10 Worst Oscar Winners in History

The Academy Makes Mistakes...Here are 10 of the Worst

Sometimes the Oscars get it right. You can't really argue with Gone with the Wind or The Godfather winning Best Picture awards, or Star Wars winning Best Special Effects, or Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster taking acting honors for Silence of the Lambs. Then there are other times when award winners are not so clear-cut and people argue endlessly about the merits. And then, as far as the worst of the worst goes, there the winners that are just plain wrong. Here are some of the Academy’s more egregious offenses.

Elizabeth Taylor, 'Butterfield 8' - Best Actress (1960)

Butterfield 8

This may be the only time an Oscar winner so openly dismissed the quality of the film she won for. Taylor called Butterfield 8 "a piece of obscenity" and only made the film to fulfill her contract at MGM. After her nomination she still felt "it stinks… I have never seen it and I have no desire to see it." But Taylor may have won less for her performance than for her near fatal bout with pneumonia that made her a sentimental favorite.

Tom Hanks, 'Forrest Gump' - Best Actor (1994)

Forrest Gump
Paramount Pictures

Tom Hanks won an Oscar for Philadelphia the year before he won for Forrest Gump, so he already had a gold statue when he stole the award from John Travolta (Pulp Fiction), Paul Newman (Nobody's Fool), and Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption), all of whom were more deserving. Sometimes it's not just who wins and for what but who wins over whom. In this case there were three far more worthy nominees who probably split the vote, letting Forrest run away with the Oscar.

Marisa Tomei, 'My Cousin Vinny' - Best Supporting Actress (1992)

My Cousin Vinny
20th Century Fox

Here's another case of a winner causing raised eyebrows. When Jack Palance read Marisa Tomei's name for the comedy My Cousin Vinny people were shocked she had beaten such vets as Judy Davis (Husbands and Wives), Joan Plowright (Enchanted April), Vanessa Redgrave (Howard's End), and Miranda Richardson (Damage). Immediately afterward it was rumored that Palace couldn't read the winner's name or was drunk, and misread it and that Redgrave was the actual winner but the Academy didn't know how to ask for the award back. Although that rumor has been proven false, Tomei's win has remained tainted because many believe she didn't deserve it.

'Driving Miss Daisy' - Best Make Up (1989)

Driving Miss Daisy
Warner Bros.

Unless Jessica Tandy is a 20 year old and Morgan Freeman is white, there's no explaining how Driving Miss Daisy won for make-up effects over a fantasy film like The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

John Mollo and Bhanu Athaiya, 'Gandhi' - Best Costumes (1982)

Columbia Pictures

Gandhi wears a sheet. How could that win best costumes over La Traviata, Tron, Sophie's Choice, and Victor/Victoria?

"Chim Chim Cher-ee," 'Mary Poppins' - Best Song (1964)

Mary Poppins
Walt Disney Pictures

Picking the worst best song was tough. There was stiff competition from "The Morning After" (The Poseidon Adventure), "You Light Up My Life" (You Light Up My Life), and "You'll Be in My Heart" (Disney's Tarzan). But really "Chim Chim Cher-ee"? It's not even one of the better songs from Mary Poppins. Even "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" is better. But then this category is the worst Oscar category there is. It only encourages saccharine songs tagged on at the end of movies, and then at the awards show the need to perform all the nominated songs prolongs the night.

Glenda Jackson, 'A Touch of Class' - Best Actress (1973)

A Touch of Class
Embassy Pictures

Sometimes an award is annoying because it is given to a performer for what is so obviously the wrong role. Glenda Jackson has played British queens, starred in daring films by Ken Russell, and done subtle work in art house films. But what does she win for? A ridiculous romantic comedy. Plus she beat out Ellen Burstyn for

The Exorcist and Joanne Woodward for
Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams.


Al Pacino, 'Scent of a Woman' - Best Actor (1992)

Scent of a Woman
Universal Pictures

Here's another intolerable "wrong movie" win. Al Pacino has done amazingly subtle work in films such as The Godfather and Panic in Needle Park, and he’s been dazzling in films like Dog Day Afternoon. But he doesn't get honored for any of those films, he instead chews up the scenery in Scent of a Woman and gets rewarded with the gold statue. Ho-ah!

Mary Pickford, 'Coquette' - Best Actress (1928 & 1929)

United Artists

Mary Pickford was America's Sweetheart in the 1920s, but her performance in Coquette was criticized as testing her range. Yet she won over actresses that most felt were more deserving by actively campaigning for the award. She reportedly had members of the Academy over her mansion for tea, and it didn't hurt that she was a founding charter member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science.

'What Dreams May Come' - Best Visual Effects (1998)

What Dreams May Come
Polygram Filmed Entertainment

There should be a rule that a bad film should never be allowed to win in a technical category. This is just one of many inferior titles that managed to nab an Oscar even though the film as a whole was terrible. Armageddon was also nominated and deserved the award more.

Bonus Baddies
Here are some Best Picture winners that simply didn't deserve it: Greatest Show on Earth, The Great Ziegfield, Around the World in 80 Days, Forrest Gump, Shakespeare in Love and .