Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right New York State icon-chevron-right New York icon-chevron-right The 10 worst Oscar snubs of all time
Goodfellas, Gangster movies, main image

The 10 worst Oscar snubs of all time

These 10 films, actors and directors have all entered into cinema legend despite having whiffed it on the big night

By Joshua Rothkopf

We may not like the winners of Academy Awards (Forrest Gump, anyone?), but we love arguing over them. A new batch of statuettes is about to be bestowed—here are our predictions for this Sunday’s ceremony—but in the interim, let’s reflect on the 10 times Oscar got it colossally wrong.

RECOMMENDED: Full coverage of the Academy Awards

10 worst Oscar snubs of all time

1. Citizen Kane

Movies Drama

Notoriously, Orson Welles’s 1941 masterpiece failed in its bid for Best Picture, losing to John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley—a film we’re sure you return to on a yearly basis. Citizen Kane, meanwhile? Totally forgotten.

Brokeback Mountain
Photograph: Paramount Pictures

2. Brokeback Mountain

Movies Drama

Ang Lee’s magnificent American tragedy has become a crucial gay-cinema landmark, and the fact that it was embraced worldwide by mainstream audiences in 2005 is gratifying in itself. As for Oscar voters? They chose Crash instead.

Stanley Kubrick

3. Stanley Kubrick

For all of this giant’s achievements—classic after classic, including films like Dr. Strangelove, Barry Lyndon and The Shining—he only won a single shared Oscar, for 2001’s visual effects. He was never named Best Director; history says otherwise.

4. Alfred Hitchcock


Who’s he? Some might say a pretty damn good director. Oscar has a different opinion. The Master of Suspense never won the statuette for directing (despite being nominated five times), even though his Rebecca won Best Picture in 1940.


6. Mulholland Drive’s Naomi Watts

In poll after poll, David Lynch’s dark 2001 Hollywood fantasia takes the top spot as not merely a great film but the best movie of its decade. But the Oscars see it differently; Lynch lost his Best Director bid to A Beautiful Mind’s Ron Howard. And even though she played a dazzling double role, Naomi Watts wasn’t even nominated.

Ridley Scott

7. Ridley Scott

How can it be that this industry-revising genius has never won an Oscar? Early triumphs like Alien and Blade Runner may have come too soon for stingy AMPAS voters, but Gladiator or The Martian should have garnished Scott a personal statuette, after decades of excellent work. Nope.

8. The Wizard of Oz’s Judy Garland

Movies Family and kids

The classic scored six Oscar nominations, even one for special effects and those flying monkeys. As for the actor responsible for its most magical moment (singing “Over the Rainbow”), Garland had to make do with a special “Academy Juvenile Award.” Half the size of an actual Oscar, the bullshit token (basically a toy) would be the only Academy Award Garland would ever win.

Glenn Close

10. Glenn Close

It’s astounding that this actor has never won an Oscar, despite iconic turns in Dangerous Liaisons, Fatal Attraction, The Natural and The Big Chill. Close was nominated for all four of them, but had to console herself with just being brilliant.

Looking for more on the Oscars?


    You may also like