What Movie Should Have Won the Oscar – 2000-2013

No longer do we have the long lens of history to help us make judgments. As I end this exercise I have come to the conclusion that I am following the NFL’s instant replay rule, that the Academy must clearly be wrong in order for me to overrule their initial judgments. Fortunately, they were clearly wrong plenty of times this century.

In 2009 the Academy made a major change of having up to 10 best picture nominees. For consistency’s  sake I’m going to keep it to 5 nominees for each year.

Click here to read the 1970’s.

Click here to read the 1980’s.

Click here to read the 1990’s.


Winner- “Gladiator”

Losers- “Chocolat”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Erin Brockovich”, “Traffic”

Should have been nominated- “Almost Famous”, “Erin Brockovich”, “Gladiator”, “O Brother Where Art Thou”, “You Can Count on Me”

Should have won- “O Brother Where Art Thou”


The century got off to a rough start.  “Gladiator” followed the “Braveheart” formula to an Oscar win, but the timeless charm, comedy, and music of “O Brother Where Art Thou” surpassed Russell Crowe’s scowl.


Winner- “A Beautiful Mind”

Losers- “Gosford Park”, “In the Bedroom”, “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”, “Moulin Rouge”

Should have been nominated- “A.I.”, “Memento”, “Moulin Rouge”, “Mulholland Drive”, “The Royal Tenenbaums”

Should have won- “The Royal Tenenbaums”


Apparently, the Academy did start the 2000’s blinded by Russell Crowe’s scowl. Looking at the nominations the century began cinematically horrible, but dig deeper and you can see the Academy just didn’t do a good job of weeding through the trash and finding some hidden gems.


Winner- “Chicago”

Losers- “Gangs of New York”, “The Hours”, “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”, “The Pianist”

Should have been nominated- “8 Mile”, “About Schmidt”, “Adaptation”, “Gangs of New York”, “Talk to Her”

Should have won- “Gangs of New York”


I feel dirty about this choice. “Gangs of New York” is the worst of the five movies on the list I feel should be nominated, but one of my choices is foreign and two are quirky and the other stars Eminem. “Gangs of New York” is the only one I feel could win over a wide swath of the population. Again the Academy of 2002 should be ashamed for what they selected as the 5 best movies of this year. Especially considering the movies I selected were all nominated in other categories.


Winner- “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”

Losers- “Lost in Translation”, “Master and Commander”, “Mystic River”, “Seabiscuit”

Should have been nominated- “Big Fish”, “City of God”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Raising Victor Vargas”, “Whale Rider”

Should have won- “Big Fish”


Again shame and ignominy on the Academy for 2003. We are lucky they stopped making Lord of the Rings and Russell Crowe movies or they would continue to have a stranglehold on the nominations. If they felt a need to give the award to a big popcorn movie they should have given it to “Pirates of the Caribbean” that at least had a great  Johnny Depp performance. Big Fish though is the imaginative tearjerker to end all tearjerkers. Perhaps the most criminally overlooked movie of all time.


Winner- “Million Dollar Baby”

Losers- “The Aviator”, “Finding Neverland”, “Ray”, “Sideways”

Should have been nominated- “Hotel Rwanda”, “Million Dollar Baby”, “The Passion of the Christ”, “Sideways”, “Spider-Man 2”

Should have won- “Million Dollar Baby”


Finally the Academy pulled its collective head out of its tuchus. I prefer the quiet desperation of “Sideways” and the heroism of “Spider-Man 2, but “Million Dollar Baby” is a worthy choice that will make you cheer and sob.



Losers- “Brokeback Mountain”, “Capote”, “Good Night and Good Luck”, “Munich”

Should have been nominated- “A History of Violence”, “Batman Begins”, “Capote”, “The Squid and the Whale”, “Walk the Line”

Should have won- “Walk the Line”


And just like that the Academy returns their head to where the sun don’t shine. I struggled to endorse any of their nominations, but finally gave the nod to “Capote” over “Hustle & Flow”. After much deliberation and many tiebreakers I settled on “Walk the Line” as what would be most universally beloved over the ultraviolent “A History of Violence” or “Batman Begins”.


Winner- “The Departed”

Losers- “Babel”, “Letters from Iwo Jima”, “Little Miss Sunshine”, “The Queen”

Should have been nominated- “Borat”, “Children of Men”, “The Queen”, “The Pursuit of Happyness”, “The Lives of Others”

Should have won- “The Queen”


The greatest travesty in Oscar history is for all the great movies Martin Scorcese directed, “The Departed” is what he wins for? They say comedy is the hardest thing and in that case Borat should win, but I think it was a harder trick to pull off getting audiences to care about the modern day royal family.


Winner- “No Country for Old Men”

Losers- “Atonement”, “Juno”, “Michael Clayton”, “There Will Be Blood”

Should be nominated- “Michael Clayton”, “No Country for Old Men”, “There Will Be Blood”, “Eastern Promises”, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”

Should have won: “No Country for Old Men”


A great year for movies and where the Academy finally gets back on track. “No Country for Old Men” is one of my least favorite Coen Brothers movies and I wouldn’t blink if they gave it to “Michael Clayton”, “Eastern Promises” or “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”, but I don’t have irrefutable evidence those three movies are better than “No Country for Old Men”.


Winner- “Slumdog Millionaire”

Losers- “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “Frost/Nixon”, “Milk”, “The Reader”

Should have been nominated- “Doubt”, “Frost/Nixon”, “Milk”, “Wall-E”, “The Wrestler”

Should have won- “The Wrestler”


Every generation deserves its “Rocky”. We get “The Wrestler”.


Winner- “The Hurt Locker”

Losers- “Avatar”, “The Blind Side”, “District 9”, “An Education”, “Inglorious Bastards”, “Precious”, “A Serious Man”, “Up”, “Up in the Air”

Should have been nominated- “The Hangover”, “The Hurt Locker”, “Precious”, “A Serious Man”, “Up”

Should have won- “The Hurt Locker”


This is the year the Academy started nominating better movies by doubling the number of nominees. Choosing a cartoon, two movies dependent on racial/ethnic stereotypes, and an R-rated sex and drug comedy, means “The Hurt Locker” gets to keep its prize. 2009 also marks the beginning of the Pablo Chiste era, so by clicking on the bold lettering you can see what I thought of that respective movie way back when.


Winner- “The King’s Speech”

Losers- “127 Hours”, “Black Swan”, “The Fighter”, “Inception”, “The Kids Are All Right”, “The Social Network”, “Toy Story 3”, “True Grit”, “Winter’s Bone”

Should have been nominated- “127 Hours”, “Black Swan”, “The Fighter”, “The Social Network”, “Toy Story 3”

Should have won- “The Social Network”

The Social Network

One of the great blunders in Oscar history. I could make an argument “The King’s Speech” is the worst of the ten nominated movies. I was torn between “Toy Story 3” and “The Social Network”, with live action winning over in the end.


Winner- “The Artist”

Losers- “The Descendants”, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”, “The Help”, “Hugo”, “Midnight in Paris”, “Moneyball”, “The Tree of Life”, “War Horse”

Should have been nominated- “The Artist”, “The Descendants”, “The Skin I Live In”, “Super 8”, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

Should have won- “The Artist”


I didn’t know foreign movies could win the best picture Oscar, much less foreign, silent, black and white movies. It will never happen again, so you might as well celebrate the best movie in a weak year.


Winner- “Argo”

Losers- “Amour”, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, “Django Unchained”, “Les Miserables”, “Life of Pi”, “Lincoln”, “Silver Linings Playbook”, “Zero Dark Thirty”

Should have been nominated- “The Dark Knight Rises”, “Django Unchained”, “The Intouchables”, “Moonrise Kingdom”, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Should have won- “Django Unchained”


You wouldn’t realize there were some actually terrific movies that came out in 2012 by what the Academy nominated. I was tempted to give it to a superhero movie as “The Dark Knight Rises” explained what it means to be a hero better than any other film of that genre, but “Django Unchained” will age better as Ben Affleck will soon tarnish all things Batman for future eyes.


Winner- “12 Years a Slave”

Losers- “American Hustle”, “Captain Phillips”, “Dallas Buyers Club”, “Gravity”, “Her”, “Nebraska”, “Philomena”, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Should have been nominated- “12 Years a Slave”, “Gravity”, “Inside Llewyn Davis”, “Philomena”, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Should have won- “12 Years a Slave”


“Gravity” had awe inspiring special effects, “Philomena” will bring the toughest amongst us to tears, “Inside Llewyn Davis” requires multiple viewings and “Wolf of Wall Street” despite being too long has you laughing in stitches, but “12 Years a Slave” was as good as any of them and should have the longevity to impress audiences of 2045.

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