One of the good things about the Academy Awards is that the list of Best Picture nominees gives us an idea of the most successful films, going back to 1927. Sure, the list excludes thousands of great foreign movies, acclaimed indies and the great silent features made before 1927, but it is undeniable that it gives audiences a good place to start a film education. There have been over 500 films nominated for Best Picture and just 85 of them have won the awards.
Obviously, there's a lot of movies that should have won Best Picture. It's impossible to look at every movie ever made and say “This one should have won.” The world would be a better place if films by Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu, Jean-Luc Godard, Federico Fellini, Roberto Rossellini, Wong Kar-Wai and many others were on the list of Best Picture nominees, but they're not. Instead, this chronological list is just a handful of great movies that did get nominated and should have actually walked away with the statue.
As a note, many obvious picks are not here for the sake of bringing attention to other films that you haven't read about a thousand times before. In other words, everyone knows that Saving Private Ryan should have beat Shakespeare in Love and Brokeback Mountain should have beat Crash. Double Indemnity should have beat Going My Way. There's no use in me wasting more of your time on that.