8 Films That Were Panned by Critics But Still Made it to the Oscars
Suicide Squad is hardly the first
An Academy Award nomination has long been considered one of the greatest honors in filmmaking. But not all movies that earn accolades from the Academy are ultimately considered successes by critics and audiences.
These eight films definitely took beatings in the press, but excelled so much in particular areas that they were included in the movie industry’s biggest night.
Suicide Squad (2016)
Despite its record-breaking opening weekend, the highly anticipated DC superhero romp inspired some pretty harsh words from reviewers. Vanity Fair called it “ugly and boring,” while TIME advised, “Harley Quinn’s entrance is the best moment in Suicide Squad. After that, you can leave.” Nevertheless, the film’s team is up for Best Makeup at the 2017 ceremony.
Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)
The steamy novel turned blush-inducing blockbuster pretty much drew ire from all but the most diehard of fans. Deemed “a dull, decorous affair, about as erotic as an ad for Pottery Barn” by Rolling Stone, the film was harshly picked apart by critics all over the world. “Mr. Dornan has the bland affect of a model, by which I mean a figure made of balsa wood or Lego,” The New York Times‘ A.O. Scott said of Jamie Dornan’s performance as brooding billionaire Christian Grey. But the reviews couldn’t slow down the BDSM phenomenon, which scored a Best Original Song nod for “Earned It” and, along with its recently released sequel, made impressive earnings.
Pearl Harbor (2001)
According to legendary reviewer Roger Ebert, the historical action drama is “a two-hour movie squeezed into three hours,” featuring “redundant special effects” and “a love story of stunning banality.” The Academy still felt it worthy of nominations for Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects, and even awarded it the Best Sound Editing statuette.
With an abysmal 9 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the Eddie Murphy-led comedy was accused of not only failing to be funny, but of being offensive on a number of levels. “The movie seems a weird nightmare of rampaging femininity and gross gags,” mused Michael Wilmington in the Chicago Tribune. Turning Murphy into the morbidly obsess character Rasputia was still enough for a Best Makeup nomination.
Roger Ebert called the Autobot sequel a “horrible experience of unbearable length,” and his fellow critics largely agreed with the sentiment. “The movie is like the play date from hell, the kind where a crew of children reduce your home to rubble and conduct endless bouts of loud war on the living-room floor while you ponder the propriety of opening a bottle of wine,” TIME writer Mary Pols wrote. However, like unimpressive action films before and after it, Revenge of the Fallen managed to pick up a Best Sound Mixing nod.
While not as universally panned as other surprisingly Oscar nominated films, the apocalyptic thriller definitely didn’t receive the kind of reviews one would expect for an award-worthy film. The New York Times called it “a big, brawny, overzealously bizarre epic punctuated by daring action scenes, which are sloppily assembled … but still exciting.” The film did pull off a Best Sound Mixing nomination.
Hollow Man (2000)
“Ultimately the title is most revealing. It’s hollow, man,” wrote Susan Wloszczyna for USA Today. Other critics were similarly disappointed by the thriller, which tells the story of a scientist who achieves invisibility. Regardless, Hollow Man was recognized in the Best Visual Effects category.
Time Out called the Adam Sandler time-twisting fantasy a “domestic tragedy masquerading as a frothy frolic.” “The movie is being sold as a comedy, but you know what? This isn’t funny,” added Roger Ebert. Keeping with critically slammed movie tradition, Click showed up among the Best Makeup nominees.