5 Best Picture Winners that Didn’t Deserve the Win

Posted by Toyiah Murry February 27, 2014 3 Comments 7363 views

Oscar nominations usually gets fans and critics alike riled up. The discussion of what films were “snubbed” are common centerpieces during Oscar season. But every few years a Best Picture winner sparks outrage and disappointment from viewers, usually because it doesn’t represent the “best of the year.” Here are five films that somehow won Best Picture but didn’t deserve it.

5. Chicago (2002): Director, Rob Marshall


It had glitz, glamour, music, celebrities, and all that jazz—but a Best Picture win? Really?! What makes it win even more perplexing is that it won against Roman Polanski’s brilliantly, inspiring yet heartbreaking film, The Pianist. I get it, the academy would rather up-sell a joyous musical than a glum story about the Holocaust, but in this instance The Pianist and its significant story were robbed.


4. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952): Director, Cecile B. DeMille

The Greatest Show on Earth - Still #3

DeMille’s mammoth spectacle follows a complicated love triangle within the topsy-turvy world of circus life. Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey carries The Greatest Show on Earth, but you’d have a better time seeing their actual show live instead of dealing with the puffy, melodrama that DeMille brought to the film. While it was a success at the box office, it’s win for Best Picture still baffles many.


3. Crash (2004): Director, Paul Haggis


Speaking of melodramatic fluff, I’m still upset that Crash won over Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain in 2004. Complete with a multitude of tears, Crash attempts to depict that everyone is a little racist behind closed doors or in stressful situations. Somehow it’s over-the-top script won over a beautifully crafted story of two married ranch hands and their forbidden love for each other. The outrage against the themes of homosexuality at the time is a clear indicator as to why the star-studded puff piece Crash undeservedly won.

2. Out of Africa (1985): Director, Sydney Pollack


Who doesn’t love Merely Streep and Robert Redford? In fact, their combined chemistry is almost as good as the separate presence. However, Out of Africa’s slow story of a scorned woman in love barely even deserved the nomination for best picture let alone a win, especially when Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple was nominated the same year. The Color Purple surpasses Out of Africa in every technical aspect, but I guess its major problem that year was that its story was centered on blacks instead of using them as props.

1. Cimarron (1931): Director, Wesley Ruggles


A unanimous WTF is usually the first reaction had by modern watchers of Cimarron. Standing as one of two Westerns to ever win Best Picture, Cimarron was lauded at its time. However, as the years have passed and mindsets have changed, many often criticize it for its weak story and blatant racism of every major ethic race.


About Toyiah Murry

Twenty-something film reviewer, social critic, and cultural analyst searching for a place in the sun. Passionate lover of discourse about film and music and its affects on the human brain and society. Equally loves the taste and science of food as well.

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There are 3 Comments

  1. Bodie
    - March 16, 2014
      -   Reply

    Chicago was the worst, safe, cowardly decision made by the Academy that year. Also worst was Dances with Wolves over legendary Goodfellas. Can’t believe anything beat Singing in the Rain. Greatest Show on Earth only for 70s late night TV viewing @/grandma’s.

  2. Richard
    - March 25, 2014
      -   Reply

    I couldn’t agree more about Chicago, Greatest, and Africa (haven’t seen the other 2): classic bores. And throw in Argo, another WTF, although not boring. I do remember as a kid seeing Cornel Wilde in Greatest crashing to the ground from a trapeze (or high wire?) and one if his hands reduced to an immobile claw. Guys at school walked around with a claw-like hand.

  3. idleprimate
    - April 13, 2014
      -   Reply

    I buy this list, though I do have a soft spot for Greatest Show on Earth. I do imagine one could make a much longer list of baffling oscar wins

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