Top 10 Oscar Winner Movies Made on a Low Budget
Big, extravagant movies that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make are dominating the nomination list at the academy awards every year as moviemakers strive for the biggest projects using the newest technologies to get the movie lover’s money. These monstrosities command the box office worldwide trying to rake in more that they cost to produce. They dazzle us with special effects and incredulous storylines about space, aliens, and fabled dimensions. The goal of these history making motion pictures is to make back their investment and earn a huge profit. The bigger they are, the more they cost to make, the more they have to earn. Studios will spend more on advertising these behemoths than some of the movies on this list cost to make.
Yet there is still hope for the underdog. The low budget productions that used to be the staple of our movie-going menu are still alive and kicking even in the shadow of these monumental epics and serial sagas. Money does not necessarily dictate quality and those who judge still know this. Quite often lately, as the Academy puts its faith in great acting, screenplay writing, and directing without looking at the hundreds of millions of dollars that went into the making of their extravagant competitors, smaller, low budget movies are still recognized for what they are, which is entertaining. Here is a list of these David’s that overcame their Goliaths to win the Best Picture Oscar. They are in no particular order, as it would be impossible to decide a winner from these winners. Therefore, read the list, check out the movies, and you-be-the-judge.
10. The Hurt Locker
Budget: $15 Million
Other Movies Nominated: Avatar, The Blind Side, District Nine, An Education, Inglorious Bastards, Precious, A Serious Man, Up in the Air, Up
The Hurt Locker is to the war in Iraq what Platoon was to the Vietnam Conflict, engaging and realistic. This low budget movie won several Oscars and continues to win other awards garnering the respect it so richly deserves. This film makes history, as the director, Kathryn Bigelow, is the first woman ever to win the Best Director Oscar. This movie gets a huge nod from the fans as well, grossing $48,605,485 by mid-march and was still going strong. One reason this film is so good is the gritty and intelligent writing of Mark Boal a freelance writer who spent time in Iraq as a correspondent with a United States Army Bomb Squad. This realism shows in the screenplay. Our amazing men and women overseas deserve much more than a movie like this but it is a great tribute regardless.
9. Slumdog Millionaire
Budget: $15 Million
Other Movies Nominated: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader
The plot gets much deeper that you could possibly imagine when an 18-year-old contestant of the India version of “Who wants to be a millionaire” advances to within one question from the top prize, suspicion and accusations fly because he is a poor boy from the wrong side of town. The depth of this movie will astound you. Absolutely no one saw this little Indies film coming. Right out of the gate with its limited release it began a critical acclaim ride that ended with more Oscars than it could carry and a bunch or other awards as well. Here is what this movie with the 15.1 million dollar budget did at the Academy Awards: Oscars for, Best Picture, Best Director, (Danny Boyle) Best Adapted Screenplay, (Simon Beaufoy) Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. Eight total Oscars, seven BAFTA Awards, not to mention the four Golden Globes. (A record!) Does it get any better than that?
8. American Beauty
Budget: $15 Million
Other Movies Nominated: The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, The Insider, The Sixth Sense
Vivid imagery is the key to this movies popularity. This 1999 film makes you think. The only complaint that I have is that I had more questions coming out than I did when I went in. That is the depths of how this movie makes you think. It literally left an indelible mark upon my soul. That we as middle-aged Americans put so much value on youth and beauty is something that I believe is a sore point of truth that we are not ready to face. This movie had to win the Best Film Oscar. No matter what year it would or could have been released in, this movie would have won. It would not matter what other movie it was up against, it would have won. It is a timeless movie whose time has not only come; its time is here to stay. Kevin Spacey may have well have been me. He put so much of every man into this part that he could have been you as well.
Budget: $6,5 Million
Other Movies Nominated: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich
Filled with racial tension, Crash tries to epitomize life in Los Angeles. Hopefully, they have it wrong. The movie is engrossing but do not blink because it has more plot turns than a pretzel on crack. Revolving around a car crash in the opening scenes, this movie follows a small part of the lives of several people who lead complicated lives in L.A. and never looks back. This is the kind of movie that you do not really get until you think about it hours later while trying to go to sleep.
6. Ordinary People
Budget: $6 Million
Other Movies Nominated: Coal Miner’s Daughter, The Elephant Man, Raging Bull, Tess
Robert Redford’s debut as director is a great first try. The movie depicts how one person can hold a family together without realizing it. When this persons dies in a boating accident, we watch as the family falls apart, also not realizing that they have lost the glue that held them together. The strong sub-plot is one that we as people experience all too often. The son that dies was the “favorite” son. This leaves the brother who survives the accident dealing with his brother’s loss and the emotions of a family who loved the unfortunate dead son more than they love him. This leads to a suicide attempt as he feels he should have been the one to die. The raw emotions in this piece make it feel real. It leaves you wondering how you would handle the situations in the movie were they happening to you, which is not that far fetched.