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    Top 10 Classic Movies That Didn’t Get An Oscar Nomination

    Academy Awards are one of the accolades that actors, directors, writers, and others fantasize about. Many envision the golden man in their hands. Even backing a nomination for the Oscars is a moment of honor in the career profile of Hollywood stars. While the wins are almost every time well-deserved, some productions don’t even get nominated despite excellent performance and great reception.

    The association of Academy Awards is not biased or compromised. The late release date of the movie, cultural unacceptance, and unfortunately but not unwittingly sheer luck can be some of the reasons that make these movies fall short of the nomination. Here are the top ten movies that didn’t win a nomination for the Oscars in the past.

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    Movies Shunned By The Oscars

    10. Zodiac

    Robert Downey Jr. and Jake Gyllenhall in Zodiac

    This 2005 American crime thriller is one of the films that didn’t make it to nominations. Directed by Alexander Bulkley this movie was based on the true event of a serial killer on the run in California during the 60s and 70s. One might find the film dragging at a point but the viewers feel the prolonged frustration of the artist and reporter. And overall the movie was a psychological delight. Moreover, ‘Zodiac’ received a positive reception from critics.

    In spite of the above, this classic was not nominated for an Academy Award. Many theories claim that the film’s late release was the reason for receiving no nomination. ‘Zodiac‘ was released in March 2005. The last Academy Awards ceremony was held a month earlier, in February 2005. This might seem fair enough on the part of the association but this great classic has gone without proper appreciation.

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    9. Heat


    If you are a fan of crime thrillers, 1995 ‘Heat’ must be on your list. Directed and written by Michael Mann, this film stars Al Pacino, Val Kimmer, Robert Di Nero, and Jon Voight. The plot of the film revolves around a group of three robbers and the police officer tailing their crimes and the next steps. When the film was released in December 1995, it was a huge success. With a production budget of $60 million, the movie had a box office collection of $187.4 million.

    Like ‘Zodiac‘, ‘Heat’ too was based on the true events of a burglar Neil McCauley. And unfortunately, the movie was an inspiration to other robberies around the world. Rédoine Faïd, a French gangster, shared that Mann gave him inspiration for his jobs. The film was engaging and was received well by critics. However, it was not nominated for an Oscar.

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    8. King Kong

    King Kong 1933

    The 1933 ‘King Kong’ is the old gold monster Hollywood film. The film was directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and the screenplay James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose. The film was a contemporary visual feat. When it was released in 1933, the ape was a huge success. The gigantic monkey wreaks havoc on the city while trying to covet a young woman. Rotten Tomatoes ranks the movie as the greatest horror movie of all time. The US Library of Congress stated the movie was “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant” and was preserved in the National Film Registry.

    Being a cinematographic success the movie was not nominated for even one Academy Award. However, at the time, there was no award for the visual effects of a movie. The film was followed by a sequel and even saw remakes. The ‘Son of Kong’ was the sequel that was released the same year and the two remakes with the same name as the first released in 1976 and 2005.

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    7. Scarface


    The 1983 ‘Scarface‘ surpasses the original 1933 film. Directed by Brian De Palma the film revolves around the life of four criminal refugees. When the movie was first released, it had a negative reception. Perhaps it was the portrayal of criminal Cubans. This might be one of the reasons why the film was not nominated for the Academy Awards.

    However, in later years, when viewers could look past racial sensitivity, they appreciated the plot, direction, and overall production. The film was recognized by other award associations – it was nominated for three Golden Globes, Golden Rasberry Awards, and Golden Satellite Awards.

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    6. Mean Street

    Mean Street

    Martin Charles Scorsese has received twenty Academy Awards in his career however his 1973 ‘Mean Streets‘ didn’t make the cut. The movie stars Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro. The crime film was well-received and even did well at the box office. With a production budget of $500,000, the film made an impressive collection of $3 million.

    Besides the Academy association, the movie won the National Society of Film Critics and even the New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as ‘Johnny Boy’ Civello. ‘Mean Streets‘ was preserved by the Library of Congress in the National Film Registry. The New York Times asserted, “no matter how bleak the milieu, no matter how heartbreaking the narrative, some films are so thoroughly, beautifully realized they have a kind of tonic effect that has no relation to the subject matter.”

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    5. Paths of Glory

    Paths of Glory

    1957’s ‘Paths of Glory’ was a remarkable anti-war film by Stanley Kubrick. The film beautifully criticizes war and unrealistic standards and norms of the army while starring then-rising star Kirk Douglas. On its release, the film’s anti-military plot was criticized. Perhaps, America’s undying love for its army reached unhealthy standards to appreciate fictional art. However, after a few years, the film started to gain popularity, and in 1992 the film was preserved by the Library of Congress in the United States National Film Registry.

    The plot of the movie followed Colonel Dax played by Kirk who refuses to lead a troupe of French soldiers on a suicide mission and defend them during the court-martial. Though the film didn’t receive an Oscar nomination, it backed a  BAFTA Award nomination under the category of Best Film. Moreover, in 1959, it was nominated for the Writers’ Guild of America Award. In 1959, Stanley Kubrick won the Italian critic’s Silver Ribbon award marking him as the best foreign director of 1958 for the movie.

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    4. The Shining

    The Shining

    Released in 1980, ‘The Shining’ was one of those unfortunate movies that were not only shunned by the Oscars but also by the Golden Globes, critics, and basically everyone. Upon release, the production was not liked by Stephen King either. The psychological horror was based on the writer’s novel of the same name. However, the film has come to be one of the most influential horror movies of all time. This was another film by Stanley Kubrick that was ignored by the Academy Awards.

    The plot of the film revolves around a recovering alcoholic writer who with his family moves into an isolated hotel for the winter. Jack cannot seem to concentrate on writing as the quiet quarters start closing in on him and he starts hallucinating into mania. In later years, the scene where Jack places his face through the broken door and says in his bloodthirsty hysteria, “Here’s Johnny!” has become the best scene from the movie. The movie is based on the motifs of cabin fever, toxic masculinity, and the delusional powers of our minds.

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    3. Touch of Evil

    Released in 1958, ‘Touch of Evil’ was too initially ignored by the Oscars. However, it gained popularity among the European crowd and in 1993 it was preserved in the US National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Over the years, ‘Touch of Evil’ has come to be a classic Crime drama of Hollywood cinema. The plot of the film follows a police captain, Hank Quinlan investigating a puzzling case of the bombing and murder of Rudy Linnekar.

    Orson Welles was brought in by Universal International to direct and star in the movie. ‘Touch of Evil’ had its European premiere at the 1958 Brussels World Film Festival, where Wells collected two prestigious awards. The film had a fair box office collection of $2.2 million with a budget of $829,000.

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    2. The Searchers

    The Searchers

    ‘The Searchers’ was a 1956 Western film that though won the hearts of many, was not nominated for an Oscar. ‘The Searchers’ was the first of its kind. For this epic movie director, John Ford, requested elaborate props, set, and, filming techniques. Upon its release, the movie was a huge success. Critics claimed it was the best American West film. In many lists of ‘Best Movies All Time’, ‘The Searchers’ always rank among the top 10. It even made its cut to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

    The plot of the film revolves around Ethan Edwards, a Civil War veteran, looking for his niece who has been missing for years along with his adopted nephew. The film was filmed in the dusty, rugged yet picturesque landscape of Monument Valley. The setting perfectly fits the Western background of the film’s plot. The movie had a humongous budget of $3.75 million during the 1950s.

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    1. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

    The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

    ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ is a 1966 Spaghetti Western film by Sergio Leone. The genre of Spaghetti Western was not very popular in the 1960s therefore this movie was left out by the Academy. However, when the genre started gaining acclaim this specific film was listed at the top. The plot revolves around a mercenary namely “Angel Eyes” who sets out to find stolen Confederate gold which he learns from his contract’s victim.

    The film features intense violence, action, and famous Western gunfights. Though the film is about the American West it was filmed in Rome. The main theme music of the film became very popular and today represents anything related to the American West culture. The film revolves around the themes of greed, cruelty, and war. Upon its release, the film had a box office collection of $6.5 million in Rome and $25.1 million in the USA and Canada combined.

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    Sarah Kandari
    Sarah Kandari
    Sarah Kandari is a cinephile who might have ended up as a couch potato had she not started writing for the entertainment website, First Curiosity. She loves to read with a cup of coffee. You might recognize her as the girl with a pen in her bun that she has forgotten is there. She is currently a Literature major in Delhi University.

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