Movie Revolt’s Top 10 Best Picture Losers
Article By: Dan Clark
The Oscars have a tendency to generate a vast amount of debate. Perhaps the greatest amount of debate is focused upon the biggest award of the night Best Picture. Whether it is disagreement with the initial nominations or the eventual winner very rarely do the Oscars satisfy the masses. With that in mind I decided to look back through Oscar history to pick out the Top 10 Best Picture Losers. This list consists of films that were nominated for best picture, but did not walk away with the award. There were a number of factors I considered when creating this list. First of course is the overall quality of the film. However I also considered what film won that year. So if a great film lost to another great film it was less likely to end up on my list. For example I heavily considered 12 Angry Men for this list, but it lost to The Bridge on the River Kwai another all time great. So with that factor in mind it didn’t make the cut. However if a film lost to something of far less quality it was more likely to be considered. After much thought, discussion, and late night binges I was able narrow it down to 10.
10. Raiders of the Lost Ark
Lost to: Chariots of Fire
Raiders of the Lost Ark helped redefine the genre of Action Adventure. Since it first burst onto the scene people have been trying to recreate the magic of ‘Raiders’. While it may not be the first movie to come to mind when you think ‘Best Picture’ you can’t deny its legendary status in Hollywood lore. It created an endless amount of monuments, characters, and quotes that are as relevant today as they were when it was first released. Raiders of the Lost Ark is able to capture the larger than life style of classic movie serials while bringing in a style and direction of the modern movie era. This year is full of films that celebrate the history of movie making. The Artist, Hugo, and even films like Super 8 play homage to a time gone by. You can easily put ‘Raiders’ into that category. Put that accomplish alongside Harrison Ford’s great performance and you easily have one of the greatest films of its time. You can see its fingerprints all over films even today, most recently Captain America this past summer. There is little doubt the legend of ‘Raiders’ only has room to grow.
Lost To: Dances with Wolves
You could create a Top 10 list of Martin Scorsese films that should have won Best Picture. (He’ll certainly come up again) If you were to create that list Goodfellas would easily be near the top. You could start with the countless amount of great performances by some of the greatest actors of this generation. Add in the great riting and atmosphere and you have an all time classic. Scorsese was masterful with his direction. His camera work in this has become the thing of legend. Also some excellent music choices ry eallhammered home the theme and tone of the picture. While Dances with Wolves is not slouch itself, most people felt the award would be going to Scorsese. It seemed like his year and he was most certainly due for it. However it didn’t happen. That hasn’t hurt the legacy of Goodfellas. In fact you can argue its one of the biggest reason The Departed won Best Picture a few years ago.
8. L.A. Confidential
Lost To: Titanic
L.A. Confidential has an almost endless amount of things going for it. It has a style and coolness to it that grips you from the beginning. The developing plot with endless organic twists was one best scripts of the 90’s. Talent oozes in each frame of the film. It was thick with style and went beyond just being an homage to classic noir films. There were so many well developed characters that brought you into this unique world. Peppered in to its greatness was some solid action as well. Titanic was a force in the box office as well as on Oscar night, walking away with a record tying 11 awards. One wonders as time has gone by if the result would be the same today. Perhaps, but my vote would go to L.A. Confidential. While it wasn’t the spectacle of Titanic it had more ingredients of great filmmaking. Plus no Celine Dion.
7. Saving Private Ryan
Lost To: Shakespeare in Love
Saving Private Ryan starts with one of most powerful and brutal action sequences in movie history. That sequence alone should have won the film a countless amount of awards. Luckily for us the film didn’t stop there. Spielberg added a sense of beauty in the horrific images to the war the film portrays. What made Saving Private Ryan great however wasn’t the fact it was about a war, however it was the fact it was about the people who fought that war. It gave you a glimpse into who these people where. Who there where wasn’t spectacular, which made what they did even more incredible. Many have tried to replicate what Saving Private Ryan brought to the movie world. Its use of sound in particular has been done to death since its release. Its influence has been felt in all forms of entertainment including television, movies, and even video games.
6. The Shawshank Redemption
Lost To: Forrest Gump
1994 was a great year for film. It had an Oscar class that included Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, and of course The Shawshank Redemption. Pulp Fiction could easily be on this list especially when you consider what it did for Independent filmmaking, but I choose to go with Shawshank. One of the reasons is how universal Shawshank is. It’s a film that can please the general audience as well as any hardcore film buff. It accomplishes this feat through its universal message and theme. The message of hope that radiates throughout is genuine and real. Shawshank could have easily been hooky and ridiculous when you consider the basic storyline. However it’s more than just a typical redemption tale. The story is masterfully told with great performers telling it. While this may sound corny Shawshank is the perfect representation of the delight movies can bring us.
5. Apocalypse Now
Lost To: Kramer vs. Kramer
I’m not going to lie the first time I watched Apocalypse Now I wasn’t the hugest fan. I felt it was utterly self indulgent. However after supplicant viewings I gained a larger appreciation for it. The film is without a doubt an achievement in movie making. I mean the fact it was actually made was an accomplishment. Just see the documentary Hearts of Darkness and see the insanity that existed in the shooting of this movie. Apocalypse Now is looked at as one of the greatest war films ever made. Its visual styling and deep metaphorical tone is rich with thought provoking ideas. The film pushes beyond the theme of war and into the foundation of the human condition. It satirizes as well as it polarizes. Sure film can be used for simple entertainment. Apocalypse Now shows why film can be considered one of today’s greatest art forms. Combing amazing visuals with the perfect musical score is a true skill, and that skill is put on display countless times. Add in powerful dialogue with astounding performances to round out this masterful tale.
Lost To: Rocky
The 70’s is look at as the greatest decade in film history. Some of the greatest films ever made came out during this time period. Perhaps the best Oscar class of the 70’s was the 1976 class. That class included Taxi Driver, All the Presidents Men, Network, and the eventual winner Rocky. While I am a Rocky fan if I was to rank those four films Rocky would be placed fourth. First would have to go to Network. You hear about films that are a perfect representation for their time. Films like Up in the Air are able to bring to life the world we currently live in. Sometimes however a movie can go beyond its current time and only increase in relevancy. That is the case with Network. When you look at what television news has become one need only look at Network to see many people saw this coming. It foretold how outside forces and the quest for ratings would only dilute the news industry. Besides its everlasting relevance it has a multitude of awesome performances. In fact Network was nominated in every acting category for the Academy Awards. Peter Finch and William Holden were even both nominated for Best Leading Actor for their work in Network. Peter Finch won the award for his unforgettable performance as Howard Beale or as I like to call him Glen Beck the prequel. For some reason however it did not win best picture. That fact made it a shoe in for this list.
3. Citizen Kane
Lost To: How Green Was My Valley
Citizen Kane is continually looked at as one of the greatest and influential films of all time. When a film gets that kind of praise it is typically followed by the ‘overrated’ tag. You can argue that point all day long, but what you can’t argue is the impact Citizen Kane had on film and future film makers. When people attempt to discredit the importance of the Oscars this upset is usually the one they point to. The film tells a tremendous tale of an American tragedy of the emptiness of wealth and power. The story structure used went beyond the narrative of films before. It told its story in a arrangement that may seem normal today, which is evidence of its power. You can break Citizen Kane down scene by scene and find something remarkable in each. If a Mount Rushmore of movies was ever to be made it’s certain Citizen Kane would be represented.
2. Star Wars
Lost To: Annie Hall
Was there any doubt this would make the list? Some may ask how could I put Star Wars ahead of Citizen Kane? That reason is Star Wars goes beyond the framework of cinema. It started as a phenomenon, moved to a movement, and is now boarding the line of becoming a full blown religion. Sure that success was largely due to future installments in the franchise and its other byproducts, but it all started with Star Wars. It captured the minds of billions from its opening frame. The worlds, the characters, and pretty much anything you can think of that occurs in the movie has been engrained into everyday society. While I understand why Annie Hall won the award, it is one great movie, Star Wars is in a class all its own. What is even more amazing is how since it release Star Wars still remains such a crowning achievement. Sure special effects have gotten better, and we all know how that fact has caused George Lucas to endlessly add to and tweak the film. Though no matter what he changes nothing seems like it could ever truly impact how incredible it is.
1. Raging Bull
Lost To: Ordinary People
So the question becomes, “What can beat Star Wars?” Well my answer to that question is Raging Bull. I know that idea could blow the heads of Star Wars fanatics, but I feel if you look at everything the choice has to be Ragging Bull. Consider this, Ragging Bull is looked at as Martin Scorsese’s greatest film. That is one powerful statement. The scope and design of it is incredible. Plus it simply looks amazing. The black and white cinematography is beautiful to look at even when the images you are witnessing are horrifying. Add in the fact Robert De Niro gives what is perhaps the best performance of his career as he lives the life of Jack La Motta. With two legends in the film industry giving it their best I couldn’t help but put it at number one. Also while Star Wars lost to another amazing feature, Raging Bull lost to a far less superior film. Considering these factors it was honestly an easy choice to put Raging Bull at this slot. Though feel free to disagree with my list and sound-off in the comments below. I mean how can complain about second guessing a list all about second guessing?