Jimmy Kimmel returns to host the 2024 Oscars for the fourth time, bringing his humor to the prestigious event. The Academy praises his previous success, and the show aims to build on increased viewership from his 2023 stint.
There is something special, almost sacred about watching a cinematic masterpiece and woe betide the poor soul who dares interrupt the visual treat.
Arguably the most effective medium today despite having first been introduced eons ago, films are meant to evoke emotions, sometimes just the one or at times a plethora of them.
And a testament to a great film is that long after its release, the plot, the motives of the protagonist and the antagonists are discussed into the wee hours of the night.
With so many good flicks propping up every year, it seems inevitable that one will lose and the other will triumph at the annual Academy Awards glitzy ceremony. This article is a feature on the best films The Statesman feels were unlucky to have missed out on an Oscar gong due to varying reasons.
Citizen Kane (1941)
Orson Welles was the Leonardo da Vinci of Hollywood at that time for he produced, wrote, directed and starred in one of the most influential films of all time. A dramatic two-hour affair loosely based on media baron William Heart’s life, this monochrome masterpiece was way ahead of his time. Perhaps for that reason, and despite being nominated for nine Academy Awards, it won just one golden lady for Best Writing (Original Screenplay).
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
The gruffly handsome Clint Eastwood in the starring role with Italian maestro Sergio Leone at the helm, makes The Good, The Bad and the Ugly a sure shot winner at the Oscars, right? Wrong, for it didn't even get nominated, not the first and certainly not the last, glaring oversight by the Academy. Shot superbly with the legendary Ennio Morricone providing the score, the final instalment of the Dollars Trilogy would influence the likes of Quentin Tarantino in the years to come.
Taxi Driver (1976)
Martin Scorcese and Robert De Niro are no strangers to blockbusters, having made many critical and commercial successes over the years. In fact, De Niro’s portrayal of the disturbed ex-US Army Marine Travis Bickle who after the Vietnam War plies his trade is still talked about today. His iconic dialogue “You talkin’ to me?” on its own is enough to warrant a digital download.
The Vietnam War was a highly unpopular one in the States those days (still is, till date) and Scorcese’s film bravely broached the topic of depression in young healthy men at a time when it was considered taboo. With four Academy nominations that year, how it managed to win zilch remains a mystery unanswered till date.
Apocalypse Now (1979)
A victim of his own groundbreaking success arguably was Francis Ford Coppola. His war-film had some of the biggest stars of that era, including the likes of Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall and Martin Sheen. The Vietnam War was a hot-topic in those days and hot-topics generally warrant scores of films. The fact that Apocalypse Now is considered among the finest, if not the finest film ever made, speaks volumes. Nominated for eight Academy Awards, it won ‘only’ two, for Best Sound and Best Cinematography.
Another time the Scorcese-De Niro duo failed to win big on Hollywood’s biggest night of the year. The biographical gangster film was also notable for the fact that Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci (He won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor) are forever etched in public memory for their meaty roles in this masterpiece that was based on Nicholas Peggi’s book, the Wise Guy. A classic example of how humour can be used to even out what is essentially a dead-serious film, Goodfellas deserved to convert more of its six nominations into wins than the sole one the it got for Pesci.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Chances are you have seem Samuel L Jackson in an Afro pointing the gun and saying the words “ I dare you, no I double dare you, say xxx one more time motherf***r” on a meme somewhere on the internet. Well, that dialogue came from Pulp Fiction, a film which may not be for family viewing, but almost every cinephile family must have watched a dozen times at least
Hollywood doesn't do more iconic than Quentin Tarantino and he doesn't do more iconic than Pulp Fiction (Okay, maybe he does, but what the heck). Shooting up had never looked more dope (pun intended) than when John Travolta did it in his top-down Chevy Malibu. Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson completed this eclectic cast for this neo-noir film that not only set the benchmark for future films, but redefined the genre. Nine nominations, none were converted into the Golden Statues and perhaps the jury thought this was a film that had too much of a negative impact on the youth?
Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Tim Robbins’ finest performance till date, with the evergreen Morgan Freeman supporting in a breathtaking tale of man’s redemption, this is rightly regarded as one of the best films of all time. Not just because it is the number 1 film on many all-time lists, this adaptation of a Stephen King novel evokes a plethora of emotions whether you are watching it for the first time or the 100th.
Running close to two hours and a half, it was nominated for nine Academy Awards, yet director Frank Darabont and his team came home empty-handed.
City of God (2002)
This Portuguese-language film, focusing on the sorry tale of Rio de Janeiro’s infamous favelas and their downtrodden inhabitants, revelled in its unabashed narrative which forms an integral part of the film. The protagonists plight can be felt and one weeps as tragedy strikes, something people living in plush homes may not empathise with, but many who aren't as fortunate will agree. Based on Paulo Lins’ novel of the same name, this film directed by Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund has cult status in Latin America and rightly so. Nominated for four Oscars, including Best Director City of God somehow managed to win none and in a criminal oversight, failed to be nominated for best Foreign Film that year.
The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
A stop-motion animated film based on the delightful novel of the same name by the hugely popular writer Roald Dahl, The Fantastic Mr Fox has to go down as one of Wes Anderson’s finest efforts. The quirky director and writer, spun a fun tale into a something much more, ably supported by a fine voice cast that included the likes of George Clooney and Meryl Streep. The reason that it didn't win best Animated Feature is pretty simple and for once there are no conspiracy theories. Fantastic Mr. Fox went up against a once-in-a-generation film like Up and just had to lose for no fault of its own.
American Sniper (2015)
Clint Eastwood was and is an excellent actor but his prowess behind the camera outstrips his prowess in front of it, hands down. And that’s saying something, but then the Oscar-winning director is known for hard-hitting films that send a message which is loud and clear. Inspired from a true story based on the life of Chris Kyle, a US Navy Seal sniper who was credited with over 225-confirmed kills, American Sniper doesn't just glorify war, rather explores the repercussions. There is no such thing as a perfect victory, for even if your body is unscathed, a part of your mind is scarred forever. Winning just one Oscar for Best Sound Editing despite being nominated for six, seems a travesty.