13 Films Never Nominated for Best Picture


Psycho (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 Gantry
Sons and Lovers
The Alamo
The Sundowners

What 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 Thing

Do 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 July
Dead Poets Society
Field of Dreams
My Left Foot

What 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 Runner

Blade 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-Terrestrial
The Verdict

What 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 Mind

Eternal 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 Aviator
Finding Neverland

What 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 Samurai

Seven 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 Persuasion
The King and I
The Ten Commandments

What 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.

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