10 Most Confusing Best Picture Winners, According to Reddit

Film audiences place a lot of importance on the Oscars. For many, it’s the be-all and end-all of establishing film quality. Every other industry award counts, of course, but winning an Oscar is a form of legitimacy like no other. If someone or something wins an Oscar, they officially did it.

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Of course, sometimes the Academy is wrong. There have been plenty of Best Picture mistakes over the years that have moviegoers scratching their heads in confusion. These are just a few absolutely baffling winners, according to Redditors.


Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Shakespeare in love

Shakespeare in love will forever remain the poster child for undeserving Best Picture winners. It’s one of IMDb’s worst Best Picture winners, and it’s long since lost its cultural relevance to Saving Private Ryanwho many believe to be the deserving winner.

This deleted Reddit user writes: “Shakespeare in love. An Oscar buy if there ever was one.” Whatever the reason for Shakespeare in lovethe film faded from the pop culture landscape quite quickly outside of its chance Oscar win.

Around the World in 80 Days (1956)

David Niven and Cantinflas ijn Around the world in 80 days

Some Best Picture winners are judged on cultural relevance, and Around the world in 80 days fails in this regard. As Reddit user Millenium94 writes, “If you want to watch the long-term movie about how its popularity has deteriorated over time, you’d have to Around the world in 80 days.”

They further argue that its main competitor, Cecil B. DeMille’s The ten Commandmentswas both a better movie and a movie that has stood the test of time better.

Argo (2012)

Bryan Cranston in Argo.

Argo is a fantastic political thriller, but did it deserve to win Best Picture? Not according to many, including Reddit user lukedgh. As they write, “Not bad, but certainly not great. Affleck did a good job as a director but his acting was hideous.”

What makes this choice even more confusing is the fact that there were nine Best Picture nominees that year. Some of them were arguably more deserving, including Steven Spielberg’s lincolnwhich seems to be right up the alley of the Academy.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

The Academy has a penchant for giving people awards long after they’ve actually earned them. And to do this, they reward a particular person for work that many consider to be of lesser quality than previous creations. According to a deleted Reddit user, this is the case with Danny Boyle. Slumdog Millionaire.

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According to them, “I like Slumdogbut that was Boyle’s “we probably should have given you sooner” Oscar, and for Boyle, that was weak.” Regardless, he swept the 2009 Oscars with eight wins, including best director for Boyle.

The King’s Speech (2010)

King Colin Firth's Speech

The Academy has a penchant for period dramas, uplifting underdog stories, and biopics centering on important political figures. The King’s Speech ticks all of those boxes, and it resulted in four Oscars. It’s the ultimate Oscar bait movie, and it pissed off Reddit user Genus-God.

As they write, “The King’s Speech has been a thorn in my side for years. It feels like a BBC drama through and through. Worse still, the film beat out many fan favorites for Best Picture, including Creation and The social network.

The Wounded Locker (2008)

It’s not often that an action war drama wins Best Picture, but The Hurt Locker proves the exception. In addition to Best Picture, The Hurt Locker also won five other awards, including Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.

Reddit user pudding7 writes: “Injured locker was just stupid. I honestly can’t understand how this movie won.” They don’t give any other option, but it was also the year of District 9 and Inglourious Basterds. Both are arguably better remembered than The Hurt Locker.

Crash (2004)

Next to Shakespeare in love, crash will forever be remembered as the most unworthy Best Picture winner of all time. As this deleted Reddit user hilariously sums it up, “crash isn’t even the best movie named crash.” crash received mixed critical reception, with many finding it sloppy and overbearing.

That said, crash won praise for his portrayal of racial tensions in fractured America after 9/11, and that’s likely why he won the favorite Brokeback Mountain. However, this Oscar winner has aged pretty badly being a byproduct of his time.

Olivier ! (1968)

A child holding a bowl in Oliver!

by Carol Reed Olivier ! is an adaptation of the musical, itself based on the iconic novel by Charles Dickens Oliver Twist. While he was well regarded at the time, Olivier ! has long disappeared from public consciousness. But there’s one movie that wasn’t, and that’s 2001: A Space Odysseyreleased the same year.

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As Reddit user LiveJournal writes, “Olivier ! is essentially forgotten over time and [2001] is the pinnacle of filmmaking.” Perhaps worst of all is that 2001: A Space Odyssey wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture.

Titanic (1997)

Titanic ship 1997

For many, Titanic reflects its true verbal counterpart. It dazzled with its elaborate production and was an undeniable cultural phenomenon, but it also had fatal flaws that proved detrimental to its success. Some people thought the film was poorly acted, and others thought the script was juvenile.

Her Best Picture win bothered Reddit user christoph3000, who wrote: “LA Confidential should have won.” This film noir was nominated for nine awards, but was mostly swept away by Titanic.

The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

The Greatest Show on Earth

Another controversial Best Picture winner is The greatest show on earth, which tells the story of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Oddly enough, the film is quite controversial to this day, and it currently only holds a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Reddit user fireflyfanboy1891 who called The greatest show on earth “by far the worst waste to ever win Best Picture.” Maybe it’s not the greatest show on Earth, after all?

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James C. Tibbs