After the 89th Academy Awards nominations announcement last month, the biggest shocker, probably, came with Amy Adams and Ryan Reynolds rebuffed in the Best Actor categories. It would have landed Amy her sixth Oscar nomination (Arrival, Nocturnal Animals), and Ryan his first (Deadpool). Sadly, none of it happened. The Academy often makes mistakes that are hard to acquit. Most of these are erroneous judgments in the Best Picture category. And it’s understandably difficult to not get frustrated when the most prestigious award of the night is handed over to a less deserving film. There have been several such infamous omissions in the past. So, here go the 10 biggest Oscar Best Picture snubs in the history of Academy Awards:
1) Citizen Kane (1941)
Acknowledged as the bedrock of modern cinema, Citizen Kane was Orson Welles’ masterpiece. It was one of those classics that every cinephile needs to revisit again and again. At a time when cinema wasn’t experimental and resorted to popular gimmicks (generic plot, hammy acting, awkward camera angles), Orson tried to do something different. He embarked on a novel approach to filmmaking, highlighting the significant difference made to a film by good editing and cinematography. The Oscar that year went to How Green Was My Valley, a thought-provoking film that is hardly regarded by anyone in this age.
2) The Third Man (1949)
Eight years post the release of Citizen Kane, its helmer came up with another gem of a film. Although this time, his contribution was limited to penning the script. Recognized as one of the best British films of all time, Carol Reed’s The Third Man was a thrilling and equally humorous post-war noir film. Mocking the tragedy of Vienna, it was about three men who were responsible for some guy’s murder. As the title hints, the story revolved around the third person, whom we were never briefed about, until the final act. As interesting as it may sound, the performances bolstered its impact. Anton Karas’s zither music and Robert Krasker’s stunning photography rightfully captured the tone. Unfortunately, it didn’t even get nominated in the Best Picture category.
3) Singin’ in the Rain (1951)
Taking into consideration the perennial love of the Academy for musicals, it’s baffling to comprehend why Singin’ in the Rain wasn’t rewarded. Anyone who has seen the film will think twice before calling La La Land an original piece of work. Damien Chazelle’s current year Oscar favorite was hugely inspired from Stanley Donen’s paragon. Precise in portraying the transition of Hollywood from silent films to talkies, it depicted the concealed truth of the industry, albeit in a comical way, padded by phenomenal performances (Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds). Tragically, the award went to Cecil DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth, one of the least deserving Oscar winners.
4) Vertigo (1958)
It may come as a surprise to all Hitchcock fans that one of his finest films didn’t get nominated for the Best Picture. Before you begin to question the reputation of the jury, know that Vertigo did win a couple of awards in the technical department. The film opened to mixed reactions, with critics complaining about its exceeded runtime for a murder mystery. That marred its chances of getting recognition. It was only a few years later when Alfred’s tour de force was reevaluated and earned universal acclaim.
5) Spartacus/Psycho (1960)
The Academy continued to dishearten the audience as they snubbed another excellent Alfred Hitchcock film. Psycho, as we know, was an ingenious film. The very first ‘slasher-flick’ of our time, it redefined the horror genre. But perhaps it was too vague for the jury’s liking. The other film released that year was Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus.
If the former deserved at least a nomination, the latter deserved to win it. The Academy overlooked Kubrick, one of the most visionary directors we’ve ever had, several times. With Spartacus, he was comparatively more unfortunate than Hitchcock. Going more classical and less experimental, his film was about the Roman Servile Wars (starring Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis). While it won four awards of the six nominations it received, it missed out the big one that everyone expected it to win.