The Oscars determine the best in filmmaking.
Or do they? Often, best picture winners don’t line up with the most beloved movie of the year by fans, or even critics.
Although many of the most iconic movies in American cinema have been nominated for best picture, some didn’t win. But they’re loved so much and held in such high regard that you might assume they did.
Some years were competitive — which is why “There Will Be Blood” lost the best picture win to “No Country for Old Men.”
But some votes made by the Academy don’t make any sense at all. Some years, the best picture winner was a movie you’ve probably never heard of. Or worse, sometimes it was a movie that’s now considered terrible, like 2005 when “Crash” was awarded best picture instead of “Brokeback Mountain.”
Here are the most beloved best picture nominees that didn’t actually win:
Year: 1942, at the 14th Academy Awards
What beat it: “How Green Was My Valley”
“Citizen Kane,” even to those who have not seen it, is one of the most recognizable films of all time, and it didn’t even win best picture. A film doesn’t have to have “best picture winner” next to its name in order to be iconic, and this movie is a great example.
Year: 1968, at the 40th Academy Awards
What beat it: “In the Heat of the Night”
“The Graduate” is one of the most iconic films in American cinema. From the Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack, to the cinematography, to its performances, it quickly became one of those movies that is studied in film class, and is still quoted today.
“2001: A Space Odyssey”
Year: 1969, at the 41st Academy Awards
What beat it: “Oliver!”
To this day, Stanley Kubrick’s revolutionary space odyssey film looks decades ahead of its time. And a mediocre musical beat it.