• Sat, Feb 15 - 4:00 pm ET

11 Terrible Movies That Somehow Managed To Get Oscar Nominations

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Oscars season is all about recognizing extraordinary achievements of actors and directors, as well as all of the behind-the-scenes people who get zero attention every other time of the year. Also, it’s sometimes about how fab or gross everyone looks on the red carpet, and it’s usually¬†about being freaking outraged. Do you know how you’re supposed to respond to unexpected wins? Anger. Nomination snubs? Rage, of course. But, if you’ll give me permission to speak for you for a sec, we don’t spend enough time being shocked at actual Oscar nominations. The win before the win, if you will.

Because, it’s like, even if a really undeserving movie doesn’t get to have its name screwed up by the person presenting the award, it was still really close. Some might say too close, I would say¬†dangerously¬†close.¬†Because, even though they don’t get to brag about being Oscar-winning movies in obnoxious gold ribbon on their Blu-Ray disc cases, they can still say the second-best thing, which is “Oscar-nominated.” So, while I’m glad that in all of these cases, none of these horrible movies ended up winning the Academy Award, let us still point out how shockingly close they came to doing so. After all, if you don’t learn about the past, it’s doomed to repeat itself. And we can’t have any movies like these up for any more Oscars, okay??

1. Avatar (2009)

Nominated For: Best Picture

It looked nice enough to fool my brain into thinking that it was a 3-D movie minus the headache that usually comes with an actual 3-D movie. But past that, the storyline wasn’t very good and certainly wasn’t worth anyone’s Best Picture award, let alone the Academy’s.

2. Borat (2006)

Nominated For: Best Adapted Screenplay

I feel safe in saying that this is one of the most annoying movies ever. It also doesn’t feel too much like any kind of planning went on outside of, “let’s get this person to say something really stupid on camera” so I’m double shocked that there was even a screenplay involved.

3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Nominated For: Best Picture

No matter how many points for originality I give this movie, they’re all immediately taken away when I consider the irony that the movie’s message is that you should cherish every moment in your life — but then proceeds to waste many of my own hours.

4. Chocolat (2000)

Nominated For: Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay

Here’s the thing: this movie would be cool for a Netflix-and-Cheez-Its night in, but very bad for an Academy Award sort of night. It’s an insanely subtle difference, I know.

5. The Godfather, Part III (1990)

Nominated For: Best Picture

Here we have a beautiful fantastic amazing example of why you should leave well alone. And what I mean by that saying that my grandma says a whole lot is that this is one of those things that we could’ve done completely without. Sort of like season 4 of Arrested Development, but that’s a sensitive topic so we don’t talk about that.

6. Babel (2006)

Nominated For: Best Picture

I could argue that this story had no purpose, but that isn’t true. It just can’t make me care about that purpose because the story is just so bad.

7. The Crucible (1996)

Nominated For: Best Adapted Screenplay

I know, we’ve all half-fallen asleep to this movie in our high school English classes. But someone out there was about to give this over-acting a whole Oscar for adapting a¬†play¬†into a¬†screenplay.¬†I’m sure it didn’t take long at all, considering all they had to do was open the book and start rolling the cameras.

8. Bad Grandpa (2013)

Nominated For: Best Makeup and Hairstyling

While I’ll admit that¬†Johnny Knoxville¬†was very convincing as an old man, I still can’t get past the fact that his name is on a list of Oscar nominees. #NoOffenseToBenAffleckJohnnyKnoxville

9. Pirates (1986)

Nominated For: Best Costume Design

If you’ve seen this movie, you totally understand why it was such a box office f-l-o-p. And, if you haven’t, you can still save yourself by continuing to avoid it.

10. Norbit (2007)

Nominated For: Best Achievement in Makeup

Are you freaking kidding me. I think we can all agree that this movie was an embarrassment (to everyone, not even just to those who were involved in making it). But in case you’re about to say, “but the makeup — you gotta love the makeup,” don’t. Because if you say that then you’re going to have to be willing to support Eddie’s racist yellowface in the movie.

11. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

Nominated For: Best Sound Mixing

What’s the opposite of a critical darling? Maybe something like critical Cinderella-before-meeting-her-Fairy-Godmother? I don’t know, I’m still working through it. But what I’m 100% positive of is the fact that it’s so bad that, despite its per-second explosion ratio, I still managed to fall asleep during it.

You can reach this post's author, Olivia Wilson, on twitter.
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  • J_Doe5686

    I gotta say that Borat is my favorite guilty pleasure.

  • Elizabeth Aspen

    What are you whining about? More than half of these movies were nominated in categories that send people to the bathroom or to the kitchen to make a Hot Pocket while they’re being awarded, so who cares.

    • Olivia Wilson

      I don’t know, I say an Oscar is an Oscar, you know?

  • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

    Well I guess this post flopped. Try something else. Some binary conflict maybe.

  • Josh Zimmerman

    For most of these movies, all that’s you’ve said is that the movie sucks. But other than “I didn’t like it,” why were they so bad? For the ones nominated for best movie, it would be nice to have some actual reasons as to why it’s not good. Why doesn’t the story work? Maybe a better title of this post would be “Movies I Think Are Terrible that Got Oscar Nominations.”

    And the Bad Grandpa one? You admit that he looked like an old man but just because it was him it doesn’t deserve a nomination? What kind of criteria is that?!

    I agree Transformers 2 overall was a bad movie, but it was nominated for SOUND MIXING. No mention of why it doesn’t deserve that in your explanation. The sound design and mixing for that movie is incredible no matter how bad the movie is. Many people overlook that kind of stuff. Every SINGLE time a transformer so much as moves, there’s sound mixing involved. A lot of work is put into that, regardless of how terrible the overall movie was. It wasn’t nominated for best movie anyways, so all that should be discussed is the sound.

    I never saw Pirates, but your explanation doesn’t even talk about the costumes, and that’s why it was nominated. Why didn’t it deserve that? I’m genuinely curious to know because I haven’t seen it, but your post leaves me completely in the dark. Did other movies come out in 1986 that had much better costumes? You said it’s a box office flop which validates saying the movie was probably terrible, but again, it was nominated for COSTUMES.

    Don’t just tell me you didn’t like the movie, tell me WHY it deserves to be called “terrible.”

    • MCR

      There was one good explanation offered, for The Crucible. Adapting a play into a screenplay may not really qualify for an Academy Award nomination – especially when you’re adapting your own play. Even Arthur Miller shouldn’t be allowed to double dip like this.

    • Josh Zimmerman

      “Adapted Screenplay” means the screenplay is an adaptation. Meaning it can be an adaptation of anything, including a play, to qualify. I do think that it was definitely kind of a stretch, but it still doesn’t mean that this movie was horrible… Regardless of who wrote it or where it came from, it could still be a good movie, and a good adaptation. It may not have deserved the nomination, but it doesn’t mean it’s a terrible movie.

    • MCR

      Of course the movie wasn’t terrible. The author’s point, which I was backing up, is that it might not be reasonable to give an Oscar for adapting your own play script into a movie script. The script was basically the same, I think. More significant changes were brought about by the set designer, who apparently didn’t win an Oscar. Also by the person who cast Winona Ryder, who should have received some kind of publicly shaming anti-award, which the good people of Salem would have been very helpful in devising.

  • Olivia C

    Just because the plot or acting isn’t excellent, why should the work that other people pour into the movie get disregarded? Movies aren’t just made with actors and writers.