Top 5 Best Picture Snubs
On March 2nd 2014, the who’s who of cinema throughout the globe gathered for the most anticipated event of the entertainment calendar year as they celebrated the 86th annual Academy Awards. It was one of the more entertaining shows in recent memory, complete with many memorable moments that will be revisited in years to come. 12 Years a Slave and Gravity dominated proceedings with the former taking the biggest prize of the night. A fine choice in my opinion. However, it can be argued that the Academy has failed to acknowledge many celebrated classics down the years, something that causes ongoing debate between cinephiles the world over. Here is my list of the films I believe deserved nothing less than to walk away with that famous gold statue in tow.
5. Saving Private Ryan (1998) – Beaten by Shakespeare In Love
In reality, I believe a multitude of pictures should have beaten John Madden’s smart romantic-comedy and although Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line could have been deemed worthy, it is Saving Private Ryan that takes its place on my list. Quite simply, Steven Spielberg’s WWII drama blows all other competition out of the water with its depiction of the everyday man at war, fighting for their lives as much as their country. Shakespeare has a fine script, but lacks the heart that makes you truly feel for the characters as in Ryan, as we follow the journey to bring a young soldier home from the horrors of war. Shameless American flag-waving perhaps, but much more worthy winner of Best Picture.
4. Sunset Boulevard (1950) – Beaten by All About Eve
An example of a film ahead of its time, Billy Wilder’s dramatic noir is as relevant today as ever. This tale of a Hollywood actress whose star has long since faded says a lot about the B and C-list celebrity culture lifestyle we live and breathe today. Featuring a powerhouse performance from Gloria Swanson alongside an equally strong William Holden, Sunset Boulevard faced off against the overly melodramatic All About Eve and left the ceremony with a still-impressive three Oscars in tow. Of course it is difficult to judge the views of those who adjudicated it more than sixty years ago, but in my opinion it deserved to claim a few more awards, including Best Picture.
3. Goodfellas (1990) – Beaten by Dances With Wolves
Possibly the most popular example of them all, when Martin Scorsese’s gangster classic went home empty-handed, save a Best Supporting Actor win for the psychotic Joe Pesci, there was serious uproar. As previously noted, Kevin Costner’s epic is a fine film in itself but its themes have become that of Hollywood cliché, making it age badly. Then we have Goodfellas, a dangerously exciting piece of cinema that hooks you the same way today as it did upon its original release. Effortlessly stylish, and boasting a script which remains fresh, even after several re-watches, Goodfellas remains timeless. The Academy may have tried to right their wrong by showering The Departed with awards years later, but it is Goodfellas that will forever be regarded Scorsese’s greatest contribution to the gangster genre.
2. Raging Bull (1980) – Beaten by Ordinary People
In my mind, this is the more pressing Scorsese Oscar argument. Best Director snub aside, surely the film itself deserved to beat Robert Redford’s family drama? Chronicling the life of World Middleweight Champion boxer Jake LaMotta from his early sporting success, to his spiralling downfall, Raging Bull may have shocked the audiences of 1980 with its depiction of one man’s tale of self-destruction with scenes of coarse language and domestic abuse. However, it packs a powerful dramatic punch, fuelled by Robert De Niro’s stunning Oscar-winning portrayal of LaMotta. Harrowing cinema, but captivating nonetheless. Unflinching, dark, and brutal, if the X-rated Midnight Cowboy can win Best Picture, surely Raging Bull should have also triumphed.
1. Citizen Kane (1941) – Beaten by How Green Was My Valley
With four Best Director wins under his belt, John Ford is the most decorated film-maker in the history of the Academy Awards. However, it must be argued that Orson Welles’ debut richly-deserved to win that award along with a variety of others. More than seventy years on, it is simply stunning to see how well Kane holds up. Welles’ performance is a tour-de-force in a loose biopic that effectively shrouds its viewer in mystery from the start to its mesmerising climax. I’m not telling you it’s definitely the greatest film ever, but it sure as hell deserves to be celebrated as one of the all-time great Best Picture winners.
So do you agree with my ramblings or feel that I have left out any shoe-ins? Keep in mind that I have selected films that I feel are streets ahead of their competition. Sometimes great films lose out to ones that are also worthy of the prize!
Leave your thoughts in the comments below or share your views with me here:
As for the twitter poll, there was a slight difference of opinion…
5. Raging Bull (1980)
4. Pulp Fiction (1994)
3. Goodfellas (1990)
2. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Thanks to everyone who tweeted their thoughts, make sure to stay tuned on Movie Rehab follow me to contribute towards the next Top 5 list!