25 Of The Biggest Oscar Snubs Of All Time

In the world of film, one of the highest honors that a film, director, or actor can win is an Academy Award. When Oscars season rolls around, the snubs can start before the big show. In many cases, a film or actor can receive praise from virtually every critic and audiences, but still not earn a nomination from the Academy.

Did you know that Judy Garland and Cary Grant never won an Oscar in their lifetimes? Judy was awarded a Juvenile Oscar but didn’t actually get the honor of winning after a nomination during her career. Martin Scorsese has been nominated for 12 Oscars during his career, for a mix of Best Director and Best Picture, but he didn’t win for the first time until 2007. Don’t even get us started on how long it took Leonardo DiCaprio to win an Oscar!

25. Saving Private Ryan

Snubbed for Best Picture
Saving Private Ryan came during Tom Hanks prime as a ‘90s movie star. It is some of his best work and the film introduced us to Vin Diesel before he became known for The Fast and the Furious. Saving Private Ryan was highly praised by critics after it was released as an epic war drama that graphically portrayed WWII. The film received 11 Academy Award nominations in 1999, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Original Screenplay. It had seemed a shoe-in that the film would take the win for Best Picture, but Shakespeare in Love somehow came out on top.

24. Francis Ford Coppola – The Godfather

Snubbed for Best Director
Francis Ford Coppola’s loss is just one of many on this list that will surprise you. Given how iconic The Godfather is, especially the first film, you’d think it would have gotten the recognition it deserved from the Academy. The film is the highest-grossing movie of 1972 and for a period of time, it was the highest-grossing movie of all time. The film got a ton of critical praise and is regarded as the most influential film in the gangster genre. While the film received several Oscar nominations, Marlon Brando even won for Best Actor and the film won Best Picture, the film’s director got the snub here. He lost to Bob Fosse for Cabaret.

23. Robert De Niro – Taxi Driver

Snubbed for Best Actor
Taxi Driver didn’t take home any Academy Awards that year, but one of the most surprising losses for this flick was Robert De Niro. The movie was praised by Roger Ebert as one of the greatest films he’d ever seen up until then. Taxi Driver catapulted Robert De Niro into superstardom. His portrayal of Travis Brackle, in which he delivers the iconic “You talkin’ to me?” monologue has been seen in various forms of pop culture since then. While he was nominated for the performance, he ultimately lost the award for Best Actor to Peter Finch for Network.

22. Do The Right Thing

Snubbed for Best Picture
Here is where the Academy messed up, as Do The Right Thing wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture! At the time, it was critically praised. The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. But the film’s director, Spike Lee, and the film itself were snubbed for nominations.
It is considered one of the 100 greatest films of all time. In 1999, ten years after it came out, the film was deemed “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

21. The Shining

Snubbed for Best Picture
Like quite a few of movies on this list, The Shining is a classic film that was not nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. At the time, the film had mixed reviews, so looking at this in retrospect, maybe it makes sense the film didn’t win Best Picture. But coming from esteemed director Stanley Kubrick and one of the first film adaptations of a Stephen King novel, it is surprising this didn’t even have a nomination for the biggest award of the night. Since its release, it has been called the most influential film in the horror genre and it is often discussed in terms of its impact on popular culture.

20. The Shawshank Redemption

Snubbed for Best Picture
This film losing is confusing, but not as confusing as you might think. The film was critically praised, particularly for Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman’s acting. But it was a box office failure, as it only brought in $16 million. The success it lacked at the box office also might have contributed to the film’s loss at the Oscars in 1995. When it was in theaters, the successes of films like Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump are thought to have directly impacted how The Shawshank Redemption was recieved, along with the lack of female leads in the film. Forrest Gump wound up surprising everyone by taking home the Best Picture win at the Oscars that year.

19. Alfred Hitchcock – North by Northwest

Snubbed for Best Director
Despite his success and critical acclaim, Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar. He was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1968. But for one of his most highly revered films, Hitchcock got snubbed. North by Northwest is often regarded as one of his best films (yes, even over Psycho) and he didn’t even get the nomination for Best Director that year. In 1995, North by Northwest was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress.

18. Citizen Kane

Snubbed for Best Picture
Citizen Kane’s Best Picture loss at the 1942 Academy Awards is viewed as the biggest upset of all time, even some 70 years later. Citizen Kane is considered by many to be the greatest film of all time. But back then, it managed to lose to How Green Was My Valley. Citizen Kane was produced by, directed by, and starred Orson Welles and was nominated for nine Oscars. It had been believed the film would sweep the Oscars that year, but in fact, Citizen Kane only won for Best Original Screenplay. Variety reported that block voting by screen extras deprived Citizen Kane of Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Actor that year.

17. Samuel L. Jackson – Pulp Fiction

Snubbed for Best Supporting Actor
Out of 175 acting credits to his name, Samuel L. Jackson has never won an Oscar. He’s only been nominated once and that was for Pulp Fiction. His role as Jules Winnfield is iconic, in terms of Samuel L. Jackson roles and cinema. Pulp Fiction is known as Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece and Samuel L. Jackson received a ton of praise for his work. It had seemed likely that he would get the Oscar for his portrayal, but he lost to Martin Landau for Ed Wood. Samuel L. Jackson hasn’t slowed down since then, hopefully, he’ll get another shot at the Oscar win soon.

16. Humphrey Bogart – Casablanca

Snubbed for Best Actor
In 2017, the world still regards Casablanca as one of the best films in cinema. It has long since been established as classic film and it is cemented in pop culture forever, with lines like, “…here’s look at you kid.” Despite that, when the film was being made, no one expected it to be anything out of the ordinary. The movie was nominated for several Academy Awards and won Best Picture and Best Director, but Humphrey Bogart did not secure the Oscar for Best Actor. In fact, he didn’t win the Best Actor at the Oscars until 1952.

15. Cary Grant – Penny Serenade

Snubbed for Best Actor
Cary Grant is another great actor to never get an Oscar from the Academy. Despite all of his successful films, he only ever earned two nominations. He was nominated for Best Actor for None but the Lonely Heart, but the film was surrounded by controversy over alleged Communist propaganda. He was also nominated for the same award for his work in Penny Serenade and that film had better reviews and less drama surrounding it. But he didn’t win the Oscar for his performance. Instead, he lost out to Gary Cooper for his work in Sergeant York.

14. Goodfellas

Snubbed for Best Picture
Goodfellas was robbed in 1991 at the Oscars. It is one of the best crime films of all time and is iconic in terms of quotes, with the “but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown,” conversation between Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci‘s characters. In 2000, Goodfellas was deemed “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant” and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress. Despite the critical and commercial success of the movie, it was beaten by Dances With Wolves for Best Picture that year. Kevin Costner’s directorial debut!

13. Vertigo

Snubbed for Best Picture and Best Director
At the time of its release, Vertigo had gotten a mixture of reviews, some praising it and others saying it took too long to get to the point. It has since been regarded as one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best works. The film has been given a great deal of scholarly criticism, and in 2012, it replaced Citizen Kane as the best film ever made in the 2012 British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound critics’ poll. But at 1959 Academy Awards, the film failed to secure the Best Picture or Best Director nomination. Instead, the Best Picture went to Gigi.

12. Martin Scorsese – Taxi Driver

Snubbed for Best Director
Robert De Niro wasn’t the only one to be snubbed for Taxi Driver. Martin Scorsese has been called one of the best directors of our time, yet his first Oscar win came 30 years after Taxi Driver. The director wasn’t even nominated for his work on Taxi Driver. The film was critically acclaimed and nominated for four Oscars that year, but one of those weren’t for this director. In the course of his career, he’s been nominated for 12 Oscars but has only won one, in 2007, for The Departed. While The Departed is also one of his highly regarded films, his first win should have come for Taxi Driver.

11. Steven Spielberg – Jaws

Snubbed for Best Director
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat!” Jaws is a cinematic masterpiece and has been considered one of the greatest films ever made. The movie earned four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Music Score, and Best Film Edition. None of the nominations came for the director, though. The movie was the first major motion picture to be shot in the ocean. The mechanical sharks in the movie suffered a bunch of malfunctions, so director Steven Spielberg decided to mostly suggest the animal’s presence, using the ominous, minimalistic Jaws theme.

10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Snubbed for Best Picture
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture, despite all of the praise the film received when it came out. The movie only got two nominations at the Oscars, for which it won Best Original Screenplay. Kate Winslet was nominated Best Actress, but she lost to Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby. The film was well-liked due to the way it uses elements of a psychological thriller and a nonlinear narrative to explain the way people view memories and love. Since it was released, the film has gained a cult-like following and fanbase.

9. Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips

Snubbed for Best Actor
In his 40 year career, Tom Hanks has only won one Oscar and it was for his work in Forrest Gump. He’s actually been snubbed a few times as of late when it comes to Oscars, as he hasn’t even been nominated since 2001. It had been expected that he was a frontrunner for his work in Captain Phillips for the Oscars, but then he wasn’t even nominated that year. Captain Phillips received six nominations, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor (which were all deserved), but the film’s lead didn’t get the credit he was due.

8. Leonardo DiCaprio – Titanic

Snubbed for Best Actor
Now, is Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio’s absolute best work? No. Is it some of his best in the ‘90s? Of course! Titanic earned 14 nominations at the 1998 Academy Awards. Why wasn’t Leo nominated? Kate Winslet was nominated for Best Actress. Gloria Stuart was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, making it the first time the same character in a film was nominated for two different acting awards. Titanic won Best Picture that year. The only other person who was snubbed by the Academy from the cast and crew was the film’s director. James Cameron, who basically treated Titanic as his baby, didn’t earn a nomination for Best Director that year either. Poor guys!

7. Leonardo DiCaprio – What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Snubbed for Best Supporting Actor
This was a damn robbery. Leo is known for heavily researching his roles and he really put in a lot of effort for this film. He was only 19 when the film was released, but his work ethic by that point in his career was already incredible. His portrayal of Gilbert’s younger brother with developmental disabilities is very well done and could not be misconstrued as insensitive. He was so dedicated to his character, he actually stopped bathing during filming, for the scenes in which Arnie refused to get in the bath.
Apparently, when he showed up at the film’s premiere, people were surprised to find he did not have a developmental disability as he’d portrayed the character so earnestly. At least he was nominated for this film, but it is a shame he didn’t win his first Oscar in 1993, rather than waiting over 20(!!!) years for the award he deserved.

6. Judy Garland – The Wizard of Oz

Snubbed for Best Actress
Despite the amount of success Judy Garland had in her career, she never won an Oscar. The movie that shot her straight into stardom should have been the first to earn her an Oscar nomination, but she did not get it. She was 17 at the time of the film’s release, but the Academy had restricted their honorees to people 18 and up at the time.
She was awarded the Academy Juvenile Award, but the trophy was a miniature of a real Oscar. That award was meant to recognize children, as they could be put at an unfair disadvantage when nominated side-by-side adults for the Best Acting categories. However, Judy Garland was practically an adult by the time the film was out and she is the shining star in the movie, so she deserved a real nomination.

5. Jamie Foxx – Django Unchained

Snubbed for Best Actor
Django Unchained is a controversial revisionist Western from Quentin Tarantino. The movie was praised by critics and made numerous top ten lists the year it came out. While the film was highly praised and even was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, the star of the film, Django himself, wasn’t even nominated.
Jamie Foxx did not get the Best Actor nomination that year, though his co-star Christoph Waltz received the Best Supporting Actor nomination. Seeing as Jamie was the heart of this film, there was a huge level of confusion as to how he was not considered for the role, it was a tough crowd with Daniel Day-Lewis up for Lincoln and Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables, but Jamie Foxx certainly deserved to be among the nominees for his work in Django Unchained.

4. Mila Kunis – Black Swan

Snubbed for Best Supporting Actress
Black Swan was a box office surprise. It was predicted the film would be received well critically, but it hadn’t been expected for it to pull in anything spectacular at the box office. It had a great deal of star power, and Natalie Portman was praised for her leading role. However, while Natalie received all the praise (which she deserved), it seems Mila Kunis was left in the dust. For the movie, Mila had an intense diet during filming. She’d never had to count calories before, but to get into the shape they wanted her for the film, she ate a small portion of calories daily and smoked a lot of cigarettes to curb her appetite. She has since said she’d never promote that diet to anyone. The diet and a psychological head game that is the screenplay for Black Swan was tough work for Mila. Yet, despite her dedication to the craft, Mila didn’t even get nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

3. Jacob Tremblay – Room

Snubbed for Best Supporting Actor
The Academy can often overlook children because of their age. The youngest actors to be nominated for a best leading acting award were both nine, that being Jacking Cooper for Skippy in the 1930s and then Quvenzhané Wallis in 2012. It could be argued that Jacob Tremblay was a leading actor in Room, yet he didn’t get the nomination for that or for Best Supporting Actor. Though he was nine when the nominations were rolling out, Jacob’s talent in Room was completely ignored. Which is a huge oversight, as he is the heart and soul of the film. Room is absolutely gut-wrenching and his chemistry with his on-screen mother, Brie Larson, was incredible. Brie was acknowledged for her work and it is truly tragic that Jacob was not. But he’s young still and talented, so we’ll hopefully see more of him.

2. The Lego Movie 

Snubbed for Best Animated Feature 
Yes, animated films can be snubbed at awards season! The Lego Movie was critically praised for its style, humor, and underlying positive message. The voice cast was very well received and honestly, this film just helped propel Chris Pratt into superstardom. It had one of the most successful February box office scores of all time. It won the BAFTA for Best Animated Film, yet it couldn’t even get a nomination at the Academy Awards? TBH, if it had gotten the nomination, it probably would have still lost anyway, seeing Big Hero 6 was nominated and that movie really was just the absolute best. But still, The Lego Movie deserved more respect!

1. Brokeback Mountain

Snubbed for Best Picture
This Oscar snub might make you a little sad, for a few reasons. The first being it came just two years before Heath Ledger tragically passed away. It was critically praised and came with a good deal of financial success as well. The movie was nominated for eight Academy Awards, but only brought home Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score. The film lost the Best Picture win to Crash and it was a huge Oscars upset. It had seemed very likely that Brokeback Mountain would win the Oscar. Many felt the film’s loss was due directly to homophobic voters in the Academy.

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