimmeron?" "The Broadway Melody?" "How Green Was My Valley?" Come on folks, those films are practically unwatchable today. And what about "The Deer Hunter" and "Kramer vs. Kramer," movies that were very topical at the time but now seem very naive.

And as the author said at the top, "Going My Way" had no right being excluded from this list. Trust me folks, if I could assemble my own list of the worst Best Picture winners, then this list would look like simple nitpicking in comparison.
This is just completely inaccurate. Few people have seen Zigfield Follies or Life of Emile Zola so they can't really comment on how bad it is. So many of the recent pictures are good but just divisive, because everyone's a critic as they say
Haven't thought about Crash in about a year, but it came to mind for some reason and I had to vent somewhere. It is the worst movie I personally have ever seen, with The Hurt Locker coming in a close second. Both grandiose excersises in how to keep an audiences disbelief far from suspended. It still pisses me off that some brave saint at the studio didn't insist on straight to DVD and save us from the junior high level of insightfulness in this "powerful" film.
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