Inching towards mediocrity.

Top Five Best Pictures (That Never Won Best Picture!)

Ah, the Oscars.

That wonderful time of year when rich people come together to act rich, dress rich, eat rich and generally be rich, all without actually having to spend any money, of which they have a lot more than your sorry ass will ever see.

After all, they’ve earned it…right?

In case you're wondering, it's not actually gold - just a gold plated, naked-man-shaped diamond.

As the years have progressed, I have become more and more disenfranchised with these awards shows, and this year was possibly the worst. None of the Best Picture nominees really grabbed me, and the bizarre decision to include ten films instead of the usual five only seemed to highlight this fact.

Anyways, those of you who aren’t currently residing under a rock, are no doubt aware that this year Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker took down the Best Picture crown, apparently narrowly edging out James Cameron’s Avatar.

In case you’re wondering, neither movie was very good. Or, at the very least, Best Picture worthy.

And thus, the trend continued – subpar movies being named Best Picture over more deserving works of art. Case in point, here are five films over the course of history, that were more or less, completely fucking shafted.

Five. Goodfellas loses to Dances With Wolves. (1990).

Now, I’m a bit torn on this, the first entry. Goodfellas brilliant film; as it stands, I would personally qualify it as Martin Scorsese’s best, which automatically defines it as a masterpiece. Having said that…Dances With Wolves is actually pretty damn sweet too. A lot of people seem to have it in for Kevin Costner, though I never understood why. I’ve always kind of liked the dude, to be honest – though, if I were to ever pinpoint the exact moment where the anti-Costner brigade found it’s legs, it would probably be this moment right here: the moment when Kevin Costner received a Best Directing Oscar before Martin Sorsese.

More like "Not-Good-Enough-Fellas," AMIRIGHT?

However, regardless of how good Dances With Wolves may or may not have been, and regardless of how much I might actually enjoy Kevin Costner as an actor (and, somewhat shockingly, as a director), Goodfellas nevertheless remains the superior film. It was Scorsese’s crowning achievement, and far more deserving of award glory than his overrated, 2006 film, The Departed.

Four. Fargo loses to The English Patient. (1996)

Anyone remember The English Patient? ANYONE? Bueller?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Now, I might be a bit biased here. Personally, I don’t think I’ve EVER seen a bad Coen Brothers movie. These guys are pretty much the most consistent creative team I’ve ever encountered in film. And Fargo, to me at least, stands out as their personal best. The English Patient on the other hand, pretty much just stood out as melodramatic, boring dreck. It’s one of those movies that you watch once, give an unsatisfied “meh” too, and then never revisit again.

Yet somehow, the Academy found it more memorable and iconic then the Coen’s unorthodox masterpiece.

Three. Saving Private Ryan loses to Shakespeare in Love. (1999).

I really would have liked to have been inside Steven Spielberg’s head for this one, though even the Bearded One probably had trouble contemplating what the hell happened here. After winning the award for Best Director, one would assume that Ryan was a lock for Best Picture. After all, the gritty, realistic war drama seemed destined for Oscar greatness…and no foppish period piece was going to stand in it’s way!

Hello, I'm here to stand in your way. Foppishly.

But of course it did, and somehow Ryan lost top prize to a movie that, one year later, would never be discussed, remembered, viewed or referenced, whereas Ryan will no doubt go down in history as one of the best war films ever made.

Oh, and perennial nominee Tom Hanks also came home empty handed that night, losing the Best Actor award to this guy:

Who, mercifully, was never seen or heard from again.

Two. Citizen Kane loses to How Green Was My Valley.

I’m afraid I have to be completely honest here. I’ve never actually seen How Green Was My Valley, and, to be honest, really don’t intend to…ever. What I can say is this, though – Citizen Kane is truly the Citizen Kane of films. It’s a truly groundbreaking work of art, constructed with much love and effort by Hollywood wunderkind Orson Welles (who wrote it, directed it, and stars as Charles Foster Kane). The film pioneered many camera techniques and ideas that we still employ today. It is a stark, devastating look at a man corrupted by power, and completely unforgettable.

According to Wikipedia. How Green Is My Valley “tells the story of the Morgans, a close, hard-working Welsh family at the turn of the twentieth century in theSouth Wales coalfield at the heart of the South Wales Valleys. It chronicles a socio-economic way of life passing and the family unit disintegrating.”

Somehow, I’m less impressed.

One. The Shawshankd Redemption and Pulp Fiction lose to Forrest Gump.

This, to me, marks one of the lowest points in Academy Awards history. Two of the most moving, iconic, and best films of the past twenty years go vie for film’s highest honor, and both end up losing to Tom Hanks playing a retarded guy.

No, really.

While I do suppose I enjoy Forrest Gump for what it is – a pandering crowd-pleaser with the apparent IQ of it’s titular hero – there’s no way in hell that holds a candle to Shawshank or Pulp Fiction. While Gump makes its intentions to manipulate the audience’s emotions perfectly obvious, Shawshank manges to do it in a much more subtle, rewarding way. It’s an uplifting, joyous movie, that never once seems manufactured – like Gump does. It achieves the exact response it wants out of the audience, but it lets them get their naturally, on their own time. That’s important.

And Pulp Fiction is just…Pulp Fiction. A supremely original and well crafted by a dude who hadn’t quite turned into a raving, coke-addled egomaniac yet. So that’s something.

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Some good calls. I’d put Raging Bull losing to Ordinary People on the list and bump out Goodfellas losing to Dances With Wolves.

Comment by Dan

Good point, Dan. At least people remember Dances With Wolves.

Comment by Luciano Galasso

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