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The 20 greatest Best Picture nominees that don't get enough credit

Casino Bonus CA looked at all films nominated for Best Picture and narrowed the list to those that didn't win and had under 50,000 votes on IMDb.


William Powell and Maureen O’Sullivan in ‘The Thin Man.

John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

The Best Picture Oscar is one of the most sought-after accolades in Hollywood. Many of the films to receive this title in the 21st century have had lasting impacts on the cinematic landscape, but that hasn't always been the case. Some previous winners in the category received critical and popular acclaim at the time of their release but are rarely remembered today.

To determine the Best Picture-nominated films that have slipped through the cracks of pop culture, Casino Bonus CA looked at all films nominated for the award and narrowed the list to those that didn't win Best Picture and had under 50,000 votes on IMDb. From the remaining group, the top 20 were ranked by IMDb user rating. Data was collected in March 2024 and ties were broken by IMDb user votes.

It might not come as a surprise to find plenty of early cinema on this list, as films from this era seem not to attract many votes on a digital movie database. However, it's interesting to note that many other movies that met the parameters above were made in the '70s.

Perhaps even more interesting is that no films from the '80s cracked the top 20, and none even made the top 30. This decade produced some iconic movies in various genres, from the sci-fi great "Back to the Future" to the coming-of-age classic "The Breakfast Club," but it's also known as a turning point in cinematic history. Studios began to stray away from the high-concept films of the '70s to produce blockbusters catering to mass audiences, possibly giving films released during this time more staying power.

The movies on this list may not be as talked about as others, but that doesn't make them any less important to cinematic history—they were nominated for Best Picture for a reason! Read on to learn more about the greatest Best Picture nominees that don't get enough credit, and who knows, you might just find your new favorite movie.

#20. All That Jazz (1979)

Roy Scheider in a scene from the film ‘All That Jazz’.

Bettmann // Getty Images

- Director: Bob Fosse
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 123 minutes

Bob Fosse was an acclaimed director and choreographer, and "All That Jazz" is a fantastical retelling of his life story. The musical drama stars Roy Scheider and Jessica Lange and has been praised for pushing the envelope in the musical film genre. Though "All That Jazz" would receive nine Oscar nominations (winning four), it premiered to initially mixed reviews, with audiences either loving or hating it.

#19. The Postman (1994)

Massimo Troisi and Philippe Noiret on set of the movie ‘The Postman’.

Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

- Directors: Michael Radford, Massimo Troisi
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 108 minutes

"The Postman" explores the relationship between a simple postman in a small Italian town and famed poet Pablo Neruda, who's living there in exile. The film's star, Massimo Troisi, was ill during production but postponed heart surgery until filming was finished; he tragically died the day after the movie wrapped. While "The Postman" won an Oscar for its score and has enjoyed positive reviews in the years since its release, the film may have been overshadowed by the 1997 post-apocalyptic adventure movie of the same title.

#18. The Thin Man (1934)

Myrna Loy and William Powell in ‘The Thin Man.

John Kobal Foundation // Getty Images

- Director: W.S. Van Dyke
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 91 minutes

William Powell and Myrna Loy star in "The Thin Man," a comedy about a former detective and his wife who decide to investigate a murder for their own entertainment. The murder mystery was so popular it produced five sequels. But in the Oscars race, "The Thin Man" went up against "It Happened One Night," which won all the big awards—including Best Picture—at the 1935 ceremony.

#17. Captains Courageous (1937)

Spencer Tracy and Freddie Bartholomew in ‘Captians Courageous’.

Bettmann // Getty Images

- Director: Victor Fleming
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 117 minutes

Victor Fleming's "Captains Courageous" is an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's 1897 novel. The film follows an entitled child named Harvey, who falls overboard from a luxury steamship and is rescued by a crew of fishers, only to be put to work on their boat. Though the maritime adventure didn't win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, actor Spencer Tracy did land the Best Actor Oscar for portraying Manuel, the Portuguese fisherman who takes in Harvey.

#16. Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939)

Robert Donat in a scene from ‘Goodbye Mr. Chips’.

FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

- Directors: Sam Wood, Sidney Franklin
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 114 minutes

"Goodbye, Mr. Chips" tells the story of a beloved boarding school teacher who creates exceptional bonds with his students over several decades. The film was wildly popular but was up against "Gone with the Wind" for Best Picture at the 12th Academy Awards. Despite "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" losing to the now-classic movie in five of its seven nominations, Robert Donat beat out Clark Gable in the Best Actor category for his portrayal of Mr. Chips.

#15. Auntie Mame (1958)

Rosalind Russell, Chris Alexander and Forest Tucker in ‘Auntie Mame’.

Warner Bros./Courtesy of Getty Images

- Director: Morton DaCosta
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 143 minutes

The titular character in "Auntie Mame" is a free-spirited woman named Mame Dennis, who takes in her nephew after his parents die. The comedy was the second-highest-grossing film in 1958, though it failed to win any of its six Academy Award nominations. But Rosalind Russell's portrayal of the vibrant New York City socialite is still often talked about today.

#14. The Little Foxes (1941)

Herbert Marshall looking at Bette Davis in a scene from the film

RKO Radio Pictures // Getty Images

- Director: William Wyler
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 116 minutes

Made during an era of strict censorship in Hollywood, "The Little Foxes" was considered a radical film at its release for its take on capitalism. The movie stars Bette Davis as Regina Giddens, a Southern woman hellbent on obtaining wealth and willing to hurt those closest to her. While "The Little Foxes" didn't win any of its nine Academy Award nominations, the film is still remembered for its groundbreaking subject matter.

#13. Mildred Pierce (1945)

Ann Blyth and Joan Crawford in ‘Mildred Pierce.

Bettmann // Getty Images

- Director: Michael Curtiz
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 111 minutes

Joan Crawford stars in "Mildred Pierce," a melodrama about a hard-working mother and her ungrateful daughter. The film resuscitated Crawford's then-lapsing career and won the actor her only Oscar but failed to land any of the other five Academy Awards it was nominated for, losing to "The Lost Weekend" in the Best Picture category. Despite not receiving the coveted Best Picture award, "Mildred Pierce" has had a long-lasting impact and, in 2011, was adapted into a TV miniseries starring Kate Winslet.

#12. The Lion in Winter (1968)

Peter O

AVCO Embassy/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

- Director: Anthony Harvey
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 134 minutes

"The Lion in Winter" is a historical drama about King Henry II, who must decide which of his three sons will inherit the throne. Though the critically acclaimed film didn't get Best Picture, it did win three of its seven Academy Award nominations, including Katharine Hepburn's third Best Actress award for her role of Eleanor of Aquitaine. The legendary actor would collect one more Oscar in the category, setting a record for acting wins that still has yet to be broken.

#11. The Emigrants (1971)

Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow in ‘The Emigrants’.

Warner Brothers // Getty Images

- Director: Jan Troell
- IMDb user rating: 8
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 151 minutes

"The Emigrants" tells the story of a Swedish farming family who decides to make the harrowing journey to America in search of better land. The mid-19th-century epic was nominated for four Academy Awards but received none. Unfortunately for the film's creators, "The Emigrants" competed with "The Godfather," which won Best Picture.

#10. The Ox-Bow Incident (1942)

Henry Fonda in a scene from ‘The Ox-Bow Incident’.

John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

- Director: William A. Wellman- IMDb user rating: 8
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 75 minutes

Henry Fonda stars in "The Ox-Bow Incident," a movie about a posse deciding whether or not to lynch three men who are suspected of murdering a local farmer. This Western is in a unique group of films only nominated for one Academy Award: Best Picture. Ultimately, "The Ox-Bow Incident" lost to "Casablanca."

#9. Cries & Whispers (1972)

Ingrid Thulin and Liv Ullman in a scene from ‘Cries and Whispers’.

Bettmann // Getty Images

- Director: Ingmar Bergman
- IMDb user rating: 8
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 91 minutes

Ingmar Bergman was a prolific filmmaker, directing more than 60 features in his career, and "Cries & Whispers" is considered by some to be his most aesthetically pleasing. On the surface, the story is simple—a Swedish woman is dying, and her sisters come to see her—but the crimson red decor contrasted against the women's white outfits has mesmerized audiences and critics alike. Roger Ebert named "Cries & Whispers" the best film of 1973, but "The Sting" nabbed the Best Picture Oscar during awards season.

#8. Secrets & Lies (1996)

Mike Leigh, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, and Brenda Blethyn at Cannes screening of ‘Secrets and Lies’.


- Director: Mike Leigh
- IMDb user rating: 8
- Metascore: 92
- Runtime: 136 minutes

"Secrets & Lies" tells the story of a Black woman who discovers her biological mother is white after the death of her adoptive parents, which unearths a plethora of family secrets and lies. The film received widespread critical acclaim (Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars), which led to five Oscar nominations. The 1997 Academy Awards were stacked, with classics like "Jerry Maguire" and "Fargo" also in the mix with "Secrets & Lies" for Best Picture, but "The English Patient" took home the award.

#7. Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

Topol raising hands in the air in a scene from ‘Fiddler on the Roof’.

United Artists // Getty Images

- Director: Norman Jewison
- IMDb user rating: 8
- Metascore: 67
- Runtime: 181 minutes

"Fiddler on the Roof" is a popular stage musical, and its film adaptation was likewise well received. The movie came out in 1971, seven years after the original Broadway production, and followed a Jewish agrarian worker's struggle to marry off three of his daughters amid increasingly antisemitic views in the family's Russian village. "Fiddler on the Roof" was nominated for eight Academy Awards in 1972 and received three; "The French Connection" got the Oscar for Best Picture that year.

#6. The Crowd (1928)

James Murray and Eleanor Boardman in a scene from ‘The Crowd’.

FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

- Director: King Vidor
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 98 minutes

"The Crowd" proved early on that movies don't have to be complex to be profound. This silent film centers on a husband and wife's everyday experiences after moving to a big city. The film was considered experimental at the time of its release because of its realistic portrayal of American life. At the first-ever Academy Awards, "The Crowd" was nominated for two Oscars, including the short-lived Unique and Artistic Picture category, a second type of Best Picture award.

#5. The Heiress (1949)

Olivia De Havilland and Ralph Richardson in ‘The Heiress’.

FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

- Director: William Wyler
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 115 minutes

Movies that don't succeed financially are typically considered failures, but there are always exceptions. "The Heiress"—a film about a young, wealthy woman falling in love with a man disapproved of by her emotionally abusive father—lost money at the box office yet was so critically acclaimed that it was nominated for an impressive eight Oscars. Although it won four, "The Heiress" lost the Best Picture award to "All the King's Men."

#4. The Grand Illusion (1937)

Erich von Stroheim in ‘The Grand Illusion’.

John Kobal Foundation // Getty Images

- Director: Jean Renoir
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 113 minutes

"The Grand Illusion" is a pioneer in the prison break movie genre and is widely considered one of the best films in history. Set during World War I, the movie follows two French soldiers attempting to escape after being captured as prisoners of war.

"The Grand Illusion" sends a powerful message about war without ever showing a battlefield, and it holds the distinction of being the first foreign language film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Despite its critical acclaim, the French film lost to "You Can't Take It With You," which was nominated for seven Oscars.

#3. The Red Shoes (1948)

Moira Shearer in ‘The Red Shoes’.

Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive // Getty Images

- Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 135 minutes

"The Red Shoes," about a ballerina forced to choose between true love and her dance career, is both an ode to ballet and a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's eponymous fable. Though it is widely considered a spectacular film, some critics had mixed thoughts about the lengthy runtime of "The Red Shoes" when it was released. Still, it was nominated for five Academy Awards and won two.

#2. I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

Paul Muni in a scene from I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang’.

Hulton Archive // Getty Images

- Director: Mervyn LeRoy
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 92 minutes

One of Warner Bros. Studio's earliest releases, "I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang" is a prison break movie based on the true story of a WWI veteran's time in a Georgia chain gang.

The movie stars Paul Muni and is notable for illuminating the horrors of the U.S. justice system and inhumane labor camp conditions (in fact, one of the wardens portrayed in the film sued Warner Bros. for $1 million). The eye-opening film was nominated for three Academy Awards but didn't win any; even so, it is still lauded for its unflinching depiction of serious social issues.

#1. Z (1969)

Charles Denner and Yves Montand in a scene from ‘Z’.

FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

- Director: Costa-Gavras
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 127 minutes

Though "Z" is technically a fictional story, director Costa-Gavras has made it clear that the movie is based on the 1963 assassination of Greek activist Grigoris Lambrakis. The French Algerian film chronicles a magistrate's attempts to expose a government cover-up after a politician and doctor is publicly murdered during a violent demonstration. "Z" made Oscars history in 1970 as the first movie nominated for both Best Foreign Language Film and Best Picture. And while it won the former award, "Midnight Cowboy" took home the latter.

Data reporting by Luke Hicks. Story editing by Cu Fleshman. Copy editing by Paris Close.

This story originally appeared on Casino Bonus CA and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.