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Jan 18 2018

Worst Best Picture Snubs Ever?

by Nathaniel R

This weekon Las CulturistasI froze on the question of "Greatest Oscar Snub of All Time?"so with 5 days out until the nominations (we know we know final predictions coming at'cha starting tomorrow),let's answer it!Restricting ourselves to Best Picture here because you gotta keep it tight when answering loose questions.

SO WHAT WERE THE DOZEN WORST BEST PICTURE SNUBS EVER?Let's group them according to types of injustice...

TYPE 1.PLENTIFUL NOMINATIONS INCLUDING BEST DIRECTOR.SO WHY COULDN'T OSCAR GO THAT ONE SIMPLE HAPPY STEP FURTHER?My Man Godfrey(1936),Some Like it Hot(1959),2001: A Space Odyssey(1968),They Shoot Horses Don't They?(1969) andThelma and Louise(1991)

In all five of these cases the Best Picture snubs are puzzling.It's not just that the movies are all so grand that you watch them with jaw dropped -- from laughter,cathartic despair,or sheer awe.It's also that the Academy loved them enough to recognize them across multiple branches...

The hilarious screwballMy Man Godfreyarrived before Oscar truly developed its 'comedy is lesser than' routine and the largest branch (actors) just loved it,accounting for four of its six nominations.So did the below the line people in Hollywood just not respond to it at all?Another immortal comedySome Like It Hot,from one of Hollywood's most beloved directors,received nominations from six different were the other branches absolutely immune to its fizzy charm?

2001: A Space Odysseyis the most understandable of these snubs in that it was provocative and challenging and its nominations came mostly in the less heralded tech categories.And yet,it was a big enough hit with moviegoers and critics that you'd think it would have been respected enough at the time to manage the big one.Especially since Oscar likes 'scale,' if you will,in its nominees.

Thelma and Louisewas obviously a 'just-miss' in 1991 given its six nominations and status as one of the zeitgeistiest of that year's crop.But what happened with Sydney Pollack's furious and formidable Depression era dance-a-thon movieThey Shoot Horses,Don't They?The Jane Fonda led drama still holds the record all these years later of "Most Nominations without Best Picture"with an incredible nine nods.One more small troubling detail about its fate:it's better than all the actual Picture nominees that year.

TYPE 2.MUSICALS ARE NEVER APPRECIATED ENOUGH PART #2,961Meet Me in St Louis(1944) andSingin' in the Rain(1952)

My love for these classics is well known so click on the links to read past pieces.Real talk: both should have WON Best Picture in their years.Meet Me in St Louishas its devotees (The Film Experience is a frequently cheerleader亚博主页) but deserves to be more widely cherished these days for its impeccable mix of genres without ever once sacrificing the resonant American family portrait at its center or immensely pleasurable Judy Garland musical numbers.Singin' in the Rainis inarguably beloved todaybut wasn't back then.It's a pity because pure bliss is not an easy thing to create onscreen.Now imagine having creating it trying to sustaining it for 103 minutes.AndRaindoes,without ever setting a tap foot wrong!


All of these horror classics received acting nominations --Rosemary's Babyeven won a well deserved trophy in Supporting Actress.They were so exceptionally made that Academy voters let go of their qualms about the horror genre to honor them.Tis a pity it wasn't in the top category,though.I'd argue,with no hesitation whatsoever,thatAlfred Hitchcock'sPsychoandRoman Polanski'sRosemary's Babyare the single best movies of their respective years.If Brian de Palma'sCarrieisn't the best film of 1976 it's not for lack of quality.It's just that1976 was an insane year in which perfection was easy to come by;the masterpieces just kept on coming.

That none of the three best horror films ever made (what?that's just my opinion,man) were nominated for Best Picture is more frightening than any jump scare.They all should have gotten the fullExorcistorSilence of the Lambstreatment from the Academy.The 1973 and 1991 Oscar fates of those films proved,however fleetingly,that Academy voters could look past genre trappings and see the Bestness.  Let's hope they do so withGet Outnext week.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind(2004) andCarol(2015)

Eternal Sunshinereceived two well deserved nominations (Actress and Screenplay) which means the Academy saw it.So it still baffles the mind that they couldn't bother to nominate it in the most important category in a year with a decided lack of spark among the top contenders.Finding NeverlandandRay?Really???Were the Oscar ballots that year created by Lacuna Inc?Were their memories ofSunshine's inspired surrealism,melancholy beauty and insightful humor partially wiped as they sat down to vote?(Hell,it should have even been the first time a female cinematographer was recognized by the Academybut we're still waiting -- at least for 5 more days -- for that one.)

If you haven't yet realized that Todd Haynes'sCarol,an exquisitely crafted wintry 1950s romance between an unhappy married lady (Cate Blanchett) and a curious shopgirl/photographer (Rooney Mara) is a complete masterpiece of a romantic drama,please watch it again.And again.And again.Five timesat least.Actually make it a Christmas tradition.If you still don't get what the big deal was...well,in the immortal words of Sarah Paulson's Abby Gerhard:

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Reader Comments (64)

Singin in the Rain has my vote for this one!

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterT-Bone

I'm surprised Dreamgirls isn't mentioned.It had the most nominations in its year,was a box office hit,and was clearly going to win some awards.On paper it seemed like a sure thing.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Also in Type 1:
The Bad and The Beautiful

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterJorge

It's perhaps a little obvious,but The Dark Knight is perhaps the definitive modern case.It got several big technical noms,and obviously Heath Ledger's win was historical,so the Academy admired it.However you feel about it's overall qualities,it was clear then that TDK was a better movie than Frost/Nixon or Benjamin Button.

The failure to nominate it also led to the expansion of the Best Picture list - though as I think that's been good for Oscar,perhaps it was fate that it wasn't nominated!

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterIanO

Almost Famous and Being John Malkovich are recent snubs that got widespread support in the industry but failed to be nominated for best picture.
They had been nominated for SAG ensemble,DGA,PGA,WGA and ACE,had a lot of critics awards and had few Golden Globes and BAFTA nominations/wins.
But 1999 has the weirdest best picture line ever (inexplicable with the options they had) and BJM was weird,so ...
But I still can found justification for Almost Famous missing

January 18,2018 | Unregistered Commentervictor S

Virtually all of Hitchcock's films were robbed of Best Pic nominees,especially egregious are Rear Window (way more worthy that Three Coins in the Fountain,The Caine Mutiny,even On the Waterfront),Notorious,Marnie,and Vertigo.

The Oscars loved The Asphalt Jungle and The Third Man,亚博主页but not enough for BP nominees,yet they found room for King Solomon's Mines (I'm guessing there was some cash exchanged...).

While Come Back Little Sheba isn't exactly BP caliber it was vastly superior to all of the BP nominees (Yes I think it's better than High Noon and The Quiet Man,the latter which I think is especially overrated).

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Tawfik

I don't know how truthful it is,but I thought I heard that the Academy felt no rush to recognize "Singin in the Rain"because of the backlash over the surprise victory of "An American in Paris"the year before.(I know it's an unpopular opinion,but "An American"runs circles around "Singin"and was a very deserving BP winner.)

A lot of these would've surely made it in an expanded year,which makes the exclusion of "My Man Godfrey"(which couldn't even make it in a field of 10 nominees) that much more confusing.

If I'm taking "snub"literally (i.e.was expected to get a nomination but was somehow dropped - not retrospectively declared a classic like "Singin"or "Sullivan's Travels"),I'd add "The African Queen","Being John Malkovich","Almost Famous","Dreamgirls",and "The Dark Knight"to the list.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterGuestguestguest

Ian and victor beat me to it!

Jorge: good call on "The Bad and the Beautiful".They gave it 5 major Oscars (most wins of any film not nominated for BP,亚博主页I believe) so clearly they saw and liked it.No Director nomination,though.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterGuestguestguest

I'm constantly forgetting that 2001 was not nominated.That's nuts.But that lineup is pretty great.Honestly,I'd take out the winner--Oliver!--to get in 2001.

That stat for They Shoot Horses,Don't They?is incredible.How in the hell was this masterpiece snubbed for Hello,Dolly!

January 18,2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I'd add Glory to the list.It received 5 Oscar noms but no Best Pix.Wonderful film.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

I would disagree on the Musicals Are Never Appreciated part.Both of those movies deserved recognition but they're more exceptions to the rule.The Academy has historically liked musicals more than any other genre out there (comedy,horror,thriller) other than drama.Me being nitpicky.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterAlexD

Some Like It Hot Picture,Marilyn Leading Actress and Joe E.Brown Supporting Actor.
Billy Wilder was also nominated for Sabrina and Stalag 17 without BP nominations.Sabrina won Costumes for Edith Head(in that strange case with Givenchy) and Stalag 17 actor for Wiliam Holden.
My Man Godfrey is an incomprehensible situation because the 1930s are "the comedy years"for The Academy that gave major nominations and awards for the genre.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterGwen

Adam Tawfik: Rear Window worthier than On the Waterfront?Are you HIGH?Rear Window is an excellent locked door thriller (and I'd agree it's better than the first two you mentioned),but better than On the

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

It's been so long since we've seen that Sarah Paulson meme on this website.So glad to see it back.Great article!

January 18,2018 | Unregistered Commentermikenewq

Alex D -- i meant to include in the article that the 1960s give the illusion that the Academy have always treated musicals well.But it was really only that decade that they regularly rewarded them.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I think that back in 1936 it was a small board of people voting in each category,rather than branches as we know them nowadays.

In terms of Oscar stats,Hud is another surprise miss.Another of the biggest misses in my view is Leaving Las Vegas,which loads of people were expecting would get nominated for 1995.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.


January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

Edward,your post made me think of what a weird year 1995 was.I thought Dead Man Walking would get in too,but the Oscar gods were not smiling.Maybe they could portend the stuff that would later issue from Susan and Sean's mouths.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

David,you just beat me to it LOL

January 18,2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I would add BULLETS OVER BROADWAY to that first group.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

brookesboy- Yes 1995 was so weird wasn't it?They had so much to choose from and they went for things like BABE and APOLLO


January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

David -- but those were good ones.It's Braveheart that was the problem!

January 18,2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Musicals were arguably "over rewarded"from 1958 to 1968,but maybe that was just the Academy playing catch-up in the genre when they saw that it was going away.Plus those were the years that musicals were the big money makers.

I'm still surprised that The Third Man and The African Queen weren't nominated.In my lifetime,I remember being somewhat surprised that Manhattan wasn't nominated after the back to back noms of Annie Hall and Interiors,but 1979 was thick with arguable masterpieces.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Hollywood

"Unbearable Lightness of Being"got a screenplay nod and a cinematography nod,but nothing else (Day-Lewis,Lina Olin,and Juliette Binoche all should have been nominated).It won Best Film and Best Director from the National Society of Film Critics.It came out in February,and disappointed at the Box Office.Had it dropped into release in late December,it might have ridden the wave of strong reviews to more glory.The Pauline Kael review was one of her multi-page raves.It's STILL sadly underrated.It seems like six months after it came out it was forgotten.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterDanniella

and dont forget :
TYPE 5 : films that didn't get nominated because it was a foreign language film.

I could make a list,but it would be way too long.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterArno

Wall E
Marie Antoinette
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Notting Hill

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterRizz

Edward L: Yes,HUD!

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterSteve G

Ziegfeld,Going My Way,An American in Paris and Gigi have won BP before the 60's.Before Cabaret I could estimate that almost half of the years has musicals in the best picture line-up.Sorry,but no.Westerns are never appreciated,not musicals.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

HUD must be one of the quintessential major snubs,no?SEVEN nominations and no Best Picture...perplexing.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

I agree with Guestguestguest that "An American in Paris"runs circles around "Singin' in the Rain"and was a very satisfying Best Picture winner.I'd go further and say Minnelli's wonderful 1953 musical "The Band Wagon"should have been a Best Picture nominee as well.In the end,I'd have given the prize that year to "Shane".But "The Band Wagon"would have been a more than worthy competitor.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterKen

To the people mentioning Dreamgirls: it's really not a very good movie.I wish it had been.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Speaking of Best Picture,there's a weird note in the new Vanity Fair Weinstein story that says two Oscars (one for The King's Speech and one for The Artist) were removed from his offices shortly before the NYT story broke.亚博主页

In the case of The Artist,only one producer (Thomas Langmann) formally received the statuette.To my knowledge,he's not a TWC exec and primarily works in France.

Why would TWC be in possession of those Oscars?亚博主页Does an extra get made for the companies behind movies?

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

I don't necessarily think it's a huge snub,but it is weird that virtually everyone seems to agree that The Empire Strikes Back is better than the original Star Wars,so it's a bit odd that it didn't get any Best Picture traction when the original probably came close to winning.

My pick for biggest snub of all time might be Do the Right Thing.Not that it's my favorite movie to miss out on a nomination (MOST of my favorite movies were not nominated),but as far as being a zeitgeisty movie that had critics and the industry alike raving over it,its omission was glaring then and seems even more so now.Especially when you consider the movies they did nominate that year.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

Edwin: 100% agree.Do The Right Thing is a masterpiece.I feel it's only gotten more amazing with time.I watched it last fall and the death that sparks the riot at the climax triggered a little crying jag.It's shattering to realize how relevant the movie still is,how literally nothing has changed.One of the best films ever.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Speaking of snubbed musicals,how about A Hard Day's Night?And animated films,such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio,and more recently South Park and Inside Out have never been given the respect they deserve.
Just one small nitpick concerning the My Man Godfrey headscratcher.It wasn't the below-the-line craftsmen who snubbed it.That year the nominations were made by a select committee of about 50 elite members,(including Clark Gable) so how they could nominated it in all 4 acting categories,direction and screenplay - with 5 nominees in each category,yet not nominate it for one of the 10 (!) Best Pictures is truly baffling.They Shoot Horses,Don't They?and Hud did it with 3 acting nominations each,but there were only 5 Best Picture nominees in those years.But why go so far in the past?Many were saying the new rules made it impossible for this to happen again,but then came Foxcatcher in 2014 with 1 of the 5 Best Actors,Supporting Actors,Directors and Original Screenplays,but not one of the 8 Best Pictures.I think it's weird that all 4 of these movies would have been my choices to win in their respective years.
Also,one major factor in Singin' in the Rain's near-inexplicable non-nomination is that MGM put all its efforts into promoting Ivanhoe,their big-budget end-of-year production.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s

Here for the ROSEMARY'S BABY love.

The more I think about it the more it feels to me like GET OUT is my film of the year.It captured everything about 2017 perfectly,was an enormous hit and was an instant classic.It doesn't matter that it was a genre film.It shouldn't,at least.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterSeán

I will never get over the "Being John Malkovich"snub in 1999.Such a groundbreaking year for movies and what a SHITTY BP lineup.I recently rewatched "Cider House Rules",what's the point here?Michael Caine WON an Oscar over the non-nominated John Malkovich and Christopher Plummer "("Insider").Terrible.

Also someone mentioned upthread,but "Bullets Over Broadway"should've been in there.3 acting nominations (and a win),nods in a bunch of other big categories including director.Probably just missed.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterParanoid Android

Seán: totally,100% agree with you on both films.In fact,GET OUT is this year's ROSEMARY'S BABY.It will endure,mark my words,long after films like DARKEST HOUR (whether Oldman wins or not) have faded from memory.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Recent films: Kieslowski'sRed,if notLa Double Vie de Veroniqueand Aronofsky'sRequiem for a Dream.And Burstyn should have won best actress that year as well as Clint Mansell / Kronos quartet taking best score.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

And Paranoid Android,seriously,what *was* up with 1999's BP line up anyway.All those amazing movies like Election and Talented Mr.Ripley and John Malkovich and House of Mirth to choose from and they nominated The Green Mile and Cider House Rules?Ugh.I also rewatched CHR and it's a pleasant movie and all but migod (and them giving Michael Caine a BSA award for his forgettable role in it will never make sense to me,esp considering the excellent competition that year).Ok,I still love Sixth Sense but otherwise that lineup was out of wack.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterRob

One of the main reasons why I'm proud to be British is that BAFTA nominated Enternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Carol for best picture (and director).

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterMikeyC

The weirdest thing about the My Man Godfrey omission is the fact that Libeled Lady IS a best picture nominee that year,with zero additional nominations.I hasten to add,Libeled Lady is also a terrific comedy,one whose nomination I fully endorse (the things you'd want to throw out are that grisly Norma Shearer Romeo & Juliet,or,you know,the winning Great Ziegfeld).It's just odd Libeled Lady slipped through where Godfrey didn't.

The thing to know about 2001 is,it was hardly universally well-liked when first released -- note that it didn't win critics' awards,either.It mainly became popular because it was so cool to watch while under the influence of drugs;the more acceptable marijuana (and,for some,LSD) became among college students,the bigger the film's grosses were,and the more famous the film became.From the vantage point of 1968,it was more impressive the film got directing/writing nominations than shocking it missed best picture.

I've always had the same feeling about Singin' in the Rain,that it suffered backlash from the unexpected (and unpopular,at the time) American in Paris win over Streetcar and Place in the Sun.Also,I'm not sure Singin' was that acclaimed in its time;the Cahierists in the mid-60s were the ones who really created its reputation (much as they did for Vertigo,another film not revered in its initial released but in the pantheon today).

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterTom Q

It's not exactly the most glaring Oscar snub ever,but I thought it was interesting that Foxcatcher was able to snag a Best Director nomination but no Best Picture nomination in this era of the preferential balloting.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered Commenterajnrules

So many of my favorite films on this list.Carol,especially,I could watch all day and never grow tired of.Rosemary's Baby was,until recently,my favorite film of all time.Psycho,Carrie,Meet Me In St Louis,Some Like It Hot,and Thelma and Louise are among the best ever in my opinion.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Animated films in general.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered Commenterbeyaccount


January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterOlympia

SO SO MANY come to mind,but most of them have already been mentioned,so I'll name the one that I still feel really bad about and is quite recent:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Such a finely crafted film with great performances,especially by Alan Rickman.I remember reading a few articles that said at the time that if not for the preferential balloting,it would have likely cracked the top 10.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterRon


January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterMikeyC

Billy Elliot over Chocolat for sure.

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterKirby

Definitely agree with Do the Right Thing!


* The Ice Storm.I love this movie and it apparently did not get an Oscar nods?

* Spirited Away--Glad it won Best Animated Picture,but I think it was deserving of a Best Picture nod.

* Mulholland Drive--Widely regarded as a masterpiece.Nominated for Best Director and nothing else?

* Far From Heaven

January 18,2018 | Unregistered CommenterJJM

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