The Worst of the
Academy Awards

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Academy Awards History (By Decade):
Introduction, 1927/8-39, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s
Academy Awards Summaries

The Worst of the Academy Awards

The Academy has, with limited success, tried to limit the influences of pressure groups and promotion, box office gross receipts, and studio public relations and marketing on voting results. It has also attempted to limit votes for melodramatic sentimentality, atonement for past mistakes, personal popularity, and "prestige" or epic scale, but those influences have often had a decided effect upon the outcome of some of the poll results. Unfortunately, the critical worth, artistic vision, cultural influence, and innovative qualities of many films are not given the same voting weight.

Especially since the 80s, moneymaking 'formula-made' blockbusters with glossy production values have often been crowd-pleasing titans (and Best Picture winners), but they haven't necessarily been great films with depth or critical acclaim by any measure.

Please note: The following charts contain possible alternatives (albeit sometimes opinionated and subjective) for some of the awards given throughout Academy history. In some cases, the "worst" honoree only means that some other more deserving performer or film should have been selected.

Best Picture
The Worst of the Awards

(See also 'Best Pictures' Not Nominated for Best Picture)
(See also Best Picture Winners and Best Picture Milestones)
Those Designated "The Worst!"
Notable Best Picture Winners
(+ an unexpected, upset win)
Also Nominated for Best Picture
in Same Year and/or
Possibly Other Deserving Options
Broadway Melody (1928/29) A very weak year for nominees, un-nominated The Divine Lady, Nosferatu, Steamboat Bill, Jr.
Cimarron (1930/31) A very weak year for nominees, un-nominated A Free Soul, City Lights, Dracula, Frankenstein, Little Caesar, Public Enemy
Cavalcade (1932/33) 42nd Street, I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang, or The Private Life of Henry VIII, or un-nominated Dinner at Eight, King Kong, Duck Soup, Trouble in Paradise, M
The Great Ziegfeld (1936) Dodsworth possibly, and un-nominated My Man Godfrey, Modern Times
The Life of Emile Zola (1937) Lost Horizon, The Awful Truth, Stage Door, and un-nominated Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, You Only Live Once
You Can't Take It With You (1938) The Adventures of Robin Hood, and un-nominated Angels with Dirty Faces, Bringing Up Baby
How Green Was My Valley (1941) Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon, The Little Foxes, Suspicion, Sergeant York, and un-nominated Meet John Doe, Ball of Fire, Fantasia
Mrs. Miniver (1942) Un-nominated To Be or Not to Be, Woman of the Year, Sullivan's Travels
Going My Way (1944) Double Indemnity or Gaslight, and un-nominated Laura, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Curse of the Cat People, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) It's A Wonderful Life, also un-nominated The Big Sleep, Brief Encounter, Children of Paradise, My Darling Clementine, Notorious, Gilda, The Postman Always Rings Twice
Gentleman's Agreement (1947) Un-nominated Black Narcissus, A Double Life, La Belle et La Bete, A Matter of Life and Death
+ Hamlet (1948) Johnny Belinda, The Red Shoes and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and un-nominated The Search, Red River
All About Eve (1950) Un-nominated The Third Man, The Asphalt Jungle
+ An American in Paris (1951) A Streetcar Named Desire and A Place in the Sun, and un-nominated The African Queen, Strangers on a Train
+ The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) High Noon and The Quiet Man, and un-nominated Singin' in the Rain, The Bad and the Beautiful, Rashomon
On the Waterfront (1954) - a good choice! Un-nominated Rear Window (with 4 nominations, but not one for Best Picture), Sabrina
+ Marty (1955) A weak set of nominees, including Mister Roberts, and un-nominated The Night of the Hunter, and two un-nominated James Dean classics: East of Eden, and Rebel Without a Cause
Around the World in 80 Days (1956) The Ten Commandments, Giant, The King and I and un-nominated The Searchers, Baby Doll, The Seven Samurai
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) 12 Angry Men, and un-nominated Wild is the Wind, Paths of Glory
Gigi (1958) Another weak set of nominees, and un-nominated Vertigo and Touch of Evil
Ben Hur (1959) Un-nominated Some Like It Hot, Wild Strawberries
The Apartment (1960) A weak set of nominees (including The Alamo); un-nominated Psycho, Spartacus, The Virgin Spring
Tom Jones (1963) A weak set of nominees (including Cleopatra), and un-nominated The Great Escape, Hud, and The Birds
My Fair Lady (1964) Dr. Strangelove, Or:, or un-nominated Night of the Iguana, A Hard Day's Night
A Man for All Seasons (1966) Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, or un-nominated The Professionals
In the Heat of the Night (1967) Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate (in a field of weak nominees including Doctor Doolittle), or un-nominated In Cold Blood, The Dirty Dozen, Cool Hand Luke, Chimes at Midnight
+ Oliver! (1968) The Lion in Winter, Funny Girl, and un-nominated 2001: A Space Odyssey , Rosemary's Baby
+ Midnight Cowboy (1969) An un-nominated The Wild Bunch, Easy Rider, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, Once Upon a Time in the West
Patton (1970) Five Easy Pieces, or un-nominated Little Big Man, Women in Love
The Sting (1973) American Graffiti, Cries and Whispers, or The Exorcist, or un-nominated Mean Streets, Serpico, Last Tango in Paris, The Last Detail, among others
Rocky (1976) Network, Taxi Driver, All the President's Men, and un-nominated Seven Beauties, The Outlaw Josey Wales
Annie Hall (1977) Star Wars, and un-nominated Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The Deer Hunter (1978) Coming Home, and un-nominated Interiors, Autumn Sonata
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) Apocalypse Now, and un-nominated Manhattan, Alien, Being There
Ordinary People (1980) Raging Bull, and un-nominated The Empire Strikes Back, The Shining, Breaker Morant, The Stunt Man
+ Chariots of Fire (1981) Reds, On Golden Pond, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and un-nominated Ragtime, Gallipoli
Gandhi (1982) E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial or Tootsie, and un-nominated Das Boot, Sophie's Choice
Terms of Endearment (1983) The Right Stuff, The Big Chill, or Tender Mercies, and un-nominated Fanny and Alexander, Zelig
Out of Africa (1985) Witness, The Color Purple, Prizzi's Honor, and un-nominated Brazil, Ran, Blood Simple
The Last Emperor (1987) Broadcast News, or Moonstruck, and un-nominated Empire of the Sun, The Princess Bride
Rain Man (1988) Dangerous Liaisons, and un-nominated A Fish Called Wanda, Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Driving Miss Daisy (1989) Born on the Fourth of July, My Left Foot, Dead Poets Society, and un-nominated Glory, Do the Right Thing, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Cinema Paradiso, sex, lies, and videotape..., When Harry Met Sally..., Henry V
Dances With Wolves (1990) GoodFellas, and un-nominated Reversal of Fortune, Miller's Crossing
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) Beauty and the Beast and JFK, and un-nominated Thelma & Louise, The Fisher King
Forrest Gump (1994) The Shawshank Redemption, Quiz Show and Pulp Fiction and un-nominated Bullets Over Broadway, Ed Wood
Braveheart (1995) Apollo 13, Babe, Sense and Sensibility, and un-nominated Dead Man Walking, Leaving Las Vegas, Nixon, Heat, The Usual Suspects, Toy Story, and Se7en
The English Patient (1996) Fargo, Secrets & Lies, and un-nominated Trainspotting, Breaking the Waves, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Lone Star
Titanic (1997) L.A. Confidential and un-nominated The Sweet Hereafter, Amistad
+ Shakespeare in Love (1998) Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line, and un-nominated The Big Lebowski, The Truman Show, Out of Sight
American Beauty (1999) The Insider, The Sixth Sense, and un-nominated Being John Malkovich, Magnolia, Fight Club, Three Kings, Boys Don't Cry, and The Matrix
Gladiator (2000) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and un-nominated Almost Famous
A Beautiful Mind (2001) The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Gosford Park, Moulin Rouge!, and un-nominated Memento (2000) and Mulholland Dr.
Chicago (2002) The Pianist, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Gangs of New York, and un-nominated Adaptation, Frida, Far From Heaven
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) Mystic River, Lost in Translation
+ Crash (2005) Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night, and Good Luck, and un-nominated Walk the Line
The Departed (2006) The Queen, Babel, Letters From Iwo Jima
No Country For Old Men (2007) There Will Be Blood
Slumdog Millionaire (2008) Un-nominated The Dark Knight
+ The Hurt Locker (2009) Avatar
The King's Speech (2010) The Social Network

Note: Below, these winners either stole the award from a more deserving nominee or
were consolation prizes for previous losses or neglect.

Best Director
The Worst of the Awards

Frank Borzage for Bad Girl (1931/32)

Frank Capra for You Can't Take It With You (1938)

Victor Fleming for Gone With the Wind (1939)

John Ford for How Green Was My Valley (1941)
instead of Orson Welles for Citizen Kane (1941)

Leo McCarey for Going My Way (1944)

Delbert Mann for Marty (1955)
instead of unnominated Charles Laughton for The Night of the Hunter (1955)

George Stevens for Giant (1956)
instead of unnominated John Ford for The Searchers (1956)

Vincente Minnelli for Gigi (1958)
instead of unnominated Alfred Hitchcock for Vertigo (1958)

Robert Wise for The Sound of Music (1965)

Carol Reed for Oliver! (1968)

George Roy Hill for The Sting (1973)

Milos Forman for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
instead of unnominated Steven Spielberg for Jaws (1975)

John Avildsen for Rocky (1976)
instead of unnominated Martin Scorsese for Taxi Driver (1976)

Michael Cimino for The Deer Hunter (1978)

Robert Redford for Ordinary People (1980)

Oliver Stone for Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

Kevin Costner for Dances with Wolves (1990)

Robert Zemeckis for Forrest Gump (1994)

Ron Howard for A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Best Actor
The Worst of the Awards
George Arliss in Disraeli (1929/30)

Robert Donat in Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939)

James Stewart in The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Paul Lukas in Watch on the Rhine (1943)
instead of Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca (1943)

Ronald Colman in A Double Life (1947)

Laurence Olivier in Hamlet (1948)
instead of unnominated Humphrey Bogart in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Ernest Borgnine in Marty (1955)
instead of unnominated James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur (1959)
instead of unnominated Cary Grant in North by Northwest (1959)

Lee Marvin in Cat Ballou (1965)
instead of Rod Steiger in The Pawnbroker (1965)

John Wayne in True Grit (1969)

Jack Lemmon in Save the Tiger (1973)

Art Carney in Harry and Tonto (1974)

Richard Dreyfuss in The Goodbye Girl (1977)

Paul Newman in The Color of Money (1986)

Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
instead of Robert De Niro in Cape Fear (1991)

Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman (1992)
instead of Denzel Washington in Malcolm X (1992) or Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven (1992)

Roberto Benigni in Life is Beautiful (1998)
instead of Edward Norton in American History X (1998)

Adrien Brody in The Pianist (2002)
instead of Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York (2002)

Best Actress
The Worst of the Awards

Mary Pickford in Coquette (1928/29)

Luise Rainer in The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

Luise Rainer in The Good Earth (1937)

Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday (1950)

Grace Kelly in The Country Girl (1954)

Anna Magnani in The Rose Tattoo (1955)

Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8 (1960)

Katharine Hepburn in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

Glenda Jackson in A Touch of Class (1973)

Cher in Moonstruck (1987)

Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love (1998)
instead of Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth (1998)

Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich (2000)
instead of Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Halle Berry in Monster's Ball (2001)

Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side (2009)

Best Supporting Actor
The Worst of the Awards

Walter Brennan in Kentucky (1938)

Red Buttons in Sayonara (1957)

Peter Ustinov in Spartacus (1960)

Ed Begley, Sr., in Sweet Bird of Youth (1962)

Joel Grey in Cabaret (1972)

George Burns in The Sunshine Boys (1975)

Melvyn Douglas in Being There (1979)

Don Ameche in Cocoon (1985)

Sean Connery in The Untouchables (1987)

Jack Palance in City Slickers (1991)

Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive (1993)
instead of Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List (1993)

Cuba Gooding, Jr. in Jerry Maguire (1996)
instead of William H. Macy in Fargo (1996)

James Coburn in Affliction (1998)
instead of Geoffrey Rush in Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Best Supporting Actress
The Worst of the Awards

Gale Sondergaard in Anthony Adverse (1936)

Jo Van Fleet in East of Eden (1955)

Wendy Hiller in Separate Tables (1958)

Goldie Hawn in Cactus Flower (1969)

Helen Hayes in Airport (1970)

Ingrid Bergman in Murder on the Orient Express (1973)

Beatrice Straight in Network (1976)

Maggie Smith in California Suite (1978)

Geena Davis in The Accidental Tourist (1988)

Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost (1990)

Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny (1992)
instead of Judy Davis in Husbands and Wives (1992)

Mira Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite (1995)

Juliette Binoche in The English Patient (1996) (surprise win)

Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Marcia Gay Harden in Pollock (2000)
instead of Kate Hudson in Almost Famous (2000)

Renee Zellweger in Cold Mountain (2003)
instead of Shohreh Aghdashloo in House of Sand and Fog (2003)
or Patricia Clarkson in Pieces of April (2003)

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