The Best Picture Oscar is among the most prestigious Academy Awards. Film producers receive the reward for movies that achieve all-around greatness for their nomination year. Although all genres are technically eligible for a nomination, dramas are favored. The competition is often fierce, with multiple films hoping to take home the title. In the 1980s, many deserving films received Best Picture nominations for their cinematic excellence. However, only a select few were lucky enough to win the award. Despite losing to another film, many runner-up movies are prime examples of the best that 80s cinema has to offer.
10. Raging Bull Came Close To Winning The Best Picture Oscar In 1980
Raging Bull is a stunning biopic about boxer Jake LaMotta. Martin Scorsese directed the 80s movie, an adaptation of a memoir written by the boxer himself. The movie was selected for preservation by the National Library Of Congress for its cultural significance. Furthermore, Raging Bull received eight Academy Award nominations. Unfortunately, the biopic lost the Best Picture Oscar to another excellent film, Ordinary People. Despite not winning this award, Raging Bull remains one of the most well-loved Martin Scorsese films. Many also consider it one of the greatest films ever made.
9. Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark Fell Short In 1981
Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark was a significant film in many ways. Firstly, it was a box office smash – the highest-grossing movie of 1981. Secondly, the film launched a very successful movie franchise, which is still ongoing today. Actor Harrison Ford became an action movie icon in the 1980s because of his role as Indiana Jones. The movie earned a Best Picture Oscar nomination, which is rare for action movies. However, a sports drama called Chariots Of Fire won the award instead. Nevertheless, this first installment of the Indiana Jones franchise remains a fan favorite among action/adventure fans.
8. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Almost Took Home A Best Picture Oscar In 1982
E.T. The Extraterrestrial was a big hit for director Stephen Spielberg. The lovable sci-fi film grossed a staggering $792 million at the box office, making it the highest-grossing film of 1982. This was especially impressive given the time period since big-budget blockbusters weren’t as common in the early 80s as they are today. The film received a Best Picture Oscar nomination in 1982 and eight other Academy Awards. Unfortunately, the movie lost in the Best Picture category to Gandhi, a stunning biographical drama. Nevertheless, the legacy of E.T. lives on, with an IMAX re-release scheduled for its 40th anniversary in August 2022.
7. The Big Chill Lost To Another Comedy-Drama In 1983
Comedy dramas are always a popular choice among moviegoers, and fans loved 1983’s The Big Chill. The film has a star-studded cast, including Glenn Close, Kevin Kline, and several other popular actors from the 80s and beyond. It was among the top twenty highest-grossing movies of the year. In addition to its commercial success, the movie also received three Academy Award nominations. Ironically, the movie that won the Best Picture Oscar instead of The Big Chill was also a comedy-drama. In the end, James L. Brooks’ film, Terms Of Endearment, was the recipient of the Best Picture Oscar in 1983.
6. A Soldier’s Story Was A Contender For The Best Picture Oscar In 1984
A Soldier’s Story is a powerful mystery drama starring Adolph Caesar and a young Denzel Washington. This classic 80s movie is a big-screen adaptation of a Pulitizer prize-winning play and received three Academy Award nominations. One of the nominations was for the Best Picture Oscar for 1984. However, A Soldier’s Story lost the prestigious award to a biographical drama. The winning film for the year was Amadeus, a fictionalized retelling of a Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart story. Interestingly enough, Amadeus is also a film adaptation of an award-winning play.
5. The Color Purple Came Very Close To Winning In 1985
The Color Purple is a film adaptation of a novel by the same name, written by Alice Walker. Like the novel, the film is a coming-of-age period piece based in the early 20th century. Steven Spielberg directed and produced the film, which was a departure from his typical big-budget blockbuster style. The Color Purple received an impressive ten Academy Award nominations. However, the film did not win the Best Picture Oscar in 1985. Instead, another stunning drama (and the highest-grossing film of the year), Out Of Africa, won the coveted award.
4. Children Of A Lesser God Set Other Records In 1986
Children of a Lesser God is a romantic drama that debuted in 1986. This touching 80s movie stars William Hurt and Marlee Matlin in her first film role. The movie performed respectably at the box office and received five Academy Award nominations. Most notably, Marlee Matlin won the Best Actress award, making her the first deaf person in history to receive that honor. In addition, the movie received a Best Picture nomination in 1986. It was one of the first female-directed movies to receive a nomination in that Oscar category. However, the cult-classic war drama, Platoon, won the award instead.
3. Fatal Attraction Was A Fan Favorite In 1987
Glenn Close and Michael Douglas starred in 1987’s Fatal Attraction. The intense thriller has remained popular throughout the years and was recently adapted into a television series for the Paramount+ network. The cult-classic 80s movie even received a Best Picture Oscar nomination. However, the Academy Awards often favor dramas with a biographical slant, which was undoubtedly the case in 1987. The Last Emperor, a fictionalized biography about the last emperor of China, won the Best Picture Oscar instead. However, what Fatal Attraction lacks in awards is more than made up for in legacy.
2. Mississippi Burning Lost To A Comedy-Drama In 1988
Mississippi Burning is a historical crime movie about a triple murder from 1964. The thriller is loosely based on true events and stars Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe as FBI agents assigned to the case. The racially-charged themes of the movie made it very controversial then, but it was one of the top fifty highest-grossing movies of 1988. The film received seven Academy Award nominations, including a nomination for the Best Picture Oscar. However, the comedy-drama Rain Man also received a nomination. Rain Man was the highest-grossing film of 1988 and was a critical success. Ultimately, it won the Best Picture Oscar, that year.
1. Dead Poet’s Society Had Stiff Competition In 1989
Dead Poets Society is an endearing favorite among fans of 80s movies. Additionally, many Robin Williams fans consider it one of his best films. The lovable drama received a Best Picture Oscar nomination in 1989 and three other Academy Award nominations. However, the Best Picture category’s competition was fierce in 1989. Along with Dead Poets Society, the very popular sports drama Field Of Dreams received a nomination, as did three other films. Ultimately, the classic comedy Driving Miss Daisy took home the coveted award instead.