Only 6 horror films till date have been nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards: The Exorcist, Jaws, The Silence of the Lambs, The Sixth Sense, Black Swan and Get Out. And just one has won so far! ‘Silence of the Lambs’. That’s appallingly bleak for a genre that has pushed the boundaries with its inventive storytelling and offered some incredible performances. Here are 10 spine-chilling masterpieces that truly deserved the elusive ‘Best Picture’ Oscar!
Biggest Oscar Snubs ‘Best Picture’ Horror
10. Nope (2022)
Jordan Peele’s Nope brings together some of the most talented actors in the industry.
It takes us on a thrilling journey that challenges our perceptions of what’s possible. The film explores the complexities of human nature, addressing important issues like exploitation and the pursuit of entertainment that are too often swept under the rug. Nope has unexpected twists and turns that will leave you questioning everything you thought you knew. While Jordan Peele’s previous ventures offered a unique spin on the slasher and home-invasion horror, Nope is an unsettling look at the alien-invasion genre.
9. Hereditary (2018)
Director Ari Aster’s debut feature is a masterclass in building tension and creating a sense of dread. From its masterful writing to the genuinely disturbing staging, Hereditary navigates between heart-wrenching family drama and bone-chilling psychological and supernatural terror.
Toni Collette’s portrayal of a grieving mother is nothing short of extraordinary, and Aster springs some nasty surprises on the characters. It isn’t your formulaic horror. The film is a refreshing and poignant take on the dynamics of a dysfunctional family and a beautiful example of visual storytelling.
8. The Babadook (2014)
This Australian psychological horror film stands out for its portrayal of grief and eerie monster design. The film explores themes of loss and motherhood in a truly haunting manner.
It’s a beautiful metaphor for the complexities and hardships of being a mother. Essie Davis’ performance is a stand-out and a huge part of why the film is exceptional. The Babadook excels in every aspect; it’s both terrifying and deeply emotional.
7. The Lighthouse (2019)
Robert Eggers’ bleak and austere monochrome masterpiece encourages multiple interpretations, constantly making us wonder what’s real and what’s not. The film defies categorization, and perhaps such ambiguity restricted it to only receiving a Best Cinematography nomination.
Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe knock it out of the park! Their portrayal of two lighthouse keepers losing their minds in the middle of nowhere was mesmerizing, intense, and raw. Moreover, the artistic choice to shoot in black and white makes every frame a haunting work of art.
6. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is more than just about Leatherface; it’s a boundary-pushing film that breaks away from traditional horror clichés and delivers a visceral experience like no other.
It forces us to confront our darkest fears, and that alone deserves recognition. The film addresses societal issues head-on, exploring themes like family dysfunction and the desensitization of violence in our culture.
Who knew a little blood and guts could have such depth?
5. The Thing (1982)
John Carpenter’s The Thing isn’t your typical alien-invasion monster flick; it transcends genres and becomes a thrilling study of isolation, paranoia, and trust. It’s like a monster movie on steroids!
The ensemble cast of colorful characters are not just victims waiting to die; they are complex, layered individuals being pushed to their limits.
And you can forget CGI; this movie opted for practical effects that still make your jaw drop today.
4. Frankenstein (1931)
Frankenstein chronicles the quest of a mad scientist who brings a terrifying monster to life. This leads to a harrowing journey into the dark depths of humanity. If that doesn’t scream “Best Picture,” I don’t know what does!
Its incredible set designs and breathtaking cinematography bring to life our innermost fears and desires.
Not to mention the legendary Boris Karloff, who brilliantly embodied the monster role with such raw anguish and vulnerability. His performance continues to resonate with audiences today, serving as the epitome of what it means to be an iconic movie monster.
3. Alien (1979)
Ridley Scott’s Alien tackles themes like isolation, survival, and the fear of the unknown. It essentially takes a haunted house set-up and transplants it to the gloomy interiors of a futuristic spaceship.
And if you want to talk iconic, the chest-burster scene is one of a kind, and nothing compares to the level of terror they achieved.
It has received critical acclaim for its direction, visual effects, and screenplay. It even won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects! So why stop there?
2. The Shining (1980)
Alright, let’s be real here. The Shining was and still is a groundbreaking piece of cinema. Stanley Kubrick’s vision, combined with Jack Nicholson’s chilling performance, created a sensory experience like no other.
Stephen King and Kubrick rejuvenated the genre with this one. The tension and suspense are palpable. The Overlook Hotel serves more than a mere backdrop; it’s a character in its own right. Its sprawling, labyrinthine layout and grandiose isolation are immediately unsettling, creating a sense of entrapment and disorientation.
Besides, its influence on the characters—especially Jack Torrance—heightens the psychological horror. It seems to prey on their fears and weaknesses, driving them towards madness.
Kubrick’s use of steady, gliding camera shots through the empty corridors and vast, echoing spaces amplifies the feeling of solitude and vulnerability.
1. Psycho (1960)
Hitchcock created a taboo film that breaks all the unsaid rules for films in the 60s. From women in bras to unmarried couples sharing a bed, Psycho’s themes of voyeurism forever changed the landscape of horror and suspense. The film’s exploitation and exploration of identity, guilt, and obsession resonates with viewers on a profound level.
Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh give stellar performances with depth and nuance that the film would be amiss without.
If you haven’t taken the time to sit down and watch Psycho, you are missing out on one of the most famous, controversial, and influential films of all time.
I’m an actor, singer, writer, and artist, incredibly passionate about film and other art forms. Outside of work, I love spending time with my dogs and eating Poke.