The Academy Awards, which have been held since 1929, aim to recognize “excellence in the motion picture arts and sciences.” Despite this goal, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — the organization behind the awards — has over the years overlooked numerous films that are widely agreed upon as being of exceptional quality.
With the 92nd Academy Awards — scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020 — quickly approaching, 24/7 Tempo has identified the greatest movies that should have won an Oscar.
Though some didn’t, many of the greatest movies that never won an Oscar received nominations. In some cases, they received far more nominations than average. Yet, for one reason or another, these movies were beaten by the competition.
These films have often been recognized in other ways. Some have been inducted into the U.S. National Film Registry, which aims to “showcase the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation.” Others have won other distinguished film awards, such as Golden Globes. Here is every movie to win Best Drama at the Golden Globes since 1944.
The movies included here all fit the criteria necessary to win an Oscar. The Academy has historically favored serious dramas, movies that address social issues, and those that feature well-known actors. Many of the movies on this list fit one of the criteria if not more. Many of the movies also feature talent (both in front of and behind the camera) that did win Oscars, either prior to or after the release of their losing film. Some of Hollywood’s most loved entertainers star in many of the movies on this list. These are the most popular Oscar winners of all time.
To determine the greatest movies that should have won an Oscar, 24/7 Tempo considered numerous metrics, including Rotten Tomatoes average critic and audience ratings, the average user ratings on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), and total Oscar nominations. Editorial discretion (and knowledge of specific films) was also used in order to determine which movies align with trends exhibited by other films that have won Oscars. A movie’s likelihood of winning an award can be influenced by its distributor, actors, directors, genres, themes, and box office success. Only movies that did not win any competitive Academy Awards were included.