When the Oscar nominations come out Tuesday, there are bound to be cries of injustice -- and in many cases, those charges will have merit. Can anyone really defend the exclusion from the Oscar nominee list in various years of movies such as "Some Like It Hot," or "2001: A Space Odyssey"? Or of acting performances such as Charlie Chaplin's sublime Tramp in "City Lights"?
The omissions of Graham Greene's "The Third Man" as a best original screenplay nominee or Alfred Hitchcock as best director for "Vertigo" or "Notorious" should alone be enough for a scandal. For anyone who feels, like director Spike Lee (for "Do the Right Thing"), they were robbed, there's a ready answer: You have lots of company. Why gripe, when we know that the Oscars tend to ignore certain kinds of movies (popular genre movies) and certain kinds of performances (funny ones)?
But there's always a consolation. Great movies outlast any award slights, and history almost always settles all accounts. To mark the 75th Academy Awards ceremony March 23, here are 75 of Oscar's most outrageous snubs.
75. "Touch of Evil" (Orson Welles, 1958) The pinnacle of film noir from Welles, Oscar's most unjustly neglected subject.
74. "King Kong" (Ernest Schoedsack-Merian Cooper, 1932-33) The Great Ape in the granddaddy of all special-effects classics.
73. Stanley Kubrick, Calder Willingham and Jim Thompson (adapted screenplay) for "Paths of Glory" (1957) An annihilating anti-war script.
72. Bob Dylan (song) for "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" from "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" (1973) Dylan's mournful cowboy blues underscored Slim Pickens' death scene.
71. "Three Colors: (Blue), White, Red" (foreign language film) (Poland, Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1994) Two Kieslowski "Colors" were eligible in '94; neither made the cut.
70. "The Wedding March" (Erich Von Stroheim, 1928-29) Hollywood's intransigent master in his last hurrah.
69. James Cagney (actor) for "White Heat" (1949) Cagney's psychopathic gangster Cody Jarrett: "Top of the world, Ma!"
68. "Morocco" (Josef von Sternberg, 1930-31) Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper in the classic French Foreign Legion desert romance.
67. "Kind Hearts and Coronets" (Robert Hamer, 1950) Witty comedy of murder, with Alec Guinness' multiple tour de force as the victims.
66. Gordon Willis (cinematographer) for "The Godfather I" and "II" (1972 and 1974) Two darkly lit photographic masterpieces ignored by nominators.
65. "Brief Encounter" (David Lean, 1946) Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson in writer Noel Coward's much-loved thwarted romance.
64. Jack Lemmon (actor) for "Glengarry Glen Ross" (1992) One of David Mamet's cutthroat salesmen: one of Lemmon's three favorite roles.
63. "Belle du Jour" (foreign language film) (France, Luis Bunuel, 1968) Catherine Deneuve as the sublime housewife-hooker in Bunuel's fable.
62. Peter Sellers (supporting actor) in "Lolita" (1962) As Vladimir Nabokov's chameleonic sybarite writer Clare Quilty, Sellers hits his peak.
61. George and Ira Gershwin (best song) for "A Foggy Day" (1937) This classic and other great standards by Gershwin, Porter, Berlin, Kern etc, were beaten by "Sweet Leilani!"
60. Buster Keaton (actor) in "Steamboat Bill, Jr." (1928-29) The Great Stone Face in one of his stoic silent comedy gems.
59. Bette Davis (actress) for "Of Human Bondage" (1934) Next year, an embarrassed academy gave Bette one she didn't deserve.
58. Fritz Lang (director) for "Fury" (1936) The master of paranoia puts Spencer Tracy and capital punishment through hell.
57. Gilbert Taylor (cinematographer) for "Dr. Strangelove" (1964) They also missed him for another '64 gem: "A Hard Day's Night."
56. Vittorio Storaro (cinematographer) for "Last Tango in Paris" (1973) The cinematographer's cinematographer was actually beaten out that year by "Jonathan Livingston Seagull."
55. Robert Walker (supporting actor) "Strangers on a Train" (1951) The classic murder-swap Hitchcock villain: that very clever fellow, Bruno Anthony.
54. "La Dolce Vita" (foreign language film) (Italy, Federico Fellini, 1960) Fellini's modern epic of jet-set decadence, with Marcello Mastroianni as journalist/witness.
53. "Blue Velvet" (David Lynch, 1986) The creepiest of all Lynch nightmares, with also-neglected Dennis Hopper as the breather.
52. Harold Pinter (adapted screenplay) for "The Go-Between" (1971) Period romance with Julie Christie: one of Pinter's finest writing efforts.
51. Jason Robards (supporting actor) for "Long Day's Journey Into Night" (1962) Nobody played O'Neill like Robards; here, his alcoholic Jamie Tyrone blisters the screen.
50. "Mean Streets" (Martin Scorsese, 1973) The Little Italy anthem starring Harvey Keitel (above): Scorsese's favorite of his films
49. Robert Mitchum (actor) for "The Night of the Hunter" (1955) Classic Mitchum: the murderous preacher with the "LOVE"/"HATE" knuckle tattoos.
48. "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" (Philip Kaufman, 1988) Heart-breaking romantic/political drama from Milan Kundera's novel.
47. Robert Duvall (actor) for "Tomorrow" (1972) Duvall's favorite role, the Mississippi Good Samaritan of William Faulkner's story.
46. "Little Big Man" (Arthur Penn, 1970) The hip comic western with Dustin Hoffman as liar-adventurer Jack Crabb.
45. "Hoop Dreams" (documentary) (Steve James, 1994) This deliberate oversight created a scandal and led to voting reforms.
44. Judy Garland (actress) for "The Wizard of Oz" (1939) That year, she got a special miniature Juvenile Oscar; she deserved more.
43. "Faces" (John Cassavetes,1968) In Europe, Cassavetes is counted a master; this superreal gem on L.A. malaise shows why.
42. "Duck Soup" (Leo McCarey, 1932-33) The great mad war comedy that both voters and the '30s audience ignored.
41. "Meet Me in St. Louis" (Vincente Minnelli, 1944) Judy Garland (above), Margaret O'Brien and supreme American nostalgia.
40. James Dean (actor) for "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955) Nominated that year for "Giant," but this is the role that sealed his legend.
39. "A.I." (Steven Spielberg, 2001) The dark fantasy of a robot child, from Stanley Kubrick's dream project.
38. "Letter From an Unknown Woman" (Max Ophuls, 1948) The great neglected Hollywood romance from Stefan Zweig's novel, by continental master Ophuls.
37. "Once Upon a Time in America" (Sergio Leone, 1984) Leone's baroque crime epic of New York's Jewish gangs, with Robert De Niro.
36. John Wayne (actor) for "The Searchers" (1956) One of the most influential of all American movies and roles: vengeful wanderer Ethan Edwards.
35. "Brazil" (Terry Gilliam, 1985) The Orwellian nightmare comedy saved from Universal mutilation by the L.A. Film Critics.
34. Katharine Hepburn (actress) for "Adam's Rib" (1950) Dueling wedded lawyers: Hepburn and Tracy's top matchup.
33. "The African Queen" (John Huston, 1951) Bogey and Hepburn in Africa: the legendary Hollywood romance-adventure.
32 "Malcolm X" (Spike Lee, 1992) The alternative African-American epic, with Denzel Washington as Malcolm.
31. Preston Sturges (original screenplay) for "Sullivan's Travels" (1941) Sturges' testament: the defense of clowns by Hollywood idealist-laughmaker Sullivan (Joel McCrea).
30. "Short Cuts" (Robert Altman, 1993) Raymond Carver's short stories become Altman's ultimate ensemble film.
29. "Splendor in the Grass" (Elia Kazan, 1961) Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty in the teen romance that still breaks hearts.
28. Spike Lee (director) for "Do the Right Thing" (1989) A Brooklyn street explodes on the summer's hottest day; Lee's testament.
27. John Lennon & Paul McCartney (best song) for the score of "A Hard Day's Night." Which sounds better: these songs or '64 winner "Chim Chim Cheree?"
26. Ernst Lubitsch (director) for "Trouble in Paradise" (1932-33) High-style comedy master Lubitsch loved best this tale of stealing jewels and hearts.
25. "Rear Window" (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) Hitchcock's classic of voyeurism and suspense, with James Stewart and Grace Kelly (above) peeping.
24. "Red River" (Howard Hawks, 1948) The top cattle-drive western, with John Wayne, from Hollywood's great pro Hawks.
23. "Persona" (foreign language film) (Sweden, Ingmar Bergman, 1966) The '60s supreme art film from the 20th Century's most personal filmmaker.
22. Anna Magnani (actress) for "The Golden Coach" (1952) Italy's greatest film actress guided by Jean Renoir in a commedia dell'arte masterpiece.
21. Steven Spielberg (director) for "Jaws" (1975) It was a very good year, but they should have nominated The Kid anyway.
20. "Manhattan" (Woody Allen, 1979) Woody's valentine, back in his heyday, to the borough he loves best.
19. "Seven Samurai" (foreign language film) (Japan, Akira Kurosawa, 1956) The greatest battle film, with Toshiro Mifune and the rest of the Magnificent Seven.
18. Humphrey Bogart (actor) for "The Maltese Falcon" (1941) Film noir's hero as Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade: the role that made him Bogey.
17. Martin Scorsese (director) for "Taxi Driver" (1976) '70s alienation and violence; the film was named, but Scorsese wasn't.
16. Jean Renoir (director) for "Grand Illusion" (1938) Renoir's anti-war classic was nominated that year; its maker wasn't.
15. "Blowup" (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966) Photographs, reality and swinging London: Antonioni's classic statement on appearances and morality.
14. "Days of Heaven" (Terrence Malick, 1978) Beautiful and tragic: an alternative epic love poem of America's lost souls.
13. "The Wild Bunch" (Sam Peckinpah, 1969) The epic western and bloody masterpiece, full of shocks and melancholy.
12. Orson Welles (director) for "The Magnificent Ambersons" (1942) One of two nonpareil achievements by Welles in his 20s (with Joseph Cotten, above); the other was "Citizen Kane."
11. Bernard Herrmann (composer) for "Vertigo" (1958) The musician of anxiety also was not nominated for "Psycho" (1960), "North by Northwest" (1959) and "The Magnificent Ambersons" (1942).
10. Howard Hawks (director) for "His Girl Friday" (1940) The "Front Page" classic by the all-genre pro unnominated for "Bringing Up Baby" (1938), "To Have and Have Not" (1944) and "Rio Bravo" (1959).
9. Sergei Prokofiev (composer) for "Ivan the Terrible" (1947) Probably the best classical film score ever, from Sergei Eisenstein's brilliant collaborator.
8. Graham Greene (original screenplay) for "The Third Man" (1950) Vienna, Welles, Joseph Cotten and post-war intrigue -- and Greene's original script is unsurpassed.
7. Alfred Hitchcock (director) for "Vertigo" (1958) James Stewart loses Kim Novak twice: like "Notorious" and "North by Northwest," another non-nominated Hitchcock triumph.
6. Charles Chaplin (actor) in "City Lights" (1931) He made us laugh; he made us cry. Never more than here.
5. "Some Like It Hot" (Billy Wilder, 1959) Nobody's perfect -- but in this comedy Wilder, Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis come close.
4. "The Searchers" (John Ford, 1956) The story of America and the prisoners of the desert: Ford's masterpiece.
3. "Singin' in the Rain" (Gene Kelly-Stanley Donen, 1952) The comic angst of the talkie era: Hollywood's best musical, Kelly's best dance.
2. "Psycho" (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) The Bates Motel, the height of terror. The film that Hitch says "belongs to filmmakers."
1. "2001: A Space Odyssey" (Stanley Kubrick, 1968) Visionary science fiction: the space epic that went many steps beyond.
Source: "Inside Oscar," Ballantine Books (1996). Dates listed reflect year movie or performance was eligible for nomination.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times