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Top 10 FAILED Oscar Bait Movies of 2016

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Written by Noah Levy

Movies from 2016 that tried way too hard to go for an oscar, but failed to garner the attention of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Failed Oscar bait movies of the year. But what will take the top spot on our list? Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk from director Ang Lee, Ewan Mcgregor's American Pastoral or Collateral Beauty starring Will Smith? Watch to find out!

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Big thanks to MattW128 for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Failed+Oscar+Bait+Movies+of+2016


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Another year, another crop of films that seem to have been made just to win some gold statues. Welcome to and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Failed Oscar Bait Movies of 2016.

For this list, we’re looking at the films released in 2016 that had obvious awards aspirations, but will most likely fail in their bids, either because they were overshadowed by other releases, had played-out subject matters, or were just straight up bad.

#10: “Snowden” (2016)

Oliver Stone is no stranger to controversial topics for his films, or getting recognized by the Academy for them. Not to mention the fact that the infamous whistleblower Edward Snowden has already been the source of Oscar gold with the 2014 documentary “Citizenfour.” However, Stone’s tackling of the touchy subject of Snowden’s actions probably won’t result in the awards windfall he was hoping for. While the film received okay reviews, particularly for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance in the lead role, it only grossed a little over $30 million worldwide – on a $40 million budget - and was mostly considered to be one of the less consequential films in Stone’s career. Guess Edward Snowden won’t be adding another Academy Award to his mantle… even if he even has a mantle.

#9: “Denial” (2016)

As you’ll probably see later in the list, films based on events from World War II are usually tailor-made for Academy Awards. While this courtroom drama doesn’t directly deal with one of those events, it does tell the fascinating true story of Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt, played by Rachel Weisz, being sued for libel by Holocaust denier David Irving, played by Timothy Spall. Weisz is a past Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actress and the period setting is ripe for the Academy, but despite positive reviews, this one might unfortunately be overshadowed by films with loftier ambitions.

#8: “Anthropoid” (2016)

Speaking of World War II films, here’s one that tackles the period head-on. Starring Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan, the film tells the story of the titular Czech Operation, which resulted in the assassination of Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich in 1942. The film received relatively good reviews, but not necessarily the kind that films of this caliber usually get. Not to mention the fact that it came out in August 2016, which means it might get overshadowed by the higher profile releases of fall and winter. In short, the filmmakers can probably sleep in on Oscar nomination morning.

#7: “The Girl on the Train” (2016)

A mystery thriller starring a female lead based on a novel; no, we’re not describing 2014’s phenomenal “Gone Girl,” but the middling adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ 2015 best seller. Despite featuring a strong performance by the always-reliable Emily Blunt, the film ultimately devolves into convoluted melodrama as Blunt’s Rachel tries to deal with being accused of murder. Director Tate Taylor was able to lead 2011’s “The Help” to a Best Picture nom and a win for Best Supporting Actress, but it doesn’t seem like this girl is gonna be getting any awards… although she does look like she needs a hug.

#6: “Rules Don’t Apply” (2016)

Once upon a time, Warren Beatty was one of Hollywood’s most formidable talents, writing, directing, and starring in films like “Reds,” which won him the 1981 Best Director Oscar. He finally returned after an extended leave, writing, starring, and directing this film taking place in 1950s Hollywood, with Beatty taking on the role of eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes. Despite the Academy-friendly setting and the all-star cast that includes Beatty’s wife Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin, and rising star Alden Ehrenreich, it turns out Beatty’s return to the silver screen was too little, too late. The movie received mixed reviews and bombed at the box office, which probably means Beatty won’t be repeating his past awards success this time.

#5: “Allied” (2016)

This is the film that launched a million tabloid rumors, as the romantic thriller’s onscreen relationship between Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard was thought to be a factor in the separation of Pitt and Angelina Jolie earlier in 2016. But despite the buzz, the star power of the two leads, the awards-friendly time period of World War II, and the prestige of director Robert Zemeckis, this story of wartime betrayal and deception proved to be merely adequate instead of great. The film received mixed reviews and only okay box office numbers, with most critics agreeing it was mostly a disappointment considering the talent of its stars and director.

#4: “The Birth of a Nation” (2016)

When it premiered at Sundance back in January, this period drama about Nat Turner’s 1831 slave rebellion became an immediate front-runner for Best Picture. But as the year went on, the strings behind the film started to unravel. Despite the Academy’s love for period pieces and films about the subject of race, the movie’s reputation was tarnished by remarks made by its director, writer, and star Nate Parker about 1999 rape charges against him and co-writer Jean McGianni Celestin. While it received decent reviews, they weren’t strong enough to overpower the controversy surrounding the film, and it ended up a box office bomb, earning just $16 million.

#3: “American Pastoral” (2016)

Here’s proof that not every serious film with the word “American” in the title will get showered with awards. Marking the directorial debut of Ewan McGregor and adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the film focuses on the family of McGregor and Jennifer Connelly’s characters as they navigate the tense atmosphere of America during the Vietnam War. He had the cast and he had the source material, but it was widely considered that McGregor’s direction was not up to snuff. “American Pastoral” received surprisingly negative reviews, especially for a picture of its supposed caliber, and ultimately ended up making about a million dollars.

#2: “Collateral Beauty” (2016)

Will Smith stars in this inspirational drama that’s being released in mid-December and- wait, haven’t we seen this before? Yeah, eight full years after starring in the incredibly Oscar-baity and widely panned “Seven Pounds,” Smith is back to try to earn some critical acclaim with another schmaltzy tearjerker where he attempts to deal with tragedy. This time he’s not alone, as he’s accompanied with an all-star cast including Edward Norton, Michael Peña, and Kate Winslet. There’s also Keira Knightley, Jacob Latimore, and Helen Mirren as the personifications of Love, Time, and Death, respectively. It’s like if a Lifetime Original Movie somehow got a huge budget and a theatrical release, and will probably overshadowed by films with more subtle messages.

#1: “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” (2016)

On the heels of winning his second Oscar for “Life Of Pi,” Ang Lee helmed this film about an Iraq War Veteran reflecting on his service during a Dallas Cowboys halftime show. Lee shot it in a history-making frame rate of 120 frames per second and in 3D to create a viewing experience unlike any other. The problem? The technology to watch it in the way it was made only exists in two American theatersmwhich meant that not only were filmgoers stuck with what critics considered to be a mediocre film, but one they couldn’t even watch the right way. In its first weekend of wide release, it made less than a million dollars, all but destroying its awards aspirations.

Do you agree with our list? What films do you think are shamelessly pandering for Oscars in 2016? For more excellent top tens published every day, be sure to subscribe to


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