It’s awards season, which means a lot of very wealthy people who get paid to do fun jobs look even better on red carpets and congratulate each other on making things. But don’t be so cynical! Half the fun is realising these people really care about the films they make, and no matter what they say, probably really care if they’re up for an award and lose.
It’s always fun to watch some of the biggest stars on Earth promote a film that they categorically know is bad, see Sienna Miller and G.I. Joe, or Robert De Niro in literally anything in the last ten years. What must be a touch bittersweet is when you win the top gong at the Oscars for Best Picture, but for a film not that beloved by the masses. Here’s the 15 Best Picture winners with the lowest scores on Rotten Tomatoes. See if you agree:
15.'The Greatest Show on Earth' (1953, 44%)
The Greatest Show on Earth, was, by all accounts, not, having received the lowest ever rating for a Best Picture winner in the history of the Oscars.
14.'Cimarron' (won in 1931, 53%)
When the Rotten Tomatoes review reads, “Cimarron is supported by a strong performance from Irene Dunne, but uneven in basically every other regard, and riddled with potentially offensive stereotypes”, you know it’s probably not a goer. How bad were all the other films that year?
13.'Out of Africa' (won in 1986, 57%)
I haven’t seen this film, but everything I read about it suggests it’s about four hours long and about as interesting as a live stream of a plant growing, so don’t put it on your ‘to watch’ list. At 57% it’s one of the lowest ever ratings of a film that won Best Picture, and it was against The Color Purple, so the academy chose a story about white people in Africa over black people in America, and one which was undeniably a better film.
12.'Cavalcade' (won in 1934, 61%)
By all accounts this sounds like quite a good film, chronicling the trials and tribulations of an upper class family in London at the turn of the 19th Century. It’s not coming to Netflix any time soon though.
11.'The Great Zeigfeld' (won in 1937, 65%)
Another film about a supposedly brilliant show, another average rating. Directors, if you’re reading (and we’ve got no doubt you are) DON’T MAKE FILMS ABOUT SHOWS. Hugh Jackman learnt that lesson this year with The Greatest Showman, currently sitting at 55% on Rotten Tomatoes.
10.'Forrest Gump' (won in 1995, 71%)
This is categorically wrong, Forrest Gump is not only a great film but an excellent story, and it wholeheartedly deserved to win Best Picture. It deserves far better than a mere 71%. Is this like the Michael McIntyre thing where it’s too mainstream to be considered artistically sound and uncool to say if you like it? Because if it is, it’s stupid, please all go and vote accordingly.
9.'Around the World in 80 Days' (won in 1957, 74%)
OK so it didn’t get a huge rating considering it won Best Picture, but I’d watch it for this still of the boys drinking champagne on a hot air balloon alone.
8.'Crash' (won in 2006, 75%)
A surprise win from an eclectic mix of nominees (Brokeback Mountain, Munich and Good Night, and Good Luck were among the others shortlisted), Crash garners a not-too-bad 75% rating. It does seem to have gathered some debate as the worst Best Picture ever though - poor old Sandra Bullock.
7.'A Beautiful Mind' (won in 2002, 75%)
It was all a bit boring and worthy wasn’t it? A bit like a shit Good Will Hunting.
6.'The Life of Emile Zola' (won in 1938, 75%)
This biographical film about the French novelist of the eponymous title has one of the strangest plots I’ve ever read. The film opens with a destitute Zola living in Paris, and his subsequent success through the publication of his novel Nana, inspired by a prostitute he met on the street. It still got 75%, which isn’t bad, and now I’m intrigued.
5.'Gladiator' (won in 2001, 76%)
How is this film on the list? It’s got less than Braveheart! This was a beautiful film and does not deserve only 1% more than A Beautiful Mind. How can you not cry at that pan-pipes-and-a-bit-of-humming music at the start and the end when he sees his wife and child? Maybe people just don’t like Russell Crowe?
4.'Braveheart' (won in 1996, 77%)
Braveheart told a great story, and probably wouldn’t have got such a (relatively) low score if Mel Gibson hadn’t played the lead role. But it did still win, against Apollo 13 AND Babe: Pig in the City, which is some serious competition, so someone must have liked it.
3.'Gigi' (won in 1959, 77%)
Gigi, by all accounts, doesn’t sound too bad. But it did beat Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Auntie Mame, which are films you probably haven’t seen but sound like they should have won over it.
2.'Gentleman's Agreement' (won in 1948, 78%)
This shouldn’t really be on the list, it’s got 78% and it is, by all accounts, quite a brilliant film calling out anti-Semitism. So pretend it’s not here.
1.'Going My Way' (won in 1945, 78%)
Going My Way won six Oscars of a possible ten and got 78%, it’s probably an alright film. It tells the story of a young priest (Bing Crosby) taking over a parish from an old veteran, so sort of a post-war Vicar of Dibley. Fun fact: Bing and co-star Leo McCarey presented a copy of the film to the Pope Pius XII at the time.
So there you have it, your list of the worst of the best. This year the nominees are The Shape of Water, Darkest Hour, Lady Bird, Get Out, Dunkirk, Phantom Thread, Call Me By Your Name, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and The Post. The lowest rating comes from Darkest Hour, which by all accounts, seems like 2018’s Out of Africa, in that it feels like a six-hour schlep through history.
The 90th Academy Awards take place on 4 March in Los Angeles.