Speak Your Mind: What’s the Worst Best Picture Winner of All Time?

Scott Balcerzak (Professor, NIU Department of English): It’s hard to narrow it down to just one because there is a good collection mediocre
films that have won best picture, but I wanna go all the way back to
the 1950s and the 1952 film “The Greatest Show on
Earth” which is directed by one of the
true important people to the history of film, Cecil DeMille, but it’s just the film that is very
empty. It’s a circus spectacle, it’s melodrama. It stars Cornel Wilde, Betty Hutton, Charlton Heston, and James Stewart has all
these big stars in it and also has a circus performers in it, so there’s not much to it beyond that sort of that circus spectacle and a lot of a lame cameos. The thing that annoys me the most about it is James Stewart in it, who is one of the great
classic Hollywood actors in “Vertigo” and you know, “It’s a Wonderful Life” and he
played a clown with a dark secret past. So for the whole movie, even when he’s
not performing as a clown, he’s wearing clown makeup. So highly unsettling to watch James Stewart
in clown make up the whole movie. Jeffrey Chown (Professor, NIU Department of Communication): Let me take you back to 1968, middle the Vietnam War, people have been
assassinated, civil rights are in the air and what the Academy decide was their best picture
the year? “Oliver” a musical about child orphans based on Charles Dickens, a serious subject, but a
musical? In the same year that “2001 Space Odyssey”
was made. A film it took us to the other side of the galaxy that
made us think philosophically about where we are in the universe, Stanley
Kubrick’s brilliant film and we picked “Oliver”. I think that’s
probably the worst selection for a Academy Award for Best Picture
I’ve ever heard of. Laura Vazquez (Professor, NIU Department of Communication): My least favorite Best Picture is “Gladiator” which won in 2001. I think it is because it had no plot, it was bloated like an epic film, but in fact it was only epic in length. There was really no depth to it at all. In fact soon as you’re done watching it,
you can’t remember what the story was about because it really wasn’t a story. The
screenplay was revised three times and Russell Crowe insisted that even the third screenwriter should leave
because he was writing garbage lines and Crowe considered himself the “Best Actor
in the World”. Even though he could make garbage
sound good, he wouldn’t speak it. So it actually was a hundred million
dollar technicolor toga party. My favorite line,
of course, was when Crowe turns to the crowd having won victoriously in the
Coliseum, put his hands up and says, “Are we not
entertained?” And of course all I can think of is “No
I’m not entertained.” (music)

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