Entertainment

The Biggest Oscar Bait Films of All Time 

Logan Rapp
6.4k votes 697 voters 15k views 47 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. Of course, some Oscar bait movies utterly fail to bait any Oscars.

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
Ranker Video
The Danish Girl
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
Ranker Video
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Moonlight is a 2016 American coming-of-age drama film directed by Barry Jenkins, based on Tarell Alvin McCraney's unpublished semi-autobiographical play.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

More Moonlight 

#107 of 720 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #142 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Againlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
Ranker Video
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

More 12 Years a Slave 

#32 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies For Best Picture #78 of 720 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
Ranker Video
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

More Hidden Figures 

#370 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #15 of 177 The Very Best Movies of 2016, Ranked #12 of 238 The Best Movies Based on True Stories

5
Ranker Video
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

More Selma 

#435 of 720 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #14 of 39 Great Historical Black Movies Based On True Storieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

6
Ranker Video
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

More The Theory of Everything 

#119 of 238 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #7 of 23 Great Movies About Inventors & Innovatorslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

7
Ranker Video
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

More Lincoln 

#12 of 82 The Best Movies Based on Non-Fiction Books #155 of 382 The Best War Movies Ever

8
Ranker Video
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

More The Imitation Game 

#140 of 382 The Best War Movies Ever #250 of 582 The Greatest Film Scores of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

9
Ranker Video
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

More The King's Speech 

#33 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies For Best Picture #309 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #225 of 243 Critically Acclaimed Movies That Kinda Suck

10
Ranker Video
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

More Spotlight 

#56 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies For Best Picture #8 of 15 15 Movies Only Boring People Find Boringfeaturing All The Things 'Spotlight' Gets Wrong (And Right) About The Pulitzer Prize-Winning True Story

11
Ranker Video
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

More Schindler's List 

#508 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #2 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Againlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

12
Ranker Video
kotbayun added
Call Me by Your Name is a 2017 Italian-American romantic coming-of-age drama film directed by Luca Guadagnino, based on Andre Aciman's novel of the same name. In 1980s Italy, a romantic ...more

More Call Me by Your Name 

#198 of 324 Movies with the Best Soundtracksfeaturing Things You Didn't Know About Call Me By Your Name (And How Shia LaBeouf Almost Starred In It)listed on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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

More The Iron Lady 

#539 of 582 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time #22 of 41 35+ Great Political Movies Based on True Stories

14
Ranker Video
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

More The Shape of Water 

#72 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies For Best Picture #20 of 102 The Best Movies of 2017, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

15
Ranker Video
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

More Brokeback Mountain 

#595 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #15 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Againlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

16
Ranker Video
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

More J. Edgar 

#213 of 320 The Best Political Films Ever Made #48 of 81 The Best Clint Eastwood Movies

17
Ranker Video
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

More American Sniper 

#1,016 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Moviesfeaturing 30 Things You Didn't Know About American Sniperlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

18
Ranker Video
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

More The Aviator 

#86 of 243 Critically Acclaimed Movies That Kinda Suck #255 of 582 The Greatest Film Scores of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

19
Ranker Video
December 25, 2011
This film is a 2011 American drama film directed by Steven Spielberg based on British author Michael Morpurgo's 1982 children's novel of the same name. After his beloved horse is sold to the ...more

More War Horse 

#113 of 382 The Best War Movies Ever #94 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry

20
Ranker Video
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

More The Revenant 

#74 of 116 The Best Native American Movies #176 of 243 Critically Acclaimed Movies That Kinda Sucklisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

21
Ranker Video
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

More The Tree of Life 

#556 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #10 of 243 Critically Acclaimed Movies That Kinda Suck #3 of 70 The Most Pretentious Movies Ever Made

22
Ranker Video
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

More Les Miserables 

#8 of 217 Musical Movies With the Best Songs #10 of 371 The Best Musical Movies of All Time

23
Ranker Video
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

More The Big Short 

#35 of 82 The Best Movies Based on Non-Fiction Books #4 of 41 The Greatest Movies About Making Moneylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

24
Ranker Video
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

More Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 

#41 of 74 The Best Movies Released Christmas Day #141 of 200 The Best Mystery Movies Rated PG-13listed on The Best Movies About 9/11

25
Ranker Video
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

More Born on the Fourth of July 

#180 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #186 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Starslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever