Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Biggest Best Picture Nomination Snubs in History

Over at Collective Publishing, I mentioned a few shocking moments when the underdog took the Oscar statuette.  Even though it is rather surprising when a universally regarded movie doesn't get top prize, it is much more shocking when a film declared the best of the year doesn't even get an Oscar nomination.  It has happened on several occasions, and it becomes even more head scratching when you add a decade or more of perspective on the snubbed films.  It has occurred way more than the Academy would probably like to admit and so you could probably compile your own list that had several films that I neglected to mention, but here are a few major stand outs.


King Kong (1933)Yes, I'm talking about the movie with the giant ape.  I admit the picture may not be a visual spectacle by today's standards, but it was revolutionary back in 1933.  This film inspired massive blockbuster action genres like natural disasters and monster pictures, and would have paved the way for films like Towering Inferno and Jaws (both films that did get Best Picture nominations).  There are several big blockbuster special effects spectacles that have won Best Picture, and this may be the true granddaddy of those types of films.  Plus it has an engaging story that was fairly original for its time and has been constantly duplicated.  King Kong may be the most well-known misunderstood creature besides Frankenstein's monster, and considering there were 8 nominees back in 1933, it is shocking this film got the shaft.

Vertigo (1958):  Several respected critics and film rankings have this as the greatest film of all time, or at least, it bounces back and forth with Citizen Kane.  I mentioned before how it was shocking that Citizen Kane didn't win best picture, but Alfred Hitchcock's greatest film didn't even get nominated.  The idea of shock or twist endings is often believed to be a phenomena popularized in the '90s, but this has one of the best and memorable that inspired that entire style of filmmaking.  James Stewart is an iconic actor, but this was his greatest performance, though he got snubbed from a nomination as well.  In an even more shocking bit of news, Hitchcock actually never won Best Director, and several of his other amazing works never got nominated despite how highly they're viewed today such as North by Northwest, Rear Window and Psycho.  It is this film that is his greatest masterpiece that proves his legendary skills as a filmmaker, and it is a huge blight on the Academy that it was never recognized in its year.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968):  This is probably one of the more divided films in history.  Most film buffs praise this as a visual spectacle and a powerfully thought provoking filmThere are people who believe it is a confusing mess and find it boring.  But I think everyone can at least agree that it is a masterfully crafted film and contains some of the most memorable scenes in cinema history.  Stanley Kubrick is another director who was robbed from ever winning the Best Director, but it is ludicrous that a movie held in such high esteem was ignored by the Academy.  This film has inspired countless works of science fiction, and has a style that is still used in many modern classics. I should also note that Kubrick has had other classic works that went ignored by the Academy like The Shining and Full Metal Jacket.

Easy Rider (1969):  Along with Bonnie and Clyde (1967), this film ushered in a new era of cinema with antiheroes, ultra violence, a counterculture message, and representing the disillusionment with the government.  The film is the ultimate road movie but also contains the style and feel that would influence many of the classic films from the '70s.  The Academy has the disadvantage of not realizing how the next decade would turn out, and be able to recognize this film captures the feelings and frustrations of the time.  It is one of the films that changes how films were made, and also was the first break out performance of Jack Nicholson.  It created the template of future Dennis Hopper characters, but also put Peter Fonda in a role that most weren't used to, and really proved why he is one of the all-time greats.  I don't know if the new era of cinema would have taken off it wasn't for this revolutionary piece of filmmaking.

Sophie's Choice (1982):  I had to recheck the list of Best Picture nominees about five times to make sure I wasn't just missing this film.  Apparently, the Academy didn't feel one of the most powerful and emotional motion pictures of all time should be nominated.  This is the film that put Meryl Streep into a starring role to optimize her great talents and allowed her to grace the world with her magic.  Yes, she rightfully won Best Actress, but there is more to this movie than just her performance.  It is one of the most provocative and thought provoking film dealing with the Holocaust.  It will make you cry and rip up your insides, but it doesn't do it in an overly sentimental way.  It is a beautiful piece of filmmaking that balances darkness with heart, and presents a situation that the viewer gets truly challenged.  It is a classic and unforgettable picture, and it is unbelievable it wasn't recognized as one of the best five movies of 1982.


Do the Right Thing (1989):  There were two major films about race relations in 1989.  Driving Miss Daisy was the safe and sentimental film with a classic Hollywood happy ending. Spike Lee's film was a challenging and thought provoking masterpiece that ends with a massive cannonball to the gut.  It reveals that racial tension still exists and showcases a hatred brewing that Hollywood almost always ignored.  It has a powerful message, but it also a well-constructed and engaging film.  It is on almost every critic's best films of the '80s list, but somehow the Academy completely ignored it.  The even greater travesty is that Spike Lee didn't get a Best Director nomination, and he has actually been ignored his entire career despite his amazing talents.  Can you believe he has never even received a Best Director nomination?  He also has several other powerful films that were snubbed such as Malcolm X and Jungle Fever.

Toy Story (1995): It was a huge deal in 1991 when Beauty and the Beast was the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture.  But some perspective shows that the Academy should have waited four more years and they would have got a truly Oscar worthy animated film Best Picture nomination.  Speaking of perspective, does anyone still think this wonderful and magical film should have been usurped by a talking pig?  It was a decent year for cinema, but Toy Story has been one of the more enduring pictures from that decade let alone year.  It had a heartwarming message about friendship and looking past differences, and is also one of really great coming of age tales.  It is a fun film for all ages, and one of the first real animated films that adults didn't need to borrow a child to justify going to see at the theatre.  Plus it was a revolutionary film technically and changed how animation was done, and essentially birthed the Pixar empire.  It definitely did a whole lot more for the industry than Babe.

These are my picks for biggest Best Picture nomination snubs, and I realize I also snubbed some incredible film.  Please help with the list and let me know which films you feel were robbed of a nomination.

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