Titanic Mistakes: Three Undeserving Best Picture Winners

The Oscars will be presented four weeks from today and include as top honor the feature film that Academy members consider the Best Picture of 2010. But the Academy has bestowed the honor on some rather unworthy films over the years. Here are three that didn’t even deserve to be nominated.

1. Titanic (1997): Let’s face it, James Cameron’s “king of the world” sinking-ship epic is a Harlequin romance set in a historical event. Sure, there’s visual spectacle here – but that’s no substitute for a good script, and I reckon it isn’t hard to make pretty pictures with a gargantuan budget.

2. The English Patient (1996): I like to call this over-long Anthony Minghella work the Boring English Boring Patient – Boring. Nearly three hours of dreary, sappy, truly bad romance. I’ve never read the novel on which it is based, but surely it’s better than this cinematic snoozer.

3. Gladiator (2000): OK, Ridley Scott’s sword-and-sandals flick includes a smoking-hot Connie Nielsen. But I can’t see much else to put this movie in Top 10 lists, never mind a Best Picture trophy. Russell Crowe’s a fine actor, and never gives a bad performance, but this isn’t one of his better ones.

So … What say you? Am I wrong about any of these flicks? What’s your choice for most undeserving Best Picture winner of the last 20 years?

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Posted by on January 30, 2011. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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45 Responses to Titanic Mistakes: Three Undeserving Best Picture Winners

  1. SagaciousHillbilly

    January 30, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Gladiator was great. The biggest mistake was Master and Commander not getting some kind of award. It was a great movie based on books by a brilliant author.
    But really. . . I don’t know shit about movies. Don’t like most of them I watch and don’t watch many. Hollywood is the biggest waste of resources we have in this country.
    My children rebel against me by loving movies and seeing them all.

    • Stimpson

      January 30, 2011 at 7:11 pm

      I expect everyone who reads this will disagree with one or more of my choices. In the case of Gladiator, I think all of the other Best Pic nominees that year (including Erin Brockovich and Crouching Tiger) were better, as were Requiem for a Dream and Memento, to name just two more.

      • David

        February 3, 2011 at 12:16 pm

        Yeah, its not just a matter of ‘were they good enough overall’, you have to compare them to the other movies that year. And Crunchy Tiger was about 100x times better. Gladiator was good, there’s no getting around that, but not only was CTHD shafted by not winning Best Picture, but Ang Lee was TOTALLY shafted by not winning Best Director that year. It was such a slight that they gave it to him for a movie that wasn’t nearly as good, Sense and Sensibility (and Zombies).

        I think the Academy said ‘Eh, we’re already giving them the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, we can give Best Picture to someone else.’ They kinda did the same thing with Life is Beautiful.

        • David

          February 3, 2011 at 12:26 pm

          My mistake, Ang Lee won for Brokeback Mountain.

    • kazaj

      May 25, 2011 at 1:37 pm

      master and commander actually won 2 oscars for sound editing and cinematography just so you know.

  2. oso

    January 30, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    I’m not much of a movie buff. For every great “There will be blood” which I really enjoyed, there is a “Gladiator” which I also enjoyed, albeit on another level.

    I’d draw a very serious parallel with food. It’s like eating a very well cooked and seasoned gourmet meal, with all the taste sensations in balance – followed several hours later with junk food. Or maybe impressively subtle humor vs the Three Stooges.

  3. Michael John Scott

    January 30, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    I go to the movies to be entertained. If I am enlightened in the process that is all to the good.

  4. Dusty

    January 30, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    I saw Titanic and it was a good historical,romantic movie, not a best picture movie. Great special effects too. Didn’t see the other two so don’t know ’bout them.

    If that friggin Social Network or the cartoon Toy Story wins I will be pissed.

  5. Mother Hen

    January 30, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Titanic sucked ass in every way, except for the special effects and the presence of the gorgeous (but smarmy) Billy Zane.

    Gladiator was awesome! LOVED it. You have to consider also what other films might have been more deserving on the years that these won.

    For instance, the year Titanic won, other nominees were As Good As It Gets, Good Will Hunting, L.A. Confidential, and The Full Monty.

    Having seen every one of these in the theater, I can say I enjoyed all of them more than Titanic. None of these other contenders were effects heavy films though.

    The English Patient won out over Fargo- but dark comedies rarely win (American Beauty might be one exception. I thought it was funny.) Can’t comment on the other contenders for that year as I didn’t see them.

    Gladiator won over Erin Brockovich, Chocolat, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and Traffic. I hadn’t seen Traffic, but liked the other three well enough. BUT not well enough to buy the DVD and watch it multiple times.

    To me a “Best Picture” means you want to see it more than once- because it was just that entertaining, or because there are multiple levels and nuances that you might miss the first time.

    Haven’t seen Black Swan yet, but Toy Story, True Grit and Inception were all fantastic films. So if any of those win I will be happy.

    • Dusty

      January 30, 2011 at 9:04 pm

      Mamacita Hen, Fargo should of won, I loved that film! I can’t tell you how often I have watched it.

    • Stimpson

      January 30, 2011 at 10:38 pm

      I met Billy Zane once. Sat next to him at lunch. Lucky I didn’t catch hell for sit at a table for union members only.

    • Bee

      February 2, 2011 at 7:38 am

      Fargo was a great film. I saw True Grit sunday, and I have to say…the Cohen brothers got a real knack for taking characters and making them funny, witty, wacky and deadly all at the same time.

  6. Joe Hagstrom

    January 30, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Gladiator was a second rate imitation when compared to great Roman style movies like Ben Hur, Spartacus, Quo Vadis or even Demitrius and the Gladiators.

    Leonardo DiCaprio is a lousy actor. I said it and I’m glad.

    • Michael Edward Kelly

      January 30, 2011 at 11:31 pm

      Look, to each his own I guess; but Leonardo DiCaprio is a fantastic actor. He was brilliant in the Departed, haunting in Shutter Island, and amazing in Inception. Titanic was mostly fluff, but that’s not his fault – Kate Winslet’s either, for that matter. James Cameron is a hack and a one trick pony, plain and simple.

  7. Leslie Parsley

    January 30, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Agree. The English Patient is a very, very boring/tedious book.

  8. Joe Hagstrom

    January 30, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    I’m still outraged that Sharktopus didn’t get a nomination.

  9. Krell

    January 30, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Titanic….the only thing that swooned in that movie was my bladder after buying the super size drink and watching the last 2 hours of water, water, and more water. Good Will Hunting should have won the award.

    Gladiator was a good movie, an entertaining movie, but nothing more than that. I have the DVD and have watched it only 1 time more. A best picture should be able to withstand the test of time. Great soundtrack though.

    Never saw the English patient…

    The Movie that I think got a huge amount of awards, including best picture, but didn’t deserve is the movie “Tootsie”. What a stinker!!

  10. Dusty

    January 30, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Anything the Coen Bros do I adore and they did True Grit, which I haven’t seen yet. Fargo was one of their best imho.

    My 12 yo nephew did a hysterically funny rendition of the Titanic song that the anorexic chick from canada did. Cracked me the hell up every time he did it.

    Oh goodie my gravatar finally showed up. Mad Mike has it set to ‘g’..figures.. 😉

    • Stimpson

      January 30, 2011 at 10:42 pm

      Fargo was very good, but … I saw The Truth About Cats and Dogs in a sneak preview the same night I saw Fargo, and liked The Truth better. That might seem odd, I know, but The Truth is maybe my fave romantic comedy of all time.

      • Mother Hen

        January 31, 2011 at 8:35 am

        I like that movie too. Especially when she has to put her finger in the turtle’s butt LOL.

        (If you have not already seen it I hope that piques your interest)

        How can one not love Garofaolo and Thurman in anything?

  11. Holte Ender

    January 30, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Titanic was spectacular, and somewhat entertaining, I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t known the ship sunk.

    I enjoyed The English Patient immensely, I had to take abuse for liking it. Still like it.

    I really enjoyed Gladiator, except the Gladiator in the arena bits. The opening battle scene gave a sense of Roman power, I am a sucker for anything to do with the Roman Empire, I put it down to growing up in one of their ex-territories, been to all the ruins, walls and baths. Even been to Rome and seen the Coliseum.

    • Stimpson

      January 30, 2011 at 10:50 pm

      Rome, Italy, or Rome, Georgia? You’re not gonna play the same trick with Athens, are you? 😉

      • Holte Ender

        January 31, 2011 at 1:11 am

        There’s only one Rome Mike. Funny I live about 3 hours from Rome, Georgia, never been there.

        • Michael John Scott

          January 31, 2011 at 5:02 pm

          Actually there is a Rome, Georgia. I haven’t been there either but I have been to the one in Italy 🙂

          Rome, Georgia

          • Mama Lynn

            February 3, 2011 at 6:46 pm

            My ex-husband is from Rome, GA. I spent many a holiday there. The highlight is the Wal-Mart Supercenter where people hide their beer in their shopping carts so the neighbors don’t know they are sinning. It is known as the buckle on the bible belt. Does that answer the questions?

  12. Michael Edward Kelly

    January 31, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Totally agree on Titanic and the English Patient. Titanic robbed LA Confidential blind that year – frankly every other movie nominated that year was better than Titanic. I would have preferred Shine over the English Patient, but Fargo was also much better. I liked Gladiator a lot though. It’s easily better than Chocolat, Crouching Tiger, and Erin Brokovich (talk about undeserving – that Julia Roberts won the Oscar at all, let alone over Ellen Burstyn, is a crime). Traffic was also very good that year, but I think I’d still give the nod to Gladiator.

    Here’s a few others for you: No Country for Old Men was ghastly boring, no question There Will be Blood will be remembered as the finer film. Forest Gump? Really? No way that’s better than The Shawshank Redemption. Rocky was good, but nowhere near the film Network is. Taxi Driver was better that year too. And we’ll go back to 1941 for this last one – How Green was my Valley beat, yep, Citizen Kane.

    That’s my two cents…

    • Mother Hen

      January 31, 2011 at 8:38 am

      Oh yes the Gump travesty. Shawshank was the far better movie.

      I have to say if you don’t like Leo DiCaprio, check out “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” where he does a very convincing retarded kid. Yep- he goes “Full Retard” and his career just took off afterward! (Of the two main stars in that movie, of course Johnny Depp is my favorite)

  13. Melissa

    January 31, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    I think these films did not deserve Best Picture Oscars: Chariots of Fire, The English Patient, Unforgiven, and Out of Africa – I was bored by all of them.

    And one huge stinker award: John Wayne for Best Actor instead of Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy?!?!? – that was a real travesty! I say award the actor’s performance, not the actor. They should have just done some lifetime award for Wayne or something.

    And the song category has often been quite unjust. Here are two travesties (these still make me mad!): Springsteen should most definitely have won for The Wrestler and was not even nominated! And Somewhere Out There from An American Tail” lost to Take My Breath Away from Top Gun – an absolutely horrid piece of music.
    All just my opinion, of course (but I’m right!).

    • Stimpson

      February 1, 2011 at 5:15 pm

      I agree about Chariots, Melissa. Not an outstanding film, if you ask me. But the big weird one from the early ’80s, I’d say, was Ordinary People being picked over Raging Bull. Not to mention Redford (a great guy) winning Best Director instead of Scorsese (a great director).

      There have been several instances in Oscar history where an actor or actress has won a trophy at the wrong time. Critics have often pointed to John Wayne’s Oscar, and Pacino’s for Scent of a Woman. Pacino’s an excellent actor, but his Scent performance wasn’t nearly the year’s best.

      The Song category has a rich (?) history of atrocious choices, as you say.

  14. Ronbo

    February 3, 2011 at 8:15 am

    The Hurt Locker was by far the movie with the least amount of emotional engagement. Let’s repeat putting on that suit one more time!

    • Stimpson

      February 3, 2011 at 11:36 am

      The one thing I can say for The Hurt Locker is that it’s better than Avatar, which had a shitty, ridiculous story (going to Pandora to get Unobtainium). I was happy Avatar didn’t win.

  15. Village Person

    February 3, 2011 at 9:05 am

    It’s a little over 20 years now, but Dances with Wolves was
    embarrassing schlock.

  16. Don

    February 3, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Gladiator tops the list of comical Best Picture gaffes. At least Titanic and The English Patient had some slight attempt at character development and a plot that made sense at least three-quarters of the time. Gladiator’s final death scene, with Crowe floating over the landscape to the open fields, is something Ed Wood would have written.

    One of the worst movies of all time – hands down the silliest Roman epic ever.

  17. Hurling Dervish

    February 3, 2011 at 10:57 am

    How could this thread have gotten this far and still no one has mentioned Crash? I never saw it until after it won the Academy Award, and then I was excited to go see it. It stank, the worst of any of the Academy’s stinkers. Wooden characters, trite theme, predictable script. Awful, awful movie.

  18. missskeptic

    February 3, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    OMG, has to be The English Patient. That is 3 good hours of my life I’ll never get back. Unrelenting tedium from start to finish – constantly waiting for something to happen and it never does. They kill off Colin Furth, the only halfway interesting character in the movie. I hated this movie for the same reasons I hated Dr. Zhivago – a “great romance” that totally ignores the fact that somebody thinks it’s ok to screw around on his wife/husband, just because he/she “can’t help themselves”.

  19. JANE

    February 3, 2011 at 1:44 pm


    • Stimpson

      February 3, 2011 at 2:00 pm

      LOL! Very funny, Jane.

  20. Brett

    February 3, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    I can never tell if they give out Oscars for cinematic sweep, breadth, story, experience, or what? One year they think the sweep of a “serious” story with pumped up CGI like Titanic is the right mix, another year they think a popcorn movie like Shakespeare in Love is better than Saving Private Ryan. I don’t know why they pick what they pick. I don’t go to the movies to see “Oscar-worthy” pictures, I go to see good story telling in a 2-hour format.

  21. Ed

    February 5, 2011 at 12:26 am

    I have to go with Out of Africa. What makes it more appalling is that it was chosen over The Color Purple. Still makes me mad when I think about it.

  22. Arnold

    February 20, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Marty was a pretty boring movie. I know there was nothing in that year but…

    • Melissa

      February 22, 2011 at 11:42 am

      Arnold! Marty was wonderful! Written by the great Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Delbert Mann. Borgnine was brilliant in the role. A wonderful character study. So great to see a movie with someone un-young and beautiful as the main subject. Hollywood’s obsession with image has had a devastating effect on our entire American culture. But beyond that, it was just a terrific movie.
      Wondering – did you like Requiem for a Heavyweight? (Either version, altho the Quinn version is much, much better).

  23. justiti

    May 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Titanic is the greatest movie i have ever seen , it deserve 14 academy awards instead of 11

    Gladiator was really good and i think it deserve best picture

    t.e.p i did not see it yet

  24. liam _s

    May 16, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    TITANIC : of course deserve best picture , it is the best picture in the last 20 years

  25. Pingback: Meddle» Blog Archive » good titanic pictures

  26. Jell

    August 24, 2011 at 2:42 am


    Titanic deserved its win. What movie didn’t was Gone with the Wind which was nothing more than historically inaccurate, racist propaganda film. At least Titanic had class and an interesting story.

    Another film that didn’t deserve to win was Slumdog Millionaire. That movie isn’t worthy at all.

    Instead of bashing Titanic every chance you get because a guy like Jack put a standard on how YOU should act to your girlfriend, why not sit down and actually WATCH the movie.