Special Report

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

Source: Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

20. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) (lost to The Shape of Water)
> Losing film index score: 2.64
> Winning film index score: 2.40
> Losing film IMDb rating: 8.1/10 (502,907 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.3/10 (418,129 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 91% (412 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 92% (462 reviews)

Director Martin McDonagh’s crime drama centers on a frustrated mother (Frances McDormand), who goes to extremes when the police can’t find her daughter’s killer. It drew inspiration from real-life events but remains entirely fictional in terms of execution. McDormand and co-star Sam Rockwell both took home Oscars for their respective performances.

Source: Courtesy of October Films

19. Secrets & Lies (1996) (lost to The English Patient)
> Losing film index score: 2.70
> Winning film index score: 2.46
> Losing film IMDb rating: 8.0/10 (43,689 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.4/10 (190,689 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 95% (44 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 86% (91 reviews)

Once given up for adoption as an infant, a Black doctor (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) reunites with her white working-class birth mother (Brenda Blethyn) in this British dramedy. Written and directed by Mike Leigh, it explores themes of class and race through a humane and empathic lens. Common Sense Media critic Tom Cassidy called it “a bonafide masterpiece.”

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

18. Get Out (2016) (lost to The Shape of Water)
> Losing film index score: 2.65
> Winning film index score: 2.40
> Losing film IMDb rating: 7.7/10 (600,281 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.3/10 (418,129 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 98% (399 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 92% (462 reviews)

Jordan Peele’s directorial debut sends a young Black man (Daniel Kaluuya) into the starch-white suburbs, where he finds himself a stranger in a strange land. What begins with a prescient examination of racial differences becomes something far more sinister by the time the story concludes. It captured the zeitgeist and made Peele the first-ever African-American to win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

17. Network (1976) (lost to Rocky)
> Losing film index score: 2.71
> Winning film index score: 2.46
> Losing film IMDb rating: 8.1/10 (159,843 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 8.1/10 (572,902 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 92% (74 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 91% (69 reviews)

Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky” knocked out more than one masterpiece when it won for Best Picture in 1977. Among its competitors was this timeless satire about shallow media culture and the greedy pursuit of television ratings. “Network” did take home four other Oscars, including Best Original Screenplay for Sidney Aaron Chayefsky.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

16. The Right Stuff (1983) (lost to Terms of Endearment)
> Losing film index score: 2.68
> Winning film index score: 2.42
> Losing film IMDb rating: 7.8/10 (61,833 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.4/10 (60,839 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 96% (51 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 82% (105 reviews)

Author Tom Wolfe’s non-fiction novel laid the groundwork for this similarly sprawling drama, which traces the roots of America’s space program. It opens with the breaking of the sound barrier and later follows a team of fearless astronauts on a defining mission. A commercial disappointment upon release, it eventually took off on the home rental market.

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