Craziest Oscar Snubs of all Time

Ashley Clark

By now it’s a safe bet that many - if not all - of you will have worked yourself into a rabid froth of indignation over the latest batch of Oscar noms. “What do you mean The Master hasn’t been nominated for Best Picture”, you’ll scream. “How could they ignore Javier Bardem for Best Supporting Actor?”, you’ll holler. “Why is Seth McFarlane?”, you’ll weep.

Because the truth is, however cool you try to play it, you care about the Oscars. You shouldn’t, but you do. The year’s biggest, glitziest industry awards jamboree has the strange power to transform even the most coolly detatched cinephile into a white-knuckled pundit loudly crying foul. Every year we build our hopes up, only for them to get knocked down again. In consolation, here’s our guide to the most outrageous Oscar snubs of all time. They weren’t even nominated, for crying out loud!!

Louise Brooks for Best Actress in Pandora’s Box in 1929

Oh, that bob! Oh, that charisma! Oh... the original snub! In its first year, the Academy Awards contrived to overlook the magnetic star of G.W. Pabst’s classic silent psychodrama Pandora’s Box. Almost a century on, her performance endures, while those of her competitors are largely forgotten.

Vertigo for Best Picture in 1959

A recent poll of the world’s most prominent critics conducted by the estimable Sight & Sound magazine recently voted Alfred Hitchcock’s haunting psychological drama as the Greatest Film of All Time. So it’s a surprise to discover that it only picked up a couple of technical noms (Sound and Art Direction) at the ’59 awards.

Steven Spielberg; Best Director for Jaws in 1976

This now-legendary suspenser picked up a nod for Best Picture, but the Academy overlooked its expert young director; the man largely responsible for crafting such magic and menace. Still, he needn’t have worried. He’s been pretty much a lock ever since, and he’s up for another award this year for Lincoln.

Martin Scorsese; Best Director for Taxi Driver in 1977

Scorsese had been sorely undervalued by the Academy for his directorial talents until they lavished him with a somewhat undeserved Best Director nod for 2006’s The Departed. His most egregious snub to date had been for this ultra-disturbing character study starring Robert De Niro as the unhinged urban avenger of the title.

‘Staying Alive’ by The Bee Gees for best song in Saturday Night Fever in 1978

Whether you’re a lover or whether you’re a mother you’ll be shocked to discover that this iconic high-pitched disco wiggler was overlooked for in the Best Song category, as indeed was everything from this classic soundtrack.

Isabella Rossellini for Best Actress in Blue Velvet in 1987

How could they overlook this brave, raw, beautiful, damaged, tender, sensual, furious, shocking, sensational performance? How? Tell me, how? (Further minus points for ignoring Dennis Hopper’s crazed turn as Frank Booth opposite her, too).

Do The Right Thing for Best Picture in 1990

Spike Lee’s greatest film to date had it all; piercing social comment, laugh-out-loud comedy, gorgeous day-glo cinematography (has New York ever looked more vibrant?). Alas, it wasn’t enough for Mr. Voter, who gave it a big snub. Rubbing further salt into the wound, the winner of Best Picture that year was the safe, conservative and ultra conventional race drama Driving Miss Daisy. The shame of it.

Hoop Dreams for Best Documentary in 1996

This is the craziest, most embarrassing omission of all, no question. Steve James’ epic and monumentally moving chronicle of two inner-city African-American kids trying to make it big in the world of basketball should have been a lock. But no, thanks to some arcane rules and regulations (that no-one really understood or bothered to properly explain), it missed out. The Academy proved it hadn’t learned its lesson 12 years later by inexplicably ignoring James again for The Interrupters.

Magnolia for Best Picture in 1999

Anderson’s sprawling, operatic tale of unhappy Angelenos had enough emotion, ideas and technical pizzazz to fill three movies. But the Academy weren’t having it, opting instead to garland the far safer American Beauty with the top prize. The film nabbed a couple of noms (including Screenplay and Supporting Actor for Tom Cruise), but it’s little short of a crime that it missed out on the big one.

Mulholland Drive for Best Picture in 2002

Perhaps the industry mafia saw Lynch’s nightmarish cautionary Hollywood tale as too close to the bone; or maybe they simply didn’t have a clue what was going on. So what now looks like one of the very finest films of the decade was left high and dry in favour of the likes of A Beautiful Mind and (cough, splutter) Moulin Rouge. Oddly enough, Lynch did grab a nom for Best Director, though.

Follow Ashley on Twitter: @_Ash_Clark   

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