The 10 Biggest Failed Oscar Bait Movies

5. Australia

In 2008, Baz Luhrmann directed a big-budget period romance film starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman co-written by the man behind The Pianist. Prior to its release, most pundits appropriately had it pegged as a major threat.

It would have been foolish to ignore the movie, especially considering the fact that this was Luhrmann’s first flick since the critically acclaimed Moulin Rouge. Why wouldn’t people assume it would be a critical and commercial smash hit? It had everything going for it, but that didn’t stop it from sucking.

Okay, so maybe it’s unfair (and a little unprofessional) to accuse a movie of sucking, but it was panned for a reason. Like everything Luhrmann puts his hands on, the final product is overambitious. The sub-three hour runtime tries to fit in everything it possibly can, but it’s still not enough for a movie that would’ve been better as a miniseries.

It’s not exactly boring, but it is frustratingly inept when it comes to feeling like a cohesive whole. Like many movies, the biggest issue is that its reach exceeds its grasp. With a little more focus and a little more care, it could’ve done well at the Oscars.


4. Alexander

Alexander wasn’t just regular bad. It was a special kind of bad. It’s a movie that still gets brought up to this day because of how much it failed. This was a mega-budget historical epic directed by Oliver Stone and starring several A-list actors.

It should have been incredible. It could have been incredible. Unfortunately, Oliver Stone pulled an Oliver Stone and shot a little too high. This resulted in a movie that not only failed to live up to the promise, but failed to offer many redeemable qualities in general.

It’s pretty to look at. It’s also a borderline incomprehensible mess with stale acting and very few original ideas.Objectively, it’s well-made, but there are too many other problems that stop it from being a good movie. Hell, there are problems that stop it from being an average movie.

From the laughable accents to the self-indulgent storyline, Stone really delivered a stinker with Alexander. Although the man knew how to make excellent movies at some point in his career, Alexander, along with his more recent efforts, aren’t painting a favorable picture.


3. The Soloist

The Soloist (2009)

Joe Wright is no stranger to the Academy Awards. Prior to the release of The Soloist, he impressed voters with movies like Atonement and Pride & Prejudice. His first stab at a contemporary film sounded promising.

Coming shortly after Robert Downey Jr’s comeback year, The Soloist featured the newly reborn actor playing a journalist who meets a schizophrenic violinist played by Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx. It’s not a surprise that Oscar voters have a thing for films about mental illnesses. It’s also not a surprise that Oscar voters love actors who are able to make a comeback, Mickey Rourke style.

Imagine everyone’s surprise when the movie fell short of expectations. With a measly 56% on Rotten Tomatoes, the The Soloist didn’t stand a chance against 2009’s more alluring titles. Critics felt that the movie didn’t feel like a good fit for Joe Wright, who tends to direct more understated period pieces.

Contemporary setting aside, the movie was also far more hamfisted than the director’s previous efforts. While the performances were praised, other aspects didn’t exactly gel with voters or critics. The movie unfortunately failed to pick up a single nomination.


2. Come See the Paradise

Come See The Paradise (1990)

Come See the Paradise is really the first example of failed Oscar bait. It’s also, according to sociologists, the most blatant example of Oscar bait ever to be released. There were numerous reasons listed in an actual study, including the setting, the actors, and the subject matter.

Many people believe that it was only made to rake in awards. Honestly, they may be on to something. There’s not a whole lot to point to the fact that this movie has any merit beyond appealing to the Academy.

Come See the Paradise is actually one of the best reviewed movies on this list, but it still failed to impress all that many people. While reception was somewhat warm, it wasn’t quite “Oscar warm.”

Comparable movies include Suffragette, Saving Mr. Banks, and The Danish Girl. Those movies were all perfectly watchable, but they weren’t good enough to earn the awards they were looking for. They’re not included on this list because they’re not quite as shameless as this movie, which doesn’t even attempt to hide the fact that it serves only one purpose. Too bad it failed to win make even the smallest dent.


1. Seven Pounds

Seven Pounds (2008)

It’s kind of a shame that there were so many Will Smith options for this list. From Collateral Beauty to Concussion, the man has not had great luck when it comes to the Academy Awards. These movies all have the makings of an Oscar winner, but they just aren’t good enough. Reviews have not been kind to Will Smith, and while casual viewer reception has been kinder, those aren’t the people voting at the Oscars.

Sure, major film critics don’t exactly fit into that category either, but there’s usually a stronger correlation between critic opinion and voter opinion. Of the numerous failed attempts, Seven Pounds stands out as the most blatant and the most obvious failure.

After earning Smith an Academy Award nomination for The Pursuit of Happyness, director Gabriele Muccino once again collaborated with the actor for Seven Pounds, a disgustingly sentimental movie that favors convoluted twists and turns over actual emotional resonance.

Yes, everything is well-made, but that doesn’t help the fact that the writing is so damn bad. This is a movie that was factory-made to win awards. The problem is that the metaphorical factory forgot the importance of making a movie that felt halfway genuine.