Every year, the Academy Awards honor films that make exemplary contributions to the world of cinema. Categories vary widely, but films generally receive award nominations for excellent writing, directing, and acting. The Best Picture Oscar is one of the most-coveted Academy Awards. The award goes to the producers of the winning film, and many consider it the most prestigious. However, for every deserving film that takes home this title, there are plenty of others whose producers go home empty-handed. In the 90s, several epic films deserved to win a Best Picture Oscar, but other excellent movies won the award instead.
10. Goodfellas Deserved The Best Picture Oscar in 1990
Goodfellas is arguably one of the best Martin Scorsese movies to date. The film was a commercial success and received high enough marks from critics to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture in 1990. However, the epic 90s movie fell short of winning this particular Academy Award. The Western drama Dances With Wolves ultimately took home the title instead. Goodfellas received six Oscar nominations but only won in a single category. Actor Joe Pesci took home the Best Actor In A Supporting Role title for his work in the film. Nevertheless, Goodfellas remains a cult classic among gangster movie fans.
9. JFK Was A Top Contender In 1991
Actor Kevin Costner was everywhere in the 90s, even making his directorial debut with Dances With Wolves during that decade. In 1991, he starred in the film JFK, which examined the events leading to the JFK assassination. The film was a major contender for the Best Picture Oscar and seven other awards. JFK won an Oscar for Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing. However, it fell short of securing a Best Picture win. Instead, the award went to the box office smash The Silence Of The Lambs, a crime thriller based on Thomas Harris’ novel about fictional serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
8. A Few Good Men Fell Short Of The Best Picture Oscar In 1992
A Few Good Men was a star-studded legal drama that performed well critically and at the box office. In addition to Best Picture, the film received nominations for three other Oscars, including a Best Supporting Actor nod for Jack Nicholson. Unfortunately, the movie didn’t win a single award at the Academy Awards that year. Clint Eastwood’s epic Western, Unforgiven, took home the 1992 Best Picture Oscar instead. Although A Few Good Men had poor luck at the Academy Awards, the movie did win an MTV Movie Award for Best Movie, along with several other accolades.
7. The Piano Was A Favorite To Win In 1993
In 1993, The Piano received overwhelming praise from critics for its beautiful cinematography, expert directing, and stunning performances from Holly Hunter, Sam Neil, and Harvey Keitel. The stunning period drama seemed like an obvious choice for the Best Picture Oscar but had to compete against another 90s mega-hit: Schindler’s List. Although The Piano won three other Academy Awards that year, it just couldn’t top the sweeping WWII drama in the Best Picture category. However, the film is still considered one of the best period dramas of the 1990s and scored 90% on Rotton Tomatoes.
6. The Shawshank Redemption Had Stiff Competition In 1994
The Shawshank Redemption is a film adaptation of a novella by Stephen King. The movie was popular with fans and critics alike when it premiered in 1994. The Shawshank Redemption received an impressive seven Academy Award nominations. However, the film missed out on winning the Best Picture Oscar. Several other exceptional 90s movies received nominations for that award, and the competition was just too fierce for the Stephen King film to take home the title. In the end, the lucky recipient was Forrest Gump, which was also a novel adaptation.
5. Apollo 13 Didn’t Take Home The Gold In 1995
Apollo 13 starred Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon. The historical drama was one of the highest-grossing films of 1995 and won two Oscars. However, the film failed to win a Best Picture Oscar. One of the movies it was up against was Braveheart, a critically-acclaimed drama about the First Scottish War for Independence. Although both movies deserved the award, critics heavily favored Braveheart, which won a staggering five Oscars in total. Despite not winning in this prestigious category, Apollo 13 is still among the best space-themed films of the 1990s.
4. Jerry Maguire Was A Popular Best Picture Oscar Choice In 1996
Movie fans loved Tom Cruise in Jerry Macguire, and the 1996 film was a top contender for the Best Picture Oscar. Jerry Macguire even made it to the top five of the box office for 1996, making it an impressive commercial success. Unfortunately, the popular sports drama missed out on a Best Picture Oscar win. Instead, the award went to The English Patient, an epic war drama that received high marks from critics. Jerry Macguire is still a fan-favorite 90s movie and is an excellent example of actor Tom Cruise’s early work in dramatic films.
3. As Good As It Gets Just Couldn’t Keep Up In 1997
As Good As It Gets is an excellent example of what audiences wanted from a 90s movie: a unique but simple premise. The film has an excellent balance of drama and comedy and landed within the top ten highest-grossing movies of 1997. The movie would’ve stood a solid chance at winning a Best Picture Oscar in any other year. However, 1997 was a special year for the movie industry. The third highest-grossing film of all time, Titanic, hit theaters in December of that year. The film broke records at the box office and the Academy Awards, easily besting As Good As It Gets in the Best Picture category.
2. Saving Private Ryan Wasn’t The Only War Drama On The List In 1998
Steven Spielberg directed Saving Private Ryan, which premiered in 1998. The film is still among the best the director has ever made and is an enduring fan favorite among war movie fans. However, Saving Private Ryan wasn’t the only war drama up for a Best Picture Oscar in 1998: The Thin Red Line and Life Is Beautiful also received nominations. Although war dramas dominated the Best Picture category in 1998, the actual winner was a romantic comedy/period drama. Shakespeare In Love had more universal appeal than the well-deserving war films and thus took home the title.
1. The Green Mile Was A Unique Best Picture Oscar Nominee In 1999
The Green Mile was a unique 90s movie and surprising addition to the Best Picture Oscar category in 1999. The magical-realism movie was an adaptation of a Stephen King novella and performed well at the box office that year. The movie received four Oscar nominations, but unfortunately, the film did not win in the Best Picture category. Instead, the psychological drama American Beauty received the honor. However, The Green Mile is still an underrated favorite among Stephen King movies from the 90s and helped put actor Michael Clarke Duncan on the map.