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The 10 Worst Best Pictures of The Last 30 Years

25 August 2015 | Features, Film Lists | by Rachel Helena


It is arguably the most covered award in the cinematic world, so it is no surprise when hundreds of bloggers globally post their predictions online for who will win the Best Picture category at the Academy Awards.

Earlier this year, Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu’s ‘Birdman’ snatched the top prize, pleasing some and upsetting others. Many thought that while ‘Birdman’ was a worthy contender, Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ should’ve been the victor. Others had placed their bets on The Grand Budapest Hotel or Whiplash.

The reality is that whoever takes away the year’s top prize there will always be people who believe that there was a more worthy contender. But have there been occasions where everyone has been well and truly shocked? Of course, especially in the last 30 years. Below are some of the Best Picture winners that probably shouldn’t have won:


1. Out Of Africa (1985)


There is no denying that ‘Out Of Africa’ is a fine movie. It is a sweeping love story played out by two of the most notable actors of modern film: Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. With absolutely stunning cinematography and beautifully modest performances, Out Of Africa was on the “must see” list for most people in 1985. Where the movie falls down, however, is in the fact that it moves at snail’s pace and lacks any sort of cultural or social significance.

Those who saw it enjoyed the love story and thought no more of it. Out Of Africa may sit dusty on the shelves of many who regarded it that year, but is rarely thought of today. None of this makes for a particularly stirring campaign for ‘Best Picture’, and it makes it very hard to believe that the film could have actually won.

So what should have won? The Colour Purple. Not only did the film cement itself as one of the most significant depictions of race relations today, but it also dealt with gender rights and sisterhood in a genuinely moving way.


2. Driving Miss Daisy (1990)

driving miss daisy

Driving Miss Daisy has almost become synonymous with a ‘play it safe Oscar bait’ mentality. The movie was enjoyable enough to watch, but one probably never would have anticipated that a light hearted, family friendly Morgan Freeman movie riddled with cliches would take home the biggest award of the year.

The story is even painfully simple: Morgan Freeman is a driver for a rich white woman and they don’t get along, however through sharing a similar sense of humour they become close friends over the years. It offers a commentary on friendship and race relations that is of course moving and the film is good enough, but not nearly good enough to win. Perhaps this was the Academy trying to make up for snubbing The Colour Purple five years prior? This is one that movie buffs will potentially never understand.

So what should have won? Dead Poets Society. Not only is this a highly emotional and intelligent film, it has remained one of the most loved pictures of the 90’s. Dead Poets Society is also revered as one of the late Robin Williams’ best roles.


3. Dances With Wolves (1991)


Many are torn on their opinion of Dances With Wolves. The film is a Western war epic which stars Kevin Costner. Incidentally he also directed and produced the 3 hour film. Dances With Wolves was significant for its time, particularly in the way that it dealt with western interactions with Lakota Indians. The movie is also considered to be a revival of Westerns in modern cinema and it was the first Western to win Best Picture since 1931.

For many, though, Dances With Wolves was entirely too long and unenjoyable. The film goes for over three hours and moves at a glacial pace and today it gives little to our understanding of American history. Especially considering other nominees in 1991, it remains hard to believe that Dances With Wolves came out on top.

So what should have won? Goodfellas. After being subbed in years prior, Martin Scorsese was due a win. Goodfellas was not only culturally significant, but brought original aesthetic quality that is still important in cinema today. (Its style was closely mimicked in 2006’s The Departed.)


4. The English Patient (1996)


There really isn’t much to say about romantic drama The English Patient. It was a good movie. It was well acted, emotional and ambitious (perhaps overly ambitious) and it was widely praised by critics.

Among regular viewers The English Patient became very famous for being very boring, and for a film that runs for over two hours, ‘boring’ probably isn’t the word you want people to use to describe it. It was also very quickly forgotten, though, or palmed off as a romantic drama that bears little importance to the world today.

So what should have won? Fargo. Described as a “neo noir black comedy” by the Coen Brothers, Fargo was perhaps a little too out there to convince the Academy it was worthy of the win. Time proved vital, however, as Fargo was one of only 6 films to ever be marked for preservation by the US National Film Registry in its first year of eligibility. Fargo was both a refreshing change of pace and a thrill ride for viewers and cemented the Coen Brothers as pioneers of 21st century filmmaking.


5. Shakespeare In Love (1998)


Many will argue that the ‘Best Picture’ victory for Shakespeare In Love was solely the result of an aggressive PR campaign by Harvey Weinstein. The movie itself tells the story of William Shakespeare falling in love with Viola de Lesseps: a fictional romance that is only ever really suspected to have happened based on a few references within Shakespeare’s work.

After its release, the film was plagued with lawsuits and accusations of plagiarism from more than one party, and is said to be riddled with historical inaccuracies. For this reason many call the film an ill thought waste of resources, however Shakespeare In Love did remarkably well in the box office and was praised as a being a moving and enchanting piece of cinema. Rave reviews aside, the film is rarely thought of in a positive light today especially after claiming this undeserved victory.

So what should have won? Saving Private Ryan. One of the best war movies ever made (if not the best), Saving Private Ryan was the most popular tip to take home the Oscar in 1998. Spielberg did take home the Oscar for Best Director for his masterpiece, but many were left wondering how it didn’t win Best Picture, especially as it is still referenced as being incredibly provocative almost twenty years later.



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  • Abraham Morales


    • Abeetz


  • Jasmin Jandric

    “Its style was closely mimicked in 2006’s The Departed”? The same guy made it!

    Also, Avatar? Who the fuck wrote this garbage?

    • Mike Jacovou

      Half of this article is garbage you’re right.

      • Akshay chandra

        true that. According to him, Dances With Wolves, Gladiator are bad ones to be awarded. Ohh..wait…Spotlight is some what based on similar lines of Erin Brockovich. This dosent meen its compared to Gladiator

        • Kosta Jovanovic

          Well, gladiator wasn’t that good to be honest

    • Jeremy Davis

      LOL. And I couldn’t agree more.

    • FlixtheCat

      Bahaha! This article lost me at Gladiator and just kept getting worse.

  • Rajdeep Paul

    Gladiator>>>Erin Brockovich

    Rest correct!

    • Mike Jacovou

      And always will be. I truly believe Gladiator is a really big achievement in cinema.

  • Upward

    Avatar? Really.

    • Mike Jacovou

      There is NO WAY avatar should have won.

  • Iván Solorio (SanS)

    I’m sorry but Erin Brockovich? Out of all the nominees that year you chose the typical Oscar bait biopic? Granted, Gladiator shouldn’t have won. But Erin Brockovich? No, sir. Nah-uh. Also Avatar? Are you kiddin me? “an entire world with species, languages, and customs that are completely removed from anything we have ever seen.” Yeah, right… cause other sci-fi works don’t do that… Avatar is as undeserved or even more so the Hurt Lucker.

  • Mike Jacovou

    The King’s Speech deserved it get out. And Gladiator also deserved it, the epic scale it was incredible.

    • Harris K Telemacher

      The King’s Speech was manipulative swill. Made for grannies too afraid of being challenged. It is everything that is wrong with cinema.

    • Carlos Ortega

      The Social Network was a much better movie than The King’s Speech

  • Jowana Bueser

    Avatar? What is this? If you think Hurt Locker was a terrible choice, Inglorious Basterds and Up were nominated that year and would make better alternatives.

    Erin Brockovich? Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Traffic were also in contention.

    • Iván Solorio (SanS)

      Thank you!

    • Black


    • Mark

      Good call. CT/HD is one for the ages.

    • Snoopy – Your Friendly Neighbo

      I would have been so pissed if Inglorious Basterds won. That’s cool if you liked it, but I could not get into it, even with the Ennio Morricone/Spaghetti western influence that soundtrack had, which made no sense in a movie about World War II. I’m just sayin’…

      That said, Erik Brockovich is not a bad movie and is actually one of my favorites. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Gladiator, though I remember loving it. And frankly, I can’t hate on a movie that gave us Oliver Reed’s last on screen performance. This is why subjectiveness makes it hard to determine what considers one thing “the best” over others, and why our idea of good and bad can change over time. There are plausible reasons for why many of the films featured on this list weren’t selected and probably wouldn’t have been selected for “Best Picture” anyway. I agree that Avatar was far from the best movie of it’s year, but had the Author approached this list a little different and made different selections, I doubt we would be reading so many negative comments. How many times have people bashed Titanic, for example, and would have wanted to see Good Will Hunting or L.A. Confidential win that year?

  • Héctor Pérez Tovar

    Erin BrontoBitch?!! WTF?!!! Gladiator was way better, I love Avatar but that was the year that Inglourious Basterds shoulda won Best Picture, INCEPTION?!! ok, get away from the keyboard Nolan-fan, What about The Artist? that one sucked

  • rogeriozz

    Nailed it 8 out 10 for me.
    Erin Brockovich instead of Gladiator? You’re joking right?

    And anything but Avatar. That’s a shitty movie. Won cinematography which is basically spitting in the face of cinematography.
    Well put about 2000. Matrix and Fight Club didn’t even make to the list…

  • David

    This article lost all seriousness when the author said that Avatar aka Pocahontas Dances with the Smurfs should’ve won best picture, it shouldn’t even have won Best Photography, jesus. And Chicago is filled with clichés but you praise Avatar, Black Swan and Inception for being so original and innovative? Jesus christ.

  • yatusa

    the hurt locker is great 🙁

  • Kopknight

    You’re welcome to your opinion, but those films won for a reason, because they were the best. Simple as that, which is not to say the other nominees were bad films, far from it.

    • David Callahan

      Youre delusional if u think that the best movie wins best picture automatically.

      • Black

        Delusional indeed.

    • FlyteBro

      Whoever wins an Oscar has very little to do with quality. Rather it’s based on three things:

      1, Money & marketing. Weinstein is the master of Oscar marketing, and actively seeks out Oscar votes by making sure his films are screened to old Academy members who might be in old people’s homes, and would otherwise not have seen his films. Disney is also very agressive at this point, as seen in their successful campaign to get Toy Story 3 nominated not only for best animated film, but also for best film.

      2. Popularity. Often times, an actor or director will win because they are the Academy’s sweethearts, as in the case with Clint Eastwood. This also happens a lot when someone has been nominated several times, but never won before, and the Academy will finally give them an award out of pity.

      3. Politics. Whenever there’s a film that takes a stand against racism or fights for equality and gay rights/women’s lib/native americans/condemns slavery/etc. it is bound to get nominated, and very often also win. This also happens a lot if there’s an award that’s never been won by a woman/african american/etc. before, and the academy will give their votes in fear of being called sexist or racist.

      The only part of the Oscars that is actually about quality, are the shorts, because the filmmakers are almost always completely unknown, and have no money for marketing. However, also here political films tend to shame voters into winning.

      • Black

        Nice post!

        • FlyteBro

          Thanks =)

  • Peter Gibbon

    so, Avatar should have won all the awards that year, because… 3D? it won for it’s visual effects, which were the only substance to the entire thing.

  • Patrick Dillon

    The Oscars don’t really represent taste or quality so much as they represent whitewashing and comfort. It’s why many of the films that win/get nominated are said to be “Oscarbait”, they get made solely to win awards. Also- calling Crash a “great movie” is un- objectively a crock of shit!

  • Asad Shairani

    This might be one of the worst lists to appear on toc.

  • Camilo

    Fight Club and The Matrix were year 1999, not 2000, like Gladiator. Avatar is a really forgettable movie, its the same story as Dances With Wolves and yet you praise the former but ditch the latter. Inglorious Basterds was a way better film, as so was the underrated Up in the Air.

  • ladyofargonne

    I Thought American Beauty sucked.

    • David Callahan

      You suck lol, that movie is brilliant

  • Ricardo Gouveia Blayer

    I never saw The Hurt Locker, but I am pretty happy Avatar did not take the best picture award. It is to this day the best example of style over substance in films and even the nomination (although inevitable) is to much of a distinction for this convoluted garbage.
    A best special effects award as well as some other technical awards, that the film deservedly are fitting and certainly enough for what it is.

  • durgesh

    The King’s Speech was a better film compared to Black Swan and Inception. No doubt the other films were great but The King’s Speech was better.

    • Rudi

      I respect your opinion, but… TKS was nothing more than a good idea for a movie; acting, pacing and the overall script were really nothing special. I even found it boring, although I’m interested in the topic.

      Both Black Swan and Inception are among the best movies in recent history, in my opinion. It’s just a fact that genres such as thriller, horror and sci-fi will not win these awards.

      • durgesh

        I forgot to add ‘for me’ in my comment Rudy.I respect your opinion.

        • Rudi

          No need for that, Durgesh. It goes without a saying; all of our names are linked with the messages.

    • Nameless82

      Yeah, right. lol

  • Sayan Mukherji

    This list is so bad I had to finally sign up on this site just to post this comment. TOC has set a standard in film making contents. But this piece feels like it has been written by an amateur one-direction fan still recovering from the traumatic news of their break-up. I mean Avatar for best picture and Gladiator not being good enough. Are you kidding me? TOC editors should have more control over what gets published on the site.

    I understand that such top 10 lists always generates controversy with people wanting movies which in their opinion deserves to be on the list. And it is never possible to satisfy everyone within the constraint of a limited no of movies that can be featured. But this list is absolute garbage. And I can bet no level headed movie critic on this planet can agree to this.

    Please get better writers.

    • Black

      “This list is so bad I had to finally sign up on this site just to post this comment”

      I feel you bruh.

      • Gaétan

        That’s how we all end up here, and look at us now!

    • KRich89

      Don’t you have anything better to do than be nasty on the internet? The author has an opinion and while you may not agree I think it’s totally unneccesary to be so rude about it. It is a brave thing to put thoughts and opinions on the internet especially when people like you exist. maybe you should take a minute to try and think about how someone might feel reading your comment about their work. If you don’t like it thats fine and you have a right to express what you would of changed but dont be so horrible about it.

      • Mark

        People should be civil if they disagree. Nevertheless, the writer herself is rather rude by so blithely disregarding the efforts of these filmmakers who, after all, won the award for deserved merit. Were these films the best? The winner usually never is. But to call them forgotten and irrelevant is disrespectful.

      • Black

        I really don’t think he said anything THAT bad. Take a look at some of the other comments written on this article alone, this guy didn’t even curse once in his comment lol.

        And while I don’t condone nasty comments on the internet myself, when you put yourself out there, especially on the internet, you open yourself up for attacks, and the writer must be prepared for that.

      • Todd

        Unfortunately, I do get upset when I see someone getting paid to produce garbage. There are many fine writers who could use a paid position. Hiring the dumbest people out there to fill the pages of cyberspace is not good journalism. It is rag magazine fodder.

        • KRich89

          I wouldn’t assume this is a paid piece. I know people who have written for this website and not been paid a penny. Some do it for the experience and many of the comments on here aren’t very encouraging for someone starting out. JMO.

          • Todd

            I guess it is true then. You get what you pay for. Good labor is not cheap and cheap labor is not good.

      • Nancy Hall

        One of the basic problems with these “worst of” and “most overrated” lists is that they are, themselves, prime examples of being nasty on the Internet. You can’t make a negative list like this without sounding snarky and pissing people off. It ends up sounding like whiny complaints. It’s a list of movies the writer didn’t like. Who cares?

    • Snoopy – Your Friendly Neighbo

      I’d have to really disagree with Taste of Cinema setting “standards” in anything. If by standards, you mean they’re basically doing what millions of other websites do: which is take content and divide it into bullet list form for easy consumption (because people prefer to read lists than actual articles, for whatever reason). At times, I have read lists that don’t make much sense in terms of grouping and what makes those particular films related to each other (whether it’s theme or what have you) and the reasoning behind creating an article on them is very flimsy, but many of the comments will be positive. And it’s not like I’m pointing this out of ill will or anything, because on occasion, I do come across good content (which is why I come back), I’m just pointing out what I’ve taken away from this place. This isn’t even the first bad list I’ve seen on here, far from it.

  • KeepinIt Real

    Any credibility regarding this list was completely lost once Avatar was mentioned. I hope that as an aspiring screenwriter, the author knows how this script was absolute garbage. Other than its visual effects (which weren’t even that impressive tbh), this movie was a hackneyed joke.

    • David Callahan

      “Other than its visual effects (which weren’t even that impressive tbh)” YES!! Someone else has said it! Other than the environment, the Avatars themselves or Navi or whatever the fuck, take me out of the movie cuz that look so stupid and.. (*cough) FAKE

      • KeepinIt Real

        Exactly. Anyone with a multi-million dollar budget, access to cutting edge technology, and access to a team of professional CGI artists could create something similar (and probably better). When will people learn that just because something looks pretty, it doesn’t mean that it has substance or worth. Avatar is the dumb, hot supermodel of films. Once you realize how empty and dull it is behind all that “makeup,” you get tired of it and move on.

    • Rich G

      To chime in here. Ask anyone who has seen District 9 and Avatar and they all agree the CG is much more convincing in District 9. Avatar budget 237 million USD, District 9 budget 30 million USD.
      This is the difference between creativity and throwing money at a film hoping that makes it good.
      The Navi looked cartoonish and fake particular next to real people. The Prawn on the other hand looked genuinely convincing. Can you imagine if Neill blomkamp had the budget of Avatar for District 9!!!!

      Not to mention Monsters with a budget of 500,000 USD which had a much more convincing tone and authenticity to Avatar.

      Avatar was simply a big budget 3D promo nothing more.

      • Psychonaut23

        I hated Avatar too, as I hated Prometheus and Interstellar.

    • FlixtheCat

      Fuck yeah. Truth.

    • Ezequiel Gonzalez Dardik

      Was looking for this!! I couldnt believe it when i saw avatar un there

    • InsanusMaximus

      I’m not gonna throw out the entire list, because there are some solid choices in there. But Avatar really isn’t any good.

    • Stephus

      Agree agree agree agree agree and agree

    • Alpha60

      Hmmm, a discussion from 9 months ago, but I have to say it again… Avatar, WTF?!

  • Rudi

    I know it’s all a matter of opinion, but how on Earth can you state Dances With Wolves shouldn’t have won the award? It’s one of the best Best Pictures in history! One of the Great Westerns!

    And yes, I do think there have been some movies that shouldn’t have won. They’re just not in this list. Birdman was so fake in all aspects, The Artist was a gimmick, Slumdog Millionaire dead boring, 12 Years A Slave messy, Braveheart cliched, et cerera.

    I normally respect each list for the effort that has been put in, but this is just crap.

    • Black

      Woah chill, you’re about to catch the hands lol. Birdman and 12 Years were great movies.

      • Rudi

        I’m totally chilled. Perhaps I should have inserted chilled emoticons to reflect my chilled mood when I inserted these stone-cold letters.


        • Black

          Lmao, you’re a funny guy!

          • Rudi

            But seriously, I just think this list doesn’t reflect any understanding of movies at all. Putting that into words might seem heated, I can see that.

            Overall I guess these kinds of topics get lots of heated reactions, but in the end we shouldn’t forget that the Oscars is a bit of a strange, even snobbish event. As stated, certain genres will never make a change, while making a movie about a) the movie/play industry, b) a sickness or c) about ethnic discrimination gets you a nomination instantly.

            For instance, a few months ago I was very underwhelmed by the sloppy movie ‘Selma’, but because of the topic it deals with I’m almost sure it will be nominated at the next Oscars. Mark my words.

          • Anant Singh

            Ah, so much for marked words. Hate to be the one that breaks it to you mon frere, but Selma already got nominated for Best Picture. And won the Original Song. Cheers! :p

          • Rudi

            Haha. Well, there you go. 🙂 In the Netherlands it was only in cinemas after this year’s Oscars.

    • David Callahan

      Woah, so of all those movies you just listed, you liked Dances with Wolves the MOST?

      • Rudi

        No. I liked DWW a lot and I didn’t like those others at all, so there’s no “liking the MOST” involved.

        • David Callahan

          That’s even worse lol

          • David Callahan

            What do you look for in a movie? You seem to have such a great sense on what is shit I think I speak for everyone on this board when I say Id love to see you direct a movie so we can see what perfect looks like.

  • Black

    When Taste of Cinema makes a bad article, it REALLY comes out bad. I’m
    baffled more by the way this was written than the films that “should
    have won”. Everything written in this article is a very surface level,
    vapid analysis of each respective film, and doesn’t go beyond basic
    reasons why Film A shouldn’t have won Best Picture, but Film B should have.
    And then there’s this:

    “Goodfellas was
    not only culturally significant, but brought original aesthetic quality
    that is still important in cinema today. (Its style was closely mimicked
    in 2006’s The Departed.)”

    Hmm, maybe because Goodfellas and The Departed share the same director?

  • FredLaMotte

    But the worst Academy Award decision of all time was in 1965: choosing ‘Cat Ballou’, an inane grade B comedy with Jane Fonda, over Sydney Lumet’s masterpiece, ‘The Pawn Broker,’ with Rod Steiger.

  • Brandon Thompson

    1-5 and 7-8 you get right but you should’ve listed other movies that weren’t nominated (E.G. Do the Right Thing) for more of them

    as for the rest…
    6- crouching tiger hidden dragon should’ve won and requiem for a dream, memento and American Psyhco should’ve been nominated.

    9 – Avatar is not a true feat of cinema! It imitates one by trying to be edgy when it was only a matter of time until a movie like it come out. An edgy movie is one that people don’t see coming like Pulp Fiction. In fact if you put Forrest Gump on this list no one would’ve cared because it wasn’t the best picture that year but The Hurt Locker was.

    10- The Kings Speech shouldn’t have won, it was clear Oscar bait. But your recommendations don’t include the best biopic ever. The Social Network. This movie showed people how to tell a true story and it wasn’t even included as the movie that SHOULD HAVE won. Inception and Black Swan are also better movies but The Social Network is a rare masterpiece.

  • Kevin Ice

    ‘Avatar’ is a steaming pile of shit.

    • Harris K Telemacher

      The fact that it was nominated is bewildering. Not sure if I’d call it a pile of shit though. For what it was, it was more than passable. Enjoyable fantasy tale. Yeah it took itself much too seriously, but I had a good time watching it.

  • Keir Arts

    Saving private ryan is the best war movie ever? Try watching The Big red one, Thin red line, come and see, Battle of Algiers, Patton…I could go on but I won’t.

    • Chandradeep

      exactly! glad someone said it. haha kids these days

    • Mark

      100% correct

    • Keith D Suchland

      The first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan is really the only part worth watching, IMO…
      The rest of the movie was silly, unbelievable, and loaded with cliches….

  • Reyni

    2010, The Social Network, please… THAT was the right one.

  • Harris K Telemacher

    Avatar over the Hurt Locker? Are you taking the piss? Does no one edit this garbage?
    “falls on its face when it tries to deal with character development and the psychology of war”
    What? WHAT???

    Also… Erin Brockovich over Gladiator? I can’t even.

  • Harris K Telemacher

    Couple more I can think of.
    Argo over Life of Pi
    Million Dollar Baby over The Aviator
    American Beauty over anything

    • David Callahan

      Dead wrong about American Beauty. Definitely deserved it.

      • Harris K Telemacher

        While I respect your opinion you can go get lost.

        • David Callahan

          “I respect your opinion”- good one

  • arun vikraman

    Slumdog Millionaire was obviously a bad choice. 🙂

    • David Callahan


      • gilvy

        Because it doesn’t stands the test of time and it was deemed as classic when it came out. It had all the cliche’s which make a good oscar bait and the academy fell for it.

        • David Callahan

          “It doesn’t stand the test of time”, I think we have to wait longer than 7 years to gauge that my man.

  • Bex Parish

    This piece reads like a badly researched and poorly written school essay. Whilst people can differ in their views as to films that should have won, the author of this piece doesn’t manage to put forward any convincing arguments for her own choices as it is clear she hasn’t seen enough films in order to do so – eg her claim that Saving Private Ryan is the best war movie ever. Any credibility is totally lost on the Goodfellas/Departed comments she makes as she clearly has no idea what she’s talking about! Good luck with that career in script writing…

    • Black

      My sentiments exactly!

  • Tornike Kandelaki

    The thin red line should have won in 99,not saving private Ryan and especially not Shakespeare in love

  • Abhishek

    Inglourious Basterds in 2009 and The Social Network in 2010 were the best contenders!

  • Zgjim Terziqi

    “The hurt locker” and “Avatar” both suck but to say “Dead Poet Society” should have won and not “Dr. Miss Daisy” and forgetting to mention the best film of the year by far which is “Do The Right Thing” shows you have no clue about films.

    • Francesco Marioni

      Yes Do The Right Thing thankyou

  • JPVan

    Dances With Wolves, The English Patient, Gladiator, and The King’s Speech were all excellent films. Several times this critic complained about pace when the proliferation of action films at the expense of more thoughtful and contemplative movies has “the great movie” almost on the ropes. The reason is simple; the action film translates to a worldwide box office more readily so now we see dueling special effects and monstrous budgets for the next blockbuster. I’d rather have more films, more variety.

  • Brendan Foster

    Forrest Gump should have definitely been on the list for its sickening reactionary bullshit

    • David Callahan

      “sickening reactionary bullshit”? Whoah

    • Harris K Telemacher

      I wouldn’t have minded it winning on another year, but over pulp fiction?? No.

  • vance9281

    Erin Brokovich was a Disney movies for greens that did not tell the real story and missed the heart of the matter.

  • Shahin Ghazzaee

    Where is “Slumdog Millionaire,” one of the worst pictures ever made?

    • Harris K Telemacher

      I couldn’t agree with you more. I watched it after the awards and when it was done I was like What. The. Fuck.
      Easily one of clumsiest pieces of storytelling I’ve seen. Just horrible.

  • Shahin Ghazzaee

    “Hurt Locker” was a great film.

  • Klaus Dannick

    Good list, but I disagree on a couple of points. Speaking as a gay man, I don’t have a problem with Brokeback Mountain’s best picture loss. It was the equivalent of a shallow romance novel, and I don’t recall it dealing specifically with gay rights (or gay rights from any perspective). Gus Van Sant’s gay themed films are more interesting relationship explorations (Mala Noche and My Own Private Idaho), and his biopic Milk did address gay rights (and, unlike many biopics, it was a cinematic work, not merely a by-the-numbers movie-of-the-week). I wasn’t a huge fan of Crash ( it was predictable to an almost painful degree), but at least it had something to say.

    While Saving Private Ryan was a monumental achievement, Shakespeare in Love was a cinematic, storytelling tour de force, and I feel the Academy did right in honoring it.

    As for Avatar, I forgot what it was even about a week after I saw it. The Hurt Locker, though, will be with me for some time.

    • Mark

      I agree with you on all points. Well written

      • Klaus Dannick

        Thank you.

    • David Callahan

      “Shakespeare in love was a cinematic, storytelling tour de force”. Really?? Beyond Shakespeare appreciation the movie is dull and hollow as hell.

    • Black

      I really agree with you on Brokeback Mountain. I thought it was a fine enough film, but I do not think it was worthy of the praise and merit it received for its portrayal of homosexuality.

  • afrangov

    I thought something was amiss, then I got to the “Avatar” part and my suspicions were confirmed. Also, Saving Private Ryan (albeit being a pretty good movie) is not even close to being the best war movie ever made

  • 민영기

    I personally think instead of Saving Private Ryan nor English Patient, Thin Red Line should have won best picture in 1998.

  • Gorka Molero

    Erin Brokovich over Gladiator? Never

  • The list is stupid.

  • Sasha Argirov

    Fuck. This list is garbage. You think Avatar is what should’ve won? Fucking Avatar?

    Also, you should’ve put Argo (Amour should’ve won), Forrest Gump (Pulp Fiction/Shawshank), and Rocky (Taxi Driver/All the President’s Men/Network)
    up there.

    • Black

      Yes!! I will never understand how Argo could win Best Picture >_<

      • Harris K Telemacher

        Not with Life of Pi there. Seriously loved that movie. Flawless.

  • andre fernandez

    who wrote this???? Like who would choose saving private ryan over the thin red line or avatar over a serious man? your choices are as good as the academy’s… also its sad that argo winning over amour didnt show up here like…..

  • Josh Jisco Schasny

    I remember saying if Avatar won Best picture I would stop watching the Oscars altogether. While I agree with about half of your choices on here, I find the approach biased. So many other films were nominated in each of these years but go unmentioned. While “the movie is boring” might be a good approach to mention in passing, it is not a framework for an argument. Way too subjective to be taken seriously.

    • Mark

      well said

    • Black

      “While “the movie is boring” might be a good approach to mention in
      passing, it is not a framework for an argument. Way too subjective to be
      taken seriously.”

      I’m with you 100% on that one.

  • Ayuj Consul

    If not The Hurt Locker, then DEFINITELY Inglourious Basterds!

    • Black

      That’s right!

  • Vincent Joy

    The Matrix and Fightclub were Oscar contenders in 2000, while Gladiator was in 2001.

    • Mike Jacovou

      Wrong, yes the ceremonies took place there, but Gladiator was the Best Picture of year 2000 and The Matrix won for visual effects for 1999.

  • Mark

    “Some” of the choices are on target, but the writers’ reasoning is particularly lame. She makes no claim about aesthetic merit -for the most part- and is inconsistent about the worth of relevancy. She also included many fine films and left off some very questionable winners (The Artist anybody?!!). Many of these films are thought of quite fondly (SiL, Gladiator) and are, in fact, “not” forgotten. It’s ironic that the weakest film on the list (Kings’ Speech) reads as the writer’s favorite. This is the weakest of what are usually well reasoned and well written lists.

    • Black

      “”Some” of the choices are on target, but the writers’ reasoning is
      particularly lame. She makes no claim about aesthetic merit -for the
      most part- and is inconsistent about the worth of relevancy.”

      Spot on!

  • Richard Anderson

    Erin Brockovich?!? Pleasant enough film, but Best Picture winner??

  • If Avatar would’ve actually won, I’m pretty sure it would’ve also been put on this list.

  • Pablo Muñiz

    i would sy something about avatar… but everyone’s told you youre an idiot and so on… they are right
    and if Erin Brokovich had won to The Gladiator, then it woud be one of “10 worst best pictures”… Erin Brokovich is at par with Crash

  • Francesco Marioni

    Saving Private Ryan is a fine 20minute film what follows is a dirty dozen style film which has action set piece/emotional set piece on repeat for the rest of the film, Shakespeare In Love is a far far far superior film imo. If anything deserved to win it would be The Thin Red Line as that IS the best film ever made period. (obviously my opinion). Avatar would have needed a script to be deemed worth of winning anything.

  • Diegoc02 .

    The hurt locker? it´s a good movie

  • mel now from surrey

    Perhaps the academy should use a ranked ballot. That way if a film doesn’t get 50% support then second or third choices would be counted until there was a majority winner.

  • Wyatt W.B

    Crash was a great film? You trippin.

  • Wyatt W.B

    Dead Poet’s is a 80’s movie…

  • Filmeater

    I couldn’t disagree more with #6. Erin Brockovich is biopic schlock. Gladiator is a tremendous film. Yes, Joaquin Phoenix may have been miscast but the film is basically flawless otherwise and I am not an action film fan per se. Also Ellen Burstyn should have won best actress for “Requiem for a Dream” over Julia Roberts. I’d invite anyone to watch EB and Gladiator in a single day and tell me which was a better film.

    • Harris K Telemacher

      I could never get that people hated Phoenix in that role. He played his character as petulant and quite in touch with his dysfunction. I honestly thought it was a fresh take on a big budget villain.

      • Filmeater

        I agree.

  • Rich G

    As others have said most of this article is nonsense. Although I do agree Brokeback mountain should have won instead of Crash. Brokeback mountain is an incredible film. Crash is painfully pretentious without an ounce of realism.

  • nino trivelli

    avatar??? inception? fuck you, go to study please

  • Miguel G.

    Erin Brockovich over Gladiator is something I’m willing to discuss, but Avatar over The Hurt Locker!? Are you freaking kidding me!? The whole article lost credibility over that.

  • Vincenzo Politi

    Avatar? Erin Brockovich? Come on…

  • Avatar? Em… No.

  • gilvy

    I didn’t fully go through the comments. But its missing a major overrated junk called ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. It doesn’t even stand the time of two years.

    • David Callahan

      How could you possibly know that?

  • selma

    black sawn and inception never deserved to win because their directors ripped off animated movie director Satoshi Kon’s perfect Blue and Paprika without even admitting the insipiration or paying tribute to the original ( black swan is even more of a rip off whil inception is just a pretentious nonsense piece, a dumbed down version of paprika) I’m truly shocked you suggested them for winners

  • HayHay66

    This site needs to list the writers up front, and pull horrible articles like this ! Avatar ?? Lets mention Titanic beating out LA Confidential !!

  • williamdais

    I agree with your calls, except Gladiator. Gladiator definitely beats Erin Brokovitch…hands down better entertainment. We go to films for entertainment, not preaching. At least most of us.

  • John W. Thackery

    Is anyone allowed to write for Taste of Cinema nowadays? Are writers not required to proofread or even research before publishing their articles? I mean, really?

    Intro: “It is arguably the most covered award in the cinematic world.”

    Did she mean “coveted”? Or “covered” as in covered by the media and bloggers? Some clarity is needed there.

    1. The Colour Purple? I’m aware “colour” is an alternate spelling but the title of the film is “The Color Purple”.

    2. “Dead Poets Society is one of the most loved pictures of the 90’s.”

    Dead Poets Society was released in 1989, so it’d be one of the most beloved films of the 1980s. But the film was later popular with audiences on TV and home video in the 1990s– unless this is the point the writer was making, which I doubt. Also, there’s no apostrophe in “90s”.

    3. “Its [Goodfellas] style was mimicked in The Departed.”

    You can’t use another work from the same filmmaker to illustrate the point that his style is influential. Scorsese also mimicked Goodfellas style in Casino and The Wolf of Wall Street as well.

    4. “for a film that runs for over two hours, ‘boring’ probably isn’t the word you want people to use to describe it.”

    Wouldn’t writing “for a film that runs nearly THREE hours” drive the point home more effectively? 2 hours is not lengthy and The English Patient runs nearly 3 hours.

    6. Why bring up Fight Club and The Matrix when contending Gladiator? Fight Club and The Matrix were released in 1999 and were Oscar contenders in 2000, whereas Gladiator was released in 2000 and was a 2001 Oscar contender. I mean, a 2-minute Google search couldn’t have avoided such a glaring error?

    • KRich89

      Yes, anyone can write for TOC. Give it a go.

  • Laurie Jones

    an Industry that Produces “product” for Consumers.-continuously, without a break-. could be hamburgers,whatever. as long as bored people will pay for some distraction………….like they care about the Quality!

  • Jeremy Davis

    Was with this on the first page. Second one, not so much – especially as we near the present…

    All-in-all, The Oscars are old news; they started to suck until Silence of the Lambs pulled out best picture which revived them for maybe a decade but now, it’s back to formulaic and anti-climactic – just like most Hollywood movies of the 21st century.

  • Praveen Lawrance

    half of this list is crap.
    1995: Apollo 13 instead of Braveheart
    1998: Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line and Life is Beautiful were far more worthy than Shakespeare in Love
    2008: The Reader instead of Slumdog Millionaire

  • o9869kjh$@$#

    1. Saving Private Ryan is barely the best war film, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, Dr. Strangelove, Thin Red Line..
    2. Gladiator is better
    3. I don’t like The Hurt Locker either, but Avatar is poor choice

  • Brett Lovejoy

    I was sort of nodding along until I got to outrageous shit like ‘Avatar’ winning Best Picture, and if ‘Crash’ didn’t win during its year, ‘Munich’ should’ve and nothing else.

  • lilyboosh

    I liked The English Patient when it came out but holy shit, if there was a “best picture” it was far and away ‘Fargo’.

  • Justin Gunterman

    Quite a controversial list. I agree with some choices. I think your alternative for The King’s Speech is dead wrong. It certainly shouldn’t have won, but everyone knows the real winner that year was The Social Network.

  • Randinho

    Crash was a great film? Seriously? Erin Brockovich and not Traffic? No mention of LA Confidential instead of Titanic? Avatar? Someone must want some work from Jim Cameron.

    What an absolute crap article.

  • FlixtheCat

    Erin Brokovich over Gladiator? Avatar over The Hurt Locker? What the fuck are you smoking and how much does it cost?

  • Kevin Ice

    ‘Master and Commander’ was more deserving that ‘Return of the King’, which probably only won because the Academy gave the previous LOTR films short shrift.

  • jannik

    How can you in one sentence name The Matrix and Fight Club and then call for Erin Brokovich to win Best Picture? Also -like many others- I really had a good chuckle at Avatar.

    But I have to agree on Gladiator. While a solid Blockbuster, it didn’t deserve the Oscar,

  • Abhishek Mondal

    The Kings Speech dose not belong here. Neither does The Hurt Locker.

  • jesse100

    Truly. Take Goodfellas, Fargo, Saving Private Ryan and the Color Purple for example. People still watch them. Again and again. Some of these that won have been forgotten or if you asked someone to watch them with they would probably say “meh.”

  • Danny Ogle

    the way it slags off hurt locker for lacking in character development and dealing with ‘the psychology of war’ and then suggests Avatar as a better film.. it’s almost like a satirical article written by The Onion. If that’s what it’s intended as then fair play, hilarious.

  • Danny Ogle

    why is argo not on this list

  • widi guruh

    How did Forrest Gump ever beat out ‘Pulp Fiction’ for Best Picture?

  • Chad Kingston MacDonald

    Watch the Hurt Locker once more and understand that the film is about war as felt from a woman’s perspective. This is what everyone misses, but what pushes the film into masterpiece.

  • Asad Shairani

    Not that its unique that you’d put your opinion over that of hundreds others (members of the academy), but you actually mentioned Avatar as a Best Picture winner, draining the last remaining bits of seriousness from the article.

  • Akshay chandra

    First of all, Erin Brockovich is a good movie, but you guys compared it to Gladiator. Julia Roberts in one of her best performances to date” ..WTF…WHAT ABOUT RUSSELL CROWE? NOT THE BEST PERFORMANCE TO U? totally useless point of view.
    Avatar – Its considered as the worst movies ever. Everything was larger than life…and made up.
    Dances With Wolves is a good movie. I repeat. you guys have added this movie soo many times. WTF is your problem with Native Indians anyways? Duhh
    Ps – This list is really bad. When compared to your other articles. No offence to the writer. Its just his pov is not that god.

  • Silv Sil

    I agree with most of the films here, but Driving Miss Daisy shouldn`t have been mentioned. And suggesting Avatar as a better option over the Hurt Locker doesn`t help either. For that year Inglorious Basterds is the best picture, even An Education is way better than The Hurt Locker and Avatar.

  • Abhishek

    Had Brokeback Mountain released in this decade, the Elite Academy would surely have awarded it the best movie based on the content itself. Nevertheless, it was indeed a great movie and Crash in front of it was a TV episode of a flop show.

  • Tim O’Hare

    I agree that Brokeback Mountain should have won in 2005, but not because of its message about gay rights. I don’t subscribe to the idea of good films pursuing a political agenda. Brokeback Mountain was good because it was a great story with great characters and an amazing directorial style. I don’t believe in awarding a movie the Best Picture Award to make a political statement, I believe that the best movie should win out and, in 2005, that movie was Brokeback Mountain.

  • Ian Paul

    Um, Traffic was nominated alongside Erin Brockavich, and I personally think that should have won. And how come Forrest Gump isn’t on This list? Pulp Fiction and Shawshank redemption were the better nominees

  • Diana Cartwright

    Hahahaha you guys… 😀 Seriously… you’re too funny. A couple of the films on this list shouldn’t have won, ok, but the choices you mention instead are hilarious 😀 Oh, and Avatar…?? You’re so funny…


    I like Avatar haha

  • CoopLc

    The King’s Speech winning was a shame. I don’t even think Inception should have won, but The Social Network should have. Fincher’s best film to this date and one of the best of the decade.

  • Most of these films I somehow haven’t had time to view, since I’m so busy researching how well posies take root in radioactive sludge, but “Crash” must be the most hysterically overrated movie ever made, and one that accurately mirrors Los Angeles or anything in reality as we know it the way posies take root in radioactive sludge.

  • jane

    avatar is awful

  • Gogzilla

    Titanic was horrible. To take such a tragic story & introduce into it am unbelievable love story was an insult to those that lost their lives. I also disliked No Country For Old Men. Can’t compare to Fargo & The Big Lebowski. Both highly superior movies. But the worst ever movie to win best picture has got to be Crash. This movie is easily in my top 5 worst movies I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Bad acting, bad unrealistic dialogue, cliche morals. I didn’t even make it to the ending before this movie was returned to the video store.

  • Bobby Calloway

    You appear not to understand musicals, because Chicago *isn’t* cliched. The directors decision to frame all the songs as figments of Roxie’s imagination brings a huge psychological side that you don’t often get in movie musicals. Rather than just taking place in an alternate universe where people sing the plot, the film finds a postmodern way to justify all the musical tropes – rather like Saving Private Ryan did the same for the traditional war movie. The fact that Roxie imagines various events as musical numbers on the stage ties in perfectly with her obsession with becoming famous.

  • Ted Wolf

    Sometimes a movie has a huge emotional impact at the time that is lost in the passing years. I haven’t watched Crash since it was in the theater, but it impacted me deeply emotionally, much more so than any other nominee that year (and I saw them all prior to the awards). I know Roger Ebert waxed eloquently on Crash as well. Even if I don’t agree with all his assessments, he’s far from an idiot in terms of the cinema. There is room for difference of opinion and hindsight plays a big part. I’m sure that looking back, Citizen Kane was far superior to How Green Was My Valley, but my mom remembers HGWMV and cries each time it’s on TCM.

  • wim cerstiaens

    Avatar? The worst film I have ever seen.

  • marty greco.

    Friends……..Friends………Friends! You are forgetting 1 particular move……..One film truly that make everything, EVERYTHING else look like Citizen Kane! I am talking about CITY LIMITS, easily…….easily, the worst shit known to man-kind. What REALLY pisses me off about that film is that somewhere in there there was a Deep Thought-provoking political statement……..That scared the producers shitless, Thought provoking was the ONE thing the producers did not want this to be! Therefore THEY, (One THEY, really, Don K Oppher, Screenwriter and Pre-school drop-out) Turned this film in the most Mind numbing swill that makes Porkey’s 2 look like Richard the 3rd. I had to spend 18 bucks to get that film,………and that is 17 dollars and 99 and a half cent to goddamn much.

  • FairiesWearMocs

    I disagree on The king’s Speech. I thought it was as profound and thought provoking as Shakespeare in Love (not). Thought Crash was amazing. And yeah, Black Swan is an excellent film.

  • Evan Derrickson

    dude fuck avatar

  • Carlos Felipe Soto Cortés

    Argo and The Artist too

  • Michael O’Dwyer

    You can’t really be shocked by anything winning the Best Picture Oscar. When I describe a type of film I hate, *Oscar films* pretty much sums it up. It’s a specific type – very worthy, very uptight, too aware of their own “importance”, carefully crafted to be as dull as possible (like my personality), and mostly not re-watchable other than the fact you’ve forgotten everything about them since watching them the first time. Glad they’ve opened up the category to more films each year, so more actually decent films that last more than the length of an awards season sneak in among the overwrought, we-are-the-world Oscar bait. Since the start of the 80’s, the majority of nominated films are the greatest sedatives ever invented. Suck them up, insomniacs!
    Some Nominated films I’ve liked in that time as the art rises above the smush : Elephant Man, Goodfellas, Silence of the Lambs, Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction, Fargo, LA Confidential, Sideways, Lost in Translation, Little Miss Sunshine, The Fighter, Social Network, Winter’s Bone, The Tree of Life (f*** the haterz, most incredible film ever!), Philomena, Birdman, Whiplash, Room, Mad Max Fury Road, The Big Short, Spotlight.

  • ClanTechie

    I agree with some of this, but I really don’t think “Erin Brockovich” or “Avatar” should have won. Even “Private Ryan” is overrated.

  • DuckingGold

    How can I take someone seriously when they use should of and not should have. Go take an English class for Christ’s sake.

  • Andrew RJ Warren

    Hurt Locker came out in 2008 and won the best picture for that year. Avatar came out in 2009. This article is garbage.

    • John W. Thackery

      Not that this list isn’t poorly researched but The Hurt Locker WAS nominated against Avatar. Look it up! It literally takes 10 seconds of research:

  • Arshil Potter

    Avatar didn’t deserve an oscar.

  • Birdman. Enough said.

  • Aleksandar Šurbatović

    I think this is great and true list. Except, I do belive that Hurtlocker is masterpiece, though.

  • Herman Blume

    Avatar? Lololol! Gtfo.

  • Pica Lima

    …again with the Kostner thing?! that’s so 90’s… Dances with wolves it’s an amazing piece of cinema, only americans can’t see it (is it because he often shows the inconvenient side of American history?)

  • David Pollison

    Goodfellas is a better movie than Dances but that does not make Dances a terrible movie. It’s a great movie and with out it you would not have Avatar. As much as I love Black Swan & Inception they are not Best Picture material like King’ s Speech is.

  • It must be really tough to put yourself out there, to write this post and come face to face with the reality that you might not have great taste. That’s harsh.

    I think you should take all of the criticism you’ve gotten for writing this article to encourage yourself to explore why you have a disconnect with other cinephiles and if there’s something to learn or understand from it.

  • Abeetz

    I think you have 9 stinkers but I thought/think Dances With Wolves is a really good movie.

  • paul blanchfield

    Aw dont you agree with a list that somebody wrote. Cruel world isnt it?

  • The Dynamite Kid

    Okay, I agree, The King’s Speech winning the Oscar did surprise me but you picked Inception over Speech? Are you crazy? You just came across as one of those Nolan fanboys who eat up anything he puts on celluloid.

  • Benedict Harris

    Avatar should of won? you must be kidding

  • Arnaldo Fernandez

    So Avatar should have won because it is “impressive”…then Gladiator is ok, because it is impressive and Erin Brockovich is not. The Hurt Locker is not that impressive as Avatar, but it is a better movie.

  • Francisco Pacho Javier Alvarez

    Avatar?? really? come man … go sleep …

  • Chris

    LOL if Black Swan had won it would have undoubtedly appeared on a list like this for being unintentionally campy and ridiculous. Also why does the layout and ad display of this website have to be so horrible and cheesy?

  • Jens Lüke

    “Saving Private Ryan. One of the best war movies ever made (if not the best)” – What a f***ing bullshit, really. LIke the complete list.

  • Marjan

    Avatar :)))

  • jcsandino