Best Movies that didn’t Win Best Picture

Citizen Kane

#1 – Citizen Kane

Often referenced as the best movie ever made, Citizen Kane, was Orson Welles first movie. He has said that he didn’t know exactly what he was doing, so he took every cool trick that he learned in film school and applied it to this movie. This is the movie that you watch to see what can be done with film, but it still did not take home the best movie trophy in 1942. This was a case where the academy awards really got it wrong as they gave it to How Green was my Valley instead. It doesn’t really matter though because Orson Welles’s classic is still study by millions of film students still to this day.

The wizard of oz

#2 – The Wizard of Oz

In 1939, movie goers were introduced to a new technology. No longer would their stories be told in boring black and white, but instead the magic would happen in color. The Wizard of Oz was the first movie to bring this technology to audiences everywhere. It literally brought us from  black and white Kansas to the colorful world somewhere over the rainbow. You would think that it would not hold up very well after almost 80 years since its release, but people still enjoy this masterpiece today. What movie could have beaten it out for best picture that year? That would go to another iconic movie, Gone with Wind, so even though it did not win the coveted award, it is a little easier to swallow this bitterness knowing that another great film took its place in the top spot.


#3 – Boyhood

I know that this movie is not considered a classic yet, but I do believe that it was snubbed in 2015. If there was any movie that I wanted to win over it, it was Birdman, but the idea behind this story was so original that it will never be repeated. It is interesting to watch this movie and understand the cohesion that Linklater created by recording slivers of time. It is not just the story of this boy growing up in America during 9/11 but it is also a story about us, who we are, and the culture that we have created.

It's a Wonderful Life

#4 – It’s a Wonderful Life

Before Ted Turner obtained the rights to this classic, every American associated the Christmas season with this movie. Every channel was able to have rights to this movie, and they used that right to show it at least once during the holiday season. The weird thing was that even though you knew it was going to be on at least twenty times during the month of December, you would somehow catch all twenty showings of it, and never be disappointed that you wasted your time watching it again. It is not only a great story, but it is an iconic piece of the American culture. It just shows that sometimes the academy gets it wrong.

pulp fiction

# 5 – Pulp Fiction

Quentin Tarantino has always been one of my favorite directors. When Pulp Fiction had come out in 1994, Reservoir Dogs and True Romance had already topped my list as two of my favorite movies. I had sat through Natural Born Killers earlier that year and was blown away by its story, and I found out later that he had written the script for it. But it wasn’t until I sat in the movie theater and experienced this new exploration in filmmaking that I realized what power a movie might hold. It was an instant classic and redefined the movie industry for years to come. It will always top my list for greatest snubs of all time.

Shawshank Redemption

#6 – The Shawshank Redemption

I don’t know how many times I have been at home on a Saturday flipping through channels and this movie comes on. For some reason, I always catch it at the very beginning, and I can’t do anything until I finish it. I never get bored with the story, and am thoroughly satisfied with the ending even though I know exactly what is going to happen. The story entranced me so much that I actually sat down once and read the novella by Stephen King, and this is the one time that I can say that the movie is better than the book. Why didn’t this movie win best picture? Well, 1994 was a good year for movies and even though this makes the number six spot on the list, it wasn’t even my second favorite movie that year.

Dead Poets Society

#7 – Dead Poets Society

Anybody who knows me knows that this is one of my favorite movies of all time. The ending gives me chills every time I watch it. It is the story that made me want to be a writer. It is the story that made me want to be a teacher. It is the story that taught me to take chances in life, and make the most of it. I don’t remember which movie won the year that this gem was in the running, but I do remember being mad that it wasn’t this one. It holds up really well too. Every generation discovers and falls in love with this movie.

The Graduate

#8 – The Graduate

Every year, the Academy Awards likes to nominate at least one comedy. In 1968, this was their pick for that honor. There are rare occasions where the comedy takes home the coveted prize, but just like in 1968, it does not happen. That does not mean that the movies are not incredible, and worth watching over and over again. It is also hard to compete against the socially conscious In the Heat of the Night which took the top honor that year. It just shows how good the field was in 1968.

Apocalypse Now

#9 – Apocalypse Now

When talking about the greatest movies ever made, this one usually makes the list and ranks high on it. So what great picture took down this classic look at the madness that is within each of us and the journey we need to take in order to wrestle with that issue? Kramer vs. Kramer took the top nod in the year 1980, and it just shows that sometimes the academy does not always get it right. Apocalypse Now, even with all of its production problems and behind the scene stories, has held up well through the ages and will always be analyzed and discussed for years to come.

A Clockwork Orange

#10 – A Clockwork Orange

I am actually quite proud of the fact that the Academy nominated this movie for best picture. Of course, it could never win. It was a seriously disturbing piece of cinema back then, and even by today’s standards, it still makes people cringe just to watch it. But the genius of this story lies in the fact that it is not just about the horror and gore, but there is a deep message imbedded within the story even though Stanley Kubrick didn’t know about the final chapter of the book when he created this masterpiece. If you have not seen this movie yet, sit down and watch it. Just make sure there are no small children present when you do because you will scar them for life.

Good Fellas

#11 – Good Fellas

Sometimes an iconic movie doesn’t win the Best Picture category because it is up against a juggernaut that year. This was the case with Good Fellas. It was up against the heart wrenching and socially conscious Dances with Wolves. There was still hope held in the hearts of many that this would Martin Scorsese would finally win that coveted prize and this could easily be considered his best movie he has ever made, but it just was not to be. The funny thing though is this movie is still discussed as one of the best pictures of all time whereas Dances with Wolves is hardly ever referenced. This movie still garnered some awards with the best speech given by the winner of the Best Supporting Actor, Joe Pesci, when all he said was, “Thank you.”

Saving Private Ryan

#12 – Saving Private Ryan

In the year 1999, many people believed that this gritty war epic was a shoo in for the Best Picture win giving Steven Spielberg his second real academy award. But as all the years before as he sat in the crowd and watch somebody else take home the prize, he had to do the same this year as Shakespeare in Love won. Many people still cry out bloody murder for the way this movie got passed over. Never has D-Day been portrayed in such a way that we understand what it felt like to actually be there. Because of this alone, it should have won best picture.


It has been awhile since I have done a list, but now is the perfect time to get started again. The Academy Awards were just held, and after each year, there are complaints about who won and who didn’t. Granted all the movies represented are great works and should be applauded, but there is always that one who got robbed. That is the list I would like to create this time around. What were the best movies that were nominated for best picture but did not win. Spend some time thinking about it and send me your lists to The final list will be compiled by March 31st, and will appear in April.

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