Special Report

Movies That Lost the Oscar for Best Picture to a Lower Rated Film

Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

25. Call Me by Your Name (2016) (lost to The Shape of Water)
> Losing film index score: 2.62
> Winning film index score: 2.40
> Losing film IMDb rating: 7.8/10 (270,251 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.3/10 (418,129 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 94% (366 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 92% (462 reviews)

Actor Timothée Chalamet delivers a breakout performance as a 17-year-old student in this coming-of-age drama, set in early 1980s Italy. With the introduction of an older man (Armie Hammer) comes an exploration of sexual identity. It took home an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, making the then-89-year-old James Ivory the oldest-ever winner of a competitive Oscar.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

24. On Golden Pond (1981) (lost to Chariots of Fire)
> Losing film index score: 2.60
> Winning film index score: 2.36
> Losing film IMDb rating: 7.6/10 (31,816 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.1/10 (60,809 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 93% (43 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 83% (112 reviews)

Writer Ernest Thompson adapted his own hit play when penning the script for this acclaimed drama. Starring Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn at the twilight stage of their careers, it follows their characters to a summer vacation home. Thompson, Fonda, and Hepburn all won Academy Awards for their efforts.

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

23. The Dresser (1983) (lost to Terms of Endearment)
> Losing film index score: 2.65
> Winning film index score: 2.42
> Losing film IMDb rating: 7.5/10 (5,328 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.4/10 (60,839 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 100% (15 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 82% (105 reviews)

From veteran director Peter Yates came this British drama about a struggling theater production during WWII. It received five Oscar nominations in total – including Best Actor nods for stars Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay – losing in all categories.

Source: Courtesy of Miramax

22. Pulp Fiction (1994) (lost to Forrest Gump)
> Losing film index score: 2.83
> Winning film index score: 2.60
> Losing film IMDb rating: 8.9/10 (2,031,537 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 8.8/10 (2,055,950 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 92% (110 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 71% (106 reviews)

In one of the most famous Oscar upsets of all time, Tarantino’s masterpiece took home only a single statue for Best Original Screenplay, out of seven nominations. Presented in three parts, the film interweaves gritty characters and classic crime stories against an L.A. backdrop. Its unique tone and considerable success imparted palpable influence across the cinematic landscape for years to come.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

21. All the President’s Men (1976) (lost to Rocky)
> Losing film index score: 2.69
> Winning film index score: 2.46
> Losing film IMDb rating: 7.9/10 (116,104 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 8.1/10 (572,902 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 94% (66 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 91% (69 reviews)

This political thriller follows reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) as they crack open the Watergate scandal. More than a benchmark of its respective sub-genre, the film arguably ushered in a new era of journalism. It was knocked out of the ring by Stallone’s “Rocky” in a bout that some would contest and others would staunchly defend.

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