10 movies that somehow didn’t win an Oscar
The Academy Award is the greatest honor a movie can receive. An Oscar win gives a film’s box office draw a boost and allows the cast and crew to land bigger, better projects in the future. Oddly enough, sometimes a deeply moving film or an industry-changing classic doesn’t win a single Oscar. These are some of our beloved films snubbed by the Academy.
10. Shawshank Redemption (1994)
After being wrongly accused of killing his wife and her lover, a banker is sent to prison for many years. Of course, there’s more to it than that. This complex and philosophical film is about redemption, guilt, hope, escape, and surviving the seemingly un-survivable. Though this film received seven Oscar nominations (more than any other Stephen King adaptation), The Shawshank Redemption didn’t win a thing. At least it ended up on the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
9. Fight Club (1999)
Even if you haven’t seen Fight Club (or read the book it’s based on), you’ve probably quoted or referenced it. Who doesn’t remember the first and second rules of Fight Club? It’s an iconic line from an iconic film. Real-life fight clubs sprung up around the world in response to the film. All these years later, it remains a must-see classic. Like Trainspotting, it helped define an entire decade (the nihilistic ’90s). Still, this film didn’t exactly impress the Academy. At least they gave it one Oscar nomination, albeit for Best Sound Effects Editing.
8. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a classic story of clever, nonchalant teenage rebellion. Matthew Broderick stars as Ferris, a popular, charismatic prankster who’s trying to have a little fun before graduation. He’s also an expert at faking illness to avoid school (“Nine times, Mrs. Bueller!”). Along with his anxiety-ridden best friend Cameron and lovely girlfriend Sloane, Ferris skips school and goes on a marvelous adventure. Oh, and the kids steal a Ferrari. All the while, they’re chased by Principal Ed Rooney and Ferris’ own sister. It’s an unforgettably awesome movie. At the very least, Broderick should’ve won Best Actor in a Lead Role. Yet it wasn’t nominated for anything!
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7. The Shining (1980)
The Shining tells the nightmarish tale of an increasingly unstable alcoholic writer driven mad by evil forces that haunt a hotel. It’s considered one of the greatest horror films of all time. Director Stanley Kubrick spent ages carefully plotting out this movie. As always, he was obsessed with accuracy and coaxed his actors to give truly glorious performances. Jack Nicholson’s maniacal cry of “Heeere’s Johnny!” appears on numerous “most memorable moments” lists. Yet, for reasons unknown, this highly influential and oft-referenced film didn’t win anything at the Oscars.
6. American Psycho (2000)
American Psycho is the classic, classy story of a rich Wall Street psychopath named Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale). He murders hookers, obsesses over his looks, and eats pointlessly fancy dishes. Each scene looks extremely elegant. Even the grimy city streets and gloomy homeless people shine with strange glory. Like a good wine, the John Cale-composed score compliments everything else perfectly. Who could forget the “Hip to be Square” scene? A highly-controversial, though gorgeously shot, film, American Psycho deserved at least a nod from the Academy, but it didn’t snag a single nomination.
5. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
A Clockwork Orange is an extremely thoughtful film. Based on Anthony Burgess’ novel, it’s a harrowing tale of teenage depravity, government censorship, and free will. By the end, the audience can’t help but wonder a great many things. Should people use therapy to turn evil men into good ones? By “good,” do we mean obedient? Or moral? Though nominated for four different Oscars, this absolutely awesome Stanley Kubrick film didn’t win any Academy Awards. Of course, it did ruin Singing in the Rain for a lot of people.
4. Psycho (1960)
Psycho is Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous film. It’s probably the first slasher film of all time. It also included scenes of violence and sensuality, things rarely seen in a film of the era. Hitchcock quite happily ignored the already-deteriorating Production Code. Plus, there’s the constantly-referenced shower scene and the infamous theme music. This movie is part of who we are culturally. How did it only get nominated for 4 Oscars and win nothing?
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3. Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003) and Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)
Between the stunning fight choreography and the astounding cinematography, Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Kill Bill: Volume 2 deserve praise. They’re absolutely beautiful. Sure, the violence can be a bit off-putting, though it isn’t aimless. There’s a point to it all and it all feels quite real, especially the monologues accompanied by ordinary, everyday tasks. This fantastic, complex revenge sagas weren’t even nominated for Oscars, despite being some of Tarantino’s best work.
2. Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Sure, The Wolf of Wall Street is a bit shocking. The characters aren’t even close to sympathetic. They act like decadent, barbaric Romans at a never-ending orgy of drugs and sex. Much madness, and use of Swiss bank accounts, ensue. In the end, protagonist Jordan Belfort’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) arrogance gets the better of him. It’s an intriguing, saddening, colorful film that deserved to win an Academy Award, or several. Luckily, it did get nominated for five Oscars. That’s better than nothing.
1. The Prestige (2006)
Based on the 1995 novel of the same name, The Prestige tells the fantastical story of a rivalry between two fictional magicians. One is working class, the other aristocratic. Neither is truly good or evil. Their complex rivalry is deeply fascinating. It’s a beautifully-filmed historical movie. Historically iconic characters (including Thomas Edison) appear throughout, and David Bowie graces the screen as Nikola Tesla. That’s almost too good to be true. The movie did manage to get two Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction, but didn’t win either category.