VOTE The Biggest Oscar Bait Films of All Time  

Logan Rapp
5.9k votes 650 voters 13.9k 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
157 43
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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
104 25
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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Moonlight is a 2016 American coming-of-age drama film directed by Barry Jenkins, based on Tarell Alvin McCraney's unpublished semi-autobiographical play.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
194 84
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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

4
183 78
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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

5
88 23
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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

6
89 25
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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

7
71 16
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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

8
220 110
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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

9
68 16
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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
69 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
160 85
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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
111 55
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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
47 12
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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

14
47 13
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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

15
151 90
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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

16
110 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
52 20
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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

18
171 114
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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

19
144 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

20
95 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

21
29 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
39 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

23
74 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

24
20 6
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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

25
82 62
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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