Every Academy Awards season the airwaves and chat rooms are abuzz with movie fans complaining about the Oscar winners—especially for Best Picture. When the envelope is ripped open and the Best Picture winner is announced there is bound to be an outcry. That’s part of the fun: After every Oscar ceremony there is always room for argument, discussion, even controversy.

In the past 40 years of the Oscars, however, there have been a number of occasions when the outcry and controversy have been totally justified, when the most deserving movie of the year was left on the sidelines.

MM would like to remember and honor six movies that should have won the Best Picture Oscar but lost (five of these pictures at least received a nomination; one—Do the Right Thing—didn’t even receive that honor). These are bold, original, challenging movies that have stood the test of time; they are still enjoyed, studied, discussed and cared about. The actual Best Picture winners? Not so much. The moviemakers behind these overlooked gems should have demanded a recount.

Year: 1977
Won: Rocky
Shoulda Won: Taxi Driver

1976 was a great year for movies. All the Best Pic nominees, which included All The President’s Men, Bound for Glory and Network, were worthy opponents. Yet, it was the crowd-pleasing, rags-to-riches tale of a little boxer-who-could named Rocky that knocked out the competition. The winner of this bout, however, shoulda been Taxi Driver. Where Rocky is unabashedly sentimental and hopeful, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver is a dark, unforgettable journey into the mind of a disturbed anti-hero, Travis Bickle (played by Robert De Niro). With its detached protagonist, unexpected bursts of bloodshed and ambiguous ending, the movie probably confused and unnerved the Academy. After 30 years, Taxi Driver is generally regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time, a breakthrough for Scorsese, De Niro and writer Paul Schrader. It remains a thought-provoking character study of a lonely man caught in a nightmare of violence. While Rocky remains a crowd-pleasing, feel-good movie, it is the harrowing Taxi Driver that remains lodged in the viewer’s psyche, firmly refusing to let go.

Year: 1981
Won: Ordinary People
Shoulda Won: Raging Bull

Scorsese, De Niro and Schrader were shut out yet again for their second acclaimed collaboration, Raging Bull, the true story of angry, self-destructive boxer Jake La Motta’s rise and fall. With the impact of a flurry of uppercuts, Raging Bull, shot in stark black-and-white, proved to be the polar opposite of the crowd-pleasing Rocky. Perhaps not surprisingly, Oscar favorite Robert Redford’s directorial debut, Ordinary People, about a grief-stricken family, brought home the gold. With De Niro’s volatile performance and Scorsese’s brutal boxing sequences, Raging Bull may have been too much for voters in 1980 to handle, so they chose the more stately and conventional nominee. While a fine movie, Ordinary People today seems like a middleweight outmatched by the brute power and heft of Raging Bull. Nowadays, when critics pick the best movies of the 1980s, Raging Bull is the number one choice.

Year: 1990
Won: Driving Miss Daisy
Shoulda Won: Do The Right Thing

1990 was an odd year at the Oscars. Driving Miss Daisy, an old-fashioned tale about the growing friendship between an elderly Southern woman (Jessica Tandy) and her African-American chauffeur (Morgan Freeman), was an entirely predictable win for Best Picture. The movie’s genteel handling of the relationship between a white character and her black servant stands in glaring contrast to Spike Lee’s thought-provoking, bursting-with-energy Do the Right Thing. A strikingly bold, original take on race relations in America, the movie was released the same year as Driving Miss Daisy, but failed to gain a nomination for Best Picture, proving yet again the Academy can be woefully out-of-touch. While Driving Miss Daisy feels like a charming relic from an earlier time, Do the Right Thing retains an immediacy and social relevance that seems to grow with each passing year. Spike Lee’s 1989 masterpiece could be released today and would still be hailed as an innovative, towering achievement.

Year: 1991
Dances with Wolves
Shoulda Won: GoodFellas

There is no dispute that Goodfellas is one of the greatest movies of all time, and how it did not win Best Picture is still a mystery to movie fans. Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece is a complex, riotously funny, morally ambiguous mob epic featuring outstanding performances (from Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco and Robert De Niro) and bravura camerawork. Instead, the Academy chose to honor Kevin Costner’s big-budget directorial debut, Dances with Wolves. The solid but conventional western proved yet again that the Academy is decidedly more comfortable with the past than they are with the present (or the future). Scorsese would finally receive his first directing Oscar (although it came 16 years after Goodfellas) for The Departed, which was also the 2007 Best Picture winner.

Year: 1995
Won: Forrest Gump
Should Won: Pulp Fiction

In the late 1990s, it was hard to walk into a movie theater without an uber-violent, non-chronological, multi-character, crime-comedy playing. And for that, we have lifelong movie geek Quentin Tarantino to thank. When Pulp Fiction, his ground-breaking, off-center take on genre conventions, was released in 1994, it set off an almost immediate wave of second-rate imitations. While these movies might have been entertaining in their own right, none featured characters as lively, insightful or three-dimensional as those populating the stylized world of Pulp Fiction. Tarantino’s masterwork is still being discussed in film classes and being ripped off (er, paid homage to) by moviemakers today, while the only person attempting to repeat the success of Robert Zemeckis’ pandering, schmaltzy Forrest Gump is Eric Roth, who wrote the 1994 Oscar-winner as well as the suspiciously similar The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (currently nominated for Best Picture).

Year: 1997
Won: The English Patient
Shoulda Won: Fargo

The Coen brothersFargo details—with wit and flair—how a seemingly simple crime can go awry once money and ineptitude get in the way. Featuring standout performances from Frances McDormand and William H. Macy, the movie is widely considered the Coens’ masterwork, a successful blend of the brothers’ oddball sense of humor with grisly, unexpected violence. Fargo remains an idiosyncratic, quirky masterpiece unlike any crime movie ever made. The Academy, as might have been expected, chose instead to honor Anthony Minghellas’ slow-as-molasses war-romance, demonstrating once again their love of the stately and picturesque and apparent distaste for violent subject matter and disturbing, thought-provoking material.