13 Films Never Nominated for Best Picture

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Breakfast 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)
Judgment at Nuremberg
The Hustler
The Guns of Nazarene

What 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 Hot

Some 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 Murder
Room at the Top
The Diary of Anne Frank
The Nun’s Story

What 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 Rain

Singin’ 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 Noon
Moulin Rouge
The Quiet Man

What was Singin’ in the Rain nominated for instead?

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

Almost Famous still

Almost 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)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Erin Brockovich

What 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 Future

Back 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 Purple
Kiss of the Spider Woman
Prizzi’s Honor

What 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.

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