VOTE The Biggest Oscar Bait Films of All Time  

Logan Rapp
5.7k votes 620 voters 13.3k views 46 items

List Rules Dramas that were released late in the year (Oct-Dec) and seem obviously catered toward Oscar voters. Can be from any year.

There are a number of ways in which a film could be classified as "Oscar bait," and not all Oscar bait movies are the same, but there are some qualities that you can plainly see are tailor-made for film's highest awards. For starters, Oscar bait movies are released in the winter, which is the season where the nominating committee will decide what earns a nomination (so they're fresh in the committee members' minds). With this list of Oscar bait films, you'll find plenty of movies - both good and bad - that are specifically trying to bait the committee and voters into picking them.

What many consider to be the "original" Oscar bait movie, The Deer Hunter, used the Academy Awards as a way to market the movie. They were having a difficult time getting people to watch, but they found that, after getting an award nomination, the average moviegoer was more inclined to come to the movie in a more open frame of mind. This practice has now become standard business practice for films like Shakespeare in Love and Seven Pounds, which had differing levels of success. 

So take a look at this list of films that were (probably) made just to win someone an Oscar and upvote the most blatant Academy Awards bait offenders, whether you liked the movie or not.
list ordered by

1
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2015 The Danish Girl is a 2015 romantic drama film directed by Tom Hooper, and loosely inspired by the lives of Danish painters Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Lili (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda's (Alicia ...more

2
92 22
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kotbayun added 2016 Moonlight is a 2016 American coming-of-age drama film directed by Barry Jenkins, based on Tarell Alvin McCraney's unpublished semi-autobiographical play. A chronicle of the childhood, ...more

3
83 17
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kotbayun added 2013

Based on real events, biography of a persecuted minority person, features themes of racism.

12 Years a Slave is a 2013 period drama film directed by Steve McQueen, based on the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free ...more

4
186 78
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September 6, 2010 The King's Speech is a 2010 British historical drama film directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler. Colin Firth plays King George VI who, to cope with a stammer, sees Lionel Logue, an ...more

5
176 73
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November 9, 2012 Lincoln is a 2012 American epic historical drama film directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as United States President Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. The ...more

6
213 106
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December 15, 1993 Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama, directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Thomas ...more

7
78 22
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GinaShuster added 2016 Hidden Figures is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed by Theodore Melfi, based on the non-fiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly. The story of a team of female African-American ...more

8
62 13
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kotbayun added 2014

Based on real events, biography of a popular minority rights activist, features themes of racism.

Selma is a 2014 historical drama film directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Paul Webb. It is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by James Bevel, Hosea Williams, and ...more

9
59 15
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kotbayun added 2014

Based on real events, biography of a popular person, protagonist is handicapped.

The Theory of Everything is a 2014 British biographical coming of age romantic drama film directed by James Marsh and adapted by Anthony McCarten from the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life ...more

10
63 20
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kotbayun added 2014

Based on real events, biography of a popular person, protagonist is persecuted for being gay.

The Imitation Game is a 2014 historical thriller film directed by Morten Tyldum, with a screenplay by Graham Moore loosely based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. It ...more

11
151 82
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December 9, 2005 Brokeback Mountain is a 2005 American epic romantic drama film directed by Ang Lee. It is a film adaptation of the 1997 short story of the same name by Annie Proulx; the screenplay was written ...more

12
108 53
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January 13, 2012 The Iron Lady is a 2011 drama and biography film written by Abi Morgan and directed by Phyllida Lloyd.

13
150 84
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December 25, 2004 Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The Aviator is a 2004 American biographical drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, written by John Logan and produced by Michael Mann, Sandy Climan, Graham King, and Charles Evans, Jr.. It ...more

14
44 11
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kotbayun added 2015 Spotlight is a 2015 American biographical drama film directed by Tom McCarthy. The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the ...more

15
165 107
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December 25, 2015 The Revenant is a 2015 American semi-biographical epic western film directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu. A frontiersman (Leonardo DiCaprio) on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s ...more

16
106 62
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November 3, 2011 J. Edgar is a 2011 American biographical drama film directed, co-produced, and scored by Clint Eastwood. Written by Dustin Lance Black, the film focuses on the career of FBI director J. Edgar ...more

17
39 11
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kotbayun added Call Me by Your Name is a 2017 romantic coming-of-age drama film directed by Luca Guadagnino. Based on the novel by Andre Aciman, the film chronicles the romantic relationship between a ...more

18
46 17
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kotbayun added

The protagonist is handicapped, the antagonist is sexist, racist and conservative. Features POC and gay characters, themes of xenophobia, homophobia and racism. Also, evil Russians.

The Shape of Water is a 2017 American fantasy romance film directed by Guillermo del Toro. Lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of silence and isolation until she discovers a secret ...more

19
93 60
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December 25, 2011 This film is a 2011 American drama film directed by Steven Spielberg. It is an adaptation of British author Michael Morpurgo's 1982 children's novel of the same name set before and during the ...more

20
139 99
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December 25, 2012 Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Les Misérables is a 2012 musical drama film directed by Tom Hooper, based on the 1862 French novel of the same name by Victor Hugo, which also inspired a 1980 concept album and 1985 ...more

21
24 8
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kotbayun added 2015 American Sniper is a 2014 American biographical drama film directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Jason Hall. It is based on the book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal ...more

22
20 5
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kotbayun added 2011 The Tree of Life is a 2011 American experimental drama film written and directed by Terrence Malick and starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain. The film chronicles the origins and ...more

23
38 21
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Snubbed added 2015 The Big Short is a 2015 American biographical comedy-drama film directed by Adam McKay, based on the 2010 book by Michael Lewis about the 2007-2008 financial crisis. A group of investors bet ...more

24
86 64
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December 8, 1978 The Deer Hunter is a 1978 American epic drama film co-written and directed by Michael Cimino about a trio of Russian American steelworkers and their service in Vietnam. The film stars Robert De ...more

25
69 51
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December 20, 1989 Born on the Fourth of July, published in 1976, is the best selling autobiography by Ron Kovic, a Vietnam veteran who became an activist. Kovic was born on July 4, 1946, and his book's ironic ...more

26
71 53
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December 25, 2011 Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a 2011 American drama film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer, directed by Stephen Daldry and written by Eric Roth. It stars ...more

27
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December 19, 2008 Seven Pounds is a 2008 American fantasy drama film, directed by Gabriele Muccino, in which Will Smith stars as a man who sets out to change the lives of seven people. Rosario Dawson, Woody ...more

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carlybobarly added 2013 American Hustle is a 2013 American comedy-drama film directed by David O. Russell. It was written by Eric Warren Singer and Russell, inspired by the FBI ABSCAM operation of the late 1970s and ...more

29
71 56
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December 11, 1998 Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Shakespeare in Love is a 1998 British-American romantic comedy-drama film directed by John Madden, written by Marc Norman and playwright Tom Stoppard. The film depicts an imaginary love affair ...more

30
60 47
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February 8, 2002 Monster's Ball is a 2001 American romantic drama film directed by German-Swiss director Marc Forster starring Halle Berry, Billy Bob Thornton and Heath Ledger. The film tells the story of a poor ...more

31
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December 17, 2003 Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Monster is a 2003 drama film about Aileen Wuornos, who was executed in Florida in 2002 for taking six men's lives in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Wuornos was played by Charlize Theron, and ...more

32
47 37
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2015 Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Joy is a 2015 American biographical comedy-drama film directed by David O. Russell. A divorced mother (Jennifer Lawrence) becomes the founder and matriarch of a powerful family business

33
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December 9, 1983 Terms of Endearment is a 1983 comedy-drama film adapted from the novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry, directed, written, and produced by James L. Brooks and starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra ...more

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43 34
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December 12, 2008 Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The Reader is a 2008 German-American romantic drama film based on the 1995 German novel of the same name by Bernhard Schlink. The film was written by David Hare and directed by Stephen Daldry. ...more

35
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October 23, 2009 Amelia is a 2009 biographical film about the life of Amelia Earhart. The film was directed by Mira Nair and starred Hilary Swank as Earhart and Richard Gere as her husband, George Putnam. The ...more

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36 30
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mercedesr added 2007 Atonement is a 2007 British romantic drama film directed by Joe Wright and based on Ian McEwan's 2001 novel of the same name. The film stars James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, Romola ...more

37
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December 10, 2002 Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Chicago is a 2002 American musical comedy film adapted from the satirical stage musical of the same name, exploring the themes of celebrity, scandal, and corruption in Jazz Age Chicago. The film ...more

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andrelr22 added 2014 Birdman or, commonly referred to as Birdman, is a 2014 American black comedy-drama film co-written, produced, and directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. It stars Michael ...more

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December 18, 2009 Nine is a 2009 musical drama metafilm directed and produced by Rob Marshall. The screenplay, written by Michael Tolkin and Anthony Minghella, is based on Arthur Kopit's book for the 1982 musical ...more

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December 15, 1939 Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American epic historical romance film adapted from Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel. It was produced by David O. Selznick of Selznick International ...more

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December 25, 1996 The People vs. Larry Flynt is a 1996 American biographical drama film directed by Milo¬ö Forman and starring Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love, and Edward Norton. It chronicles the rise of magazine ...more

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November 5, 2010 Conviction is a 2010 legal drama film directed by Tony Goldwyn, written by Pamela Gray, and starring Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell. The film premiered on September 11, 2010, at the Toronto ...more

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Snubbed added 2010 The Fighter is a 2010 biographical sports drama film directed by David O. Russell, and starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo. The film centers on the life of ...more

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October 19, 2012 Starring Academy Award® Nominee John Hawkes, Academy Award® Nominee William H. Macy and Academy Award® Winner Helen Hunt, the film is based on the true story of California-based ...more

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December 31, 2002 Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is a 2002 biographical spy comedy film depicting the life of popular game show host and producer Chuck Barris, who claimed to have also been an agent for the ...more

46
48 66
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December 11, 2009 The Lovely Bones is a 2009 supernatural drama film directed by Peter Jackson and stars Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli, and Saoirse Ronan. A film ...more