1. Citizen Kane (1941)
Despite topping many lists of the greatest films of all time (including the American Film Institute’s “100 Years…100 Movies”), Citizen Kane was snubbed by Oscar voters-losing to the John Ford mining story How Green Was My Valley.
Orson Welles had angered media mogul William Randolph Hearst with Citizen Kane, which is widely acknowledged as the reason for the Oscar upset.
2. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Steven Spielberg’s World War II epic was the obvious favorite going into the awards season, but it lost to the period romantic comedy Shakespeare in Love.
The win for Shakespeare can be largely attributed to producer Harvey Weinstein, who is an expert at Oscar campaigning.
3. Raging Bull (1980)
One of the greatest films of the 1980s, Raging Bull began a pattern in which Martin Scorsese would be snubbed by the Academy.
The great boxing film lost to Ordinary People – the first movie directed by Robert Redford.
4. Goodfellas (1990)
Scorsese’s losing streak continued when his great mafia movie, Goodfellas, lost to Dances with Wolves.
It’s no wonder that the sprawling epic (one of the first in Hollywood’s history to give Native Americans their due) beat out the gritty Goodfellas, but it didn’t make the loss any easier.
5. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Ang Lee’s gay cowboy love story was widely hailed as the best film of 2005, but Brokeback Mountain lost the Best Picture race to Crash.
The way Crash dealt with racism and the fact that it was set in Los Angeles are both credited as reasons for the win, but some people insist that the Brokeback snub was a homophobic move by the Academy.
6. Network (1976)
In a year that is widely considered one of the best in the history of filmmaking, Network, All the President’s Men, Taxi Driver, and Rocky all competed for Best Picture.
In the end, Rocky won out over all the others (including Network, which won three of the four acting prizes).
7. Avatar (2009)
Sometimes, the Academy has been known for favoring critical acclaim over popular opinion, and this trend has never been clearer than in 2009.
The top-grossing movie of all time, Avatar, lost out to The Hurt Locker – the least-seen Best Picture-winner of all time.
8. The Graduate (1967)
In another great year for movies, The Graduate lost the top Oscar prize to In the Heat of the Night.
The winner, a traditional studio film, beat out the more independent-minded and contemporary Graduate, but the fact that The Graduate and fellow nontraditional film Bonnie and Clyde won several major awards indicated a changing of the guard in Hollywood.
9.Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
A year before Singin’ in the Rain was made, the Oscar went to another Gene Kelly musical, An American in Paris.
Though American is widely remembered as being a much more forgettable movie thanSingin’ in the Rain, the Academy snubbed the latter because Kelly had already been honored the previous year.
10. The Social Network (2010)
Many Academy members are older, which gives them a reputation for being behind the times. In 2010, the Oscar voters chose the traditional, “safer” film The King’s Speech over the fast-paced, technology-driven The Social Network.
It’s too soon to know which film will be better remembered by history, but Social Network captured the attention of younger moviegoers in a way that The King’s Speech failed to.