Semantic gripe: all Best Picture winners deserved to win. They were the movies the voters liked the most, after all.
But I get the question. Which BP winner would I personally never have voted for had I had a ballot. First, let me say that I’m very far from being an Oscar completionist. Quick tally says I have only seen 24 of the big winners, most of them from “recent” years. I can honestly say that I’ve at least liked all of them, though obviously to various degrees. While it’s almost tempting to go for some controversy here and say No Country For Old Men for beating my beloved Juno, there is a better example from further back in the years.
I’m talking about Rocky from 1976. A sports movie that aspires for depth it doesn’t quite achieve and treads water a bit too frequently. That said, it certainly has its upsides: it’s a good-looking film with a very nice score, it has a star-making performance by Sylvester Stallone in the lead, and the climax is one of the all-time greats of cinema. Hell, I already knew the ending before seeing the movie and I still found myself shouting “Come on Rocky, knock him the hell out!” at the TV screen. While it’s not a film I love, it’s a film I find very hard to dislike.
So why does it get this spot? Because it was up against superior competition. Sidney Lumet’s Network is a scathing and entertaining look at the dark world of television that still feels highly relevant to this day. A much stronger film in my book. And as if that’s not enough, the greatness that is Taxi Driver also happened to be nominated that year. Compared to those two, Rocky comes up short.