The Biggest Oscar Snubs That Make You Hate the Academy Awards

The Oscars Gold Blue Background

Oscar snubs are, unfortunately, a fairly frequent occurrence. That, however, shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given the nature of this oh-so-beloved (and, at times, despised) awards ceremony — it is a popularity contest at heart, one that shifts and changes based on public perception.

Politics, too, play a big role:
Which is why there have been more Oscar snubs than we’d care to count. The Academy Awards aren’t always a celebration of the best, but rather of those actors and actresses and those films and cinematic achievements that best align with the status quo.

Still, no two Oscar snubs are created equal, and some of them were definitely more egregious than others.

Some of these oversights were so darn bad we’re still talking about them, despite the fact that they happened half a century ago. The Academy Awards are a part of the zeitgeist, so no one should be overly shocked or perplexed by their “importance” and ability to stir up a conversation amongst both casual moviegoers and film connoisseurs alike.

In this piece, we’ll go over some of the biggest Oscar snubs of all time — the kind that really make you hate the Academy Awards.

[Best Director Nomination] Denis Villeneuve for “Dune” [2021]

This French-Canadian native is one of the greatest filmmakers of our time. And, well, his most recent project — the long-awaited sci-fi epic based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 masterpiece — blew our minds in all the right ways.

It wasn’t enough to net him a Best Director nomination — and we take serious issue with that.Dune” is a masterpiece (one of Villeneuve’s many), and its ten nominations tell the same tale as well. Sadly, a Best Director nom isn’t one of them.

And, well, none of those ten do a good enough job at specifically highlighting Denis’ incredible contribution to the medium and one-of-a-kind ability to create veritable blockbusters for the thinking moviegoers.

Hugh Jackman for “Prisoners” [2013]

The fact that Hugh Jackman didn’t even get nominated for his acting in “Prisoners” is a travesty at the highest of levels.

It was a haunting performance in an equally haunting film, one that still lingers in the back of our minds despite it being almost a decade old. It was a compelling thriller with some of the best performances you’ll ever see — a masterclass from an ensemble cast good enough to make us start watering at the mouth.

And Jackman, in particular, played his part to perfection.

[Best Picture Nomination] “Memento” [2000]

Christopher Nolan’s first mainstream hit never got as much love from the Academy as we feel it should have.

It is a masterpiece and a highly influential movie, one that has stood the test of time and is still as relevant and beguiling as it was twenty years ago.

“Citizen Kane” Not Winning Best Picture

Orson Welles’ oeuvre is absolutely legendary, and amongst his many gems, “Citizen Kane” stands out the most. It is, by all means, one of the most important films of all time, and the fact that it came out in 1941 makes it all the more incredible.

To say that it aged like fine wine wouldn’t even begin to cut it.

It’s as contemporary and modern as any top-notch film of 2022. That just goes to show how much ahead of the curve Welles was back in the day. He understood this medium better than almost anyone, and harnessed its many splendors far better than most folks can today.

“Citizen Kane” not winning Best Picture is as egregious an oversight as they come.

Kubrick & Hitchcock — Perennially Snubbed

These two individuals belong on the cinematic Mount Rushmore, and yet they don’t have even a single Best Director win among them. It just goes to show how unimportant and oblivious the Academy can be.

These two legends have defined the medium as we now know (and consume) it. They’ve influenced everyone who has come since and have created some of the most memorable images in the history of the “seventh art.” They were both luminaries, trailblazers, and iconoclasts, each in their own unique way.

Their output was varied and eclectic (and it didn’t always stick the landing), but their influence is and overall important cannot be brought into question.

The Jim Carrey Conundrum

No nomination for “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” No nomination for “Man on the Moon.” Heck, no nominations at all.

Jim Carrey really doesn’t sit well with the Academy, and it’s hard to fully understand why.

Perhaps it’s because of his unprecedented genius, and uncanny ability to go from being a comedic genius to a dramatic powerhouse in a blink of an eye, something akin to Robin Williams.

Please Note:
Jim’s filmography is absolutely incredible, and its importance has only grown with the passage of time. He had a couple of stinkers, granted, but also more than just a few masterpieces — films in which he disarmed us with his warmth and vulnerability (to say nothing of his incredible acting chops).

The fact that he doesn’t even have a single nomination to his name is a travesty, but it’s par for the course for the Academy.

Peter Sellers for “Dr. Strangelove”

Speaking of comedic geniuses, Peter Sellers stands out as one of the all-time greats. He’s not as “mainstream” these days, but that really changes nothing — he was a spectacular actor, and one doesn’t have to look any further for proof than Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove.”

He should’ve won Best Actor for his work.

There’s no two ways about it. His ability to transmute and transform into three entirely different characters for Kubrick’s masterpiece is something so few actors have managed to pull off — before or since.

“Zodiac” Getting Completely Shut Out

With just three Oscar nominations to his name, you’d be forgiven if you thought that David Fincher was just some seemingly random director, one with an inconsistent output and a few lucky strikes.

In actuality, however, he’s one of the all-time greats, and his astounding filmography — one that is stacked with masterpieces — serves as proof. “Zodiac” is just one of his many incredible films, and the fact that it received no love whatsoever from the Academy baffles us to this day.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. all delivered incredible performances in this incredible mystery thriller — one that was more than worthy of a bunch of nominations.

“City of God” Not Winning Anything

This idiosyncratic crime drama — one that is as electrifying and stylish as it gets — didn’t win even a single Oscar.

What a farce.
It was nominated for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Adapted Screenplay, but the fact that it didn’t win anything at all is simply astounding.

“Cidade de Deus” is not only one of the best movies of 2002 but one of the best movies of all time. And, well, it was more than worthy of winning a bunch of Oscars.

“Shame” — Wholly Ignored

Steve McQueen’s 2011 drama “Shame” didn’t even get a single nomination, and for the life of us we still can’t figure out why.

Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan delivered incredible performances, and that, combined with Harry’s Escott haunting soundtrack and McQueen’s reserved (but very much effective) directing had resulted in one of the most underrated erotic psychological dramas of the last decade.

Willem Dafoe for “The Lighthouse”

Robert Eggers’ haunting masterpiece is not only an incredible movie but also an experience. “The Lighthouse” might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but no one can deny its awe-inspiring qualities.

Willem Dafoe, a legend in his own right, plays Thomas Wake, a grizzled lighthouse keeper who descends into madness and attempts to take Robert Pattinson down with him. And all it got was a nomination for Best Cinematography. Willem Dafoe was robbed.

There’s no other way to say it. Fortunately, the film quickly amassed a cult following, and that alone is worth much more than any Academy nomination.

Thomas Newman — 0 for 15

One of the greatest film composers of all time — one whose work spans a whopping four decades — is yet to be awarded for his immense contribution to the medium. His opus is as impressive and jaw-dropping as they come, and the fact that he has been nominated fifteen times says it all.

Unfortunately, a win has thus far eluded him.

We hope that’ll change one of these years, as the man who scored “The Green Mile,” “Shawshank Redemption,” and “American Beauty” is more than worthy of the accolade.

“The Dark Knight” Not Getting a Best Picture Nomination

Yet another masterpiece from Christopher Nolan. “The Dark Knight” is an incredible cinematic achievement — one that is still being talked about almost fifteen years after its theatrical release.

It also set the stage for the whole superhero craze we now find ourselves in.

The fact that it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture is a tremendous oversight! “The Dark Knight” is one of the best movies ever made — and it’s really not up for discussion.

Amy Adams Not Winning… Ever

Six Oscar nominations and yet not a single win. Baffling, to say the least. She should’ve won for “Arrival” and she could have won for many other films and roles as well. Amy Adams is one of the best actresses working today, and the fact that she has no Oscars to show for it is a travesty.

“Junebug,” “The Fighter,” “The Master,” “American Hustle,” “Sharp Objects,” “Vice,” “Arrival” — she’s already etched her name in the annals of cinema, and if she keeps churning out such spectacular performances, there’s not a doubt in our mind that she’ll get the nod eventually.

Turning a Blind Eye to “2001: A Space Odyssey”

Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece is still, to this day, one of the most avant-garde, thought-provoking films that any man has ever created. Many have tried to copy it, and just as many have failed.

For some odd reason, though, it only won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. It’d be funny if it weren’t so sad.

It’s just one more instance that confirms what we knew all along: Oscars aren’t awarded on merit. History, however, is the only judge of greatness, and its verdict on “2001” is as clear as day.

“Boyhood” Losing to “Birdman”

Now, let’s get one thing straight: “Birdman” is a masterpiece (for a wide range of reasons), but it nonetheless pales in comparison to what Richard Linklater pulled off with “Boyhood.” It wasn’t as flashy or as technically great, but it harnessed the medium itself in a much more impressive way.

It did so across a twelve-year-long period.

It was an experiment no one ever pulled off, and a logistical nightmare that, in the end, paid off in spades. It’s a one of a kind movie, and the fact that it didn’t win Best Picture is still as baffling as it was back in 2015.

Roger Deakins Not Winning… Eleven Times in a Row

This legendary cinematographer actually lost a whopping 13 times, but 11 of those were consecutive. That kind of streak will probably never happen again and, well, we’re glad for that being the case.

Mister Deakins is, at the very least, a persistent DoP, and he also happens to be one of the all-time greats — if not the greatest. His opus is downright awe-inspiring. And, well, he’s not slowing down either.

“The Shawshank Redemption,“ “Fargo,“ “Kundun,“ “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,“ “No Country for Old Men,“ “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,“ “True Grit,“ “Skyfall,“ “Prisoners,“ “Sicario,“ “Blade Runner 2049,“ and last but certainly not least “1917.“

The man can do no wrong.

And the fact that he came up short so many times only made his eventual win for “1917” that much more monumental and historic.

“Shakespeare In Love” Winning… Over “Saving Private Ryan”

We’re still baffled by this one. “Saving Private Ryan” is still, to this day, a bona fide masterpiece, and one of Spielberg’s best films. It was absolutely incredible back when it came out and, well, it has stood the time of time beautifully. Is it the best war drama of all time?

Possibly, and even if it isn’t it’s definitely “up there.”

The fact that it lost for Best Picture — to “Shakespeare in Love,” of all films — is undoubtedly one of the biggest Oscar snubs of all time. And, well, that’s really saying something given their sheer number.

“Goodfellas” — Just a Single Win

Martin Scorsese is just one of many all-time greats whose work was rarely recognized and awarded. Heck, he didn’t even get a Best Director nomination for “Taxi Driver!” That alone speaks volumes about just how oblivious the Academy can be. The same holds true for one of his biggest masterpieces “Goodfellas.”

How in the world did this cinematic triumph lose to “Dances With Wolves?” Beats us.

These two movies obviously cater to wildly different audiences, but the impact “Goodfellas” has had on filmmakers cannot be overstated — to say nothing of its hectic nature, awe-inspiring script, and Martin’s bravura directing.

“Brokeback Mountain” Lost… to “Crash”

Ang Lee’s romantic drama was (and still is) a groundbreaking film. It was both a critical hit but also a financial one as well. A Best Picture win seemed guaranteed — or so everyone thought. “Crash” eventually got the nod and, well.

We still can’t come up with an explanation as to why.

We’re talking about one of the worst Best Picture winners in Oscars history and a lot of people are still angry about it. “Brokeback Mountain” losing isn’t that big of an issue; what is an issue, however, is that it lost to “Crash.” And that’s an oversight we simply cannot forgive or justify.

“Roma” Losing to “Green Book”

If you’re looking for a moment at which the Academy made clear its preference for feel-good crowd-pleasers over actual works of art, then look no further than the 91st Academy Awards.

The fact that “Green Book” — a pretty okay flick, all things considered — won over Alfonso Cuaron’s autobiographical masterpiece “Roma” is baffling to the extreme.

Cuaron did win for Best Director and Best Cinematography, so it wasn’t as big of a debacle as it could’ve been, but still: picking “Green Book” over “Roma” is a wholly egregious decision, one that continues to haunt us.

And, well, most folks saw it coming. “Forrest Gump,” for instance, won over “Pulp Fiction.”

“Annie Hall” won over “Star Wars.” “The King’s Speech” won over “The Social Network.” And so on and so on. There’s a mold, a formula, if you will, and if a film adheres to it — and doesn’t rustle anyone’s feathers — it will win, no matter what.


Elias Andrews / Author

Elias identifies as more of an esports geek rather than a sports geek. While he enjoys playing tennis and enjoying the outdoors once in a while, he’s most comfortable in the darkness of his self-proclaimed “man cave.” When Elias isn’t partaking in anything himself, he enjoys writing about the nuances of the esports betting world, including covering controversial takes, where esports might be headed, and why bettors should get in on the industry while it’s growing.

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