20 years of worst best-picture nominees

by Barry Koltnow

The Orange County Register (MCT)

8 February 2010

 

Sometimes, a column idea just falls in your lap.

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that it was doubling its annual list of Best Motion Picture nominees from five to 10, I actually salivated.

I was convinced that the expanded list would include that moronic comedy “The Hangover,” and I would have a field day trashing the Oscars.

After all, academy voters were desperate to improve TV ratings by demonstrating to the world that they were not just a bunch of elite film snobs, but were “real” people who liked popular movies like “The Hangover.” By expanding the field of nominees, the academy could pretend to be a populist group by adding five hit movies that would have no chance whatsoever of winning the Oscar.

It’s a win-win for the academy — they nominate your favorites, and they get to nominate their own five obscure favorites.

When the nominations were announced at a pre-dawn ceremony in Beverly Hills, I was terribly disappointed when “The Hangover” was tragically shunned. And when I say tragically, I mean tragic for me. Columnists are a little self-absorbed.

In fact, Oscar voters did a pretty good job picking 10 films that would not lead to a column.

So, you’re probably asking yourself what I’m doing in the middle of a column trashing the best motion picture nominees when “The Hangover” was omitted?

Never underestimate me, folks; I don’t need no stinking “Hangover” to write a column.

As I peruse the list of 10 nominees, I am reminded that not all nominees are created equal. Some belong on the list more than others, but that’s true in almost any year.

And that brings me to this column. Even though I lost an opportunity to mock the academy for selecting “The Hangover,” there is always “The Blind Side.”

Wait a second; are those pitchforks and torches I see coming up the hill?

Yes, I know it’s a very popular movie. I also liked it. It was entertaining and inspiring. Sandra Bullock deserves her first Oscar, even with “Miss Congeniality 2” on her resume.

But I don’t think it deserves an Oscar nomination. And it joins a long line of movies that didn’t deserve nominations. I’m not saying they were bad movies. I’m merely saying they were not worthy.

Anyway, here are the 10 worst best motion picture nominees of the last 20 years. If you have your own suggestions, let me know. And please put down that pitchfork.

1. “The Blind Side” (2009): Look, I’m happy that a good, solid movie like this got some recognition, but do you really think it belongs in the same group as “The Hurt Locker” or even “Avatar”? Feel-good movies are not necessarily great movies. I penalize it 15 yards for over-sentimentality.

2. “Brokeback Mountain” (2005): Although it won three Oscars, including one for director Ang Lee, I was left cold by the film. I suppose the subject matter was important to a lot of people, and perhaps it helped foster some understanding, but it seemed almost silly in parts. Heath Ledger elevated himself to serious actor status in this film, which is about the only memorable thing about this movie.

3. “Seabiscuit” (2003): A terrific film. I’m not disputing that. But was it really one of the five best movies of that year?

4. “Bugsy” (1991): Seriously, “Bugsy”?

5. “Atonement” (2006): I hated this movie. I felt cheated. I felt the same way when Bobby Ewing stepped out of the shower and negated an entire season of “Dallas.”

6. “Awakenings” (1990): I’m still feeling a little sleepy, and it’s been two decades.

7. “The Prince of Tides” (1991): Barbra Streisand did a perfectly acceptable job as director, although she was seriously hampered trying to convince the audience that actress Barbra Streisand could portray a psychiatrist. I didn’t buy it, but she certainly was better than Denise Richards as nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones in that James Bond movie “The World is Not Enough.”

8. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2007): Special effects alone do not a best motion picture nominee make. No, wait, I guess it does if the movie is “Avatar.”

9. “Scent of a Woman” (1992): Today’s menu specials include Al Pacino chewing considerable scenery. I found the dish not very tasty. It’s a travesty that he won the Oscar for this role, and not for “Dog Day Afternoon,” “Serpico” and “The Godfather, Part II.”

10. “The Full Monty” (1996): Just because it’s British doesn’t automatically make it a nominee. Certainly, a delightful comedy, and I use the word “delightful” only because it’s a British comedy. American comedies are never delightful. Sometimes, they’re not even funny. And, speaking of “The Hangover,” isn’t it a shame that it got ignored by the academy? If it hadn’t, I might have had an idea for a column.

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