Destined For Failure: 8 Movies That Failed To Live Up To Their Oscar Hype

At the end of the year, we always see select movies, for one reason or another, get a portion of buzz before their release. Usually as part of a campaign before Academy Award nominations are announced. This buzz usually revolves around a film’s director, its weighty and important subject matter, or the all-star cast filling out the roles.

This year has been no different, with movies like Interstellar and Unbroken generating plenty of “buzz.” But for some films, once critics, audiences, and the rest of the film industry actually watch the movies, the Oscar noise quickly fades away. Here are 8 movies that went through that experience and you probably forgot had Oscar buzz:

1. The Majestic

Back in 2001, Frank Darabont was fresh off multiple Oscar nominations with The Green Mile, so many believed that his next film The Majestic would also have Academy Award consideration.  After all, it starred Jim Carrey in a dramatic follow-up to his top-tier performances in The Truman Show and Man on the Moon, and it was a film about post-WWII Hollywood. Instead, critics responded negatively to The Majestic and audiences chose to ignore it, thrusting it away from consideration.

2. Gran Torino

Before its release, Gran Torino was thought to be a frontrunner for the 81st Academy Award for Best Picture. Clint Eastwood starred and directed the film and he was coming off an Oscar nomination for Letters from Iwo Jima a few years earlier. While Gran Torino received high marks from film critics and a hefty box office, it was believed that the Academy of Arts and Sciences snubbed the film in 2008, along with The Dark Knight, Pixar’s Wall-E, and Changeling, which Eastwood also directed.

3. We Bought a Zoo

After his Academy Award win for Almost Famous in the year 2000, Cameron Crowe was thought to likely be in any Oscar conversation. Before We Bought a Zoo was released, there was plenty of buzz surrounding the film. This included Matt Damon for Best Male Actor, Scarlett Johansson for Best Supporting Female Actor, Cameron Crowe for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, along with co-writer Aline Brosh McKenna, and Best Picture.

So it was probably a bit of a shock when the 84th Academy Awards nominations were announced, We Bought a Zoo didn’t receive a single nomination.

4. Reservation Road

Simply based on the film’s Academy Award winning and nominated cast, including Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly, and Mira Sorvino, Reservation Road was thought to be a frontrunner in the acting portion of the Oscars in 2007. Instead the film opened with lukewarm reviews and a poor box office, leaving Reservation Road as all but forgotten today.

5. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

In 2001, John Madden released Captain Corelli’s Mandolin as a follow up to his 1998 Academy Award winning film Shakespeare In Love. With Academy Award-winner Nicolas Cage attached (can you believe this guy won an Oscar?), the snappy melodrama was positioned for Oscar glory.

Instead, after people actually watched the film, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin became the poster child for Oscar Buzz gone wrong. The film floundered at the box office and Penélope Cruz ended up nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress, along with her roles in Blow and Vanilla Sky, also released in 2001.

6. Lions For Lambs

Based on the film’s cast, including Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep, and the presence of legendary actor/director Robert Redford, Lions For Lambs was believed to be set for Oscar gold long before it was released in November 2007. Tom Cruise had been nominated for Academy Awards in the past with Born on the Fourth of July and Magnolia, while Meryl Streep seems to be nominated every year. And ff course, Robert Redford is an Academy Award nominated actor and Oscar winning director, walking away with gold for Ordinary People. Everything seemed to be in place for Lions For Lambs to receive multiple nominations, but then the film was released…

Film critics trashed it for having an overly simplistic look at the War on Terrorism, with Roger Ebert notably saying the film was “under the delusion that it’s going somewhere.” Safe to say it didn’t.

7. Bobby

This Emilio Estevez drama was nominated for two Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture and Best Song, so it wasn’t a shock that Bobby was also believed to be a lock for an Academy Award nomination as well in 2006. It had all the markers of an Oscar friendly movie: historical and political subject matter and a large ensemble cast, including Anthony Hopkins, Helen Hunt, Laurence Fishburne, and Demi Moore. However, when the 79th Academy Awards nominations were announced, Bobby didn’t even sniff a nomination.

8. J. Edgar

Much like Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio is almost always in the running for an Academy Award every year. However, he was looked over for his starring role as J. Edgar Hoover in Clint Eastwood’s 2011 film J. Edgar. While many film pundits felt that the Academy snubbed DiCaprio, the reality is that he was the strongest part of a very uneven and directionless movie.

Do you think these films should’ve been nominated for an Academy Award? Are there other overlooked gems that we missed?