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As Oscar Nominations Loom, The Five Worst Best (Recent) Pictures

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The paradox of the Oscars is that while nobody outside of the incestuous parallel reality of Hollywood really cares about them, we still find ourselves drawn to the spectacle like illiterates to a Rock of Love marathon. The nominations for the 81st Academy Awards will be announced this week, so we decided to take a look at some of the least-worthy Best Picture winners, narrowing it down to more recent offenders. (Yeah, like any of you have seen Cavalcade.)

5. Rocky (1976)

Plot in Ten Words or Less: Mush-mouthed brawler in elevator shoes fights champ. Loses.

Movies it Beat: Network, Taxi Diver, All the President's Men

Why it Won: Folks in the entertainment biz don't like to be reminded that they're soulless whores (Network) or that people like Travis Bickle actually exist.

4. The English Patient (1996)

Plot in Ten Words or Less: Who Knew Treason and Romantic Betrayal Could Be So Boring?

Movies it Beat: Fargo, Secrets & Lies

Why it Won: When it comes to overlong snoozefests of questionable literary pedigree, it's safer to call it a masterpiece than admit you don't know what the big deal is.

3. Forrest Gump (1994)

Plot in Ten Words or Less: Mentally challenged man validates Baby Boomer nostalgia.

Movies it Beat: Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption

Why it Won: Not satisfied with giving Hanks the Oscar for Philadelphia the previous year, Hollywood wanted to show its appreciation for classics like Bachelor Party and The Man With One Red Shoe all over again.

2. Chicago (2002)

Plot in Ten Words or Less: Renee Zellwgere overacts. Richard Gere sings. John C. Reilly winces.

Movies it Beat: Gangs of New York, The Pianist

Why it Won: Sorry, but it was too soon after Sept. 11 not to honor a moldy 27 year-old musical instead of a bleak war movie or something with "New York" in the title.

1. Crash (2005)

Plot in Ten Words or Less: Blacks are people too. Asians, not so much.

Movies it Beat: Good Night and Good Luck, Brokeback Mountain

Why it Won: The Academy is always more comfortable patting itself on the back for acknowledging racism than lauding political allegory or recognizing gays when they're not dying of AIDS.

-- Pete Vonder Haar

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