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15 Bad Movies That Miraculously Won an Oscar

Academy Awards

15 Bad Movies That Miraculously Won an Oscar

While the Academy Awards are meant to be handed out to the best of the best in movie making, sometimes this isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s the worst movies that can sneak in and grab an Oscar. The Academy isn’t perfect and they may see something in a film the public does not. 

The reality is that the voting process for winning an Oscar still isn’t entirely transparent, so we have to make some educated guesses. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t call out the Academy for awards potentially handed out in error. Whether it’s for movies, actors, music, or effects that are just genuinely bad, some of the movies below may have been undeserving.

It’s with this in mind that we rely on Rotten Tomatoes to help guide us toward truly bad movies that have won an Oscar award.

Pearl Harbor

The

Pearl Harbor

movie has been widely panned for its terrible love triangle.

With a paltry 24% Rotten Tomatoes score, Pearl Harbor somehow still won an Oscar. Winning the top prize for Best Sound Editing, Pearl Harbor was a surprising winner. Those who watched the movie know how excruciating the love triangle is and how it distracts from a terrible moment in U.S. history. Even though the film stars 3 great talents, they couldn’t save the film from painfully awful dialogue.

The Woman in Red

Even though it had a great cast,

The Woman in Red

didn’t land with audiences.

Starring Kelly LeBrock and Gene Wilder, The Woman in Red is yet another surprising Academy Award winner. This 1984 release features a story about infidelity and a businessman who falls in love with a woman he meets under the weirdest of circumstances. The film’s 32% Rotten Tomatoes score is a testament to the wasted talent that somehow won an Oscar for Best Original Song.

Suicide Squad

There is no way around it other than to say

Suicide Squad

was not a great movie.

A talented cast full of A-list actors did little to save 2016’s Suicide Squad. The DC Extended Universe has struggled to compete against Marvel and this film did little to help. A 26% Rotten Tomatoes score is honestly deserving for this film only for the brief moments you see a little promise. Fan disappointment aside, the film did win an Oscar award for Best Makeup.

The Wolfman

Outstanding makeup design couldn’t save

The Wolfman

from poor reviews.

Critics quickly poked holes in the script of The Wolfman right after its public release. Even with a 33% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, The Wolfman walked away with an Oscar award for Best Makeup. A remake of the 1941 movie of the same name, the story follows an American actor who turns into a werewolf. What’s surprising is that this award was given even though the actual werewolf makeup is only on screen for a few minutes at a time.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age

This sequel wasn’t able to find the right tone with audiences even with strong performances.

Earning itself an Oscar award for Best Costume Design, Elizabeth: The Golden Age is not at all a critical darling. The 35% Rotten Tomatoes score is a prime indicator of wasted talent. While Cate Blanchett did receive an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, even her skill couldn’t save this film.

The Broadway Melody

The Broadway Melody

will forever be remembered as the first movie to win Best Sound.

Scoring 42% on Rotten Tomatoes, this 1929 film wasn’t critically well-received, but it does deserve at least one honor. As the first sound film to win the Oscar award for Best Picture, The Broadway Melody deserves a proper mention. Following the story of three musical performers on their way to stardom, critics blasted the poor dialogue.

Harry and the Hendersons

Audiences just couldn’t get into

Harry and the Hendersons

though it won for Best Makeup.

Something of a cult classic, it’s hard to ignore Harry and the Henderson’s 45% Rotten Tomatoes score. Let’s be clear that this is not a great movie and not even John Lithgow could save it. The story focuses on a family returning from a trip to the woods when they discover a Sasquatch and take it home. Earning the Academy Award for Best Makeup in 1987, the film just wasn’t believable.

The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass

deserves its Oscar for visual effects but not much else.

For the most part, there is praise for the visuals shown in The Golden Compass, but little else impresses. Not even Daniel Craig and Sam Elliot can save this story about a girl who travels to save her best friend. The movie was mostly a flop but still pulled out an Oscar award for Best Visual Effects at the 80th Academy Awards.

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

had a great cast but not a great reception from audiences.

A retelling of the famous F. Scott Fitzgerald story, The Great Gatsby was a double Oscar award winner. The film would earn the top prize for both Best Production Design and Best Costume Design. Leonardo DiCaprio helped bring the film to life, which is likely the only reason the 48% Rotten Tomatoes score isn’t lower. While it’s visually beautiful, the film didn’t stick close enough to the author’s original version of the story.

The Greatest Show on Earth

A strong plot couldn’t save this movie from mixed reviews but it still won Best Picture.

This film follows the story of a railroad circus that is struggling to stay afloat in a post-war economy. A 50% Rotten Tomatoes Score hides the reality that this film isn’t the best. However, it is a wondrous vision of what life was like behind the scenes for Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus. Fortunately, not every critic agreed as the film won the 1952 Oscar Award for Best Picture.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Jim Carrey performed well but this film just didn’t land with audiences upon its release.

With a 49% Rotten Tomatoes score, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is just a so-so film. Jim Carrey gave it his all with a standout supporting cast, but the movie just can’t be saved. However, it’s hard to argue with the great makeup in the film and the Academy agreed. The film won the Oscar award for Best Makeup, a deserving honor against the backdrop of a mostly forgettable film.

Cimarron

One of the earliest Best Picture winners,

Cimarron

remains a history-worthy movie.

This 1931 Western film goes down in history as the fourth Best Picture winner of all time. As much as it’s remembered for the top prize, Rotten Tomatoes has been less kind. A 50% score indicates critics loved this film as much as they were disappointed by it. Still, it’s one of the few Westerns to win the top prize, something that hasn’t happened many times since.

Cleopatra

The biggest film production at the time,

Cleopatra

remains a controversial movie to audiences.

A truly epic film, at the time Cleopatra was made, it was the most expensive film ever made. A 56% Rotten Tomatoes score borders on being close enough to be tolerable without being good. However, the film unsurprisingly was nominated for the Academy Awards. It would take home four Oscar awards including Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design.

In Old Arizona

In Old Arizona

earned five Oscar nominations and won for Best Actor.

Earning a 56% Rotten Tomatoes score, In Old Arizona is a 1928 Western film that was nominated for 5 Academy Awards. Winning Best Actor for Warner Baxter’s performance in the film, the movie isn’t as fondly remembered. While it had great location shots, critics felt the film had too little action and didn’t come to life in the way it should have.

The Nutty Professor

Even Eddie Murphy’s charm couldn’t save

The Nutty Professor

from critics.

While Eddie Murphy is full of talent, even his comedic charms couldn’t save The Nutty Professor. With a 64% Rotten Tomatoes score, it’s the least worst film on the list, but it’s still not great. Released in 1996, the film won the Academy Award for Best Makeup, which helped spawn an even worse sequel, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps.

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