There was a time when the Academy Award for Best Picture was given to films that were not just critical darlings, but commercial successes as well. This was the case for decades, in fact, as Gone with the Wind still stands as the most successful film of all time when adjusted for inflation and from the 1920s to the 70s, there was typically a strong correlation between a film being number one at the box office and taking home the big prize on Oscar night. However, more and more we’re seeing the Best Picture Oscar go to movies that general audiences have little interest in seeing. Mind you, this doesn’t mean that these movies are undeserving of the accolades they receive, but more that what Academy voters and the average American like to watch are becoming increasingly disparate.
With that in mind, here are the 15 lowest-grossing Best Picture winners of all time, adjusted for inflation.
15. Crash (2005)
Original Gross: $54,557,348
Adjusted Gross: $69,713,284
One of the most controversial Best Picture winners in Oscar history, Crash beat out the running favorite Brokeback Mountain to win the top prize at the 78th Academy Awards. The win sparked allegations of anti-gay sentiment among Academy voters, while others simply felt that Crash was undeserving of the accolades it received. Featuring a large ensemble cast including actors such as Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Don Cheadle, and Thandie Newton, the fervor surrounding Crash did not translate to overwhelming box office success, as the film earned a respectable, though far from earth-shattering $54.5 million ($69.7M in today’s dollars).