- Warner Brothers
Not all best-picture winners are loved by critics.
In the eyes of some critics, the Academy has made some poor decisions throughout the ceremony’s history – to put it lightly.
For a fun trip down memory lane, we collected the most scathing reviews of movies that won best picture throughout the years. And they are pretty amazing.
While not all of the movies listed are “bad” best picture winners (in our minds), some critics thought they were either terrible, just mediocre, or in some way undeserving of such a high honor.
For some films – like 2015 winner “Birdman,” and 2005 winner “Crash” – it was hard to choose which horrible review to feature. For others, like 2009 winner “Slumdog Millionaire,” most reviews were positive, but one bad review stood out.
Here are the most scathing reviews of best picture winners:
“Grievously doting and squeamishly evasive.”
- Columbia Pictures
The Washington Post on “Gandhi,” the 1983 best-picture winner.
“Not a great film by any standard, this is a western for people who are completely ignorant about the genre.”
- “Dances with Wolves”/Tig Productions
TV Guide on “Dances With Wolves,” the 1991 best-picture winner.
“So afraid to dredge up debate that when Forrest is handed a mic at an antiwar rally, someone unplugs the speakers so we can’t hear him – fitting for a movie with nothing to say.”
LA Weekly on “Forrest Gump,” the 1995 best-picture winner.
“A rambling disappointment.”
- Screengrab from Braveheart
The Washington Post on “Braveheart,” the 1996 best-picture winner.
“Glub glub glub.”
- 20th Century Fox
Salon on “Titanic,” the 1998 best-picture winner.
“I just wish that the script wasn’t so insistent on showing off. Shakespeare, even when he kowtowed to the peasants, knew when to quit.”
CNN on “Shakespeare in Love,” the 1999 best-picture winner.
“‘Gladiator’ suggests what would happen if someone made a movie of the imminent extreme-football league and shot it as if it were a Chanel commercial.”
The New York Times on “Gladiator,” the 2001 best-picture winner.
“You can practically feel director Ron Howard standing over your tear ducts, straining to extract every last salty drop.”
San Jose Mercury News on “A Beautiful Mind,” the 2002 best-picture winner.
“The film has punch, but it never really conveys the delicious, redeeming sense that life can be lived on the hoof.”
The New Yorker on “Chicago,” the 2003 best-picture winner.
“It’s impressive, in the sense that a sucker-punch impresses itself on your skull.”
- Warner Bros.
Slate on “Million Dollar Baby,” the 2005 best-picture winner.
“An already over-eventful narrative — what, another crash? — teeters into melodramatic implausibility.”
Time Out London on “Crash,” the 2006 best-picture winner.
“There are no surprises in this movie, and most people will be able to predict, within the first ten minutes, roughly how the last ten will pan out.”
- Fox Searchlight Pictures via YouTube
The New Yorker on “Slumdog Millionaire,” the 2009 best-picture winner.
“Tom Hooper turns history into formula. Can poor Bertie gather the nerves to address his people when duty calls? Take a wild guess.”
- YouTube/Clevver Movies
IndieWire on “The King’s Speech,” the 2011 best-picture winner.
“Argo is just so-so.“
- Warner Bros.
TIME Magazine on “Argo,” the 2013 best-picture winner.
“’Birdman’ is desperate to be noticed, and if it throws up enough artistic flourishes, then perhaps you’ll give the picture the respect it craves.”
- “Birdman”/ Fox Searchlight
Collider on “Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” the 2015 best-picture winner.