Cinephiles tend to not like the Oscars not because we don’t like Americans films, but because the ceremony that happens every year usually ignore a significant amount of really good films (including international ones) to please the media, producers and several other people inside the Hollywood bubble, transforming its concept into something questionable. And since this year’s nominees are as weak as Chicago winning Best Picture in 2003, I’ve decided to make a list of Oscar Nominees that didn’t win Best Picture in their year so you can watch during this weekend or even on the night of the 2017 Academy Awards. Not mentioning that these movies were made in a time where Hollywood produced their greatest movies ever!
The Grapes of Wrath (1940) by John Ford
Based on John Steinbeck’s 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, this John Ford masterpiece is a two-hour odyssey of a man who decides to take his family to California in search for a better life after his home is destroyed by the weather. What they haven’t thought is that the idea that was taken from an advertisement was the same idea of several other people, making them embark on a journey of poverty and misery full of difficulties, questioning their human rights and sense of identity. The film lost Best Picture in 1941 for Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca, which is also a great movie, but not as important is this one!
Double Indemnity (1944) by Billy Wilder
Considered the masterpiece of noir films, Double Indemnity is a must-watch to any film lover out there. Directed by one of the greatest Hollywood directors, Billy Wilder, the movie talks about an insurance salesman who after trying to sell insurance for a rich woman, she convinces him to kill her husband to get the money. Flashbacks, femme fatale, dreamlike sequences, and amazing shots are just one of the few things that make Double Indemnity an instant classic. The film lost for Going My Way by Leo McCarey, which I haven’t seen it.
Sunset Boulevard (1950) by Billy Wilder
When Gloria Swanson says in the movie that she is big and is the pictures that got small, she is also prophesying the story of Hollywood itself. Sunset Boulevard is still a big movie while the pictures nowadays seem to have become smaller. Also directed by Billy Wilder, this is also another noir classic, which is also my first black and white movie ever. It tells the story of a young screenwriter who ends up living in the house of a desperate aging silent-film star who plans her come-back through a new movie directed by Cecil B. DeMille, who also appears on the film. The two of them try to work together, but her psychosis starts to dominate everyone around her, resulting in one of the most famous film endings ever made.
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) by Elia Kazan
Even though the amazing George Steven’s A Place in the Sun got the Oscar for Best Picture in 1952, A Streetcar Named Desire is a movie as good as the award winner. Not only for the fact that the movie is extremely beautiful, but Elia Kazan’s film was one of the first pictures to tell a decaying story in the suburbs, talking about themes such as sex, prostitution, and alcoholism while most of the films of the era was telling epic love stories censored by the studios. This is also one of the most important roles of Marlon Brandon, who is hypnotic on screen, to say the least.
Roman Holiday (1953) by William Wyler
I must admit that before watching Roman Holiday I thought this was just another cute classic featuring Audrey Hepburn. Fortunately, I was very wrong. The film is not only extremely important because it’s the first Audrey Hepburn role, but is also entirely shot in the streets of Rome and it was written by Dalton Trumbo, who at the time was being chased for “supposedly being a communist” and had to use a pseudonym on the film. The script ended up winning an Oscar for best script, but the award for Best Picture ended up with Fred Zinnemann’s From Here to Eternity. Nevertheless, Roman Holiday is still a pearl among the Hollywood classics from the ’50s that you definitely must watch!
Giant (1956) by George Stevens
I love how this movie is called Giant because is indeed a gigantic film! It’s not also the best movie James Dean ever did, but also his last. Directed by George Stevens, this three and a half hour odyssey tells the story of three generations of a Texan rich family in the countryside. The film is also known for its feminists’ messages, where Elizabeth Taylor fights the patriarchy for being a woman running over a business controlled by men, and James Dean’s amazing outsider role about a poor kid who becomes rich and tries to buy the world away to achieve happiness. Probably one of my favorite films of this list, Giant lost the Oscar for Around the World in 80 Days by Michael Anderson in 1957.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) by Richard Brooks
I’m usually not a big fan of movies adapted from plays, but Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is just too good to be ignored. Being one of the best roles of Paul Newman, the film takes the plot of “family reunion goes wrong” into another level. Newman plays Brick, an ex-football player who becomes an alcoholic after the death of his friend and gives up on his wife and family. There is a certain vibe of homosexuality towards Brick’s feelings to his dead friend, and the family reunion that happens because of his birthday is just pure tense storytelling! The film lost the Oscar of Best Picture for The Defiant Ones in 1959.
Doctor Zhivago (1965) by David Lean
I don’t know why I took so long to watch Doctor Zhivago, and now that I did, I keep asking myself why it didn’t win Best Picture? Or even better, why does The Sound of Music get more credit than this film? Or even Gone With the Wind, since we’re talking about epic productions? Doctor Zhivago is brilliant and gets even more beautiful with its outstanding cinematography. The film talks about the search of the daughter of Lara Antipova, who lived a love-story with a doctor during the Bolchevique Revolution in Russia and everything they did to survive. The film lost for The Sound of Music in 1966, which both were competing with Darling by John Schlesinger, where Julie Christie got an Oscar for Best Actress.
Bonnie & Clyde (1967) by Arthur Penn
After the Second World War, the Neo-Realism in Italy and the French New Wave in France, Hollywood realized it was time to change and started producing films with a lot of violence and sex, which was known for being the New Hollywood Cinema. A lot of people love this period because of that, but I still love the Italians and the French more for doing it first. However, Bonnie & Clyde was the first Hollywood movie that embraced the coolness of being a bad guy. Based on the true story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, Bonnie & Clyde is a road movie of robbers who became famous by just being cool. And Arthur Penn delivers a very fresh, interesting and pop film set in the ’20s with Warren Beaty and Faye Dunaway shooting banks and police officers. Even though I think it’s one of the most important American movies from the ’60s, the film lost the Oscar for In the Heat of the Night by Jorman Jewinson.