In 1995, director Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption lost the Academy Award Best Picture race to Forrest Gump. Five years later, the director lost againthis time when The Green Mile went up against Sam Mendes’ American Beauty. Both movies were based on novels written by Stephen King and both figure on the list of the top ten films to miss out on a Best Picture Oscar. Shawshank ranks first on the list, with The Green Mile right behind at number two.
UK film channel Sky Movies conducted a poll to find out people’s favourite Oscar also-rans (the network is debuting an all-Oscar winners movie channel). Brits surveyed felt that Shawshank Redemption, starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, suffered the most unjustifiable loss of any film nominated since the inception of the Academy Awards in 1929. The film, which centres on the friendship between two inmates at a Maine state penitentiary, wasn’t popular at the box office but critics loved it and it’s since become a staple on cable TV.
But it’s no Citizen Kane. Orson Welles’ 1941 classic lost out to How Green Was My Valleyalso a classic, but a faded one (quick: tally up the number of Citizen Kane references you’ve heard in the last five years and compare that to the number of times someone has mentioned How Green Was My Valley, less the instances in which John Ford’s film was brought into the conversation as “that movie that beat Citizen Kane“). The list is definitely skewed towards more contemporary losersthere’s nothing before 1963 in the top ten (no Sunset Boulevard, no It’s a Wonderful Life) and half the list comes from the ’90s and ’00s. People surveyed thought that Pulp Fiction, Saving Private Ryan, and, uh, Avatar were totally robbed. They didn’t spare a thought for Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now, There Will Be Blood, or Dr. Strangelove. Most criminally, voters shunned the work of Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, and Sigourney Weaver in Mike Nichols’ 1988 masterpiece, Working Girl. So did the Academyin favour of Rain Man. I still haven’t forgiven them.
Here’s the complete list of the top ten Oscar losers (and the films they lost out to):
1. The Shawshank Redemption (lost out to Forrest Gump in 1995)
2. The Green Mile (lost out to American Beauty in 2000)
3. Avatar (lost out to The Hurt Locker in 2010)
4. Saving Private Ryan (lost out to Shakespeare In Love in 1999)
5. E.T. (lost out to Gandhi in 1983)
6. Star Wars (lost out to Annie Hall in 1978)
7. Mary Poppins (lost out to My Fair Lady in 1965)
8. A three-way tie:
Doctor Zhivago (lost out to The Sound of Music in 1966)
Pulp Fiction (lost out to Forrest Gump in 1995)
To Kill a Mockingbird (lost out to Lawrence of Arabia in 1963)