When I started my film reviews I went through all the films which won Best Picture at the Oscars, started with 2017’s Moonlight before stopping abruptly after Patton (more on that, later). Here is a countdown of my 10 least favourite of those films which won Best Picture.
- 10) Gandhi, * * * ½
A lengthy film detailing the life of Mohandas Gandhi (Ben Kingsley), Gandhi wasn’t necessarily a bad film, but it was just long. It even had an intermission during it (the last major film to have one), and was very well acted by Kingsley with a beautiful and powerful story at its heart, made all the more emotionally impactful knowing it’s based on a true story, but it’s not the most exciting or gripping film, especially for someone, like myself, who doesn’t have a major interest or knowledge in Gandhi as a figure.
- 9) Patton, * * * ¼
While I was knowledgeable, however briefly, about Gandhi, I cannot say I even knew anything of General Patton (George C. Scott). It’s a pro-American story of a rough-spoken American General during World War II, but, like Gandhi, it was too long and I didn’t care at all about Patton. He wasn’t very approachable as a character and I didn’t know anything of him so I didn’t get invested, and overall I was very disappointed by this film.
- 8) Crash, * * * ½
Crash told a series of connected stories all surrounding racism, social tension and bigotry in downtown Los Angeles. While it was funny when it needed to be, and serious when it needed to be, it just lacked any major incident connecting all these things together with journeys that aren’t very investable. And it stole Brokeback Mountain’s Oscar victory.
- 7) Braveheart, * * * ½
Full of historical inaccuracies and very few actual Scottish people, Braveheart tells the First War of Scottish Independence, where William Wallace (Mel Gibson) let the Scots to revolt against the English rule. Braveheart was visually brilliant but suffered, in my opinion, from a pretty poor script (which was full of Scottish stereotypes and constant shouting from Wallace) and overall despite looking impressive I just didn’t take to this film.
- 6) The Godfather Part II, * * * ¾
After The Godfather won Best Picture, it was surprising to see its sequel, The Godfather Part II, also pick up the award. And I’ve argued it’s fantastically acted and well paced for its time limit, but nearly half of this film was in foreign and took me out of a large portion of the film (as it didn’t come with subtitles for whatever reason). The Godfather had its Italian speeches but these were few and far between, The Godfather Part II set half of the story in Italy with the Corleone’s family past. And it was quite confusing at times remembering which of the large array of characters was betraying whom and working for whom, which is easy with characters going over an hour between scenes. I know people have said this is superior to The Godfather, but I disagree, and was disappointed by this film.
- 5) Out of Africa, * * * ¼
I love Meryl Streep. So I came into this film with excitement, but it turned out to be another love story whereby the main female needs to have an affair from her husband, as he’s only with her for convenience not love. The entire plot was Karen got married, she wasn’t in love, they had a coffee farm, she gets ill, she gets better, she then fell in love with another and then she’s pursuing a relationship with this other, it doesn’t home enough to warrant its over two-and-a-half-hour time.
- 4) Moonlight, * * * ¾
The most recent winner, Moonlight told the story of a young gay black lad discovering his sexuality and suffering abuse because of it. It tells three timelines (as a child, a teenager and an adult) but doesn’t feel like it has a strict plot narrative, it doesn’t really have an ending and just settles with him living a gay life. I get it was more about the bullying he suffered because of it but more focus was on him being gay than the bullying and just slowed the film right down.
- 3) The Hurt Locker, * * * ¼
Jeremy Renner takes the lead in Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, telling a story of a bomb-disposal team in Afghanistan. Much like Moonlight it never really ended, and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. Here it didn’t. For whatever reason I just never took to this film, or its characters or story, and its lack of ending or dangerous/tense situations never grabbed my attention.
- 2) The Last Emperor, * * *
Much like with General Patton, I didn’t know anything about Puyi, the last Emperor of China. Yes the visuals and editing were brilliant, but the story was too long and too slow with nothing very emotional grabbing my interest and was one of the harder films to sit through. There’s so much stalling and character moments being forgotten about, so a film with next to no drama and emotional impact about a person I have no idea about didn’t help me like it.
- 1) Dances with Wolves, * * ¾
Easily my least favourite Best Picture winner since 1970, Dances with Wolves bored me to tears. Kevin Costner was brilliant, yes, the soundtrack was beautiful, yes, the story was nicely told, yes, and has a serious emotional connection to a lot of Americans, yes. I even noted during my review how it would fall in a future top 10 worst list, and that was only at 1990, there were 20 films afterwards and not only did this film maintain its place but rose to 1st place. It’s a Western film about an American forced to befriend a Native American tribe, despite their language barrier, and, much like my feelings with the recent Hostiles, I just don’t care about these powerful pro-American stories of them being nice to Native Americans. Not being able to speak to each other didn’t bring forth really engaging dialogue and a lot of the film he’s alone so isn’t talking to anyone. It would take something truly terrible between 1927 and 1969 for something to take over 1st place in a countdown of all the Best Picture winners.