Last year during the long windup to the Academy Awards, we presented our list of the 10 most overrated Best Picture winners of all time — from the bloated, butt-numbing epic Dances With Wolves to the prestige snoozer Chariots of Fire. And you know what? You liked it…you really liked it. That’s why we’re back with our second installment of Oscar errors. Starting with…
How Green Was My Valley (1941)
It’s got beautiful cinematography, John Ford as a director, and a three-hankie plot about a Welsh mining village. Those are the pluses. The minuses: mismatched accents and the still-outrageous fact that it beat Citizen Kane.
My Fair Lady (1964)
Audrey Hepburn was a great actress (see: Two for the Road). But as Eliza Doolittle, the Cockney waif who learns to be a lady in this lifeless Lerner and Loewe musical, she’s schmaltzy and stiff. Plus, she didn’t even do her own singing. Dr. Strangelove should have won the statuette.
A Man For All Seasons (1966)
This tasteful period piece about the power struggle between Henry VIII and Sir Thomas More is the cure for what ails you. That is, if you suffer from insomnia. And for a movie about Henry VIII, there’s not nearly enough drumstick eating. We’d much rather watch Liz Taylor screaming and swearing at Richard Burton in 1966’s also-ran Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
It’s said that Gandhi slept beside naked women to test his willpower. Well, sitting through Richard Attenborough’s three-hour-plus biopic isn’t that torturous, but it’s close. Ben Kingsley is amazing, yet wouldn’t you rather watch E.T. or Tootsie?
Out of Africa (1985)
There isn’t a better actress on the planet than Meryl Streep. But even she can’t fake any believable chemistry with Robert Redford in this Ralph Lauren-goes-to-Lion Country Safari advertorial. It had the good fortune of going up against weak competition like Kiss of the Spider Woman and Prizzi’s Honor. Talk about a pillow fight.
The Last Emperor (1987)
Bernardo Bertolucci’s stately epic about the life of China’s boy emperor, Pu Yi, is visually intoxicating (if a little flashback-heavy). But the main character is a dull cipher. You know who isn’t? Everybody in Broadcast News and Moonstruck, both of which lost.
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Clever premise. Delicious wordplay. Great Oscar campaign. Better than Saving Private Ryan? Methinks not. Seriously, which of those two movies will people be talking about in 50 years?
The King’s Speech (2010)
If you believe that the Academy’s gotten hipper, here’s why you’re wrong: The King’s Speech, a perfectly fine upper-crusty period piece that could’ve been made anytime in the past five decades, bested The Social Network, which showed us how we live now. Wrong again, Oscar.