13 Female-Focused Best Picture Oscar Snubs, From 'Thelma & Louise' To 'Bridesmaids'
Oscar nominations and Oscar snubs go hand in hand — one does not exist without the other. So when I set out to compile a list of the biggest female-focused Best Picture Oscar snubs, I thought it would be easy. Oh, how I was wrong. Surprisingly and sadly, there wasn't a wealth of great material to choose from, as there simply are not enough female-focused films that have even been eligible to win an Oscar during the past several decades, let alone good enough to be nominated and/or snubbed.
This should not come as a shock and yet, when looking at the films normally touted as being the most egregious Best Picture snubs of all time, I was surprised to see how few female-focused films made the list. This is indicative, of course, of the gross gender disparity in Hollywood. You know, the one that has resulted in an investigation by the ACLU and, coincidentally, was recently put on display at the 2016 Golden Globe Awards. A history of male-run studios have hired male writers, directors, producers, etc., to make, you guessed it, male-focused films. And, an mostly (white) male Academy has rewarded those films far more than female-focused films, perpetuating the myth that movies about women are unprofitable and bad. These 13 female-focus Best Picture snubs, though, defied that myth, and, though they didn't get the recognition they deserved from the Academy, we can still celebrate them today.
1. Still Alice (2014)
Julianne Moore finally got her Oscar for a stunning performance in Still Alice, a film about a woman's struggle with Alzheimer's Disease. The movie wasn't perfect, but it was full of great performances and should have been included among the list of the 2015 Oscar Best Picture nominees, which were all male led films.
2. A Woman Under The Influence (1974)
John Cassavetes' groundbreaking 1974 film, A Woman Under the Influence earned two Oscar nominations in 1975 — Best Actress for Gena Rowlands and Best Director — and yet it was passed over for a Best Picture nod. Instead, the Academy recognized five male-led films: Chinatown, The Conversation, The Godfather Part II, Lenny and The Towering Inferno.
3. Dreamgirls (2006)
Looking back at the 2007 Oscars, it's shocking that the acclaimed Dreamgirls failed to receive a Best Picture nod, especially because of the fact that Chicago, a musical led by two white women, took home the Oscar for Best Picture just a few years before in 2002.
4. Gone Girl (2014)
Gone Girl was considered an Oscar front-runner when it was released in October of 2014, but, by the time nominations rolled around, it had been pushed out by the success of American Sniper and Birdman. Yes, the film is, for the most part, told from the point of view of Nick (Ben Affleck), but Gone Girl's true story was in its female heroine, Amy (Rosamund Pike). The fact that it failed to get a Best Picture nomination in a year when the Academy could have included more Best Picture nominees if they wanted to (they had eight, but could have had up to 10) makes this snub especially hard to take.
5. Notes On A Scandal (2006)
Notes on a Scandal didn't take home any Oscars, though it was nominated for four, including Best Supporting Actress for Cate Blanchett and Best Actress for Judi Dench. Looking back at the 2007 field, the Best Picture nominees were fairly balanced gender-wise, with both Little Miss Sunshine and The Queen in the running. Still, Notes on a Scandal deserved better.
6. The Hunger Games (2012)
Hear me out on this one. The Hunger Games might not be your typical Oscar fare, but if Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King can win 11 Oscars including Best Picture, then surely the Academy can recognize one film from the Hunger Games franchise.
7. The New World (2005)
The New World was never going to be big at the Oscars. Despite being nominated for Best Cinematography, the film flew under the radar at most big award shows, including the Golden Globes. But it's worth putting on the list for two reasons: 1) It was directed by Terrence Malick who was nominated for Best Director for his next film, Tree of Life (a male-led film); 2) The 2006 Best Picture nominees — Crash, Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night, and Good Luck, and Munich — were all male-led dramas.
8. Yentl (1983)
Yentl has long been considered one of the biggest snubs in Oscar history. Barbra Streisand's directorial debut was absolutely shut out of the Oscars after the director and star won the Golden Globe for Best Director and took home the Globe for Best Film Comedy/Musical. Streisand's snub will forever be seen as a sign from the Academy that it wasn't willing to recognize a female director — a message that wouldn't be contradicted until over 20 years later.
9. Thelma & Louise (1991)
Ridley Scott's classic female-empowerment film about two women — played by Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis — who decide to ditch their gender roles and go on the road. Despite being nominated in six major categories, the Academy did not include Thelma & Louise in their Best Picture picks. This snub is particularly shocking seeing as Scott was nominated for Best Director — an honor usually given out to Best Picture nominees. Thelma & Louise, of course, has gone on to become a classic in both film circles and pop culture, which is more than I can say for 1992's Best Picture nominees Bugsy and The Prince of Tides.
10. Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Mulholland Dr. pushed the envelope in many ways, and featured a dreamy, surreal story that is difficult to follow. (It also featured a lesbian sex scene, which probably did not endear it to the Academy's more traditional voters.) Still, David Lynch's film made a splash in 2001, and earned Lynch a Best Director nod. However, Mulholland Dr. failed to receive any other nominations, including Best Picture.
11. Sophie's Choice (1982)
Meryl Streep won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in Sophie's Choice. Unfortunately, the Academy didn't seem to want to include Sophie's Choice in their male-dominated Best Picture category, which included The Verdict, E.T., Gandhi, Missing, and Tootsie (which is a movie about a man pretending to be a woman to get acting jobs — not about a woman, in case you forgot).
12. Bridesmaids (2011)
Bridesmaids was a surprise Oscar nominee — with recognition in two categories, Best Supporting Actress for Melissa McCarthy and Best Original Screenplay by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo. Yet, the Academy didn't love it enough to give it a Best Picture nod, despite having space to do so. Instead, the Academy nominated male-centered movies that we have since stopped talking about, like Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, War Horse, and Hugo.
13. A League of Their Own (1992)
A League of Their Own wasn't nominated for any Oscars, but it should have been. Tom Hanks, Geena Davis and Madonna are all wonderful in the film about a female baseball team formed during WWII, and the film is both entertaining and touching. It certainly would have added a punch of powerful females in the Best Picture race of 1993, which ended up being won by Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven — a movie that literally opens with a prostitute being brutalized.
There are, of course, many more female-focused films that were snubbed by the Academy Awards — Never Let Me Go, Mean Girls, and Junebug are a few that come to mind. But the list of both female-led nominated and snubbed films is too short, and, unfortunately, that isn't going to change until Hollywood decides to back more female-led stories.