With the year coming to a close, it’s finally time to start analyzing what the year’s best movies were. 2016 was full of surprise hits, mega blockbusters, and a few disappointments here and there, but that’s to be expected. This year brought with it incredible films, like Moonlight, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Arrival, Everybody Wants Some!!, and Swiss Army Man.
We saw superheroes fight each other, Deadpool talk directly to the audience, and Star Wars go back in time (and do it well for the very first time). However, we also saw what might be the final nail in the proverbial coffin for video-game based film properties, Kevin Spacey voicing a cat, and one of the most pointless remakes in cinematic history with Ben-Hur. But no matter how bad some of the films of this year were, none of them quite came close to these films that were reviled, but still somehow managed to acquire Oscar nominations.
So here they are, the 15 Terrible Movies You Didn’t Know Were Nominated For An Oscar.
15. Bad Grandpa – Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Bad Grandpa was the 2013 comedy directed by Jackass mainstay, Jeff Tremaine. Although it found some minor success from those still loyal to the franchise, Bad Grandpa signified the end of what had been a long line of quality comedic content from Knoxville and co. What made the Jackass movies so great were their skit-based format– the different segments would fly by so fast that it was hard to do anything but to bend over in laughter. Bad Grandpa suffered from its deviation from the classic formula, and its attempt at a linear story line for Grandpa Irving and Grandson Billy. The characters themselves were so thinly drawn, only giving way to personality through their use of profanity and fecal spouting humor.
It’s hard to admit that eventually the world would be fed up with the Jackass teams constant use of fart jokes, groin attacks, and the array of bleep censors that accompanied their work. but that is exactly what Bad Grandpa taught us. It’s true what they say: sometimes too much of a good thing is a bad thing, especially when it comes to crap-covered diners. But Bad Grandpa still snagged an Oscar nom for Best Makeup and HairStyling.
14. Alien 3 – Best Visual Effects
We couldn’t begin to imagine what it must be like to step into the director’s chair in the middle of an enormous and critically renowned franchise like Alien, but we also don’t have the ingrained talent of the great David Fincher. James Cameron did the impossible when he followed up Ridley Scott’s seminal work with an equally intriguing entry, but then the franchise fell apart with its third film.
Of course, any self-declared film nerd will tell you that David Fincher was strong-armed throughout the entire creative process, basically being forced to create the mess of Alien 3 that the studio ended up with. The film killed all of our favorite characters from Aliens, gave up practical effects for Computer Generated imagery that earned it an Oscar nod for Best Visual Effects, and left the interesting and claustrophobic atmosphere of space for a one-dimensional refinery plant. Oh yeah, and not to mention it killed the single greatest female protagonist in cinematic history.
13. Around the World in 80 Days – Best Picture
Around the World in 80 Days is the only film on this list to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It is directed by Michael Anderson, and stars John Farrow, James Poe, and S.J. Perelman. This film is on this list because it clearly does not deserve to win one of the Academy’s most coveted awards, and it’s considered the worst film in history to achieve that honor. Around the World in 80 Days is shallow and undeniably corny, and ultimately fails to take itself seriously enough to engage its audience at all.
Although the film contains a fair amount of charm, it’s a witless journey, and its only real joy comes from recognizing the copious amounts of stars that are scattered throughout. Though this film is completely based around the sense of adventure that moves all of us to our core, but it is directed with an unimaginative and uninspired eye. It may be loud, fast and big, but it falls much too short to even be deserving for a Best Picture nomination, let alone a win.
12. Waterworld – Best Sound
Waterworld is the 1995 Kevin Costner action film directed by Kevin Reynolds, who also directed Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The sci-fi flick takes place 200 years in the future, in a world where the polar ice caps have melted, covering the world in, well… water. Actually, if you consider the state the planet is in now with the findings on global warming, this film actually sounds much more plausible than a desert-covered world being driven by a single road warrior.
Waterworld, nominated for an Oscar for Best Sound, has some epic sweeping action, but it fails in the character department, and some confusing plotting makes this film fall incredibly flat. Kevin Costner was such a bona-fide action star at the time, that it was tough to be so intrigued by a film only to have that interest turn to disappointment. It was also one of the most critically reviled films when it first came out, and that negative buzz really affected both the box office and Costner’s action blockbuster reputation.
11. Pearl Harbor – Best Sound Editing
Pearl Harbor is the 2001 Michael Bay film starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale. The film is based on the battle of Pearl Harbor (sort of), and is a ham-fisted attempt at telling a romantic war story which ends up insulting the seriousness of the situation with a boring and lazily written romance. The dialogue in this film is enough to make you want to turn off your television, wash your eyes out with soap, and read Aaron Sorkin scripts alone in your room until you remember there are those in the world who can still write compelling screenplays.
At no point while viewing this film does the viewer buy into the dangers of the war, that these characters feel anything close to love for one another. Bay does manage to create an immersive battle sequence that takes up half the films more three-plus hour run time, but he falls short of the Titanic benchmark that he’s obviously dying to achieve. Pearl Harbor was nominated for an Oscar for Best Sound Editing, and won, but the only accolade it was truly deserving of was making our list of the 11 Times Michael Bay Blew Stuff Up Real Good.
10. Click – Best Makeup
Click is the 2006 Adam Sandler film directed by Frank Coraci, who has a history of making okay-to-terrible movies. Click follows the story of Adam Sandler’s character, Michael Newman, who is fed up with his hum-drum life and is set on changing it for the better when he gets a magical remote from Christopher Walken (yes, that’s the plot). The film manages to hit some emotional moments late in its run time, but the pacing is so staggering that it’s hard to relate to any of the characters in the film. We spend so little time with Sandler’s family that we have difficulty connecting to his traumas.
The film is basically a modern take on “A Christmas Story” as Sandler, a man with nothing but regrets in his present state realizes at the end that he should have been happy with what he had all along. If only the film itself were funny or engaging enough to keep us interested in the journey. Click is the only Adam Sandler movie to be nominated for an Oscar– an honor bizarrely not held by Paul Thomas Anderson’s far superior Punch-Drunk Love— as it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Makeup.
9. In Old Arizona – Best Picture
In Old Arizona is a 1928 film directed by Irving Cummins and Raoul Walsh and stars Warner Baxter, Edmund Lower, and Dorothy Burgess. It is a notable film because it was the first ever outdoor Western that was not silent, and was the very first outdoor talkie in cinematic history. These stunning achievements are not enough to justify its nomination for the Academy Award for Best Picture, however.
The film is boring and stoically acted by modern standards. As an action film, it is nowhere near exciting enough to be enjoyable. The plot is very meandering, and the stereotypical accents are hard to watch for any respectful film viewer today. It’s unfortunate that the first outdoor talking Western wasn’t memorable enough to stand next to its later successors, but In Old Arizona did, if nothing else, lay the groundwork for the later renaissance of the Western genre which produced so many great films.
8. Fifty Shades of Grey – Best Original Song
Fifty Shades of Grey was the romance film from last year that confused audiences with its kink-filled premise, but lukewarm delivery. The film is shot fairly well, but the terrible dialogue, flat acting throughout, and awkward pacing make this film a real chore to get all the way through without turning away from sheer discomfort. It’s not the film itself that is entirely to blame, though, as the source material is equally sloppy and unsatisfying.
This was a film that aimed to shock audiences with its foray into sexually submissive culture, but instead bored people and made them wish they’d paid money to see literally anything else playing in the theater at the time (which included Kingsman: The Secret Service). The film, nominated for Best Original Song for The Weeknd’s “Earned It”, also managed to turn two actors who have proven they can hold their own, Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, into incredibly lifeless shells of their characters.
7. Airport – Best Picture
Airport was the 1970 film directed by George Seaton and Henry Hathaway, and stars Burt Lancaster and Dean Martin. This film is yet another Best Picture nominee that most definitely did not deserve its nod. It was the granddaddy of disaster flicks, but it’s agreed by many that, even back in 1970, the film was entirely too old fashioned. It’s a cheese filled mess of a film that, much like its action, gets blown up by its own lack of comedic presence. And its not only maddeningly unfunny, but it’s also a boring picture that doesn’t engage its audience enough in its hair-brained plot or over the top action.
If you want to see a truly hilarious plane-based film, watch Airplane, and skip Airport altogether. We also need to scold it for being the launching pad for films like 2012 and San Andreas. If you could imagine how boring the latter would be without Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, then you have an idea of what this film offers.
6. Poltergeist II – Best Visual Effects
Poltergeist II: The Other Side is a 1986 film directed by Brian Gibson and stars JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, and Heather O’Rourke. It is the follow-up to the massively successful and critically praised original Poltergeist film. Like many of Spielberg’s disappointing sequels, the film manages to capture some of the magic of the original, but fails to encapsulate the beauty that was originally brought to the material. Not to mention, Poltergeist is a film that doesn’t need a sequel at all, as it has such a satisfying ending. Poltergeist II is one of the many cash grabs that seem to be popping up more and more as the years go on.
Though the film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Visual Effects, it’s not captivating, it’s not scary, and the acting is nowhere near the caliber that Poltergeist was known for. Here’s hoping that we’ll never live long enough to see the day in which E.T. receives a sequel.
5. Dr. Dolittle – Best Picture
Dr. Dolittle is the 1967 film directed by Richard Fleischer and stars Rex Harrison, Samantha Eggar, and Anthony Newley. The film promises an extremely fun premise with a veterinarian who can speak to animals and makes friends with all of them. However, the film fails to capture the magic the premise promises, and it instead managed to drive audiences away with its vastly negative reviews.
The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, and Best Music. It also happened to win two Oscars for Best Special Effects, and Best Original Song. The music in the picture is boring and unmoving, and the pacing of the film creates a slow and unsurprising plot. It’s hard to imagine that this film was made to compete with so many great musicals of the 1960’s, and it almost seems like it was aware of this fact, which is why it steered directly into the kid-friendly skid.
4. Beethoven’s 2nd – Best Original Song
Beethoven’s 2nd is the sequel to the original Beethoven film. It arrived in theaters in 1994, and is directed by Rod Daniel. The film follows the same plot device as the original film: a family adopts a giant dog, the dog wreaks havoc, and the family falls in love with the dog’s hilarious hijinks. It could be that the premise was too tired by the time this film came around, but it’s much more likely that this film just wasn’t able to capture the same kind of charm as the original.
It’s a fun movie to bring kids to, but Beethoven’s 2nd is just not a movie that should have even been considered for an Academy Award– even if it’s just for Best Original Song. There are many pet-based movies that are memorable from this same era: Air Bud, Homeward Bound, All Dogs Go To Heaven, and the original Beethoven. Avoid the 2nd at all costs.
3. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – Best Sound Mixing
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was the 2009 film directed by Michael Bay, and was the follow-up to the massively successful original Transformers film. The original film was no ground-breaking piece of cinema, but it was fun enough, and captured enough of the cartoon’s magic to be somewhat memorable. But Revenge of the Fallen is one of the worst sequels of all time. It is not only a film that was utterly torn apart by critics and fans alike, but was one of the rare movies that was actually criticized by its creator and star. Here are some actual quotes from director Michael Bay and star Shia LeBeouf:
“When I look back at it, that was crap.” – Michael Bay
“I hated it.” – Shia LeBeouf
2. Batman Forever – Best Cinematography, Effects, and Sound
Batman Forever is undoubtedly one of the worst comic book based films ever made. And not only is it a terrible take on the character of Batman, but it also spits directly in the face of Tim Burton’s previous two films. Both Batman and the sequel, Batman Returns introduced us to a much darker side of the Caped Crusader, inspired by the darker take introduced with the 1980s comic iterations of the character.
Batman Forever was a return to the more camp days of Adam West’s Batman, which was understood to be a product of its time period. The only redeemable part of the entire project was that Val Kilmer could at least hold his own as a believable Bruce Wayne/Batman. But Jim Carrey’s Riddler couldn’t have been more annoying, and Tommy Lee Jones was a wasted talent as the offbeat and wacky incarnation of Harvey Dent, Two-Face. In a list of Batman’s 15 Worst Movie Moments, this film attributed to three of them alone. The film was nominated for three different Oscars for Best Cinematography, Best Sound, and Best Sound Editing.
1. Norbit – Best Makeup
Norbit does not deserve to be nominated for anything but a Razzie award, but unfortunately it was nominated for an Oscar. The film is currently at a 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s a film that plays off of vastly outdated stereotypes, and is as crude as it is unfunny.
Eddie Murphy plays three roles in the film, as Norbit, Resputia, and Mr. Wong. If there is anything to be said about the movie, it’s that we can only hope the money it would have cost to get a halfway decent screenplay was instead spent on the makeup used to disguise Eddie Murphy throughout the film, since the movie was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Makeup.This film is not only disappointing in comparison to other comedies, but its even disappointing when compared to some of Eddie Murphy’s other great works, like Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, and Dreamgirls.
The 2017 Oscar nominations will be announced on January 24th, so only time will tell if more terrible movies will be nominated for Academy Awardds.