Special Report

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

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

10. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) (lost to Forrest Gump)
> Losing film index score: 2.89
> Winning film index score: 2.60
> Losing film IMDb rating: 9.3/10 (2,654,070 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 8.8/10 (2,055,950 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 91% (82 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 71% (106 reviews)

The same year that “Forrest Gump” beat out “Pulp Fiction,” this heralded drama lost in all seven Oscar categories for which it was nominated. Set inside Shawshank State Prison, it chronicles a harrowing story of injustice and survival. Commercially disappointing at the time of release, it now sits at #1 on IMDb’s list of the Top 250 Movies.

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

9. Taxi Driver (1976) (lost to Rocky)
> Losing film index score: 2.76
> Winning film index score: 2.46
> Losing film IMDb rating: 8.2/10 (824,192 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 8.1/10 (572,902 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 96% (96 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 91% (69 reviews)

In addition to classics like “Network” and “All the President’s Men,” 1976 saw the release of this gritty psychological drama. It stars Robert De Niro as taxi driver Travis Bickle, whose descent into madness conjures real-life consequences. Neither director Martin Scorsese nor screenwriter Paul Schrader received even Oscar nominations for their efforts.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

8. Witness (1985) (lost to Out of Africa)
> Losing film index score: 2.50
> Winning film index score: 2.16
> Losing film IMDb rating: 7.4/10 (95,880 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.1/10 (80,355 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 93% (42 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 61% (88 reviews)

This crime drama stars Harrison Ford as Detective John Book, who must live on an Amish farm in order to protect a young murder witness (Lukas Haas). When Book falls in love with the boy’s mother (Kelly McGillis), two starkly different cultural worlds collide. The film was nominated for eight Oscars, winning for Best Original Screenplay and Best Editing.

Source: Courtesy of DreamWorks Distribution

7. Saving Private Ryan (1998) (lost to Shakespeare in Love)
> Losing film index score: 2.80
> Winning film index score: 2.45
> Losing film IMDb rating: 8.6/10 (1,379,490 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.1/10 (225,526 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 93% (145 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 92% (140 reviews)

Following a brutal invasion sequence, a troop of soldiers go behind enemy lines on an important retrieval mission in this WWII drama. It took home five Academy Awards overall, but only one in a major category (of Best Director). Star Tom Hanks lost in the Best Actor race to Roberto Benigni for “Life is Beautiful” while “Shakespeare in Love” swept through the other major categories.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

6. The Color Purple (1985) (lost to Out of Africa)
> Losing film index score: 2.53
> Winning film index score: 2.16
> Losing film IMDb rating: 7.7/10 (87,277 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.1/10 (80,355 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 78% (32 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 61% (88 reviews)

Based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Steven Spielberg’s historical drama covers four decades in the life of a Southern Black woman. Her troubles at home are matched by the nakedly racist society in which she comes of age. It features Oscar-nominated performances from Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey.

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