It may not happen every year, but it happens a lot: When a movie becomes a frontrunner for the Best Picture Oscar, that movie gets the crap kicked out of it. Not at the box office, or even necessarily at the hands of the casual moviegoer, though some of said moviegoers will almost certainly see it and wonder what all the fuss was about. But the real (which is to say, kind of fake) carnage happens among critics, fans, and dedicated Oscar-watchers, who rarely meet an awards frontrunner they can’t learn to disdain.
It’s understandable. Most years, the Academy doesn’t even announce nominations until late January, weeks after the year has ended and other award-giving bodies have had their say, and they don’t give out the awards until over a month later — and that’s the new, slightly moved-up schedule. These things used to drag on throughout most of March for some reason. By the time a movie gets its nomination, it’s played out for a lot of hardcore movie people, and by the time the actual ceremony happens, the inevitability gives way to a certain irritation. There’s also an unhealthy visceral enjoyment in seeing a movie you may not have liked much in the first place get ground up by the Oscar machine, matching the visceral irritation of seeing that movie get all that maybe-undeserved praise in the first place. But not every Oscar Backlash is created equal; some of them happen to perfectly good, even great movies. How and why it happens depends on a cocktail of competition, national mood, and general cattiness. Here are ten notable backlashes from the past 20 years (during which the internet has enabled and sped up the hype-backlash cycle), presented chronologically and rated in both strength and how much they deserved it, using a completely scientific and unassailable one-man system.