When it comes to the subject of movies, people are obviously going to have wildly varying opinions. After all, there’s a reason horrible movies like Grown Ups rake it in at the box office while more critically acclaimed films fizzle out and struggle to make back their meager budgets. But when it comes to rewarding the best of the best, sometimes you just have to wonder what the heck the people making the decisions were thinking.
10Alfred Hitchcock Never Won Best Director
Arguably the most iconic director in history, Alfred Hitchcock was the master of suspense. He directed some of the greatest films of all-time, including Rear Window, The Birds, North by Northwest, and Psycho.
You would think that somewhere along the way he would have won a Best Director Oscar, right? Well, you’d be wrong. Amazingly Hitchcock was denied a single Oscar in six nominations, and in fact, he wasn’t even nominated for his incredible work in movies like North by Northwest, The Birds, or Vertigo.
9Driving Miss Daisy Beat My Left Foot and Dead Poet’s Society
Hey, we’re not about to say that Driving Miss Daisy isn’t a fine film. It is, and it has some lovely performances by Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman. But the fact that it won Best Picture seems utterly ridiculous in retrospect. This is especially true when you consider that the same year Driving Miss Daisy arrived, Dead Poet’s Society also hit theaters.
It wasn’t the strongest year for film in history, by any means, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who prefers Driving Miss Daisy to the rousing, emotional, and flat out smart film Dead Poet’s Society, which featured perhaps the greatest performance in the long career of Robin Williams. Add in the fact that Miss Daisy also topped Field of Dreams that same year, and it’s clear it just, frankly, didn’t deserve the statue.
8Al Pacino Beat Denzel Washington for Best Actor in 1993
Al Pacino has had numerous scintillating performances over his long and storied career. He should have won an Oscar long before he finally got one in 1993, with movies like Dog Day Afternoon and Godfather standing out as incredible and very deserving performances. Scent of a Woman, however, was not such a performance.
It could easily be argued that Pacino’s performance in Scent of a Woman marks the exact time he went from being a real, diverse actor to a caricature of himself. Meanwhile, Denzel Washington gave perhaps the best performance of his career in the titular role of Malcolm X, and the fact that he didn’t win remains one of the biggest travesties in Oscar history.
7Roberto Benigni Beat Edward Norton for Best Actor in 1999
Life is Beautiful is a very good film, there’s no denying it. And it was no doubt the performance of Roberto Benigni’s career that earned him the Best Actor statue in 1999. However, looking back it really feels like people were swept up in the subject matter of the film, along with the fact that it was a man known for slapstick comedy doing a Holocaust film, that pushed him into the win.
Meanwhile, Edward Norton gave an absolutely career-defining and sublime performance as a Neo-Nazi trying to turn his life around in American History X. It’s one of the greatest performances in decades, and it just feels like a crime that he wasn’t rewarded with a win.
6Forrest Gump Beat Pulp Fiction and Shawshank Redemption
We love Tom Hanks. You love Tom Hanks. Everyone loves Forrest Gump. But let’s face it, the movie has not aged well. People have begun to recognize the fact that while it was high quality, ambitious movie, it was pretty corny and was arguably only the third-best movie the year it came out if that.
That’s because 1994 was absolutely incredible for movies, with Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption – two of the best and most influential and beloved films of the last quarter-century – each deserving the Oscar over Forrest Gump.
5Crash Beat Brokeback Mountain
Let’s just get straight to it here: Crash was a manipulative, corny, way too on the nose portrayal of racism and perceived racism and, because it used a star-studded cast to tackle that particular issue, people flooded it with accolades despite the fact that the same year it came out, there was another film tackling equally important issues that should have won Best Picture.
That movie, of course, was Brokeback Mountain. Brokeback Mountain was simply superior in just about every way, most notably in the writing and performances. People remember Heath Ledger for his portrayal of the Joker, but it was in Brokeback where he had his first truly revelatory performance.
4Dances With Wolves Beat Goodfellas
Over the years, Dances With Wolves has become one of those films which, while acclaimed upon its release, has lost oodles of luster as time has gone by. People are starting to realize it was really kind of sappy, overly long, dull, and frankly was dripping with white man’s guilt.
The same year we got Dances With Wolves, we also received Goodfellas, considered by many to rival Godfather and Godfather II as the best mafia movie of all-time. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would even pretend that Dances With Wolves isn’t the inferior film.
3Shakespeare in Love Beat Saving Private Ryan
Now, Shakespeare in Love is a fine movie. It’s well written, well-acted, and probably falls into the category your mom would call “cute.” But the fact that it somehow managed to steal Best Picture away from Saving Private Ryan, one of the best, most realistic war films of all-time remains an absolute joke.
The 1990s gave us several really questionable Best Picture winners, but no doubt the most stunning loss in that category has to go to Saving Private Ryan.
2Stanley Kubrick Never Won Best Director
You know how we mentioned that Alfred Hitchcock never won an Academy Award for Best Director? Well, neither did Stanley Kubrick, believe it or not. One of the most acclaimed directors in history, he was nominated for Best Director for his classic films Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and Barry Lyndon.
However, he never brought home the statue, and wasn’t even nominated for Full Metal Jacket, finding himself completely shut out in that category over his career despite having an incredible visual flair and creating some of the most iconic imagery in film history.
1How Green Was My Valley Beat Citizen Kane
Oh man, this one has to be embarrassing for the Academy. Seriously, who the heck remembers or has even seen How Green Was My Valley? Honestly, more people probably remember it as the movie Frasier Crane was trying to rent in one episode of Frasier than have actually watched the film itself, yet somehow it defeated Citizen Kane, voted by the American Film Institute as the greatest motion picture of all-time, for Best Picture.
That’s not taking anything away from How Green Was My Valley, directed by the great John Ford, but the fact that this film, and not the magnum opus of Orson Welles, won Best Picture just seems absurd in retrospect.