It's no secret that the Oscar for Best Picture is the most prestigious award in the film industry. However, just because a movie is nominated doesn't mean it will win, and sometimes, the most deserving films are snubbed in favor of less impressive works. According to a Movie Suggestions forum, these ten Oscar-nominated films should have won Best Picture.
Some of these movies were competing against each other in the same year, so they could not actually all win, but all of these films were worthy of Best Picture.
1 – The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The Shawshank Redemption is widely considered to be one of the greatest movies ever made, yet it failed to win the Best Picture award at the 1995 Oscars. Instead, the award went to Forrest Gump, a film many critics and audiences felt was less deserving. Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know which movie is going to win an Oscar.
The Shawshank Redemption is a cinematic masterpiece that tells a gripping story of friendship, hope, and redemption. Its strong performances, powerful script, and impeccable direction by Frank Darabont make it a timeless classic that continues to resonate with audiences today. It remains the number-one-rated movie of all time on IMDb.
2 – Whiplash (2014)
Several movie fans agreed that Whiplash should have won over Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). This intense drama features incredible performances and a masterful direction by Damien Chazelle. The film tells the story of a young drummer's journey to greatness and features an incredible jazz soundtrack that perfectly complements the story.
If it's any consolation, what made this movie so great was J.K. Simmon's masterful portrayal of an overbearing music instructor who uses questionable methods to push his students to their full potential. Simmons did win the Oscar for Best Actor that year.
3 – Pulp Fiction (1994)
Pulp Fiction is considered a masterpiece for a variety of reasons. One of the most notable is its innovative and nonlinear storytelling structure, which was groundbreaking at the time. The film also bolstered classic witty Tarantino dialogue and a brilliant ensemble cast. Its mix of genres, including crime, black comedy, and neo-noir, was a breath of fresh air in an era dominated by Hollywood blockbusters.
Despite being a game-changing film that revitalized independent cinema in the 1990s and a cultural touchstone, it lost to Forrest Gump in 1995. The competition was stiff that year, as we already mentioned that Forrest Gump won that year over The Shawshank Redemption.
4 – Citizen Kane (1941)
Often referred to as one of the greatest movies ever made, Citizen Kane earned nine nominations at the 14th Academy Awards. It won only one: Best Original Screenplay.
That night's big winner was instead How Green Was My Valley, starring Walter Pidgeon and Maureen O'Hara.
5 – The Social Network (2010)
Directed by David Fincher and starring Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, the film tells the story of the founding of Facebook and the legal battles that followed. It features a masterful screenplay by Aaron Sorkin and boasts an incredible ensemble cast, including Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake.
The Social Network is a visionary film that explores themes of power, friendship, and betrayal in the age of technology. Upon its release, it was a critical and commercial success and has since become a modern classic. Despite its numerous accolades, including three Oscars, it lost the Best Picture award to The King's Speech in 2011, a decision that some film critics and fans still question. One moviegoer in the thread believes the Academy went with the safer choice that year.
6 – Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Inglorious Basterds is a 2009 film directed by Quentin Tarantino, set in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. The film follows two separate plots: one follows a group of Jewish-American soldiers on a mission to kill as many Nazis as possible; the other focuses on a young Jewish woman seeking revenge against the SS officer who murdered her family. The two plots eventually converge in a violent and dramatic climax. The film features Tarantino's trademark dialogue, nonlinear storytelling, and powerful performances from its cast, including Christoph Waltz, Brad Pitt, and Mélanie Laurent. It's hard to believe Quentin Tarantino has never won an Academy Award for Best Picture as a film creator, as this is his second film on this list.
7 – LA Confidential (1997)
L.A. Confidential is a beautiful, fantastic, and perfect film, but it had one flaw: being nominated alongside Titanic.
There was no way the James Cameron film wasn't going home without nearly every Oscar it was nominated for, but that doesn't mean it was the most deserving movie of the year. The neo-noir detective thriller was met with near-universal praise from critics and fans. An ensemble cast, headlined by Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce, ensure the movie's gripping story is a thrill from start to finish.
The movie was based on the 1990 James Ellroy novel.
8 – Black Swan (2010)
Black Swan, directed by Darren Aronofsky, should have won Best Picture for its mesmerizing and intense portrayal of a ballerina's descent into madness. The film's stunning cinematography, haunting music, and exceptional performances by Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis make it a masterpiece.
The story explores the themes of perfectionism, competition, and the dark side of ambition, all while blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. Black Swan is a thrilling and unforgettable cinematic experience that pushes the boundaries of psychological horror and leaves a lasting impact on the viewer. It's no wonder many film enthusiasts believe it should have won over The King's Speech in 2011.
9 – The Fighter (2010)
The Fighter, directed by David O. Russell, should have won Best Picture, many film lovers believe, for its powerful and authentic portrayal of the boxing world and the complicated relationships that exist within it. The film features outstanding performances by Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Melissa Leo, who bring to life the struggles of the real-life boxing family the film is based on.
The Fighter combines gritty realism with emotional depth, creating a compelling story that explores loyalty, family, and redemption themes. It is a masterful work that captures the spirit of the sport of boxing and the human drama that surrounds it. It was also nominated in 2011.
10 – Inception (2010)
Inception is a fan favorite of Christopher Nolan's filmography. It was yet another movie nominated for Best Picture in 2011 that lost out to The King's Speech. Its mind-bending plot, exceptional visual effects, and outstanding performances by its cast takes the audience on a thrilling and complex journey through dreams within dreams, exploring the themes of reality, memory, and the power of the subconscious mind.
Nolan's direction and storytelling are masterful, keeping the viewer engaged and on the edge of their seat throughout. Inception is a landmark achievement in the science fiction genre and a testament to Nolan's talent as a filmmaker. Inception is a film that is so good that people insist on saying it's bad to be edgy.
11 – The Dark Knight (2008)
A fan of The Dark Knight believes it should have won over Slumdog Millionaire in 2009 despite not even being nominated for Best Picture. Widely considered not only the best film of that year but one of the best of all time, it was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Supporting Actor, which Heath Ledger posthumously won.
However, there was no nomination for Best Picture, which is still controversial. Some speculate that because the category was limited to just five nominees that year, it made it difficult for a superhero film to be nominated. Others believe it's because of how dark and gritty the film was. Nolan has since commented that he believes The Dark Knight would be nominated for Best Picture if it were released today. There's a reason it remains the #3 top-rated movie on IMDb.
12 – Banshees of Inisherin (2022)
While the praise and awards for Everything Everywhere All At Once are much deserved, I wouldn't be upset if The Banshees of Inisherin were given more recognition. Several people in the thread make a case for giving the top award to Banshees as a fun shock. Funny, articulate, and much deeper than I had expected, it's a beautiful film that perfectly mixes humor, tragedy, and an interesting debate on what it means to be a true artist.
13 – Goodfellas (1990)
Before Martin Scorcese's success at the Academy Awards with The Departed, many movie fans felt like the famed director was cursed. If that were true, the snub of Goodfellas at the 63rd Academy Awards would be Exhibit A.
Despite being nominated six times, it only took home one award: Joe Pesci for Best Supporting Actor. Instead, the night's big winner was Dances with Wolves. It took home Best Picture and Best Director (Kevin Costner).
14 – There Will Be Blood (2007)
Daniel Day-Lewis (rightfully) won Best Actor for his performance in this Paul Thomas Anderson film. Many moviegoers argue, however, that There Will Be Blood is the superior film to No Country For Old Men.
Honestly, you can't go wrong either way.
15 – Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Back in 1999, Saving Private Ryan lost the Best Picture category to Shakespeare in Love, which to this day, has upset fans. Steven Spielberg did win Best Director that year though for his work on Saving Private Ryan.
Jaimee Marshall is a culture writer, avid movie buff, and political junkie. She spends the bulk of her time watching and critiquing films, writing political op-eds, and dabbling in philosophy. She has a Communication Studies degree from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where she flirted with several different majors before deciding to pursue writing. As a result, she has a diverse educational background, having studied economics, political science, psychology, business admin, rhetoric, and debate.
At Wealth of Geeks, Jaimee places an emphasis on film and television analysis, ranking the best [and worst] in media so you can find more diamonds in the rough and waste less time on box-office duds. You can find her articles on politics and culture in Evie Magazine, Katie Couric Media, Lotus Eaters, and Her Campus. You can also find her find her episode of Popcorned Planet, where she analyzes the Johnny Depp & Amber Heard trial. She has written extensively about due process, free speech, and pop culture.