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Revealed: The biggest Oscars snubs of the last 50 years

15 Mar | BY Guy Giles | MIN READ TIME |
Revealed: The biggest Oscars snubs of the last 50 years

We reveal the five biggest Oscars Best Picture snubs from the last 50 years.

There is no bigger accolade in film than the Academy Award for Best Picture.

It is the most prestigious prize at the most prestigious awards ceremony on the planet, and is the pinnacle for all filmmakers.

But is the film named Best Picture always the best picture?

Obviously, with hundreds of great films made each year, there is always going to be controversy over the award.

And when we look back through the catalogue of winners and nominees throughout the 93-year history of the Oscars, there have been countless brilliant films that have missed out on the award.

There are, however, a few instances where the Academy’s decision has been particularly controversial.

With that in mind, Betway online casino have calculated and analysed the five biggest Best Picture snubs of the last 50 years.

Biggest snubs

Ultimately, films are subjective. One person’s favourite film may be of no interest to someone else.

We could, therefore, be here forever analysing every film that came out each year to come up with the biggest snubs, but we’re going to make it easier and limit it to the films that were actually nominated for Best Picture.

According to IMDB ratings, which are user generated but protected against review bombing, these are the five biggest Best Picture snubs since 1972.

That is, the losing film with the biggest rating gap to the winner.

There are two films released in the last 50 years that are tied as the biggest Oscars snubs – Saving Private Ryan in 1999 and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in 2003.

Both are rated 1.5 stars higher than the film that was named Best Picture – Shakespeare in Love and Chicago, respectively.

Another nominee from 1999, Life is Beautiful, is also 1.5 stars higher than Shakespeare in Love, but has been rated around half as many times as Saving Private Ryan, so we went with the latter.

Third on the list is Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, which, at 8.4 stars, is rated 1.2 stars higher than winning film Chariots of Fire.

The most recent Best Picture battle produced the fourth biggest snub, with The Father rated a whole star higher than Nomadland.

Rounding off the list is Inception, which lost out to The King’s Speech in 2011.

Best losers

It’s also worth looking at the highest rated films that missed out on the Oscar.

These films have some of the best ratings on IMDB, and yet were not named Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Top of the list is The Shawshank Redemption at 9.3 stars, making it the highest rated film on all of IMDB. It missed out on Best Picture in 1995 to Forrest Gump, rated 8.8 stars, while Pulp Fiction was also nominated in a particularly strong year.

Inception appears again here with an 8.8 rating, while the first Lord of the Rings film, the Fellowship of the Ring, also achieved the same rating but missed out.

The Two Towers, at 8.7 stars, is another that appears on both lists.

The fifth highest rated film to miss out on Best Picture is gangster classic Goodfellas, also rated at 8.7. Goodfellas was snubbed for the Oscar in place of Dances with Wolves in 1991.

Snubs drilldown

Clearly there is more to a film than its rating, so it’s worth drilling down into the details to better understand these five biggest Best Picture snubs.


Shakespeare in Love winning Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan in 1999 is widely seen as one of the biggest snubs in Oscars history.

The numbers back that up, too.

Saving Private Ryan took nearly $200,000,000 more at the box office, almost touching $500,000,000 worldwide off a $70,000,000 budget.

Shakespeare in Love did garner more Oscar nominations and wins than Saving Private Ryan, but two of those – Best Picture and Best Actress – proved very controversial.

Other than that 1.5 star rating gap on IMDB, Saving Private Ryan also eclipses Shakespeare in Love on Rotten Tomatoes, the other prominent film review website.  


The 2003 Oscars tell a similar story, with The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers blowing winner Chicago out of the water in the box office.

In fact, the $936,689,735 it took worldwide made it the third-highest grossing film in history at the time of release.

Again, the winning film did get more recognition at the Oscars, with Chicago getting a massive 12 nominations and six wins, while The Two Towers won just two from six.

But Peter Jackson’s fantasy epic sits at a massive 95% on the Tomatometer, a full 9% higher than Chicago.


Raiders of the Lost Ark being overlooked in favour of Chariots of Fire in 1982 is one of the most clear-cut snubs, with the Indiana Jones classic outshining its rival in all aspects.

It made nearly four times as much at the box office with worldwide takings of $212,222,025, was nominated for and won more Oscars, and is rated 13% higher on Rotten Tomatoes.


The most recent Best Picture battle is almost the opposite, with Nomadland and The Father hard to separate in most categories.

Winner Nomadland did take around $15,000,000 more at the box office and win one more Oscar, but both films had very similar budgets and were nominated for six gongs each.

The Father does shade things on the Tomatometer, but this clearly wasn’t the massive snub that the IMDB rating differential suggests.


Finally, in 2011, it’s another muddled picture.

Winning film The King’s Speech was nominated for a massive 12 Oscars, and is rated 7 per cent higher on Rotten Tomatoes.

Inception, meanwhile, took nearly twice as much at the box office with a massive $826,137,188, although that came from a budget that was more than ten times higher than The King’s Speech.

Guy Giles

Guy Giles

Sports writer who produces regular football and cricket tips, while also covering a range of other sports.

Guy Giles

Guy Giles

Sports writer who produces regular football and cricket tips, while also covering a range of other sports.