With the Oscars happening tomorrow night, we look at the five greatest films that didn’t win the coveted Best Picture award.
Grand Illusion (1937)
Jean Renoir’s devastating war drama is a classic example of the Academy favouring English-language cinema over foreign films. It lost to the James Stewart-starring You Can’t Take It With You, now one of Frank Capra’s least remembered films, but took on more powerful resonance when World War II began.
Citizen Kane (1941)
Now the most famous Oscar loser of all time, Orson Welles’ brilliant directorial debut (pictured) lost out to John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley, in a year that also saw the release of The Maltese Falcon and Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion.
Taxi Driver (1976)
It’s forgotten now that Rocky’s win over Martin Scorsese was an unexpected victory worthy of Sylvester Stallone’s boxing hero. Still, it would signal the Academy’s continual disapproval of a film legend who wouldn’t win until he brought out The Departed.
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic Vietnam film lost out to the tense, if more conventional drama Kramer vs. Kramer. After a notorious shoot that saw sets being destroyed and Martin Sheen suffering from a heart attack, the movie needed nothing more for it to live on in film history.
L.A. Confidential (1997)
This was the year when James Cameron’s Titanic took down everything in its path, leaving no chance for Curtis Hanson’s superb, stylish crime drama set in 1950s Hollywood. Lessons have been learnt, and Avatar was of course turned down last year in favour of The Hurt Locker.
Honourable Mention: Stanley Kubrick
The movie maestro is perhaps the most neglected figure in Academy Award history. Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon all received Best Picture nominations, but to no avail, and the only Oscar Kubrick ever won was for the visual effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The director’s enduring legacy shows that you don’t need an Oscar to receive the highest respect in the world of film.