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The Biggest Oscar Bait Films of All Time 

Logan Rapp
Updated November 22, 2019 6.4k votes 704 voters 15.2k 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.

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1
Ranker Video
The Danish Girl 2015

Actors: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard

Directed by: Tom Hooper

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
September 6, 2010

Actors: Helena Bonham Carter, Colin Firth, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, Geoffrey Rush, + more

Directed by: Tom Hooper

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

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3
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November 9, 2012

Actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, + more

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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

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4
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December 15, 1993

Actors: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Embeth Davidtz, Norbert Weisser, + more

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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

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5
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kotbayun added 2016

Actors: Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, + more

Directed by: Barry Jenkins

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

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6
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December 9, 2005

Actors: Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kate Mara, Anna Faris, Michelle Williams, + more

Directed by: Ang Lee

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

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7
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December 25, 2015

Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter

Directed by: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

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

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8
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kotbayun added 2013

Actors: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, + more

Directed by: Steve McQueen

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

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9
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GinaShuster added 2016

Actors: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, + more

Directed by: Theodore Melfi

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

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10
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December 25, 2004

Actors: Kate Beckinsale, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gwen Stefani, Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, + more

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

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

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11
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January 13, 2012

Actors: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Iain Glen, Harry Lloyd, Richard E. Grant, + more

Directed by: Phyllida Lloyd

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12
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December 25, 2012

Actors: Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Helena Bonham Carter, + more

Directed by: Tom Hooper

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13
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November 3, 2011

Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench, Lea Thompson, Armie Hammer, + more

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

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

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14
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kotbayun added 2014

Actors: Oprah Winfrey, Common, Cuba Gooding Jr., Tim Roth, Tom Wilkinson, + more

Directed by: Ava DuVernay

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

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15
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kotbayun added 2014

Actors: Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Matthew Goode, + more

Directed by: Morten Tyldum

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

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16
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kotbayun added 2014

Actors: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Harry Lloyd, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, + more

Directed by: James Marsh

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

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17
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December 25, 2011

Actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Emily Watson, Liam Cunningham, David Thewlis, + more

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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18
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kotbayun added

Actors: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Lauren Lee Smith, + more

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro

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

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#25 of 70 The Most Pretentious Movies Ever Made #442 of 581 The Greatest Film Scores of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

19
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kotbayun added

Actors: Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, + more

Directed by: Luca Guadagnino

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20
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kotbayun added 2015

Actors: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, + more

Directed by: Tom McCarthy

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

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21
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December 25, 2011

Actors: Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, John Goodman, Viola Davis, Max von Sydow, + more

Directed by: Stephen Daldry

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22
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December 8, 1978

Actors: Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale, John Savage, + more

Directed by: Michael Cimino

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

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23
A Beautiful Day in the N... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Biggest Oscar Bait Films of All Time
2019

Actors: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Chris Cooper, Susan Kelechi Watson, Enrico Colantoni, + more

Directed by: Marielle Heller

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a 2019 American drama film directed by Marielle Heller. An award-winning journalist's (Matthew Rhys) perspective on life is transformed after he ...more

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24
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December 19, 2008

Actors: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Madison Pettis, Octavia Spencer, + more

Directed by: Gabriele Muccino

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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25
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carlybobarly added 2013

Actors: Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Robert De Niro, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, + more

Directed by: David O. Russell

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