Skip to main content

Robbed! The Screening Room's top ten Oscars that weren't.

  • Story Highlights
  • Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock never won a best director Oscar
  • Perennial critics' favorite "Citizen Kane" was almost entirely passed over
  • Blockbusters "Forrest Gump" and "Titanic" prevented great movies taking honors
  • Razzies "honor" poor cinema, big winners are Sylvester Stallone and Madonna
  • Next Article in Entertainment »
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

(CNN) -- We all have our favorites for the big honors at Hollywood's top awards show, but over its 80-year history there have been some classic films, performers and people behind the scenes that have been criminally overlooked by Oscar.

Peter Sellers in

Peter Sellers in "Dr. Strangelove," just one of Kubrick's classics beaten to the prize by a glitzy musical

From acting turns that kept us glued to the screen, to directors that were passed over by the Academy time and time again, these are the statues we would have given out if we'd been in charge.

Don't agree? Think we've missed one or robbed an actual winner of its top-spot? Share your views by using the Sound Off box below and we'll publish the best.

1. Stanley Kubrick's double snub

In two equally baffling instances, the last true auteur's work was denied the prize. Cold War classic "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" lost out to George Cukor's "My Fair Lady" while his genre-defining sci-fi epic "2001: A Space Odyssey" was beaten by Carol Reed's threadbare "Oliver!" Glossy Hollywood musicals hailed above two of the most influential movies ever made: are you serious? Truly, this is Oscar's greatest travesty.

2. "Citizen Kane," denied best picture

It has been topping critics' lists since its release over 60 years ago, but this work of cinematic genius left the 1941 Oscars almost empty handed. Nominated for nine, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor, "Citizen Kane" was beaten to the prize by "How Green Was My Valley," a sentimental epic about Welsh miners.

3. Martin Scorsese, ever the bridesmaid

Finally recognized last year for his work on "The Departed," for years it looked like Scorsese would always play bridesmaid to some distinctly mediocre brides. The three biggest Oscar crimes against Marty: "Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull" and "Goodfellas." For the latter, he was beaten by Kevin Costner for "Dances With Wolves." Fair enough, it's the only Costner-helmed film that isn't utterly abysmal, but better than Scorsese's best? We don't think so.

The Screening Room
CNN's monthly movie show brings you the inside track on the movie business.

4. James Dean: Rebel without an Oscar

The only actor to receive more than one posthumous nomination, Dean still failed to secure the statue, despite turning in three amazing performances in one year. Nominated for his roles in "East of Eden" and "Giant," and overlooked for the iconic "Rebel Without a Cause," three performances that put him into Hollywood folklore as an acting great, he lost out second time round to Yul Brynner in "The King and I." Is it us or are the sentimental musicals trumping the all-time classics?

5. Alfred Hitchcock's Academy curse

One of the greatest directors of all time, Hitchcock never won the best director award. Nominated just four times, he was only beaten by the finest directors of the day, including Billy Wilder and Elia Kazan. But how could the nomination committee overlook "Vertigo"? Today it's considered one of his true masterpieces. No nomination for Hitchcock, and instead the academy hand the award to Vincente Minnelli, the director of "Gigi" -- another tooth-gratingly glitzy musical.

6. "Pulp Fiction" and Morgan Freeman get Gump-ed

Whether you like "Forrest Gump" or not, it's hard to defend the decision that saw Tom Hanks take his second acting Oscar ahead of the definitive performance of one of Hollywood's elder statesmen, Morgan Freeman, in Frank Darabont's "Shawshank Redemption." And as for the Academy passing over "Pulp Fiction" or its director, Quentin Tarantino in favor of a comfortable family flick? That left us speechless. Where's the Academy's court of appeal?

7. Robert Duvall steals the show, but is robbed of the award

It's hard to stand out in a cast that has Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen and Dennis Hopper in it, let alone when the project's directed with powerful skill by Francis Ford Coppola, but the wild ravings of Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore stand out as the highlight in the excellent and affecting "Apocalypse Now." We hate the smell of Oscar injustice in the morning.

8. "LA Confidential" is sunk by a blockbuster

Ok, it was an impressive venture, and the technical frills were unrivalled at the time, but "Titanic" just wasn't the best film of the year. A flimsy script, plus performances far from the actors' best, failed to deter voters: the movie picked up a record 11 awards. Versus "LA Confidential," or even the impressive "Good Will Hunting," it simply doesn't float.

9. Al Pacino's best apparently not good enough

Pacino may have descended into a constant stream of shouting in his later roles (something that can be seen in abundance in "Any Given Sunday" or "Devil's Advocate"), but his magnetic performance as sensitive Michael Corleone in "The Godfather" sees him at his compelling best. Joel Grey's performance in "Cabaret" (more musicals! Argh!) is nothing if not annoying, and certainly not a patch on Pacino's finest hour.

10. "Brokeback Mountain" wins everything but an Oscar

In the approach to the Academy Awards it had been winning major prizes, scooping the best picture BAFTA and Golden Globe and earning director Ang Lee a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, but when it came to the Oscars, the movie mysteriously missed out. "Crash," the actual winner, is not a bad film, but it pales in comparison to the sensitive and highly emotional "Brokeback Mountain."


Don't agree? Think we've missed one? Read others' comments and share your views by using the Sound Off box below.


And the day before the Oscars are given out, the 28th Annual Razzie Awards will be announced for the year's worst film offerings. Here are five of the biggest Razzie winners ...

Sly and the family Stallone "win" big

With 30 nominations and 10 awards, including worst actor of the century, Sly is the biggest "winner" in Razzie history. Most notably, in 1985 he and his family cleaned up, as he took worst actor, director and screenplay awards, his wife Brigitte Nielsen scooped worst supporting actress and worst new star, and Sly's brother Frank received worst original song for "Peace in Our Time" from "Rambo II." Their parents must be so proud.

Madonna fails to get the hint

She's not known for her acting, but Madge just won't let it go. With fewer than 20 full-length feature roles under her belt, the queen of pop has picked up 15 Razzie nominations and nine awards for her weak performances. In 2002 she cleaned up, taking Worst Actress, Worst Supporting Actress and half of the Worst Couple. You really can't fault her consistency.

"Showgirls" breaks Razzie records

This record-breaking clunker was nominated for 13 awards in 1995: admirable, since there were only 10 categories that year. It also claimed the most wins, taking home a well-deserved seven awards, including Worst Director and Worst Picture, which were collected in person by director Paul Verhoeven, the first winner to attend the show to collect Razzies. Respect.

Eddie Murphy: man of 2008

This year's show sees the comedian who was up for an Oscar last year pick up a record five nominations for one person in a year, for his work in Worst Picture nominee "Norbit." Having played multiple characters, Murphy is up for Worst Actor, Worst Supporting Actor, Worst Supporting Actress, Worst Couple (nominated with himself) and Worst Screenplay. A truly impressive haul: good work, Eddie.

Battlefield Earth "succeeds" in every category

John Travolta's Scientology/sci-fi movie was nominated for a meager eight awards, but brought home the bacon as it took seven of those awards on the night. Only Forrest Whitaker failed to convert his nomination, pipped to the post by co-star Barry Pepper. If it makes them feel any better, we think they deserved all eight.


Don't agree? Think we've missed one? Read others' comments and share your views by using the Sound Off box below. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print