10 Great Movies That Left The Oscars Empty-Handed

5. The Thin Red Line (1998)

The Thin Red Line

One of the greatest war movies ever made, this adaptation of James Jones’s novel of the same name, following the Guadalcanal Campaign during World War II and directed by Terrence Malick, was nominated for seven Oscars in 1999.

Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Terrence Malick), Best Adapted Screenplay (Terrence Malick), Best Cinematography (John Toll), Best Original Score (Hans Zimmer), Best Film Editing (Billy Weber, Leslie Jones and Saar Klein) and Best Sound (Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer and Paul Brincat), the movie did not win any of the awards of that year’s Oscars.

Being a movie that focuses more on the human side of the characters than on action itself, and sometimes allowing emotion to be more important than the plot itself, “The Thin Red Line” was definitely a film ahead of its time that, even though it didn’t win any Oscars, is fairly recognized as the masterpiece it really is.


4. 12 Angry Men (1957)

12 Angry Men (1957)

The first – and best – movie in Sidney Lumet’s career, “12 Angry Men” was nominated for three Oscars in 1958 and lost all three to the movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai”, directed by David Lean. “12 Angry Men” was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Sidney Lumet) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Reginald Rose).

Using a single location for the majority of its running time, “12 Angry Men” follows a jury of men that needs to decide if a man is guilty for the murder of his father. At first, most of the jury is convinced that the man is guilty, but as one of them wants to discuss the case a little more before they reach a verdict, the others start to change their mind.

Although not winning any Oscars, “12 Angry Men” won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. The way this film was staged and the great directing by Lumet makes this a must-see movie by any cinephile and, although it did not win any Oscars, it took the highest prizes at one of the most acclaimed film festivals in the world that fairly recognized Lumet’s masterpiece.


3. The Conversation (1974)

The Conversation (1974)

Did you ever notice that Francis Ford Coppola directed two masterpieces that were released in the same year? As a producer of “The Conversation”, he lost to himself at that year’s Oscars as he received the Best Picture award for “The Godfather: Part II”, a movie he produced alongside Fred Roos and Gray Frederickson.

Nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay (Francis Ford Coppola) and Best Sound (Art Rochester and Walter Murch), “The Conversation” did not win any Oscars, but won the Palme d’Or – at the time called “Grand Prix du Festival International du Film” – at the Cannes Film Festival in 1974.

This exceptionally directed film that follows a surveillance expert having a crisis of conscience is definitely among the best films of the 1970s and in Coppola’s career. With a strong performance from Gene Hackman, “The Conversation” is a must see film from the 70s to any cinephile.


2. The Great Dictator (1940)


One of the most acclaimed movies in Chaplin’s career, “The Great Dictator” is a political satire that was nominated for five Oscars in 1941, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Charlie Chaplin), Best Supporting Actor (Jack Oakie), Best Original Screenplay (Charlie Chaplin) and Best Original Score (Meredith Willson). Despite the five Oscar nods, the film did not take home any of the awards.

Following the dictator Adenoid Hynkel trying to expand his empire while a Jewish barber tries to avoid being persecuted by Hynkel’s regime, “The Great Dictator” is often quoted as one of the finest works in Chaplin’s career.

Although not winning any Oscars, this satire that was written, directed and starred by one of the best artists in the 20th century was the second most popular movie in the UU in 1941 and is, without any doubt, a must-see movie for anyone who loves film.


1. Taxi Driver (1976)

taxi driver you talking to me

The second Palme d’Or winner on this list to leave the Oscars empty-handed was nominated for four awards in 1977, including Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Robert de Niro), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Jodie Foster) and Best Original Score (Bernard Herrmann).

This psychological thriller is considered by many the best work in Martin Scorsese’s career and is probably the best screenplay by acclaimed writer and director Paul Schrader. This dark tale about a mentally unstable and honorably discharged Marine who becomes a taxi driver in New York City and, seeing the decadence of the city, thinks his violent actions are the answer to the city’s problems, is among the greatest movies ever made.

One of the best performances in Robert De Niro’s and Jodie Foster’s career, “Taxi Driver” is a story about paranoia and the wounds left by war. Deservedly considered one of the greatest films ever made, this masterpiece directed by Scorsese is a film that needs to be watched and rewatched by any cinephile, and is definitely among the best films not to be awarded at the Oscars.

Author bio: Vítor Guima is a filmmaker, writer and musician from São Paulo, Brazil. Every day he watches a movie, reads a few pages from a book, listens to an album and freaks out with the feeling of not having enough time to see everything. You can follow him on Instagram on @ovitorguima.