5 Oscar-Snubbed Movies that Make Guys Cry

DISCLAIMER: This is not a series dedicated to proving men shouldn’t cry, or to suggest ONLY women cry and are therefore inferior. The goal of this series is to dispel the pre-established (yet flawed) notion that being “manly” and being disconnected from your emotions go hand-in-hand. Even the most macho of men enjoy and even shed a tear at films, and the sooner we can admit that the sooner the concept that one sex is better than the other can go away. While the approach to these articles is one of light-hearted comedy, the emotional core is valid. While men might be more hesitant to admit it, movies often times have the potential to make us cry, for example:

“Oscar Snub Movies”

It finally happened. Leonardo DeCaprio finally got his Oscar, and deservedly so. After being snubbed time and again for years of terrific performances, the academy of old, out of touch rich people gave up and admitted that he’s a fantastic actor. This triumph only brings to mind other cases of movies and actors snubbed by the Academy Awards, and the frustration that movie-goers have when the obvious choices are overlooked and replaced with obscure niche cinema. It’s one thing if you personally loved a movie and wished more people agreed, but there are certain films that the general public rallies around as worthy of award, only to see those hopes dashed. Below are a list of fantastic, ground breaking films and performances that find themselves woven into the fabric of our culture sans little golden man:

1. Michael Keaton from Birdman
This film won almost every single Oscar it was nominated for except best actor for Batman…I mean Birdman. Presented as one continuous shot, the film walks the surreal line between fantasy and reality without seeming pretentious or exhausting. It’s almost impossible to not see echoes of Keaton’s own personal struggle and career in the character who’s worried he’s only as good as old superhero performances yet yearns to still create and be relevant. This is one of the finest movies of our generation, and Keaton’s performance was one of, if not the best of his career. He should have won, instead of the hyper-weird looking Eddie Redmayne.

The movie is full of emotion sure, but the moment that I cried was actually at the Oscars themselves. Birdman had been cleaning up all night, and it was assumed that Keaton would win best actor. As they announced the winner, you can clearly see him unfolding his acceptance speech, then rapidly shove it back in his coat when they don’t announce his name. It’s utterly heartbreaking, and I wish the camera hadn’t caught it.

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2. Will Smith from The Pursuit of Happyness
There are several movies that the Fresh Prince should have won best actor for, from Ali to the more recent Concussion. I picked Pursuit because I’ve personally seen it and can attest that it brought the tears and the feels, but it’s baffling why Will Smith hasn’t been given his due sooner. This movie follows a man who’s given every short straw possible, from a crumbling marriage to a not so great wife to back taxes and parking tickets leaving him either in jail or homeless. Will conveys the desperation of a man trying to do right by himself and his son yet being kicked while he’s down so many times it’s hard to get back up. And we as the audience root for him due to his motivation, drive, and perseverance…all things only conveyed by an excellent actor.

The hardest part of the film is when Will and his son are left with no other option than to sleep on a public bathroom floor. Someone tries to enter and Will keeps the door closed so his son can sleep. The shred of fatherly protection that Will clings to brings him to tears, and if we’re truly honest, we join him.

3. Blade Runner
There are modern smart phones out now named after the synthetics in this movie. There are skylines that are evocative of this film. The tests to determine humanity used in this film might someday lay a framework for real tests we use on real robots. Yet no Oscar for best picture here!? There’s like 15 versions of this film and each one is amazing. Depending on the version, the debate on whether Harrison Ford’s character was a synthetic or not rages on to this day. I cannot stress enough how many science fiction films were born from this original concept because the number is exponential. I hear they’re planning on making a sequel, and that’s probably a bad idea; they should just re-release the original in theaters and then award it Best Picture.

The part that makes us cry is a speech made at the end of the film by Roy, played by Rutger “With a Shotgun” Hauer. Having saved Harrison Ford’s life not five second earlier, he feels his body shutting down. He talks about how his superior eyes have seen what no human can see, his mind can think what no human could conceive, and how unfair it is that he should die and that all his memories and experiences will be lost. Tears in the rain indeed.

4. Stanley Kubrick for 2001: A Space Odyssey

You know I tried to rent this movie on New Year’s Eve 2000, and there was none of that happening. This is another cultural milestone, a movie that still stands as fairly realistic of humans in space (other than psychedelic space babies). The murderous artificial intelligence HAL 9000 is still regarded as one of cinema’s top villains, and all he did was talk in a monotone voice and refuse to open a few doors. Sure Kubrick was known as a perfectionist’s perfectionist, but then he achieved perfection so isn’t that worth it? This film did win an Oscar for visual effects, but he never won for best director. Guess being known as one of the greatest directors ever doesn’t qualify for an 8 lb. statue.

While Kubrick was never a master of human emotion in the stories he told, 2001 has a moment of such utter despair and hopelessness for Dave Bowman that it would bring an ordinary astronaut to tears. In one fell swoop the cold HAL-9000 computer has killed crewman Frank Poole with an EVA pod collision and also killed the rest of the crew in their cryogenic tubes. Dave is suddenly alone, the only human crew left and stuck in an EVA pod outside the ship…which HAL controls. The sinking feeling when Dave asks HAL to open the door and the computer calmly replies, “I cannot do that, David” is soul-crushing.

5. Citizen Kane

Citizen MOTHER F-ING KANE. THE GREATEST FILM EVER MADE. This film is what film students watch when they want a film that can be dissected eternally. This film made such things as low angle, deep focus, and crane shots Hollywood standard. It’s plot engrossing (It did win an Oscar for best original screenplay) it’s music catchy yet haunting, and its star Orson Wells was the Leonardo DiCaprio of his day. Plus he did the whole “Mars attacking” radio broadcast thing, so we love him. It was nominated for NINE different Oscars and lost 8. Do you know what film won best picture instead of this film? How Green Was My Valley took that honor. If you’re saying to yourself “I’ve never heard of that film,” it’s because it’s greatest claim to fame was BEATING CITIZEN KANE! Travesty!

Of course the story of power and money corrupting an honest and good-hearted man is touching and sad, but the most painful part is when we the audience learn the true meaning of the famous utterance “Rosebud”. The last moment of pure innocence before his life became a meaningless series of achieving goals and then self-destructing. There’s also that moment when he violently trashes that room, which can be comedy gold when viewed out of context.

Honorable Mention: The Lego Movie was robbed!

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Daniel Epstein
Father, filmmaker, and writer. Once he won an Emmy, but it wasn't for being a father or writing.