Best movies that never won an Oscar: 10 Academy Award misses – USA TODAY

Citizen Kane,” considered the greatest movie ever in many circles, only won one Academy Award – the same number as critically reviled “Suicide Squad.”
Those two films demonstrate how interestingly idiosyncratic the Oscars can be in feting the best films annually. Over the years, while movies like “Titanic,” “Ben-Hur” and the original “West Side Story” went home with rafts of prizes, the Academy has whiffed on some heavy hitters. Maybe it was the competition or perhaps it was that year’s voting bloc, but there are stone-cold classics that missed out on trophies entirely.
Here are the 10 best movies of that bunch, the Oscar losers if you will, that got nominated and deserved far better:
Silent-movie star and director Charlie Chaplin’s first sound film was this superb political satire where Chaplin pulls double duty onscreen, as an antisemitic fascist leader and his Jewish barber lookalike. Timing might have been everything with his Hitler parody: Chaplin was beat by Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” for best picture and Jimmy Stewart (“The Philadelphia Story”) for best actor, in a ceremony held less than 10 months before Pearl Harbor.
Frank Capra’s Christmas movie classic is many people’s favorite movie, with Jimmy Stewart as a man ready to end it all until he learns the world would be much worse if he’d never existed. But the Academy’s fave? Not so much. “Life” lost four out of its five Oscar categories (including best picture, actor and director) to “The Best Years of Our Lives” – not a holiday staple, in case you’re wondering.
Arguably the most influential movie on this list, Akira Kurosawa’s action-packed Japanese epic gave way to “The Magnificent Seven,” “Star Wars” and many others in terms of themes, visuals and narrative. “Samurai” lost its two chances at the 1957 Oscars – for black-and-white art direction and costume design – and was left out of best foreign-language film the first year it became a competitive category. (Previously, one movie was chosen each year for an honorary award.)
Like with “A Few Good Men,” we find the Oscars guilty of dropping the ball on this essential courtroom drama, which featured Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, Jack Klugman and E.G. Marshall as jurors deciding the fate of a teen charged with murder. “Angry Men” lost all three of its categories – best picture, director and adapted screenplay – to war picture “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” which to be fair was pretty darn good, too.
Maybe Academy voters were weirded out by the infamous shower scene, or simply sentimental about moms. Alfred Hitchcock’s exquisitely crafted psychological chiller racked up a mere four nominations, including best director and supporting actress for Janet Leigh’s hair-raising performance. It wouldn’t be until three decades later that a horror movie would nab best picture (“The Silence of the Lambs”).
In the annals of Oscar-less greats, Stanley Kubrick could have his own wing: “Dr. Strangelove” was also shut out and “The Shining” didn’t even garner a nod. But considering that “Orange” initially received an X rating for its depiction of graphic violence and sexually explicit imagery, that it garnered a best picture nod at all is kind of a miracle and shows how much the film tapped into the times.
“You talking to me?” Yep, we’re talking about Martin Scorsese’s gritty noir – and one of the most iconic movies of the ’70s – with Robert De Niro as the unstable New York cabbie who’s probably best to avoid at night. Unfortunately, it got knocked out in best picture by “Rocky” while De Niro and supporting actress Jodie Foster lost to “Network” stars Peter Finch and Beatrice Straight.
Granted, sci-fi movies have never exactly taken the Oscars by fire. But Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.” won four Academy Awards the very same year as Ridley Scott’s futuristic tale, which was up for best visual effects and art direction. While the adorable candy-loving alien bested Harrison Ford that time, “Blade Runner” ultimately became a cult classic and a beloved entry in the canon.
A personal choice, but a favorite nonetheless for this discerning critic. A fantastical ode to baseball, fathers and sons, dreams (naturally) and famous ghosts in a cornfield, the Kevin Costner masterpiece lost out on three Oscars, including best picture – which somehow went to “Driving Miss Daisy” in a head-scratching year where “Do the Right Thing” and “Glory” didn’t even make the cut.
Based on a Stephen King novella, the acclaimed prison drama starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins went 0-for-7 at the Oscars, with “Forrest Gump” reigning as best picture and Forrest himself, Tom Hanks, taking best actor over Freeman. That’s OK, though, because “Shawshank Redemption” has captured many hearts and minds ever since as a cable-TV movie staple.







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