I’m willing to bet money you can’t find a person that agrees with all the Best Picture wins in the last 10 years, even 5 years. Everyone has favorite films each year that don’t win, let alone get recognized (see Children of Men, The Third Man, Vertigo). Then there are films fortunate enough to get nominated but couldn’t secure a win. These are not snubs in all cases, sometimes the winners are well deserved (see The Godfather Part II, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and No Country For Old Men). Here are the Top 25 Best Picture Nominees That Didn’t Win:
25. There Will Be Blood (2007) (nominated) – No Country For Old Men (winner)
Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of an Upton Sinclair novel about a greedy oil prospector does more than just retell the story. It paints a sprawling, vivid image with much credit going to Daniel Day-Lewis and his flawless performance.
24. E.T. (1982) – Gandhi
Steven Spielberg’s magical adventure about childhood touches the heart and appeals to anyone that is human (or extraterrestrial).
23. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – Forrest Gump
Definitely the best prison movie ever made. The charm of this film lies within the clever story and the top-notch acting.
22. Network (1976) – Rocky
A timeless film that accurately predicted over 30 years ago what defines modern media today. Also had the most recent posthumous award, for Peter Finch as Howard Beale. That is, until Heath Ledger wins this year.
21. L.A. Confidential (1997) – Titanic
This modern noir about classic Hollywood cinema is thoroughly absorbing and intellectually engrossing thanks to it’s powerful characters.
20. Fargo (1996) – The English Patient
A mature, dark comedy that exceeds in brilliant and original storytelling. Frances McDormand displays a subtle, endearing character that is a joy to watch.
19. Saving Private Ryan (1998) – Shakespeare in Love
A disturbingly realistic portrait of WWII. The first 20 minutes alone justifies it enough to be on this list, but the rest of the film has an intriguing story and riveting characters.
18. Good Will Hunting (1997) – Titanic
Gus Van Sant’s best film shines with great performances (specifically Damon + Williams), strong dialogue, and most of all, it thoroughly entertains.
17. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) – In The Heat Of The Night
A staple of American films, this crime classic delivers perfect performances and stunning landscapes. Critic Christopher Null says it correctly: “You’ll never root for the bad guys more than you will here.”
16. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) – An American In Paris
Featuring Marlon Brando’s best performance, this film about sexual repression and passion is not only one of the greatest adaptations ever it is an American classic.
15. The Conversation (1974) – The Godfather Part II
Although The Godfather Part II definitely deserved the trophy this year, Francis Ford Coppola’s film about paranoia and the growing invasion of technology in our lives was way ahead of its time. Gene Hackman also delivers a brilliant performance in this intelligent thriller.
14. The Graduate (1967) – In The Heat Of The Night
Meticulously and perfectly directed, this coming-of-age tale set a precedent for many indie imitators, with none living up to it. The unforgettable music and cinematography mark this as a true classic.
13. Dog Day Afternoon (1975) – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Another case where I have no problem with the winner, but this nominee is too remarkable to be disregarded. Pacino gives an electric performance in this expertly executed thriller. It not only wildly entertains, but thoroughly investigates human life and emotion, creating an iconic piece of cinema.
12. A Clockwork Orange (1971) – The French Connection
Hauntingly disturbing, Stanley Kubrick’s unsettling film still shocks almost 40 years later. This masterpiece is a visual rollercoaster of images you will never forget.
11. Taxi Driver (1976) – Rocky
How this or Network didn’t win Best Picture is beyond my mind. Scorsese’s brooding portrait of insanity is a timeless character study.
10. Chinatown (1974) – The Godfather Part II
Chinatown, The Godfather Part II, and The Conversation all in one year?! I don’t know how movie-goers were able to handle it all. Roman Polanski’s noir mystery is a faultless staple of cinematic storytelling.
9. Double Indemnity (1944) – Going My Way
Directed expertly by Bill Wilder, this classic film noir is sharp, witty and ultimately fun.
8. The Maltese Falcon (1941) – How Green Was My Valley
Perhaps the greatest directorial debut in cinema, John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon exceeds with impeccable dialogue and performances, especially the legendary Humphrey Bogart.
7. Raging Bull (1980) – Ordinary People
An authentic and brutal film in which De Niro delivers one of his best performances. Scorsese’s black and white style succeeds with overbearing results.
6. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb(1964) – My Fair Lady (1964)
It is the unsurpassed example of dark comedy. A political satire that transcends its genre, making it completely relevant fifty five years later.
5. Pulp Fiction (1994) – Forrest Gump
Making an unforgettable impact on pop culture, this film is the definition of entertaining. The perverse interconnected crime stories are chaotic and ultimately thrilling.
4. Jaws (1975) – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
I watched this film when I was way too young and had never been more terrified in my life. Spielberg’s pioneer summer blockbuster provides the thrills like no other and set a precedent for “beast” movies to come.
3. 12 Angry Men (1957) – The Bridge on the River Kwai
This Sidney Lumet masterpiece is a intense study in dialogue and debate. A film that focuses heavily on performances and delivery does more than just tell a story, it keeps the audience mesmerized.
2. Goodfellas (1990) – Dances With Wolves
Scorsese’s quintessential mob masterpiece goes down as the most upsetting Oscar loss. Everything about this film is brilliant; from the storytelling to the performances to the camerawork, there is not a moment that isn’t perfectly calculated.
1. Citizen Kane (1941) – How Green Was My Valley
Widely regarded a the best film of all time for some time now, it is no surprise that this masterpiece was snubbed at the Oscars. William Randolph Hearst was so against the film that it received numerous boos when it was even mentioned at the ceremony. We can now recognize it as the true technical and emotional marvel it is today. Welles has crafted such a potent character study that should be required viewing for, well, everyone.
Do you agree? Will we see another addition to the list if Slumdog Millionaire loses this year?
[by Jordan Raup]