The worst movies to ever win an Oscar

Discover which films were the biggest surprises and disappointments to take home top prizes at the Academy Awards. Take a look back at some of Hollywood's most unexpected wins!


by Aline Barbosa

Published on 03/13/2023

See all the controversial movies that took home the gold, despite all odds!

some Oscar winners are not unanimous among spectators and experts. Source: Canva.

We’ve all watched an Award-winning movie and felt inspired by the story or captivated by the gorgeous cinematography. But have you ever stopped to think about some of the worst movies that won an Oscar in the past?

From comedies that left us laughing for all the wrong reasons to psychological thrillers that put us in a tailspin of confusion. There are certainly some cringe-worthy stories out there!  

In this article, we’ll take a look at some truly terrible movies that were lucky (or unlucky?) enough to be bestowed with an Oscar.

So join us as we explore how these cinematic atrocities managed to capture award season attention. What you’ll discover may shock you!

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Crash (2005) – directed by Paul Haggis

Many people praise the 2006 Best Picture winner, Crash, for its ambitious attempt to tackle pressing social issues.

Unfortunately it’s not a movie that stands the test of time. Many viewers find it predictable and heavy-handed in its execution.

Its manipulative message and melodramatic treatment have led some to call it “mean-spirited”. And its Oscar win still remains one of the worst decisions ever made by The Academy.

Although it was intended to be an emotionally charged, thought-provoking film, neither its content or structure deliver – making it a difficult watch. 

The movie ends with an unintentional laugh instead of an empowering moment. And audiences can’t help but shake their heads at Crash’s win out of all the stellar nominations that year.

To this day, it is one of the worst movies to ever win an Oscar.

Marty (1955) – directed by Delbert Mann

Have you ever watched a boring Oscar-winner movie? Source: Canva.

Marty (1955) is one of the worst movies to ever have won an Oscar.

Despite winning Best Picture and the hearts of the Academy Awards voters in 1956, this movie has lukewarm reviews from modern critics and members of the general audience alike.

Set in New York’s bustling Bronx area, it follows a meek butcher who falls for a soon-to-be schoolteacher.

However, Marty and his team of talent never form more than a rudimentary plot and languish instead behind tired 1950s romcom tropes.

Bottom line: despite its lofty success in the past, Marty flops today and rightly earns its spot among the worst movies that have taken home an Academy Award.

The Artist (2011) – directed by Michel Hazanavicius

The Artist (2011) is an interesting pick for worst movies to have won the Oscar. It was a silent movie starring Jean Dujardin, who took home the big Best Actor award of the night.

Despite being set in 1927 and telling a story of a beloved silent-film star struggling to adjust with the evolution of technology and cinema, many found The Artist to be dull and unimaginative.

For some, this makes it hard to comprehend why it won five Oscars out of ten nominations at the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony.

It’s undoubtedly one of those films that’s much more intriguing when you discuss its negative aspects than when you actually watch it.

Dances With Wolves (1990) – directed by Kevin Costner

Of all the worst movies to ever win an Oscar, Dances With Wolves stands out.

Released in 1990, this infamous Oscar winner stars Kevin Costner as a Civil War-era U.S. Lieutenant who finds himself among a tribe of Native Americans.

Despite the stellar performances and intensely detailed set pieces, many viewers find Dances With Wolves to be overly long and unwieldy with many dragging elements balancing precariously against its unique desert setting.

Still, it is not without charm and certainly worth a watch for fans of sweeping epics and poignant depictions of love and friendship in times of war.

My Fair Lady (1964) – directed by George Cukor

Not every awarded movie will please everyone. Source: Canva.

My Fair Lady, the musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, is a perfect example of how even bad movies can sometimes win Oscars.

The musical was released in 1964 and despite its poor reception from critics, it won 8 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

To this day, My Fair Lady remains one of the worst movies to ever have won an Oscar.

It’s difficult to look past the terrible script and lackluster performances. Yet it still managed to impress viewers enough to take home the most prestigious award in film.

Needless to say, this movie is one you should probably avoid if you’re seeking quality cinema. No matter what kind of trophy or citation it may have.

Birdman (2014) – directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu

The Academy Awards are supposed to celebrate the best of the best in cinematic excellence. However, Birdman (2014) is a prime example of the worst movie ever to win the Oscar for Best Picture.

The dialogue felt forced, and there was little emotional connection with any of the characters.

Given that it had a star-studded cast and an extravagant budget, this critical failure still managed to take home one of show business’ biggest honors.

Many industry veterans can attest as to how this mistake continues to haunt Hollywood. Proving that even awards shows don’t always get it right.

Green Book (2018) – directed by Peter Farrelly

Green Book (2018) was one of the worst movies to ever win an Oscar. The plot revolves around a white club bouncer to drive a black pianist through a tour of the deep south in the early 1960s.

The attempt at tackling race relations is not with bad intentions. However, many criticized it as an over-simplified version of what really took place during that era.

The movie lacks emotional depth and complexity which ends up giving audiences an unauthentic and almost patronizing portrayal of African Americans in that time period.

If you want to watch a more honest look at race relations you might want to skip Green Book and choose something else.

Which G-rated movie won an Oscar?

We all grew up watching G-rated movies – top favorites like ‘Toy Story’, ‘The Lion King’ and more. But have you ever wondered if these memorable flicks also won an Oscar?

Sure enough, many of them did! In the following link, we’ll take a closer look at which G-Rated movies have won an Academy Award.

So come join us on this exciting journey as we explore some of the best family classics which have been felicitated with the esteemed Oscars!

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Which G-rated movie won an Oscar?

Do you know which G-rated movie won an Oscar? It might surprise you! Here's a list of the family-friendly movies that have won the statuette.

About the author

Aline Barbosa

Aline Barbosa is an editor, writer and learning-enthusiast. Passionate about music, books and human behavior. Curious about the unknown. Believer that learning is a life-long process.

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