14 Academy Award Best Picture Nominees That Were Better Than The Winner

The Best Picture prize at the Academy Awards is given to the film the Academy voters believe is the greatest of the previous 12 months. But sometimes they get it completely wrong…

1941 – Citizen Kane (lost to How Green Was My Valley)

Citizen Kane, Top 10 Films, Orson Welles, We begin in 1941. Citizen Kane, the film that would become the “greatest of them all” in the critics eyes, lost to How Green Was My Valley (nope, I’d never heard of it either).

1944 – Double Indemnity (lost to Going My Way)

Double Indemnity, Billy Wilder, Top 10 FilmsBack in the 1940s, Hollywood’s most popular output was the musical so it’s little wonder that Billy Wilder’s brilliant noir missed out for Best Picture honours in favour of Leo McCarey’s joyous sing-a-long with Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald.

1957 – 12 Angry Men (lost to The Bride on the River Kwai)

Henry Fonda in Sidney Lumet's 12 Angry MenIt was a tough call for Academy voters in 1957 but the Best Picture award has, historically, gone to the epics over the more personal dramas. Here David Lean’s lavish The Bridge on the River Kwai trumped Sidney Lumet’s taut single-room drama 12 Angry Men.

1964 – Dr. Strangelove (lost to My Fair Lady)

Dr. Strangelove, Top 10 Films,  Kubrick,Satire doesn’t fit well with Academy voters it would appear. Note in 1976 when Network lost to Rocky for Best Picture. Here, Kubrick’s brilliant Dr. Strangelove is beaten by My Fair Lady.

1966 – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (lost to A Man for All Seasons)

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe, Mike Nichols, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton,No contest. A Man for All Seasons robbed Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe in 1966.

1973 – The Exorcist (lost to The Sting)

ExorcistMerrinShadow_movie-priestsHorror, like satire, seems to leave Academy voters lost. The Sting, albeit a likable film with some great performances, didn’t deserve to beat William Friedkin’s The Exorcist.

1976 – Network (lost to Rocky)

Peter Finch, Sidney Lumet, Network, Television and FilmIt seems incredible now to think a Sly Stallone film would beat arguably both Martin Scorsese and Sidney Lumet’s best films but Rocky beat both Taxi Driver and Network in 1976.

1980 – Raging Bull (lost to Ordinary People)

Raging Bull, Scorsese, De NIro, Top 10 Films,If Scorsese didn’t win an Oscar for Taxi Driver surely one would come in 1980 for Raging Bull. Nope! Ordinary People took the honours.

1988 – Working Girl or Mississippi Burning (lost to Rain Man)

Oscars Best Picture Snubs, Top 10 FilmsTough call but Dustin Hoffman was right to win Best Actor but Best Picture should have gone to either Working Girl or Mississippi Burning instead of Rain Man.

1996 – Fargo (lost to The English Patient)

Fargo, Top 10 Films,Fargo was probably too dark for Academy voters but it still should have triumphed over The English Patient.

1997 – L.A. Confidential (lost to Titanic)

L.A. Confidential, Top 10 FilmsL.A. Confidential beaten by Titanic! Say again, I don’t quite believe it.

1998 – Life is Beautiful (lost to Shakespeare in Love)

Life Is Beautiful, Film, Roberto BenigniWas Life Is Beautiful too “foreign” to win Best Picture? Roberto Benigni’s heartbreaking World War 2 drama should have beaten Shakespeare in Love.

2002 – The Pianist (lost to Chicago)

The Pianist, Top 10 Films, Adiren Brody,Chicago being nominated for Best Picture hardly looks good for the tastes of Academy voters, that it beat The Pianist to the top prize is almost unbelievable.

2007 – There Will Be Blood (lost to No Country for Old Men)

There Will Be Blood, Top 10 FilmsAnother mighty tough call but There Will Be Blood was one of the greatest films of the 2000s and should have been handed Best Picture at the 2007 ceremony.

Written by Rory Fish

Do you agree/disagree with these choices? Let us know in the comments…

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About the Author
Rory Fish has loved movies since he can remember. If he was to put together an "all time" top 10 of absolute favourites it would have to include North By Northwest, 12 Angry Men and Sunset Boulevard.

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  1. Avatar
    Wendell Reply

    Some very nice calls, here. The first three listed are such pure masterpieces, it’s hard to imagine them losing Best Pic. I know, many would say the same about the 4th, but I’m just not a fan of Dr. Strangelove. I do love Network, but I would have went with Taxi Driver over both that and Rocky. That last one is really close for me because I think No Country for Old Men is also one of the decade’s best. I would’ve been fine with it, either way.

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    scott Reply

    for added, i think the lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring more deserve than a beautiful mind

  3. Avatar
    Brett Doze Reply

    I think “Saving Private Ryan” was more deserving than “Shakespeare in Love” or “Life is Beautiful.” Other than that, I mostly agree with your list.

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