Special Report

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

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

15. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) (lost to A Beautiful Mind)
> Losing film index score: 2.80
> Winning film index score: 2.54
> Losing film IMDb rating: 8.8/10 (1,857,612 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 8.2/10 (928,067 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 91% (235 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 74% (213 reviews)

Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy trilogy kicked off with this blockbuster installment, in which a Hobbit named Frodo (Elijah Wood) embarks on a perilous quest. Unique characters and stunning visual effects bring the story to life, blazing a trail that continues to reverberate in popular culture and entertainment. It won four Oscars in minor categories and currently sits at #9 on IMDb’s list of the Top 250 Movies.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

14. Apocalypse Now (1979) (lost to Kramer vs. Kramer)
> Losing film index score: 2.82
> Winning film index score: 2.56
> Losing film IMDb rating: 8.5/10 (663,964 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.8/10 (145,685 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 98% (97 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 85% (55 reviews)

Director Francis Ford Coppola expended every last ounce of creative energy when crafting this hallucinatory masterpiece. Loosely adapted from a Joseph Conrad novella, it sends a U.S. Army captain (Martin Sheen) through the heart of the Vietnam War. Various versions and runtimes exist, including a “Final Cut” released in 2019.

Source: Courtesy of Gramercy Pictures

13. Fargo (1996) (lost to The English Patient)
> Losing film index score: 2.73
> Winning film index score: 2.46
> Losing film IMDb rating: 8.1/10 (675,411 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.4/10 (190,689 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 94% (104 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 86% (91 reviews)

This Coen Brothers classic depicts a Midwestern kidnapping plot gone awry as only they can. Juxtaposing idiosyncratic comedy with shocking violence, it features career-defining performances from William H. Macy and Frances McDormand. “The film is a work of brick-by-brick world-building in the service of characters whose ordinariness is just as carefully crafted,” wrote critic Chris Packham for Village Voice.

Source: Courtesy of Island Pictures

12. Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) (lost to Out of Africa)
> Losing film index score: 2.44
> Winning film index score: 2.16
> Losing film IMDb rating: 7.3/10 (16,233 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.1/10 (80,355 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 88% (33 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 61% (88 reviews)

This multi-layered drama takes place in a South American prison, where two inmates (William Hurt and Raul Julia) learn to overcome their differences. It was based on an Argentine novel, which was later adapted into a Broadway musical. Hurt won an Academy Award for his performance as gay prisoner Luis Molina.

Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

11. Whiplash (2014) (lost to Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
> Losing film index score: 2.78
> Winning film index score: 2.50
> Losing film IMDb rating: 8.5/10 (846,834 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.7/10 (627,961 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 94% (302 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 91% (357 reviews)

Director Damien Chazelle expanded upon his own previous short film when crafting this feature debut of the same name. It takes place inside a competitive music conservatory, where a young drummer (Miles Teller) suffers the whims of his ruthless instructor (J.K. Simmons). The story moves at a breakneck pace and features an Oscar-winning performance from Simmons.

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