25 superb movies that somehow didn’t receive a single Oscar nomination

Just some of the films that have been scandalously overlooked in years past

Jacob Stolworthy
Tuesday 23 January 2024 11:59 GMT
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It might be obvious to say, but a film getting nominated for an Oscar doesn’t automatically make it good.

In fact, there have been many deserving movies over the years that were somehow overlooked by the Academy.

It’s easy to assume that certain releases don’t get nominated because they’re not what Oscar voters would usually go for, but there have been some surprises in the past.

For example, pretty much every new superhero film earns a nomination thanks to the technical or makeup categories, while random animated films are acknowledged most likely because of the low number on offer in a certain year.

This means films likem say, DC’s Suicide Squad may get mauled by the critics, but they still gain recognition from the Academy (it went on to win).

This is even more ridiculous when you consider that classics such as Don’t Look Now and Blow Out didn’t even get recognised.

They aren’t alone − we’ve run through the 25 most surprising oversights.

1. American Honey (2016)

From appearing as a backing dancer on Top of the Pops to winning an Oscar for Best Director: it would have been a brilliant trajectory for Andrea Arnold following the release of American Honey, a drama following a teenage girl (Sasha Lane) who gets caught up in the wrong crowd. Arnold’s day may – and should – still come.

2. Babyteeth (2019)

Babyteeth, which was shot in 2019 but released in the US in 2020, was one of the best films of its year. The film’s leads – Eliza Scanlen, Toby Wallace, Essie Davis and Ben Mendelsohn – all deserved acting nominations, but apparentlys voters never watched it.

Eliza Scanlen and Toby Wallace in ‘Babyteeth’

3. Before Sunrise (1995)

While the final two chapters of Richard Linklater’s Before… trilogy earned screenplay nominations, the film that introduced the world to future married couple Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) was criminally overlooked.

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4. The Big Heat (1953)

Fritz Lang had a number of films overlooked by the Academy (see: M, 1931; You Only Live Once, 193. While this noir, starring Glenn Ford, Lee Marvin and and Gloria Grahame, is a film you’d expect to have been nominated, it became yet another film to receive no recognition from the awards body.

5. The Big Lebowski (1998)

The Academy’s generosity to the Coen brothers peaked when No Country for Old Men beat There Will Be Blood in one of the ceremony’s closest Best Picture races of all time. It remains surprising that one of their few films to evade any nominations is this endlessly-quotable comedy starring Jeff Bridges as The Dude.

Jeff Bridges in the Coen brothers’s ‘The Big Lebowski’

6. Blow Out (1981)

Brian De Palma doesn’t exactly make films in the hope of winning awards, but his political thriller – based on Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up – would have deserved any Oscar it was nominated for.

7. Don’t Look Now (1973)

It seems the Oscars only had room for one horror film at the 1973 ceremony, with The Exorcist winning two Oscars that year despite Nicolas Roeg’s Venice-set chiller failing to secure a single nomination. In fact, Nicolas Roeg, who directed this Venice-set chiller, is one of the most unfairly overlooked directors in Oscars history.

8. Frances Ha (2012)

Looking back over the 2010s, Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha stands tall as one of the decade’s best films. Greta Gerwig’s spirited performance as an aimless New Yorker is an all-timer, and even if that year’s acting categories were too crowded, it would have assimilated in nicely with that year’s (10!) Best Picture nominees. Gerwig would go on to become a Best Director nominee for her 2017 film Lady Bird.

Greta Gerwig in ‘Frances Ha’

9. La Haine (1995)

Mathieu Kassovitz’s black-and-white drama – translated in English as Hate – follows three young friends and their struggles living in the suburbs of Paris. Looking back at the nominees of that year, it should easily have received a nod in the Best International Feature Film category.

10. Heat (1995)

On paper, the big screen union of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in Michael Mann’s cop drama was a shoo-in for awards, but no Oscar nominations manifested.

11. In the Mood for Love (2000)

Wong Kar-wai set the benchmark for romance in film with his acclaimed Hong Kong drama following a man and woman (Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung) who develop feelings for one another after suspecting their respective spouses of having an affair together.

Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung in Wong Kar-wai’s ‘In the Mood for Love’

12. The Long Goodbye (1973)

The first of two Robert Altman films on this list. This superior thriller stars Elliott Gould as Raymond Chandler’s private investigator, Philip Marlowe, in one of the director’s most entertaining films and is just as good as any other film nominated that year (see: American Graffiti, The Sting, Cries and Whispers).

13. Memories of Murder (2003)

Before Parasite, there was Memories of Murder. Bong Joon-ho has been making incredible films for decades now, and this sprawling and highly-influential crime thriller is just as good as Parasite, which brilliantly won Best Picture in 2020.

14. Never Rarely Sometimes Always

The fact Sidney Flanagan isn’t an Oscar winner for Eliza Hittman’s drama, following a young girl who seeks medical help after an unwanted pregnancy, is outrageous.

Sidney Flanagan in ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’

15. Night Moves (1975)

Gene Hackman starred in numerous Oscar nominated films (see: The French Connection, Mississippi Burning, Unforgiven), but Night Moves should be on that list. A twist-filled crime film with an ending for the ages, it’s more than worthy of a mention alongside Hackman’s greatest films.

16. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)

It’s quite staggering to think that Paul Schrader has only ever received one Oscar nomination – for his First Reformed screenplay – considering he was behind such films as Blue Collar and Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. His fictionalised account of the life of celebrated Japanese writer Yukio Mishima is one such film that would have been a worthy winner, let alone nominee.

17. Our Little Sister (2015)

Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda finally broke onto the Oscars scene when Shoplifters was nominated for Best International Feature Film in 2019. In truth, Kore-eda should have several nominations to his name. Our Little Sister, his tender 2015 drama, would have made an excellent nominee.

18. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

How Céline Sciamma’s drama, following the love affair between two women in the late 18th century, didn’t get any nominations, we’ll never know. It’s a staggering work, which ranks high up in Sciamma’s impressive back catalogue.

19. The Rider (2018)

Of all the films to be snubbed at the 2018 Oscars, Chloé Zhao’s drama - which stars a real-life rodeo cowboy and his family – was easily the most egregious.

20. School of Rock (2004)

Hear us out: Richard Linklater’s comedy is one of the greatest films of the 21st century to date, and the fact it never got a nomination says more about the Oscars than it does about School of Rock. Jack Black has (and will) never be better as Dewey Finn, a wannabe musician who turns a classroom of kids into a rock band while pretending to be their supply teacher. He should have easily scored a Best Actor nomination.

Jack Black should have got an Oscar nomination for ‘School of Rock’

21. The Shining (1980)

Another Kubrick film that was completely ignored by the Academy is the director’s Stephen King adaptation of The Shining. Today, it’s considered one of his finest works as well as being one of the most revered horror films of all time.

22. This Is England (2006)

The 2007 ceremony was not one of the Academy’s finest years, with The Departed beating Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine and The Queen to Best Picture). would have been far better had Shane Meadows’ coming-of-drama been in contention for awards.

23. Tokyo Story (1953)

Tokyo Story is deemed Japanese filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu’s masterpiece and was named Sight & Sound’s best film of all time in 2012 – and yet, no Oscar nomination.

14. Tyrannosaur (2011)

Olivia Colman may be in contention to win her second Oscar this year (having taken home Best Actress for The Favourite in 2019), but the fact she failed to earn a nomination (even at the Baftas, for that matter) for her role in Paddy Considine’s hard-hitting drama Tyrannosaur is one of the biggest oversights in awards history.

15. You Were Never Really Here (2018)

Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here – starring Joaquin Phoenix - is a sensational piece of work worthy of reward that was actually hotly tipped following its festival premiere. Sadly, due to shifting release dates, the film lost steam and went down in the annals as one of the best films of that year not to get a nomination in any category.

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