The 89th annual Academy Awards air Sunday and there is a 100% chance that I’m getting totally Oscar-drunk. (Thinking boxed wine because I’m obviously all class.) To celebrate this year’s fanciest of events, TLW is counting down the worst of the best (pictures), commiserating on the amount of time I actually spent watching these horrid etches in film history. (Well, that sounds dramatic, but par for the course…)
While winning the top prize at the Oscars is probably one of the highest honors a film can achieve (if not the highest), some pretty goddamn frustrating movies slipped through the cracks, earning all the attention, the benjis, the glory. Having just completed my Epic Film Quest of watching every single winner in history, I think it’s prime time to start dishing out some shade to these mostly-acclaimed-but-sort-of-hated title holders. Because the Academy doesn’t always get it quite right.
Here we go, from least-hated to most loathed:
10. No Country for Old Men (2007)
Please spare me about how the Coen Brothers are your favorite directors and how amazing they are and The Big Lebowski, and yada, yada, yada. Ain’t nobody got time for that. (Not all their movies are The Big Lebowski, so stop it with The Big Lebowski.) And no, they don’t get a bye every time they release one of the slowest movies ever made in history. Yes, they’re auteurs in their own right. They’re visionaries who put their own unique styling into every film they touch. But No Country for Old Men, starring Tommy Lee Jones as a soon-to-retire sheriff who’s tracking a thief and a hitman in rural Texas, is quite possibly one of the slowest films I’ve ever seen. The hype that was snowballing upon its release didn’t help. Many call this movie a cat-and-mouse drama, but it’s more attune to watching a bunch of turtles chase each other, if you can imagine something that riveting. Snooze. The Coen Brothers tend to be very polarizing, and Fargo, this one is not.
9. Out of Africa (1985)
Lady Meryl Streep is film royalty and usually a safe bet. However, if you want to test your sanity, you might want to check out Out of Africa, a nearly three-hour long romantic drama that takes place in 20th century colonial Kenya. Streep is a Danish baroness and plantation owner who starts up a steamy (not really) love affair with a free-spirited (I guess) game hunter, played by Robert Redford. There are about 1,000 virgin jokes before Streep’s character, Karen, convinces her friend to marry her. Karen tells us via narration that she once had a farm in Africa no less than 12 times in 10 minutes. They move to Africa. She wants a dairy farm, so he buys a coffee plantation instead(?). There’s far more brutal, mind-numbing non-action, and apparently the only thing I picked up from my viewing is that it had some cool lion scenes. Maybe go on an actual safari in Africa instead.
8. Patton (1970)
If I never see another war movie, it will be too soon. While I’m sure this personal bias affected Patton‘s standings in this here countdown, I don’t really care. I am just a person. George C. Scott’s performance as General Patton, a role turned down by Rod Steiger, is really the main focal point here. Scott tackled the role with icy command, delivering Patton’s vulgar speeches to his troops with hard-driving gusto. Wikipedia calls (the real) Patton “colorful” but in reality, he was sort of a dick. But it was Scott’s lead that helped carry this over-extended, nearly three-hour-long war film over the finish line. Whenever Scott wasn’t on screen, my attention waned hard. This, along with Africa, should’ve been an hour shorter.
7. Gigi (1958)
This winner from the late 50’s is set in turn-of-the-century Paris as a young girl, Gigi, is trying to find her bearings among high society. She’s sent to her Great Aunt’s swank pad to learn etiquette and charm, so that she can eventually marry a rich man and be his arm candy (how feminist…eyeroll). Gigi starts keeping the company of a family friend (token rich white guy) Gaston and YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, OMG! Predictable and forgettable. None of the musical’s songs strikes any sort of fervor or fancy. I was so indifferent to this one that it made me mad. Forget it existed and watch My Fair Lady instead.
6. The Life of Emile Zola (1937)
Emile Zola was a French writer in the 19th century and this film tells the story of his life. It didn’t age well. It bears zero relevancy to modern day life or audiences. I didn’t even care to learn about Zola. It was only 2 hours long, which is considered “short” when you’re trying to watch all these award winning movies from forever ago, but it still made me die a little inside.
5. The King’s Speech (2010)
To be perfectly honest, I know a lot of people that really liked The King’s Speech, a film about King George VI who tries desperately to get over a stuttering problem. (THAT’S THE ACTUAL PREMISE OF THE MOVIE. WHY.) While Geoffrey Rush is the most interesting pull here, (he plays the king’s Australian speech and language therapist) there’s nothing else to grab on to. Helena Bonham Carter showed up to remind us all that she was still married to Tim Burton (seriously, why the shit else was she still getting cast? They have since split though.). Sorry-not-sorry to those who heard all of my drunken tirades against this movie seven years ago. It made me angry then, and it still makes me angry now.
4. (Laurence Olivier’s) Hamlet (1948)
Doth must protest—or something—but Shakespeare and I are not friends. We wouldn’t have sat at the same lunch table, I wouldn’t have let him borrow my History notes. Dude’s smart and legendary, I get it, but so is Barbra Streisand, but you don’t see my driving around bumping the Yentl soundtrack, do you? Because that would be weird. The more my high school English teacher crawled over desks (literally), delivering soliloquies and shouting lines like she was on a stage (in her head she was), the more I sank lower in my seat trying to disappear from the horrors of reality. (She tried so hard, so A for effort on the teachin’, teach’.) When it comes to Laurence Olivier, I’ve got to stay true to my inner Mariah: “I don’t know him.” So let’s just say that Hamlet was long as hell, British as hell, far too stagey for film, and the only details I can remember revolve around the killer chili oil stir fry I made for dinner that night, which was hot as all hell. Caring is hard sometimes.
3. The English Patient (1996)
Here are 5 things you should do instead of watching The English Patient. I think Number 5 is probably the one to focus on. (And just pretend it’s the holidays again. Or plan for the future! There will always be plenty of shitty gifts to burn and parties to plan.) The takeaway is easy, kids: don’t watch The English Patient. Don’t fuck that up?
2. Chariots of Fire (1981)
With Chariots of Fire, I broke all the rules. It wasn’t my fault. If you’ve seen this movie, surely you’ll understand. Not only did I break protocol by grading the film first, but I did what I semi-promised I never would: I gave a Best Picture winner a grade of F. Make no mistake: Fuck this movie. I can honestly say that I gained absolutely nothing from watching this, and instead, lost two quality hours of my life that could have been better spent watching Reality TV, eating peanut butter from the jar with my hands Winnie the Pooh style, or video taping my cat doing anything he does on any given day. Also, running is stupid. Look, I like working out and all, but the only time you’ll see me running to this extent is if there’s a zombie apocalypse and only the strongest will survive. Yo, then my running game is going to be tight. But an insanely stuffy British movie about the 1924 Olympics? Hard pass.
1. The Last Emperor (1987)
I would’ve rather watched a My Little Pony movie. Or maybe Jem and the Holograms. Or any Kate Hudson rom-com. These were dark times. The Last Emperor is a British-Italian biographical film about the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China. It’s nearly three hours long and it feels like the most boring day you’ve ever had in school. You’re wowed a little bit by the China porn in the very beginning, but all hopes of enjoying the movie are destroyed within 30 minutes. It’s long, dry, horrible, and makes you yearn for something a little more bubble gum-y, like How to Lose A Man in 10 Days or whatever the hell that one was called. The Last Emperor will crush your soul, leaving you a mere shell of the being you once were. It’s like opening up your emoji keyboard and having every single one of them replaced by the sad face with the single tear. That is the only option you’ll have left after watching this movie. I don’t normally condone violence, but if you know a member of the Academy who voted for this film in 1987, punch him or her in the face. If you are a male and the Academy voter is a female, then find another female to do your bidding. Punching women isn’t cool, bro, and I’ll deny that I ever told you to do it.
Sometimes entertainment just isn’t that entertaining.
Coming soon: the top 10 best Best Pictures!
Which Oscar winners have you seen that you hated? Sound off below!