If the Oscars were based on ticket sales alone, Michael Bay would be carting gongs away by the bucketload. I guess that’s one reason to thank the Oscars’ allegedly elitist selection process.
On the other hand, winning an Oscar by no means guarantees the film’s any good. In fact, there are plenty of Oscar-winners languishing in IMDB’s lower ranks. Still, it’s worth taking a look at these for curiosity’s sake – even if just to poke a bit of fun.
Oscar: Best Music, Original Song – Joseph Brooks
IMDB rating: 4.6
Released in 1977, this romantic drama follows the story of Laurie Robinson as she tries to escape her humdrum life as a second-rate comedic actor to become a singer. She meets and sleeps with a movie director, Chris, despite already betrothed to Ken (cue insipid romantic plotline). The rest of the movie follows a predictable thread, with its only redeeming feature being the titular song – the cover of which by Debby Boone went straight to number one.
Oscar: Best Music, Original Song – Paul Jabara
IMDB rating: 5.2
Thank God It’s Friday (TGIF) tells several connected stories over the course of a Friday evening at a fictional discotheque in LA. The cast is respectable, including Jeff Goldblum, Donna Summer, and Debra Winger, and electro legend Giorgio Moroder is behind the music. But sadly, that isn’t quite enough to elevate the movie above its glitter-balls, bell-bottoms, and platform shoes. As an exercise in rose-tinted 70s nostalgia, it does the job – especially if you like cheese.
Oscar: Best Makeup – Rick Baker, David LeRoy Anderson
IMDB rating: 5.6
Eddie Murphy plays the titular role (and a host of others) as the large but lovely Professor Klump – for which the movie received its Best Makeup Oscar. The film’s slapstick humor and sickly sweet romance might put some off, but overall the gags are pretty good (if you like ‘em crude) and Mr. Murphy’s transformation into the Klump family is impressive.
Oscar: Best Documentary, Features – Ben Sharpsteen
IMDB rating: 5.6
Directed by Disney legend James Algar, this 1958 wildlife documentary won an Oscar for its portrayal of the rugged Canadian wilderness. But despite being beautifully shot, it has come under fire for alleged animal cruelty. One scene showing lemming’s committing suicide was faked, while another scene involving a polar bear was staged in the studio. Not cool, Disney. Not cool.
Oscar: Best Music, Best Adaptation Score – Jonathan Tunick
IMDB rating: 5.7
Film adaptations of musicals are tough to do right, so you’d think a bit of practice would help. Unfortunately, director Harold Prince’s experience (Cabaret, Fiddler on the Roof, and others) wasn’t enough to save A Little Night Music. Not even big names like Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Rigg could drag the film out of mediocrity. But the songs are sweet (if you like that kind of thing).
Most filmmakers would admit to wanting an Oscar, but as these movies show, the golden gong isn’t always a stamp of quality. Then again, IMDB ratings aren’t all that reliable either, so maybe watch them and see for yourself.