10 Films The Academy Famously Overlooked

Culture October 20, 2017 By Hugo

For years, the Academy's legion of 'experts' has been telling us what films are better than others. 

But we at Lifehack Lane aren't interested in being privy to the opinions of others. Sure, Academy members know their stuff. Some may even be able to recite the entire script of a Fellini movie, but that still doesn't excuse the great injustices that have occurred over the years. In fact, some of what are now considered cinematic masterpieces, such as HeatMean Streets, and The Big Lebowski failed even to muster a nomination. 

Shutterstock/ Alex Millauer

So with that in mind, it's only fair we honour the movies the Academy didn't. Here are ten notable examples.

1. Taxi Driver

Long viewed as Martin Scorcese's best work; the Academy seemingly didn't see enough talent in the direction to give Mardy a nomination.

Flickr/ William Martins

Robert De Niro's nomination for lead actor for his role as a crazed Vietnam vet did salvage some justice, but one can never forgive the Academy for overlooking such a brilliant piece of cinema. For those interested, the award for Best Director went to John G. Avildsen for his work on Rocky. 

Yep, you read that correctly. 

2. The Shawshank Redemption 

Few would have predicted that a commercial flop adapted from a Stephen King short story would go onto to become a beloved Hollywood film, yet somehow or other, the film garnered seven Oscar nominations.

But Frank Darabont's The Shawshank Redemption stood little chance against another Hollywood classic, Forest Gump. Admittedly, it's hard to pinpoint what movie is better than the other, but the fact TSR failed to muster even a single victory from its seven nominations makes this cult-classic one of the primary victims of the Academy's shocking list of injustices.

3. A Clockwork Orange

Hugley controversial upon its release, Stanley Kubrick's visionary genius seemed suited to the adaptation of Anthony Burgess' 1962 dystopian novel. Masterful and haunting in direction, A Clockwork Orange experienced little luck on the night of the awards.

In fact, it lost in all four of its nominated categories — Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, and Editing — to William Friedkin's The French Connection.

4. It's A Wonderful Life

Upon release, critics raged at its cheap sentimentality and cliched melodrama, which may have been the reason Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life didn't win in any of its categories, despite being nominated five times.

National Telefilm via Wikimedia Commons

But as the film's enduring legacy as proved, this movie was more than just your average weep-fest.

5. Psycho

Alfred Hitchcock is a name synonymous with film direction, yet Psycho failed to earn a nomination for Best Picture. There was also no nomination for Best Actor for Anthony Perkins or Best Score for Bernard Herrmann.

However, Psycho was still recognized in four categories (Supporting Actress, Director, Cinematography, Art Direction) before coming away empty handed.

6. Mulholland Dr.

Over the years, David Lynch has made a name for himself for his hallucinatory stories about the American way of life. Because of his film's niches, Lynch's films aren't for everyone and the signature surrealist elements that characterized Mulholland Dr. were deemed too weird and circuitous to spawn any notable Oscar nominations.

And David Lynch earned a nomination, (the only nomination the film received) the fact that critics regularly hail Mulholland Dr. as the best movie of the century makes Lynch's masterpiece a shining example of the subjective nature that characterizes the Academy Award's voting process.

7. Rebel Without a Cause

James Dean is now known more for his all-American looks and bad-boy persona than his acting abilities, and that's a great shame, especially when one watches his superb performance in Nicolas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause.

Trailer screenshot via Wikimedia Commons

But he wasn't even nominated, nor did the movie come away victorious in the any of the three Oscars (Best Actor for Sal Mineo, Best Actress for Natalie Wood, Best Screenplay for Ray) for which it was nominated. 

8. The Wolf of Wall Street

Leonardo Di Caprio's painful wait for a much-deserved Lead Actor gong continued when he lost to Mathew McCounahey for his role as famous AIDS patient, Ron Woodroof in the movie Dallas Buyers Club. 

But it wasn't just Leo's winless streak that incensed many. For a film that had smashed box-office records as the highest grossing 17+ movie of all time, many saw the movie as a bit of fun, and even a potent allegory for what society wrongly deems success to be. On the other hand, many critics decided WOWS was nothing more than a celebration of nihilistic practices. 

And it seemed Academy members agreed, as the film came away empty-handed, despite being nominated in five categories (Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio, Best Supporting Actor for Jonah Hill, Best Adapted Screenplay for Terrence Winter, Best Picture and Best Director for Martin Scorsese).

9. American History X

American History X is probably one of the starkest depictions of racism in modern-day cinema. Powerfully told, and magnificently performed by leading man Edward Norton, AHX will leave you in a state of uncontrollable sobbing by the credits.

Still, the Academy handed AHX a paltry one nomination for Best Male Lead for Edward Norton, for which he went away empty handed. 

10. Fight Club 

Brilliantly adapted from Chuck Palahniuk's bestselling novel, David Fincher's masterpiece is often cited as one of the greatest films of all time. 

Flickr/ G Crackle

But like with many 'classics', Fight Club was overlooked by the Academy- bar a single nomination for Best Sound Editing- and also tanked at the box office. 

In time, however, many film buffs and critics- thanks largely to word of mouth suggestions- began to take to Fight Club, with most now labeling it a modern-day classic. It makes it all the more surprising then that Fight Club was deemed unworthy of the Academy's most significant accolades.


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