Five Biggest Snubs in Oscar History

By Colin Williamson on February 26, 2013

By the time this article has been published, everyone will have already had time to digest and argue about who deserved to win what and who got ripped off.  Seeing that everyone will be in the mood to think about the Oscars, here’s my list of the five biggest snubs in the history of the Academy Awards:

1. Citizen Kane not winning Best Picture in 1942

Widely regarded as the biggest snub in the history of the Academy Awards, Citizen Kane was, according to the Sight & Sound Critics Poll, the greatest film of all time for 50 years until Vertigo finally ended its run on top of the poll. Citizen Kane dropped all the way down on the rankings to “merely” the 2nd best film of all time.  In fact, according to review aggregate website “They Shoot Pictures Don’t They?” Citizen Kane is still the greatest film of all time.  Honestly, the praise is much deserved, as it’s hard to overstate just how revolutionary and great a film this was (and still is).  Although the film that beat out Citizen Kane (How Green Was My Valley?) is actually a very good movie in its own right, it’s not even one of director John Ford’s top 5 films, let alone the best film of all time.

2. Anthony Perkins not being nominated for Best Actor in 1961

Anthony Perkins created one of the most memorable villains of all time with his iconic turn as Norman Bates in the legendary 1960 horror classic Psycho.  Now 50 years later his performance is easily the most recognizable and well-known of any other performance nominated for the Best Actor award that year.  Now that’s doesn’t necessitate that he should have won by any means, after all Burt Lancaster was a great actor in his own right, but one of the 10 most well known performances in the history of cinema at least deserves a nomination.

3. Judy Holliday winning Best Actress over Gloria Swanson and Betty Davis in 1951

Quite frankly this performance just has not aged well at all.  It certainly is not a bad performance by any means, but the fact that it beat out not only one but two of the greatest performances ever delivered by any actress, both of which taking place in movies now widely regarded to be two of the greatest movies of all time, makes this the greatest snub in the history of the Best Actress in a Leading Role category.

4. GoodFellas losing Best Picture to Dances with Wolves in 1991

Dances with Wolves was a very well received picture in 1991, but as time has passed people have realized how cliche and conventional the story is and how patronizing the film portrays Native Americans.  GoodFellas, on the other hand, has gone on to become a favorite of people of all ages and is widely considered not only to be oe of the greatest films released in the 1990s, but of all time.

5. Samuel L. Jackson losing Best Supporting Actor to Martin Landau in 1995

I feel kinda bad listing this as one of the five greatest Oscar snubs of all time because Martin Landau turned in a terrific performance that would be worthy of Oscar recognition in almost any other year, but Samuel L. Jackson’s performance in that movie is just that good. Pulp Fiction is, along with the aforementioned GoodFellas, one of the two most iconic films of the 1990s. Samuel L. Jackson’s performance as hitman Jules Winfield is without a doubt the most iconic performance of the 1990s (apologies to Joe Pesci) being referenced in almost every form of media you could imagine, and was a role that instantly established Samuel L. Jackson as a movie star of the highest caliber.

 (image from

Colin is currently a junior at the University of Illinois and is a writer for the website, Chicago music blog Int-EAR-Course (, and for the independent UK based cinema journal Static Mass Emporium (

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