Home / Empire names Braveheart (1995) worst Best Picture

Empire names Braveheart (1995) worst Best Picture

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The British film magazine Empire has named Mel Gibson’s Braveheart the worst Best Picture Oscar winner, maintaining that writer Randall Wallace’s dialogue for the film “has all the thudding subtlety of a parody.”

Runner-up was 2002’s A Beautiful Mind, which was faulted for its “willfully dishonest screenplay.” In third place was Cecil B. DeMille’s 1952 “tawdry circus spectacle” The Greatest Show on Earth. The 1942 winner, How Green Was My Valley, apparently made the list primarily because it beat out Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon that year.

The complete list is

1. Braveheart (1995)
2. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
3. The Greatest Show On Earth (1952)
4. Ordinary People (1980)
5. Forrest Gump (1994)
6. Terms Of Endearment (1983)
7. Around The World in 80 Days (1956)
8. Cavalcade (1933)
9. Rocky (1976)
10. How Green Was My Valley (1941)

What on are earth are these British guys talking about? I know these press releases are created and sent out to get attention for their magazine by leaving people wanting more, but I need more than a sentence of criteria to take them seriously.

Braveheart is not worthy of the top 10, let alone the worst Best Picture. Gladiator (2000) is a complete rip-off of Braveheart with the addition of bad CGI, so why didn’t that make the list? Could they be upset that the British were the villains?

It is interesting that they didn’t understand the very American films, Forrest Gump and Rocky, neither of which deserves to be in the Top 10 either. And not to get jingoistic, but I did notice the absence of Best Pictures with a British perspective that are worthy of being considered the worst: Mrs. Miniver (1942), Tom Jones (1963) and Chariots of Fire (1981).

If they are going to include films like How Green Was My Valley, what about the snooze-fest Driving Miss Daisy (1989), which was up against Born on the Fourth of July, Dead Poet’s Society and Field of Dreams, not to mention Do the Right Thing, which wasn’t even nominated.

And what about musicals? While they may have the occasional memorable song or dance number, I would certainly consider Broadway Melody (1928-29), An American in Paris (1951) and GiGi (1958) as being bad. The last two have the unfair advantage of being saddled with the horrible actress Leslie Caron.

Empire did get it right in regards to A Beautiful Mind, a terrible film written by that hack Akiva Goldsman. How a writer could get so many facts wrong about the man’s life when he has access to them in the book he’s adapting speaks to his pathetic abilities. The film only won because Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are such nice guys in the industry.

Check out El Bicho’s take on the 2005 Oscars.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
  • Davvey

    There just saying they were not worthy of the Oscar compared to actual works of art that came out at the same time.

  • El Bicho

    thanks for the comment, Will.

  • William Wallace

    lol Braveheart is overrated.

    It’s a complete fabrication of historical events.

    Ummm…anti-British?? Helloooo, the cast was made up almost entirely of Irish, Scottish, and English actors…and an Aussie.

    The terms “anti-English” and it was obnoxiously so.

    PFFT “primae noctis” PLEASE

    Braveheart sucked cinematically and more importantly, historically.

    What a shit movie.

  • Kim

    Empire’s list is pretty absurd and arbitrary. Field of Dreams was so terrible, though….

  • See url

  • Bikram, have you seen all the best picture winners? While I understand people don’t care for the story and characters, I can’t fathom why the film gets no credit for the skill it took to create the boat-sinking sequences.

  • bikram

    titanic should top the list

    braveheart doesnot deserve this list,one can learn from this – ” PATRIOTISM “

  • Chuck Crane

    Braveheart did lay it on a little thick. I mean, did Wallace really boink the Pricess of Wales? And let us not omit that inane shout “Freedom!” I have it on good authority that Wallace really said, “F__ you, Longshanks!”

    It would be interesting to analyze what makes mediocre, ephemeral flicks get these awards. I suggest (1) Pious, didactic films (Chariots of Fire [which should have been on the list], Ordinary People, Beautiful Mind) get an edge because Hollywood dweebs want desperately to dispel the perception that they are shallow dimwits, and foolishly think that giving awards to these “thoughtful” films will do that; (2) Spectacles get an edge because of a child-like fascination with action on a grand scale, coupled with an adult’s appreciation for the difficulty involved in putting spectacles together.

  • Derrick

    What about Shakespeare in Love? I found it both unbelievable even on a liberal comedic level and ultimately forgetful.

  • Well, both Titanic and Braveheart are well-made films, but in the realm of film history and achievement, both lag far behide their counterparts. Did either deserve their Oscar awards? Is Braveheart as good a movie as say Saving Private Ryan? Does Titanic hold up to Gone With The Wind? I don’t think so. Braveheart was up against Apollo 13, and Babe – and Dead Man Walking wasn’t even nominated. Because Titanic won 11 Oscars, does it equal the quality of Ben-Hur, which also won 11 Oscars. I just think that the quality doesn’t hold up as well. Maybe my cynicism for recent oscar winners makes my opinion bias. Who knows?

  • I’ve always found Braveheart to be a very exciting and emotionally satisfying film, so to me it holds up better than many other Oscar winners.

    I mean, The Last Emperor is a visually stunning film, but does anybody really want to sit through that thing again?

  • El Bicho

    Tan, care to elaborate?

    Bob, there’s no way I could do a Top 10 list. I would have enough trouble doing a top 10 by decade or genre. Do you want films before ’75? Skip the Best Picture list. Most don’t stand up over time.

  • Braveheart is pretty overrated – as is Titanic.

  • no comments

  • This was an excellent discussion. Very impressive article, Bicho.

    Braveheart’s probably not the worst, but it’s certainly in the bottom 1/3 or 1/4 of Oscar winners. Good call on Titanic (I’d argue the worst) and Gladiator as well.

    Any thoughts on what your Top 10 best films list would be, Bicho et al? I’m not qualified to answer that question myself since my knowledge of film before 1975 or so is very, very limited. I haven’t seen even half of the films on the best picture winners’ list.

    That is all.

  • Georg Senze

    I think that “Lord Of The Rings – The Return Of The King” is the most worst “Best Picture” of all time. It is optically pompous and cupped.

  • I suspect the magazine just let a little chauvinism dictate this choice.

    After all, Mel depicts Wallace as the ultimate heroic good guy, just defending his family as he whoops the Brit baddies — and also provides genes for the English throne — until he is brought down by treachery…

  • Unknown

    WTF? Braveheart the Worst Best Picture? Are these F’n Brits out of their F’n Minds????

    Go Die.

  • i would protest, too, but i’ve decided for the much more cutting approach of continuing to buy the magazine and saying nothing. I will, however, be sure to mention it maybe to someone in a taxi.

  • Ano

    I’ve never even heard of Empire magazine, but when I saw on the internet that they had ranked Braveheart the worst Oscar movie ever, I had to speak my mind. Let me just say this. Whoever came up with Braveheart as the worst Oscar movie ever has to be the stupidest idiot on the planet. It ranks as the top film ever on many people’s list. Empire magazine has never seen a penny of mine, and will never see it as a result of this ludicrous rating.

  • heh, who knows what slaughter ensued! I find the “typical piece of pom-bashing” thing a bit weird myself. What other “pom-bashing” films has Gibson directed? Sure, he was in the patriot, but he didn’t direct it. I don’t even remember any English CHARACTERS in Man Without A Face, never mind anyone for to “bash”. And weren’t a damn englishman to be seen in The Passion. They didn’t even speak it! What the hell, Peters?

  • “Braveheart (1995) – This typical piece of Pom-bashing from Mel Gibson is just about the all-time worst Best Picture. (Patrick Peters) [Emphasis mine]

    Hmmm. Wonder why the weasel-wording. Do you suppose they had battles in the editorial office over this pick, finally deciding to bump Gibson’s fanny to the top over Peters’ protest?

  • from his criteria; “None of the features on this list deserved to win cinema’s most glittering prize. They weren’t the best films of their year… although the same could also be said for The Great Ziegfeld (1936), You Can’t Take It With You (1938), Going My Way (1944), In The Heat of The Night (1967), Patton (1970), Kramer Vs Kramer (1979), Chariots Of Fire (1981), Out Of Africa (1985) and The English Patient (1996). But these ten represent the most cynical abuses of a deeply flawed system, in which pampered movers, shakers and has-been’s – who have little connection to the real world – get to shape the opinions of audiences who still think these little golden statuettes are a guarantee of excellence.”
    Patrick Peters, The 10 Worst Best Pictures, Empire April 2005

    And, as someone requested, here’s what he said about Braveheart. If you have the oppurtunity, i reccomend checking out the whole article. it’s only two pages, as usual, but entertaining.

    “Braveheart (1995) – This typical piece of Pom-bashing from Mel Gibson is just about the all-time worst Best Picture. It groans under the grandiose historical pomposity that had made El Cid, 55 Days At Peking and Khartoum such collosal bores in the early 1960’s. Writer Randall Wallace might have merited praise for making 13th century history relevant to audiences who thought King Edward was a potato or a cigar, but his dialogue has all the thudding subtelty of a parody. And then there are the battle scenes, which make a virtue out of techniques patented by Akira Kurosawa in Seven Samurai some 40 years ealier.”

    Patrick Peters, 10 Worst Best Pictures, Empire April 2005

  • ooops, sorry, this week’s Top 10 was chosen by Patrick Peters, not Kim Newman.

  • i just bought the issue in question (yes, long-term reader of Empire, is what The Duke is), and maybe it’s worth noting that this section appeared in Kim Newman’s monthly bit where he’ll produce his own personal top 10 of whatever, and then readers are invited to challenge said choices in the letters page. It’s Newman’s opinion, not “Empire’s” as such. Worth noting also that Braveheart was one of the magazines 100 Videos You Must Own back in the day, when folks still bought things like “videos”

    and yeah, Forrest GUmp is awful, but nowhere near as bad as A Beautiful Mind.

  • Titanic was interesting, though a little too weepy. It was good writing though and good direction. Read Lorrie Moore’s great analysis of the film to see why it holds appeal http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2003/03/22/bftit22.xml

    Forrest Gump–I thought it was stupid and mediocre too until I saw it with a group of students in a foreign country. They raved about it. It’s one of those silly sentimental films that works better at the theatre.

    I am dumbstruck that Dances with Wolves (that syrupy historically bogus Western) wasn’t put on the list.

  • Shark

    Forrest Gump should have been #1. One of the worst, most insulting films ever made, imho.

  • I don’t like very much about this list. Braveheart is a fabulous movie: moving, well-paced, emotional. Much better than Gladiator, which featured an annoying array of cut-away action shots that don’t show anything close to real fighting.

    Rocky is a people’s favorite. I don’t know if Forrest Gump was Oscar worthy, but I loved it and love it still.

    Where’s The Last Emperor? I can never stay awake through that one.

    Good post, El B. Great point on the ’89 Oscars, too — terrible pick that year.

    I wrote all of the above before I remembered that I really don’t care about awards for art (but I’m a sucker for lists!).

  • Nick Jones

    “L.A. Confidential blows it out of the freakin’ water. (heh heh, so to speak.)

    Damn straight.

    “Titanic is not below average. Sure, it’s got an average story, but it also has amazing action sequences.

    And that’s about all there was to it.

    I went to see it with my brother, and the first thing I had to say after it was over was “What a sap-o-rama!” (first coined by me to describe E.T.).
    Out of the thousand or so real-life passengers, Cameron had to write a sory about a handful of fictional characters? Don’t know why he bothered to call for that moment of silence for the dead at the Oscars; he didn’t consider them in the movie, except for a few cameos.

    And what about the Winslet character herself? God, what a cunt! She seems like an exercise in the Unreliable Narrator: everything centered around her, as if the sinking was all about how it impacted her life. There was enough room on the debris for two people; Jack didn’t need to die (I’ll bet she actually kicked him in the face until he went under!). And how cruel, selfish and cowardly it was to not let her mother know she survived – if she had any backbone, she would have gone to her mother to let her know she was alive, and told her she would not marry what’s-his-face under any circumstances.

    And then the final scene: she goes to sleep, and dreams of the passengers gathering round to applaud her. Oh, really? Why? The Titanic story has been told in books, movies, and the accounts of other survivers. Was her narration so much better? God, the woman has an ego as big as the Titanic itself!

    The one critical comment that sums up the film and the Winslet character for me came from MAD magazine. She’s throwing the jewel over the side, and says, (I’m paraphrasing here) “Here I am throwing the jewel into the ocean, when I could sell it and pay back my granddaughter for putting up with me for all these years. I guess I am a selfish bitch!”

    Whew. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

  • I have to agree that Greatest Show on Earth should be #1. It’s the most godawful boring spectacle ever put on film. Around the World in 80 Days is at least moderately entertaining.


  • daudder

    Either The Greatest Show on Earth or Around the World in 80 Days, both dreadful, undramatic films of questionable value. Braveheart is Citizen Kane in comparison

  • AI,

    When a film makes almost $2 billion worldwide, there must have been some men included in the “horde”.

    Titanic is not below average. Sure, it’s got an average story, but it also has amazing action sequences. The film is a technical marvel whose completion is more impressive than a film about two guys talking in a room.

    I enjoyed Good Will Hunting regardless of the illegimate Oscar it received for screenplay, but let’s get serious, L.A. Confidential blows it out of the freakin’ water.

    How do you like them apples?!

  • Wow. The Braveheart choice does seem pretty transparent. Forrest Gump is a uniquely American fable that belongs on no worst of list.


    I’m surprised Titanic didn’t make the list. I think it’s easily one of the ten worst best pictures of all time.

    It was simply a below average film that hoards of chicks flocked to see because at the time they loved DiCRAPrio and some special effects.

    Also that film beating out Good Will Hunting (forget your hatred for Damon and Assfleck, that movie WAS great) should insure it’s inclusion on the top 10 list.

  • They’re completely wrong about Braveheart, and I have to put it down to anti-Scotts prejudice, but it’s hard to argue with some of the others. Greatest Show on Earth, Ordinary People, Terms of Endearment and Cavalcade really are painfully awful. Rocky doesn’t belong on the list either, of course.


  • Eric Olsen

    I hereby name Empire the worst British film magazine

  • a beautiful mind and forrest gump would be top 2 on my list. Howard getting the top spot.