The Worst/Best Winners At The Academy Awards: A Retrospective

The Academy Awards are this Sunday, finally giving our nation’s famous millionaires an opportunity to win something on TV. In celebration of these fine people achieving everything they’ve ever wanted as they enjoy success beyond their wildest dreams (unlike yourself, who had a fistful of gummi worms for breakfast), here’s a breakdown of the LEAST DESERVING winner in each major Academy Awards category.

NOTE: We’re only going as far back as 1980, here, because, as far as I’m concerned, nothing that happened before I was born matters.

The Least Deserving Winners in Oscar History (1980 to Last Year)

Best Original Screenplay: Ghost (1990)

Ghost was a massive hit, mainly because it provided a visual for our nation’s number one collective fantasy: being wrapped up in Patrick Swayze’s arms while making pottery. The screenplay itself was nothing more than a collection of goopy soap opera beats loosely tied together by a bunch of silly, ghost-related business. Plus, no dance scene for Patrick Swayze??? I don’t CARE if it wouldn’t have made sense for the character. GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Out of Africa (1985)

Have you ever actually WATCHED that movie? It’s 17 hours long and it literally accelerates the aging process in your body as you watch it. It LITERALLY does that. If you’re 25 when you start watching Out of Africa, you will be well into your 50’s by the time it’s over. Nothing that boring should ever be presented with an award of any kind, unless it’s an award for being the Best Nap-Maker. Which is not an actual award. I checked.

Best Documentary: He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin’ (1983)

This is the actual poster for an Academy Award-winning film. I have no further comment.

Best Supporting Actress: Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Judi Dench was on-screen in Shakespeare in Love for less than 8 minutes. To give you a little perspective here, the thank-you speech she gave when she won the Oscar for that -8 minutes of screen time was in the ballpark of 4 minutes. When I become the President of Movies (should happen in the next decade or so, provided I get off my duff and finish the essay portion of my application), I will make it HOLLYWOOD LAW that you can’t win an award for a movie if you’ve been in it less than a solid half-hour. No exceptions allowed, even for knighted British fancypantses.

Best Supporting Actor: Benicio del Toro, Traffic (2000)

I’ve seen Traffic a couple of times, and… though I generally have no problem with Benicio del Toro… I simply do not understand how or why he won an Academy Award for this role. The only thing I can figure is that there was a misprint on the ballots that were sent out that year, incorrectly identifying the “Best Supporting Actor” category as “Best at Mumbling.”

Best Actress: Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich (2000)

It’s not that Julia Roberts was BAD in Erin Brockovich… she was, you know, fine. Sassy, and whatnot. It’s just bad luck on her part that she won the same year that one of the truly great, most flawless lead performances ever given by an actress was ALSO nominated. That would be Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream. Who wins Award X at the Oscars is very often not about the actual performance (or screenplay, or ability to edit film, or whatever) itself… there’s always politics and “who’s overdue” and a million other factors. Roberts winning over Burstyn will go down in Oscar history as the most egregious example of TINSELTOWN SHENANIGANS.

Best Actor: Russel Crowe, Gladiator (2000)

Man… 2000 was a big whiff for the Oscars. This is a different version of the previously mentioned TINSELTOWN SHENANIGANS. “You really should have won last year, so… um… here’s your Oscar for that role, for THIS role! Love ya, xoxo!” Crowe was brilliant in 1999’s The Insider, but was beat out by Kevin Spacey’s deadpan suburban reawakening in American Beauty. It happens. The following year was a pretty weak one for the Best Actor category (Geoffrey Rush, for example, was also nominated for his turn in Quills; an extremely campy performance in an extremely so-so movie). And, when you factor in that people seemed to like Gladiator… C’MON UP HERE, RUSS!!!

Best Picture: Crash (2005)

Originally titled Racism is Bad: The Movie, Crash will go down in history as one of the biggest mistakes the Academy Awards ever made. Just a thoroughly terrible movie; it’s pandering, mawkish, and obvious to the point of insult. Crash winning the award for Best Picture is proof that, in 2005, the Academy voters were taken over by space aliens who really enjoy movies from the Lifetime Network, but with a higher casting budget.



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