Top 84 Best Picture Winners Ever

Top 84 Best Picture Winners Ever

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The 85th Annual Academy Awards ceremony is coming your way on Feb. 24. Since starting the tradition in 1929, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has only missed one year (1933), due to scheduling irregularities. In all, 84 Best Picture winners have been crowned thus far, but who are the best of the best? Life’d now gives you our take on the Top 84 Best Picture Winners Ever.

NOTE: On the “Budget” portion, there are two numbers. The ones in parentheses () indicate what the film would have cost in today’s dollars.

84. Cimarron (1931 − 4th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A newspaper guy and his spouse settle in an Oklahoma boom town in the late 1800s.

Why It’s Great: The first western Best Picture Winner, and the only one until Dances with Wolves (1990). Not sure we’d want to watch this because it’s great or more for its historical significance. Wesley Ruggle’s film features Hollywood’s best of the day in the form of Irene Dunne and Richard Dix, but there is nothing here to live up to previous winners Wings and All Quiet on the Western Front. Other noms this year included Skippy, The Front Page, Trader Horn and East Lynne.

Oscar Wins: 3

Budget: $1.433 million ($20.9 million)

IMDB User Rating: 6.0

Trailer:

83. Cavalcade (1933 − 6th Best Picture Winner)
Plot: Epic drama follows an English elite couple through three decades of life against the backdrop of real-world events.
Why It’s Great: While some of the acting comes across as over-the-top by today’s standards, the film is interesting as a lens for how people of the time viewed at culturally and historically significant events like the Titanic sinking and the passing of Queen Victoria. Cavalcade beat 42nd Street, A Farewell to Arms, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, Lady for a Day, Little Women, The Private Life of Henry VIII, She Done Him Wrong, Smilin’ Through and State Fair for the win.

Oscar Wins: 3

Budget: $1.18 million ($20.225 million)

IMDB User Rating: 6.3

Trailer:

82. The Broadway Melody (1929 − 2nd Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Love triangle set on Broadway involving Eddie Kerns and the vaudevillian transplants he pursues.
Why It’s Great: Considered the first feature-length musical, The Broadway Melody today suffers from weak characterizations, heavy melodrama and cliche after cliche. It’s fun to watch for the historical value, but that doesn’t make it great. Nevertheless, it was a commercial success at the time, and it managed to beat Alibi, In Old Arizona, Hollywood Revue and The Patriot for its sole Academy Award.

Oscar Wins: 1

Budget: $379,000 ($4.917 million)

IMDB User Rating: 6.4

Trailer:

81. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952 − 25th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A dramatized behind-the-scenes look at Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Why It’s Great: It is an interesting glimpse into what truly was, for its time, the “greatest show on earth.” Still, when looking at the competition, we’re left scratching our heads at the Academy’s decision to pick this over High Noon, which won twice the amount of awards, or The Quiet Man. Along with these two slighted films, Ivanhoe and Moulin Rouge were in the running.

Oscar Wins: 2

Budget: $4 million ($33.429 million)

IMDB User Rating: 6.7

Trailer:

80. Around the World in 80 Days (1956 − 29th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Phileas Fogg bets some of his chums a heinous amount of money he can travel around the entire globe in 80 days via hot-air balloon.
Why It’s Great: An obscenely talented cast from the top to the bottom made this one a must-see in 1956. While ATWI80D is worth a look, it’s hard to fathom what the Academy was thinking here in ignoring nominees Giant and The Ten Commandments and not even recognizing The Searchers with a single nomination of any kind. Other Best Pic noms included Friendly Persuasion and The King and I.

Oscar Wins: 5

Budget: $6 million ($48.962 million)

IMDB User Rating: 6.8

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79. Tom Jones (1963 − 36th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A bastard child with an affinity for the ladies falls in love with one, who reciprocates but is unable to act upon it because of her family’s disapproval.

Why It’s Great: Great? Not sure about that, but it’s interesting. Characters often tear down the fourth wall and speak directly to the audience, and some of it was quite funny at the time but hasn’t aged particularly well. Additional nominees this year included America, America, Cleopatra, How the West Was Won and Lilies of the Field.

Oscar Wins: 2

Budget: $1 million ($25.901 million)

IMDB User Rating: 6.9

Trailer:

78. The Great Ziegfeld (9th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: The life of Flo Ziegfeld as bastardized by Hollywood.

Why It’s Great: While there is much to like about The Great Ziegfeld, one of the early Best Picture winners, there are also several liberties taken with the life of the man behind the Ziegfeld Follies. Today it makes for a better historical record of Depression-era filmmaking than great storytelling. Others up for the award were Anthony Adverse, Dodsworth, Libeled Lady, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Romeo and Juliet, San Francisco, The Story of Louis Pasteur, A Tale of Two Cities and Three Smart Girls.

Oscar Wins: 3

Budget: Data unavailable

IMDB User Rating: 6.9

Trailer:

77. Gigi (1958 − 31st Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A man and woman try to “just be friends” in this musical that was When Harry Met Sally before Harry met Sally.

Why It’s Great: Hollywood was in love with Gigi at the 1959 awards show, and it showed in an astounding nine wins including Best Picture. The losing films: Auntie Mame, The Defiant Ones, Separate Tables and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Oscar Wins: 9

Budget: $3.319 million ($25.456 million)

IMDB User Rating: 6.9

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76. Platoon (1986 − 59th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A young soldier in the Vietnam War finds his real enemy comes from within his own platoon.
Why It’s Great: It beat out Children of a Lesser God, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Mission and A Room with a View, but calling Platoon a “Best Picture” and “The Greatest War Movie Ever Made” reveals pedestrian taste at best. There have been lots of superior war films made that didn’t earn half this thing’s accolades, and one Vietnam War film that makes it seem almost juvenile. (I’m talking about Full Metal Jacket, of course.) Oh well, you can’t get them all, Academy.

Oscar Wins: 4

Budget: $6 million ($12.111 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.2

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75. Chicago (2002 − 75th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Velma and Roxie are two killer ladies who cross paths in this musical set against the backdrop of 1924 Chicago.
Why It’s Great: Director Rob Marshall’s cast sizzles. There’s not a bad song in the bunch. And, for us, the setting and art direction offer exactly what motion pictures are supposed to: grade-A escapism of the highest order. Chicago mixed it up with Gangs of New York, The Hours, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Pianist for the win.

Oscar Wins: 6

Budget: $45 million ($55.781 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.1

Trailer:

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74. Shakespeare in Love (1998 − 71st Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Romantic (fictional) comedy-drama follows William Shakespeare’s developing love affair while writing Romeo and Juliet.

Why It’s Great: Not sure if we would have given Shakespeare in Love the nod over Saving Private Ryan in 1999, but it is a solid comedy and delightful escapism as opposed to the latter which is horrific and unforgettable. Elizabeth, Life Is Beautiful and The Thin Red Line were the other contestants, and we’ll choose Shakespeare over those any day.

Oscar Wins: 7

Budget: $25 million ($34.237 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.2

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73. Chariots of Fire (1981 − 54th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Two British runners – one Jewish, one Christian – compete at the 1924 Olympics.

Why It’s Great: This may not be one for an action movie culture, but if you’re feeling spiritual, then you’ll definitely want to pop this one in, as it asks some thought-provoking questions for anyone who believes in something. Very character-driven film, so it’s something you have to be in the mood for, but if you are, it’s time well-spent. Other nominees at the 1982 ceremony included Atlantic City, On Golden Pond, Reds and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Oscar Wins: 4

Budget: $4.756 million ($11.585 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.2

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72. An American in Paris (1951 − 24th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A trio of buddies look for work in Paris. Two get caught up with the same girl.

Why It’s Great: Great music and dance numbers highlight an otherwise passably enjoyable tale. “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and “Embraceable You” are the standouts. Other nominees: Decision Before Dawn, A Streetcar Named Desire, A Place in the Sun and Quo Vadis.

Oscar Wins: 6

Budget: $2.723 million ($23.257 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.2

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71. Gentleman’s Agreement (1947 − 20th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A reporter passes himself off as Jewish and cuts to the heart of antisemitism in NYC.

Why It’s Great: Gentleman’s Agreement was controversial at the time and remains a bold comment on bigotry of all kinds. It was nominated for eight awards, and won the top honor over competition like The Bishop’s Wife, Miracle on 34th Street, Great Expectations and another film that tackled antisemitism, Crossfire.

Oscar Wins: 3

Budget: $2 million ($19.867 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.3

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70. The Life of Emile Zola (1937 − 10th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Bio-pic of activist writer Emile Zola, who calls out his own government for the false conviction of a military captain.

Why It’s Great: Zola was a ballsy guy, who (rightfully) questioned authority, and Paul Muni’s portrayal of him is nothing short of outstanding. The first film to receive ten nominations, this won against The Awful Truth, Captains Courageous, The Good Earth, In Old Chicago, Dead End, Lost Horizon, 100 Men and a Girl, A Star Is Born and Stage Door.

Oscar Wins: 3

Budget: Data unavailable

IMDB User Rating: 7.3

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69. Going My Way (1944 − 17th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A young Roman Catholic clergyman wins over a gang of kids and his traditionalist Father Superior.

Why It’s Great: No matter what you think of today’s Catholic Church, it’s hard not to like your main character when he’s played by Bing Crosby. Going My Way is a fun bit of escapism from a simpler time. Just go with it. Other nominees in 1944 included Double Indemnity, Gaslight, Since You Went Away and Wilson.

Oscar Wins: 7

Budget: Data unavailable

IMDB User Rating: 7.3

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68. Terms of Endearment (1983 − 56th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Tearjerker depicting the combative yet loving relationship of a mother and daughter, tested and ultimately strengthened through terminal illness.

Why It’s Great: Terms of Endearment is weepy without ever committing the sin of being overtly manipulative. The two lead actresses are largely the reason, but the source material – a novel by Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove) – helps out a lot. Other noms for the year included The Big Chill, The Dresser, The Right Stuff and Tender Mercies.

Oscar Wins: 5

Budget: $8 million ($17.78 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.3

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67. The English Patient (1996 − 69th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: When a WWII nurse attends to a burned plane crash victim, she learns more about her patient than meets the eye.

Why It’s Great: The English Patient is a fine film, if overly long, but it should not have won Best Picture when stacked against the Coen Brothers’ superior crime-drama Fargo. Other nominees included Secrets and Lies, Shine and Jerry Maguire.

Oscar Wins: 9

Budget: $27 million ($38.206 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.3

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66. Oliver! (1968 − 41st Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Musical film based on stage-produced remake of the Charles Dickens story.

Why It’s Great: Well, it’s okay. The musical numbers are catchy, specifically “You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two” and “Where is Love?” and the production values are superb. But while the film could very well have been the best of the year – Funny Girl, The Lion in Winter, Romeo and Juliet and Rachel, Rachel were also nominated – 1968 wasn’t a particularly memorable year for movies in our opinion.

Oscar Wins: 7

Budget: Data unavailable

IMDB User Rating: 7.4

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65. Driving Miss Daisy (1989 − 62nd Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Portrait of an unlikely friendship between a Jewish woman and her African-American chauffeur in the South over a span of several years.

Why It’s Great: Driving Miss Daisy is a warm and funny film that sneaks up on you. If you’re like us, you don’t think about it much on the list of “greatest films ever made,” but then when you hear the name you instantly recall a number of specifics. It has a deceptive amount of staying power, in other words. It battled against (and defeated) Born on the Fourth of July, Dead Poets Society, Field of Dreams and My Left Foot for the Oscar.

Oscar Wins: 4

Budget: $7.5 million ($13.394 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.4

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64. Titanic (1997 − 70th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A short but intense romance burns aboard the doomed Titanic.

Why It’s Great: Titanic is one of those great stories without any help from James Cameron whatsoever. In just a few short hours, men and women were forced to make the toughest decisions of their lives. Kind of makes you wonder what you would have done. Cameron’s romantic plot is pedestrian, but his handling of the history behind it is enthralling. Other nominees: As Good As It Gets, The Full Monty, Good Will Hunting and L.A. Confidential (our pick).

Oscar Wins: 11

Budget: $200 million ($278.282 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.6

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63. Mrs. Miniver (1942 − 15th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A British family remains strong through war and loss during World War II.

Why It’s Great: It’s easy to call movies like Mrs. Miniver “propaganda,” because they have a tendency to endorse the “us versus them” view. But truthfully, sometimes it is us versus them. Mrs. Miniver understands this, and it was a moving unifier between Great Britain and the United States during one of the world’s darkest historical time periods. Other noms included Yankee Doodle Dandy, Wake Island, The Talk of the Town, The Invaders, Kings Row, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Pied Piper, The Pride of the Yankees and Random Harvest.

Oscar Wins: 6

Budget: $1.344 million ($18.292 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.6

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62. Grand Hotel (1932 − 5th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A Berlin hotel is the setting for a series of related (and unrelated) dramas.

Why It’s Great: In those days, big event pictures were less about special FX and more about actors such as Lionel and John Barrymore, Greta Garbo, and Joan Crawford, tearing up the screen. Grand Hotel had all of this and enough gusto to capture the trophy ahead of Arrowsmith, Bad Girl, The Champ, Five Star Final, One Hour with You, Shanghai Express and The Smiling Lieutenant. It was, however, the only award the film would win.

Oscar Wins: 1

Budget: $700,000 ($11.386 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.6

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61. All the King’s Men (1949 − 22nd Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Rising star crusader Willie Stark is corrupted when he turns to politics.

Why It’s Great: Based on the Robert Penn Warren novel, this 1949 film version – later bastardized in a 2006 remake starring Sean Penn – illustrates with unflinching accuracy the reality of American politics. Unfortunately, it’s as true today as it was then. Great performances all around. Other nominees: Battleground, The Heiress, A Letter to Three Wives and Twelve O’Clock High.

Oscar Wins: 3

Budget: Data unavailable

IMDB User Rating: 7.6

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60. Out of Africa (1985 − 58th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A Kenyan plantation owner and big-game hunter ignite an unlikely love affair in the first half of the 20th Century.

Why It’s Great: Director Sydney Pollack definitely knew how to shoot the scenery, which in many ways is the biggest star of the film (saying something, considering this is Meryl Streep and Robert Redford). But is it better than The Color Purple, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Prizzi’s Honor or Witness (the other nominees)? Hardly.

Oscar Wins: 7

Budget: $28 million ($57.593 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.0

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59. The Hurt Locker (2008 − 82nd Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Character study about a three-man bomb disposal squad during the Iraqi War.

Why It’s Great: Will it or won’t it? That’s the pressing question when it comes to diffusing a bomb, and the threat of it permeates the entire film creating unbearable tension even as we come to know and care about the American and Iraqi characters. Kathryn Bigelow proves to be one of the finest working directors today with The Hurt Locker, which beat out Up in the Air, Up, A Serious Man, Precious, Inglorious Basterds, An Education, District 9, The Blind Side, and Bigelow’s ex-husband James Cameron’s film Avatar, for the top prize.

Oscar Wins: 6

Budget: $15 million ($15.619 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.7

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58. Marty (1955 − 28th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A heavy, homely Italian butcher, who lives with his mother in the Bronx, finds a chance at true love with Clara, a plain-looking school teacher.

Why It’s Great: Romantic comedies and dramas are usually characterized by the good-looking star and starlet, who have an almost impossible charisma and sexual chemistry. Marty is a film for the rest of us – imperfect people who don’t always feel comfortable in our own skins. This film version of the 1953 teleplay beat out Love is a Many-Splendored Thing, Mister Roberts, Picnic and The Rose Tattoo for the Oscar. It’s also one of only two films to win at both Hollywood and Cannes. (The other was The Lost Weekend.)

Oscar Wins: 4

Budget: $343,000 ($2.841 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.7

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57. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979 − 52nd Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A recently divorced man cares for his young son, and then fights for custody when the mother, who walks out comes back to claim the boy.

Why It’s Great: The relationship between father and son is moving, and Meryl Streep is downright irritating as is the ignorance of the courts, but it all leads to a pretty uplifting finale. Kramer vs. Kramer beat All That Jazz, Apocalypse Now, Breaking Away and Norma Rae for the high honor.

Oscar Wins: 5

Budget: Data unavailable

IMDB User Rating: 7.7

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56. Wings (1927 − 1st Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Two World War I fighter pilots become entangled with the same woman.

Why It’s Great: The first Best Picture winner used real flying sequences in weaving a sweeping tale of love, rivalry and friendship amid the backdrop of WWI and the relatively new invention of the airplane. A groundbreaking film in every regard – from special FX to the daring use of nudity – Wings is much more than a captivating historical record. It’s a great movie. Other “Outstanding Pictures” for the ceremony – The Racket and Seventh Heaven.

Oscar Wins: 2 (out of only 12 award categories)

Budget: $2 million ($25.61 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.7

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55. The Last Emperor (1987 − 60th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Bio-pic follows Puyi, China’s last emperor, through his tumultuous reign.

Why It’s Great: Lensed by the great Bernardo Bertolucci, The Last Emperor is a visually magnetic film and the product of a skilled director at his most seasoned. Still, even with nine Academy Award wins, it faced some tough competition in the form of Moonstruck, Fatal Attraction, Broadcast News and Hope and Glory. Not really sure who came out on top there, so we’ll defer to the Academy.

Oscar Wins: 9

Budget: $23.8 million ($46.372 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.8

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54. My Fair Lady (1964 − 37th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A chauvinistic phonetics instructor undertakes the challenge of teaching Cockney-accented Eliza Doolittle how to speak properly.
Why It’s Great: Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison had a fun chemistry. While fans of the Broadway show wanted Julie Andrews in the role – she would star in another BP nominee that year (Mary Poppins) – Hepburn is her usual adorable self. Zorba the Greek, Becket and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb joined the other two nominees.

Oscar Wins: 8

Budget: $17 million ($121.623 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.8

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53. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935 − 8th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A British Navy ship captain faces the revolt of several mutineers. Based on true events.
Why It’s Great: While there have been about five versions of this filmed, the Charles Laughton-Clark Gable combination is difficult to beat. Eleven other films were nominated in an attempt to do so, and each one failed. They were: Alice Adams, Broadway Melody of 1936, Captain Blood, David Copperfield, The Informer, Les Miserables, The Lives of Bengal Lancer, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Naughty Marietta, Ruggles of Red Gap and Top Hat.

Oscar Wins: 1

Budget: $1.95 million ($31.535 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.8

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52. How Green Was My Valley (1941 − 14th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A family ensemble, follows the travails of a Welsh family at the turn of the 20th century.
Why It’s Great: John Ford’s direction alone offers a compelling enough reason to watch. Throw in top-tier performances from Maureen O’Hara, Walter Pidgeon and Roddy McDowall, and you’ve got a great movie. The best? Nah. Listen to the others nominated at the 1942 ceremony: Citizen Kane, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Blossoms in the Dust, Hold Back the Dawn, The Little Foxes, The Maltese Falcon, One Foot in Heaven, Suspicion and Sergeant York.

Oscar Wins: 5

Budget: $1.25 million ($18.833 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.8

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51. Ordinary People (1980 − 53rd Best Picture Winner)

Plot: The accidental death of their son threatens to tear a couple and their surviving child apart.
Why It’s Great: Known largely as the year that almost killed AMPAS credibility, Ordinary People is weak compared to the other nominees: Raging Bull (the true Best Picture), The Elephant Man, Coal Miner’s Daughter and Tess.

Oscar Wins: 4

Budget: $6 million ($16.12 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.8

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50. From Here to Eternity (1953 − 26th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Love, infidelity, and loyalty are tested in the days leading up to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Why It’s Great: First off, terrific cast for a terrific movie. But! It probably shouldn’t have won Best Picture when you consider it was up against the classic western Shane. Still, you won’t be wasting your time, and it does beat out the other nominees – Julius Caesar, The Robe and Roman Holiday.

Oscar Wins: 8

Budget: $1.65 million ($13.68 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.8

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49. You Can’t Take It With You (1938 − 11th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Film version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a girl from an eccentric family, who falls in love with a young man, whose snobbish parents disapprove of their union.
Why It’s Great: One of Hollywood’s original rom-coms, You Can’t Take It With You unites Jimmy Stewart, Lionel Barrymore (Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life), Edward Arnold and Jean Arthur in a delightful romance showing director Frank Capra’s early chops for feel-good family fun. Other nominees: The Adventures of Robin Hood, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Boys Town, The Citadel, Four Daughters, Grand Illusion, Jezebel, Pygmalion and Test Pilot.

Oscar Wins: 2

Budget: $1.644 million ($25.901 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.9

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48. Hamlet (1948 − 21st Best Picture Winner)

Plot: The bard’s classic tale of infidelity, murder and revenge.
Why It’s Great: One of the greatest plays from one of the greatest writers of all time under the watchful eye of director and star Laurence Olivier. Wow. If any film could beat that, it was Treasure of the Sierra Madre, another nominee at the 1949 ceremony. Others included The Red Shoes, The Snake Pit and Johnny Belinda. Still not sure if the Academy nailed this choice or not, but it’s a close one.

Oscar Wins: 4

Budget: $789,750 ($7.277 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.9

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47. The French Connection (1971 − 44th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Detective Popeye Doyle and partner Buddy Russo root out an international drug smuggling ring.
Why It’s Great: The first R-rated movie to win Best Picture! Other competition: A Clockwork Orange, Fiddler on the Roof, The Last Picture Show and Nicholas and Alexander. Pretty good car chase scene and awesome performance from Gene Hackman – one of many – elevate this from the usual police drama.

Oscar Wins: 5

Budget: $3.3 million ($18.073 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.9

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46. West Side Story (1961 − 34th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Musical gangland retelling of Romeo and Juliet in the mid-1950s.
Why It’s Great: Natalie Wood never looked better; the music is still invigorating; and the central love story is a fresh retelling of the oft-told tale. West Side Story defeated Fanny, The Hustler, Judgment at Nuremberg and The Guns of Navarone for the Oscar.

Oscar Wins: 10

Budget: $6 million ($44.489 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.6

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45. A Man for All Seasons (1966 − 39th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: The true story of Thomas More, the man who stood against the divorce and remarriage of King Henry VIII and was killed for it.
Why It’s Great: Tremendous art direction and performances from Robert Shaw and Paul Scofield elevate this one beyond the normal period piece. A Man for All Seasons defeated Alfie, The Sand Pebbles, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming for Best Picture.

Oscar Wins: 6

Budget: $2 million ($13.672 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.9

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44. Crash (2004 − 78th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Ensemble cast explores racial tensions in modern L.A.

Why It’s Great: Crash handles all the different stories as aptly as any film of this type with the varied characterizations wringing quite true, but for us, Spielberg’s Munich deserved the nod. Other nominees included Brokeback Mountain, Capote and Good Night, and Good Luck.

Oscar Wins: 3

Budget: $7 million ($8.243 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.9

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43. Patton (1970 − 43rd Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Bio-pic of the famed American general, set during his stint in World War II.

Why It’s Great: There are some movies that derive most all of their magic from the performance of the lead actor, and such is the case here. George C. Scott was born to play Patton, and while he channeled the American general in other roles throughout his career, you really buy into it with this film. On a side note, Scott refused the award, basically telling the Academy to stick it, and calling the ceremony, “a two-hour meat parade, a public display with contrived suspense for economic reasons.” Brando followed his lead two years later with The Godfather. Other 1970 nominees were MASH, Love Story, Airport and Five Easy Pieces.

Oscar Wins: 7

Budget: $12.625 million ($72.118 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.0

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42. Midnight Cowboy (1969 − 42nd Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A naive young man arrives in New York City with dreams of hustling for a living and establishes an unlikely friendship with a con artist along the way.

Why It’s Great: Talk about groundbreaking, this film is to date the only X-Rated movie to win the top prize. In 1969, stories about male gigolos and gang rape were quite unexpected, and John Schlesinger’s drama handles both elements with more taste than the rating would indicate. Other nominees were Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Hello, Dolly!, Z and Anne of the Thousand Days.

Oscar Wins: 3

Budget: $3.6 million ($21.777 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.0

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41. Rain Man (1988 − 61st Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A yuppie unaware of his older savant brother becomes painfully aware when his father dies and bequeaths the money to his sibling.

Why It’s Great: America – and the ladies – still loved Tom Cruise because they weren’t aware of just how crazy he was. Dustin Hoffman gives the performance of his career. What’s not to like? Rain Man is a solid drama with good acting and solid direction. Other nominees: Working Girl, Dangerous Liaisons, Mississippi Burning and The Accidental Tourist.

Oscar Wins: 4

Budget: $25 million ($46.791 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.0

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40. The Sound of Music (1965 − 38th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A woman accepts an offer from a Naval officer widower to become the new governess for his children.

Why It’s Great: The musical numbers lodge in your head and take up a permanent residence there. It’s also a well-crafted feel-good movie in the old Hollywood tradition. Is it better than Dr. Zhivago, which captured the same number of awards? Probably not, but the two are certainly comparable, and each rose above Darling, A Thousand Clowns and Ship of Fools – the other nominees.

Oscar Wins: 5

Budget: $8.2 million ($57.684 million)

IMDB User Rating: 7.9

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39. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930 − 3rd Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Film portrays a contrast between the glory and reality of war set against the backdrop of World War I. Based on the acclaimed novel by Erich Maria Remarque.

Why It’s Great: It may not reach the same level of blood and gore as a Saving Private Ryan, but the stark tone of the film is spot-on and hard to duplicate even for films today. It was an easy pick for the Best Picture award when compared to its competition – The Big House, Disraeli, The Divorcee and The Love Parade – and it remains one of the best war movies ever made.

Oscar Wins: 2

Budget: $1.5 million ($13.68 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.1

Trailer:

38. The Lost Weekend (1945 − 18th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: An alcoholic writer deals with his sickness over one life-changing weekend.

Why It’s Great: The Lost Weekend’s greatness lies largely in its simplicity. By focusing less on plot points and giving the character of Don Birnam (Ray Milland) room to breathe and grow, director Billy Wilder tells a story that speaks to us all. The Lost Weekend faced down Anchors Aweigh, The Bells of St. Mary’s, Mildred Pierce and Spellbound for the win.

Oscar Wins: 4

Budget: $1.25 million ($15.412 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.1

Trailer:

37. Dances with Wolves (1990 − 63rd Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Lt. John Dunbar befriends Native Americans at a Civil War outpost and receives the ire of his military.

Why It’s Great: The story and the interaction between Dunbar and the Native Americans are compelling. We really want to see what happens next, and Dances doesn’t disappoint. However, it was up against a superior film in Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Nevertheless, it earned the top prize also beating out Awakenings, The Godfather Part III and Ghost.

Oscar Wins: 7

Budget: $22 million ($37.277 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.0

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36. Slumdog Millionaire (2008 − 81st Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A young man from the slums of India has a chance to win a fortune on a popular game show, but he must first recount the turbulent events and an unrequited love.

Why It’s Great: The movie has grit and whimsy and emotion. It grounds the idea of destiny into an all-too-real, all-too-ugly world. Even so, that world is unable to break the human spirit – the inner self separating us from the animals. Slumdog Millionaire beat out Milk, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon and The Reader to earn the top prize, and it deserved every accolade.

Oscar Wins: 8

Budget: $15 million ($15.619 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.1

Trailer:

35. Million Dollar Baby (2004 − 77th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A grizzled boxing trainer takes a chance on a talented female fighter with a troubled family history.

Why It’s Great: The Academy saw fit to give Million Dollar Baby top honors in 2005, and while it is a skilled production in front of and behind the camera, life is too short to watch stuff like this. MDB tears you down and makes you want to shoot yourself in the face by the end. Sideways, Ray, Finding Neverland and The Aviator were its competition and, frankly, we see watching any one of those movies again before ever taking another crack at MDB. One of the most depressing films ever made.

Oscar Wins: 4

Budget: $30 million ($35.328 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.1

Trailer:

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34. A Beautiful Mind (2001 − 74th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A mathematician’s new work leads him into a nightmarish realm where he sees a world quite different from the one unfolding around him.

Why It’s Great: Russell Crowe is good here, and it’s nice to see him depart from the tough-guy heroics of Gladiator and L.A. Confidential. While most would probably have preferred Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring win, this is a better choice than Moulin Rouge!, In the Bedroom and Gosford Park. Of course, our pick for the year would have been the un-nominated Memento.

Oscar Wins: 4

Budget: $58 million ($73.621 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.1

Trailer:

33. The Artist (2011 − 84th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: An aging silent film star and a young dancer share a bond before the “talkies” era begins, setting their careers – and lives – on different paths.

Why It’s Great: The silent films were such great examples of expressive acting and lyrical storytelling and director Michel Hazanavicius’ film is a loving tribute to those early days of cinema. The Artist also picked up Best Director, Best Actor, Best Original Score and Best Costume Design. Other films in the running: The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life and War Horse.

Oscar Wins: 5

Budget: $15 million ($15 million)

Trailer:

32. Ben-Hur (1959 − 32nd Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Based on the acclaimed 19th Century novel and a remake of the 1925 silent film, the story centers on a man who clashes with a childhood friend-turned-tribune over the freedom of the Jewish people, concluding with the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Why It’s Great: Solid tale of forgiveness under the watchful eye of the great William Wyler and starring a stellar cast led by Charlton Heston. The chariot sequence is still one of the great action set-pieces of our time. Along with Titanic, Ben-Hur has the most Oscar wins ever, beating out Anatomy of a Murder, Room at the Top, The Diary of Anne Frank and The Nun’s Story for the prize.

Oscar Wins: 11

Budget: $15 million ($114.134 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.1

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31. In the Heat of the Night (1967 − 40th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: An African-American detective from Philadelphia investigates a murder on a bigoted Mississippi police chief’s home turf.

Why It’s Great: Amid the racial tensions of the Sixties, Hollywood had the guts to come up with an Oscar-winning screenplay exploring both protagonists outside their stereotypes. While you could make a good case Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and Doctor Dolittle deserved the nod, we think the Academy got this one right.

Oscar Wins: 5

Budget: $2 million ($13.287 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.0

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30. It Happened One Night (1934 − 7th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A desperate reporter and a spoiled heiress find each other in this romantic comedy from the man behind It’s a Wonderful Life.

Why It’s Great: The two lead stars couldn’t have been any less enthused than they were about taking on this project. Young director Frank Capra had his work cut out for him, but in the end, consummate professionalism won out, and so did this film, beating The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Cleopatra, Flirtation Walk, The Gay Divorcee, Here Comes the Navy, The House of Rothschild, Imitation of Life, One Night of Love, The Thin Man, Viva Villa!, and The White Parade for the win.

Oscar Wins: 5

Budget: $325,000 ($5.387 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.2

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29. Gandhi (1982 − 55th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Bio-pic delves in to the life of Mohandas K. Gandhi, a non-violent lawyer-turned-philosopher, who stood up to British rule.

Why It’s Great: The movie is a well-made reminder of the greatness of the individual. If you’ve ever heard the words, “One man can’t make a difference,” well, don’t tell that to this film. Ben Kingsley is fantastic in the title role. Gandhi beat E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Missing, Tootsie and The Verdict for the win.

Oscar Wins: 8

Budget: $22 million ($50.461 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.1

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28. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946 − 19th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: World War II veterans find adjusting to civilian life difficult in this acclaimed drama.

Why It’s Great: You may think It’s a Wonderful Life was a Best Picture Winner. Well, it wasn’t, because of this film. The Best Years of Our Lives is an interesting film because it takes a hard look at what happens after the war during a time when Hollywood was almost a propaganda machine for drumming up military support. This film is very much “support the troops” minded, but it strips away the sensationalism pervading much of the war-themed entertainment of the time. Other nominees included The Razor’s Edge, The Yearling and Henry V.

Oscar Wins: 7

Budget: $2.1 million ($23.864 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.2

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27. Annie Hall (1977 − 50th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A New York comedian ties up with the title character in a boomerang romance lasting throughout the 1970s.

Why It’s Great: No matter what you feel about him as a filmmaker, Woody Allen’s Annie Hall is one of his better works. Of course, in those days, Diane Keaton was far too hot for Allen. Now they look like they belong together. But if you can see past the “is she really going out with him” factor, it’s quite fun. Other nominees: The Goodbye Girl, Julia, The Turning Point and Star Wars. That’s right, Star Wars, which ended up winning more awards at seven.

Oscar Wins: 4

Budget: $4 million ($14.634 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.2

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26. The Deer Hunter (1978 − 51st Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Three Pittsburgh steel workers serve in the infantry during the Vietnam War. This is their story.

Why It’s Great: Michael Cimino puts together an ugly, beautiful masterpiece in his depiction of what war can do to one’s psyche. The cast is stellar with Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Savage, Meryl Streep and John Cazale standing out. Other nominees: Coming Home, Heaven Can Wait, Midnight Express and An Unmarried Woman.

Oscar Wins: 5

Budget: $15 million ($51 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.2

Trailer:

25. No Country for Old Men (2007 − 80th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: There are no clean getaways in this tale of a man, who finds a fortune in drug money and then must reap the consequences of keeping it to himself.

Why It’s Great: Despite the weird and off-putting finale, villain Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is a terrifying screen presence, and the Coen Brothers usual gift for peripheral casting make the 1980 West Texas setting come alive. Other BP nominees included Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton and There Will Be Blood.

Oscar Wins: 4

Budget: $25 million ($27.021 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.2

Trailer:

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24. The King’s Speech (2010 − 83rd Best Picture Winner)

Plot: An unlikely friendship develops between King George VI and his speech therapist on the cusp of World War II.

Why It’s Great: While we would have probably ranked it No. 6 among the nominees – Inception, Black Swan, The Fighter, Winter’s Bone, True Grit, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, Toy Story 3, The Social Network, and The Kids Are All Right – it’s still an enjoyable and well-crafted film worth your time.

Oscar Wins: 4

Budget: $15 million ($15.435 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.2

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23. Rebecca (1940 − 13th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A young woman marries a widower, but finds the memory of the woman she is replacing hard to shake.

Why It’s Great: Alfred Hitchcock’s American feature debut was a big success critically and at the box office. It also received a staggering 11 nominations, though it would only win two, one of which was Best Picture. Other films shooting for the top prize were All This, and Heaven Too, Foreign Correspondent, The Grapes of Wrath, The Great Dictator, Kitty Foyle, The Letter, The Long Voyage Home, Our Town and The Philadelphia Story.

Oscar Wins: 2

Budget: $1.288 million ($20.376 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.3

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22. Unforgiven (1992 − 65th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: An aging and reformed outlaw pursues a bounty in the Old West and becomes reacquainted with his killer instincts.

Why It’s Great: Clint Eastwood’s triumphant return – and departure – from the genre where he made his name. While we don’t agree with the idea it’s the best western of all time, it’s certainly up there, thanks to two legendary turns – one by Eastwood and the other by a villainous Gene Hackman. Unforgiven outdrew A Few Good Men, Howard’s End, Scent of a Woman and The Crying Game for the win.

Oscar Wins: 4

Budget: $14.4 million ($22.734 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.3

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21. On the Waterfront (1954 − 27th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A former boxer, now longshoreman, stands up to the ruthless bosses of his labor union.

Why It’s Great: It’s hard not to like the little man versus the big man scenario, and the world of boxing lends itself to that quite well. Throw in Marlon Brando in his prime and a stellar script by Budd Schulberg, and you’ve got something more than a contender. Other nominees: The Caine Mutiny, The Country Girl, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Three Coins in the Fountain.

Oscar Wins: 8

Budget: $910,000 ($7.507 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.3

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20. All about Eve (1950 − 23rd Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Aspiring actress uses an aging stage performer to further her career.

Why It’s Great: Audiences today will probably love to see this one for Bette Davis, Anne Baxter and Marilyn Monroe, but the story is a timeless one involving ambition and betrayal. It was also unusual for the time to have a movie so heavily driven by its female performances earn this type of recognition. Other nominees: Born Yesterday, Father of the Bride, Sunset Boulevard and King Solomon’s Mines.

Oscar Wins: 6

Budget: Data unavailable

IMDB User Rating: 8.4

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19. The Apartment (1960 − 33rd Best Picture Winner)

Plot: An ambitious man opens his apartment up to business higher-ups for philandering and falls in love along the way.

Why It’s Great: Billy Wilder had a decidedly ugly, though not altogether unappealing view of the world. Even though you wouldn’t want to know a lot of his characters, they sure were fun to watch. The Apartment beat out Elmer Gantry, Sons and Lovers, The Alamo and The Sundowners, and Wilder captured the Best Director award.

Oscar Wins: 5

Budget: $3 million ($22.467 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.4

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18. Amadeus (1984 − 57th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Composers Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are chronicled in this lavish tale of pride, envy, and, possibly, murder.

Why It’s Great: F. Murray Abraham (Salieri) and Tom Hulce (Mozart) carry the film and were both nominated for the Best Actor award as a result. (Abraham won.) Director Milos Foreman keeps things rollicking along at a fast clip despite the close to 3-hour runtime. Great acting, great music, a lot of fun. Other nominees were The Killing Fields, A Passage to India, Places in the Heart and A Soldier’s Story.

Oscar Wins: 8

Budget: $18 million ($38.357 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.4

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17. Braveheart (1995 − 68th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: 13th Century Scottish warrior William Wallace fights for the FREEDOM of his people from tyrannical British rule.

Why It’s Great: He may be nuttier than squirrel turds, but Mel Gibson is a gifted storyteller, and his wins here for Best Picture and Best Director were well-deserved. Other nominees included Il Postino, Babe, Sense and Sensibility and Apollo 13.

Oscar Wins: 5

Budget: $53 million ($77.248 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.4

Trailer:

16. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957 − 30th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: World War II. The Japanese capture enemy soldiers and force them to build a bridge that will help with an impending invasion. Some of the men have other ideas, while one does not.

Why It’s Great: Director David Lean understood how to make you hate these characters one minute and cheer them the next. His strength for characterization was unlike any filmmaker who ever lived, and TBOTRK is only one of his masterpieces. Others nominated for the BP prize: Sayonara, Peyton Place, Witness for the Prosecution and 12 Angry Men.

Oscar Wins: 7

Budget: $3 million ($23.63 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.4

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15. The Sting (1973 − 46th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: The con is on when two grifters target a ruthless mob boss in 1936 Chicago.

Why It’s Great: Paul Newman and Robert Redford reunite with director George Roy Hill in a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid reunion trumping their first outing, hard as that was to do. The Sting also juggled atmosphere, tension and humor – a difficult task – with expert precision. Other BP nominees: American Graffiti, Cries and Whispers, The Exorcist and A Touch of Class.

Oscar Wins: 6

Budget: $5.5 million ($27.457 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.4

Trailer:

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14. Gladiator (2000 − 73rd Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A general in the Roman army fights for revenge at the Coliseum when his family is murdered by the ruthless Emperor Commodus.

Why It’s Great: Everything you love about Roman history and fights-to-the-death through the lens of an amazing director in Ridley Scott. Joaquin Phoenix also steals the show as one of the more detestable movie villains. Other combatants for Oscar this year were Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Chocolat, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Oscar Wins: 5

Budget: $103 million ($132.833 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.5

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13. American Beauty (1999 − 72nd Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A man undergoing a mid-life crisis becomes enamored with his teen daughter’s friend.

Why It’s Great: American Beauty is one of those rare movies that can have you rolling on the floor in laughter one moment and utterly shocked and disturbed the next. The characters are real, and so are the situations. This beauty beat out The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, The Insider and The Sixth Sense for top honors.

Oscar Wins: 5

Budget: $15 million ($20 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.5

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12. The Departed (2006 − 79th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Remake of the Hong Kong crime flick Infernal Affairs. Two cops – one undercover, one a gangster – seek to uncover the other’s identity before it’s too late.

Why It’s Great: Martin Scorsese hasn’t lost a step here, and he’s working with a white-hot cast, each at the top of their games. On Feb. 25, 2007, the Academy righted a wrong long overdue in giving Scorsese the Best Director Oscar and also awarded the film with Best Picture, Best Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay. Other BP nominees included Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine and The Queen.

Oscar Wins: 4

Budget: $90 million ($100 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.5

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11. Forrest Gump (1994 − 67th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: A “slow” Alabama native grows up from 1945 to 1982, experiencing a number of cultural milestones on his way to living a truly remarkable life.

Why It’s Great: Director Robert Zemeckis had some leftover sense of humor and affinity for the past from his days on the Back to the Future trilogy, and it hits a fever pitch in 1994’s warm, funny, sad and touching drama. Other BP nominees for the year were Pulp Fiction, Quiz Show, Four Weddings and a Funeral and (the true Best Picture) The Shawshank Redemption. Still, even though the Academy botched it in a major way here – as they often do – their pick remains time well spent.

Oscar Wins: 6

Budget: $55 million ($82.167 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.7

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10. Lawrence of Arabia (1962 − 35th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Bio-pic on the life of British Army officer T.E. Lawrence, who served as a liaison to the Arab world, specifically in revolt to the Ottoman Turkish rule in 1916.

Why It’s Great: Any time you got David Lean behind the lens on a film, great things happened. Lawrence of Arabia is one of the best examples of his mastery. A stellar cast, which included Alec Guinness, Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif and Anthony Quinn, certainly didn’t hurt either. Other nominees for the 1962 Best Picture: The Longest Day, The Music Man, Mutiny on the Bounty and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Oscar Wins: 7

Budget: $15 million ($110.014 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.5

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9. Gone with the Wind (1939 − 12th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Civil War-era romance follows the travails of manipulative drama queen Scarlett O’Hara.

Why It’s Great: It wasn’t the first sweeping film told on a grand scale – Birth of a Nation and Wings pre-dated it – but in 1939 it was the most ambitious film to date. GWTW gets a lot of mileage for being a huge production during an age when people were still getting used to what films could be. Having a terrific cast including one of the biggest movie stars of all time in Clark Gable didn’t hurt either. Other noms in 1939: Dark Victory, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Love Affair, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka, Of Mice and Men, Stagecoach, The Wizard of Oz and Wuthering Heights.

Oscar Wins: 8

Budget: $3.85 million ($61.518 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.2

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8. The Silence of the Lambs (1991 − 64th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: FBI trainee Clarice Starling works with Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter to catch a serial killer.

Why It’s Great: This film works because of Jonathan Demme’s direction, Jodie Foster’s likability in the lead role, and Anthony Hopkins’ outrageous-but-never-over-the-top cannibal Lecter. Also, Craig McKay’s editing in the climactic moments raise the tension to a fever pitch. Silence defeated Bugsy, Beauty and the Beast, JFK and The Prince of Tides for the statue.

Oscar Wins: 5

Budget: $19 million ($30.896 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.7

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7. Rocky (1976 − 49th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Philadelphia club fighter Rocky Balboa gets a chance to fight the Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Why It’s Great: The original is a much better film than its five sequels indicate. While the others are good, Rocky is inarguably one of the greatest films ever made. On March 28, 1977, it captured the Best Picture Oscar against competition like Taxi Driver, Network, All the President’s Men, and Bound for Glory. It also won awards for Best Film Editing and Best Director.

Oscar Wins: 3

Budget: $1.1 million ($4.286 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.1

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6. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975 − 48th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Small-time criminal and anti-authority inmate goes to a State Mental Hospital and, one-by-one, brings the patients out of their shells.

Why It’s Great: Louise Fletcher’s Nurse Ratched villain is one of the best to grace the big screen and star Jack Nicholson is delightfully unhinged as “Mac” McMurphy. But for us, it’s the Chief (Will Sampson) giving this film its heart and soul. Other BP nominees included Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon, Jaws and Nashville.

Oscar Wins: 5

Budget: $3 million ($12.367 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.8

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5. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003 − 76th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: Concluding chapter in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Why It’s Great: The Academy wasn’t just honoring one film when it gave Return of the Kind 11 awards. Few would argue ROTK is drastically better than its predecessors, but it is a fitting end to a meticulously crafted endeavor. Other nominees: Lost in Translation, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Mystic River and Seabiscuit.

Oscar Wins: 11

Budget: $94 million ($114.348 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.9

Trailer:

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4. Schindler’s List (1993 − 66th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: German Oskar Schindler saved more than 1,000 Jewish people during World War II by organizing factories with a purpose flying under the radar of the Nazis.

Why It’s Great: Director Steven Spielberg poured everything he had into this production, and it shows. Highly disturbing, hard-to-watch, and yet an uplifting portrait of bravery in the face of tyranny, Schindler’s List is an unforgettably moving experience. Other nominees (BP): In the Name of the Father, The Fugitive, The Piano, The Remains of the Day.

Oscar Wins: 7

Budget: $22 million ($33.721 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.9

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3. Casablanca (1942 − 16th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: An American expatriate helps an ex-flame escape the Nazis in World War II Morocco.

Why It’s Great: This was Humphrey Bogart’s 49th big screen performance. Up to this point, he’d forged a reputation for cool with films, such as The Maltese Falcon, They Drive By Night and Dark Victory. Casablanca elevated him to icon status with a performance demonstrating the hard shell of a man we were used to with a surprising sensitivity that makes director Michael Curtiz’s film stand out as something more than just another romantic drama.
Casablanca bested For Whom the Bell Tolls, Heaven Can Wait, The Human Comedy, In Which We Serve, Madame Curie, The More the Merrier, The Ox-Bow Incident, The Song of Bernadette and Watch on the Rhine, for the Oscar.

Oscar Wins: 3

Budget: $950,000 ($12.93 million)

IMDB User Rating: 8.7

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2. The Godfather (1972 − 45th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: The story follows a transition of power from Don Vito Corleone to his unlikely heir Michael amid the growing drug trade from 1945 to 1955.

Why It’s Great: Maybe the greatest cast ever assembled. A stellar novel from writer Mario Puzo. An eager and talented young director. And an unflinching look at the ugly side of mob life. A near-perfect film. Other nominees for the top prize: Cabaret, Deliverance, The Emigrants and Sounder.

Oscar Wins: 3

Budget: $6.5 million ($34.462 million)

IMDB User Rating: 9.2

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1. The Godfather Part II (1974 − 47th Best Picture Winner)

Plot: The Godfather Part II covers Don Vito in his younger days (as played by Robert De Niro), while catching up with Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) in the present.

Why It’s Great: De Niro and Pacino, in their prime, in the same movie – what else is there to say? Director Francis Ford Coppola was in his territory with the Mario Puzo novel, and it shows in every minute of the 200-minute runtime. Other BP nominees included The Conversation (also directed by Coppola), Lenny, The Towering Inferno and Chinatown.

Oscar Wins: 7

Budget: $13 million ($58.468 million)

IMDB User Rating: 9.1

Trailer:

Agree with our top picks? Got any other bones to pick? Share your thoughts in our comment section below!

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