Some movies rise above the rest, becoming pure masterpieces. We often automatically assume these great films earned some prize, like an Oscar. However, many of the greatest American movies never even garnered an Oscar nomination! Winning awards is fantastic, and it gives artists some sense of recognition. But is it the only the only scale we should be judging movies upon?
With the Oscars right around the corner, we thought we’d take a look back at some classic cinema that never made it to Hollywood’s biggest night.
Year released: 1980
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Movies nominated for Best Feature that same year: Ordinary People (winner), Coal Miner’s Daughter, The Elephant Man, Raging Bull, Tess
In 1980, master director Mr. Kubrick released his adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining upon the world. It’s a mix of horror and suspense, blended with visual beauty. When you think of The Shining, either the twins in the hallway or Jack Nicholson come first to mind – and rightfully so. It catapulted Nicholson’s career, but more importantly, changed horror films, forever.
Fans loved the movie from the get-go, from its original release. But the Academy decided against nominating The Shining for an Oscar. However, despite the film’s power, this came as a surprise to no one. It’s very rare for horror films to receive nominations in any award show, let alone the Oscars. In fact, in 1992, Silence of the Lambs became the first, and only, horror film to ever win Best Picture!
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
Year released: 1993
Director: Lasse Hallström
Movies nominated for Best Feature that same year: Schindlers’s List (winner), The Fugitive, In The Name of the Father, The Piano, The Remains of the Day
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape isn’t for everyone. However, it’s undeniable that the on-screen chemistry between young Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp was incredible. The movie touched on deep, sensitive family-related subjects, and did reasonably well at the box-office. Unfortunately, the Academy overlooked it for a Best Picture Oscar nomination.
DiCaprio received a nomination for Best Actor In A Supporting Role for his part in Gilbert Grape, but did not win. This became DiCaprio’s first nomination in a long string of nominations that he did not win. Thankfully, 22 years later, DiCaprio finally snagged the Best Actor Oscar for his role in The Revenant.
The Shawshank Redemption
Year released: 1994
Director: Frank Darabont
Movies nominated for Best Feature that same year: Forrest Gump (winner), Pulp Fiction, Four Weddings And A Funeral, Quiz Show
Another Stephen King adaptation to get snubbed! The Shawshank Redemption is easily thousands of peoples’ favorite movie, as it talks of hope and freedom. With its beautiful storytelling, suspenseful plotline, and fantastic cast, the film seemed primed for the Acaedmy Awards. In 1995, it did receive seven Oscar nominations – but won none of them. That same year, it lined up against Hollywood giants in the award ceremony – and the competition was fierce.
However, it is important to note that, when the movie released, it made just over twice its budget back. While many loved the film, it wasn’t originally a hit; its cult-movie status developed over the next decade.
Year released: 1999
Director: David Fincher
Movies nominated for Best Feature that same year: American Beauty (winner), The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, The Insider, The Sixth Sense
The first rule of Fight Club is that you do not ask why it did not receive a Best Picture Oscar. It certainly went down as one of the most surprising films ever! And made us all fall in love with Brad Pitt and Ed Norton just a little more…
Spoilers ahead if you haven’t watched it!
After watching the entire, drama-packed film, audiences discover that two main characters are in fact the same person! Never in the history of mainstream cinema was this plot twist done in such a dark, mind-blowing way. It changed the rules of filmmaking forever! The movie also deals with individualism, loneliness, consumerism, and love in such a relatable, soft-and-harsh way. At the turn of the century, the filmmakers made us all face our biggest fears. However, despite making audiences face their fears, Fight Club left the Oscars empty-handed.
The movie was nominated for Best Sound Effects Editing, but lost to The Matrix. Perhaps it should’ve been nominated for Best Effect On Worldwide Audiences?
Some more non-nominated masterpieces: Edward Scissorhands, The Big Lebowski, Reservoir Dogs, Stand By Me, It’s A Wonderful Life, Once Upon a Time in America.
You can catch this year’s Oscar’s ceremony on ABC on February 24th!