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The Biggest Oscar Bait Films of All Time

Updated July 27, 2020 8.8k votes 732 voters 15.8k views47 items

List RulesDramas 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.

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    The Aviator

    December 25, 2004
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    The Deer Hunter

    December 8, 1978
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    September 6, 2010
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    Gone with the Wind

    December 15, 1939
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  • 7

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    Selma

    2014

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    Schindler's List

    December 15, 1993
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    The Danish Girl

    2015
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    Brokeback Mountain

    December 9, 2005
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    Based on real events, biography of a popular person, protagonist is persecuted for being gay.

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    Shakespeare in Love

    December 11, 1998
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    Monster's Ball

    February 8, 2002
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    The Revenant

    December 25, 2015
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    Terms of Endearment

    December 9, 1983
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    The Reader

    December 12, 2008
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