The Oscars are typically I signal of filmmaking of the highest quality. We all rant about how the Academy gets it wrong sometimes of course, but it’s not often genuinely bad films are rewarded.
Not often, but not never. Over the years there have been some absolute stinkers awarded one or even several of those golden statuettes.
Interestingly, some of these films certainly showed artistry in a particular field that warranted their wins, but that doesn’t change the fact that they were bad movies… Oscar-winning bad movies. Here are five of the worst.
‘Suicide Squad’ (Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling – 2017)
The reason for this article is ‘Suicide Squad’s win this past Sunday in the Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling category.
Does it deserve that prize? Arguably, though I’d have given the prize to ‘Star Trek Beyond’. Is it a good film? Absolutely not.
While not quite the trash heap that ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ is, ‘Suicide Squad’ is a maddening, incoherent mess seemingly edited by people with no experience editing feature films of any kind.
Margot Robbie being fairly decent in it doesn’t make it any good.
‘The Wolfman’ (Best Achievement in Makeup – 2011)
Another best makeup winner, ‘The Wolfman’ was one of the litany of Universal Pictures’ attempts to bring its classic movie monsters back from the dead. Starring Benecio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt, it flopped at the box office in a big way, making just $62 million domestically from a budget of $150 million.
It’s nomination was certainly warranted however, in a category that included ‘The Way Back’ – about dudes going on a walk – and ‘Barney’s Version’ about Paul Giamatti in a wig.
This was the seventh and as of now last Oscar win for industry legend Rick Baker, who’ll return a bit later.
‘Pearl Harbor’ (Best Sound Editing – 2002)
Back before Michael Bay was famed for his high-octane duds, he was the celebrated director of the excellent ‘Bad Boys’ and ‘The Rock’, and excellently cheesy ‘Armageddon’.
‘Pearl Harbor’ was not excellent in any genuine or ironic way thanks in large part to its diabolically corny script.
Still, for its central action scene the award for best sound editing was perhaps justified. It’s only competition was Pixar’s ‘Monsters Inc’ – which would have been a worthier winner by simple virtue of being an infinitely better film.
‘Alice in Wonderland’ (Best Achievement in Costume Design, Best Achievemen in Art Direction – 2011)
Tim Burton’s hugely-successful 3D extravaganza bested tough opposition in the Best Art Direction category, with ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1’ and ‘Inception’ among the other nominees.
The film’s win was certainly deserved, as was its second in the Best Costume Design category, but these are aspects of the film’s visual design and it’s these visuals that swallows up any semblance of meaningful storytelling in a film that could and should define the phrase “style over substance”.
‘Harry and the Hendersons’ (Best Makeup – 1988)
Rick Baker returns to the list with his second of seven Oscar wins, this time for Jon Lithgow’s rubbish family sasquatch comedy ‘Harry and the Hendersons’.
In 1988 it was up against just one film, crime caper ‘Happy New Year’ in which Peter Falk wore a lot of make-up to rob jewellry stores.
That year also saw the release of ‘Predator’, for which the late Stan Winston didn’t get a nod, but probably should have won.