10 Best Picture Oscar Winners That Aged Terribly

Just try watching these with a straight face in 2017.

Forrest Gump Ice Cream
Paramount Pictures

It’s nearly Oscar time again, and you know what that means: it’s time for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to completely bungle their assessment of what the best films of last year were...

No awards ceremony has made quite as many blunders when it comes to assessing the best examples of the art that they are supposed to judge. Somehow the Oscar voters manage to repeatedly allow themselves to be tricked into voting for the hackiest, pandering, and cliché films on the ballot.

To really assess how wrong they can get it, you only need to rewatch some of their selections and see if they are timeless, or whether they feel ridiculous from a 2017 vantage point. While some flicks like Casablanca and Schindler’s List are still as relevant and fresh today, more often than they'd probably care to admit, the Academy’s choices look more ludicrous with each year that passes.

These are ten of the films that have aged the worst since they won the big prize. But they are far from the only guilty parties.

10. American Beauty (1999)

Forrest Gump Ice Cream
DreamWorks Pictures

American Beauty is in no way a bad film. It was the first film directed by Sam Mendes after a career in the theatre, and it's clear that the director put a huge amount of work into it. Similarly, writer Alan Ball put a lot of his personal experiences and views into the script over the better part of a decade, and that care is apparent on the screen.

But was American Beauty, the Lolita-esque film about a rich middle-aged man creepily grooming his teenage daughter's best friend to have sex with him, really the best film of 1999? Of course, it wasn't. It sure wasn’t the worst (that would be Wild, Wild, West), but it’s such a unique product of its time, it’s hard to imagine anyone being particularly sympathetic to Lester Burnham in 2017.

The film resonated so well with critics and Academy Award judges in 1999 because it was well crafted, and because it had legitimately funny pitch black humour in abundance – which was a novelty at the time. Most importantly, though, all the narratives and themes in the film resonated with privileged, white, middle-aged males. You'll recognise that as the exact demographic that makes up basically the entire Academy Awards voting bloc, and in 1999, the vast majority of the film criticism industry.

Due in no small part to its creepy sexism, fragile masculinity, and profoundly nostalgic views, a critical backlash has emerged in the ensuing years. Even Sam Mendes has stated that he thinks the film was ‘over-praised’ when it came out.

It still might look gorgeous, but it sure feels a whole more shallow than it once did.


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