Oscar season is upon us, that time of year when the entertainment industry comes together to give each other hand-jobs and laud the best of the best. Naturally, we thought we’d take this time to give them all the equivalent of the Dirty Sanchez and celebrate the worst of the best. Yes, these are the Oscar winners that have a metaphorical turd mustache. They’re all kind of embarrassing and everyone regrets being involved and no one can quite figure out how they still managed to get off or win a gold statue or… this metaphor is getting both tortured and really gross so let’s just get on with it, nine of the worst Oscar winners ever.
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Halle Berry basically won the Best Actress award for Monster’s Ball because she was willing to get raw on screen with Billy Bob Thornton. (And when I say raw, I mean raw.) Sure, she deserves some sort of award for putting herself in harm’s way like that with ol’ Sling Blade, maybe a Purple Heart or something like that to show the grandkids one day, but an Oscar? Let’s face it, when they’re showing a montage celebrating acting during some future ceremony I doubt they’ll be including Halle Berry moaning “I want you to make me feel good!” while Billy Bob sweats all over her. Just a hunch.
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Crash was one of those movies that received a ton of pre-show hype, peaking at just the right time to eke out a win over the more celebrated Brokeback Mountain. And as soon as the word “Crash” came out of Jack Nicholson’s mouth announcing the winner for Best Picture that year everyone watching instantly had a case of buyer’s remorse. You could practically hear the judges muttering “I’ve made a huge mistake” like they were all Gob Bluth. It’s not that Crash is a bad film – okay fine, it totally is. It’s ham-handed, maudlin and “important” in an entirely superficial and self-congratulatory way. This is one of those choices that people will look back upon twenty or thirty years from now and say “What the…?”
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Angelina Jolie isn’t a bad actress. She’s just not very good either. But thanks to a role in Girl Interrupted in which she played a crazy person she managed to drag home an Oscar. The thing is, is that for Oscar voters that sort of role is like waving a steak in front of the face of a hungry pit bull. They’ll go for it every time, no matter who’s playing it. Hell, Jessica Simpson probably could have won the Oscar if she played that role. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or not. Too many people equate good acting with someone acting weird and damaged, which let’s be honest, wasn’t exactly much of a stretch for Angelina Jolie, and the result is, well, Oscar winner Angelina Jolie.
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Dances With Wolves is a noble movie with a noble message, blah blah blah, but there are three things working against Costner’s Academy Award for Best Director – one, he’s Kevin Costner. Two, Dances With Wolves and Costner both won their respective categories even though they were going up against Martin Scorsese and Goodfellas which is damn near criminal. And third, well, he’s Kevin Costner. This is one of those things that cause people twenty years later to look back with astonishment, like how in the world could society let something like this happen? It’s just irreconcilable with everything that we know about the man. Kevin Costner is an Oscar winner. Just think about that for a minute. Kevin Costner.
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Somewhere in the universe, at a mall or maybe a boat show or maybe at the line outside of a food pantry on Santa Monica Boulevard, Cuba Gooding, Jr. is wearily shouting “Show me the money!” for mild, half-embarrassed applause from people who just sort of wish he would go away. And then later, he’ll swing by his agent’s office where his agent will be hiding underneath his desk with the lights off and Cuba will mournfully cry “C’mon man, show me the money” before trudging home, muttering “Show me the money, show me the money” and wondering if tonight will be the night that Tom Cruise finally returns one of his phone calls.
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Really, this is more about who didn’t win that year than who did. Forrest Gump is what it is. Some people love it and some people think it is a ridiculous pile of faux-sentimental drivel meant to appeal to a generation past its sell-by date. What it isn’t is remarkable in any way. In 1994, Forrest Gump wasn’t even the best feel-good movie out there. That was the same year The Shawshank Redemption came out, which if you check currently has the highest rating of any movie ever on IMDB.com. Ever. And then there’s this – 1994 also saw the release of a little movie called Pulp Fiction, which no matter what you think about it and what it spawned, undeniably changed the way movies were made, watched, discussed, everything really, and which serves as one of those cultural demarcation points that people look back upon when they discuss when one generation took over while another faded. The contrast couldn’t be more clear, and that Forrest Gump – the symbol of the faded generation - somehow won it all that year is almost ludicrous and yet here we are.
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Calm down. Al Pacino is a great actor. One of the best of all time. And he deserved to win an Oscar more than just about anybody ever. But the movies he deserved to win one for all were overlooked, and so when Scent of a Woman came out Oscar voters threw up their hands and collectively said “Hell, let’s just give it to him this time.” Which wouldn’t be so bad except that Scent of a Woman is exhibit A in Pacino’s descent into overacting hell. It is the performance everyone imitates whenever they’re trying to imitate Crazy Pacino. After the quiet menacing genius of Michael Corleone, after an entire decade’s worth of simmering intensity that set a new standard for American acting, Al Pacino finally was recognized by the Academy because he played a blind dude who liked to shout “Hoo-ah!”
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Judi Dench is a great actress, so great in fact that she was basically handed the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Shakespeare in Love, in which she played Queen Elizabeth, pretty much because people saw the names “Queen Elizabeth” and “Judi Dench” on the ballot and figured it had to be great. The only problem is that she was only in the film for a grand total of eight minutes. That’s right, Judi Dench won an Oscar for what was probably less than half a day’s work. Eight minutes! I spend more time on the toilet than that. (I like to read, don’t judge me.)
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Most of you are out there asking what the hell is How Green Was My Valley? And that’s precisely the point. It’s a completely inessential film that would be utterly lost to history if it didn’t somehow win the Oscar for Best Picture. And even then, the only reason people remember it at all is because of the movie that didn’t win the Oscar that year. That’s right, How Green Was My Valley is the movie that beat out Citizen Kane for the Oscar. Citizen freaking Kane! You know, the movie that is only widely considered the best movie of all time, a landmark film that was in many ways the first truly modern film and the model for how movies are still made to this day. Yeah, that Citizen Kane. And it lost the Oscar to some dumb movie called How Green Was My Valley. The lesson, of course, is that we have always been idiots and the Oscars are, well, the Oscars are dumb.
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