Thursday, 12 September 2013

15 Movies That Should Not Have Won Best Picture

I think every movie fanatic has been disappointed by the choices of The Academy Awards at one point in their lives. Here are my top fifteen films that I feel should not have won the top prize of Best Picture. Many of these movies are great! I mean, I love some of these films. The reason they're on this list may be because their fellow nominees happened to be much stronger films, or simply because the actual winner was just plain crap. So without further ado:

Winner (2005): Crash. Directed by Paul Haggis       
Should Have Won: Brokeback Mountain. Directed by Ang Lee

I think people are extremely unfair to the film Crash. It packs a powerful emotional punch, even if it is a teeny-weeny bit cheesy. There were two scenes in that film that were so masterful, I was moved to tears. On the other hand, Brokeback Mountain is a masterpiece. There's 'great' which is Crash, and then there's 'masterpiece' which is Ang Lee's greatest film. I think Brokeback Mountain is arguably the greatest romance film of all time. 

Winner (1998): Shakespeare In Love. Directed by John Madden
Should Have Won: Life is Beautiful, Saving Private Ryan, Elizabeth

Shakespeare In Love is another movie I just happen to love. BUT, it really shouldn't have won Best Picture. I think the greatest film of the nominees in 1998 would be Life is Beautiful. To me, that's a pure masterpiece of comedy, romance, and tragedy. However, Saving Private Ryan would certainly have made a worthy winner, for it's a masterpiece in a whole different way. I even think the historical epic 'Elizabeth' is a greater film than Shakespeare in Love. With that being said, Shakespeare In Love is still one of the best romantic comedies I've ever seen. 

Winner (1941): How Green Was My Valley. Directed by: John Ford
Should Have Won: Citizen Kane. Directed by: Orson Welles

There's no comparison really, Citizen Kane is a much better film than How Green Was My Valley. To be perfectly honest, HGWMV was the first Best Picture Winner I've ever disliked. It was preachy, corny, and some of the performances were either shaky or over-acted. Whereas Orson Welles' Citizen Kane is a pioneer of film-making. The acting, story, music, cinematography, and big reveal at the end was phenomenal. I understand why people call this the worst robbery in the history of the Academy Awards. 

Winner (2012): Argo. Directed by Ben Affleck
Should Have Won: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Amour

Argo is a great film, there's no doubt about that. My issue with it winning Best Picture is that it really doesn't stand out in my mind at all. Not to mention, I found it overly Hollywood and cliche when I re-watched it. There were so many great, ORIGINAL films in 2012... films that really should have won the Top Prize. My personal pick is Beasts of the Southern Wild, but even Life of Pi winning would have made me jump with glee! Django Unchained was wickedly funny, and Les Miserables made me cry like a baby in the back of a theatre (plus its soundtrack and performances are phenomenal). I also include Amour on this list, because it turned a simple and relevant story into a pure masterpiece. All of these films are greater, and more worthy of Best Picture, than Argo. 

Winner (2001): A Beautiful Mind. Directed by Ron Howard
Should Have Won: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Directed by Peter Jackson

Do I really need to say much about this? A Beautiful Mind is a great film that features Russell Crowe's most mature, and in my opinion, greatest performance. It doesn't compare to The Fellowship of the Ring. While one is a great telling of a mathematician's amazing discovery and his fight with schizophrenia, the other is a near-perfect adaptation of one of the greatest fantasy-adventure novels of all time. I really think the poster's explain themselves. There's 'great' and then there's 'masterpiece.' 

Winner (1933): Cavalcade. Directed by Frank Lloyd
Should Have Won: I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang. Directed by Mervyn LeRoy

An IMDB reviewer by the name of 'zetes' described Cavalcade as, "A sloppy but beautiful British family saga chronicling the lives of two families." I liked Cavalcade, although it was overly long and was ultimately let down by the dated methods of 1930s film-making. On the other hand, I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang is a masterfully made, still very relevant film when it comes to law processes and punishments. When compared, it's clear which film should have been honored with the award for Best Picture, and that is Mervyn LeRoy's masterpiece starring Paul Muni.  

Winner (1979): Kramer vs. Kramer. Directed by: Robert Benton
Should Have Won: Apocalypse Now. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Kramer vs. Kramer is one of those great films that leaves the audience to discuss it for hours after the credits have rolled. Apocalypse Now is a film that had me in awe from start to finish. It's another case of a 'great' movie vs. a 'masterpiece,' and the masterpiece didn't win. 

Winner (1956): Around the World in 80 Days
Should Have Won: Giant, The King and I

Around the World in 80 Days is a really good spectacle of a film... but it really shouldn't have won Best Picture. The King and I is one of the all time greatest musicals, both on stage and on film. The "Shall We Dance" scene is one of my all time favourites. Giant is also a great film (not perfect) but better than 80 Days. To be frank, 1956 was a pretty weak field of nominees. I think The Academy made a really poor choice though.

Winner (1952): The Greatest Show on Earth. Directed by Cecil B. DeMille
Should Have Won: High Noon. Directed by Fred Zinnemann

High Noon is a perfect film. Every single scene is meticulously detailed, every expression on Cooper's face has purpose, and the story is simple yet brutally suspenseful. It lost to The Greatest Show on Earth, a good film that had an amazing train-crash scene. I consider Cecil B. DeMille's win here as more of an honorary Oscar, because truthfully, High Noon trumps The Greatest Show on Earth in every aspect of film-making.

Winner (1976): Rocky. Directed By John G. Avildsen 
Should Have Won: Network, Taxi Driver

This is my most controversial entry onto the list, and with good reason. Rocky is a fantastic film, one of the greatest really. My dilemma is that it beat two absolute masterpieces of cinema. My personal pick for Best Picture 1976 is Network, a film that is more relevant today than it was 37 years ago. "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take this anymore!" Then you have Taxi Driver, arguably Martin Scorsese's best film. It submerses you in the sleep-deprived, psychotic world of Travis Bickle, "You talkin to me?" Does Rocky hold its own against these two masterpieces of cinema? In my opinion, it doesn't. 

Winner (1948): Hamlet. Directed by Laurence Olivier
Should Have Won: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Directed by John Huston

I love the story of Hamlet. However, Olivier's adaptation to screen was far from "one of the screen's most exciting experiences." I nearly fell asleep by the end of the film, but then that's just me. Even with all of the artistic quality and great dialogue in Hamlet, it just doesn't compare to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. They're two completely different films, but Sierra Madre had a thrilling story and excellent character development... and it didn't take over two and a half hours to achieve that (unlike Hamlet). It's more of a personal choice from me... I'm a huge fan of Olivier, but man did Hamlet make me yawn. 

Winner (1990): Dances With Wolves. Directed by Kevin Costner
Should Have Won: Goodfellas. Directed by Martin Scorsese

Dances With Wolves is another film that is unfairly criticised. Whenever people bag out Dances With Wolves, chances are they're gonna mention how it beat Goodfellas at the Oscars. To me, the only thing that prevented Dances With Wolves from becoming a masterpiece is Kevin Costner's performance, where he played Kevin Costner. Then you have Goodfellas, which in my opinion is Martin Scorsese's greatest film, and my all time favourite gangster movie (yes, even over The Godfather). It's a case of 'near-masterpiece' vs. 'masterpiece,' and Goodfellas unfortunately did not win.

Winner (1951): An American in Paris. Directed by Vincente Minelli
Should Have Won: A Streetcar Named Desire, The African Queen

Why?... How?... it's inconceivable to me that An American in Paris beat A Streetcar Named Desire for Best Picture. A glamorous, decent musical beat one of the most heart-wrenching tragedies that cinema has to offer. This decision really makes me shake my head. Meanwhile, another fantastic film, The African Queen, was also beaten by Vincente Minelli's dance extravaganza. One line should have sealed the Best Picture Oscar for Streetcar, and that is "HEY STELLAAAAAA!" 

Winner (1964): My Fair Lady. Directed by: George Cukor
Should Have Won: Dr. Strangelove. Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

When My Fair Lady won Best Picture, Peter Sellers should have shouted, "Mein Fuhrer! I've been robbed!" It's the sad case of a good musical with plenty of faults, beating a film that is just faultless! Dr. Strangelove is one of the funniest movies of all time, with some of the greatest cinematography of all time, and one of the greatest performances of all time by Peter Sellers. A movie with a couple of good songs and loads of over-acting should not have beaten a timeless classic like Dr. Strangelove. 

Winner (1977): Annie Hall. Directed By: Woody Allen
Should Have Won: Star Wars. Directed By: George Lucas

This is by far the toughest decision I've had to make on this list. Both of these films are 5 Star masterpieces in my opinion. Woody Allen wrote and directed a film that made me laugh really hard, and nod in agreement many times with his observations on the absurdity of human beings. Then there's Star Wars, a film that completely changed the game for sci-fi films and special effects (after 2001: A Space Odyssey of course). Both are very worthy of the top prize, but I've got to go with my gut and say that Star Wars should have won in 1977, and not Annie Hall. Many film connoisseurs would disagree with me... but come on, Star Wars is one of the most beautiful, exciting, epic films ever made. It was a tough decision, but I went with my heart.

So there you have it, 15 Movies That Should Not Have Won Best Picture. What are the worst Best Picture winners in your opinion?


  1. Great post! I agree with many of your opinions, especially picking LotR over A Beautiful Mind. :-)

    1. Thanks! I still can't believe A Beautiful Mind won over LotR.

  2. The Social Network should have won over The King's Speech, I think.

    1. Although almost every critic would agree with you, I wholeheartedly disagree. I don't think either of them were masterpieces, but I found The King's Speech to be a much more memorable, beautiful film. The Social Network just didn't captivate me the way it has captivated others.

  3. Awesome list! Brokeback Mountain is indeed masterpiece I still cannot believe it didn't win.

    1. Same here! It officially ruined any respect I had for the Academy when that decision was made.

  4. Great list. I agree with every one of these (except '77, but that's all good!). I do love Kramer vs. Kramer, but Apocalypse Now... wow.

    1. I'm glad you agree (and Annie Hall is a fantastic film, so I have no hard feelings about that winning). It is pretty hard to believe that Kramer vs. Kramer beat Apocalypse Now though...

  5. All the President's Men is my personal favourite film and I would have been ok with it winning in 1976 too. Wish we could have years in this decade with a Best Picture field as strong as 1976's.

    1. I embarrassingly must admit, I have not seen All the President's Men yet. I find it hard to believe that it would be my pick of 1976, but we shall have to see :)

  6. A lot of my favourite movies have been nominated for Best Picture, but there are a whole lot of others that I knew didn't. I think that the Academy does make good picks here and there, but I don't think of them as an "end all, be all" of deciding the best film of every year.