Top 10 Failed Oscar Bait Movies of 2020

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Top 10 Failed Oscar Bait Movies of 2020

VOICE OVER: Kirsten Ria Squibb WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
These movies failed to pique the interests of Academy voters. For this list, we'll be looking at films that aimed high for Oscar Gold, but ultimately got no love from the Academy. Our countdown includes "Cherry", “Rebecca”, “Malcolm & Marie”, and more!
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Top 10 Failed Oscar Bait Movies of 2020


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 failed Oscar bait movies of 2020.

For this list, we’ll be looking at films that aimed high for Oscar Gold, but ultimately got no love from the Academy. We’re not saying that these movies are bad, just that they got zero nominations. That means we’re leaving off the critically panned “Hillbilly Elegy,” which could become the first time a performer gets an Oscar and a Razzie for the same performance.

What movie do you think should’ve been nominated for an Oscar? Let us know in the comments.

#10: “The Mauritanian” (2021)

As we said, a failed Oscar-bait movie can still be pretty good. “The Mauritanian” is an intense, eye-opening exploration of the hell Mohamedou Ould Salahi endured at Guantánamo Bay. Tahar Rahim scored a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of Salahi. “The Mauritanian” gained more momentum at the BAFTAs where it received five bids, including Best Film. But this didn’t translate into a single Oscar nomination. Jodie Foster is the first performer in almost 45 years to win the Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe and not get in at the Oscars. The last instance was Katharine Ross for 1976’s “Voyage of the Damned.” Unfortunately neither Foster nor her co-star Tahar Rahim could break into the Oscars this year.



#9: “Malcolm & Marie” (2021)

We move on from a universally accepted good movie to a more divisive one. This hard-hitting relationship drama earned some positive reviews for the powerhouse performances from Zendaya and John David Washington. However, many critics felt that Sam Levinson’s rant-riddled screenplay wasn’t on par with his sharp direction. Even with mixed reviews, some predicted that the film could still get in for Marcell Rév’s atmospheric cinematography. Having recently won a Primetime Emmy for her lead performance on “Euphoria,” Zendaya also seemed to be in a strong position to score her first Oscar nomination. While we’re sure the Academy will embrace Zendaya and Washington someday, “Malcolm & Marie” just wasn’t the vehicle to do it. Although it’s not without merits, it’s no “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”


#8: “Cherry” (2021)

Although the Academy has yet to recognize directors Anthony and Joe Russo for their phenomenal work in the MCU, a crime drama like “Cherry” seemed more Oscar-friendly. The film reunites the Russos with Tom Holland, who shows off his dramatic range as a soldier suffering from PTSD and addictive behavior. Joe Russo described Holland’s performance as “Oscar-worthy” and various critics agreed that he shined in the role. Alas, critics also took issue with the film’s length, pacing, and story. Sometimes a great performance can rise above a film’s overall quality. But not even Holland and the power of Apple could raise “Cherry’s” Oscar odds. Like his “Spider-Man” co-star Zendaya, Holland has the acting chops to become an Oscar nominee. He just needs a better story.

#7: “Wild Mountain Thyme” (2020)

John Patrick Shanley won a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for “Moonstruck,” a film about family, unlikely romances, and culture. “Wild Mountain Thyme” follows a similar formula but shifts the focus from an Italian-American family to an Irish family. That said, the film’s first misfire was allowing Christopher Walken to do what many have called a hilariously awful Irish accent. Emily Blunt’s accent isn’t much better. Even Jamie Dornan, who was born in Northern Ireland, sounds like he’s doing an over-the-top impression. Laughable accents aside, this adaptation of Shanley’s Tony-nominated play was further criticized for its corny tone and ridiculous ending. The film failed to live up to the buzz, despite having a character who thinks he’s a honeybee. Yeah, you heard us correctly. Christian Grey thinks he’s a bee!

#6: “Irresistible” (2020)

2020 was one of the most heated election years in U.S. history. So, a political satire like “Irresistible” seemed tailor-made for the zeitgeist, as well as Oscar voters. The film was written and directed by Jon Stewart, a two-time Oscar host, and a twenty-two-time Emmy winner. With a cast that includes Oscar nominee Steve Carell and Oscar winner Chris Cooper, we all expected the film to live up to its title. The lukewarm reviews proved otherwise, however. Critics generally felt that Stewart’s screenplay was behind the times and not nearly as clever as it aspires to be. Given the political climate, “Irresistible” should’ve been far more daring… kind of like another comedy that did score two Oscar nominations, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.”

#5: “The Glorias” (2020)

This next film is by no means bad. “The Glorias” as a whole just isn’t as trailblazing as its central figure. The biographical drama is kept afloat thanks to the performances of Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Lulu Wilson, and Ryan Kiera Armstrong, who portray Gloria Steinem throughout her storied life. Since each actresses’ screen time is divided, however, there wasn’t really a standout to push forward come awards season. “The Glorias” did make the Oscar shortlist for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Costume designer Sandy Powell is also an Oscar favorite. But in the end, “The Glorias” couldn’t garner one nomination.


#4: “The Prom” (2020)

Despite being based on a Tony-nominated musical, it was always unlikely that “The Prom” would follow the same awards trajectory as Best Picture winners like “Chicago.” Still, Ryan Murphy’s film adaptation was a well-produced crowd-pleaser with colorful sets and costumes. And anything starring Meryl Streep is usually taken seriously as an awards contender. Like the first “Mamma Mia!,” though, the film had to settle for two Golden Globe nominations. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated it for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and gave a nod to James Corden’s performance. The Academy wasn’t singing the same tune, however. Even with support from Netflix, “Wear Your Crown” couldn’t make the Best Original Song shortlist. Ah well, at least it wasn’t the next “Cats.”

#3: “Music” (2021)

“Music” was another two-time Golden Globe nominee. Unlike “The Prom,” though, this Sia-directed musical starring Kate Hudson wasn’t on many radars. The awards website Gold Derby didn’t even list the film in its predictions center. As more reviews started to pour in, the film’s presence at the Globes became increasingly questionable. “Music” failed to reach a double-digit score on Rotten Tomatoes with numerous critics taking issue with what they called a condescending portrayal of autism. Sia actually apologized and said that a warning label would be added for certain scenes. Instead of the Oscars, “Music” went from the Golden Globes to four Razzie nominations, including Worst Picture, Worst Actress for Hudson, and Worst Director for Sia.

#2: “Capone” (2020)

Somewhere between Oscar-winning masterpieces like “Goodfellas” and Razzie-nominated disasters like “Gotti,” you get a completely forgettable gangster biopic like “Capone.” While we’ve seen worse, “Capone” could’ve been much better, especially with an actor like Tom Hardy at the forefront. As hard as Hardy tries here, this is one case where he tries too hard. Chewing on a cigar, doing a bizarre voice, and wearing layers of makeup doesn’t automatically translate to an Oscar nomination. Especially when his makeup made him look less like the real Al Capone and more like a Dick Tracy villain. Of course, “Dick Tracy” won an Oscar for its makeup while “Capone” wasn’t even shortlisted. Much like Capone’s vault, there was a lot of hype, but nothing worthwhile inside.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few dishonorable mentions.

“Come Away” (2020)
A Mature Take on Children’s Stories That Can’t Figure Out Its Target Demographic

“The Roads Not Taken” (2020)
One Oscar Winner, Two Oscar Nominees, & No Nominations

“Wendy” (2020)
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Meets “Peter Pan” Should Be Much Cooler

“Ammonite” (2020)
Nothing for Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, or Even the Costumes

“French Exit” (2020)
At Least Michelle Pfeiffer Got a Golden Globe Nomination

#1: “Rebecca” (2020)

Alfred Hitchcock himself never won a competitive Oscar, but “Rebecca” stands out as his only film to claim the Academy’s top honor, with the award going to its production company. From 2006’s “All the King’s Men” to 2016’s “Ben-Hur,” remakes of Best Picture winners rarely live up to their predecessors. While “Rebecca” isn’t the worst example, it’s not an exception either. Lily James is always a delight and the film is visually interesting, receiving a BAFTA nomination for its production design. Nevertheless, it lacks the heart of Daphne du Maurier’s novel and the gothic thrills of Hitchcock’s version. The result is another adaptation that simply didn’t need to exist. Netflix might’ve led the Oscar nominations this year, but any buzz surrounding “Rebecca” seemed to die out before awards season even got started.
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