Come this Sunday, the 94th annual Academy Awards will deliver a whole lot of happy memories for a select few, alongside some disappointments. It’s the nature of awards season, that for there to be winners there must also be losers — but some losses sting more than others, even from the sidelines.
Thus, Consequence is looking back at the most egregious snubs to occur at the Oscars over the course of the 21st century — instances where the right winner somehow still missed out on the top prize. Rather than spotlight the many, many times a deserving film or performance or other facet of production was overlooked entirely for a nomination, we’re focusing in on the times when the right choice was right there, and it just didn’t work out, and we’re still mad about it.
— Liz Shannon Miller
Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson Lose Best Original Screenplay for The Royal Tenenbaums (2002)
In 2002, Wes Anderson wasn’t quite the established figure he is today, but The Royal Tenenbaums might still be one of his greatest films. (The official Consequence ranking puts it at number two, and there’s room to argue it should be higher.)
While the film didn’t break into any other category at the Oscars beyond best original screenplay, it was still a big accomplishment for both Anderson and co-writer Owen Wilson to receive their first-ever Oscar nominations — even when they ultimately lost to Julian Fellows’ script for Gosford Park.
To be clear, Gosford Park is a great film, and it led to the creation of an even better TV show. But there was a special magic to Tenenbaums that clearly signified the arrival of a new filmmaking talent, and if Anderson and Wilson had been recognized for their work, it would have gone a long way towards proving the Academy’s ability to truly celebrate great artists on the rise. — L.S.M.
Brokeback Mountain Loses Best Picture to Crash (2006)
A fun party game to play with your friends is to debate which was the worst Best Picture win of the 21st century (the other major contender is further down on this list). But the thing about Crash winning in 2006 over Brokeback Mountain wasn’t just that the superior film lost to the inferior one.
It was that when given the opportunity to celebrate a truly beautiful and groundbreaking exploration of tragic love, directed by one of our greatest living filmmakers, Academy voters instead voted for a movie where a Black woman forgives the racist cop who sexually assaulted her because he later pulls her out of a burning vehicle. That’s not the only ridiculous/offensive thing that happens in Crash, even! Brokeback Mountain deserved so much better. — L.S.M.