The Academy Award for Best Picture doesn’t necessarily always fall to the best films. That seems to be the contention of a new list compiled by the BBC, anyway.
In the BBC Culture list of the 100 Greatest American Films, only 12 on the list won the Oscar for Best Picture. Further, as Deadline’s Pete Hammond notes, 60 of the BBC’s honorees didn’t even receive a Best Picture nomination. The BBC, which compiled the list by polling 62 critics internationally, funded the project “to get a global perspective on American film.”
Citizen Kane — which was beaten out in the 1942 Academy Awards by John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley — topped the list. The rest of the top ten features many lauded classics: The Godfather (#2), 2001: A Space Odyssey (#4), Singin’ in the Rain ($7), Psycho (#8), and Casablanca (#9), to name a few, with four of the ten winning the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Like any list, there’s definitely room for dissection. Gone With the Wind barely made the list at #97, for instance. And Ben-Hur, which boasts an impressive 11 Oscars, was completely left off the list. Also missing were The Shawshank Redemption, any of the Lord of the Rings films or The Matrix, though other popular films like Groundhog Day (#71), and Back to the Future (#56) were recognized.
BBC Culture defined an “American movie” as one that received U.S. funding, rather than one by an American director. (If you were wondering, 32 of the films were helmed by foreign directors.) Hammond notes that the list seemed to favor certain directors — like Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock, and Stanley Kubrick — over others.
Best-of lists surely spark controversy, but this is quite the knock against the the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which host the Academy Awards each year. It certainly won’t make the Oscars any less important, but it’s one more reason to doubt the decisions of the powers that be.
Everyone has an actor or film in mind that didn’t get the recognition it deserved — Scorsese’s Goodfellas is a classic example employed to point out the famed award show’s flaws. Looking for the most recent questionable snub from the Academy? Many think Jake Gyllenhaal’s recent turn as the chillingly creepy Louis Bloom in Nightcrawler, for which the actor wasn’t even nominated, should’ve earned the actor a solid shot at gold last year.