10 Classic Movies that Didn’t Win Best Picture
Winning isn’t everything. Now that its Oscar season, check out the masterpieces that didn’t win Best Picture, even though it seems like they should have. Did your favorite make the list?
To Kill a Mockingbird
Gregory Peck won the Best Actor Oscar for his riveting portrayal of Atticus Finch, the lawyer who defends an innocent African American man on trial for his life. This searing portrait of racism in the American south premiered during the Civil Rights era and was a critical and box office success. It’s considered one of those movies that’s just as good as the book it’s based on, Harper Lee’s acclaimed novel. It lost the Best Picture Oscar to the sweeping epic Lawrence of Arabia. Tough break!
Singin’ in the Rain
Singin’ in the Rain is a musical masterpiece that looks like a Technicolor dream. Debbie Reynolds wows as a chorus girl with a movie star’s singing voice in this ode to the end of the silent film era. Gene Kelly’s umbrella soft-shoe in a studio downpour is legendary and Donald O’Conner’s “Make ’em Laugh” number stands the test of time for its humor and charm. This movie is still considered one of the best musicals of all time, but it wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture. Add these top romantic movies of all time to your list.
Rebel Without a Cause
James Dean, Natalie Wood, and Sal Mineo were riveting in their searing portrayals of teenage angst. Nicholas Ray’s film was one of the first to capture the emotional trials of being young and misunderstood. Wood and Mineo got Supporting Acting nods, but Dean’s performance was overlooked. So was the movie itself which stands out as a true American classic that uses melodrama to get at the rebellion at the heart of the American experience of youth.
The Wizard of Oz
Audiences have always been stunned when Judy Garland as Dorothy opens the door to her black and white house and finds the stunning brilliant and vibrant wonder of Munchkin Land just beyond the frame and whispers, “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” This charming and endlessly watchable classic has had audiences following the yellow brick road since it premiered. “Over the Rainbow” took home the Academy Award for Best Song, but The Wizard of Oz lost the Oscar to Gone with the Wind. Garland did take home an Academy Award for “Best Performance by a Juvenile” that year, which included her work in Babes in Arms. Check out these other movies with memorable one-liners.
Orson Welles directed, co-wrote, and starred in this artsy masterpiece when he was only 27 years old. Though his masterpiece is roundly considered the greatest American movie of all time, Welles only got the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Citizen Kane was one of the first films to use cinematography to convey thematic messages—and do it with visual poetics. Every shot expresses the anguish, loneliness, and passions of Charles Foster Kane. Welles’ plays up the man’s ego, mystery, and despair with a depth well beyond his years.
It’s a Wonderful Life
Every Christmas, this Frank Capra classic becomes a favorite all over again. It was nominated for all the major Oscars: Best Picture, an Actor nod for Jimmy Stewart, and Director and Editing. But it didn’t win any awards except a technical one for the falling snow effect. Still, audiences adore this movie about appreciating all the good things in life, and it has one of the happiest movie endings of all time. Check out these other favorite holiday movies that you’ll love all year long.
This monster movie classic was about way more than a giant monkey on the loose in the big city. King Kong delivers heartfelt tragedy in a story about love and longing and never fitting in. We can all relate to pathos like that! The film also showcased technical feats with state-of-the-art special effects that included stop motion animation and scale models of the famous ape and other creatures. The visuals seamlessly weave the effects with live action footage. The movie has since been recognized as one of the greatest films of all-time, but it wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar.
Hitchcock’s Rebecca was his only film to win a Best Picture Oscar even though Rear Window is regarded as one of his most masterful thrillers. James Stewart plays a photographer confined to a wheelchair because of broken leg. The audience feels similarly trapped and voyeuristic as they gaze with him out the back window of his apartment at all the stuff going on with the neighbors. Things get extra tense once one of them does away with his wife. Grace Kelly shows up as a cool, well-dressed city girl looking to investigate the criminal across the courtyard. Thrills intensify once the man figures out the nosy neighbors are on to him and the audience gets taken along for the ride.
Psycho was revolutionary cinema at the time it premiered. It broke taboos around violence and cross-dressing and shook up audience’s expectations. When the film’s star, Janet Leigh, gets killed off in the first act, audiences were stunned and shaken. The plot hooks you in and carries you forward until the unexpected twisted ending. The film’s artistry is just as genius as its plotting. Gorgeous cinematography and heart pounding editing and sound make Psycho a cinematic treat, but it wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture. Check out all the movies you forgot won Oscars.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Steven Spielberg’s rollicking adventure took America by storm when it first premiered. Indiana Jones became a household name and everybody loved the action-packed search for the famous Ark of the Covenant. Raiders was a blockbuster hit and was nominated for nine Oscars, but it didn’t take home the big ones. Spielberg’s masterful action sequences made all the seamless effects technique look effortless and real. Harrison Ford’s charmingly roguish performance didn’t even garner an acting nod.