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8 Most Violent Best Picture Winners

The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences has never struck us as strongly stomached types.

Typically, the Best Picture Oscar goes to tragic tales of romance, heroes overcoming medical issues or heart-warming epics.

But there are exceptions to every rule, and some of the most famous gold-grabbing pics have featured claret-laden injury usually restricted to award-free genre films.

Here are a few of our favourite violent chunks through the years…


The Movie: The Godfather (1973)

The Stomach Churningly Violent Bit That Should've Put Off The Academy: Um, you want us to just pick one? Okay, how about this little montage, in which Michael (Al Pacino) celebrates his nephew’s baptism by having the five heads of enemy families slaughtered in a variety of surprising, bullet-flinging ways.

He has one bloke shot in the eye. Through his glasses!

Why It Won An Oscar Anyway: The subject meant violence was always going to be part of the characters’ lives and Coppola pulled off a masterpiece that both transcended the brutal moments and made them integral to the plot.

And the academy loves an eye-murder.

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The Movie: The Deer Hunter (1979)

The Stomach Churningly Violent Bit That Should've Put Off The Academy:
The Russian Roulette scene is famous for its tension, but it’s how Robert De Niro and Walken escape from it, with bullets flying their captors suffering messy deaths that really pushes the envelope.

If only they’d listened to Bobby, who keeps promising through all their taunting, that they’re going to die.

Why It Won An Oscar Anyway:
Another movie where violence is a harsh fact of life, the Academy gave it a pass because it shows the huge consequences of conflict and violence.

Warren Beatty probably wished he’d included a scene like it in Heaven Can Wait.


The Movie: Platoon (1987)

The Stomach Churningly Violent Bit That Should've Put Off The Academy: Willem Dafoe’s Sgt Elias Grodin is left for dead by corrupt colleague Sgt Barnes (Tom Berenger), but somehow stumbles towards salvation.

His effort is tragically short-lived as a group of North Vietnamese soldiers hunt him down and pour ammunition into his twitching form.

Why It Won An Oscar Anyway: Oliver Stone brought gritty authenticity to the film, which offered an unflinching, psychologically deep portrayal of how men change during wars.

War… Huh! What is it good for? Winning awards while being violent, apparently.

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The Movie: The Silence Of The Lambs (1992)

The Stomach Churningly Violent Bit That Should've Put Off The Academy:
Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter affects an escape from his solitary cell situation that involves a paperclip, face-mangling, a thorough beating and tearing another man’s face off to wear as a disguise.

He doesn’t do things by half, our Dr Lecter.

Why It Won An Oscar Anyway: It won five, mostly for the superb acting from all involved and the thrilling distillation of Thomas Harris’ novel into pure movie form.


The Movie:
Unforgiven (1993)

The Stomach Churningly Violent Bit That Should've Put Off The Academy: Gene Hackman’s Little Bill captures Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman). He decides to torture him to get information about a killing involving Clint Eastwood ‘s William Munny.

The blood-streaked whipping ends up killing Ned, and Bill puts his corpse on display outside his saloon.

Why It Won An Oscar Anyway:
Eastwood’s tale brought the Western roaring back into credibility, and the story’s take on the thin line between a “good” violent man and a “bad” one was rightly rewarded.
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The Movie: Braveheart (1996)

The Stomach Churningly Violent Bit That Should've Put Off The Academy : William Wallace (Mel Gibson) gets bloody revenge against the English gits who raped and offed his wife.

Frankly, we feel sorriest for the horses, who keep being stabbed despite having little to do with either side of the argument.

Why It Won An Oscar Anyway: There’s some controversy over this one, as plenty of people aren’t sure it deserved its gold.

Still, the Academy are suckers for an epic, particularly since it features an oppressed people rising up. And the oppressors are English, to boot.


The Movie: Gladiator (2001)

The Stomach Churningly Violent Bit That Should've Put Off The Academy:
Russell Crowe’s Maximus squares off against undefeated, armoured opponent Tigris (Sven-Ole Thorsen), who has a natty little gimmick – a tiger is introduced into the ring.

Maximus scores victory after he slashes Tigris in the fizzog and stabs him in the toes (ouchie!)

Why It Won An Oscar Anyway: Ridley Scott crafted an elegant tale powered by endlessly committed work from Crowe.

And it’s a full, tragic story arc to boot – can you say Oscar catnip?

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The Movie: No Country For Old Men (2008)

The Stomach Churningly Violent Bit That Should've Put Off The Academy:
Bowl-coiffed killer Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is arrested by a Texan sheriff’s deputy, and proceeds to strangle the cop with handcuffs. That he’s wearing.

He escapes, steals a police car and then kills someone else with his signature captive bolt pistol.

Why It Won An Oscar Anyway: The Coens’ bleak, gritty adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s book won plaudits for its peek into darkness and the sheer skill with which the pair handled the book’s dark themes head on. 

It was that, or There Will Be Blood, friendo. Which clearly didn't have enough blood in it.

If you liked this, you should probably check out our 7 Tacky Horrors That Deserved Oscars , in which we make a case for Halloween, The Thing, Susperia, Evil Dead II and more...

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