films 28 Great Films That Didn't Win Oscars

Ann Casano
7.4k votes 18k views 28 items

List Rules Vote up the best films that deserved to win at least one Oscar

Often, time will serve as the best indicator of greatness. Sure, there are award ceremonies, big box office, and rave reviews to indicate whether a film is worthy of praise or not. But the true test is to judge a movie ten, twenty, thirty, forty years down the line. Are people talking about the film in terms of being a classic? Does the story hold up? How about the direction, cinematography, acting? Sometimes, the most deserving films don’t win awards. Heck, sometimes the best films aren’t even nominated. This is a list of 28 great movies that didn’t win a single Academy Award.

Oscar snubs happen every year, but it’s still hard to believe that masterpieces like The Shining, Singin’ in the Rain, and Do the Right Thing did not win a single Academy Award. The Shining is often cited as the greatest horror film ever made. Singin’ in the Rain is #1 on the American Film Institute’s list of the Greatest Movie Musicals of All Time. And Spike Lee’s joint Do the Right Thing is considered one of the most seminal films on race relations in the history of cinema.

We can now see the greatness and power of those films. However, The Shining did not receive a single Academy Award nomination, Singin' in the Rain did not receive a nod for Best Picture in 1953, and neither did Do the Right Thing in 1989.

This list is not about who should have won at the Oscars. Whether or not we think that The Shawshank Redemption should have beat Forrest Gump in the Best Picture category in 1995 is irrelevant. This list is simply pointing out that these (mostly) time-tested movies that people still discuss and put on “best of” lists did not earn a single Academy Award in any category.

Maybe they got robbed, maybe they really were just second best that year. Either way, some of the films that made this list will shock you. Be sure to make your voice heard by voting up the best films that deserved to win at least one Oscar.
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13 people just voted on The Shawshank Redemption


The Shawshank Redemption is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 28 Great Films That Didn't Win Oscars
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The year was 1994 and a story about a simple-minded man by the  name of Forrest Gump won six Academy Awards. The Shawshank Redemption went home empty-handed that evening, despite its seven nominations. However, time has proven that the prison drama received the Oscar shaft. The film currently ranks #1 on IMDb's Top 250 films ever made and is cited as a favorite by just about everyone with a heart and basic cable.

Also Ranked

#50 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#74 on The Greatest Movie Themes

#9 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

#6 on The Best Inspirational Movies

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It's a Wonderful Life


It's a Wonderful Life is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 28 Great Films That Didn't Win Oscars
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The famously sappy Frank Capra gets sentimental in It's a Wonderful Life. Even though the film was made in 1946, it remains one of the most-watched holiday films today. It is currently #20 on AFI's list of The Greatest American Films of All Time. Not a commercial success at the time, the movie did round up five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. It could have won any or all of those five awards, but it was probably James Stewart going home empty-handed that hurt the most.

Also Ranked

#1 on The Best Christmas Movies of All Time

#94 on The Best Movies for Kids

#49 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

#10 on The Best Inspirational Movies

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Psycho


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The master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock never won an Academy Award, which says a lot about the whole awards process, considering that he is widely regarded as one of the best directors in the history of cinema. His signature film, Pyscho, was nominated for four Oscars. Hitchcock probably should have won for Best Director, but he wasn't even recognized by the Academy in 1961. Psycho is currently ranked 14th on AFI's list of the Greatest American Films of All Time.

Also Ranked

#22 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#6 on The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

#34 on The Greatest Movie Themes

#3 on The Best Scary Movies Based on True Stories

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6 people just voted on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 28 Great Films That Didn't Win Oscars
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Sergio Leone has a history of getting snubbed by the Academy. Things were no different in 1966 when the Italian director's third installment of his Dollars Trilogy failed to garner a single nomination. Many critics consider The Good, the Bad and the Ugly the finest Western ever made. It certainly could have earned the auteur an Oscar, and the fact that Leone has never even been nominated for any of his epic films is a cinematic crime. 

Also Ranked

#1 on The Best Western Movies Ever Made

#4 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#69 on The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

#10 on The Greatest Movie Themes

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12 Angry Men


12 Angry Men is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list 28 Great Films That Didn't Win Oscars
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Sidney Lumet's 1957 classic manages to create incredible conflict and drama without ever leaving the jury room. The film is often cited as one of the best-acted and best-written films in cinema history. The movie was nominated for three Oscars but unfortunately came out the same year as The Bridge on the River Kwai, which won seven Academy Awards. 12 Angry Men has aged like fine wine, however, and currently ranks #7 on IMDb's Top 250 Films.

Also Ranked

#72 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

#5 on The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made

#53 on The Best Movies of All Time

#18 on The Best Movies About Business

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6 people just voted on Taxi Driver


Taxi Driver is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list 28 Great Films That Didn't Win Oscars
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"You talking me?" Martin Scorsese's character study about a delusional, alienated cab driver in New York City received four Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture. Scorsese arguably should have won the Oscar for Best Director, but the fact that he wasn't even nominated is a bit of a joke. The film did win the Palme d'Or at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival, and is cited by the American Film Institute as the 52nd greatest American film ever made.

Also Ranked

#99 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#16 on The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

#98 on The Best Car Movies

#35 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

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7 people just voted on American History X


American History X is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 28 Great Films That Didn't Win Oscars
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The controversial 1998 film makes this list mostly because Ed Norton did not walk away with Oscar gold for his transformative performance as a neo-Nazi leader looking for redemption. Norton was nominated for Best Actor but lost to Roberto Benigni (Life Is Beautiful). Time has been kind to American History X, but when it first came out in theaters, it was largely ignored by audiences. And the audiences who did see the film, walked away from the experience feeling more than just a little disturbed. However, the movie is currently ranked #32 on IMDb's Top 250 Films.

Also Ranked

#10 on The Best Gangster Movies of the 1990s

#64 on List of Movies Like Inception

#5 on The Most Nausea-Inducing Great Films

#69 on The Best Movies of All Time

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Singin' in the Rain


Singin' in the Rain is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list 28 Great Films That Didn't Win Oscars
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Gene Kelly made a lot of musicals. Singin' in the Rain may have been his finest. The 1952 musical within a musical was nominated for Best Score and Best Supporting Actress. Kelly got shut out completely, and even though the film is cited by AFI as the greatest musical ever made, it failed to garner a Best Picture nod. At the very least, the film probably should have won the award for Best Score, which went to With a Song in My Heart that year.

Also Ranked

#2 on The Best Musical Movies of All Time

#7 on Musical Movies With the Best Songs

#2 on The Best Dance Movies Ever Made

#24 on The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

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