At the Academy Awards, what were the top ten films that were nominated for best picture, but won nothing at all? Some of their life themes were interesting.


10.The Nun’s Story (1959, 8 nominations, 0 wins)

The Nun’s Story is about a woman leaving behind the “good life” for the religious life and become Sister Luke. The story is inherently dramatic, of leaving a way of life for another. The twist in the plot might have caused some to turn their heads and take notice. It makes Sister Luke question her decision to become a nun or stay true to her order in World War II. Starring movie icon Audrey Hepburn and directed by legend Fred Zinnermann (High Noon, From Here to Eternity), which begs the question, why leave this film’s mantel piece empty?


 9.The Remains of the Day (1993, 8 nominations, 0 wins)

A film starring Anthony Hopkins garnered my attention at Oscar time in the 1990’s. Hopkins plays a reserved butler with a lot in common with the decency of Jeeves, who shields his emotions and gets on with the job. Hopkins plays the opposite of his Hannibal Lecter character, which he won an Oscar for, but still has the steely resolve that marks both characters.  In the film, Mr. Stevens (Hopkins) recounts his relationship with the housekeeper and this is the heart and soul of a film that you’d think deserved more. The Remains of the Day is about loss and what could have been. It was a worthy contender.


8.The Elephant Man (1980; 8 nominations, 0 wins)

The only David Lynch film to be nominated for best picture, but came away empty handed. However, The Elephant Man might have been Lynch’s most ‘important’ film. It was about human dignity first and foremost. John Merrick, the so-called ‘Elephant Man’ (because of his deformities) is shown true compassion by a doctor. Again Anthony Hopkins features in a best picture nominated film, as the physician. This indelible true story would be most likely to win an Oscar, but didn’t.


7.The Little Foxes (1941, 9 nominations, 0 wins)

A story which attracts Oscar: to have wealth and riches can make one do anything without thinking first. It’s a theme been done again since, but no similar film got nine Oscar nominations and won nothing.  Bette Davis was the star and William Wyler directed. They were two top professionals.  Like The Wolf of Wall Street, which was about a similar thing, The Little Foxes went away stone cold, with nothing. Perhaps this theme is just not enlightening enough, but it did get a nomination for best picture, which says something.


6.Peyton Place (1957, 9 nominations, 0 wins)

Peyton Place in essence or theme is something Oscar respects, but perhaps would not embrace. It gave the film nine nominations, but not something to brag about. The seamy and dubious storyline might have been a borderline one.


5.Gangs of New York (2002, 10 nominations, 0 wins)

Gangs of New York was on the one hand an immigrant’s tale, but on the other hand a tale of revenge and violence. It would seem a story involving violence and immigrants in one breath might not win.


4.True Grit (2010; 10 nominations, 0 wins)

Oscar may not like revenge tales per-se. True Grit was a remake of the John Wayne western from the 1960’s. Dispensing Old West justice worked for John Wayne, who won the best actor award in 1970. But old style justice didn’t work for the Coen’s.


3.American Hustle (2013, 10 nominations, 0 wins)

Crime films can win, but crime comedy American Hustle didn’t.


2.The Color Purple (1985, 11 nominations, 0 wins)

The Color Purple has an air of importance, a thematic resonance. The source material, based on the novel by Alice Walker, which was written like a diary, also had an air of importance. It was Steven Spielberg’s first serious film that he directed. All the ingredients were there. It wasn’t to be.


1.The Turning Point (1977, 11 nominations, 0 wins)

Before Black Swan (2010) there was The Turning Point. Both films were about the ballerina world, but they went further. In The Turning Point, Deedee longs for the ballerina life she could have had, but missed out on, because she became pregnant. There is a lot of regret and jealously going on here.  With Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft in the lead, there was star power. There was drama. But it seems the Academy needs more than ballerina jealousy.


So there we have the top ten films nominated for best picture with the most nominations, but won nothing.

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