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There's something of a science to getting your movie nominated for an Oscar. There's even a term for the sort of movie that gets released with a seeming expectation of being nominated, "Oscar bait." You know these movies. They get released sometime between late September and New Year's Eve. They're heavy dramas starring major Hollywood stars who are often known for having starred in similar films. They're serious dramas about important issues and deep emotions or they're biographies of interesting people. However, just because some movies think they have a shot at being nominated, doesn't mean it happens. Sometimes the Academy just doesn't bite at the Oscar bait.

The thing about a lot of the "Oscar bait" movies is that, while they may be obvious attempts at nabbing awards, they forget to do the most important thing that must be done -- make a good movie. Sometimes movies seem to hope they'll be considered for Oscars simply because they released their emotional drama in December, seeming to think that people will overlook the fact that their movie isn't very good. Here are six cases where that clearly happened.

Seven Pounds

Will Smith is one of the biggest movie stars on the planet and in addition to making a number of the biggest summer blockbuster movies ever, he's also made his share of awards-worthy dramas and has been nominated for the Best Actor award on a couple of occasions. Seven Pounds was surely expected to be one of them. It starred Smith as a man who accidently causes the deaths of seven people, leading him to try to make amends by saving the lives of seven good people. The movie was a box office success, but critics thought that the movie was too self-important for its own good.

Oscar Noms: Zero


Naomi Watts had been nominated as Best Actress at the Oscars twice before, but had not won. Somebody probably thought she had this one finally locked up when she was cast in a biopic about one of the most popular people to walk the Earth in the 20th century, Princess Diana of Wales. While some people were forgiving to Naomi Watts, the general consensus was that she just had nothing to work with in an otherwise terrible film that felt more like some sort of over the top romantic drama than it did a realistic depiction of a woman's life. This didn't come anywhere close to being nominated for awards.

Oscar Noms: Zero

All the King's Men

If there's a formula for making an Oscar winner, All the King's Men may have had it. It had an all-star cast of well-respected actors, it was based on a previously existing novel, which itself was loosely based on an actual person, giving the film the appearance of being a biopic, without actually being one. We know this formula could win Oscars because the 2006 version of this film was actually a remake of a movie that had won the award back in 1949. The remake, however, was an absolute editing disaster that was all over the place and nowhere at the same time.

Oscar Noms: Zero


Yet another biopic starring a fantastic actress in the role of an extraordinary person. Hilary Swank was a two-time Oscar winner for Best Actress when she took on the role of female aviator Amelia Earhart. A film about a woman living in a male-dominated world like that could have been something special. Instead, the film seems to focus simply on what she did, rather than who she was. There's not nearly enough here for anybody, including the people who nominate major awards, to get involved in. The film is just bland and unlike its subject matter, never finds a way to soar.

Oscar Noms: Zero

Lions for Lambs

Not that long ago I did call out Lions for Lambs as a great Tom Cruise movie you probably haven't seen. I would still argue it's a movie worth seeing, but that's not the same thing as being an Oscar caliber film. Yet, there it was, directed by Robert Redford and co-starring Meryl Streep. The movie might as well have included a request for awards in the closing credits. The fact that the film dealt with a hot button political topic certainly didn't hurt the awards equation either, but the movie itself certainly did.

Oscar Noms: Zero

J. Edgar

Before Leonardo DiCaprio finally achieved his Academy Award dream he made several films that got him close, and one that was supposed to. Honestly, he might have had a shot with J. Edgar if the rest of the movie hadn't been a mess. Maybe J. Edgar Hoover was just too much material to take on at once. The movie is just too big and too bloated. J. Edgar was yet another biopic that thought a powerful actor and a powerful character would be enough. It wasn't of course. Even the best actors can't carry an entire film on their own.

Oscar Noms: Zero, but it did get one Golden Globe nomination for Leo, so there's that!

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