Movies That Lost the Oscar for Best Picture to a Lower Rated Film

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Here’s something that should come as news to no one: the Oscars don’t always get it right. Proving as much are some of history’s biggest upsets in the Best Picture category, where an arguably superior film failed to take home the gold. Does that mean the respective winner didn’t really deserve the prestigious honor? The answer can vary, based on personal taste and historical context, among other factors. But from a modern standpoint, the data has spoken. (These are some movies audiences hate but critics love.)

Take the 1995 Best Picture winner, “Forrest Gump,” for example. While an indisputable blockbuster with enduring status, it no longer rates as highly among movie-goers as certain competitors from the same year’s Oscars, such as “Pulp Fiction” and “The Shawshank Redemption.” Along similar lines, the 1977 Best Picture winner “Rocky” beat out fellow nominees like “All the President’s Men,” “Network,” and “Taxi Driver,” all of which are ranked more highly today by almost everybody. (Here’s a look at the best of the best: Oscar winners for best picture ranked.)

To determine the highest-rated movies that lost Best Picture at the Oscars to one with lower ratings, 24/7 Tempo developed an index composed of user ratings on IMDbInformation on casts came from IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and audience and Tomatometer critics’ ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator. Movies that lost Best Picture at the Oscars were ranked based on the difference between their composite index score and that of the movie that won Best Picture the same year. All measures are weighted equally and are current as of October 2022. Only movies nominated for Oscars in 1975 or later were included for consideration. 

Data on Oscar wins and nominations comes from the Academy Awards Database of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Cast and (where applicable) writer and director credits come from IMDb.

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