Special Report

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

Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

5. The Pianist (2002) (lost to Chicago)
> Losing film index score: 2.81
> Winning film index score: 2.44
> Losing film IMDb rating: 8.5/10 (824,983 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.2/10 (230,732 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 95% (185 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 86% (259 reviews)

This WWII drama stars Adrien Brody as a Jewish pianist, who struggles to survive in the harsh Warsaw ghetto. A number of its stories are taken from the pages of a 1946 memoir by Holocaust survivor Władysław Szpilman. It took home Academy Awards for Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Source: Courtesy of Miramax

4. Good Will Hunting (1997) (lost to Titanic)
> Losing film index score: 2.78
> Winning film index score: 2.39
> Losing film IMDb rating: 8.3/10 (959,714 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.9/10 (1,163,451 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 96% (83 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 87% (237 reviews)

The same year that made director James Cameron a “king of the world” turned Matt Damon and Ben Affleck into overnight A-listers. They co-wrote and starred in this seminal drama, about an M.I.T janitor who also happens to be a mathematical genius (Damon). It won Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (for Robin Williams).

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

3. L.A. Confidential (1997) (lost to Titanic)
> Losing film index score: 2.79
> Winning film index score: 2.39
> Losing film IMDb rating: 8.2/10 (551,824 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.9/10 (1,163,451 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 99% (115 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 87% (237 reviews)

This period crime drama adapts James Ellroy’s pulpy novel and takes place in 1950s Los Angeles. In the wake of a deadly shooting, three policemen uncover a deep corruption that leads straight to their own door. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (for Kim Basinger).

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

2. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) (lost to Chicago)
> Losing film index score: 2.84
> Winning film index score: 2.44
> Losing film IMDb rating: 8.8/10 (1,652,112 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.2/10 (230,732 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 95% (256 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 86% (259 reviews)

Before “The Return of the King” swept all 11 Oscars for which it was nominated, this acclaimed sequel took home just two in minor categories. It continues the journey of Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) as they attempt to destroy an all-powerful ring. Shot on a reported budget of $94 million, it made over $936 million (before inflation) at the worldwide box office.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) (lost to Chariots of Fire)
> Losing film index score: 2.81
> Winning film index score: 2.36
> Losing film IMDb rating: 8.4/10 (960,289 votes)
> Winning film IMDb rating: 7.1/10 (60,809 votes)
> Losing film Tomatometer rating: 96% (89 reviews)
> Winning film Tomatometer rating: 83% (112 reviews)

More than a franchise-starter, Spielberg’s historical adventure set a new benchmark for the modern action genre. Harrison Ford plays fearless archaeologist Indiana Jones, who races against Nazis in his pursuit of the lost Ark of the Covenant. It won four Oscars in minor categories as well as a Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects Editing.

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