Top Most Baffling Best Picture Nominees

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Top Most Baffling Best Picture Nominees

When you think of the Academy Awards and the movies that will eventually be crowned Best Picture, you expect to find a certain level of quality and recognition among the nominees. But every once in a while, a film will get nominated that perplexes many cinema fans who are left scratching their heads and asking: “What is this movie doing here?!” Whether it’s the movie’s unlikely journey to success or it’s general lack of critical acclaim, The Academy’s choices can raise a lot of questions from everyone. Here are the seven most baffling Best Picture nominees of all time.

  1. The Blind Side (2009)

When The Blind Side hit theaters in 2009, it was off to an unlikely start to both commercial and critical success. Critics weren’t quite sure what to make of the feel-good sports movie, and while it enjoyed a strong opening weekend box office take, it was unclear if the move would make an impact come awards season. What no one expected was for The Blind Side to get a Best Picture nomination, much less become the first football movie to do so since 1951’s The Greater Glory. While the movie was loved by fans, many genre purists felt that it was overshadowed by superior films released the same year with much more deserving of the prestigious nomination, like Christopher Nolan’s Inception or Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker.

  1. A Beautiful Mind (2002)

It wasn’t what is considered a classic or even a particularly well-made movie, yet A Beautiful Mind earned the prestigious and most sought-after nomination of all. This biopic of John Nash, a Nobel Laureate who suffered from schizophrenic episodes, had just enough melodrama and sentimentality to captivate the Academy. While the performances were both critically-acclaimed, the movie was seen by many as far too emotionally manipulative, especially when compared to other films released the same year, like In The Bedroom, Mulholland Drive, and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

  1. Amadeus (1984)

Amadeus was a major surprise in the Academy Award circle, having spent the year trying to find an audience yto become an unexpected juggernaut come awards season. Lombardo’s adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s play about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s life and death had a passionate fan base and a gifted ensemble cast, but its brooding tone could not have been more different from the generally optimistic tone of the other films that were out that year. It was up against Robert Benton’s family drama Places in the Heart starring Sally Field, John Malkovich, and Danny Glover, Richard Attenborough’s biopic Gandhi starring Ben Kingsley, and the smash-hit rom-comRomancing the Stone starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.

  1. Crash (2005)

Paul Haggis’s Crash became the year’s surprise hit come Oscar season, narrowly edging out the much more critically acclaimed film Brokeback Mountain. The story of several disparate storylines intersecting through one moment of racial profiling was not the typical Academy Awards-friendly film but had appeal with the Motion Picture Academy. Crash is a powerful, engrossing film, but would not be at the top of many moviegoer’s lists. With a film library of year featuring much more critically acclaimed films like the aforementionedMountain, George Clooney’s Good Night and Good Luck and Ang Lee’s fairy tale adaptation of Brokeback Mountain, it is a surprise to many that this film wound up as the winner.

  1. Dead Poet’s Society (1989)

Dead Poet’s Society was undoubtedly a box office success, but many would not consider it a true contender for the Best Picture award. Not only was the movie simply too accessible for some audiences, but the Academy’s usual by-the-books approach to its choices made this movie a little too “Hollywood.” The movie did have some early support, but it lost momentum around the time of the other Best Picture nominees released that year like Driving Miss Daisy, Born on the Fourth of July and Field of Dreams. The general consensus was that the other films had more fine-tuned and complex storylines as opposed to the “last man standing” victory of the movie starring Robin Williams.

  1. Rocky (1976)

Rocky surprised quite a few people when it was released in 1976, and its nomination for Best Picture was, at the time, simply unprecedented. It was universally loved by audiences, and its underdog story was very easy to relate to. However, it was a tough sell for the Academy, which generally favored more ambitious and higher-profile films. The other nominees released that year included All the President’s Men, Network and Taxi Driver, all of which seemed much more deserving of the award than Rocky. Despite the incredible talent behind those other three films, Rocky pulled out the win.

  1. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan had no trouble earning critical acclaim, but its nomination for Best Picture did surprise some people. Not only was Spielberg better known for his family-friendly fare than for war epics, but Ryan was up against some prestigious competition like The Thin Red Line, Elizabeth, and Shakespeare in Love. While there was a lot of love for Spielberg’s masterpiece, the feeling was that more attention should have been placed on the other nominees. Critics felt that Robert Zemeckis’s Saving Private Ryan possessed many cinematic elements that shouldn’t have been overlooked.

The Academy Awards and its Best Picture nominees have always been something of an enigma. Even when we think we have a good idea of what the Academy is looking for, a movie will come out of nowhere and defy all the odds to get nominated. These seven movies stand out among the other nominees as some of the most baffling choices of all time. While the Academy might not always get it right, that is part of what makes the awards so exciting. We can never really know what will be chosen next and that is a lot of fun.

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