Top Ten: Films That Never Won An Oscar

With the film world’s biggest awards ceremony just around the corner, cinema sites and blogs across the internet are filled with predictions and lists of Oscar favourites of the past. It is important to remember, though, that out of the hundreds of movies that are released every year, only a small handful are given Academy Award recognition. This leaves a plethora of outstanding pictures that every year are left standing outside looking through the window at all of the winners and their shiny golden statuettes. Here are ten of my favourite films (not necessarily the ten best) that, perhaps shockingly, never had their moments of glory at the Oscars.

1. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

In my opinion Tim Burton’s biggest triumph and only truly great film, 1990’s Edward Scissorhands did not seem to take the fancy of Academy voters and went unrewarded. The dark masterpiece starring Johnny Depp was nominated, as one would expect, for Best Makeup at that year’s ceremony, but the one aspect that I feel truly deserved recognition is Danny Elfman’s haunting and at times heart breaking score, one of the very best there has ever been.

2. Psycho (1960)

Psycho was nominated for four Oscars in the year of its release, including Best Director for Alfred Hitchcock and Best Supporting Actress for Janet Leigh. Though the film is now regarded as an absolute classic and benchmark for the history and universe of cinema, perhaps the picture’s disturbing subject matter and horror tropes were just a little too much for the Academy to deal with 1960.

3. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

I find it almost impossible to comprehend that the film which regularly tops ‘best ever’ lists could not have won an Academy Award, but so it was! The Shawshank Redemption was something of an initial box office failure but nevertheless was nominated for a total of seven Oscars on the night, losing out in all categories. Nowadays it is considered one of the greatest films of all time, and I certainly would not disagree with that sentiment.

4. The Color Purple (1985)

The Color Purple was nominated for an oustanding, potentially board sweeping eleven Academy Awards in the mid eighties, but Steven Spielberg’s cinematic adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer winning novel failed to pick up a single statuette. In my humble opinion, Whoopi Goldberg was robbed and shamefully shunned in the Best Actress category, giving a performance for the ages as Celie, a poor African American woman who suffers horrific abuse from a young age.

5. Stand By Me (1986)

Adapted from a short story by the horror genius Stephen King, Stand By Me is an out of genre achievement for the writer and is perhaps the best cinematic coming of age tale ever told. Clearly the Academy did not agree with this assessment at the time, as the film was only nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay and came away with nothing. Perhaps voters disregarded the film because of its young central cast, but the late River Phoenix gave an outstanding supporting performance that deserved more recognition.

6. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Reservoir Dogs is the type of film that has risen way above the boundaries of cinema and entered in to wider pop culture. Quentin Tarantino’s first feature length picture has very few friends among the Academy voters in 1992, with no wins but even more shockingly not even a single nomination. Since this initial lukewarm reception the film has grown in cult and mainstream stature to be regarded as one of the director’s very best works, and none of us can ever listen to ‘Stuck In The Middle With You’ the same way again.

7. The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick’s chilling and at times plain terrifying 1980 film is, quite simply, a modern masterpiece. However, back in 1980 The Shining did not recieve a single Academy Award nomination despite Jack Nicholson giving one of the best performances of his career and Kubrick’s direction being as layered and genius as ever. I feel it was the Academy’s notorious lack of love for the horror genre that put the nail in The Shining’s coffin.

8. Fight Club (1999)

1999’s Fight Club became almost an instant cultural phenomenon when it hit the big screen, but it found no success with the Oscars crowd. The film’s complicated, twist filled story is unlike almost anything I can think of, but above all else I feel Fight Club should have at least been recognised for its brilliant cinematography and amazing supporting performance from a cooky and crazy Helena Bonham-Carter.

9. Memento (2000)

Memento was arguably one of the best films of the noughties, therefore I find it amazing that it received no love at the Academy Awards. Though all of the film’s acting performances are strong, the real travesty with regards to the Oscars is that a film with such a complicated, yet made easy to understand timeline, was not awarded the statuette for Best Editing. The editing in Memento is nothing short of amazing, and it definitely should have picked up the prize on the night.

10. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993)

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? is a perfect example of those effortlessly heartwarming yet still credible, Sunday afternoon type films that were so prevalent in the early to mid nineties. If there were an Oscar for best looking man on the entire planet, Johnny Depp certainly would have received to prize in 1993, but the real star of the show was a young Leonardo DiCaprio whose portrayal of a boy with autism was so excellent that many at the time believed they had cast a real disabled actor. He absolutely should have been given more awards recognition for this role, and he continued to be shunned to this very day!

6 thoughts on “Top Ten: Films That Never Won An Oscar

  1. I absolutely LOVE all of these movies. Stand by me is one of the greatest coming of age movies and all the performances are so natural. I’m surprised that Psycho didn’t win, I guess it was ahead of its time. Good picks! 😀

  2. Great list! Shows how the Academy could be so off their game when handing out the awards. A travesty that none of these flicks won any. Nice work on this post!

  3. I didn’t watch The Shawshank Redemption intentionally, I actually stumbled upon it. After having it watched I gave it 10/10 for each element and was wondering about its IMDB status; without my surprise it was the highest rated film. I never tried to find its Oscar performance as I was sure it would have won some. It is a real shock that a genius creation like this didn’t win the Oscars, maybe Oscar don’t deserve it!

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