Films That Should Have Won Oscars But Didn't

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by Adam's Apple, Dec 13, 2004.

  1. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    What makes a great movie? It's a matter of personal taste, of course; there's no scientific formula to determine the quality of one film over another. But the tastes of the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences matter much more than yours or ours. Each year, academy voters choose just one film to receive the coveted Academy Award for best picture. And they very often get it wrong. In our humble opinion, many films of undeniable artistic achievement have been passed over in favor of others that--in retrospect at least--seem less deserving. The following are just some of the great movies that never got the nod from Oscar.

    1. City Lights (1931), generally considered Charlie Chaplin's greatest film, was not nominated for a single Academy Award. Released three years after the introduction of talkies, this silent picture must have seemed stubbornly retrograde to academy members who wanted to champion their advanced sound technology. In fact, City Lights featured a complete musical soundtrack (by Chaplin) and various sound effects, but no speech or dialogue. Grand Hotel, starring a world-weary Greta Garbo, won the best picture award that year. In the midst of the Great Depression, the academy apparently preferred the glamorous Garbo to Chaplin's Little Tramp.

    2. Citizen Kane (1941), the American classic by Orson Welles, has been called the greatest movie of all time by the American Film Institute and by countless critics and fans worldwide. Yet the academy somehow overlooked Citizen Kane when it awarded the Oscar that year to How Green Was My Valley, a morality tale about a Welsh coalmining family that we dare say is on few critics' lists of the greatest American movies. Citizen Kane was the first full-length film by Welles, who cowrote, directed, produced, and starred in the film when he was 25 years old. The film's highly stylized sound and camera techniques were among the most influential developments in motion-picture history. Director John Huston's film noir classic The Maltese Falcon, starring Humphrey Bogart, was also passed over for that year's Oscar.

    3. Double Indemnity (1944), another hardboiled film noir, lost out at the Oscars to Going My Way, starring Bing Crosby as a young priest who saves his parish from bankruptcy. With World War II still raging in Europe and the Pacific, academy voters clearly valued the feel-good themes of the Crosby film over the cold cynicism of Double Indemnity, about an insurance agent who conspires with a woman to murder her husband. The voters didn't feel any better about two other notable crime thrillers, Laura and Murder, My Sweet, which were also passed over that year.

    4. High Noon (1952), one of the greatest Westerns ever made, was overlooked in favor of The Greatest Show on Earth, a circus epic by Cecil B. DeMille. Director Fred Zinnemann's High Noon is viewed by many critics as the definitive Western, and the American Film Institute ranked it higher on its list of the 100 best films than such classic Westerns as Stagecoach (1939), The Searchers (1956), or Unforgiven (1992). To no one's surprise, The Greatest Show on Earth didn't make the AFI's list of 100 best, but at the time, the academy might have felt an obligation to honor DeMille near the end of his career with his first best picture Oscar.

    5. Rebel Without a Cause and The Night of the Hunter (both 1955) unaccountably lost to Marty, a romance starring Ernest Borgnine as a shy butcher who finds true love against all odds. It seems the academy didn't approve of the brash, youthful defiance of James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. The Night of the Hunter, the only film ever directed by actor Charles Laughton, starred Robert Mitchum as a psychotic, self-styled preacher who tries to coax two children into telling him the location of a cache of stolen money. The chilling experimental thriller eventually won high praise from the critics, but flopped at the box office and was not nominated for a single Academy Award.

    6. The Searchers (1956) was arguably director John Ford's greatest film (better than his Oscar-winning How Green Was My Valley, anyway) and was the most nuanced, complex Western he ever made with actor John Wayne. Despite gorgeous photography in Monument Valley, topnotch performances, and a complex, original story, the film's stark portrayal of racial prejudice toward Native Americans must have seemed too raw for academy voters. The best picture Oscar that year went instead to Around the World in 80 Days, an amusing adventure film filled with dozens of cameo performances by Hollywood stars. Could the academy voters have been swayed by star power?

    7. Touch of Evil (1958), another Orson Welles masterpiece, and Vertigo (1958), one of the greatest suspense thrillers by director Alfred Hitchcock, were both passed over at the Academy Awards for Gigi, a musical about a young woman trained to be the courtesan of a wealthy man. Neither Touch of Evil nor Vertigo was even nominated for the best picture award.

    8. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), the science-fiction masterpiece by director Stanley Kubrick, was criminally snubbed in favor of Oliver!, a spirited but oddly soulless musical based on the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist. In 2001, Kubrick and writer Arthur C. Clarke helped to redefine the sci-fi genre, lending it a beauty, complexity, and artistry that few, if any, science-fiction films have matched since. By contrast, Oliver! left us asking, simply, "Please, sir. May I have some more?"

    9. Mean Streets (1973) introduced Martin Scorsese as a major directorial talent and marked the beginning of his long collaboration with actor Robert De Niro. Mean Streets stars De Niro and Harvey Keitel as two young hoods coming of age in the violent, gang-infested neighborhood of Little Italy. Perhaps by now we shouldn't be surprised that the academy instead preferred The Sting, a film about two good-natured con artists in the 1930s, played by superstars Robert Redford and Paul Newman. We, too, love The Sting's slick playfulness and the undeniable charisma of Redford and Newman. But next to Mean Streets, Badlands, American Graffiti, and Don't Look Now, which were all released the same year, we can only feel like we've just been stung.

    10. L.A. Confidential (1997) breathed stylish new life into the film noir genre, made stars out of Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce, and won the best picture Award from the National Society of Film Critics. But academy voters, it seems, were blinded by the star power--and by the astronomical budget--of Titanic, which took home the best picture Oscar as well as ten other Academy Awards. Sure, Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are ravishing, and we're told that the period details are amazing. Still, Titanic ends up being just another hackneyed genre film, but with more money thrown at it, and egos big enough to sink a ship.

    Can you think of films you thought should have won Oscars but didn't?
     
  2. Dan
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    Dan Senior Member

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    I think comedy, no matter how great, will never be appreciated by the Academy.

    This year, I think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind should get a bunch of oscars (Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Actress), but I doubt it will even get any nominations. Maybe Best Screenplay or Best Actor.

    Now that I think about it, Garden State ought to get a couple, too. Maybe give Garden State Best Director. It won't even be nominated though.

    I disagreed with a couple of these...

    It's a real shame that Scorsese has never gotten an Oscar, I'd say he's probably the greatest American director working right now. However, I kind of understand Mean Streets not being hailed by the Academy. Here's a wacky, good-time caper picture with two huge bankable stars, or here's an unbelievably vulgar (for the time), low budget, dark, violent movie starring a bunch of (then) nobodies.

    That said, there's no excuse for Scorsese not getting an Oscar for Goodfellas or Casino.

    Yeah, in an ideal world, maybe. Fact is, generally, the Academy tends to shy away from films that are too... out there. And this one is definitely that. I think it was just too weird to get the Oscar.
     
  3. Hobbit
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    Hobbit Senior Member

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    I'm still irritated that "Shakespear in Love" beat "Saving Private Ryan." I don't put any stock in the Academy anymore. The real awards are given at the box office.
     
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  4. NATO AIR
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    NATO AIR Senior Member

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    I enjoyed both greatly, they were quite equal, just different styles of film.

    real awards are not always at the box office because sometimes great films are not properly advertised and marketed, or just get released at the wrong time.
     
  5. padisha emperor
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    padisha emperor Senior Member

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    Saving Private Ryan is far better than Shakespear in Love, I think (only my opinion)

    Amélie Poulain.
     
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  6. hylandrdet
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    hylandrdet Member

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    The Color Purple

    The NAACP protested this movie claiming "It promoted violence against women". I believe that they were angry because a person of jewish decent, did a great job in portraying the lives of afro-americans, during that time and place.

    There was no doubt that this movie got robbed. Whoppi Goldberg should had won Best Actress and Danni Glover should had won best actor. Heck, I thought Oprah should had won for best supporting actress...

    A great movie trashed by politics.
     

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