Hey Oscar voters, the BBC Culture poll has just dissed you – BIG TIME. Do you care?

In a comprehensive new poll of the 100 Greatest American Films of all time, released this week by BBC Culture, only a measly 12 Academy Award Pete Hammond badgewinning Best Pictures turn up at all, and only 8 of them in the top 75.   Worse than that statistic for the lasting influence of the Academy’s Best Picture choices, according to this poll,  a whopping 60, count ’em, 60 other movies mentioned were not even nominated for Best Picture. Gone With The Windconsidered the benchmark of all Oscar winning Best Pictures, barely made the list at number 97,BBC-culture-image-1 just one notch above Heaven’s Gate, the 1980 western that was a notorious disaster at the time but is clearly getting a second look. Ouch. Interestingly Michael Cimino’s one and only Best Picture winner, The Deer Hunter was AWOL, so take this all with a grain of salt, Academy. Perhaps it is choices like that one that have made this list the subject of much controversy and venom in the last few days. I thought it might be interesting to compare the BBC list to the record of the Academy in awarding Best Picture throughout their history.

The poll, taken among 62 international film critics, was commissioned also “to get a global perspective on American film” from critics around the heavens_gate_ver3_xlgworld.  Since Oscar has been seen as a symbol of ultimate quality in foreign markets for decades, the results here show Academy voters over the course of the organization’s near 90 years have not chosen films for their top prize that measure up with the passage of time compared to others they bypassed or completely overlooked. That is of course according to this talked-about poll which has gotten lots of traction and internet buzz, setting off debates on the merits of the American movies that made the cut, and those that didn’t. “American movie” is defined by BBC Culture  as any film that received funding from a US source and not necessarily those by an American director. Such Oscar-winning Best Pictures as Lawrence Of Arabia, The Bridge On The River Kwai, Gandhi, or Tom Jones funded primarily outside the U.S. were apparently not eligible. And although no David Lean film is represented, 32 movies on the list were from directors not even born in the US.  Additionally the list seems to favor certain directors over others. Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese were among those helmers with several films mentioned, yet not always the ones the Academy championed. For instance the great John Ford has three films on the list  but none of them are any of the four movies that earnedthe-searchers-john-wayne-natalie-everett him Oscars for Best Director, and two of the three that were included, The Searchers (#5) and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (#45)  received only a single Oscar nomination between them (Liberty Valance for 1962 B&W Costume Design) . On the other hand Francis Ford Coppola scored with both his Oscar winning Best Pictures, The Godfather (#2) and  The Godfather Part II (#10), in the top 10. 1943’s Casablanca  (#9), 1946’s The Best Years Of Our Lives (#15), 1977’s Annie Hall (#23), and 1960’s The Apartment (#24) were the only other Best Picture winners to make the top 25. 1975’s  One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (#59),  1994’s Forrest Gump (#74), 1993’s Schindler’s List (#78), 1961’s  West Side Story (#88), and 2013’s 12 Years A Slave (#99) were the rest of the BP victors that made the cut. The latter film from British director Steve McQueen was the only Best Picture winner of the past 20 years to score a spot.

59650-050-EEBB1C99Orson Welles’ immortal 1941 classic, Citizen Kane topped the list at No. 1, yet the film that beat it at the Oscars that year , John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley, isn’t to be found here. As already noted Ford’s highest finisher was 1956’s great western, The Searchers at No. 5. That film’s name never came up at the Oscars in ’56, the year the Academy nominated Giant, The Ten Commandments, Friendly Persuasion and The King & I for Best Picture, awarding the Oscar to Around The World In 80 Days. None of them are in the top 100. Hitchcock’s 1958 Vertigo is ranked No. 3, yet only earned Art Direction and Sound nominations from the Academy. The five nominees and winner that year (Gigi) are among the missing on the BBC list. Singin’ In The Rain is by far the highest ranking musical on this list at No. 7  but onlysaul-bass-1958-vertigo-half-sheet-movie-poster-b got a supporting actress (Jean Hagen) and musical scoring nomination in 1952, the year The Greatest Show On Earth won Best Picture. 1959’s North By Northwest (#13) and Some Like It Hot (#30) made the top 30 along with that year’s Douglas Sirk Lana Turner starring sudser remake, Imitation Of Life (#37) and the great Howard Hawks western Rio Bravo (#41 but Singin-in-the-rainzero Oscar nominations) , however  11-time Oscar winning Ben-Hur  and the rest of that year’s Best Picture nominees were left out among many, many other films through the years given great attention by the Oscars in favor of the likes of 2001’s Mulholland Drive (#21), 1985’s Back To The Future (#56) and 1993’s Bill Murray comedy, Groundhog Day (#71). It goes on and on.

So take it all in stride. Critics and film scholars have historically been at odds with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in terms of what is truly Oscar-worthy, although those very same critics do seem to spend much of the year trying to influence Academy members with their opinions of what should win. But it really is interesting to see how Oscar’s rejects are now being looked at in a much different light. The Best Picture Oscar is still something I would much rather have than the endorsement of critics in this poll, but it goes to show that the Oscar winners are really all about what was going on in the industry in their particular year, not – in thegroundhog day mind of many film aficionados –  an award for all time. But is Groundhog Day, a fine comedy directed by the late Harold Ramis, really better than such AWOL American- made Best Picture Oscar winners as It Happened One Night, Lost Weekend, Going My Way, All Quiet On The Western Front, An American In Paris, All About Eve, From Here To Eternity, On The Waterfront, Marty, My Fair Lady, The Sound Of Music, In The Heat Of The Night, Midnight Cowboy, Patton, The French Connection, Rocky, Kramer Vs. Kramer, Ordinary People, Terms Of Endearment, Out Of Africa, Platoon,  Rainman, Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, American Beauty,  No Country For Old Men, The Hurt Locker, Crash, Titanic, A Beautiful Mind, Chicago and on and on? And don’t get me started on the inclusion of the aforementioned Heaven’s Gate. But I have to say that when you see a list like this BBC Culture survey championing the long-lasting impact of such egregiously Oscar-overlooked classics as Rio Bravo, The Searchers, Touch Of Evil, City Lights, Red River and so on it can’t be such a bad thing, can it?

And as the nascent 2015 Oscar race gets underway and jockeying begins in the campaign to win that Best Picture Academy Award, it might be comforting for those films that come up short to note that the court of time may eventually rule in your favor.

Here is the complete BBC Culture list released earlier this week:

The 100 greatest American films

100. Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951)
99. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)
98. Heaven’s Gate (Michael Cimino, 1980)
97. Gone With the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939)
96. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
95. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
94. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)
93. Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)
92. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
91. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)
90. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
89. In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)
88. West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 1961)
87. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
86. The Lion King (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, 1994)
85. Night of the Living Dead (George A Romero, 1968)
84. Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972)
83. Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
82. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)
81. Thelma & Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991)
80. Meet Me in St Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944)
79. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
78. Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)
77. Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)
76. The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)
75. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)
74. Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994)
73. Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)
72. The Shanghai Gesture (Josef von Sternberg, 1941)
71. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)
70. The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953)
69. Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1982)
68. Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)
67. Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)
66. Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)
65. The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1983)
64. Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954)
63. Love Streams (John Cassavetes, 1984)
62. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
61. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)
60. Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)
59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Miloš Forman, 1975)
58. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940)
57. Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1989)
56. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
55. The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)
54. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)
53. Grey Gardens (Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, 1975)
52. The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)
51. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
50. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
49. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)
48. A Place in the Sun (George Stevens, 1951)
47. Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964)
46. It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
45. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)
44. Sherlock Jr (Buster Keaton, 1924)
43. Letter from an Unknown Woman (Max Ophüls, 1948)
42. Dr Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
41. Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)
40. Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, 1943)
39. The Birth of a Nation (DW Griffith, 1915)
38. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
37. Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959)
36. Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977)
35. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)
34. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)
33. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
32. The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)
31. A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974)
30. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
29. Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)
28. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
27. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)
26. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1978)
25. Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)
24. The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)
23. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)
22. Greed (Erich von Stroheim, 1924)
21. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
20. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)
19. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
18. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
17. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)
16. McCabe & Mrs Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)
15. The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)
14. Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975)
13. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)
12. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
11. The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942)
10. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
9. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)
8. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
7. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952)
6. Sunrise (FW Murnau, 1927)
5. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
3. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
2. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
1. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)