Will 'Selma' Win Best Picture At The Oscars? These 16 Best Picture Losers Prove Winning Isn’t Everything

You know that the world of high-end film competition is in a dire state when a movie like Selma is projected to lose against the likes of The Imitation Game and American Sniper. Snubbed in all other major categories, the nearly prophetic "inside baseball" civil rights feature by director Ava DuVernay feels like a lame duck amongst its stylistically dormant and thematically dead Best Picture contenders, an issue not only of qualitative injustice but of sociopolitical alarm.

And yet, even though Selma isn't likely to walk home with a Best Picture Academy Award come show night, that doesn't mean it won't be heralded as the defining movie of 2014. Just look back at history: there have been plenty of years, as far back as 1940 and as recently as 2010, that are best represented by a movie that didn't go on to win the big Oscar. Movies like Rebecca, From Here to Eternity, Driving Miss Daisy, and The King's Speech may have earned the top prize, but these runners up are by all accounts the most memorable films of their respective years.

Image: Paramount Pictures

'The Great Dictator'

Year: 1940.Best Picture Winner: Rebecca.Legacy: The most biting and important piece of political satire in film history… until The Interview, that is.

Image: United Artists

'Citizen Kane'

Year: 1941.Best Picture Winner: How Green Was My Valley.Legacy: Widely heralded as the greatest movie ever made… again, until The Interview.

Image: RKO Radio

'It's a Wonderful Life'

Year: 1946.Best Picture Winner: The Best Years of Our Lives.Legacy: The paragon of “Christmas movie.”

Image: RKO Radio

'Roman Holiday'

Year: 1953.Best Picture Winner: From Here to Eternity.Legacy: A forerunner to the romantic comedy genre.Other Acceptable Choices: Shane, for “Come home!” jokes alone.

Image: Paramount Pictures

'The Ten Commandments'

Year: 1956.Best Picture Winner: Around the World in 80 Days.Legacy: Just try and get through a Passover season without watching it on cable at least once.

Image: Paramount Pictures

'Bonnie and Clyde'

Year: 1967.Best Picture Winner: In the Heat of the Night.Legacy: A forerunner to the romantic comedy genre.Other Acceptable Choices: The Graduate, which lay the groundwork for every existential crisis indie to come out of Sundance in the past 37 years.

Image: Warner Bros.-Seven Arts

'A Clockwork Orange'

Year: 1971.Best Picture Winner: The French Connection.Legacy: Four decades of horrified shudders every time you hear “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Image: Warner Bros.

'Apocalypse Now'

Year: 1979.Best Picture Winner: Kramer vs. Kramer.Legacy: The war movie against which all movies to come since have been measured.

Image: Paramount Pictures

'Raiders of the Lost Ark'

Year: 1981.Best Picture Winner: Chariots of Fire.Legacy: Do I really need to explain the lasting impact of the first Indiana Jones movie?

Image: Paramount Pictures

'The Color Purple'

Year: 1985.Best Picture Winner: Out of Africa.Legacy: Watched (and wept over) in every 11th grade English class in America.

Image: Warner Bros.

'Field of Dreams'

Year: 1989.Best Picture Winner: Driving Miss Daisy.Legacy: One of the most referenced lines of dialogue in modern cinema.Other Acceptable Choices: Dead Poets Society, the purveyor of many an inspirational classroom speech.

Image: Paramount Pictures


Year: 1990.Best Picture Winner: Dances with Wolves.Legacy: A generation of alpha males celebrating it as the pinnacle of the filmgoing experience.

Image: Paramount Pictures

'A Few Good Men'

Year: 1992.Best Picture Winner: Unforgiven.Legacy: No one has effectively handed the truth in 23 years.

Image: Columbia Pictures

'Saving Private Ryan'

Year: 1998.Best Picture Winner: Shakespeare in Love.Legacy: The war movie against which all movies to come since have been measured.

Image: DreamWorks/Paramount Pictures

'Brokeback Mountain'

Year: 2005.Best Picture Winner: Crash.Legacy: The first gay romance to breach mainstream pop culture, and one of the best.

Image: Focus Features

'The Social Network'

Year: 2010.Best Picture Winner: The King’s Speech.Legacy: A better illustration of the Millennial generation than anything else Hollywood is likely to set forward.

Image: Paramount Pictures