The Academy Awards often straddles trying to find a way to be more crowd-pleasing for the masses, while also ignoring smaller films that deserve praise because members did not watch them. Culture writer for The Atlantic, David Sims, points out that often to award smaller, niche films, the Academy throws a screenwriting nomination their way.

It's this weird consolation nomination, where the writers seem to see past the noise and pick movies that truly deserve to be there, in a way other branches of the Academy often do not. To be seen by the writers means you were truly seen. 

But Sims points out that often these moves are underrated and underappreciated across the spectrum, deserving much more love. This is his list of 23 of the best of those movies. I won't retype his thoughts, you should read the article, but check out his picks below. 

The Atlantic Names 23 Great Movies the Oscars Had to Recognize

1. Ghost World (2001)

This is one of my favorite underrated classics. Adapted from an excellent graphic novel, you get to see the early acting prowess of Scarlett Johansson and the amazing chemistry of the entire cast.

Watch it on: Amazon Prime 

2. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

It seems like the Academy always looks past Wes Anderson. His earliest mainstream film had the cast, subject matter, and cinematography to be nominated for multiple awards. Instead, it was largely ignored. Still, I think this is one of Anderson's best and most-talked-about movies today. 

Watch it on: Amazon Prime 

Y_tu_mama_tambien-1108x0-c-default'Y tu mamá también'Credit: 20th Century Fox

3. Y tu mamá también (2001)

When I was a freshman in high school my Spanish teacher told us we had to do a report on a movie in another language. I went to see this and let's just say, it was an awakening for me. Now as an adult, I look back on this film's coming-of-age story and realize how formative it was for me. 

Watch it onApple TV 

4. About a Boy (2002)

Low key, one of my favorite hidden Christmas movies. I think the wit and charm in here are severely overlooked because it's just come to be what we expect from Hugh Grant. 

Watch it on: Amazon Prime and Apple TV 

5. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

One of the best romantic comedies of all time, this really highlights what it's like to be from a big family and all the insanity of incorporating them into your new love life. Does the Academy hate to laugh? 

Watch it on: HBO Max and Apple TV 

6. Dirty Pretty Things (2002)

You know, I thought a movie about selling organs on the black market would have gotten more love, But there seems to be a blind spot for foreign movies no matter what. 

Watch it onHBO Max and Apple TV 

7. American Splendor (2003)

Another excellent movie based on a graphic novel covers the life of Harvey Pekar. With a personality that's as big as a feature film, we go through the motions here with another all-star cast that failed to get the love they deserved.  

Watch it onHBO Max and Apple TV  

8. Before Sunset (2004)

The centerpiece of the most romantic trilogy of all time, this movie takes a much more mature look at Celeste and Jesse. Its love picks up years after the initial movie, and settles the couple into a time where they're brave enough to take the leaps necessary to make it work. 

Watch it on: Tubi, Apple TV, Amazon Prime 

9. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

A hidden gem I love recommending to people, this movie felt like it came out of nowhere to surprise and endear audiences. Its cast, director, and writer have all gone on to do other big things, but this movie feels like a foundation that was forgotten. 

Watch it onApple TV  

Happygolucky-birdhatsmomentum_pictures'Happy-Go-Lucky'Credit: Momentum Pictures

10. Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)

Sally Hawkins really deserved an Academy Award for her work here. Mike Leigh's movie was made just by giving actors backstory and letting them play. Hawkins' work here is so nuanced and beautiful it's amazing the Academy ignored it. 

Watch it onCinemax 

11. In Bruges (2008)

One of the funniest movies of the 2000s shows the academy has a blindspot when it comes to comedy. This violent tale about hitmen and European cities deserved its lone nom, but its characters were so fluid, acting awards were even more deserved. 

Watch it onAmazon Prime and Apple TV

12. In the Loop (2009)

Again, comedies often miss out on major awards sweeps. This smart, fast-paced political comedy is still a favorite. I also think this list shows that movies not from America often have a hard time getting nominated because the Academy usually thinks of them as foreign films only. 

Watch it onApple TV 

13. Another Year (2010)

Another Mike Leigh movie that presents amazing acting but only gets seen for its screenplay. We follow an elderly couple dealing with their rapidly changing life. 

Watch it on: Amazon Prime and Apple TV

14. Margin Call (2011)

Perhaps a theme of this list is harbingers of what's to come. But this movie was a fantastic debut for J.C. Chandor and seems forgotten as his hit list gets longer. 

Watch it on: Amazon Prime and Apple TV

15. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Another Wes Anderson, this sumptuous looking movie seems like it should have earned a plethora of nominations. But instead, only writing. Anderson's technical skills will be appreciated someday. but for now, it seems like only writers see his movies and marvel.  

Watch it onHBO Max 

16. Before Midnight (2013)

Really, all the "Before" movies should have received glory across the board. This third installment is a statement on where relationships can go, and may all go. It's not that love goes away, but it settles down and somehow strengthens. 

Watch it onAmazon Prime and Apple TV

17. Nightcrawler (2014)

This shocking and virtuoso performance from Jake Gyllenhaal was crazily overlooked. It's a story that feels so modern, about a 24-hour news cycle looking for violence and dystopia in cities. A seedy character and station exploring all of it for power.  Watch this movie ASAP. 

Watch it onAmazon Prime and Apple TV

Straight_outta_compton_jaimie_trueblood'Straight Outta Compton'Credit: Jaimie Trueblood

18. Straight Outta Compton (2015)

Want to learn about a young Ice Cube? This biopic of N.W.A. was a shock to the system. It revamped the way we could think about these kinds of movies, and it contained camera work that was extraordinary. 

Watch it onAmazon Prime and Apple TV 

19. 20th Century Women (2016)

I always think Mike Mills deserves more credit than he gets. The guy makes movies that make you feel, and this movie really tugged at the soul. It covers an extraordinary period of time. 

Watch it onApple TV 

20. The Lobster (2016)

Perhaps this one was too left of center for the Academy. But this Yorgos Lanthimos film was a brilliant surrealist take on love, soulmates, and society. 

Watch it onApple TV 

_a24_films_everett-the-lobster'The Lobster'Credit: A24

21. The Big Sick (2017)

Not to beat the comedy drum again, but usually, the Academy has a soft spot for terminal illness. Here, it just seems like they missed this movie outside of the writing. It has clever performances, fun shifts in storytelling, and some great payoffs. 

Watch it on: Amazon Prime 

22. First Reformed (2018)

Maybe my favorite movie of the last 20 years. We often see people try to navigate the line between science and spirituality. This movie takes it on with aplomb. Full of performances that might be career-defining, this movie never shies away from the truth or larger questions. It's amazing we don't talk about it more. 

Watch it on: Apple TV 

23. The White Tiger (2021)

Ramin Bahrani’s sprawling epic of an Indian man’s escape from poverty to success is absolutely gripping. The social interactions and journey are truly poignant and personal. There's obviously a movement for streamers to be seen as Academy contenders, and this one should be in the conversation. 

Watch it onNetflix 

Which of these movies have you seen and loved? Are there others you would add to the list? Leave them in the comments!