Most of us look at the Best Picture winner at the Oscar ceremony and assume it’s the best of the lot. But a look at the nominee list – and Moonlight’s near miss this morning – made us wonder at all the great films that were snubbed (or forgotten despite winning an award) over the years. Here’s a list of some of the best Oscar nominated/winning movies that deserve more attention.
David Cronenberg rose to fame with this gritty movie about a Russian mob family’s operations in London. It landed Viggo Mortensen a Best Actor nomination at the Oscars. After all, Mortensen stole the show in this tightly shot and gruesomely violent movie that also stars Vincent Cassel and Naomi Watts. Critics have also hailed it as one of the most authentic movies about the inner workings of the Russian mob in the West.
Gone Baby Gone
Ben Affleck’s directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone, brought life in Boston to the big screen. Starring Affleck’s brother, Casey, this is an intelligent movie with a lot of layers and is about a crime whose repercussions unfold throughout the film’s runtime, as its characters try and make sense of their changed surroundings.
Nominated for three Oscars, Revolutionary Road marked the return of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as a couple after their last silver screen pairing in Titanic. They play a couple living in a Connecticut suburb in 1950s America. Their hopes and dreams build up wonderfully in the first half, while the second sees the slow destruction of their marriage in a series of events they seemingly have no control over.
The Deer Hunter
The Robert De Niro-starrer is one of the best movies about the Vietnam War that Hollywood has ever made, simply because it focusses on the aftermath rather than the actual events of the war that have been covered ad nauseum. Despite winning five Oscar awards including Best Picture, some of the violent scenes from the film gave it a bad reputation soon after its release and it was eventually lost among other great war movies of the late ’70s, which is a real shame.
A winner of the Best Animated Film Oscar, it features a gun-toting rattlesnake, arrow-pierced chicken, villainous tortoise and a band of mariachi owls as part of an ensemble cast helmed by Pirates of the Caribbean director-actor duo of Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp. This is the most unusual Western you’ll ever see.
A Best Achievement in Sound Editing nominee at the Oscars, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive is a crime story starring Ryan Gosling as the getaway driver with a complex set of rules. The film is unique for its visual style and pulsating music that have since become part of Refn’s oeuvre.
The Ides Of March
A Best Screenplay nominee at the Oscar Awards, The Ides of March is a relevant story in today’s times when manipulation and lies are par for the course in American politics. Starring Ryan Gosling and the ever-dependable George Clooney, this movie describes the slippery moral ground that everyone treads upon after joining politics. Masterfully restrained and devoid of cinematic dazzles, the movie nevertheless makes a strong statement on politics in the US that deserves to be seen by more people.
Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen’s ode to Paris during the Roaring Twenties is a feast no cinema lover must miss. Allen won the Best Screenplay Oscar award for the film, but beyond that there was no buzz for this lyrical story of a nostalgic screenwriter who tumbles through time every midnight and enjoys the company of such luminaries as F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein – all played by an ensemble cast of actors at the top of their game.
The film made a lot of the right noises, accurately depicting the demise of silent cinema, and made Jean Dujardin an overnight star, picking up five Academy Awards. Yet, somehow its reception went awry when it released to the public. One possible reason is that the black-and-white hue put off viewers, hence it isn’t available easily on television channels. However, there is no excuse to miss this critic’s darling if you ever get a chance to catch it.
Colin Farrell’s In Bruges remains one of the goofiest gangster movies made in recent times. It was nominated in the Best Screenplay category at the Oscars but failed to pick up any awards. Considering its off-quotient humour and lack of widespread publicity, the movie failed to reach much of its desired audience. Today, it is considered a modern classic and deserves to be seen as soon as possible.
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Cover Image Courtesy: Eastern Promises (2007)