Judging pannels are supposed to be objective and fair but we can’t help but wonder what the Academy thought when they presented Oscars to these 10 films. Admittedly, the films weren’t bad, but they were by no means masterpieces, and there is a strong case that the ones which missed out have better stood the test of time. In some cases, one could argue they are even classics.
Here, to cast a shadow over the voting practices of many an Academy member, we take a look at 10 notable Best Picture injustices and give our own verdict on the films we beleive should have won instead.
10. Saving Private Ryan losing out to Shakespeare In Love (1999)
A movie about a young William Shakespeare conceiving the story line for Romeo and Juliet wasn’t a bad film, but it ‘s not a great one either. Sure, the scenes are heartfelt and in some cases powerfully moving, but the film pales in comparison to Steven Spielberg’s riveting WWII drama Saving Private Ryan. Still, the Academy thought that one of the greatest war movies ever made wasn’t up to the standards of a film now mostly remembered for a topless scene involving Gwyneth Paltrow.
9. Citizen Kane losing out to How Green is my Valley (1941)
Citizen Kane is synonymous with the accolade of being, ‘The Greatest Film Ever Made’ but Orson Well’s masterpiece about a rags-to-riches tycoon failed to win Best Picture at 1941’s Academy Awards ceremony. Instead, the accolade went to the cinematic adaptation of the classic Welsh novel ‘How Green is my Valley.’ The book has since been described by the US Library of Congress as “socially significant” but one could agree that the film doesn’t come close to the enduring legacy of Orson Well’s Citizen Kane.
8. Brokeback Mountain losing out to Crash (2006)
Paul Haggis’ Oscar-winning ‘Crash’ was powerful as it is enduring and its legacy of an America divided by race is just as poignant now as it was back then. Nonetheless, the film wasn’t exactly groundbreaking, and many films like ‘Crash’ had long been made so many were puzzled when the cinematic adaptation of Annie Proulx’s novella, Brokeback Mountain, a story about two cowboys falling in love, failed to win the much-coveted award.
7. Goodfellas losing out to Dances with Wolves (1990)
Before Martin Scorsese finally won his first two Oscars for the 2006 Boston gangster drama, ‘The Departed’, his films were continuously overlooked and one such injustice bestowed upon Mardy was his classic crime drama Goodfellas. Not only did it fail to garner the American director the Best Director award, but it also lost out in the Best Picture department to the Kevin Costner movie ‘Dances with Wolves.’ And while the film, which chronicles a soldier on a remote Civil War outpost befriending Native Americans gained positive reviews, it has been plagued with controversy by some Native Americans who spoke out against the movie’s inaccuracies about their culture.
6. Zero Dark Thirty Losing out to Argo (2012)
Even to this day, many can’t work out the hype surrounding the Ben Affleck-directed movie, Argo. Sure, it was a good story, and the acting wasn’t bad, but one could easily mistake it for a TV drama as opposed to an example of cinematic brilliance. Alas, the Oscar went to Argo and overlooked Katherine Bigalow’s stunning movie ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ which explored the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and the manhunt that ensued for the culprit, Osama Bin Laden.
5. Raging Bull losing out to Ordinary People (1980)
Another loss for Mardy came in 1980 when his film about the boxing legend Jack La Motta lost out to the epithermal movie ‘Ordinary People.’ Indeed, few can probably remember what the movie was about, let alone that a film called ‘Ordinary People’ even existed but many will tell you that Raging Bull isn’t only one of Scorses’s best work, it’s one of cinema’s, too.
4. L.A. Confidential losing out to Titanic (1997)
James Cameron’s weepest about the sinking of the Titanic is one of Hollywood’s most successful films, and it cleared up nicely at the 1997 Oscars by winning 10 of its 13 nominations. But the Oscar’s isn’t supposed to be a ceremony that hands out Kleenex tissues instead of gongs, which made the film’s Oscar success so puzzling; especially when you consider that it was competing against the gripping movie adaptation of James Ellroy’s pulp novel L.A. Confidential.
3. The Social Network losing out to The King’s Speech (2010)
If it wasn’t for America’s love of all things British perhaps Tom Hooper’s film about King Geroge IV struggling with a speech impediment would have been overlooked in favour of David Fincher’s ‘The Social Network’, which chronicled the rise of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the bitter battles that ensued from the creation of the world’s most successful online network.
2. A Clockwork Orange losing out to The French Connection (1971)
Stanley Kubrick was a visionary genius, and he demonstrated that very early on his career when directing and adapting the controversial Anthony Burgess novel, A Clockwork Orange.
However, though impressed, Academy members didn’t think it was ‘Best Picture worthy’ and instead decided to bestow that accolade on William Friedkin’s The French Connection. In fact, Kubrick’s masterful re-telling of the masterpiece won none of its four nominations.
1. Psycho losing out to The Apartment (1960)
Arguably the most infamous Oscar injustice of all time, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was one of the first films of the now popular ‘slasher genre’ and is considered by historians and critics to be among the greatest films of all time. But critics weren’t so as enamoured with the movie upon its initial release, and despite high box office returns, the film mustered only four nominations- neither of which it won.
Remarkably, Psycho wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture and instead the award went to the Billy Wilder-directed movie, The Apartment.