Oscars: All 89 Best Picture Winners Ranked

68) A Man for All Seasons (1966)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
On the back of High Noon and From Here to Eternity, director Fred Zinnemann was the man for awards season. This was the battle of two films, one color, one black and white. Acclaimed, sure, but was this nominated in every singe eligible category that year?
Could Have Been
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Not Even Nominated
Blowup; Georgy Girl; Persona

67) A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
The year the Academy were so desparate to reward Ron Howard who had perhaps earned “owed” status from 1995’s mishaps. Nothing genius about that. But Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly excelled given the corny dialogue.
Could Have Been
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Not Even Nominated
Amelie; Mulholland Drive; Black Hawk Down

66) Marty (1955)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
See, even short, self-critical losers and melancholic house-cats can find love. And win Best Actor for it. Ernest would offer his homophobic viewpoints 50 years later to help deny one of the all-time Best Picture losers.
Could Have Been
The Rose Tattoo
Not Even Nominated
The Wages of Fear; East of Eden; Bad Day at Black Rock

65) How Green Was My Valley (1941)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
One of the very first Best Picture winners to acquire a bad rep based on the film it beats. Orson Welles is defeated by John Ford – winning one of his four Oscars for Best Director. This was, though, the only one of those that also won Best Picture.
Could Have Been
Citizen Kane
Not Even Nominated
Dumbo; Fantasia; High Sierra

64) Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
All aboard the HMS Bounty. Look at him. Look at him. William Bligh is your captain now. His cruel, brutal treatment of others eventually results in the mutiny of the title.
Could Have Been
The Informer
Not Even Nominated
The 39 Steps; A Night at the Opera; Bride of Frankenstein

63) The King’s Speech (2010)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
You can’t spell royal without oral. The King’s troubles of the tongue are resolved in a Rush. The right man for the job, Geoffrey of course had already won an Oscar for stammering. Quite.
Could Have Been
The Social Network
Not Even Nominated
How to Train Your Dragon; The Town; Animal Kingdom

62) Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
Bruce Beresford’s disappearance from the awards race and Jessica Tandy’s veteran status won over the sentimental two-thirds of the Academy. While Morgan Freeman did all the damn driving.
Could Have Been
Born on the Fourth of July
Not Even Nominated
Glory; The Abyss; The Fabulous Baker Boys; Crimes and Misdemeanors; Henry V; The Little Mermaid; Do the Right Thing

61) Braveheart (1995)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
Aussie Scot defeats the English. Beds a French princess after his beloved is beheaded. Dons blue face paint. And would rather be ripped apart than swallow his pride. Stubborn that Mel Gibson.
Could Have Been
Sense and Sensibility; Apollo 13
Not Even Nominated
Dead Man Walking; The Usual Suspects; Leaving Las Vegas; Seven; Heat; Nixon; Toy Story; Crimson Tide; Richard III

60) Wings (1927/28)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
Way too low on this list. A true marvel in story-telling and technical prowess given the time. One of Christoper Nolan’s go-to movies this year. I assume. And Clara Bow, be still my beating heart.
Could Have Been
Sunrise; 7th Heaven
Not Even Nominated
Metropolis; The Jazz Singer; The General; The Circus

59) Ordinary People (1980)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
The one directed by an actor that beat Scorsese. Ten years before that one directed by an actor, that, well, beat Scorsese. With that young kid winning an acting Oscar amidst a cast of pedigrees.
Could Have Been
Raging Bull
Not Even Nominated
The Empire Strikes Back; The Shining; Fame; The Stunt Man; My Brilliant Career

58) Gandhi (1982)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
The life and times of Mohandas Gandhi, India’s stubborn ambassador for peace. The British-ruled India I might add. An enduring picture by Richard Attenborough, with a terrific Ben Kingsley.
Could Have Been
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Not Even Nominated
Lola; Das Boot; Blade Runner; Victor/Victoria

57) An American in Paris (1951)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
Gene Kelly heads the Best Picture winning musical story of two men, one woman (no, not that one). Leslie Caron’s feature debut, teaming with director Vincente Minnelli for the first of two Best Picture ventures.
Could Have Been
A Streetcar Named Desire
Not Even Nominated
The African Queen; Strangers on a Train; Alice in Wonderland

56) Patton (1970)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
The depiction of General Patton during World War II. Famous for the iconic American flag background to the opening speech. But also, for Best Actor winner George C. Scott declining his award, so no speech there.
Could Have Been
MASH
Not Even Nominated
Claire’s Knee; Women in Love; Fellini Satyricon; Tora! Tora! Tora!

55) The Artist (2011)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
Silent cinema makes a comeback. The Academy honored the film for its genuine quality and appeal, but also for that homage to early filmmaking. Somewhat disrespected for its win, nonetheless, silence is golden on this occasion.
Could Have Been
Hugo
Not Even Nominated
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Bridesmaids; A Separation

54) Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
Proof that Miramax was the most powerful force in the filmiverse. That Shakespeare was actually young once. And that Gwyneth Paltrow made a decent boy. Who cries like a baby when she gets what she doesn’t deserve.
Could Have Been
Saving Private Ryan
Not Even Nominated
Gods and Monsters; The Truman Show; Central Station; Out of Sight

53) My Fair Lady (1964)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
Audrey Hepburn gets a make-over. A classic American musical based on the stage show from the George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion. No Oscar nod for Hepburn, likewise the Cockney in the companion piece Mary Poppins. Their respective leads won the Acting awards.
Could Have Been
Mary Poppins
Not Even Nominated
A Hard Day’s Night; The Unsinkable Molly Brown; Marnie

52) Dances with Wolves (1990)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
A far worse rep than it deserves, Kevin Costner helped bring epic filmmaking back on the Academy agenda. Because they could not bring themselves to reward a bad-guy masterpiece. John Barry, though, you the man.
Could Have Been
Goodfellas
Not Even Nominated
Dick Tracy; Cyrano de Bergerac; The Grifters; Reversal of Fortune; Edward Scissorhands

51) The English Patient (1996)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
A far worse rep than it deserves, Anthony Minghellar helped bring epic filmmaking back on the Academy agenda. Because they could not bring themselves to reward a bad-guy masterpiece. Gabriel Jared, though, you the man.
Could Have Been
Fargo
Not Even Nominated
Evita; Hamlet; Trainspotting; The People vs. Larry Flynt; Lone Star

50) The Sting (1973)

Oscars

In A Nutshell
Butch Cassidy and Sundance reunite with director George Roy Hill, to play con artists looking to get one over on a crime boss. The film’s huge success of seven Oscar wins says a lot about how the Academy were afraid to honor horror.
Could Have Been
The Exorcist
Not Even Nominated
Serpico; Mean Streets; The Long Goodbye; The Way We Were; Badlands; Don’t Look Now

CONTINUE – Part III: A Drop Of Golden Sun

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Oscars: All 89 Best Picture Winners Ranked

  1. I see what you did with #52 and #51. But…can epic filmmaking really be brought back twice in six years? I think you’re just testing us to see if we’re paying attention.

  2. I don’t understand your caption for Chicago (2002):
    “Some exquisitely executed set-pieces don’t really make this familiar musical a big screen classic. On the verge of war, were America looking for some razzle-dazzle relief a la post World War II?”
    Was America on the verge of war in 1931, when Chicago is set? What makes you say there was “famous razzle-dazzle relief” around 1946? Having studied the period, I don’t see it. Or did you mean World War I? That would make a certain sense, that’s when women went from dresses to skirts, start of radio and magazines, Great Gatsby stuff. But then it would be weird to ask if 1931 was trying for that, when 1931 was in many ways a continuation of that (to some degree, Cabaret is about that).
    Confused.

    1. It’s a basic and casual reference to the flourish of musicals in Hollywood after the second world war. Not just the reflection on Oscar nominations and winners, but cinema in general. Almost like the world needed cheering up or distracting. Which we did. And not that many of those musicals were uplifting. The Chicago win may in some part be on a similar vein, post-9/11 and the resulting fiasco.

    1. Yeah very high. It’s on the back of the recent win. If we did this in 5 years, 2 years, it’d be lower.

      Or are you complaining it should be higher? 😁

Leave a Reply