13 Films Never Nominated For Best Picture

The Oscars inevitably bring a lot of grumbling about which films the Academy has overlooked. But if one of your favorites is among them, perhaps you can at least take heart in the fact that it's in great company. The Oscars have a very long history of backing the wrong horse. Some of what we now view as unimpeachable classics weren't even seen as Best Picture nomination-worthy at the time.

Hit the jump for a list of films never nominated for Best Picture.

The Dark KnightThe Dark Knight (2008)

Okay, so this one's not a shocker. Everyone remembers the great Dark Knight snub of the late aughts, if only because it really wasn't that long ago. But it's still a solid example of why people are so skeptical about the Oscars. The Dark Knight wasn't your stereotypical "Oscar movie" — but shouldn't it have been? Everyone loved this movie, from critics to audiences. So who, exactly, was pushing to nominate The Reader over this? (There's an answer for that question, actually, and it's one you should have expected: Harvey Weinstein.)

What was nominated instead?Slumdog Millionaire (winner)The Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonFrost/NixonMilkThe ReaderWhat was The Dark Knight nominated for instead?

It got eight nominations in all, most of them in the technical categories. It won two: Sound Editing (Richard King) and Supporting Actor (Heath Ledger). And let's be real, there's a good chance it would've lost the latter if it weren't for Ledger's shocking death.

Gary Lockwood And Keir Dullea In '2001: A Space Odyssey'2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)2001: A Space Odyssey was divisive when it first opened. Even now, after a half-century of homages and rip-offs, it still feels bracingly odd. It's hard to fault the Academy, then, for not having the foresight to recognize 2001's eventual place in the cultural canon. It's just now, when we regard 2001 as one of the best films of all time, that it feels surprising the Academy didn't think more highly of it in 1968.What was nominated instead?Oliver! (winner)Funny GirlThe Lion in WinterRachel, RachelRomeo and JulietWhat was 2001: A Space Odyssey nominated for instead?

Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, and Best Visual Effects. Stanley Kubrick got his one and only Oscar for that last category.

Rosemary's BabyRosemary's Baby (1968)

The same year the Best Picture category left out 2001: A Space Odyssey, it gave the cold shoulder to another future classic. Rosemary's Baby wasn't the first story to see the horror in the mundane miracle of pregnancy, but it defined the trope to the extent that any horror film about pregnancy these days feels like a Rosemary's Baby homage. This film was also a big part of the legitimization of horror in the eyes of some viewers. Horror got Best Picture nominations with later films like The Exorcist and Jawsbut it wouldn't be until 1992, when The Silence of the Lambs took the statue, that a genre film would win Best Picture.

What was nominated instead?Oliver! (winner)Funny GirlThe Lion in WinterRachel, RachelRomeo and JulietWhat was Rosemary's Baby nominated for instead?

Best Adapted Screenplay for Roman Polanski (who did not win), and Best Supporting Actress for Ruth Gordon (who did win).

Breakfast at Tiffany'sBreakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

There aren't many movie images more iconic than that of Audrey Hepburn nibbling on a pastry outside the Tiffany store. Or movie characters more indelible than Holly Golightly, the charismatic socialite played by Hepburn. The Academy was sharp enough to give Hepburn a Best Actress nomination, at least, but it was significantly less impressed by the film around her.

What was nominated instead?West Side Story (winner)FannyJudgment at NurembergThe HustlerThe Guns of NazareneWhat was Breakfast at Tiffany's nominated for instead?

It was nominated in five categories, winning two: Best Score and Best Original Song ("Moon River"). Audrey Hepburn was nominated in the lead actress category but lost to Sophia Loren in Two Women.

Some Like It HotSome Like It Hot (1959)

The Academy loved Some Like It Hot, showering it with some six nominations. It just didn't see this lighthearted farce as Best Picture material, at least compared to heavier dramas like Ben-HurThe Diary of Anne Frank, and The Nun's Story. It's a scenario that continues to play out today, as stellar comedies are pushed aside for middling biopics.

What was nominated instead?Ben-Hur (winner)Anatomy of a MurderRoom at the TopThe Diary of Anne FrankThe Nun's StoryWhat was Some Like It Hot nominated for instead?

It picked up six nominations, including Best Director for Billy Wilder and Best Actor for Jack Lemmon. Of those, it won just one for Best Costume Design (Black & White). Marilyn Monroe didn't get a nomination, and in fact never received an Oscar nomination throughout her entire career.

Singin in the RainSingin' in the Rain (1952)

You'd think the singing, tap-dancing combination of Gene KellyDonald O'Connor, and Debbie Reynolds could win anyone over, but the Academy was apparently unmoved and honored The Greatest Show on Earth instead. Today, Singin' in the Rain remains one of the bets loved musicals of all time, while The Greatest Show on Earth is mostly remembered for undeservedly beating out movies like Singin' in the Rain. It's also worth noting that the Singin' in the Rain snub goes against today's conventional wisdom that Hollywood loves to nominate movies about itself.

What was nominated instead?The Greatest Show on Earth (winner)High NoonIvanhoeMoulin RougeThe Quiet ManWhat was Singin' in the Rain nominated for instead?

Best Supporting Actress (Jean Hagen) and Best Score (Lennie Hayton). It lost both.

Almost Famous stillAlmost Famous (2000)

It's not so surprising that Cameron Crowe's first two films, the teen romcom Say Anything... and the young adult romcom Singles failed to get the Academy's attention. But he finally got on their radar with Best Picture nominee Jerry Maguire, so it's a shame the Academy went back to underappreciating him when Almost Famous rolled around. Funny, tender, and almost painfully heartfelt, it might be Crowe's best film.

What was nominated instead?Gladiator (winner)ChocolatCrouching Tiger, Hidden DragonErin BrockovichTrafficWhat was Almost Famous nominated for instead?

It got four nominations in all. Crowe won for Best Original Screenplay, and both Kate Hudson and Frances McDormand lost out in the Best Supporting Actress category.

Back to the FutureBack to the Future (1985)

As a sci-fi and a comedy movie — two genres historically maligned by the Academy – Back to the Future never stood a chance. Which is a shame, because it's endured in a way that few other films have. It's the rare childhood favorite that feels just as sharp and entertaining when revisited in adulthood, thanks to a charismatic performance by a young Michael J. Fox and a screenplay so strong, it's taught in screenwriting classes.

What was nominated instead?Out of Africa (winner)The Color PurpleKiss of the Spider WomanPrizzi's HonorWitnessWhat was Back to the Future nominated for instead?

It won Best Sound Effects Editing, and was additionally nominated for Best Original Song ("Power of Love"), Best Sound, and Best Original Screenplay.

PsychoPsycho (1960)

Another brilliant film to fall victim to the Academy's indifference to the horror genre. (Come to think of it, it seems like the only genre they do reliably like is historical drama.) Psycho set the standard for unbearable suspense, and as many, many mediocre slashers have proved since then, replicating its formula is much harder than it looks.

What was nominated instead?The Apartment (winner)Elmer GantrySons and LoversThe AlamoThe SundownersWhat was Psycho nominated for instead?

It was nominated for, and lost, four awards including Best Actress (Janet Leigh) and Best Director (Alfred Hitchcock). Hitchcock never did win an Oscar, unless you count the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1968.

Do the Right ThingDo the Right Thing (1989)

It's bad enough that Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing failed to secure a Best Picture nomination. That it failed to secure a Best Picture nomination in a year in which Driving Miss Daisy took home the Best Picture statue gives this oversight an extra sting. The Academy was apparently eager to celebrate a drama about race... so long as it was from the comfortable perspective of a white person. Arguably, this year's Selma snub suggests things still haven't changed.

What was nominated instead?Driving Miss Daisy (winner)Born on the Fourth of JulyDead Poets SocietyField of DreamsMy Left FootWhat did was Do the Right Thing nominated for instead?

Best Supporting Actor (Danny Aiello) and Best Original Screenplay (Spike Lee). They lost to Denzel Washington for Glory and Tom Schulman for Dead Poets Society, respectively.

Blade RunnerBlade Runner (1982)

The Academy's bias against sci-fi is well documented. Just eight sci-fi movies have ever been nominated for Best Picture, and not a single one of them has won. Even Blade Runner, one of the most influential films in this or any genre, couldn't get any love. In fairness, though, it's not like Blade Runner was universally loved at the time. And sci-fi did get a shout-out that year with E.T. snagging a nomination. In any case, like so many other films on this list, it's such an acclaimed classic now that its unconscionable Oscar snub has been relegated to a footnote.

What was nominated instead?Gandhi (winner)E.T.: The Extra-TerrestrialMissingTootsieThe VerdictWhat was Blade Runner nominated for instead?

Best Visual Effects and Best Art Direction-Set Direction, neither of which it won.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

In our perfect world, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is exactly the kind of film that'd get feted come Oscar season. It's a genuinely innovative spin on the timeless "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back" tale. In this world, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind proved a bit too weird for the Academy. Like so many other works too edgy for Best Picture, it got recognized in the Best Original Screenplay category instead.

What was nominated instead?Million Dollar Baby (winner)The AviatorFinding NeverlandRaySidewaysWhat was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind nominated for instead?

Charlie Kaufman won Best Original Screenplay, while Kate Winslet lost Best Actress to Hilary Swank.

Seven SamuraiSeven Samurai (1954)

Whatever difficulties American films have getting their due recognition, non-American films have it much worse. Just nine foreign-language films have been nominated for Best Picture, and Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai isn't one of them. In fairness, the films that did make the cut that year aren't bad — but none of them quite compare to Seven Samurai, widely considered one of the most perfect films ever made.

What was nominated instead?Around the World in 80 Days (winner)Friendly PersuasionGiantThe King and IThe Ten CommandmentsWhat was The Seven Samurai nominated for instead?

Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Black-and-White) and Best Costume Design (Black-and-White).


And now it's your turn: What are some of your favorite movies never nominated for Best Picture? If we missed yours in this go-round, keep in mind that we've skipped (for now) the list of great films that were never Oscar-nominated at all; they'll get their own separate list in the future.