Despite taking place on the world’s biggest stage, the Oscars aren’t immune to strange anomalies that cause very bad films to win Academy Awards, thus cementing their status as an “Oscar-winning film.” I’m very aware that bad films can showcase great performances, or be based on great scripts, but running through this list still causes much head-scratching as you wonder at what point the Academy will just say, “Denzel is great, but we can’t in good conscience give Training Day an Academy award.”

Take a gander.

My Cousin Vinny – Best Supporting Actress

My Cousin Vinny
, despite being marginally entertaining, is not a good movie. It stars Ralph Macchio\, for God’s sake. The performances in the film are largely wallflower-y or simply over-the-top. “Hey! I’m-a I-talian!”

I never really understood the praise for Marissa Tomei’s performance here, but it seemed universal enough that, as a dumb 13 year-old kid, I said, “huh,” and went on with my life. I was never the type of child that allowed Oscar nominations to ruin my week.

What Dreams May Come – Best Visual Effects

This movie ominously let us know what was to come from Robin Williams in the coming years. This movie served as a bombastic visual representation of what happens when a man and woman are reunited in the afterlife. It was perhaps the sappiest, sad-for-the-sake-of-sad film out there (until I saw The Gray), and didn’t really offer anything up in the way of a compelling narrative. The visual effects are striking, but so heavy-handed that it’s almost comical.

Williams should have stuck with the Mrs. Doubtfire and Good Morning Vietnam fare.

Crash – Best Picture

This film might have had a sign around its neck that flashed “IMPORTANT SUBJECT MATTER.” Unfortunately, the writing and the performances didn’t serve the subject matter as well as they should have, so what we were left with was a rambling after-school special made for adults. Matt Dillon sexually assaults a black woman, then saves her from a burning car. DUALITY OF MAN AND WHATNOT!

Crash wasn’t running against a particularly strong field that year (Munich, Brokeback Mountain, Capote, and Good Night, and Good Luck) but that’s no excuse. It’s still among the most laughable films to get Best Picture, and thus, one of the least deserving films of an Oscar.

Training Day – Best Actor

I’ve always been of the mind that this award was more of a legacy selection than it was based on the merits of the particular role. In much the same way I view Jack Nicholson, I feel that Denzel Washington’s ability as an actor has been tremendously overrated. He seems to play the same character over and over, only with the volume turned up or down to varying degrees.

For Training Day, the volume was way up, and this was not the film to bestow a Best Actor award upon Washington. The film seemed destined for Cinemax from the first five minutes, and though it was compelling, it wasn’t any more so than a film like New Jack City or Cop Land, two films that didn’t get nominated for anything.

The Blind Side – Best Actress

It seems as though these feel-good films are perfect fodder for the acting Oscars, which is odd, because they’re generally so hammy and void of nuance that it’s tough to see what the Academy is looking for. On the other hand, films like these and Erin Brockovich serve as great opportunities to give very big stars awards, which the Academy always like to do.

So this Hallmark film gets haphazardly tossed in the annals of Hollywood history, probably because people felt horrible about that whole Jesse James thing.

City Slickers – Best Supporting Actor

“Academy Award-winning film City Slickers

Try saying it and your tongue almost instantly rots and falls out of your mouth. This served as Jack Palance’s third Oscar nod, all in the Best Supporting Actor category. Of course, as his roles became few and far between, the Academy probably felt that Palance should get a nod before going the way of his character and dying slumped over on a horse.

Also, Billy Crystal was in this film, and we know how the Academy feels about Billy Crystal.

Ghost – Best Supporting Actress

managed to captivate Oscar voters in 1990 for some strange reason. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress. While Whoopi Goldberg may be among the least likeable folks in Hollywood, she’s demonstrated some serious chops as an actress, but Ghost pushes the definition of an “Oscar-winning film.” Granted, it didn’t win for Best Picture, although nominated, but it’s hard to see this film stealing anything from the juggernaut Dances with Wolves that year. Or winning anything, any year.

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