10. What Should Have Won: My Left Foot (1989)
Winner: Driving Miss Daisy
This inspiring story of Christy Brown, a man born with cerebral palsy doesn’t quite seem like an obvious choice for a Best Picture Winner, but it’s certainly the best film out of those nominated that year. The main reason this one is on the list is the fact that they gave the best picture oscar to Driving Miss Daisy, which is pretty weak, especially when a much better film that tackled the issue of racism in America, Do The Right Thing, came out the same year. But I guess you can usually count on the academy to play it safe.
9. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
Winner: My Fair Lady
This was probably far too unique to garner a Best Picture win, in fact I’m kind of surprised to see that it was nominated, but it’s certainly one of Stanley Kubrick’s best films and pretty much the movie which all political satires are measured against. I haven’t seen the musical My Fair Lady, which did win best picture that year, but it’s reputation is no where near the level of Dr. Strangelove’s status as one of the best dark comedies ever made.
8. Raiders of The Lost Ark (1981)
Winner: Chariots of Fire
This is another movie that really isn’t the kind of film that wins best picture, especially during the ’80s when the award was pretty much given to an uplifting light drama every year. But you can’t deny how awesome this movie is, I mean I’m sure Chariots of Fire is alright, but there’s no way it’s a thrilling as any of the scenes in Raiders. But it seems action/adventure movies will always get the shaft when it comes to Best Picture, well except for Return of the King I guess.
7. A Street Car Named Desire (1951)
Winner: An American In Paris
Streetcar is not only one of the best movie adaptations of a stage-play ever made, but there are also very few films that feature so many great performances. So it’s hard to see why they would pick the Gene Kelly musical An American In Paris, which is an OK movie, but no where near as great as the other musicals MGM produced in the early ’50s like Singin’ The Rain or The Band Wagon, so I’m puzzled why it’s this one that would win a Best Picture Oscar. But at least Streetcar holds the distinction of being one of two films to ever win 3 of the 4 acting oscars.
6. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Winner: Shakespeare In Love
I haven’t seen Shakespeare In Love, but I’m sure it’s not half as brilliant as this unforgettable depiction of World War II. I mean they gave Spielberg the Best Director Oscar, it’s seems strange that they wouldn’t give him the best picture win. But I guess I can’t feel to sorry for him, he did after all win another oscar back in ’93 and probably has more money than God.
5. Pulp Fiction
Winner: Forrest Gump
Another prime example of the academy playing it safe instead of giving Best Picture to a far superior and much more important film. Pulp Fiction is easily the most influential movie of the past 20 years, but some how managed to lose to a movie about “a retard that plays ping pong and gets shot in the ass”, not that Forrest Gump’s a bad film, it just ain’t Pulp Fiction.
4. E. T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
Another year in which I haven’t seen the Best Picture winner, Ghandi, which seems to be a pretty well-regarded film, but E.T. is easily one of Spielberg best movies as well as one of the best movies of the ’80s. Though it is a sci-fi film, I don’t think there are really any sci-fi movies that are so heartfelt and brimming with human emotion, despite the fact that it stars an alien from outer space.
3. Apocalypse Now
Winner: Kramer vs. Kramer
Kramer vs. Kramer is certainly a nice little drama, but I don’t think anyone can deny the sheer power of Apocalypse Now. This is definitely another film that seems just a little too unique to win Best Picture, but it’s hard to make a case against it when it tackles the subject of war with a psychological impact that pretty much no other film has had to date.
2. GoodFellas (1990)/Raging Bull (1980)
Winners: Ordinary People and Dances With Wolves
Just because both of these were so deserving in there respective years, they share the spot for number 2. Raging Bull is Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece and should’ve won Best Picture, so you’d think they’d give it to him again when he came out with GoodFellas, another equally brilliant film. But no, they managed to fuck it up again by giving it to another first time actor-turned-director, Kevin Costner. But at least justice was finally served when Scorsese got his Oscar for Best Director and Best Picture with 2006’s The Departed.
1. Citizen Kane
Winner: How Green Was My Valley
I don’t think I really need to explain this one, I mean you’d think the movie often regarded as the greatest American film ever made would’ve won Best Picture. I guess when you look at the fact that Kane wasn’t nearly as applauded when it came out as it is today, it isn’t that surprising that it lost to John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley. But still, the fact that this landmark film didn’t win Best Picture is just another testament to the fact that many of the films that win best picture won’t be remembered at all, it’s only the truly great ones that people will remember, and that awards don’t mean shit.
Honorable Mentions: Double Indemnity (1944), Fargo (1996), High Noon (1952), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)