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The 20 Best Movies That Didn’t Receive Best Picture Nominations (2000-2009)

25 November 2014 | Features, Film Lists | by Michael Giffey


When you look at the Academy Award nominations every year, there always seems to be at least one film that you feel should have been nominated for Best Picture that wasn’t. It all seems so subjective. Why did they pick that film and not this one?

One thing to remember is that Academy voters tend to be older and very conservative. You rarely see fantasy films, sci-fi, comedy, horror, films that are designed with the younger viewer in mind such as superhero films, or films that are spun off into several sequels.

You seem to get the same old genre films nominated every year, especially intense dramas, thrillers, and crime films. With that being said, here are 20 films from the 2000’s that should have scored a Best Picture nomination, but didn’t.


20. Monster’s Ball (2001)


An African-American woman and a white former prison guard, who both have suffered family losses, fall in love. How will she react when she finds out that he was the head guard on duty the night her convict husband was executed?

Halle Berry became the first African-American to win Best Actress for her portrayal of Leticia Musgrove in this film. It tells the story of a prison guard (Billy-Bob Thornton) who oversees an execution, and sees his son (Heath Ledger) kill himself after calling him too soft and ordering him out of the house. He buried his son in the backyard, resigns his job and burns his uniform.

Meanwhile the executed prisoner’s widow (Halle Berry) loses her son as he is hit by a car while they are walking along the highway. In their mutual loneliness, the guard and Leticia start sleeping together. When she finds out he was the guard on duty when her husband is killed, she turns on him, but realizes she has nothing left in her life but him.

Uniformly excellent performances, especially by Berry and Thornton, made this film a box office winner, but despite Berry’s win as Best Actress, the film was not considered strong enough to be nominated for Best Picture.


19. Closer (2004)


American Alice Ayres (Natalie Portman) and British Dan Woolf (Jude Law) meet on a London street as they are walking in opposite directions. Alice tries to cross the street to talk to him, but is hit by a taxi. Dan takes her to a hospital where she is treated. They become lovers.

After a year Dan is restless. He has written a novel and is being photographed by the American Anna Cameron (Julia Roberts), he tries to get a kiss and she complies just as Alice enters. She asks to use the bathroom. While she is away, Dan tries to get Anna to sleep with him. When Alice returns, she asks Anna to have her portrait taken. She asks Dan to leave them alone. As Anna takes her photo, Alice reveals she overheard them. She weeps as Alice takes the portrait.

Dan sets up Larry, who he met online, by telling him he is Anna and will meet him at the aquarium. Larry goes there and actually meets Anna, and they start a relationship. Eventually Anna and Dan realize they belong together and drop their respective partners. Alice goes back to stripping and meets Larry. He tries to find out her name, and offers her a great deal of money, but she insists she is Jane Jones, and we find out at the end as she returns to New York that Jane Jones is indeed her real name.

The film received some very good reviews mostly for the screenplay, Natalie Portman, and Clive Owen. The script had very explicit language but no real nudity. Despite this, many people felt the picture was very adult and would not attract the right audience, especially the 18-24 crowd. So while Portman and Owen were nominated for supporting Oscars, the film was not nominated for Best Picture.


18. The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)

The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)

A barber (Billy-Bob Thornton) in Santa Rosa, California wants to get out of his boring life by having his wife embezzle money from her boss, so he can invest in the “new” dry-cleaning technology, but it leads to blackmail and death.

Joel and Ethan Coen displayed their love of neo-noir films with this stylish black and white entry set in 1949. Billy-Bob Thornton had such respect for the Coens that he accepted the lead of Ed Crane without first reading the script. He received glowing reviews for the film. The film was set in Santa Rosa, California, pictured as a sleepy town. Ed works at his brother-in-law’s barber shop, but dreams of a better life for himself and his bookkeeper wife (Frances McDormand).

This film has several of Coen’s regular actors. Besides McDormand, there are Richard Jenkins, Michael Badalucco, and Jon Polito. It also has Scarlett Johannson, and Tony Shalhoub in small roles. In spite of the fact that the film won Best Director at Cannes, Billy-Bob Thornton had a much bigger hit that year in “Monster’s Ball” and to many Academy viewers that split the vote so that neither film was nominated for Best Picture.


17. A Single Man (2009)

A Single Man (2009)

The movie takes place on one day, November 30, 1962. Professor George Falconer (Colin Firth) is dreaming of the car accident that killed his partner of 16 years, Jim, eight months previously. George wakes depressed and intends to kill himself that night. He goes through his day. 

At school he meets a student Kenny who would like a relationship. George meets his best friend Charlie (Julianne Moore) for dinner. She also would like a relationship with George and is angry because she doesn’t understand his relationship with Jim.

George leaves and meets Kenny and goes to have drinks, then takes him home and continues to drink until he passes out. When he wakes. He sees Kenny asleep in another room and he is holding George’s gun so George doesn’t hurt himself. George takes the gun and locks it away, realizing he is coming to grips with his loss.

The film received wonderful reviews, praising Tom Ford on his directorial debut and writing love letters to Colin Firth. Many critic said he gave the best performance of the year. Many people were shocked that a fashion designer could direct a major film so well.

The film won several accolades from gay rights’ groups. Praising the script and Colin Firth. Colin has gone on record that he did not approve the marketing of the film as the trailer and poster made it look like a romantic comedy with Julianne Moore as his love interest. He felt the studio sanitized the marketing and felt that to be wrong, saying it was “a beautiful story of love between two men and I see nothing wrong with that. The audience should see it for what it is”.

Colin received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, but many people felt the subject matter prevented a Best Picture nomination.


16. Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Michelle Monaghan in Gone Baby Gone

4 year old Amanda McCready has been abducted. Her Aunt Beatrice (Amy Madigan) hires private detectives Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and his partner Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) who is also his girlfriend, to help the police find her niece and return her to her mother, Helene McCready (Amy Ryan).

Helene’s boyfriend is killed by a drug lord, and the police Captain Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman) reads a telephone transcript setting up the exchange for the money for the girl, but the child is believed dead. That is just the top of the iceberg. Patrick and Angie continue to investigate and this leads to discovery they would never believe.

The reviews were great, with many critics saying the film was better than the book, and the Affleck brothers got raves. The whole cast did well by the reviews, especially Amy Ryan, who was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress. Despite the reviews, it did not receive a nomination for Best Picture. All in all, a well-crafted thriller worth seeing.


15. Zodiac (2007)


Well-crafted film based on the books of the real life Robert Greysmith, who was the political cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle (Jake Gyllenhall), about the Zodiac killer of the late 60’s and early 70’s. The film chronicles the lives of the reporters and the police officers involved in the search, interspersed with scenes of the murder and the reporters and police receiving taunting notes and pieces of evidence supposedly from the killer.

The reviews were mostly positive, with the actors being praised, but some critics complained about the length of the film (2 hours and 37 minutes) and the fact there was not enough action scenes. They spoke of the police procedural scenes as pedestrian, and too much time was spent on those scenes.

The critics did praise the director for his casting choices and the tightness of the script. They also liked the historical era and how it was presented in the fact that it didn’t show a San Francisco of hippies, peace and love, but instead just how gritty the city looked and the long work days of the police.

The film barely broke even at the box office. Having such an ambiguous ending, the film was not nominated for any Academy awards, let alone Best Picture, which many critics believed it deserved.



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  • greenie

    What, No “Usual Suspects”? No “Millers’ Crossing”.

  • Ivan Galić

    I agree with almost every choice… In Bruges and Mulholland Drive I have problem with. In my opinion both overrated…

    • Abhishek

      I think going over and over the articles of TOC for a single film also makes it overrated. They would include a single good film so many times that I start to hate it.

  • Greg Csaba

    Harry “In Bruges” is so not Liam Neeson, but Ralph Fiennes…

  • Thomas Lorentzen

    Great list, but i feel Chilren of Men deserved a spot!

    • Miroslav Maric


  • Marwan Mowaffak

    The dark knight only won 2 Oscars, Best supporting actor and Best sound editing. Misinformation.

  • Larry Goodner

    I thought The Illusionist was far superior to The Prestige.

    • ethomson92

      The animated one, or live-action one?

      • Larry

        Live action with Ed Norton, Jessica Biel and Paul Giamatti.

        • mark randall

          I have the polar oppisite opinion, but to each their own.

      • Ted Wolf

        Both were pretty awesome

  • Stelios Zesiades

    From this year Gone Girl could have easily snatched a Best Picture nomination, especially since they only nominated 8 out of the possible 10 films.

    • Brian Lussier

      I agree, but you’ve got the wrong decade there. This list is 2000-2009.

      • Stelios Zesiades

        Ah, I really didn’t notice to be honest but my point stands, if they were to make a list for the 10’s Gone Girl should definitely be on it.

        • Rachel Helena

          My biggest disappointment from the last 12 months was Nightcrawler. Not disappointed in the film, but disappointed that it didn’t get the accolades it deserved.

          • Stelios Zesiades

            Nightcrawler was a great character study and for sure Gylenhaal deserved at least a nomination for his sociopathic portrayal of the complex character that is Lou Bloom and even though it was overall a pretty great movie, I think that’s the only nomination it was trully snubbed from (maybe for cinematography and photography as well), but Gone Girl was snubbed in multiple categories it could easily have been nominated in such as Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Movie, Best Director for Fincher and Best Original Score. I admit that I’m kinda biased towards Fincher but I think I’m reasonable enough to know whether it deserved these nominations or not.

          • Brian Lussier

            I agree with you. Best Original Score, I guess it didn’t get nominated because those same two guys already won it twice, for two other Fincher films, The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

        • Brian Lussier

          Oh, I agree. I still wonder how the hell Selma got nominated for Best Picture with nothing but a Best Song nomination other than the Best Picture one. How could you consider a film potentially the best of the year without nominating the director, the script, the acting or any of the technical categories? Makes no sense to me! Then again, Gone Girl only got a Best Actress nod, but it should have had at least a Best Adapted Screenplay nod, and perhaps Best Director, not counting its photography, its editing, music and, if I may be so bold, Best Actor for Ben Affleck. I’d add Interstellar, too, for Best Picture. And how the hell did that film not get a Best Director nomination is beyond me! Nolan didn’t even get a Best Director nomination for Inception, which I’m still scratching my head over…

  • Brian Lussier

    The problem with this list is that there are too many conservative films on it, and yet the introduction talks about the Academy being a bunch of old, conservative guys. I can think of dozens of films that deserved nominations that were far better than ordinary films like Walk The Line and Cinderella Man, for instance. Also, just to point out that, yes, Zodiac and Into The Wild were fantastic films that, in any normal year, should have merited nominations, but they happened to be released in 2007, when Atonement, No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood were all released, all three of them masterpieces. And Zodiac and Into The Wild (and one could easily add others from that year, such as American Gangster, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, Eastern Promises or I’m Not There, as an example), although fantastic pieces of filmmaking in their own rights, were simply inferior to those aforementioned masterpieces. Oh! And The Fucking Dark Knight! So damn tired of it being shoveled onto every fucking list here…

    • FAS

      Even if you are upset for the inclusion of “The Dark Knight” in this list, but there is no denying that after 2009, the Academy considered having more than 5 best picture nominees as they were criticized for not considering “Wall-E” and “The Dark Knight”.

      • Brian Lussier

        Yes, and had The Dark Knight been released in a year that was open to up to 10 Best Picture nominations, I’d be open to its inclusion. But it wasn’t, so I’m not. I’m sadder about the exclusion of The Wrestler and Synecdoche, New York from the same year.

        • FAS

          Well yeah, they are also far superior to some of the best picture nominees that year. But the real thing is “Screw the Oscars!” I believe you obviously know that movies do not actually need Oscar nominations to get recognized for years. Actually all the films mentioned in the list and in the comments are actually far more renowned than many of the films that did get nominated, or even won. So, I believe that there’s actually no reason for people to be upset when certain films get avoided by the Academy. I believe that the Academy Awards mainly exist to get people to see specific films within November to February by getting those movies nominated.

          • Lars Franssen

            My sentiment exactly. The only reason the Academy Award is so prestigious is that they make such a fuss about it every year.

    • J.Mak

      Your list is way too “outside the box” for The Academy Awards. All the films that Taste of Cinema chose have commercialistic appeal to them, even Mulholland Drive, which is Lynch’s most polished film. When they say “best”, they mean a combination of things, they are considering the reception of the piece, as well as accessibility to the general audience (which usually go hand in hand). They’re not necessarily looking at the greatest films of all time, in the aesthetic or conceptual sense, they are simply looking for the most relevant films in the times we live in. In other words, the critic’s opinion matters much less than the critical mass.

      • Brian Lussier

        I get what you’re saying. But the introduction blames the Academy for not thinking outside the box, as you put it. And yet the list stays “in the box”. That was the point I was making.

        • Eri Taide

          the omission of Academy award nominations for a movie such as “Shame” hurts me deeply…

  • Mark Cauley

    The Professional was better than 2/3rds of those

    • Brian Lussier

      Wrong decade though.

      • Mark Cauley

        ha, my bad.

  • Adel Narimani

    I’d put cast away,Sin city,old boy, moon,Stranger than fiction, american psycho And donnie darko there.

    • Brian Lussier

      Sin City? You’re kidding, right? All style, no substance.

      • Adel Narimani

        Sin city was a unique, stylish , bold and tasteful movie. It was critically approved and boxoffice success. I don’t see why it couldn’t got a best picture nomination when movies like The blind side got one.

        • Brian Lussier

          I see your point, I didn’t really like The Blind Side myself, but the script to Sin City was a really mess!

  • Rachel Helena

    So what you’re saying is.. Everything by Christopher Nolan… Haha. And rightfully so! He has been snubbed far too many times in his incredible career.

  • Arnaldo Fernandez

    Requiem for a Dream?….Nah!

  • Yan Villeneuve

    Eyes wide shuts come to my mind…

    • Brian Lussier

      Wrong decade. The list is for films from 2000-2009. Eyes Wide Shut came out one year too soon, in 1999.

    • John W. Thackery

      EWS was NOT Best Picture worthy.

  • Brandon Thompson

    My list would’ve been
    Requiem for a Dream
    Kill Bill 1
    The Wrestler
    Donnie Darko
    American Pshyco
    Pan’s Labyrinth
    Almost Famous
    Eternal Sunshine…
    The Dark Knight
    The Royal Tenebaums

    • John W. Thackery

      “CHILDREN OF MEN, Pan’s Labyrinth, Almost Famous, The Wrestler”

      Yea, I can’t believe the author totally missed these films.

  • not a bad list… but I think Ridley Scott’s American Gangster deserved a place too 🙂

  • vance9281

    More than enough reasons to never pay attention to the Academy Awards again. I stopped watching the award show many years ago. Once or twice in a generation they get the best movie right, but most of the time the best film does not win or is not even nominated.

  • Jasmin Jandric

    The Dark Knight is overrated, and the final act of Training Day ruined the whole movie.

  • warrenzoell

    Master and Commander.

    • fcosta

      Master and Commander was nominated for Best Picture.

  • Paul O’Connor

    The Elephant Man, What Dreams May Come, The Manchurian Candidate (original), Identity,

    • John W. Thackery

      The Elephant Man WAS nominated Best Picture. Also this is a list of movies from 2000 to 2009.

  • Dimitri Poenaru

    Zodiac and Gone Baby Gone. Probably the 2 most overrated movies ever made.