9 Oscar Winners Who Totally Don’t Hold Up

With this year's Academy Awards just around the corner, we're all holding our breath that our favorites will take home the little golden man, proving to the world that we have good taste. But how will we feel about those winners in a few years? Or a decade from now? Throughout the history of the Oscars, there have been winning movies and actors that in retrospect just didn't deserve to take home the prize. Some were forgettable, others weren't the best work of the actors, and most beat out movies and performances that have weathered the test of time. Here are nine nominations for statuettes that should be returned to the Academy.

  1. Best Picture 1942: How Green Was My Valley

    Chances are you have no idea what this film is about. You may not have even heard of it. But you've definitely heard of another film or two that were up against How Green Was My Valley for the Oscar that year: Citizen Kane and Humphrey Bogart's The Maltese Falcon. Both of these are normally included on critics' and audiences' lists of the best films ever made, while How Green doesn't seem to make the cut on any of them. The film is about a Welsh family in a mining town at the turn of the century and the changes they deal with. That boring concept doesn't stand up against the intrigue of the other contenders.

  2. Best Actress 2000: Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich

    Julia Roberts is likable enough, with that enormous laugh and signature red hair, but is she an amazing actress? Eh. Erin Brockovich is only a good film because it comes from an unbelievable true story of a woman who helped win a legal case for a group of underdogs, despite her lack of legal training. Roberts just seems like she's playing Pretty Woman: Part 2, where instead of a hooker with a heart of gold she is a sassy woman with a heart of gold who likes to show off her boobs. Her less-than-memorable acting beat out a brilliant performance by Ellen Burstyn in the disturbing Requiem for a Dream and Juliette Binoche's role in the acclaimed Chocolat.

  3. Best Documentary Feature 2005: March of the Penguins

    We're not going to deny it; these penguins are adorable. Even more adorable is the fact that they're in love and journey to the breeding grounds regularly to keep their chicks alive. It was a huge hit for families and first dates at the movies, but it's not much more than a cutesy nature show. Two better and far more interesting choices for the award that year were Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and Murderball, fascinating films with serious substance. Enron focused on one of the biggest financial scandals of our times, remaining just as relevant seven years later, and Murderball shows the lives of wheelchair rugby players, giving us new perspective on what defines an athlete. Either of these would be more fascinating than watching penguins for an hour and a half.

  4. Best Supporting Actor 1996: Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire

    This film, though entertaining, is really only known for two very tired quotes: "Show me the money," and "You had me at hello." It's easy to forget Cuba Gooding Jr. is even in this movie. Gooding Jr. is known for a few more movies besides this one, but sadly, they are flicks like Snow Dogs and Radio. His star just doesn't seem to be burning too brightly anymore. He may have done a fine job playing the hard-to-please football player, but it's no match for the performance given by William H. Macy as Fargo's Jerry Lundegaard, who was also nominated.

  5. Best Picture 1998: Shakespeare in Love

    For such a big winner at the Academy Awards, taking home seven trophies in total, Shakespeare in Love is rarely mentioned in discussions about favorite movies or best films ever made. It's got a good cast, with pretty Gwyneth Paltrow and masterful Judi Dench, but the film seems to have been almost forgotten by the public at large. Also in the running for the Best Picture Oscar that year were the crushing Holocaust story Life is Beautiful and the incredibly touching Saving Private Ryan, either of which were more deserving if for nothing more than their ability to make grown men cry.

  6. Best Actress 1997: Helen Hunt in As Good As It Gets

    It's hard to think of any role that Helen Hunt has been exceptional in. The closest she's come has been in Mad About You and What Women Want, neither of which are Oscar-worthy. Jack Nicholson is very convincing as a people-hating germophobe, but we don't quite buy Hunt as a waitress who could fall in love with such a grouchy weirdo. What makes it worse is that Hunt beat out Kate Winslet (in Titanic no less), Helena Bonham Carter, and Judi Dench, who are unquestionably better actresses than Hunt regardless of the roles they're playing.

  7. Best Picture 2002: Chicago

    This star-studded foot-tapper was great for musical theater lovers, many of which apparently are Academy members. That's the only way to explain how moving a Broadway musical onto the silver screen could earn a Best Picture Oscar. The actors are all fine, the music is as catchy as any other number on the Great White Way, and most people don't hate it, but those aren't very good reasons for why the song-and-dance show was victorious over movies like Gangs of New York and The Pianist. We think master Oscar campaigner Harvey Weinstein may have had something to do with the results.

  8. Best Actor 1992: Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman

    Al Pacino is arguably one of the best actors of our lifetime, with a knack for nailing every role he takes on. Well, almost. We'll admit that he's had some standout performances in films like Scarface, Serpico, and The Godfather and its sequels, but Scent of a Woman is definitely not his best work. And yet, it's the only Oscar he won, out of eight nominations. His part as Lt. Col. Frank Slade is intense but overacted, making it hard to like the sad, blind veteran who's supposed to hold down the movie. While we would've preferred the Oscar to go to Clint Eastwood for Unforgiven or even Robert Downey Jr. for Chaplin, we'd also like to see Pacino get props for one of his other, more deserving films.

  9. Best Picture 1990: Dances with Wolves

    In Kevin Costner's directorial debut, he attempts to establish himself as a serious filmmaker, and nothing's more serious than white people driving Native Americans off their land. The fact that he cast himself as the lead is probably enough to disqualify Dances with Wolves from Best Picture status, but the film was also corny and slow. Instead, the Oscar should've gone to Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, a quick-paced, well-written mobster movie that is still regarded as a classic today.

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