Awards like the Oscars are fodder for so much whining and moaning: Who got absolutely snubbed? Who shouldn’t have been nominated? Who should or shouldn’t have won? But, as we sit and nitpick the decisions of a single year’s Oscars over the next few weeks (months, even?), let’s remember that there were decades of questionable decisions made well before we had Facebook comments to spew hogwash and argue about.
For that reason, we developed a list of 10 iconic films that you would swear had been massive critical successes and won dozens of awards — except they didn’t win a single Oscar. In compiling this list, we narrowed down the offerings to legendary movies that were nominated for Academy Awards but didn’t win a single one.
So, before you get into the comments and start griping about how The Big Lebowski should have won a bunch of awards, man (we get it, the film really would’ve tied this list together, har-har), remember that these are the movies that could’ve won little gold statues but came up short. It’s a maddening collection, alright.
Hitchcock’s Greatest Hits (1950-1960)
Nominations: Strangers on a Train — Best Cinematography; Dial M for Murder — None; Rear Window — Best Director (Alfred Hitchcock), Best Screenplay (John Michael Hayes), Best Cinematography, Best Sound; Vertigo — Best Art Direction, Best Sound; North by Northwest — Best Screenplay (Ernest Lehman), Best Art Direction, and Best Editing; and Psycho — Best Director (Alfred Hitchcock), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Janet Leigh), Best Cinematography, and Best Art Direction
The fact that Alfred Hitchcock never won a single Best Director Oscar and yet Three Six Mafia has a trophy sitting at home is all the proof you need to know that the Academy Awards is full of shit. But man, what a political move, huh? Not one goddamn win? Given his handful of advantageous nominations (see above), he must have either fucked someone over royally behind the scenes or simply suffered from bad luck at award ceremonies. After all, even then it was hard to dispute that he wasn’t the most iconic visionary to grace Hollywood, turning his productions into sweeping events that seemingly froze the nation.
Today, his string of greatest hits, most notably 1954’s Rear Window, 1958’s Vertigo, 1959’s North by Northwest, and 1960’s Psycho, remain some of the most influential films of all time, taught in colleges all across the world and critiqued by generations of film critics. He’s responsible for the modern thriller, he gave new meaning to the word “auteur,” and he essentially paved the way for DePalma, Carpenter, Nolan, Spielberg, and Fincher. So, when you watch Cary Grant run through the cornfields or follow Jimmy Stewart around San Francisco as he tails Kim Novak, try not to forget that the Oscars never once found any of it to be genius enough for their ridiculously dubious standards. That should put any future upset into perspective. –Michael Roffman