ByDarragh O'Connor, writer at
My name is Darragh. Enjoy reading what I think about movies. Follow me on twitter: darraghoco
Darragh O'Connor

The Oscars are just around the corner, and speculation is rife about which nominees should win their respective categories. Over the years, the Oscars have often given us what we expected, like Leonardo DiCaprio winning Best Actor for The Revenant, or 12 Years a Slave winning Best Picture. But every now and then, we get an upset that shocks the world. I'm sure we're going to get some surprises at the 2017 Oscars — but for now, let's look back on the biggest upsets of the past.

1. 'The Godfather's' Loss for Best Director

[Credit: Paramount Pictures, ABC Pictures]
[Credit: Paramount Pictures, ABC Pictures]

Year: 1973

What Won: Cabaret

The Godfather is often considered one of the best movies ever, and everybody thought Francis Ford Coppola was going to take home the award for Best Director at the 1973 Oscars — but, alas, we got a total upset. The award went to Bob Fosse for his directing chops in Cabaret, the classic musical. It's not all bad for Francis Ford Coppola, however, because he won for The Godfather Part II just two years later.

2. Audrey Hepburn Not Nominated For Best Actress

Icon. [Credit: Warner Bros.]
Icon. [Credit: Warner Bros.]

Year: 1965

Who Won: Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins)

Audrey Hepburn is one of the most iconic actresses to ever grace the screen, and the fact that she wasn't even nominated for My Fair Lady is an absolute travesty! My Fair Lady is an exceptional musical that went on to win 8 awards, but it was Julie Andrews in a musical of her own who took home the award for Best Actress.

3. 'Apollo 13' Losing Best Picture!

[Credit: 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios]
[Credit: 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios]

Year: 1996

What Won: Braveheart

Braveheart winning Best Picture in the 1996 is often regarded as one of the biggest upsets in Academy Awards history. Many people believed it would be Ron Howard's Apollo 13 that would take home Best Picture. To this day, I still feel like Apollo 13 was robbed! Apollo 13 followed the story of a failed NASA mission to the moon. With a stellar cast and beautiful score, Apollo 13 stands as one of the best movies that never won Best Film!

4. 'Saving Private Ryan' Not Winning Best Film

1999 shocker [Credit: Dreamworks]
1999 shocker [Credit: Dreamworks]

Year: 1999

What Won: Shakespeare in Love

Saving Private Ryan is undoubtedly one of the best movies of all time. It's a classic wartime retelling of the Normandy Landings, where a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a soldier whose brothers have been killed in action. It's brought to life through the visionary directing of Stephen Spielberg, who won Best Director that year, but Saving Private Ryan failed to come home with Best Picture. That honor went to John Madden's Shakespeare in Love, which is another great film, but it's nowhere near as good as Saving Private Ryan.

5. 'Citizen Kane' Not Winning Best Picture

One of the best ever. [Credit: Warner Bros.]
One of the best ever. [Credit: Warner Bros.]

Year: 1942

What Won: How Green Was My Valley

Citizen Kane is often considered one of (if not the) greatest films. You'd think this timeless classic was a dead cert for Best Picture, but you'd be wrong. The much lesser-known How Green Was My Valley took home Best Picture in what is remembered as one of the biggest Oscars upsets ever!

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6. 'Brokeback Mountain' Not Winning Best Picture

Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger [Credit: Focus Features]
Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger [Credit: Focus Features]

Year: 2006

What Won: Crash

Ang Lee has directed some amazing films in his time, from the likes of Life of Pi and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to one of his best films (and the film in question here), Brokeback Mountain. This touching story told the tale of two cowboys and their secret relationship. It was a beautiful film, and despite winning 3 Oscars, it didn't come away with Best Picture. Instead, it lost to the crime thriller Crash, which was a worthy opponent, but not as good as Ang Lee's classic.

7. '2001: A Space Odyssey' Only Winning 1 Oscar

Ahead of its time [Credit: Warner Bros]
Ahead of its time [Credit: Warner Bros]

Year: 1969

What Won: Everything else!

2001: A Space Odyssey is another film that's tossed around during discussions of "best ever", but unlike other films on this list, this masterpiece only won one award. Yes, you read that right: one award, which was for Visual Effects. The fact that Stanley Kubrick didn't win Best Director for this film is crazy, but what's even crazier is that he never won an Oscar for directing for any of his films! An absolute travesty.

8. No Best Picture Nomination For 'The Dark Knight'

Heath Ledger as The Clown Prince of Crime [Credit: Warner Bros]
Heath Ledger as The Clown Prince of Crime [Credit: Warner Bros]

Year: 2009

What Won: Slumdog Millionaire

For this upset, I'm not discussing a film that didn't win, I'm talking about a film that didn't even get nominated. The Dark Knight is an iconic classic from 2008 that got nominated for 8 Oscars (winning 2), but missed out on a nomination for Best Picture. Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Reader, Frost/Nixon and Milk all the made the cut instead. I whole-heartedly believe The Dark Knight is better than most of those movies, but the reason it wasn't nominated is probably because it's a superhero movie. I could be wrong, but there's no other explanation why Christopher Nolan's film didn't get nominated when it undoubtedly deserved to.

I may be biased because The Dark Knight is my all-time favourite movie, but it can't be just me. The movie sits at number 4 on IMDb's Top 250 list. Surely a movie that good should at least be nominated for Best Picture?

9. Will Smith Not Winning Best Actor For 'Pursuit of Happyness'

Will and Jaden Smith [Credit: Columbia Pictures]
Will and Jaden Smith [Credit: Columbia Pictures]

Year: 2007

What Won: Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland)

Will Smith is one of the world's most famous actors, and in 2006, he gave arguably the best performance of his career in The Pursuit of Happiness. In this soul-crushing drama, Will Smith played a father struggling to provide for his son, which is all the more heartbreaking when you learn is based on a true story. Although Forest Whitaker's performance was great in The Last King of Scotland, I don't think it should've halted Will Smith's first Oscar!

10. No Nomination For 'The Lego Movie'!

Year: 2015

What Won: Inside Out

The Lego Movie is one of the best animations of the last decade, and when it didn't even get nominated for Best Animation back in 2015, a lot of people weren't happy (myself included). While I believe that Inside Out would've still edged it, I feel like it was still a big mistake not to nominate The Lego Movie. It's definitely a worthy contender, when you consider the rest of the 2015 nominees: Boy & the World, Shaun the Sheep Movie, When Marnie Was There and Anomalisa.

11. 'Good Will Hunting' Winning Best Screenplay

Dynamic duo [Credit: Mirimax]
Dynamic duo [Credit: Mirimax]

Year: 1998

What Didn't Win: As Good As It Gets, Boogie Nights

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon winning Best Screenplay is probably the only "upset" on this list that I completely agree with. It's an upset because simply, nobody was expecting these two young unknowns to come away with a prestigious award against the likes of the critically-acclaimed As Good As It Gets and Boogie Nights.

As you can see, it's super hard to call the Oscar winners, and quite often, the obvious choice doesn't win. In every category we have films/writers/directors that should've been appreciated and haven't. To this day I'm still in shock that The Lego Movie wasn't even nominated for Best Animation! That's just me though...

Let me know of some films you think deserved more credit at the Oscars in the comments!


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