The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences may have their origins in self-congratulatory PR (and, if you dig deeper, union-busting) but, by and large, it does a reasonably good job of providing a signal boost for quality films. Brooklyn isn’t going to win anything this year — but more people are going to know about that modest little story of an Irish immigrant making her way to America as a result of this year’s broadcast. Maybe they’ll give it a stream some night and enjoy a worthwhile drama that would have otherwise been forgotten. See? The Bataan Death March of “awards season” press events may have been worth it after all.
But the organization is far from infallible. This is a relatively small group of industry insiders who skew to a particular demographic, and they make mistakes. Many of cinema’s true masters have never won the award they deserved. Alfred Hitchcock never took home an Oscar for directing; neither did Stanley Kubrick. (Hitch got a lifetime achievement, however, and Stanley won for the special effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey.) Don’t bellyache for Brad Pitt ignored as a thespian – he’s got his trophy for producing 12 Years a Slave.
But what about those worthy film artists who never got anything — not even a category curveball or the end-of-career salute? Who will recognize the Hollywood greats standing in the shadow of the Full Oscar Diss? Many of them still have a shot, while some have already left this mortal coil, forever denied access to that Great Luncheon in the Sky.
So let’s commiserate with the tragically, perpetually Oscar-Denied. We list them in alphabetical order, because why shame them any more with a countdown?