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Most Controversial Academy Awards Victories From the Last 20 Years

Oscar Wins That Got Everyone Talking for the Wrong Reasons

Besides featuring the season’s biggest movies, one of the reasons why the Oscars are one of the most popular awards shows is that the Academy gets things wrong… or so the public says. Every show tends to end with viewers arguing about who really “deserved” to win, and judging by the Academy Awards predictions for this Sunday, this trend could continue. On this note, we shed some light on controversial victories from the past two decades that are still being discussed today.

Non-Deserving Best Picture Winners

  • Crash (2005)

Crash beat out the likes of Brokeback Mountain and Munich to shock viewers. Brokeback Mountain garnered the most nominations and was a favorite to win on the Academy Awards odds. But Crash and its uninspiring theme of “racism exists, deal with it” won the Academy over. In light of today’s issues of hate crime and police brutality, Crash continues to go down as one of the worst, if not the worst, Best Picture winner of the last 20 years.

Director Paul Haggis holding the winning awards for Crash attends the Lions Gate "Crash"
Director Paul Haggis holding the winning awards for Crash attends the Lions Gate "Crash" - Getty Images via afp
  • The King’s Speech (2011)

While not as offensive as Crash winning Best Picture, The King’s Speech was the definition of “mediocrity.”This boring Oscar bait of a film easily cashed for folks betting online as heavy chalk. But films like The Social Network or 127 Hours have aged better and are still lauded today. Nobody remembers The King’s Speech in comparison.

  • Green Book (2019)

Green Book’s Best Picture win is eerily similar to Driving Miss Daisy’s from 1990: it’s a story about racial relationships told from a white person’s perspective. Not only has this win aged like milk, but it also beat out far more deserving contenders like Black Panther and Roma. The latter was the online sports betting favorite and is still considered one of the most moving films of the era.

The Wrong Actors Won

  • Alan Arkin (2006)

Many were stunned when Alan Arkin was named the Best Supporting Actor winner for Little Miss Sunshine. That’s because Eddie Murphy dominated Academy Awards news as the favorite for his masterful showing in Dreamgirls. But his abomination of a film, Norbit, was released just weeks prior to the Oscars and turned the voters off. As a consolation, the Academy pivoted and gave Arkin the award.



  • Meryl Streep (2012)

This is a case of a Hollywood legend winning simply based on name value. Her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady was one of Meryl Streep’s worst. It lacked depth and was clearly not on par with Glenn Close’s role in Albert Nobbs or even Viola Davis in The Help. Any other winner would have sufficed, but the Academy felt the need to give Streep another Oscar.

  • Rami Malek (2018)

Rami Malek’s turn as Freddie Mercury was too engrossing for Academy to vote otherwise. This was “weak sauce,” especially when you consider Taron Egerton actually sang and performed as Elton John in Rocketman a year later. Tragically, most Academy Awards picks wrote off other contenders like Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born and Willem Dafoe, who put on arguably his best performance as Vincent Van Gogh in At Eternity’s Gate.

Other Academy Mishaps Still Clowned Today

  • Tom Hooper Wins Best Director (2011)

As far as being a “feel good” story, Tom Hooper was the right choice as he beat out heavyweights like David Fincher, Darren Aronofsky, and the Coen Brothers. But we’ve already ranted about The King’s Speech’s undeserving win and Hooper’s direction was no better than the big names he was against.

  • Claudio Miranda Wins Best Cinematography (2013)

Life of Pi was indeed one of the better films of 2012, especially if you consider its visual appeal. But when Claudio Miranda won for Best Cinematography, it ruffled a few feathers, and failing to thank the visual effects team, which did the heavy lifting, exacerbated the controversy. It was akin to Andre Iguodala winning the NBA Finals MVP and forgetting to thank the rest of his superstar-laden Golden State Warriors teammates.

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