When it comes to cinematic portrayals of disability, it's easy to slip into stereotypes or oversimplifications. From mental disability as a gimmick to abled actors playing disabled characters, the results can be offensive or even exploitative. Let's take a look at some of the most cringey moments in film history. We'll start with Roger Ebert's criticism of The Other Sister, which he called out for using mental disability as a gimmick and treating its characters like performing seals. Then there's the infamous I Am Sam and its anachronistic approach to autism representation. We'll also explore Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar-nominated performance in What's Eating Gilbert Grape and Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder, which drew the ire of the Special Olympics.
We'll also look at Gary Oldman's bizarre role in Tiptoes, Rain Man's suffocating stereotypes, Daniel Day-Lewis' method acting in My Left Foot, Eddie Redmayne's pandering in The Theory of Everything, and Jamie Foxx's portrayal of Ray Charles' life journey.
Disability tropes explored and challenged: Mad Max: Fury Road.
Professor X: Marvel's most famous disabled superhero... or not?
Love story gone wrong: Disability activists not impressed.
Howard Hughes: OCD struggles and unexpected behavior.
Joaquin Phoenix's casting criticized: disability community not amused.
Tom Cruise: Oscar-nominated for his explosive performance.
From birth to addiction to success: Ray Charles' incredible life journey.
Disabled representation: Pandering to the able-bodied?
Spoon-fed lunches? Just one of Daniel Day-Lewis' acting extremes.
Rain Man: 30 years of suffocating stereotypes.
A romantic comedy that offends instead of entertains: Tiptoes.
Ben Stiller's action movie bungles respect for the intellectually disabled.
DiCaprio visits home for the mentally-disabled; Oscar, Golden Globe nods follow.
Abled playing disabled: Outdated then, even more so now.
Mental disability as a gimmick: Ebert calls out "The Other Sister".