Search Museum of the Moving Image

Snubbed: Great Movies, No Nominations

Jan 20 — Mar 12, 2023

Every January the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences announces its nominations for the Academy Awards. From that moment, two stories develop: one about the film professionals who have been recognized by their peers, and another about those that have been overlooked. Common parlance calls the latter “snubs”—as if the voting body were actively rejecting some potential honorees—and media outlets call them out with ambulance-chasing relish. Once the cycle completes, the import of these snubs fades into history. Yet in certain cases the lack of recognition lingers, and still shocks and appalls. Some have come to be considered classics, or they have aged better than other films of their era, or they expose moments of inequity, prejudice, and injustice. 

For this series, we’ve chosen American films that received no Academy Award nominations. That’s right: zero, zilch, bupkus. Unfortunately, it was hard to narrow the list down: any number of configurations could offer a slate of films worthy of a film historical canon. We strove to represent each era from the nearly 100 years since the formation of the Academy Awards, as well as to focus on films about which there was or has developed a narrative of exclusion, from  traditionally overlooked genres (The Big Sleep, In a Lonely Place) to racial exclusion (Paul Robeson in Show Boat) to inhospitality towards innovation (Gimme Shelter, The Thin Blue Line) to the ineffable, bizarrely persistent sense within the industrial ecosystem that it wasn’t yet a filmmaker’s “time” for recognition (Miller’s Crossing), to bafflement over performers escaping their pigeonholes (The Night of the Hunter, Rushmore, Uncut Gems).  

Organized by Eric Hynes, Curator of Film, Edo Choi, Associate Curator of Film, and Reverse Shot co-editor Michael Koresky.