10 Times the Oscars Got Best Picture Wrong

In a perfect world, the Academy Awards would be held each year to honor the films that came out a decade earlier. So, for example, this year’s Oscars would be awarding the best achievements in film from 2007. This may seem like a crazy idea, but with 10 years of perspective there’d be a much better chance the Academy got the winners right.

In the moment, it can be hard to see things clearly. That’s definitely true of the Academy Awards, which, in the moment, are as much about marketing and narrative as they are about quality and craft. But those things fall off over time, while the films themselves remain—and our view of them evolves.

Ten years later, it’s easier to identify the best picture of a given year. It’s easier to be objective. Plus you get to see which movies have held up over time and truly taken their place in film history. You also get to see which films sink and dissipate over the years. Many movies are great in the moment, but gone from the memory as soon as it passes.

10 Movies That Should Have Won Best Picture (But Didn’t)

As a historical record of great, iconic movies, the Academy Awards are flawed. When it comes to determining the “best picture” of a year, Oscar has quite a few misses. Looking back on just the past 40 years, the Academy got its biggest category wrong 25 percent of the time. Here’s the proof…

1977 – Star Wars

Annie Hall won best picture in ’77. It’s a great movie. Easily one of the best comedies ever made. Any other year it would deserve best picture. But not against the most popular movie franchise of all time. Star Wars undoubtedly deserved the win. It’s freakin’ Star Wars, man!

1980 – Raging Bull

Ordinary People won best picture in ’80. It’s a solid movie. But Raging Bull is better. It has peak Scorsese (who criminally didn’t win best director) and peak DeNiro (who did take home best actor). I don’t know how you could make the case for People over Bull. But it’s bull that they did.

1981 – Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders is probably the best adventure movie ever made. Indiana Jones is an iconic character. The movie still holds up remarkably. Chariots is the more Oscar-y movie, but history clearly points the arrow to Raiders. Give it the gold man.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

1989 – Field of Dreams

Driving Miss Daisy took the statue in ’89. It’s a nice movie that no one has mentioned since 1989. On the other hand, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know the line “if you build it, he will come”. Field of Dreams is a uniquely American movie with peak Costner. It should have taken the title.

1990 – Goodfellas

Probably the most egregious slight in Oscar history. Dances with Wolves won the award this year. While some people mock that movie now, it’s actually pretty great. Problem is, Goodfellas is one of the best movies ever made. Not naming Goodfellas best picture (or Scorsese best director—slighted again!) is not just wrong, it’s something you deserve to get whacked for.

1996 – Fargo

Remember The English Patient? No? Then you’re probably like everybody else. Meanwhile, Fargo is a masterpiece that has stuck in our collective memory. Arguably the best picture made by the Coen brothers (who have made many, many great movies), Fargo even inspired a surprisingly good TV show 20 years later. That’s called staying power.

Fargo

1998 – Saving Private Ryan

Many point to Shakespeare in Love beating out Saving Private Ryan as a prime example of marketing a film to Oscar voters to score a victory. That’s probably the only way this makes sense. Saving Private Ryan is a brutal, innovative war film that history says deserves the gold. (Thankfully, Spielberg did score a best director statue.)

2010 – The Social Network

The King’s Speech took the gold in 2010. It’s a good movie that has fallen historically into the pack of good movies. But The Social Network is a superb piece of filmmaking about a turning point in modern history that will only get better as the decades pass. It deserved more likes from Oscar voters.

2014 – Boyhood

Birdman, which took best picture in 2014, is an electric movie. But Boyhood is a masterpiece. It’s mesmerizing and monumental. Filmed over 12 years, Boyhood captures the passage of time unlike any movie before in history. Boy is bigger than Bird. Not sure how Academy voters missed that. But they did.

2015 – Mad Max: Fury Road

Spotlight is a great movie. Well done in every respect. But Fury Road is a groundbreaking movie. It stands out from every other movie, and it may very well be the greatest action movie ever made. It’s creative, spectacular and alive. It got burned for best picture when it should’ve been victorious.

Mad Max Fury Road

The End

…For Now

AUTHOR: Shad Connelly
ORIGIN: Communications Director @ MONSTERS Unlimited

If you'd like to follow Shad on Twitter  /  @shadconnelly