'Braveheart' named worst film on list of undeserving Oscar winners

By Ciar Byrne
Friday 25 February 2005 01:00

The glorification of a hero who triumphed over the English delighted Scots everywhere, but Mel Gibson's Braveheart has been branded the least deserving film ever to win an Oscar.

Days before the 77th Academy Awards, the film has topped a list of the 10 worst movies to have been awarded the best picture Oscar. The list, compiled by the film magazine Empire , gives the thumbs-down to ten Oscar winners between 1933 and 2001 including Forrest Gump , Rocky and the 1956 version of Around The World In 80 Days starring David Niven.

Some of the winners had deprived far more worthy films of the award, including Singin' In The Rain , The Maltese Falcon and Pulp Fiction , the magazine said.

Braveheart , which won in 1995, is described as a "typical piece of Pom-bashing" with dialogue that has "all the thudding subtlety of a parody".

"It groans under the grandiose historical pomposity that had made El Cid , 55 Days At Peking and Khartoum such colossal bores in the early 1960s," said Patrick Peters, the critic who drew up the list.

A Beautiful Mind , the biopic of the maths prodigy John Forbes Nash Jr. starring Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connolly "came within a whisker of taking the top slot". Mr Peters said: "Suffering has always gone down big with the Academy, but it's the folks on screen not those buying the tickets who are meant to suffer."

Cecil B De Mille's circus drama The Greatest Show on Earth , which beat films such as John Ford's The Quiet Man to the best picture award in 1952, is named the third worst winner.

It is followed in fourth place by Robert Redford's directorial debut Ordinary People , which won in 1980 and is described as "nothing more than a TV movie that got lucky".

At number five, Stephen Spielberg's Forrest Gump , which scooped the prize over The Shawshank Redemption in 1994 is dismissed as a "saccharine confection" that summed up "Tinseltown's ghastly self-satisfaction".

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Other films on the list include Terms of Endearment , the mother and daughter tear-jerker starring Shirley MacLaine, Jack Nicholson and Debra Winger, which won the best picture Oscar in 1983 - "among Hollywood's worst years" according to Peters.

Cavalcade , Frank Lloyd's adaptation of a Noel Coward play about the lives of a London family with "bogus upstairs-downstairs accents", should not have triumphed over the musical 42nd Street in 1933, he said.

Peters added that John Huston's The Maltese Falcon or Orson Welles' Citizen Kane should have won in 1941 rather than John Ford's How Green Was My Valley .

Explaining his selection criteria, Mr Peters said: "Critical worth is almost irrelevant where bestowing the best picture award is concerned. Scope and scale, the civic validity of the storyline, the plushness of the production values and the tissue count during those crucial heart-warming moments are what matter."

Stephen Gaydos, the executive editor of Variety , described the list as silly. He said: "This is a purely subjective exercise. There's no way to measure something like a film. I'm not the world's number one fan of Braveheart , but the film won awards, sold millions of cinema tickets and entertained millions of people." He said his own list would have included Dances With Wolves , which won best picture in 1990.

Will Lawrence, the deputy editor of Empire , said the selection had been the personal choice of the critic: "Obviously the choice is very subjective and it caused quite a lot of controversy in the office."


1 Braveheart (1995)

2 A Beautiful Mind (2001)

3 The Greatest Show On Earth (1952)

4 Ordinary People (1980)

5 Forrest Gump (1994)

6 Terms Of Endearment (1983)

7 Around the World In 80 Days , above (1956)

8 Cavalcade (1933)

9 Rocky (1976)

10 How Green Was My Valley (1941)

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