Monday, April 16, 2012

Strangest Best Picture Snubs

I don’t like to use the word “snub” when talking about movie awards, but it only has one syllable and I wanted to keep the title short, so... Anyway. A recent rewatch of Thelma & Louise reminded me that it was oddly missing from Oscar’s Best Picture lineup, despite being nominated for Director, Leading Actress x 2, Editing and Cinematography and winning for Original Screenplay. Since I'm a chronic time waster, I browsed through 80+ Wikipedia pages and made a top five list of, well, what it says in the title. I took into account not just the number of nominations, but the categories in which they were received: nods for directing, writing and acting are a must, which is why films like The Dark Knight or The Poseidon Adventure didn't make the list.

First, honorable mentions to two films I’m fond of that just missed the top five (again!):

Interiors (1978), one of my favorite Woody Allen movies, and Silkwood (1983), one of those rare biopics that's actually pretty great.

And now, the ones that made the cut:

I don’t really care for Bullets Over Broadway myself (for my money, Woody’s last great/near-great film is Husbands and Wives), but the Academy obviously did: it got seven nominations (tying it with Hannah and Her Sisters as his most-nominated film), a win for Dianne Wiest... And yet, Quiz Show and Four Weddings and a Funeral – the first Best Picture nominee in over four decades to get only two nominations – managed to push it out of the top race.

4. Hud (1963)

The ‘50s and early ‘60s might have been the period when the Academy loved to vote for spectacle over substance in the Best Picture category even more than usual, but it’s still odd Hud didn’t make it to the top five, given its seven nominations and three wins, two of them for acting.

Also, taglines don’t get much better than “The man with the barbed wire soul!”, even if the exclamation mark is a bit much.

3. Thelma & Louise (1991)

Somehow, it was this instant classic and not The Prince of Tides that was pushed out to make room for Beauty and the Beast, the first animated Best Picture nominee (and the only one in a field of five).

2. My Man Godfrey (1936)

The only film ever to be nominated for directing, writing, and in all four acting categories, but still miss out on a Best Picture nomination. Extra WTF points for it happening in a year with a ten-wide Best Picture field and in the one decade when the Academy was kind to zany comedies in that category.

There has been no other film in Oscar history that almost every branch – from directors to costume designers to actors to composers to writers to art directors to editors - seemed to love, but was still left out of the top race. What got nominated instead? Z, despite the Academy's tradition of almost always ignoring foreign language films for Best Picture, and Hello, Dolly!, despite getting no other nominations in the top categories.

So, what can be concluded from all this? Who knows. What I do know is that my head hurts and I already wish I had spent those few hours on something useful instead. Oscar statistics only make one angry and/or confused.


  1. All good films although while I appreciated Horses I could only imagine watching it once. It was just too downbeat and demoralizing to make it through again.
    Hud does have a great tagline but the greatest is from I'll Cry Tomorrow-"This story was filmed on location...inside a woman's soul!!"

    1. Exclamation marks must be the key after all! And the word "soul", apparently.

      I have a pretty high tolerance level for downbeat and demoralizing - I've even seen Dogville at least three times and it's probably in my all-time top 20.