Top 10 Best Picture Nominees That Didn't Win (But Should Have)

Every year, movie fans take bets and argue over which films should win the top prize at the Academy Awards. While Best Picture doesn't invalidate the worth of the other films nominated it sometimes can prove that those who vote don't always get it right. Some years, the awards are so close that it makes the decision impossible but other years it is clear that the wrong choice was made. Hingsight is always 20/20, but this list gathers the ten films that have had a lasting impact on fans and the history of movies far greater than the movie that actually won the top honor. If you disagree with our picks or think we missed one, let us know in the comments below.

The Academy Awards air Sunday, February 24th on ABC.


Arguably the greatest movie ever made, Orson Welles' first movie lost to HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY. Seriously. It was also up against THE MALTESE FALCON which would have been better, but Welles groundbreaking use of camera angles, deep focus, and a non-linear narrative still remains a benchmark for filmmakers thee quarters of a century later. Rewatch CITIZEN KANE and tell me if there is any better example of Best Picture of the Year.


AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS beat THE TEN COMMANDMENTS for Best Picture, but which movie do we watch during the holidays on an annual basis? AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS has been remade time and again but nothing approaches the scale and grandeur of Cecille B. DeMille's biblical epic. Charlton Heston was never better than as Moses in a movie that transcends the years to remain as stunning as it was when it premiered on the big screen.


William Friedkin's horror classic was actually making fans physically ill. Few movies are both horrifying and stirring in the way that THE EXORCIST was and is. The Academy has hardly acknowledged horror in their annual awards with THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS the closest thing to a genre film winning top honors. But when THE EXORCIST lost, it was to THE STING. A great movie but not as great as THE EXORCIST.


Did you even know that George Lucas' 1977 original was nominated for Best Picture? It lost to ANNIE HALL which has maintained a dedicated following over the last four decades, but which of those two films changed Hollywood forever? Maybe the industry was not ready to give a science fiction film about aliens and laser swords their highest honor, but no single movie since has come anywhere close to changing how films were made and marketed more than the first STAR WARS movie.


Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman broke hearts as a divorcing couple in KRAMER VS KRAMER, but that film in no way deserved Best Picture. Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of Heart of Darkness was a sweeping and unflinching look at the perils of war and madness with a brilliant performance from Marlon Brando. Martin Sheen anchored the movie which straddled the line between art and movies in a way that none of Coppola's other films came close to. This is a clear case where we can see decades later which movie is more worthy.


Steven Spielberg had a long run of not winning Best Picture when he really should have. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK may have been too mainstream to take the award, but it revolutionized action films while still paying homage to the glory days of early Hollywood. Still, it lost to CHARIOTS OF FIRE, which is still one of the most boring movies I have ever seen.


DRIVING MISS DAISY won in 1989. Do I really need to say more? Another film that did not age well, DRIVING MISS DAISY wasn't even all that impressive when it hit theaters. I understand nominating it for Best Picture, but DEAD POETS SOCIETY is a movie people quote endlessly decades later. Hell, even if Robin Williams' stirring drama didn't float your boat, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY also lost to a movie about a black man driving around a white woman. 


Not my favorite Martin Scorsese film, but I admit that GOODFELLAS is an exceptionally influential film. Kevin Costner's white savior epic DANCES WITH WOLVES took the big award in 1990 and that film looks less culturally sensitive now than it did back then. GHOST was also up for Best Picture that year, but GOODFELLAS is far and away the movie with the lasting legacy of the nominees.


Robert Zemeckis'  FORREST GUMP remains an achievement of special effects with a heartfelt performance by Tom Hanks. But, it was a movie designed to win Oscars and inspired the TROPIC THUNDER joke about never "going full retard". Quentin Tarantino's intricate crime film was the most original movie released that year and should have garnered top honors. Hell, even if neither film won,  THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION was up for Best Picture that year. 25 years later, all three of those movies are still beloved but FORREST GUMP remains the least impactful.


It seemed a foregone conclusion that Steven Spielberg's World War II masterpiece was going to take top honors, but in one of the most blatant campaigns conducted by Harvey Weinstein, the romantic period comedy SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE took the title of Best Picture. While I was rooting for ELIZABETH to win, it was still shocking that the Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes movie would win over the Tom Hanks-led blockbuster. To this day, fans are salty that things went down the way they did but clearly, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN was and is the superior film.

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