Some years are more difficult then others when picking a big winner, and thus throughout history, many extraordinary projects have failed to pick up the biggest award on the biggest stage. Sure, across the Oscars, BAFTAs and Golden Globes, there are often multiple Best Picture winners each year, but this time we are looking at some films which left me scratching my head when I realise have not won the Best Picture Oscar. Here are six:
Fargo was a creative masterclass delivered by the Coen Brothers, one which they have since replicated, but not quite under the same goofy context. Both a comedy and a riveting thriller, Fargo was by far the most original project in the nominee list, and while the Coens did win the Best Original Screenplay, and Frances McDormand also picked up a Best Actress award, it missed out on the biggest prize. Which is a true shame because the winner was The English Patient – a great film, but a book adaptation nevertheless.
2. Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction remains, in my book, Tarantino’s best film so far – and according to him, there won’t be too many more chances to surpass it. Just like Fargo, Pulp Fiction did get the Best Original Screenplay statuette, but its unconventional structure and rebellious allure were the likely causes that stopped it from winning Best Picture. Of course, one cannot criticise Forrest Gump, but again, the Academy went for the safe, crowd-pleasing flick instead.
Boyhood’s shooting process took an outstanding 12 years, and the final result was a unique gem. Sure, it didn’t quite match the pace, tension and drama that other nominees had, but Boyhood offered a series of snapshots into ordinary life. It told a simple story with immense grace, and made the most of Richard Linklater’s expertise with crafting meaningful dialogues, and his eye for details. Birdman was certainly a good winner, but a much more predictable one – dwelling into the frustration of Hollywood and its industry, it provided the perfect bait for the jury. Out of all the films on this list, I think none deserved it more than Boyhood.
4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
While I think Boyhood missing out was the biggest mistake, Three Billboards losing out to The Shape of Water was a true catastrophe. It’s no shame in losing out to a great film, but losing to a sub-mediocre film with very little substance to its plot is quite tragic. Three Billboards’ themes were very layered, its message was beautifully relayed, and its core really resonated with social issues of present times. Whereas The Shape of Water had… some cool SFX, I guess.
5. Raiders of the Lost Ark
The first and the best Indiana Jones film won 5 Oscars at the 1982 Academy Awards, but none of the really big ones. Despite receiving an excellent reception from both critics and viewers, and excelling in pretty much every dimension, the Best Picture went to Chariots of Fire instead – a wonderful historical drama, but in the end its recognition and impact on filmmaking was much, much smaller than Spielberg’s masterpiece.
6. Dr Strangelove
Stanley Kubrick only won one Oscar – and that was for Best Visual Effects, in the case of 2001: A Space Odyssey. So clearly, the Academy wasn’t exactly prone to give him the recognition he deserved. Dr Strangelove made a mockery of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear annihilation that was ever prevalent during its times. Its bold nature and originality didn’t quite go well with the jury, in a time where musicals were THE trend. As a result, Dr Stangelove lost, and My Fair Lady won.