32 Of The Worst Oscar-Nominated Films

Film News

A look back through the Academy Awards history shows that, in general, the Academy doesn’t make too many egregious mistakes. We all love to talk about Oscar snubs, and movies and performances that we think should have won, but even though they are far from perfect, usually the Academy doesn’t nominate many truly bad movies. There are times, however, when the Academy goes off the rails. This is our list of the worst movies that have been nominated for Oscars. 

Val Kilmer in Batman Forever

(Image credit: Warner Bros. / DC)

Batman Forever (1995)

For Batman Forever, Joel Schumaker took over as director in the 3rd film of the ‘90s Batman franchise from Tim Burton. Film critics and fans alike felt like the film was a big step back from the two previous, but it was still nominated for three Academy Awards. It lost Best Sound to Apollo 13, and lost both Best Cinematography and Sound Editing to Braveheart. 

A scene in 102 Dalmatians

(Image credit: Disney)

102 Dalmatians (2000)

You can’t blame Disney for going back to well with 102 Dalmatians, after the huge success of 101 Dalmatians. The results were not good, however. The movie didn’t completely bomb at the box office, though it didn’t come close to its prequel’s numbers. Also unlike the first movie, it was a critical failure and it has not held up over time, at all. Still, it was nominated for Best Costume, which is not a ridiculous nomination, but it is a bad movie. It lost to Gladiator.

Eddie Murphy in Norbit

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Norbit (2007)

Norbit provided Eddie Murphy with one in a string of Razzie nominations and awards when it came out in 2007 and with good reason, it’s terrible. Even Murphy recognizes that it is bad. Sure, the legendary funnyman plays multiple roles, naturally, but that doesn’t redeem the film. While Murphy wasn’t nominated for an award, his makeup artist, the legendary Rick Baker, was nominated. Though he lost to Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald for La Vie en Rose.

Jackie Gleason in The Sting II

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The Sting II

The Sting II is one of the worst sequels of all time. It takes all the charm from the original movie and trashes it. The one redeeming thing about the movie is that it employed a similar score to the first, based on the ragtime music that was such a hit in the first movie. It was nominated for that score, written by the great Lalo Schifrin by lost to Yentl

The remote in Click.

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

Click (2008)

There are two types of people in this world, those who love Adam Sandler movies and those who don’t. For those that don’t, they will never understand how a movie like Click made over $200 million at the box office. They will also never understand how it was nominated for an Academy Award, but it was. It lost Best Makeup to Pan’s Labyrinth at the 2009 ceremony. It is, to date, the only Sandler movie to ever be nominated for an Oscar, which is a shame, because the actor really did deserve one for Uncut Gems

Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp in the lone ranger

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios)

The Lone Ranger (2013)

2013’s The Lone Ranger with Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp was a disaster with critics and at the box office. There really isn’t a lot to praise about the movie, but it did pick up two nominations for Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Those aren’t egregious nominations, but still, it’s not a good movie. It lost to Gravity and Dallas Buyers Club, respectively. 

Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett in Pearl Harbor

(Image credit: Touchstone)

Pearl Harbor (2001) 

Leave it to Michael Bay to make a movie based on one of the most consequential events in world history, throw most of the actual history out, wedge in an ill-conceived love triangle, and release it on the unsuspecting public. Pearl Harbor is rightfully trashed for its poor telling of the story of the bombing, but hey, explosions! It was nominated for an astonishing four Oscars and won one! It won for Best Sound Editing and lost Best Visual Effects (Black Hawk Down), Best Song (“If I Didn’t Have You” from Monsters, Inc.”), and Best Visual Effects (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring).

Timothy Templeton and Boss Baby in Boss Baby: Get That Baby

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Boss Baby (2017)

The Boss Baby isn’t the worst movie on the list, but Academy Award nomination-worthy? C’mon! Sure, it’s cute, and Alec Baldwin voicing a baby in a suit is inherently at least a little funny, but it’s not high art or even mid-level art. It made a ton of money but lost Best Animated Feature Film to Coco.

A scene from Angela's Ashes

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Angela’s Ashes (1999)

The biggest sin Angela’s Ashes commits, if we’re honest, is that it doesn’t live up to the book by Frank McCourt that it’s based on. The performances by the actors are good, and the score by John Williams, for which it was nominated, is very good too. The movie just falls flat. It doesn’t have the “life” that the book has. John Williams has won five Oscars in his legendary career, but he lost this one to John Corigliano for The Red Violin.

Julian Beck in Poltergeist II: The Other Side

(Image credit: MGM)

Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)

The first Poltergeist movie scared everyone. It holds a vaunted place in Horror movie history for good reason. Poltergeist II, on the other hand, didn’t and doesn’t. Still, like its predecessor, Poltergeist II was nominated for Best Visual Effects at the 59th Academy Awards, losing to Aliens

Optimus Prime standing with the Sphynx

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

Now it’s just getting ridiculous. With all apologies to people who actually enjoy the Transformer movies, even by that franchise’s low standards, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a terrible movie. It did garner a nomination, somehow, for Best Sound Mixing. Thankfully, it didn’t actually win anything, losing to The Hurt Locker

A scene from Cimarron

(Image credit: RKO)

Cimarron (1931)

Generally thought of as one of the worst Best Picture winners of all time, Cimarron is a movie that simply hasn’t stood the test of time in any way. It’s most notable for being the first Western to ever win the award, and the only one to win for almost 60 years when Dances With Wolves won in 1990. It was also nominated for six other Oscars, winning an additional two. 

Dog Xenomorph in Alien 3

(Image credit: Hulu)

Alien 3 (1992)

David Fincher is well known for his distaste for Alien 3, his directorial debut. In the canon of the Alien franchise, it’s probably the worst of all the movies. Yet, it still managed to get nominated for an Oscar for Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, losing to Death Becomes Her in what was admittedly a pretty thin year for the award. 

Jar Jar Binks trying to free his arm from a podracer engine in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

(Image credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)

Yes, wesa had to go there. There is no defense of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Of the nine movies that make up the core of the Star Wars franchise, The Phantom Menace is the worst. There can be no debate here. That said, it did set a new standard for CGI effects, for better or worse, and was rewarded with three nominations for Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Sound. It lost all three to The Matrix

Diana Ross in The Wiz

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The Wiz (1978)

The Wiz, despite a surprisingly good performance by Micheal Jackson, is a bit of a rambling mess. Sure, many Gen Xers have fond memories of watching it on cable, but if you revisit it, it doesn’t hold up. It was nominated for four Oscars, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Score. It lost in all four categories. Luckily, there is a new version on Broadway, and who knows, maybe it will inspire a better film in the future. 

Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

You may need to read this twice: Fifty Shades of Grey is an Oscar-nominated film. More of a phenomenon than a good story, the book Fifty Shades of Grey took the world by storm and of course, Hollywood had to adapt it. But it’s a silly story, and it’s a bad movie. Still, the Weeknd was nominated for Best Song for “Earned It”, but lost to Sam Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre, which isn’t even the best Bond theme of the Daniel Craig era

Jennifer Beals in Flashdance

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Flashdance (1983)

Flashdance is certainly a relic of its time in the early 1980s. Part music video, part movie, it’s really remembered more for its soundtrack than anything that happens in the movie. That’s because it’s not really a good movie. The dance sequences are great and Jennifer Beals’ performance is great, but the story is…kinda boring. Appropriately, the one nomination it did receive was for Best Song for “Flashdance… What a Feeling” by Irene Cara. It won. 

Gwyneth Paltrow in the music video for Country Strong

(Image credit: Sony Music)

Country Strong (2010)

Remember that time Gwyneth Paltrow fancied herself a country singer? The truth is, she actually did a pretty great job in Country Strong, but her singing didn’t save this bad movie. One of those songs, “Coming Home”  was nominated for Best Song, however. It lost to “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3.

Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde, black and white scene

(Image credit: Netflix)

Blonde (2022)

Ana De Armas’ performance as Marilyn Monroe deserves all the praise and nominations she received for it, but that doesn’t mean Blonde is a good movie. It’s a weird movie, to be sure, and it’s a bad movie. Despite that, De Armas did get nominated for Best Actress, as she should have been. She lost to Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Jared Leto as The Joker in Suicide Squad

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Suicide Squad (2016)

It’s a little mindboggling that 2016’s Suicide Squad was nominated for as many awards as it was since it’s a pretty weak movie in the grand scheme of things. Sure, Margot Robbie is great as Harley Quinn and has reprised the role multiple times since and the music is great. So was the hair and makeup, according to the Academy, which bestowed an Oscar on the film in 2017 for it. 

A scene from W.E.

(Image credit: StudioCanel)

W.E. (2011)

Did you forget that Madonna had a moment around 2010 when she tried her hand at film direction? The Material Girl didn’t exactly kill it in her two attempts, but the second, W.E., which wasn’t a good movie, did earn a nomination for costume designer Arianne Phillips, but lost to Mark Bridges for The Artist.

Christian Bale in Vice

(Image credit: Annapurna)

Vice (2018)

Let’s just get this out of the way – Christian Bale and Sam Rockwell are fantastic as Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, respectively. Both were rightly nominated for acting awards for the film, as was Amy Adams. The film garnered a total of eight nominations in 2019, winning for best hair and makeup. The movie, despite all the awards, just doesn’t hold up. 

Donna Summer in Thank God It's Friday

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

Thank God It’s Friday (1978)

Thank God It’s Friday is really just one big commercial for an admittedly great soundtrack. Riding on the heels of the monster success of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, Thank God It’s Friday features “Last Dance”, the Donna Summer disco banger that was nominated for, and won, the Oscar for Best Song. But just listen to the song, and don’t bother with the movie. 

Bees from The Swarm

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Swarm (1978)

When you have a cast that includes some of the greatest Hollywood stars of all time, including Michael Caine, Fred McMurray, Richard Chamberlain, Olivia de Havilland, and many others, you’d think you’d have a hit. Instead, it’s a movie about a swarm of bees terrifying those legends and is one of the worst movies ever made. It didn’t wasn’t a hit, but it did receive a nomination for Best Costume Design, losing to Death on the Nile.

Robin Williams in Patch Adams

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Patch Adams (1998)

Patch Adams is a blockbuster that actually sucks. Somehow it still was nominated for Best Original Score, which is about all that can said for it. It lost to Shakespeare in Love. Okay, Robin Williams was pretty good too. 

Hilary Swank in The Affair of the Necklace

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

The Affair of the Necklace (2001)

Anytime a movie makes less than $1 million on a $30 million budget, it’s easy to see why no one remembers it. The French Revolution-era film starring Hilary Swank is totally forgettable, but was nominated for Best Costume Design, losing to Moulin Rouge!

Kevin Bacon in Hollow Man

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Hollow Man (2000)

Paul Verhoeven’s take on The Invisible Man, Hollow Man starring Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth Shue chased the director out of Hollywood for years, and he himself didn’t even like it. It was good enough to earn a nomination for its special effects but lost to Gladiator in 2001.

Sandra Bullock in car in The Blind side

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

The Blind Side (2009)

Even before the recent controversy over The Blind Side, it wasn’t a very good adaptation of Michael Lewis’ book. Sandra Bullock is a bright spot and for that, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Her performance is not enough to save the movie, especially now after we’ve learned that the film’s subject, Michael Oher, says that he was cut out of the earnings. 

Frank Sinatra in Anchors Aweigh

(Image credit: MGM)

Anchors Aweigh (1945)

Anchors Aweigh is a movie of its time and place. It was released just a few weeks before the end of World War II, with patriotism at a fever pitch in the U.S. Linking Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly together in a musical about the U.S. Navy was a surefire way to produce a hit. It was a hit, garnering five Oscar nominations and winning for Best Score. But in the 21st Century, it’s just dated and silly. 

Jim Carrey as The Grinch

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Ron Howard’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas is really only notable for Jim Carrey’s charm and its makeup and costumes. The movie won Best Makeup, which makes sense, and was nominated for two other awards. Still, it’s best to just stick with the cartoon from the 1960s. 

Rex Harrison in Dr. Doolittle

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Dr. Doolittle (1967)

Dr. Doolittle is a charming movie for kids, but it’s not a great movie beyond that. It’s also quite dated. It’s one of the weakest movies to ever be nominated for Best Picture, plus it was nominated for an astounding eight other Oscars! It lost Best Picture to In the Heat of the Night, thankfully. 

Al Pacino gestures intensely while talking in the kitchen in The Godfather Part III.

(Image credit: Paramount)

The Godfather Part III (1990)

Okay, so The Godfather Part III’s only real crime is that it isn’t anywhere close to as good as the two legendary Godfather movies that preceded it. Is it the worst movie on the list? Of course not, but it still grabbed its nominations based on its lineage, not its merits. 

So there is it, our list of movies that really had no business being able to call themselves Oscar-nominated films. 

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