In the spirit of celebrating the Oscars we’ve decided to add some fuel to the fire by reminding everyone that every year there are a ton of great indie films that fail to receive the recognition the deserve from the academy.
Here is our list of 15 indie films that surprisingly haven’t won an Oscar.
Garden State (2004)
Written and directed by Zach Braff and starring Braff, Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard and Ian Holm, Garden State received zero Oscar nominations despite having gained a cult following. The film also won a Grammy for its soundtrack.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
The Royal Tenenbaums follows the story of three gifted siblings and stars Danny Glover, Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, and Owen Wilson. Directed by Wes Anderson and co-written by Owen Wilson, this star-stacked film at least received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, though without a win.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
This film was produced and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, the same brothers who did Oscar winning Fargo. Like many cult classics, The Big Lebowski was originally a disappointment in the box office, but later received the recognition it deserved via critics. No Oscar noms though.
Sing Street (2016)
This musical comedy-drama was co-written, co-produced, and directed by John Carney and tells the story of a young boy who essentially starts a band to impress an older girl. Despite grossing $13.6 million in the box office worldwide and carrying a 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, this hit movie was largely ignored in this year’s list of Oscar nominees, receiving a total of zero.
The Witch (2016)
Horror movies are often completely left out of Oscar nominations. Though the awards show has recognized horror in the past, the last horror film to receive an Oscar nom was Black Swan in 2011, which honestly isn’t even a horror movie. The Witch (or The VVitch) is an absolutely incredible horror film that was written and directed by Robert Eggers and received its official release early in 2016 after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. This film easily deserves a nomination for Best Original Screenplay, if not also one for Best Actress (ahem Anya Taylor-Joy!!).
Half Nelson (2006)
Directed by Ryan Fleck and written by Fleck and Anna Boden, Half Nelson stars Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps, and Anthony Mackie. Though the film didn’t actually win an Oscar, Gosling received a nomination for Best Actor. The film also features an amazing soundtrack from Broken Social Scene.
Written and directed by Christopher Nolan and produced by Suzanne and Jennifer Todd, Memento hit the box office with a bang upon its release, earning almost $40 million. The film was often referred to as one of the best of its decade by critics. It received Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing, but didn’t take home any wins.
Donnie Darko (2001)
With an apparent sequel in the works, it’s appropriate to look back on this film’s list of Oscar nominations, which carries a grand total of zero. Surprising, huh? This cult classic, which was written and directed by Richard Kelly, tells the story of a teenager who is trying to decipher the meaning behind the Doomsday visions he’s receiving.
It Follows (2015)
It Follows receiving zero nominations at the 2016 Oscars was a complete shame. Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, It Follows has been recognized by critics as one of the best horror films of our time. Unfortunately, the Academy Awards doesn’t seem to recognize films that have low budgets and no known stars. This film is more than deserving of an Oscar for Best Original Score, if not a nom for Best Original Screenplay.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, this film stars Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi, Chris Penn, Lawrence Tierney, and Tim Roth. Reservoir Dogs became a cult classic, and is known as a genre-defining film within the realm of independent films. Empire dubbed this movie, which did not receive any Oscar noms, the “greatest independent film of all time.”
Winter’s Bone (2010)
This adaptation of a Daniel Woodrell novel of the same name was written and directed by Debra Granik and stars Jennifer Lawrence. About a girl who sets out on a quest to locate her father in order to save her family, this film holds a hefty 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and received four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress, with no wins.
I Heart Huckabees (2004)
Directed and produced by David O. Russell, this self-proclaimed “existential comedy” is a fan favourite among the indie film scene, but did not receive recognition from the Oscars. Despite being an indie favourite, the film only holds a 62 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, mainly because a lot of critics were torn between the existential crisis heavy script, which tends to cater to an acquired taste.
American Psycho (2000)
Based on the Bret Easton novel of the same name, American Psycho brought to the screen Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, the Wall Street banker living a double-life as a serial killer. Though well-received and relevant to the horror canon, American Psycho‘s Oscar noms were null. American Psycho was co-written and directed by Mary Harron.
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Referred to as being politically and socially relevant, Do the Right Thing was written and directed by Spike Lee and was selected to be preserved in the National Film Registry. The movie received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay as well as Best Supporting Actor (via Danny Aiello) with no wins.
The Babadook (2014)
Another horror gem that wasn’t acknowledged at all at the Academy Awards, The Babadook was written and directed by Jennifer Kent, who saw her directorial debut with this film, and it was produced by Kristina Ceyton and Kristian Moliere. The film has locked in a 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and took home three wins at the Australian Academy Awards, including Best Direction, Best Film, and Best Original Screenplay.