RIP IT UP MOVIE BLOG: Top 10 Movies That Should’ve Won ‘Best Picture’Monday , 25 Feb 2013
With the 85th annual Academy Awards upon us, it’s that time of year when we take a look back to try and pick out the best of what 2012 had to offer, with all eyes on Hollywood’s major prize, the Oscar for Best Picture.
There is no doubt that the winners of that most prestigious of film awards represent the cream of the crop in cinema, and considering this year’s nominees (which include Tarantino’s Django Unchained, Spielberg’s Lincoln, Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, Ben Affleck’s Argo, feel-good flick Silver Linings Playbook, festival favourite Beasts of the Southern Wild, musical masterpiece Les Miserables and Austrian director Michael Haneke’s latest creation Amour) the trend is likely to continue. However, there can only be one winner each year and the Academy has been known to make some contentious decisions in the past, which have resulted in a number of noticeable absentees when looking at previous ‘Best Picture’ winners. In fact, of the IMDb’s Top 10 movies only four have actually won the acclaimed award.
So in honour of the eight runners up this year, we take a look at the award’s most surprising omissions in the Top 10 Movies That Should’ve Won ‘Best Picture’.
10. Goodfellas (1990)
One of Martin Scorcese’s finest features (which is saying a lot considering this is the guy who gave us Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Departed et al), this masterpiece follows a trio of small-time gangsters as they look to move their way up the mafia hierarchy. With the three leads superbly played by Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci (Pesci would go on to win the film’s lone Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), Goodfellas throws a punch still felt two decades later and is regarded as not only a cinematic icon, but one of the benchmarks in the gangster genre.
Lost to - Dances With Wolves
Kevin Costner directs and stars in this romanticised western, where he plays an American soldier who befriends the locals natives, whilst his comrades at are war with them (think James Cameron’s Avatar, only with Native Americans instead of Na’vi). Rumour has it that Clint Eastwood felt compelled to make Unforgiven after seeing this, simply to remind audiences of what a ‘western’ should look like.
9. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The film that introduced us to one of cinema’s greatest heroes - Indiana Jones. Kick-starting one of Hollywood’s most popular film franchises, this collaboration between movie maestros Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.. Followed by two superb sequels (and a third sequel perhaps best left forgotten), the Indiana Jones series remains one of the greatest cinematic adventures of all time.
Lost to - Chariots of Fire
With Raiders of the Lost Ark being the first instalment of one of the greatest film franchises of all time, it must’ve been a true classic to snatch the Oscar for Best Picture from its grasp right? Enter Chariots of Fire; a tale of two British track athletes who compete in the 1924 Olympics. One of them is a devout Christian who runs for God, while the other is Jewish who is running to escape prejudice. Admittedly the film is slightly more interesting than it sounds, featuring one of the most memorable scores of all time, but if today’s viewers were given the choice between watching Indiana Jones’ first adventure or the story of two British athletes… you get the feeling their decision would be different from the Academy’s.
8. Star Wars (1977)
Another film that hardly needs an introduction. George Lucas’ classic sci-fi epic made household names of the characters Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia, whilst also introducing audiences to arguably the greatest villain in Hollywood history, Darth Vader.
Lost to - Annie Hall
Quirky director Woody Allen was at his best with Annie Hall, a tale of a neurotic comedian (played by Allen) who falls in love with the ditzy title character (Diane Keaton), and there is no denying that the film is a remarkably charming piece that deserves recognition. Yet, it was up against a film that not only redefined the benchmark for the sci-fi genre, but also left such an imprint on the cinematic landscape that we are still feeling the effects today (30+ years after the original Star Wars’ release, Disney are planning on making a third trilogy instalment).
7. Apocalypse Now (1979)
One of the all-time great wartime epics, Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now is set during the Vietnam War and follows a group of American soldiers who are sent on a mission to stop a rogue lieutenant who has set up camp in Cambodia. Apocalypse Now remains a powerful film which will etch itself into your memory, 30+ years after its original release.
Lost to - Kramer vs Kramer
Academy Award darlings Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep (they have a staggering 24 Oscar nominations between them) star in this emotionally charged drama about workaholic businessman, Ted Kramer (Hoffman), whose wife, Joanna Kramer (Streep), grows tired of him neglecting his family, eventually leaving him with their young son, Billy. Ironically enough, both Hoffman and Streep picked up the award for Best Actor/Actress for this film, whilst the young actor who played their child, had to settle for a nomination, thus reiterating that the biggest loser in divorce is the children.
6. Raging Bull (1980)
Is there any director unluckier than Martin Scorcese when it comes to the Academy Awards? Well, Alfred Hitchcock certainly comes to mind, but that’s another story (despite being one of the greatest directors of the 20th century, Hitchcock never won the award for Best Director and only one of his films ever won Best Picture). I mean, what do Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino, Gangs of New York and The Departed all have in common? Despite being considered some of the greatest pieces of work by a director who has been nominated for the Best Director award on seven occasions, not one of those films managed to pick up the honours of Best Picture. However, the most perplexing loss has to have come at the 53rd Annual Academy Awards when the Robert De Niro fuelled powerhouse Raging Bull missed out on top honours.
Lost to - Ordinary People
Robert Redford’s debut directorial effort Ordinary People, a heartfelt drama featuring Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore and Timothy Hutton (in his first credited cinematic role) as a family struggling to come to grips with the death of their eldest son. Considering that Redford wouldn’t go on to sit in the director’s chair for another eight years, and that his next best effort came in the form of Quiz Show, I think it’s safe to suggest that Ordinary People might just have been a shot in the dark.
5. Pulp Fiction (1994)
In arguably the most hotly contested Best Picture nominations to date, 1994 presented audiences with three uniquely brilliant films, each of which could have justifiably won the much-acclaimed award. However, only one movie can win the award and, in hindsight, it was possibly the weaker film of the trio that picked up the honours. Considering that Pulp Fiction was not only an outstanding original film, but that it would also have a huge effect on Hollywood, there is certainly a compelling argument as to why Tarantino’s tale of violence and redemption should’ve walked away with the award. One theorist has gone so far as to suggest that the only reason Pulp Fiction didn’t take home the award was because of Uma Thurman’s terrible fringe.
Lost to - Forrest Gump
Much like Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump combined a great narrative with memorable dialogue and some unforgettable characters. Directed by Robert Zemeckis (of Back to the Future fame), Forrest Gump stars Tom Hanks as the title character, a “simple” man, who accidentally finds himself on a number of adventures which sees him meet a collection of interesting characters (and a couple of US presidents too), all while he seeks out his lost true love, Jenny (Robin Wright). Whilst the film remains one of the all-time greats, it is hard to argue that it has had the same impact as Pulp Fiction.
4. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic story that only gets better on the silver screen once Gregory Peck steps into the shoes of Atticus Finch in an impeccable performance that not only won Peck the Oscar for Best Actor, but had critics claiming that it was the role he was born to play. To Kill a Mockingbird remains an incredibly powerful viewing 50+ years after its original release, establishing it among the greatest films of all time.
Lost to - Lawrence of Arabia
Another classic tale, David Lean’s version stars Peter O’Toole as T.E. Lawrence, a British Military figure who is stationed in the Middle East during World War I where he develops conflicted loyalties. Although Lawrence of Arabia is often considered to be one of cinema’s classics, it simply does not have the emotional punch of a film like To Kill a Mockingbird, making it that much less memorable than its elite rival.
3. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Steven Spielberg’s World War II epic opens with one of the most memorable scenes of the wartime genre, in what has been described as the most realistic depiction of the storming of Normandy you can experience without having actually been there. Following the Americans’ landing, the film follows a group of eight soldiers who put their lives on the line, for a mission that requires them to locate and bring home one fellow soldier.
Lost to - Shakespeare in Love
Sadly for Spielberg his critically acclaimed tribute to one of the most important events in American history was overlooked for a romantic drama about a young William Shakespeare. Directed by John Madden, who is perhaps otherwise best known for Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, the film focuses on the love affair between the two, the complications that arise and the way in which they inspired Shakespeare’s work, providing relief for insomnia in high school English classes for years to come.
2. Citizen Kane (1941)
Widely regarded as the greatest movie of all time, Citizen Kane tells the story of a media tycoon whose dying utterance sends reporters into frenzy as they try to find out the meaning. Co-written and directed by the enigmatic Orson Welles, who also stars in the picture, Citizen Kane marks the only time Welles would receive an Oscar (winning the award for Best Original Screenplay).
Lost to - How Green Was My Valley
As much as Citizen Kane’s loss is considered an upset, if there were to be any film that would steal the limelight from Welles’ iconic classic, it is only fitting that it would be a film with the great John Ford at the helm. It has been suggested that the film’s unlikely win was the result of it containing the uplifting message of families overcoming adversity, regardless of what is thrown against them, which was the perfect foil for a society that was on the brink of a World War breaking out.
1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Along with The Godfather and Citizen Kane, The Shawshank Redemption is often thrown around as being the “greatest film of all time”. Remarkably, the film marked the first cinematic release for director Frank Darabont, who is now perhaps best known for The Walking Dead series. A truly touching story, just as capable of making you cry as it is of making you smile, aided by a superb cast, headlined by outstanding performances from Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton and Clancy Brown, makes for a timeless classic that will be enjoyed by audiences for many years to come.
Lost to - Forrest Gum
As mentioned earlier, the judges for the 1994 Best Picture award were spoiled for choice with Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption and, eventual winner, Forrest Gump all presenting strong cases for being awarded the statuette. While Pulp Fiction arguably had the biggest impact on Hollywood and The Shawshank Redemption has gone on to be deemed as one of the greatest movies of our generation, respective directors Quentin Tarantino and Frank Darabont were left to sit in the audience as they watched Robert Zemeckis pick up the award for Forrest Gump.
This is a reminder that regardless of how many movies deserve to win, there can be only one winner and this year’s awards will prove to be no exception, as one director will go on to claim a place in the history books for his film, as his peers are left to applaud from the crowd.
By Shane Drought
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