Lost But Not Forgotten: Oscar Nominees for Best Picture

For my final post on nominees that never won an Academy Award, I’m looking at films nominated for Best Picture and at least one other category that ended up not winning anything. So while these films received multiple Oscar nominations, I still find them memorable today despite not taking home any gold.

Note: I narrowed it down to just 20 favorites from each category, so of course there are several great nominees that didn’t make the cut. I also opted to not consider anything from films that were released from 2000 on, as I felt they’re still too recent.

Now, in chronological order, my favorite Oscar-nominated performances for Best Picture…

42nd Street (1933)

42nd Street (1933), directed by Lloyd Bacon

Nominated for Best Picture at the 6th Academy Awards – 42nd Street
Other Nominations: Best Sound Mixing
Competition:
Cavalcade (winner)
A Farewell to Arms
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
Lady for a Day
Little Women
The Private Life of Henry VIII.
She Done Him Wrong
Smilin’ Through
State Fair

The Thin Man (1934)

The Thin Man (1934), directed by W.S. Van Dyke

Nominated for Best Picture at the 7th Academy Awards – The Thin Man
Other Nominations: Best Actor (William Powell); Best Director; Best Adapted Screenplay
Competition:
It Happened One Night (winner)
The Barretts of Wimpole Street
Cleopatra
Flirtation Walk
The Gay Divorcee
Here Comes the Navy
The House of Rothschild
Imitation of Life
One Night of Love
Viva Villa!
The White Parade

Top Hat (1935)

Top Hat (1935), directed by Mark Sandrich

Nominated for Best Picture at the 8th Academy Awards – Top Hat
Other Nominations: Best Production Design; Best Dance Direction (“Piccolino” and “Top Hat”); Best Original Song (“Cheek to Cheek”)
Competition:
Mutiny on the Bounty (winner)
Alice Adams
Broadway Melody of 1936
Captain Blood
David Copperfield
The Informer
The Lives of a Bengal Lancer
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Les Misérables
Naughty Marietta
Ruggles of Red Gap

Ninotchka (1939)

Ninotchka (1939), directed by Ernst Lubitsch

Nominated for Best Picture at the 12th Academy Awards – Ninotchka
Other Nominations: Best Actress (Greta Garbo); Best Writing, Original Story; Best Writing, Screenplay
Competition:
Gone with the Wind (winner)
Dark Victory
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Love Affair
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Of Mice and Men
Stagecoach
The Wizard of Oz
Wuthering Heights

The Great Dictator (1940)

The Great Dictator (1940), directed by Charlie Chaplin

Nominated for Best Picture at the 13th Academy Awards – The Great Dictator
Other Nominations: Best Actor (Charlie Chaplin); Best Supporting Actor (Jack Oakie); Best Original Screenplay; Best Original Score
Competition:
Rebecca (winner)
All This, and Heaven Too
Foreign Correspondent
The Grapes of Wrath
Kitty Foyle
The Letter
The Long Voyage Home
Our Town
The Philadelphia Story

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

The Maltese Falcon (1941), directed by John Huston

Nominated for Best Picture at the 14th Academy Awards – The Maltese Falcon
Other Nominations: Best Supporting Actor (Sydney Greenstreet); Best Adapted Screenplay
Competition:
How Green Was My Valley (winner)
Blossoms in the Dust
Citizen Kane
Here Comes Mr. Jordan
Hold Back the Dawn
The Little Foxes
One Foor in Heaven
Sergeant York
Suspicion

Heaven Can Wait (1943)

Heaven Can Wait (1943), directed by Ernst Lubitsch

Nominated for Best Picture at the 16th Academy Awards – Heaven Can Wait
Other Nominations: Best Director; Best Cinematography, Color
Competition:
Casablanca (winner)
For Whom the Bell Tolls
The Human Comedy
In Which We Serve
Madame Curie
The More the Merrier
The Ox-Bow Incident
The Song of Bernadette
Watch on the Rhine

Double Indemnity (1944)

Double Indemnity (1944), directed by Billy Wilder

Nominated for Best Picture at the 17th Academy Awards – Double Indemnity
Other Nominations: Best Actress (Barbara Stanwyck); Best Director; Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Cinematography, Black-and-White; Best Sound Mixing; Best Original Score
Competition:
Going My Way (winner)
Gaslight
Since You Went Away
Wilson

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), directed by Frank Capra

Nominated for Best Picture at the 19th Academy Awards – It’s a Wonderful Life
Other Nominations: Best Actor (James Stewart); Best Director; Best Sound Mixing; Best Film Editing
Competition:
The Best Years of Our Lives (winner)
Henry V
The Razor’s Edge
The Yearling

12 Angry Men (1957)

12 Angry Men (1957), directed by Sidney Lumet

Nominated for Best Picture at the 30th Academy Awards – 12 Angry Men
Other Nominations: Best Director; Best Adapted Screenplay
Competition:
The Bridge on the River Kwai (winner)
Peyton Place
Sayonara
…and…

Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

Witness for the Prosecution (1957), directed by Billy Wilder

Nominated for Best Picture at the 30th Academy Awards – Witness for the Prosecution
Other Nominations: Best Actor (Charles Laughton); Best Supporting Actress (Elsa Lanchester); Best Director; Best Sound Mixing; Best Film Editing
Competition: see above

Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Anatomy of a Murder (1959), directed by Otto Preminger

Nominated for Best Picture at the 32nd Academy Awards – Anatomy of a Murder
Other Nominations: Best Actor (James Stewart); Best Supporting Actor (Arthur O’Connell); Best Supporting Actor (George C. Scott); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Cinematography, Black-and-White; Best Film Editing
Competition:
Ben-Hur (winner)
The Diary of Anne Frank
The Nun’s Story
Room at the Top

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), directed by Stanley Kubrick

Nominated for Best Picture at the 37th Academy Awards – Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Other Nominations: Best Actor (Peter Sellers); Best Director; Best Adapted Screenplay
Competition:
My Fair Lady (winner)
Becket
Mary Poppins
Zorba the Greek

American Graffiti (1973)

American Graffiti (1973), directed by George Lucas

Nominated for Best Picture at the 46th Academy Awards – American Graffiti
Other Nominations: Best Supporting Actress (Candy Clark); Best Director; Best Original Screenplay
Competition:
The Sting (winner)
Cries and Whispers
The Exorcist
A Touch of Class

Taxi Driver (1976)

Taxi Driver (1976), directed by Martin Scorsese

Nominated for Best Picture at the 49th Academy Awards – Taxi Driver
Other Nominations: Best Actor (Robert De Niro); Best Supporting Actress (Jodie Foster); Best Original Score
Competition:
Rocky (winner)
All the President’s Men
Bound for Glory
Network

The Elephant Man (1980)

The Elephant Man (1980), directed by David Lynch

Nominated for Best Picture at the 53rd Academy Awards – The Elephant Man
Other Nominations: Best Actor (John Hurt); Best Director; Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Production Design; Best Costume Design; Best Film Editing; Best Original Score
Competition:
Ordinary People (winner)
Coal Miner’s Daughter
Raging Bull
Tess

The Color Purple (1985)

The Color Purple (1985), directed by Steven Spielberg

Nominated for Best Picture at the 58th Academy Awards – The Color Purple
Other Nominations: Best Actress (Whoopi Goldberg); Best Supporting Actress (Margaret Avery); Best Supporting Actress (Oprah Winfrey); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Cinematography; Best Production Design; Best Costume Design; Best Original Song (“Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister)”); Best Original Score, Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Competition:
Out of Africa (winner)
Kiss of the Spider Woman
Prizzi’s Honor
Witness

Broadcast News (1987)

Broadcast News (1987), directed by James L. Brooks

Nominated for Best Picture at the 60th Academy Awards – Broadcast News
Other Nominations: Best Actor (William Hurt); Best Actress (Holly Hunter); Best Supporting Actor (Albert Brooks); Best Original Screenplay; Best Cinematography; Best Film Editing
Competition:
The Last Emperor (winner)
Fatal Attraction
Hope and Glory
Moonstruck

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption (1994), directed by Frank Darabont

Nominated for Best Picture at the 67th Academy Awards – The Shawshank Redemption
Other Nominations: Best Actor (Morgan Freeman); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Cinematography; Best Sound Mixing; Best Film Editing; Best Original Score
Competition:
Forrest Gump (winner)
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Pulp Fiction
Quiz Show

The Thin Red Line (1998)

The Thin Red Line (1998), directed by Terrence Malick

Nominated for Best Picture at the 71st Academy Awards – The Thin Red Line
Other Nominations: Best Director; Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Cinematography; Best Sound Mixing; Best Film Editing; Best Original Score
Competition:
Shakespeare in Love (winner)
Elizabeth
Life Is Beautiful
Saving Private Ryan

2 thoughts on “Lost But Not Forgotten: Oscar Nominees for Best Picture

  1. I was going to go through your choices and pick one that was my favorite, but I couldn’t…there were so many good ones. The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, Witness for the Prosecution, 12 Angry Men…all favorites of mine. An interesting list, Keisha!

    • Isn’t it hard to believe none of those films won any Oscars!? But it just proves they don’t need them, as they’re beloved classics today! Also amazing that 12 Angry Men and Witness for the Prosecution came out in the same year, as they’re both such great courtroom dramas.

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