Every year at the Oscars, all eyes are on the Best Picture category. Previous winners include iconic films such as Lawrence of Arabia, the Godfather and Schindler’s List. And to be in this company is an honour to say the least. This year the honour went to Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water. It was a tough year with many great contenders like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Dunkirk, Call Me By Your Name and Get Out.
But while the Academy aims to award timeless masterpieces, many Best Picture snubs have gone on to become classics on their own. Here’s a list of iconic films that did not win the Best Picture Oscar – including some that weren’t even nominated!
Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane is an iconic piece of work and often hailed as the best film of all time by film critics. It has long remained in the top of many all-time best films lists (currently still #2 in the Rotten Tomatoes Top 100 Movies of All Time list). In 1941 though, while being nominated for Best Picture, the film lost to Mrs. Miniver – a film that many won’t even know or remember.
12 Angry Men
A masterpiece that is often regarded as the best written film of all time. 12 Angry Men is an example of how a great script, cast and direction come together to make a timeless piece of art. The film lost to The Bridge on the River Kwai – the big winner of 1957 with seven Oscar wins.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is seen is a cinema jewel. It is the setting stone of many horror and thriller films. And yet it failed to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture – a painful snub in Oscar history. The Oscar went to West Side Story that year.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was an Oscar snub that critics still can’t get over. The film is widely recognised as the best Western film in cinema history. The film went on to become a film classic and is ranked in the top of many movie lists. The film that won Best Picture that year was the drama Midnight Cowboy.
Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver may have lost to another movie classic, Rocky, but it is still cited as one of the top movie classics. With unforgettable performances by Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster, the film is often seen as Scorsese’s finest work.
Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining failed to receive any Oscar nominations but the film has since grown to become a classic in the horror/thriller genre. The film that won Best Picture this year was the British drama Chariots of Fire.
Once Upon a Time in America
Sergio Leone’s iconic Once Upon a Time in America wasn’t able to pull in any Oscar nominations either. It was a year that belonged primarily to Best Picture winner Out of Africa – a drama that won in seven categories that year. Still, the film remains one of Leone’s masterpieces.
The Tarantino film is a pop culture classic – one with iconic characters from the Tarantino universe. It doesn’t compare to the director’s following film, Pulp Fiction, but it is a gem in cinema history. The film wasn’t nominated in any Oscar category. This year belonged to Schindler’s List (rightly so though).
The Shawshank Redemption
This wasn’t as much a controversial snub, as The Shawshank Redemption lost to Forrest Gump, a Best Picture winner that was much deserved. But this is an example of how not all great films get to win Best Picture. Not when you’re up against an extraordinary contender like Forrest Gump.
With 12 Oscar nominations, The English Patient was the biggest contender to win Best Picture. But many would have loved seeing Fargo win due to its excellent writing and cast. So when Fargo the television series came out, fans were more than thrilled to see the story come to life a second time around. With Fargo, the Coen brothers have masterfully injected comical behaviour into the genre of crime thrillers.
Se7en is a cult classic that failed to get a nomination for Best Picture. But it is one of those films that leaves a lasting impression (albeit horrifying). The crime thriller, masterfully directed by David Fincher, is one that is included in many top movie lists. The current Netflix thriller Mindhunter takes its inspiration from the film.
Saving Private Ryan
One of the biggest Oscar snubs to date. Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan is seen by many as possibly the best war movie. But it lost the Oscar to the romantic period drama Shakespeare in Love.
A cult classic, a favourite among film lovers and a film with one of the most iconic movie quotes. The film wasn’t nominated for Best Picture sadly, but still ranks in the top of the IMDB Top-rated Movies List (#10). The film that won in 2000 was Gladiator.
Often regarded as Christopher Nolan’s best work. The film didn’t garner an Oscar nomination, but it did go on to become one of the most iconic films due to its unique storytelling. The film that won Best Picture in 2001 was A Beautiful Mind.
2010 was a tough year to beat. With contenders such as The King’s Speech (the winner), True Grit and Black Swan, chances of winning were slim. But even without the Oscar for Best Picture, Inception has become an iconic piece, loved for its originality and exceptional story. Currently ranked at #14 in the IMDB Top-rated Movies List.
When Argo won Best Picture in 2012, it caused quite an uproar among critics. Many argued that the film lacked a timeless quality and originality to win in the category. Drive, while not even being nominated, was an arthouse favourite that was hailed by many critics as a work of art – a film that should have at least been on the list for Best Picture.