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.
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
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
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
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
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