From 2009, the number of films allowed to be nominated in the Best Picture category rose to ten, with the intention of allowing smaller films which could easily be ignored to have a chance at recognition. Despite the efforts of the Academy, nearly every year seems to provoke furious debate over a film which was unfairly overlooked and ignored.
Here we consider the ten films whose lack of nomination can be regarded as nothing short of outrageous, and which thoroughly deserved the recognition they did not receive.
10. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
The Academy has notoriously short memories, which is why anyone who wishes to try and grab a coveted Oscar nomination will release their film in late autumn, in time for the 31st December release deadline but late enough to remain fresh in the memory. Zodiac effectively committed Oscar suicide when it was released in March, the period of the year when awards are a distant memory and the release schedules are filled with those films that were gently pushed aside to make way for awards contenders. Why this decision was taken with Zodiac is an utter mystery as the film is more than worthy of recognition.
Telling the true story of the infamous ‘Zodiac’ killer, director David Fincher takes the interesting choice of focusing not on the murderer but on the lives of the men who pursued him and how the experience changed them. Fincher directs the film with masterful control, every frame a complex construction of atmosphere and depth. Held together by three stunning performances by Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo, it is such a shame to think of how differently this film could have been awarded if released in December.
Should have been nominated instead of – Michael Clayton. The 2008 Oscars were a heavyweight one for drama, but Zodiac’s suffocating tension and subtle character development is far superior to this slightly lighter film.
9. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
Often acknowledged as one of the best comedies ever, Some Like It Hot is still as fresh and sparkling as ever, despite being over 50 years old. The film was not completely ignored, receiving 6 Oscar nominations and winning one for costume design, which perhaps makes the lack of nomination for the film even more mystifying.
Some Like It Hot is anchored by a trio of extraordinary performances, with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe producing the sort of natural on-screen chemistry that casting directors dream of. Curtis and Lemmon were perhaps never better on screen than they were here, despite both having an enviable list of film credits and great acclaim for other roles. Marilyn Monroe was famously unreliable and difficult on set, driving director Billy Wilder to distraction, but none of that can taint her beautiful and slightly fragile turn as Sugar Kane, the ukulele playing jazz singer hoping to find a husband.
Tensions on set may have been high, but the only real argument worth having is why on earth a film which was voted the funniest of all time by the American Film Institute was never Oscar nominated as a Best Picture.
Should have been nominated instead of – The Nun’s Story. Who remembers this film compared to the legacy of Some Like It Hot?
8. Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton, 1990)
When it comes to gothic fantasy, there is no one to rival director Tim Burton. His combination of distinctive art design, costuming, make-up and reliance on his favourite actors has given his work a signature that is instantly recognisable and completely unforgettable.
With Edward Scissorhands, Burton forged the strongest working relationship of his career, casting actor Johnny Depp with whom he has made eight films. Their working relationship has reaped benefits in abundance, something demonstrated most strongly in Edward Scissorhands. Told in the fashion of a gothic fairy story, Edward Scissorhands is the tale of kind-hearted housewife and Avon saleswoman Peg who one day brings home Edward, a boy created by a professor and who has scissor blades as hands. The film is a roller-coaster through the comedic and tragic, ending in a stunning climax of tear-jerking proportions.
Edward Scissorhands is a visual masterpiece and a wonderful example of a film that fuses fantasy with human emotion. Tim Burton’s films have since become more acknowledged, albeit slowly, by the Academy, but the snubbing of this film remains a glaring error.
Should have been nominated instead of – Dances With Wolves, an example of the Academy opting for sweeping yet dull epics rather than films with genuine heart.