Monday, March 14, 2011

Top 20 Non-Best Picture Winners of the Past 20 Years

One of the greatest moments from the most recent Academy Awards ceremony was when Steven Spielberg presented the Oscar for Best Picture and prior to handing out the award said, "In a moment one of these 10 movies will join a list that includes On the Waterfront, Midnight Cowboy, The Godfather and The Deer Hunter. The other nine will join a list that includes The Grapes of Wrath, Citizen Kane, The Graduate, and Raging Bull.” Spielberg proved that the list of non-Best Picture winners is just as, if not more, prolific than the list of winners. 

Here's a look at the top 20 movies from the past 20 years that did NOT win Best Picture at the Oscars.

20. The Social Network (2010)

The Social Network is the most recent example of a movie that deserved to win Best Picture, but didn't. The Social Network was the most critically acclaimed movie of 2010 and appeared to be a sure bet to take home to top prize at the Oscars. But somewhere along the line it lost momentum, and The King's Speech snuck in and took in. David Fincher's haunting directing and Aaron Sorkin's shakespearian writing portrays a tragic hero created by and set in the modern world. One of the most sophisticated screenplays of the decade.

19. The Dark Knight (2008)

A national phenomenon, The Dark Knight makes the list as the very best action movie of the past 20 years (respectful apology to Terminator 2 and The Bourne Ultimatum). But as the Academy often does, TDK was ignored from Best Picture consideration solely because it was not the typical genre of an Oscar winner. Christopher Nolan's magic behind the camera and Heath Ledger's performance have already gained legendary status. May be the one movie on the list more so than any other that you can watch again and again without getting sick of it.

18. American History X (1998)

Edward Norton lends one of the best performances of the past 20 years in this powerful depiction of race and injustice in Venice Beach, California. The Academy stayed away from the film's extremely controversial tone, but any intelligent viewer knows this is a movie about the terrible problems involved with race and how they may be unpreventable. 

17. The Sixth Sense (1999)

In what is often too easily cast off as a mere genre horror flick with a gimmick ending, The Sixth Sense proves after each repeated viewing that it is as powerful a relationship story as they come. It earned a Best Picture nod for the 2000 ceremony, but lost to American Beauty, a very good movie but one that i don't think has aged as well as The Sixth Sense. Hailey Joel Osment gives one of the most impressive performances by a child actor in the past 20 years and Bruce Willis proved that he has dramatic acting chops. A better movie than you think.

16. Goodfellas (1990)

Martin Scorsese's "Godfather" lost in the Best Picture category to Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves, which stands today as one of the biggest Best Picture snubs of all time. Goodfellas is arguably Scorsese's best movie, yet it remains on his list of Best Picture losses with The Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, making him the most snubbed director of all time.

15. WALL-E (2008)

Andrew Stanton's masterpiece was the first, along with Up and Toy Story 3, of Pixar's lastest trilogy of perfection. This movie is amazing. There is no dialogue for the first half hour and the setting is dead Earth. Only Pixar could center a love story around a robot who doesn't talk and collects trash. The Academy ignored WALL-E for Best Picture consideration because it was an animated film, even though it was the most critically acclaimed movie of 2008.

14. Avatar (2009)

In my opinion, Avatar losing to The Hurt Locker at the 2010 Oscars was the biggest snub of the past decade. The Hurt Locker is overrated, and Avatar gets an unfathomably bad rap because its story has been deemed unoriginal. Listen people, any story set against the breathtaking visual backdrop of this movie is good enough for me. What James Cameron did in this movie is one of the most remarkable accomplishments in the history of film. Anyone who says the story is bad is obviously just looking for flaws on purpose. Avatar is one of the most amazing movies that i've ever seen, and in ten years, no one will remember The Hurt Locker and Avatar will still be playing on TV.

13. Up (2009)

Up became the second animated feature in history to be nominated for Best Picture in 2009. However, the academy nominated it after they decided to expand the Best Picture field to ten movies. Where was this expansion when all the previous Pixar gems deserved nominations? But Up undoubtably deserved it. Up is just another crazy idea about an old man who uses balloons to fly his house to South America that Pixar manages to transform into a masterpiece. The fact that the message of the adventure of love can be imported into such a radical story proves that Pixar can indeed do anything. The silent montage of Carl and Ellie's relationship is the greatest scene in animation history.

12. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Only Quentin Tarantino could apply his trademark fractured storyline and chapter-style structure to a story about an Apache resistance changing the course of the history of World War II. But this is one of Tarantino's most sophisticated and entertaining movies to date, and even earned him a Best Picture nomination, proving that he has matured and improved throughout his career in the Academy's eyes. The screenplay is astounding; Tarantino is simply incomparable to any other screenwriter. And Christoph Waltz's performance as Nazi Colonel Hanz Landa earned the first Oscar for an actor in a Tarantino movie. The opening scene with Landa and the French farmer is the best thing Tarantino's ever written.

11. Apollo 13 (1995)

Film in the most basic sense just capture moments, and Ron Howard chose one of the most compelling national dramas in our country's history. There is something so complex and sophisticated about the making of this movie. The ensemble cast is superb, with the reliably brilliant Tom Hanks in the film's lead and equally reliable Ed Harris in a standout supporting role. It lost to Braveheart in 1996, but it's Apollo 13 that really stands out fifteen years later.

10. The Wrestler (2008)

The most underrated movie of the past decade, The Wrestler did not even receive a Best Picture nomination in 2009 despite universal critical acclaim. Mickey Rourke gives the performance of a lifetime, and one of the best of the past 20 years. Rourke gives everything to his portrayal of a has-been wrestler who can't let go of his life from the 80's. A familiar story, yes, but Marisa Tomei's supporting role of a stripper who also portrays something on the outside that is inconsistent with her true self creates a compelling parallel that carries the movie.

9. Good Will Hunting (1997)

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon wrote the screenplay and starred in this beautiful story of an orphan genius who is lawfully inclined to see depressed psychologist. Their unlikely relationship builds into a friendship, which ultimately ends up with each party helping the other find his redemption. This extremely impressive debut screenplay lost in the Best Picture category to Titanic, but with each repeated viewing it proves again and again that it is a standout movie.

8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Eternal Sunshine represents one of the biggest Oscar snubs of the past 20 years in that it was far-and-away the most critically acclaimed movie of 2004 and was not even nominated for Best Picture. More than five years after its initial release, Eternal Sunshine remains a remarkably original and extremely well-executed film. It topped many film critics list as the best movie of the 2000's decade, perpetuating and cementing in history the Academy's injustice.

7. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Quentin Tarantino's first screenplay stands today as his greatest. The introduction of his fractured storyline technique is implemented in the finest sense here in the out-of-ordered re-telling of a jewelry heist gone wrong. The Academy completely ignored Reservoir Dogs at the 1993 ceremony, however, it has proved to be a Tarantino cult favorite and currently ranks at number 65 in IMDB's Top 250.

6. The Truman Show (1998)

Isn't it interesting that Jim Carrey has starred in the two (along with Eternal Sunshine) most original dramas of the past 20 years? The Truman Show is one of the most inventive and ingenius storylines in cinematic history. It's a shame that the premise has been revealed and the careful way that director Peter Weir reveals Truman's secret is for naught. Either way, The Truman Show absolutely deserved a Best Picture nomination in 1999 (which it didn't get) and would have been totally justified in winning it.

5. Toy Story 3 (2010)

Even though the Best Picture category from this year was a two-horse race between The Social Network and The King's Speech, it was Toy Story 3 that really deserved to take home Oscar gold. This is a perfect movie. The screenplay is extremely inventive and brings new excitement with each viewing. The directing is exceptional; this is the most visually flawless of any Pixar film to date. And it also managed to perfectly sum up the greatest movie series of all time with impressive finesse, surprising maturity, and overwhelming emotion.

4. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Shawshank caught a bad break in coming out the same year as all-time great films Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump, but it has undoubtably proven itself as a fan favorite. It is the number one movie of all time on IMDB's Top 250. It has an incredibly heartfelt message that never fails to hit home to go along with one of the most satisfying movie endings of all time. The relationship between Andy and Red gets my vote as the greatest movie friendship of all time. 

3. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

In my opinion, the worst Best Picture snub of all time came in 1999 when clear favorite Saving Private Ryan was upset by the putrid Shakespeare in Love. Steven Spielberg made the greatest war movie of all time with Saving Private Ryan. He put the cameras on the battlefield and depicted war like never before. Spielberg made it realistic and brutal, not to show off the lastest CGI, but to demonstrate the harsh reality of war.

2. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction is another movie that was unfortunate enough to see Forrest Gump in the Best Picture category, but it has proven over the years to be just as, if not even more popular. It is number five on IMDB's Top 250 and is one of the most oft-quoted and pop culturally referenced movies of all time. It spawned the career of Quentin Tarantino and instantly made him one of the most controversial directors/screenwriters in Hollywood. It is a cult classic and would be included in my top five must-see movies of all time.

1. Toy Story (1995)
How could i pick anything else? Toy Story is the most revolutionary and one of the most original movies of the past twenty years. It is the first full-length computer animated movie ever made and launched an entire genre of films that is now the most financially successful and critically acclaimed in the business. All of that made possible by a simple movie with a huge heart. Toy Story is another flawless film because it aimed to master the simple technique of storytelling and combine that with the most exciting use of film technology. Toy Story succeeded on all levels and has stood the test of time as one of the most fun and rewarding movies of all time. 

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