Top 10 Best Oscar Runners-Up Of This Decade

We don’t always agree with the Academy Awards and sometimes films, performers and filmmakers are right to feel disappointed not winning the top award. Here’s the top 10 best Oscar runners-up of this decade…

The Golden Globes are already behind us and Oscar season is just ahead. That means we’re about to experience a month of analysing nominees, debating the best performances and achievements of 2016, and crowning the winners. It’s a fun process for most major film fans, and it’s one that recognises the incredible work of some of Hollywood’s best. Along the way, however, a lot of other amazing work gets lost in the shuffle.

For that reason, we wanted to take a little time ahead of this Oscar season to recognise some of the best runners-up of the decade so far. These people and films didn’t necessarily earn the second most votes in their respective categories, but they were all nominated and wound up without statues. And they all could have been worthy of Oscars glory.

The nominees are listed in reverse order from furthest back to most recent.


Best Original Screenplay, Christopher Nolan, 2011

The King’s Speech took this award and seemingly every other prize in 2011, and with good reason. It was a wonderful film deserving of all the acclaim it got. But as much as Inception played like a crowd-pleaser to some, it’s hard to grasp the magnitude of Nolan’s accomplishment. To take a concept like shared dreaming and make an intelligent, thrilling, labyrinth of a film out of it was no easy feat and deserved more recognition than it got.

The Social Network

Best Picture, 2011

social network, film,Again, The King’s Speech won, but in retrospect The Social Network was about as important a movie as we’ve seen this decade. Given that some are now saying that social media helped win Donald Trump the U.S. presidency, a film chronicling the rise of the leading social network has a necessary place in history. It just so happens to also be very entertaining, despite some inaccuracies.

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Geoffrey Rush

Best Actor In A Supporting Role, The King’s Speech, 2011

The King's Speech, Tom Hooper, Colin FirthClearly we don’t need to be giving more acclaim to The King’s Speech, but this was a classic case of a supporting actor being overlooked because of the lead actor’s brilliance – like Tom Cruise in Rain Man or Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad. Christian Bale was very deserving for his work in The Fighter, but Rush was a powerful nominee.

Brad Pitt

Best Actor, Moneyball, 2012

Jean Dujardin won this award for his endearing performance in the silent film The Artist. But every time I watch Moneyball I can’t help but think more highly of Pitt’s work. In a recent episode of the Channel 33 podcast by The Ringer, sports and writer Bill Simmons theorised that this might actually be Pitt’s best performance – and he may be right.

David O. Russell

Best Director, Silver Linings Playbook, 2013

David O'Russell, Anger Issues,Frequently, these awards come down to big, bold, beautiful films against simpler, subtle ones. For instance, this year we’re seeing La La Land (the former) clashing with Moonlight and Manchester By The Sea (both examples of the latter). In 2013, big and bold won out, as Ang Lee took Best Director for Life Of Pi. But David O. Russell managed to craft an extraordinarily heartfelt and enjoyable movie out of a pretty simple premise in Silver Linings Playbook, and was every bit as deserving.

Naomie Watts

Best Actress, The Impossible, 2013

Naomi Watts, The Impossible, Top 10 Films,This might be the most overlooked performance of the decade. Jennifer Lawrence was an unbeatable heavyweight as an up-and-coming Hollywood darling who had carried Silver Linings Playbook, but Watts was wonderful in this incredibly challenging role.


Best Picture, 2013

Given that Argo‘s Best Picture win was about the biggest surprise of the century so far, it’s only fair to give Lincoln its due. There were good reasons that almost everyone believed this stunning biopic of one of America’s most legendary presidents deserved Best Picture.

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Sylvester Stallone

Best Actor In A Supporting Role, Creed, 2016

Time's Top 10 Films of 2015Stallone’s image is forever linked with the character of Rocky Balboa. They’re still coming out with new video games based on the movie in 2017. At this moment a Rocky slot reel is listed in a collection of casual games at online casino sites, and once you find the game itself, it continues to make the most of Sly’s likeness and the enduring appeal of the legendary franchise. We all know Stallone is an icon, but what we didn’t know was that he’d resurrect the character with such enthusiasm and tenderness in the sequel/spinoff Creed. He was every bit as deserving as eventual winner Mark Rylance, who was excellent in Bridge Of Spies.

The Martian

Best Adapted Screenplay, Drew Goddard, 2016

“The Martian”: Hollywood’s Latest Search For Matt Damon Might Be Its Best Yet - Top 10 FilmsThe Big Short, based on Michael Lewis’s book of the same name, took this award, and with good reason. It’s tough to adapt non-fiction into a compelling drama. But if you’ve read The Martian by Andy Weir you know that Goddard’s task was just as difficult. This book is filled with scientific jargon and lengthy explanations of survival on Mars, and Goddard turned it all into a very compelling narrative on screen.

George Miller

Best Director, Mad Max: Fury Road, 2016

Mad Max Fury Road - Top 10 Films reviewAlejandro G. Inarritu was a deserving winner for his stunning vision in The Revenant, but there are few films this decade as unique and fully imagined as Mad Max: Fury Road. George Miller had the bad luck of landing in a heavyweight category, but in any other year he’d have had a good shot at bringing home the statue.

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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
    Callum Reply

    Geoffrey Rush should have won for The King’s Speech.

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    Dan Grant Reply

    Fantastic piece Rory! Glad you put Stallone on here. He should have won and rumour is that he lost because there are still some geriatrics in the academy who didn’t like his behaviour from 30 years ago, and they hold a grudge. Rylance was very good but Stallone was iconic. Such as shame that the oscars are more to do with nepotism and attitude and greasing palms than it is who should really win. As Clint said in Unforgiven, “Deserves got nothing to do with it.”

  3. Avatar
    Courtney Reply

    This list is so great that I couldn’t pin down one specifically to highlight. They’re all great. Maybe The Social Network…that movie was fantastic in every respect.

  4. Avatar
    CineGirl Reply

    Kinda glad David O’Russell is a loser cos he’s such an A-hole! 😉

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