The top 10 Oscar losers

The top 10 Oscar losers. By Simon Miraudo.

We’re sure that winning an Academy Award is one of the highest honours an artist in the field of film could ever hope for. And it hardly needs to be said that a fair few great flicks have been recognised by the Academy over the years. However, the list of movies to lose on Hollywood’s night of nights is even more impressive than the list of victors. In anticipation of next week’s Oscar ceremony – where the totally pleasant rom-com The Artist will surely triumph over the far more deserving Midnight in Paris, Hugo, and Terrence Malick‘s masterpiece The Tree of Life we’re celebrating the finest Best Picture losers in the Academy Awards’ 84-year history. We hope their recognition here is an acceptable substitute for that shiny gold man – although deep down we know it definitely isn’t.

Don’t miss our Oscar Live-Blog on Monday, February 27. Details here!

10. Taxi Driver, All The President’s Men, Network 

We’re kicking off this list with a tie (read: a cheat). In the bloodbath of 1977, Martin Scorsese‘s devastating social satire Taxi Driver, Alan J. Pakula‘s masterful political thriller All the President’s Men, and Sidney Lumet‘s eerily prescient and freakishly funny Network all succumbed to the Philly boxer Rocky. That is one tough year.

9. Chinatown

Chinatown didn’t stand a chance against The Godfather Part II, but Roman Polanski‘s 1974 film noir is chilling, occasionally confounding, and endlessly entertaining. If it weren’t up against, well, The Godfather Part II, it would have surely won.

8. Raiders of the Lost Ark

Although no one will dispute its unparalleled awesomeness, some may not think Steven Spielberg‘s rollicking Indiana Jones flick deserved to wear the Best Picture crown. Consider that it lost to Britain’s Chariots of Fire, a film almost exclusively remembered for its score. Just because a film isn’t a drama – and is perhaps a comic action-adventure – doesn’t mean it can’t be the best movie of the year.

7. Goodfellas

In one of the most notorious Oscar flubs in history, the Academy decided not to reward Martin Scorsese (yet again!) for his gangster epic Goodfellas, in favour of Kevin Costner‘s opus Dances with Wolves. At least Joe Pesci won Best Supporting Actor, and offered up the second shortest speech in the telecast’s history: ‘Well, it’s my privilege. Thank you’. Pay attention, Melissa Leo!

6. Sunset Boulevard

It’s ironic that The Artist, the tale of a silent film actor’s waning stardom, looks set to win the top prize on Monday, considering the similarly themed (and superior) Billy Wilder classic Sunset Boulevard failed to do so itself (cut it some slack; it was up against All About Eve). Even crazier, The Artist’s other big inspiration – Singin’ in the Rain – didn’t even get a Best Picture nomination!

5. Fargo

The Academy would eventually right their wrongs and give the Coen brothers’ Best Director and Best Picture for No Country for Old Men. But not all the retroactive recognition in the world can undo the tragedy of 1996, when their brilliant Fargo lost out to The English Patient. ‘Oh yah?’ Oh no.

4. Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Stanley Kubrick‘s films were famously snubbed time and time again, but the worst instance of this is when his blistering war comedy Dr. Strangelove was bested by … by … it’s hard to even say it … My Fair Lady.

3. Pulp Fiction

In this writer’s opinion, Quentin Tarantino‘s Inglourious Basterds should have won Best Picture back in 2009, but that was a competitive year and a very good film (The Hurt Locker) reigned instead. However, the Academy’s decision to shun the director’s second film, Pulp Fiction, back in 1994 is one of their all-time greatest mistakes. Sure, he and Roger Avery scored a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for their troubles. But Tarantino changed the entire movie-making game with Fiction, whereas winner Forrest Gump did little except convincingly cut-off Gary Sinise‘s legs.

2. Citizen Kane

Orson Welles Citizen Kane lost to How Green Was My Valley at the 14th Academy Awards, and is likely the example cited by every BP also-ran for the past 70 years.

1. The Red Shoes

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger‘s The Red Shoes is, quite possibly, the greatest movie ever made. Moira Shearer stars as a talented ballet dancer who must choose between ambition and love, and is eventually driven mad (much like the shoe-coveting character she portrays in the play-within-the-film). This British treasure lost to another UK production in 1949: Laurence Olivier‘s Hamlet.  But The Red Shoes’ centrepiece – a 17-minute ballet sequence that explodes through the fourth wall – deserved to win Best Picture on its own.

Honourable mentions, in alphabetical order, include: (Deeeeeeeeep breath) 12 Angry Men, Apocalypse Now, Brokeback Mountain, Dog Day Afternoon, Double Indemnity, The Exorcist, Good Night and Good Luck, Jaws, The Last Picture Show, The Maltese Falcon, Nashville, The Shawshank Redemption, The Social Network, There Will Be Blood, To Kill A Mockingbirdand The Wizard of Oz.

An extra special mention to the films that didn’t even GET a Best Picture nod in the first place: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Boogie Nights, Die Hard, Do The Right Thing, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Good The Bad and The Ugly, Mulholland Drive, Ratatouille, Seven Samurai, Vertigo there are so many more.

Reminder: Don’t miss our Oscar Live-Blog on Monday, February 27. Details here!

Discuss: What is your favourite Oscar loser?

7 Responses to “The top 10 Oscar losers”

  1. ET losing to Gandhi, Brokeback Mountain losing to Crash, and come Monday, unless the unexpected happens, whatever winner beating out The Tree of Life.

  2. Simon pls refresh my memory. Did Star Wars ever win an Oscar?

    • Hey Carolyn;

      Star Wars won six Oscars (Art Direction, Costume, Visual Effects, Editing, Score, Sound) but lost Best Picture to Annie Hall. Add it to the honourable mentions!

  3. The Dark Knight not even being nominated in 2008

  4. It’s because idiotic pro fascist misinterpretation of comic book characters aren’t normally considered as awards contenders, Anthony.

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