7 Iconic Movies That Never Got Oscar Nomination For Best Picture

POSTED BY Usman Raza Khan, UPDATED ON February 27th, 2024
7 Iconic Movies That Never Got Oscar Nomination For Best Picture

Hundreds of movies are made in a calendar year including some really good ones but the Academy can’t nominate all of them for the Best Picture award. Only 10 movies, at maximum, can get the nomination now but before 2009 (from 1944-2008), only 5 movies used to get the nomination each year. The Academy has a tough job of separating the good from the great but still, in the past, there have been instances when some great movies were somewhat harshly left out of the Oscar nominations for the Best Picture category. So here we list the top 7 iconic movies that never got Oscar Nomination For Best Picture:


7. The Prestige (2006)

The Prestige never got Oscar nomination for best picture

Christian Bale is one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood who has starred in almost all kinds of movies and has been acting since he was a kid giving some loveable performances. His performance in Christopher Nolan’s mystery film The Prestige was no different. The movie shows an epic rivalry between the two British onstage magicians of the late 19th century, Robert Angier and Alfred Borden played by Hugh Jackman and Bale respectively.

The film received positive reviews and results from the box office and was also nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction at the Oscars. Even though these types of movies are very popular with the general public, it’s very difficult for them to get serious recognition at the Oscars and the other major awards. The film is still in the IMDb top 250 list placed at #42 with a rating of 8.5/10 having been reviewed by over 1.3 million users.


6. The Hurricane (1999)

The Hurricane 1999

Boxing movies are generally very popular with the Academy Awards as many of the Oscar winners and nominees have been made upon this sport including the likes of Rocky, Million Dollar Baby, Raging Bull, etc. Norman Jewison’s film The Hurricane is also a biographical film about the former middleweight boxing champion Rubin “Hurricane” Carter who spent nearly 20 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of a triple homicide in a bar in Paterson, New Jersey.

Denzel Washington who played the character of Carter was brilliant as ever and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Leading Actor and also received an Oscar nomination for the same category for his truly amazing performance. The movie itself has some mixed reviews as some of the critics termed it as a ‘fictionalized’ view of Rubin Carter’s life and the homicide case.

As with Fight Club, this film also would have had no chance against American Beauty even if it had been nominated, but the film nonetheless deserved an Oscar nominee for Best Picture at least.


5. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Reservoir Dogs violence

Quentin Tarantino is one of the leading film directors in Hollywood and his crime film ‘Reservoir Dogs’ released in 1992 is still regarded as one of his best products as a director. Some movies are so interesting throughout that as a viewer you simply don’t want them to finish so early and this is certainly one of those with a run time of only 99 mins.

The film was a big hit worldwide and the film magazine Empire named it the “Greatest Independent Film ever made”. Ironically it didn’t receive any Oscar, Golden Globe, or BAFTA nomination but is still on the IMDb top 250 list placed at #97.

1992 was the year in which all five movies that were nominated in the ‘Best Motion Picture-Drama’ category were also nominated for the Oscars as no Musical or Comedy movie was nominated. Clint Eastwood’s Western film Unforgiven beat all the other nominees including Scent of A Woman in which Al Pacino’s act was a masterclass.

So, you might ask at the expense of which film could Reservoir Dogs have filled in for the Best Picture nomination? It should have easily been included at the expense of either ‘Howards End’ or ‘The Crying Game’.


4. American Gangster (2007)

American Gangster 2007

Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe have made a total of 5 films together including ‘Gladiator’ in 2000 which won 5 Oscars including the Best Picture award of that year.  The biographical crime film ‘American Gangster’ is another brilliant film in which the duo of Scott and Crowe worked together. Denzel Washington was awesome in this movie as he played the character of a criminal Frank Lucas who smuggled ‘heroine’ into the US on the American service planes returning from the Vietnam War.

The movie rocked at the box office yielding over $266 million worldwide and received two Oscar nominations (Best Supporting Actress and Best Art Direction). However, the Golden Globes treated the film a lot better, nominating it in three major categories, Best Picture, Best Leading Actor (Denzel Washington), and Best Director (Ridley Scott).

The movie didn’t convert any of the Oscar or Golden Globe nominations into a win because the year 2007 saw some other great movies as well including No Country for Old Men and Atonement.

So, which movie could have vacated the spot for American Gangster in the Best Picture category? Well, the comedy-drama film Juno is not at all better than the American Gangster but was probably included in the nominations due to its different genre.

This again raises the argument that perhaps the Academy Awards should also have two different categories like the Golden Globes which are ‘Drama’ and ‘Musical or Comedy’ for some major awards like Best Picture, Leading Actor/Actress, and Director.

So, the Academy Awards did take some action as a result of this argument as they decided to include a maximum of 10 movies each year for the Best Picture category so that a great film doesn’t have to miss out to include a ‘not so great’ movie just because of its Genre.


3. Shutter Island (2010)

Shutter Island 2010

It’s very unusual for a super-duper hit film by Martin Scorsese starring iconic actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Kingsley to miss out on the Academy Award nomination for Best Picture but their psychological thriller film ‘Shutter Island’ did fall prey to this cruel injustice in 2010. It’s a topsy-turvy film throughout and at no point in this film can you predict what’s going to happen next. It was another of Martin Scorsese’s brilliantly directed movies well supported by a brilliant display of acting from all the actors.

The film grossed an unbelievable $300 million becoming Scorsese’s highest-grossing film worldwide. Despite its paramount success at the box office, the film wasn’t able to receive a single nomination in any category in the Big 3 film awards i.e. Oscars, Golden Globes, and BAFTA. One of the possible reasons might be that Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller Inception also starring DiCaprio, was also released in the same year as well as Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller Black Swan.

When you compare these two with Shutter Island, then Martin Scorsese’s movie would, unfortunately, have to come second best against either of them. The Academy tries to pick the movies from the Best Picture category in such a way that the nominee list represents the movies from a variety of Genres so that a single Genre doesn’t feel neglected or favored, hence, like Shutter Island, Black Swan, and Inception, all three were thrillers, one of these three had to miss out and in the end, it was Shutter Island. In any other year, it would have made it to the nominees at least.


2. The Usual Suspects (1995)

The Usual Suspects

Bryan Singer’s American crime thriller The Usual Suspects boosted the career of Kevin Spacey as his role as Keyser Soze (for which he also won his first Academy Award) in the film is as unforgettable as the movie itself. The line from Keysor Soze:

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled out was convincing the world that he didn’t exist”

is as iconic to this day as it was in 1995.

The film did win two Academy Awards, i.e. Best Supporting Role to Kevin Spacey and Best Original Screenplay to Christopher McQuarrie. However, apart from these two categories, the film didn’t get any nominations at the Oscars although it did get a nomination for Best Picture at the BAFTA Awards.

At the box office, it was a huge hit grossing over $23 million against its $6 million budget. Even though Mel Gibson’s historical war film about the Scottish rebellion led by William Wallace in the 13th century, Braveheart would have easily and deservingly won the Academy Award for Best Picture in that year anyway, but still, the crew of The Usual Suspects would have at least felt appreciated if they had at least got the nomination.


1. Fight Club (1999)

Fight Club Never Got Oscar Nomination For Best Picture

Meet a Brad Pitt fan and he’ll tell you that even movies like Seven, 12 Monkeys, Legends of the Fall, and The Assassination of Jesse James deserved a nomination for Best Picture. We won’t really about all of them but we do firmly believe that David Fincher’s thrilling movie Fight Club just belongs to another league.

Edward Norton played the leading role with Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter playing the supporting roles. The movie is about an insomnia patient who meets a person by the name of Tyler Durden on a flight back home from a business trip.

Both these men later engage in a fistfight outside a bar which attracts a crowd of men and they also start joining them day by day, hence, a club by the name of Fight Club is formed. For those who haven’t watched it yet, we won’t spoil it for you by disclosing anything further and leaving the rest for you to enjoy.

The movie wasn’t a hit in Britain and the US as it didn’t recover its budget on its initial release but its reception in North America was extraordinary. It especially attracted males aged 21 and under. It was one of the most controversial films of the ’90s and many critics believed that it encouraged anti-social behavior because of its male machismo central theme.

As it turned out, the movie didn’t receive too much positive response at all from the critics initially and missed out on any major film award nomination due to the perception that it supported violence. Brad Pitt’s character of Tyler Durden was voted the greatest movie character of all time by the popular film magazine Empire.

The main reason for not recognizing the film critically may seem reasonable to some extent but in reality, the film did contain lesser violence and anti-social propaganda than A Clockwork Orange which did receive the Oscar nomination for Best Picture in 1971. American Beauty might have won it anyway but we believe Fight Club did deserve a nomination for Best Picture in place of The Cider House Rules.


Honorable Mentions

There are some other popular movies as well that have also been victims of cruel mistreatment by the Oscars:

  • American History X (1998)
  • Once Upon A Time In America (1984)
  • City of God (2002)

In some cases, however, the exclusion seems logical as with Steven Spielberg’s World War II film ‘Empire of the Sun’ in 1987 which wasn’t included in the Best Picture category as in the same year, another better (arguably) World War II movie, ‘Hope and Glory’ was also released.

Feel free to share some more iconic movies that never got Oscar nominations for Best Picture in the comments section below!

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