Greatest Movies That Should’ve Won an Oscar

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

11. Do the Right Thing (1989)
> Directed by: Spike Lee
> Starring: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee
> IMDb rating: 7.9/10
> Oscar nominations: 2

Spike Lee’s audacious look at smoldering racial differences in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn that eventually leads to violence won over critics on Rotten Tomatoes with a 93% Freshness rating. Also, 90% of audiences liked the movie, which grossed more than $37 million worldwide and was a box office success. Spike Lee was nominated for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, but lost to Tom Schulman for “Dead Poets Society,” and Danny Aiello was beaten by Denzel Washington for Best Supporting Actor in “Glory.” Lee won his first Oscar in 2019 for Best Adapted Screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman.”

Source: Courtesy of Miramax

12. Gangs of New York (2002)
> Directed by: Martin Scorsese
> Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Daniel Day-Lewis
> IMDb rating: 7.5/10
> Oscar nominations: 10

Martin Scorsese’s epic about Irish immigrants facing bigotry in 19th-century New York was nominated for 10 Oscars but came up empty. The films “Chicago” and “The Pianist” were the big winners at the 2003 Academy Awards. The film grossed more than $193 million worldwide and earned a 73% Freshness rating from Rotten Tomatoes critics, who applauded the spectacle but thought the film’s narrative was weak. Scorsese would eventually win Best Director for the mob film, “The Departed,” in 2007.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

13. Grease (1978)
> Directed by: Randal Kleiser
> Starring: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing
> IMDb rating: 7.2/10
> Oscar nominations: 1

Musicals typically don’t do well at the Oscars, and neither did “Grease,” the nostalgic take on high school romance in the 1950s that was a box office smash, grossing almost $200 million domestically — one of the highest grossing musicals of all time. The film was nominated for Music (Original Score) for the song “Hopelessly Devoted To You” but was rebuffed by “Last Dance” in “Thank God It’s Friday.” Critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 75% Freshness rating and 87% of audiences liked it. The film added to the fame of star John Travolta.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

14. Imitation of Life (1934)
> Directed by: John M.Stahl
> Starring: Claudette Colbert, Warren William, Rochelle Hudson
> IMDb rating: 7.5/10
> Oscar nominations: 3

“Imitation of Life,” about the friendship and business partnership of a white widow and an African American woman who is the mother of a mixed race child, was ahead of its time in its treatment of racial themes and depiction of women as savvy business owners. The film starred Claudette Colbert, who would win the Best Actress Academy Award in 1935 for “It Happened One Night,” which dominated the Oscars that year. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a Freshness rating of 89%, and 85% of audiences liked the movie.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

15. In the Name of the Father (1993)
> Directed by: Jim Sheridan
> Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Emma Thompson
> IMDb rating: 8.1/10
> Oscar nominations: 7

Director Jim Sherian’s impassioned film of Irish Catholics in Northern Ireland wrongly imprisoned for a terrorist attack in England in the 1970s gained seven Oscar nominations. Unfortunately for the film, it was nominated the same year as Steven Spielberg’s searing Holocaust epic “Schindler’s List,” which dominated the Oscars in 1994. “In the Name of the Father” has a 94% Freshness rating among Rotten Tomatoes critics, and 95% of audiences like the movie. It grossed just over $65 million worldwide, but only about $25 million domestically. Daniel-Day Lewis, who had already won a Best Actor Oscar in 1990, lost Best Actor to Tom Hanks for “Philadelphia.”