Making a movie is a labor of love. It requires a lot of work from a lot of people- on screen and off. Oftentimes, filmmakers will deploy an arsenal of experts to ensure they get the facts right. But sometimes, research and editing aren’t enough to keep some mistakes from falling through the cracks. Other times, reality is too boring, so people behind the camera ignore it in favor of story. Here are Screen Rant’s 10 Biggest Mistakes in Oscar Winning Movies.
The Martian (2015)
Ridley Scott is master of the epic genre, and 2015 he took audiences on a journey to Mars. The Martian tells the story of astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) who is accidentally left behind on the red planet. The film, and the book it’s based on, rely heavily on scientific evidence combed over by countless real-life experts. When Watney’s crew members realize their mistake, they devise a plan to retrieve him. Part of this plan is to fashion a tether long enough to help in their rescue attempt. When it comes time for the Hermes crew to spring into action, the tether they use is in pristine condition, spooled up and ready to go. Astronauts have to be creative, but we doubt they’d be able to make a tether that perfect given the circumstances.
Taking home the Oscar for best picture in 2000 was Ridley Scott’s Roman epic Gladiator. Set in the year 180 C.E, the movie tells the story of Maximus (Russell Crowe), a general in the Roman Army who is forced into slavery. He fights for his freedom in the Colosseum as a gladiator, quickly becoming a fan-favorite. As the warriors kill one another in a series of battles, they use many different weapons. The problem is, one of the tools used in the scuffle wasn’t invented until the medieval period: the flail. Though, considering how terrifying the weapon looks, it does seem like the natural choice for gladiatorial combat.
The movie Gravity has been described as “the closest thing to real space travel” that many of us will experience in our lifetimes. Praised for his attention to detail, director Alfonso Cuarón’s film is definitely immersive. Cuarón did months of intensive research and even employed a scientific advisor during production. But despite this, the folks over at NASA still found a few mistakes. The film focuses on two astronauts making their way from a freshly obliterated Hubble Telescope, all the way to the International Space Station (ISS). A mission that isn’t just difficult, it’s actually impossible. In reality, Hubble and the ISS orbit at different altitudes, with separate trajectories, making travel between them hopeless. But if anyone could pull it off for real, it’d be George Clooney- so at least the movie’s well cast.
Forrest Gump (1994)
When a story jumps around in time as much as 1994’s Forrest Gump does, it’s expected that a few historical mistakes are going to be made. The Statue of Liberty set during a party in 1976 is holding a torch that wasn't restored until 1986, along with a few other things that appear in the movie before their time. But there’s one scene that has seafood aficionados everywhere raising their voices in outrage: when Forrest (Tom Hanks) and his buddy Lieutenant Dan (Gary Sinise) pull up some shrimp from their net. Looking closely, the crustaceans have already been treated, and their heads already removed. Unrealistic, sure. Convenient? Yes.
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a cinematic marvel, and a triumph of technology. Peter Jackson’s take on J.R.R Tolkien’s story about one hobbit’s journey blew audiences away when it hit theaters. The big screen adaptations satisfied longtime fans of the books, and attracted millions of new ones- including some members of The Academy. The franchise’s third installment, Return of the King, was nominated for eleven Oscars, ranging from Best Picture to Costume design… and won them all. In fact, the movie is so spectacular, that one mistake managed to slip through to the final cut. In one battle scene, a crew member wearing a t-shirt can be seen behind a horde of attacking orcs. Given that most of Return of the King’s frames required digital alteration, it’s amazing that a mistake this big went unnoticed during multiple rounds of editing.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Who among us hasn’t felt the urge to cheat on a test? If only we could just quietly slip away to the bathroom and double-check our notes… This is what some viewers were thinking about while watching 2008’s runaway hit Slumdog Millionaire. Directed by Danny Boyle, the film follows the story of Jamal’s (Dev Patel) life as told through flashbacks. The movie uses the gameshow Who Wants to be a Millionaire? as a platform to recount Jamal’s life experiences growing up in India. Leaving the segment on a cliffhanger, host Prem Kumar (Anil Kapoor) poses a question then cuts to commercial. During the break, he and Jamal slip away to the washroom- where, in reality, the contestant would have ample time to cheat. Everyone who watches the Game Show Network knows: that’s just not how it’s done in the real world.
Although his star has fallen steadily over the last decade, Mel Gibson was Hollywood’s golden boy when he directed and starred in 1995’s Braveheart. Winning five Oscars, the film follows William Wallace as he fights his way to the top of Scotland’s monarchy- seeking revenge for the death of his loved ones. Along the way, the movie takes a few liberties with historical record. Set at the end of the 13th century, Wallace and his army fight ruthlessly in battle. The only problem? The clothes they’re wearing didn't exist yet. While it’s exact origin date is contested, most scholars agree that the kit was invented sometime around the 16th century… 300 years after the movie is supposed to have taken place.
Movies take a lot of hard work and a little bit of magic to get made. No one knows this better than James Cameron, the man who brought The Terminator, Avatar, and The Abyss to the big screen. And in 1997, he released a little movie called Titanic- which would go on to shatter global box office records and raise the bar for cinematic spectacle. Millions showed up to watch as two kids fell in love on a sinking ship, and the film attracted a lot of positive media attention. Titanic won 11 of the 14 Academy Awards it was nominated for, including best picture and best director. Clearly Academy voters were too caught up in the spectacle to notice Kate Winslet’s beauty mark move from one side of her face to the other.
The Godfather (1972)
Proving that not even the most iconic Hollywood classics are exempt from scrutiny, is a scene from Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. One of the most respected Oscar-winning films of all time, it is still the gold standard for its genre. One place where it does fall short, though, is in the stage combat department. In one fight between Sonny (James Caan) and Carlo (Gianni Russo), the camera is placed at such an angle that the space between the two actors is very obvious. But, ever the professional, Russo hams it up like he’s just been dealt the blow of his life. We haven’t seen injuries that fake since the Fifa World Cup.
The Revenant (2015)
Leonardo DiCaprio has been through some rough times on the big screen, but none as bad as in 2015’s Oscar-winning The Revenant. While on a hunting trip, Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) is attacked by a bear. And, assuming the worst, his group moves on without him. Glass survives the mauling, and goes on to battle the elements- including a frozen river. He spends enough time in the water that he should have died from hypothermia. Yes, we know The Revenant is a survival movie, but seeing him overcome the bear attack, sub-zero temperatures and starvation? That might just be too far. The Academy didn’t seem to mind though, and both DiCaprio and director Alejandro G. Iñárritu were given statues at the 2016 Oscars.
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