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8. '28 Days Later'
Year: 2003 (unless you were in the UK and Ireland, where it was 2002)
That year's Best Picture winner: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of King"
Actual nominations: None
Why: Danny Boyle's groundbreaking zombie thriller not only made "fast" zombies a contemporary conceit (there had been speedy walkers before), but its cinematic style was a major evolution of the aesthetic Boyle had fashioned for his previous films. Along with screenwriter Alex Garland, he fashioned a horror movie that played with broad themes of a post-apocalyptic world and was particularly haunting in the context of the Sept. 11 attacks less than two years prior. It didn't earn any recognition from the Academy whatsoever, but you can certainly say it inspired more filmmakers than a number of 2003's Best Picture nominees.
- Gregory Ellwood