7 recent 'Oscar Bait' movies that didn't get a single nomination

  • 8 recent 'Oscar Bait' movies that didn't get a single nomination

We're currently in the midst of awards season, which means all of the Oscar-worthy (and less Oscar-worthy) films are coming thick and fast. 

But as we have seen before, for every award-winning picture like The Shape of Water or Moonlight, you have plenty of films made purposely to attract the attention of The Academy.

It would seem that we have been seeing more and more of these 'Oscar Bait' films in recent years - and here are eight examples of recent films that tried hard and failed even harder.

1. The Book Thief (2013)

When legendary actor Geoffrey Rush signed on to star in the adaptation of the international bestselling WWII novel (which was scored by Oscar-magnet John Williams), he was probably clearing a space on his mantelpiece for the many statuettes that it would bring home.

Unfortunately, the story of a young girl who steals books to share them with a Jewish refugee being sheltered by her parents received mixed feedback, with many accusing it of playing it safe when it came to the backdrop of WWII-era Nazi Germany.

When it came to Oscars, Willaims received his obligatory nomination for Best Original Score, but that was the only nomination it garnered, resulting in Geoffrey Rush having to reshuffle his mantelpiece.

2. Free State of Jones (2016)

Ocean's 9 and Hunger Games writer/director Gary Ross spent the best part of a decade developing his passion project, a biopic about Jones County, a 'free state' set up by a group of disillusioned Civil War Confederate soldiers and runaway slaves.

Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey signed on to play Newton Knight, leader of the group who set up The Free State of Jones, in what turned out to clock in at two hours and 20 minutes of slog, and ultimately ended up poorly-acted and failed to provide an engrossing take on a fascinating and little-known story from the Civil War.

Instead of appearing in the Academy Award nominations, Free State of Jones grossed half of its $50m budget and languishes at a 46% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

3. Grace of Monaco (2014)

Nicole Kidman starred as Grace Kelly in the biopic of the actress who became Princess of Monaco, alongside Frank Langella and Tim Roth, directed by Olivier Dahan, the director of Oscar-winning La Vie en Rose.

The biopic was originally planned for release in November 2013, arriving in the build-up to award season, where all the award hopefuls see their release.

Issues plagued the film's release when Grace's children criticised the subject matter and its accuracy, and Dahan clashed with producer Harvey Weinstein over how the film was cut, with the director's cut was shown on its opening at the Cannes Film Festival.

With critics attacking the film, it didn't see a theatrical release in the U.S. and humiliatingly made its debut on the Lifetime cable network.

4. The Current War (2017)

The recount of the 'war of the currents' between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse over whose electrical system would power the modern world boasted an incredible cast including Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon as the rival electricity titans, backed up by the likes of Katherine Waterstone, Nicholas Hoult and Tom Holland.

With an Oscar bait formula and A-list cast, surely Oscars were to follow, but when it screened at the Toronto Film Festival, feedback was that it was dull from start to finish, and then its awards-friendly release date had to be moved after producer Harvey Weinstein had many sexual abuse allegations levelled against him.

Initially planned for an October 2017 release date, the film is still yet to arrive in cinemas, and if it does, with a 31% Rotten Tomatoes rating, isn't going to be bothering any award ceremonies.

5. In the Heart of the Sea (2015)

Multiple Oscar-winning director Ron Howard picked up Nathaniel Philbrick's award-winning novel, In the Heart of the Sea, which recounts the true tale of the sinking of the American whaling ship Essex in 1820, an event which inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick.

Thor star Chris Hemsworth famously lost 40lbs as the cast were put on a diet of 500-600 calories per day to prepare for the role of starving sailors in the hope that their struggles would land them some award show recognition.

A true story, actors dropping dramatic amounts of weight and an Oscar-winning director wasn't even enough to make it a good film and it managed to scratch back $93m of its $100m budget and failed to garner nominations anywhere.

6. Birth of a Nation (2016)

Actor Nate Parker, who has previously appeared in the likes of The Secret Life of Bees, Red Tails and Non-Stop, put all of his efforts into co-writing, producing and directing the true story of slave Nat Turner, who led a two-day rebellion of slaves in 1831 Virginia.

Parker also put in $100,000 of his own money and met with multiple financiers to implore them to invest in the film, securing an $8.5m production budget to tell Turner's story.

Unfortunately for Parker, just as the film was receiving Oscar buzz, it came to light that he had been acquitted of rape seven years earlier, which cast a shadow over the film.

Although Birth of a Nation received a fairly positive response from critics, the demons from Parker's past sunk the film and it failed to register on the Oscar voters' radars.

7. Collateral Beauty (2016)

The convoluted drama, directed by The Devil Wears Prada's David Frankel boasted an impressive cast, including Will Smith, Edward Norton, Keira Knightley, Michael Peña, Naomie Harris, Kate Winslet and Helen Mirren.

Smith plays an advertising exec who spirals into depression after the death of his young daughter, and Norton, Winslet and Peña play his business partners who hire actors to appear to him as the concepts of 'Love', 'Time' and 'Death' so they can have him appear mentally imbalanced and oust him from the company.

It was lambasted by critics, who labelled it "contrived", "inept" and "absurdly drippy," and despite boasting a cast comprised of six Oscar nominees (with two of them being winners), it bombed hard and didn't even get a sniff at the Oscars.

It was also heavily criticised by Samuel L. Jackson in a rant about Oscar bait films, who declared: "I was looking at the trailer for this Will Smith movie the other day and I’m like, really? It’s another one of those, ‘Oh my god, life is so wonderful, take time to sniff the roses.’”
 

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