40 Movies That Should Have Won the Best Picture Oscar (But Didn’t)

2012. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'Argo.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Medium. 'Argo' is a good time, but 'Amour' is one of the most powerfully heartbreaking dramas in many years.
The Tree of Life
2011. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'The Artist.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: High. 'The Artist' is a fluffy, spineless gimmick, while The Tree of Life is a piercing, introspective philosophy piece.
The Social Network
2010. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'The King's Speech.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: High. 'TSN' is cutting, creative, and highlights the deep loneliness of a new generation. 'TKS' offers nothing fresh at all.
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Synecdoche, New York
2008. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'Slumdog Millionaire.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: High. As good as 'Slumdog' might have made you feel, the depression imparted by 'Synecdoche' is far more valuable and earned.
There Will Be Blood
2007. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'No Country for Old Men.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Low. 'NCFOM' is itself a terrific picture, but 'TWBB' outweighs the Coen Bros film in substance and character work.
Children of Men
2006. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'The Departed.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Medium. Scorsese's crime drama is good (not great), but Cuaron's sci-fi is the kind of creativity that cinema was invented for.
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Brokeback Mountain
2005. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'Crash.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Unparalleled.
The Aviator
2004. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'Million Dollar Baby.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Medium, although the real terror is that Leonardo DiCaprio didn't get an Oscar for his best performance to date.
Lost In Translation
2003. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Low. We love the 'LOTR' trilogy, but Coppola's tribute to ennui may be the defining film of the 2000s.
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City of God
2002. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'Chicago.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: High, and this is coming from someone who actually digs 'Chicago.' 'City of God,' however, is the far more powerful and important film.
Mulholland Drive
2001. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'A Beautiful Mind.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Pretty high, considering the marvel of dark imagination that is David Lynch's best movie vs. the sweet but uninspired biopic.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
2000. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'Gladiator.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Almost 'Crash'-levels high. Why does the Academy snub Ang Lee so hard?
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Being John Malkovich
1999. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'American Beauty.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: We can crank this down to medium-low, if only because there was never any hope a movie as weird as 'BJM' would win the Oscar.
The Thin Red Line
1998. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'Shakespeare in Love.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: High. 'SIL' is not the piece of garbage that people often chastise it for being, but Malick's war film is a near masterpiece.
1995. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'Braveheart.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Medium. 'Braveheart' is simply hot air, but the talking-pig family film (yes, I'm serious!) is truly magical storytelling.
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Natural Born Killers
1994. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'Forrest Gump.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Medium, if only because we had such a tough time debating whether 'NBK' or 'Pulp Fiction' deserved the award. But not 'Forrest Gump.'
Reservoir Dogs
1992. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'Unforgiven.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Low. 'Unforgiven' isn't bad, it's just not nearly as artful or inventive as Tarantino's debut picture.
1990. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'Dances with Wolves.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Medium to us, but high if you ask the average Scorsese fan who swears that this is his best film.
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Do the Right Thing!
1989. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'Driving Miss Daisy.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: High. The Academy insisted on awarding a racism film, and gave the win to the schmaltzy, toothless one over the fresh 'DTRT.'
Broadcast News
1987. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'The Last Emperor.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Low, but we can't help but show some love for the best thing James L. Brooks ever gave us (other than 'The Simpsons').
Hannah and Her Sisters
1986. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'Platoon.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Medium. Sure, Vietnam is a literal war-torn jungle, but so the lovestruck New York in 'Hannah and Her Sisters' is a figurative one!
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Back to the Future
1985. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'Out of Africa.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Medium. 'Out of Africa' is nothing special, and 'BTTF' (while of course lighter than most Oscar caliber work) is very much so.
Raging Bull
1980. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'Ordinary People.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Maybe the lowest on the list, as 'Ordinary People' is absolutely wonderful... but 'Raging Bull' is just a smidge better.
1976. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'Rocky.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: High. The babbling underdog sports movie gets the trophy over the scathing sociopolitical satire? This makes us mad as hell.
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The Last Picture Show
1971. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'The French Connection.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Low, if you consider the quality of 'TFC.' But 'The Last Picture Show' might just be the best coming-of-age movie ever made.
1970. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'Patton.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Medium. Oscars, if you're gonna give it to a war film, give it to the funny one!
2001: A Space Odyssey
1968. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'Oliver!' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Come on, this is just freakin' bananas.
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The Graduate
1967. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'In the Heat of the Night.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Plastics.
1966. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'A Man for All Seasons.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: We'll bump this down to low if only because 'Blow-Up' is a particularly esoteric entry. But it's a marvelous one.
Dr. Strangelove
1964. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'My Fair Lady.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Simply, 'Dr. Strangelove' is the greatest comedy, the greatest satire, the greatest Kubrick movie ever made. 'My Fair Lady' is not.
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8 1/2
1963. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'Tom Jones.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: On a scale from 1 to 10, we'd rank the problematic nature of this snub about...
Some Like It Hot
1959. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'Ben-Hur.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: High. 'Ben-Hur' is an obvious Oscar winner, sure, but it's nowhere near the achievement that the way-ahead-of-its-time 'SLIH' is.
1959. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'Gigi.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: How many famed directors' Top 10 lists do you find 'Gigi' on these days, hm?
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12 Angry Men
1957. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'The Bridge on the River Kwai.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Overlooked by the public at the time of release, '12 Angry Men' is today perhaps America's greatest one-room film.
The Ten Commandments
1956. NOMINATED: Yes. LOST TO: 'Around the World in 80 Days.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: High... but Passover tradition of watching this film with Nana might be influencing that rating.
Rear Window
1954. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'On the Waterfront.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: High-ish. Yes, 'On the Waterfront' is terrific. But 'Rear Window' is the stuff of cinematic legend.
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Stalag 17
1953. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'From Here to Eternity.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Low. Billy Wilder's war film might not be that well remembered, but it's a fun, cunning, dark thriller with great character.
Singin' in the Rain
1952. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'The Greatest Show on Earth.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: Just watch Donald O'Connor perform "Make 'em Laugh" and try to argue against this.
The Bicycle Thief
1948. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'Hamlet.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: High (augmented by the fact that 'Hamlet' must have seemed like the classier pick, while 'The Bicycle Thief' was clearly the supreme choice).
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The Big Sleep
1946. NOMINATED: No. WHAT WON? 'The Best Years of Our Lives.' DEGREE OF ATROCITY: High. Bogart, Bacall, Hawks, Chandler, Faulkner... come on, Oscars. What were you thinking?