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What Are the Academy Awards? ‘A Celebration of Mediocrity’ Says Oscar Winner

Braveheart Mel Gibson: What are the Academy Awards?Mel Gibson in Braveheart. What are the Academy Awards? One choice answer: “A celebration of mediocrity,” as per Oscar winner Mel Gibson. Here’s another – albeit less pointed – summation: “Peer group nods of approval,” according to the film magazine Empire.
  • What are the Academy Awards? According to Mel Gibson, the Oscars can be best described as “a celebration of mediocrity.”
  • Empire magazine apparently agrees. The British publication has come up with a list of the Ten Worst Best Picture Oscar Winners ever.

What are the Academy Awards? Oscar winner Mel Gibson calls them ‘a celebration of mediocrity’

Question: What are the Academy Awards?

Answer: “A celebration of mediocrity.”

Too harsh?

Well, that’s according to Oscar-winning Braveheart director-(co-)producer Mel Gibson, who:

  • a) Should know what he’s talking about.
  • b) Let that one out while being interviewed on the Catholic station Eternal Word Television Network.

Gibson, whose blood-soaked religious drama The Passion of the Christ failed to be shortlisted for Best Picture (it was also bypassed in the acting, directing, and writing categories), added that “the whole notion of these awards ceremonies is ludicrous. … It’s really a marketing exercise.”

The British publication Empire apparently agrees with the Mad Maxes, Lethal Weapons, and Tequila Sunrise actor turned Braveheart director-star, whose semi-historical “Scottish” epic won a total of five Oscars.

Ten Worst Best Picture Oscar Winners

“The Oscars aren’t about quality,” affirms Empire contributor Patrick Peters. “They’re peer group nods of approval and, as a result, there has been a surfeit of unworthy Best Pictures and, rest assured, there will be many more to come.”

Below is Empire’s Bottom Ten Worst Best Picture Oscar Winners (and abbreviated commentary), from the Most to the Least Very Worst. And speaking of celebrations of mediocrities, the no. 1 title is…

  • Mel Gibson’s Braveheart (1995).
    “Dialogue has all the thudding subtlety of a parody.”
  • Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind (2001).
    “Clunkingly intricate direction of Akiva Goldsman’s willfully dishonest screenplay.”
  • Cecil B. DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth (1952).
    “Tawdry circus spectacle.”
  • Robert Redford’s Ordinary People (1980).
    “Nothing more than a TV movie that got lucky.”
  • Robert ZemeckisForrest Gump (1994).
    “Revisionist nonsense.”
  • James L. BrooksTerms of Endearment (1983).
    “A weepie espousing family values.”
  • Michael Anderson’s Around the World in 80 Days (1956).
    “Whoever said size doesn’t matter had no insight into the minds of those eligible to vote for the Oscars.”
  • Frank Lloyd’s Cavalcade (the period 1932–33).
    “Patronizing politics underpinning sentimental storylines.”
  • John G. Avildsen’s Rocky (1976).
    Full text: “Considering that Watergate and Vietnam had given the USA’s self-image one hell of a hammering, it was hardly surprising that the Academy should hail a picture restoring the American dream.”
  • John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley (1941).
    “Hollywood’s eagerness to show solidarity with war-torn Britain.”

More Oscar questions

And here’s another Oscar question:

How is How Green Was My Valley any worse than The Broadway Melody, Cimarron, Grand Hotel, The Great Ziegfeld, The Life of Emile Zola, or, for that matter, Chicago, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Million Dollar Baby?

And another one:

Instead of How Green Was My Valley – set in a Welsh mining town during the Victorian era – could Empire possibly have meant William Wyler’s Mrs. Miniver, the Best Picture winner of 1942 – and one that is actually set in war-torn Britain?

(Of course, it could just be that How Green Was My Valley is a movie to hate because it beat Orson WellesCitizen Kane.)

And where on earth is Ridley Scott’s Gladiator?

Final Oscar question (in two parts):

So, what are the Academy Awards? How would you describe them?


“What Are the Academy Awards?” endnotes

“What Are the Academy Awards? ‘A Celebration of Mediocrity’ Says Oscar Winner” last updated in September 2021.

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