When Oscar legends just got too bloody silly

Warm up for the Academy Awards this weekend with mad detours from directors who should've known better

When Oscar legends just got too bloody silly
When Oscar legends just got too bloody silly

Peter Jackson

Won the Oscar for: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
Didn’t win an Oscar for: Bad Taste (1987)
Jackson was the writer, director, star, editor, cinematographer and makeup artist on his microbudget debut, in which aliens come to Earth to use human flesh as meat for an intergalactic fast-food chain. It was shot at weekends over a four-year period, and Jackson made the alien’s heads in his mum’s oven. There’s vomit-eating, decapitations and Jackson thumbing bits of his own brain back into his head. It’s great fun, but nobody saw it and thought, “Now this guy’s Oscar-bound!”

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James Cameron

Won for: Titanic (1997)
Didn’t win for: Piranha II: The Spawning (1981)
Also known by the subtitle Flying Killers, this schlockfest produced by B-movie king Roger Corman sees piranhas develop the ability to fly. There were various creative struggles during the film’s production, with Cameron at one point being barred from seeing the footage he’d shot. However, it was when he fell ill during the film’s Rome premiere that magic happened: he had a feverish nightmare about a metallic torso dragging itself out of an explosion – ah, the old classic! – which inspired The Terminator.

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Kevin Costner

Won for: Dances With Wolves (1990)
Didn’t win for: The Postman (1997)
Based in a post-apocalyptic 2013, The Postman is a weirdly jingoistic three-hour turkey that isn’t anywhere near as fun as Costner’s other high-profile flop, Waterworld. It follows his unnamed drifter as he discovers an old US Postal Service uniform and, in reviving the idea of mail delivery, reintroduces the ideas of truth, justice and the American way. With dialogue like, “You give out hope like it was candy in your pocket”, it all feels like everyone needs to take a step back, then another, and then to keep walking to a place where they can't do any more films.

When Oscar legends just got too bloody silly 3

Francis Ford Coppola

Won for: The Godfather Part II (1974)
Didn’t win for: Jack (1996)
Jack stars the late, great Robin Williams as a 10-year-old boy with a rapid-aging disease that makes him appear 40. It’s Patch Adams-style Williams, not Good Will Hunting-style Williams, and it’s really not a good film. It’s got a good joke in it about Zachary disease, which is where your face looks Zachary the same as your butt, and there’s a sad, awkward bit when Jack (Williams) asks his teacher (Jennifer Lopez) out, but it’s a low point on everyone’s CV.

Danny Boyle

Won for: Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Didn’t win for: A Life Less Ordinary (1997)
A Life Less Ordinary marked the third collaboration between Boyle, Ewan McGregor and screenwriter John Hodge, following the double whammy of Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. It’s fun film but deeply silly, involving angels coming to Earth to make McGregor and Cameron Diaz fall in love, complete with a (charming) karaoke sequence, a Claymation ending and Stanley Tucci playing a complete scumbag. McGregor’s hair in it is pretty impressive, though, the most 90s mop ever. Great times.

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