The 10 Most Underrated Best Picture Nominees of All Time

An actual Oscar statuette to be presented during the 79th Annual Academy Awards sits in a display case in Hollywood

Listen up scum boys, it’s Oscar week.


What’s better than a quiet evening with a good movie? With the cinematic awards season in full swing, that pretentious “cinephile” three cubicles down from you is no doubt looking forward to watching all of the nominees for the Best Picture award. But lest we forget the nominees of the past that didn’t receive the recognition they so rightly deserved because they weren’t well enough funded or, as the most cynical critics and Hollywood lawyers put it, “were blatantly uninspired copies of the other nominees.” While you might not remember their presence in the box office, these movies can’t be erased from our hearts or bones.

#10- Woods Gunch (1994)

Who could forget the inspiring account of Woods Gunch, the southern icon with an intellectual disability and heart of gold? Literally dozens of people across the world watched Woods’s journey as he took a pivotal role in iconic moments in American history such as Custer’s Last Stand, the sketching out of Mount Rushmore before anyone actually started carving, Al Gore’s presidential campaign, and the reinvigoration of elitism, all while pursuing his childhood love, Jamie. Who could forget Woods’s profound and concise wisdom about life’s unpredictability but ultimate sweetness, “Mama always said life is like a crib of snakes- you never do know how you got there or how many snakebites you’ll have when it all ends.”


#9- The Screech of Defilement (1965)

“I have suffered this dread sixteen years, soon to be seventeen years,” still echoes in the ears of all those who witnessed the Austrian clamor of The Screech of Defilement. Banned from her convent for dragging too many boulders across the central convent boneyard, former nun Lilith takes on seven young siblings as her charges. Finding that their existences are burdened by turmoil, she teaches them the ways of dragging bone and stone. In search of more bones, they prance around the Austrian valleys and learn that defilement of body, soul, and surrounding is but a quarter tone in the symphony of sorrow.


#8- One Country for One Old Man (2007)

What’s more thought-provoking than the transformation of the western frontier from idyllic cowtowns to tumbleweed-ridden bloodbaths? Try One Country for One Old Man’s account of Willard Conk, a curmudgeon of an old man who knows as much about mercy as he does about city zoning codes: zilch-o. Willard declares his small suburban home and lawn a sovereign country, demanding passersby on the sidewalk present passports, mail carriers pay shipping taxes, and even setting up a small souvenir shop in his living room, demanding that his children bring back keepsakes for his grandchildren whenever they visit. We don’t want to spoil the ending, but let’s just say there was a reason that after this movie came out the top search on google for 3 weeks was “how long can bees live in a human stomach?”


#7- Nietzsche in Love (1998)

What must the love life of the author of The Will to Power have been like? Exactly what one would expect. This 3-hour romantic comedy about Nietzsche’s idiotic attempts at love with a fictionalized female embodiment of his own concept of ubermensch is made all the more erotic by the nearly ceaseless presence of a 1970s sitcom laugh track. Only 4 of the 180 minutes of Nietzsche’s inability to feel anything but the impending dark matter of the void remain unsaturated by the wheezing guffaws of Lewis Bundy, the 2nd grade math teacher who sat too close to the audience microphone during a studio recording in 1974 and inadvertently revealed his 5-year long affair to the whole nation on an episode of Sanford and Son.


#6- A Million Baby Dollars (2004)

Drawing a slew of controversy for predicting the 2008 market crash, A Million Baby Dollars’s tale of a group of boxers who invent a currency for use only amongst babies in order to gain enough capital to clone Hillary Swank is one of those unforgettable instances where “what if” crossed over into the irreversible realm of regrettable reality.


#5- Ben Thur (1959)

The ever-relevant tale of that one douche who spends his time at parties holding a Shock Top and rambling about all the places in the world he’s supposedly been, Ben Thur continues to captivate audiences, even with its 5-day runtime. Devotees to the film still insist that the best way to experience the film is through week-long showings at independent theaters where people dress up as their favorite characters, and interact with the different acts of the movie, the same way people do with Rocky Horror or their cousins showing them pictures of the peacock that keeps “hanging out” in their backyard around Thanksgiving dinner. Favorite rituals in these viewings include only consuming Shock Top for the entirety of the week, taking a lap around the theater every time the protagonist compares one city’s public transit to another, and calling your uncle to tell him you don’t forgive him.


#4- Some Dog Millionaire (2008)

A dog wins one million dollars by virtue of being a dog, and she then proceeds to trot about town, unleashed, and gives money to those in need. It was listed as “The Most Wholesome Film of All Time” by Death Worshipping Sock Munchers Monthly in 2009. 


#3- This Breeze Has Got Me Turned Around, I Say! (1939)

Too old-fashioned for its own good, This Breeze Has Got Me Turned Around, I Say! made no headlines and caused no ripples in society by censoring what could otherwise have been a saucy line with the line, “Frankly, my dear, I care not for your input nor your right to make decisions concerning your own body.” Though it was overshadowed by Gone with the Wind’s performance, this iconic line lives on as the unpublished credo of the Republican Party.


#2- The Lambs Aren’t Telling Us Everything (1991)

Speaking powerfully to the mistrust between people and sheep that has undergirded civilization for decades, this milestone film sought to understand the “other” in our metropolitan societies. The chilling looks exchanged by those simplest of pastoral animals was all the script human audiences needed to know that all has not been well in the world of humans and sheep for quite some time. And yet, what could it be? We still do not know, but continue to find new depths of fear to fall deeper into within that unknowing. God help us.


#1- The Lord of the Rings: Hobbit Bordello (2003)

Three and a half hours of Peter Jackson’s middle finger onscreen while Sean Astin weeps his way through reading a Frodo/Sam/Sauron’s Whole Army erotic fan fiction aloud.


Was your favorite movie left off this anything but comprehensive list? Let us know what your favorite Oscar snub was on social media or in the comments below.


This article was written by Kevin Harrington-Bain, who has seen a movie or two in his day, boy I tell you what. Follow him on Twitter @kkevinb


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