Every cinephile knows “What was the best movie of the year?” and “Which movie will be the best picture at the Oscars?” two completely different questions. For as long as award shows have been around, movie fans have been complaining about the wrong movies getting the awards. Oscar history is littered with “How Green” beating out “Citizen Kane” to more recent upsets like “The Social Network” losing to “The King’s Speech.”
Ranking art is inherently a subjective activity, and it would be ridiculous to expect the Oscars to please everyone. Examining nearly a century of data, however, certain patterns emerge that reveal blind spots in the Academy’s voting trends. Too often we get the sense that bold, new-sounding filmmakers are shunned (or relegated to auteur categories) in favor of more traditional fare for older audiences. This often leads to “Oscar bait” films winning Best Picture before being largely forgotten, while the bolder films they beat out become classics.
No one can change the past, but it’s fascinating to look back and wonder what the Academy should have done differently. Read on for 27 of our favorite movies that were nominated for Best Picture but should have won.