updated with Everything Everywhere All at Once
There’s never been a direct correlation between the Oscars and the box office. The Academy historically hasn’t shied away from awarding popular films like Titanic, Return of the King, and Gone with the Wind. But it hasn’t been afraid of naming a bomb as Best Picture either: Cimarron and You Can’t It With You were poor performers from the 30s that still went home with the top prize.
Over the past decade, however, the films preferred by the Academy’s voters and ticket-buying movie-goers have diverged like never before. When looking at raw ticket sales and inflation-adjusted numbers, the ten worst Best Picture performers at the box office have all been released in 2008 or later.
In 2020, about 400,000 tickets were sold to see Nomadland, the lowest number ever up to that time. It broke the previous low, held by The Hurt Locker which sold 1.7 million. The pre-Hurt Locker record was set in 1931 by Cimarron, which sold about 8 million tickets.
Virtually no one saw 2021’s CODA in theaters. 21,300 tickets were sold to that film. Everything Everywhere All at Once bounced back a bit with 6.3 million tickets, the most since Green Book‘s 9.4 million.
Obviously, streaming played a large role in the low numbers for these two films. Both were film festival darlings picked up by a streaming service and given only a perfunctory release in theaters as to be eligible for awards. The line between a “film” and a “TV show” is becoming essentially meaningless.
But that’s not the only thing going on here. All the Best Pictures over the past decade have performed poorly at the box office and only the past two were distributed by streamers.
It’s not because the Oscars are too “elitist” — few critics would consider CODA or Green Book high art. I believe the change comes down to three words: Ranked Choice Voting.
Before 2009, the Academy used ‘first past the post’ voting. This is a straightforward process in which each member votes for one film and the film with the most votes wins.
But in 2009, the Academy switched to ‘ranked choice voting.’ In this method, voters rank the films. The accountants tally the ballots and if no film has more than 50% of the votes, they toss out all the first-place votes for the film with the lowest score. The film listed as #2 on those ballots then becomes #1. Here’s a more in-depth explanation:
This can be a positive in politics, as consensus nominees are rewarded. But for the Oscars, it has resulted in a relatively bland list of winners. It’s better to be most people’s 4th or 5th favorite film of the year than many people’s 1st favorite.
Charts – Best Pictures at the Box Office
|Title||Released||Director||Gross ($ million)||Est. Tickets Sold (m)||Top Lists|
|12 Years a Slave||2013||Steve McQueen||56.7||7.0||Best Picture Winners|
Based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty personified by a malevolent slave owner, as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life.
|A Beautiful Mind||2001||Ron Howard||170.7||29.5||Best Picture Winners|
From the heights of notoriety to the depths of depravity, John Forbes Nash, Jr. experienced it all. A mathematical genius, he made an astonishing discovery early in his career and stood on the brink of international acclaim. But the handsome and arrogant Nash soon found himself on a painful and harrowing journey of self-discovery. After many years of struggle, he eventually triumphed over his tragedy, and finally – late in life – received the Nobel Prize.
|A Man for All Seasons||1967||Fred Zinnemann||28.3||26.0||Best Picture Winners|
The story takes place in 16th century England. But men like Sir Thomas More, who love life yet have the moral fiber to lay down their lives for their principles, are found in every century. Concentrating on the last seven years of English chancellor’s life, the struggle between More and his King, Henry VIII, hinges on Henry’s determination to break with Rome so he can divorce his current wife and wed again, and good Catholic More’s inability to go along with such heresy. More resigns as chancellor, hoping to be able to live out his life as a private citizen. But Henry will settle for nothing less than that the much respected More give public approval to his headstrong course.
|All About Eve||1950||Joseph L. Mankiewicz||6.4||12.6||Best Picture Winners|
Eve (Anne Baxter) is waiting backstage to meet her idol, aging Broadway star Margo Channing (Bette Davis). It seems innocent enough as Eve explains that she has seen Margo in EVERY performance of her current play. Only playwright/critic DeWitt (George Sanders) sees through Eve’s evil plan, which is to take her parts and her fiancé, Bill Simpson (Gary Merrill). When the fiancé shows no interest, she tries for playwright Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe), but DeWitt stops her. After she accepts her award, she decides to skip the after-party and goes to her room, where a young woman named Phoebe has sneaked into her room and fallen asleep. This is where the “Circle of Life” now comes to fruition as Eve will get played like she played Margo.
|All Quiet on the Western Front||1930||Lewis Milestone||3.3||10||Best Picture Winners||This is an English language film (made in America) adapted from a novel by German author Erich Maria Remarque. The film follows a group of German schoolboys, talked into enlisting at the beginning of World War 1 by their jingoistic teacher. The story is told entirely through the experiences of the young German recruits and highlights the tragedy of war through the eyes of individuals. As the boys witness death and mutilation all around them, any preconceptions about “the enemy” and the “rights and wrongs” of the conflict disappear, leaving them angry and bewildered. This is highlighted in the scene where Paul mortally wounds a French soldier and then weeps bitterly as he fights to save his life while trapped in a shell crater with the body. The film is not about heroism but about drudgery and futility and the gulf between the concept of war and the actuality.|
|All the King's Men||1949||Robert Rossen||5.3||11.5||Best Picture Winners, Greatest Election Movies|
Jack Burden is a newspaper reporter who first hears of Willie Stark when his editor sends him to Kanoma County to cover the man. What’s special about this nobody running for county treasurer? He’s supposedly an honest man. Burden discovers this to be true when he sees Stark delivering a speech and having his son pass out handbills, while the local politicians do their best to intimidate him. Willie Stark is honest and brave. He’s also a know-nothing hick whose schoolteacher wife has given him what little education he has. Stark loses the race for treasurer, but later makes his way through law school, becoming an idealistic attorney who fights for what is good. Someone in the governor’s employ remembers Stark when the governor needs a patsy to run against him and split the vote of his rival. The fat cats underestimate Stark; but Jack Burden, Stark’s biggest supporter, overestimates the man’s idealism. To get where he wants to go, Willie Stark is willing to crack a few eggs – which include his tough-talking assistant, Sadie Burke; Jack’s poised and elegant fiancée, Anne Stanton; and even Jack Burden himself.
|Amadeus||1984||Milos Forman||49.1||14.1||Best Picture Winners||Antonio Salieri believes that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s music is divine and miraculous. He wishes he was himself as good a musician as Mozart so that he can praise the Lord through composing. He began his career as a devout man who believes his success and talent as a composer are God’s rewards for his piety. He’s also content as the respected, financially well-off, court composer of Austrian Emperor Joseph II. But he’s shocked to learn that Mozart is such a vulgar creature, and can’t understand why God favored Mozart to be his instrument. Salieri’s envy has made him an enemy of God whose greatness was evident in Mozart. He is ready to take revenge against God and Mozart for his own musical mediocrity.|
|American Beauty||1999||Sam Mendes||130.1||24.9||Best Picture Winners|
After his death sometime in his forty-third year, suburbanite Lester Burnham tells of the last few weeks of his life, during which he had no idea of his imminent passing. He is a husband to real estate agent Carolyn Burnham and father to high school student Janie Burnham. Although Lester and Carolyn once loved each other, they now merely tolerate each other. Typical wallflower Janie too hates both her parents, the three who suffer individually in silence in their home life. Janie tries to steer clear of both her parents. Carolyn, relatively new to the real estate business, wants to create the persona of success to further her career, she aspiring to the professional life of Buddy Kane, the king of the real estate business in their neighborhood. Lester merely walks mindlessly through life, including at his job in advertising. His company is downsizing, and he, like all the other employees, has to justify his position to the newly hired efficiency expert to keep his job. Things change for Lester when he falls in love at first sight with Janie’s more experienced classmate, Angela Hays. Both Janie and Angela can see Lester’s sexual infatuation with Angela, who courts such attention from any man as a sign that she is model material, she having once appeared in Seventeen and it a career to which she aspires. Lester’s infatuation with Angela gives him a reenergized view on life, where he openly doesn’t care anymore what anyone thinks about what he does, anyone except Angela. This infatuation coincides with the Fittses moving in next door: homophobic disciplinarian US Marine Colonel Frank Fitts who rules the house with a military fist (that fist being both figurative and literal), his semi-comatose wife Barbara Fitts, and their bright and quietly subversive eighteen year old son Ricky Fitts, who openly abides by his father’s rules while behind the scenes lives by his own quite different perspective. Much like Lester’s infatuation, Ricky immediately becomes infatuated with Janie, he who considers girls like Angela as ordinary. The entry of Angela and the Fittses into the Burnhams’ lives ultimately leads to each of the players confronting what is truly in his or her heart.
|An American in Paris||1951||Vincente Minnelli||8.3||14.4||Best Picture Winners, Greatest Musicals|
Jerry Mulligan, a struggling American painter in Paris, is “discovered” by an influential heiress with an interest in more than Jerry’s art. Jerry in turn falls for Lise, a young French girl already engaged to a cabaret singer. Jerry jokes, sings and dances with his best friend, an acerbic would-be concert pianist, while romantic complications abound.
|Annie Hall||1977||Woody Allen||38.3||17.2||Best Picture Winners|
Alvy Singer, a forty year old twice divorced, neurotic, intellectual Jewish New York stand-up comic, reflects on the demise of his latest relationship, to Annie Hall, an insecure, flighty, Midwestern WASP aspiring nightclub singer. Unlike his previous relationships, Alvy believed he may have worked out all the issues in his life through fifteen years of therapy to make this relationship with Annie last, among those issues being not wanting to date any woman that would want to date him, and thus subconsciously pushing those women away. Alvy not only reviews the many ups and many downs of their relationship, but also reviews the many facets of his makeup that led to him starting to date Annie. Those facets include growing up next to Coney Island in Brooklyn, being attracted to the opposite sex for as long as he can remember, and enduring years of Jewish guilt with his constantly arguing parents.
|Argo||2012||Ben Affleck||136.0||17.0||Best Picture Winners||In 1979, the American embassy in Iran was invaded by Iranian revolutionaries and several Americans were taken hostage. However, six managed to escape to the official residence of the Canadian Ambassador and the CIA was ordered to get them out of the country. With few options, exfiltration expert Tony Mendez devised a daring plan: create a phony Canadian film project looking to shoot in Iran and smuggle the Americans out as its production crew. With the help of some trusted Hollywood contacts, Mendez created the ruse and proceeded to Iran as its associate producer. However, time was running out with the Iranian security forces closing in on the truth while both his charges and the White House had grave doubts about the operation themselves.|
|Around the World in 80 Days||1956||John Farrow, Michael Anderson||51.5||66.7||Best Picture Winners, Bestselling Blockbusters Through History, Mega Money Makers Through History|
When this movie is made in 1956, one can circumnavigate the globe in a little less than two days. When Jules Verne wrote the story “Around the World in Eighty Days” in 1872, he predicted that one day man could accomplish the task in eighty hours, but which most considered folly to do in eighty days in current times… that is except for people like Englishman Phileas Fogg, a regimented man who believed all it would take is exacting work, the skills he possesses. He just has to make sure a train’s schedule meets the required sailing schedule which meets the required coach schedule and so on. As such, he takes up what ends up being the highly publicized £20,000 wager from his fellow members at the London Reform Club to do so, losing the bet which would ruin him financially. Along for the ride is Fogg’s new, loyal and devoted valet, the recently arrived Latin immigrant, Passepartout, who possesses unusual skills which could be major assets, but whose all consuming thoughts on the opposite sex could take away his focus from the task at hand. Although Fogg has accounted for certain transportation delays, he may not account for cultural peccadilloes he may encounter along the way which could also cause delays. He is also unaware of the true reason a man name Fix is following them, he who could also derail Fogg’s task permanently. As Fogg and Passepartout proceed on their journey, they get into one misadventure after another. Ultimately, Fogg may find other things in life more important than winning the bet.
|Ben-Hur||1959||William Wyler||85.8||101.2||Best Picture Winners, Bestselling Blockbusters Through History, Mega Money Makers Through History|
Judah Ben-Hur lives as a rich Jewish prince and merchant in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 1st century. Together with the new governor his old friend Messala arrives as commanding officer of the Roman legions. At first they are happy to meet after a long time but their different politic views separate them. During the welcome parade a roof tile falls down from Judah’s house and injures the governor. Although Messala knows they are not guilty, he sends Judah to the galleys and throws his mother and sister into prison. But Judah swears to come back and take revenge.
|Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)||2014||Alejandro G. Iñárritu||42.3||5.1||Best Picture Winners, Revisionist Superhero Films||Actor Riggan Thomson is most famous for his movie role from over twenty years ago of the comic book superhero Birdman in the blockbuster movie of the same name and its two equally popular sequels. His association with the role took over his life, where Birdman is more renowned than "Riggan Thomson" the actor. Now past middle age, Riggan is trying to establish himself as a true artist by writing, directing, starring in and co-producing with his best friend Jake what is his Broadway debut, an adaptation of Raymond Carver's story, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. He is staking his name, what little artistic reputation that comes with that name and his life savings on the project, and as such will do anything needed to make the play a success. As he and Jake go through the process of the previews toward opening night, Riggan runs into several issues: needing to find a replacement for the integral supporting male role the night before the first preview; hiring the talented Broadway name, Mike Shiner, for that role, Mike who ends up being difficult to work with and who may end up overshadowing Riggan in the play; having to deal potentially with a lawsuit based on one of his actions to ensure success; needing to be there for his daughter, Sam, who he has hired to be his production assistant and who has just come out of drug rehab; and pleasing the New York Times critic, Tabitha Dickinson, who wants to use any excuse to give the play a scathing review which in turn would close the show after the opening night performance. But Riggan's biggest problem may be his own insecurities, which are manifested by him constantly hearing what he believes to be the truth from the voice of his Birdman character, who he often battles both internally and externally.|
|Braveheart||1995||Mel Gibson||75.6||17.3||Best Picture Winners|
William Wallace is a Scottish rebel who leads an uprising against the cruel English ruler Edward the Longshanks, who wishes to inherit the crown of Scotland for himself. When he was a young boy, William Wallace’s father and brother, along with many others, lost their lives trying to free Scotland. Once he loses another of his loved ones, William Wallace begins his long quest to make Scotland free once and for all, along with the assistance of Robert the Bruce.
|Casablanca||1943||Michael Curtiz||9.3||43.3||Best Picture Winners, Sight & Sound 2022 Critics' Top 100|
The story of Rick Blaine, a cynical world-weary ex-patriate who runs a nightclub in Casablanca, Morocco during the early stages of WWII. Despite the pressure he constantly receives from the local authorities, Rick’s cafe has become a kind of haven for refugees seeking to obtain illicit letters that will help them escape to America. But when Ilsa, a former lover of Rick’s, and her husband, show up to his cafe one day, Rick faces a tough challenge which will bring up unforeseen complications, heartbreak and ultimately an excruciating decision to make.
|Cavalcade||1933||Frank Lloyd||7.6||30.4||Best Picture Winners, Bestselling Blockbusters Through History, Mega Money Makers Through History|
A cavalcade of English life from New Year’s Eve 1899 until 1933 seen through the eyes of well-to-do Londoners Jane and Robert Marryot. Amongst events touching their family are the Boer War, the death of Queen Victoria, the sinking of the Titanic and the Great War.
|Chariots of Fire||1981||Hugh Hudson||59.0||20.0||Best Picture Winners, Greatest Olympics Movies||It’s the post-WWI era. Britons Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell are both naturally gifted fast sprinters, but approach running and how it fits into their respective lives differently. The son of a Lithuanian-Jew, Harold, who lives a somewhat privileged life as a student at Cambridge, uses being the fastest to overcome what he sees as the obstacles he faces in life as a Jew despite that privilege. In his words to paraphrase an old adage, he is often invited to the trough, but isn’t allowed to drink. His running prowess does earn him the respect of his classmates, especially his running teammates, and to some extent the school administration, if only he maintains what they consider proper gentlemanly decorum, which isn’t always the case in their minds. Born in China the son of Christian missionaries, Eric, a Scot, is a devout member of the Church of Scotland who eventually wants to return to that missionary work. He sees running as a win-win in that the notoriety of being fast gives him an added outlet to spread the word of God, while he sees his speed as being a gift from God, and he wants to run to honor God and that gift. This view does not sit well with his sister, Jennie Liddell, who sees his running as only taking away time from his work to God. Harold and Eric’s lives do intersect in national races, but it is the 100 meter track event at the 1924 Paris Olympics which the two men and their supporters most anticipate. Beyond the fact that Americans Charles Paddock and Jackson Scholz are favored in the event, the much anticipated head to head between Harold and Eric may be further shadowed by other issues, especially as it affects Eric’s Christian beliefs.|
|Chicago||2002||Rob Marshall||170.7||28.3||Best Picture Winners, Greatest Musicals|
Murderesses Velma Kelly (a chanteuse and tease who killed her husband and sister after finding them in bed together) and Roxie Hart (who killed her boyfriend when she discovered he wasn’t going to make her a star) find themselves on death row together and fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows in 1920s Chicago.
|Cimarron||1931||Wesley Ruggles||2.4||8.0||Best Picture Winners|
When the government opens up the Oklahoma territory for settlement, restless Yancey Cravat claims a plot of the free land for himself and moves his family there from Wichita. A newspaperman, lawyer, and just about everything else, Cravat soon becomes a leading citizen of the boom town of Osage. Once the town is established, however, he begins to feel confined once again, and heads for the Cherokee Strip, leaving his family behind. During this and other absences, his wife Sabra must learn to take care of herself and soon becomes prominent in her own right.
|CODA||2021||Sian Heder||0.2||0.0||Best Picture Winners||As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family. When the family's fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her passion at Berklee College of Music and her fear of abandoning her parents.|
|Crash||2004||Paul Haggis||54.6||8.5||Best Picture Winners|
Over a thirty-six hour period in Los Angeles, a handful of disparate people’s lives intertwine as they deal with the tense race relations that belie life in the city. Among the players are: the Caucasian district attorney, who uses race as a political card; his Caucasian wife, who, having recently been carjacked by two black men, believes that her stereotypical views of non-whites is justified and cannot be considered racism; the two black carjackers who use their race both to their advantage and as an excuse; partnered Caucasian police constables, one who is a racist and uses his authority to harass non-whites, and the other who hates his partner because of those racist views, but who may have the same underlying values in his subconscious; a black film director and his black wife, who believes her husband doesn’t support their black background enough, especially in light of an incident with the racist white cop; partnered police detectives and sometimes lovers, one Hispanic female and the other black male, the latter who is dealing with a drugged out mother that feels he isn’t concerned enough about taking care of family; an East Asian man who is run over but who is hiding some valuable cargo in the back of his van; a Persian store owner, who feels he isn’t getting satisfaction from American society when his store is robbed time and time again; and a Hispanic locksmith, who just wants to keep his family, especially his young daughter, safe in a seemingly unsafe world.
|Dances with Wolves||1990||Kevin Costner||184.2||43.5||Best Picture Winners, Greatest Westerns|
Lt. John Dunbar is dubbed a hero after he accidentally leads Union troops to a victory during the Civil War. He requests a position on the western frontier, but finds it deserted. He soon finds out he is not alone, but meets a wolf he dubs “Two-socks” and a curious Indian tribe. Dunbar quickly makes friends with the tribe, and discovers a white woman who was raised by the Indians. He gradually earns the respect of these native people, and sheds his white-man’s ways.
|Driving Miss Daisy||1989||Bruce Beresford||100.6||24.8||Best Picture Winners|
An elderly Jewish widow living in Atlanta can no longer drive. Her son insists she allow him to hire a driver, which in the 1950s meant a black man. She resists any change in her life but, Hoke, the driver is hired by her son. She refuses to allow him to drive her anywhere at first, but Hoke slowly wins her over with his native good graces. The movie is directly taken from a stage play and does show it. It covers over twenty years of the pair’s life together as they slowly build a relationship that transcends their differences.
|Everything Everywhere All at Once||2022||Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert||73.8||6.3||Best Picture Winners||A middle-aged Chinese immigrant is swept up into an insane adventure in which she alone can save existence by exploring other universes and connecting with the lives she could have led.|
|Forrest Gump||1994||Robert Zemeckis||329.7||78.9||Best Picture Winners, Mega Money Makers Through History||Forrest Gump is a simple man with a low I.Q. but good intentions. He is running through childhood with his best and only friend Jenny. His ‘mama’ teaches him the ways of life and leaves him to choose his destiny. Forrest joins the army for service in Vietnam, finding new friends called Dan and Bubba, he wins medals, creates a famous shrimp fishing fleet, inspires people to jog, starts a ping-pong craze, creates the smiley, writes bumper stickers and songs, donates to people and meets the president several times. However, this is all irrelevant to Forrest who can only think of his childhood sweetheart Jenny Curran, who has messed up her life. Although in the end all he wants to prove is that anyone can love anyone.|
|From Here to Eternity||1953||Fred Zinnemann||26||43.2||Best Picture Winners, Mega Money Makers Through History||It’s 1941. Robert E. Lee Prewitt has requested Army transfer and has ended up at Schofield in Hawaii. His new captain, Dana Holmes, has heard of his boxing prowess and is keen to get him to represent the company. However, ‘Prew’ is adamant that he doesn’t box anymore, so Captain Holmes gets his subordinates to make his life a living hell. Meanwhile Sergeant Warden starts seeing the captain’s wife, who has a history of seeking external relief from a troubled marriage. Prew’s friend Maggio has a few altercations with the sadistic stockade Sergeant ‘Fatso’ Judson, and Prew begins falling in love with social club employee Lorene. Unbeknownst to anyone, the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor looms in the distance.|
|Gandhi||1982||Richard Attenborough||52.8||16.8||Best Picture Winners||In 1893, Gandhi is thrown off a South African train for being an Indian and traveling in a first class compartment. Gandhi realizes that the laws are biased against Indians and decides to start a non-violent protest campaign for the rights of all Indians in South Africa. After numerous arrests and the unwanted attention of the world, the government finally relents by recognizing rights for Indians, though not for the native blacks of South Africa. After this victory, Gandhi is invited back to India, where he is now considered something of a national hero. He is urged to take up the fight for India’s independence from the British Empire. Gandhi agrees, and mounts a non-violent non-cooperation campaign of unprecedented scale, coordinating millions of Indians nationwide. There are some setbacks, such as violence against the protesters and Gandhi’s occasional imprisonment. Nevertheless, the campaign generates great attention, and Britain faces intense public pressure. Too weak from World War II to continue enforcing its will in India, Britain finally grants India’s independence. Indians celebrate this victory, but their troubles are far from over. Religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims erupt into nation-wide violence. Gandhi declares a hunger strike, saying he will not eat until the fighting stops. The fighting does stop eventually, but the country is divided. It is decided that the northwest area of India, and eastern part of India (current day Bangladesh), both places where Muslims are in the majority, will become a new country called Pakistan (West and East Pakistan respectively). It is hoped that by encouraging the Muslims to live in a separate country, violence will abate. Gandhi is opposed to the idea, and is even willing to allow Muhammad Ali Jinnah to become the first prime minister of India, but the Partition of India is carried out nevertheless. Gandhi spends his last days trying to bring about peace between both nations. He thereby angers many dissidents on both sides, one of whom finally gets close enough to assassinate him.|
|Gentleman's Agreement||1948||Elia Kazan||8.7||23.5||Best Picture Winners|
Philip Green is a highly respected writer who is recruited by a national magazine to write a series of articles on anti-Semitism in America. He’s not too keen on the series, mostly because he’s not sure how to tackle the subject. Then it dawns on him: if he was to pretend to all and sundry that he was Jewish, he could then experience the degree of racism and prejudice that exists and write his story from that perspective. It takes little time for him to experience bigotry. His anger at the way he is treated also affects his relationship with Kathy Lacy, his publisher’s niece and the person who suggested the series in the first place.
|Gigi||1958||Charles Walters, Vincente Minnelli||7.3||14.6||Best Picture Winners, Greatest Musicals|
Weary of the conventions of Parisian society, a rich playboy and a youthful courtesan-in-training enjoy a platonic friendship, but it may not stay platonic for long. Gaston, the scion of a wealthy Parisian family finds emotional refuge from the superficial lifestyle of upper class Parisian 1900s society with the former mistress of his uncle and her outgoing, tomboy granddaughter, Gigi. When Gaston becomes aware that Gigi has matured into a woman, her grandmother and aunt, who have educated Gigi to be a wealthy man’s mistress, urge the pair to act out their roles but love adds a surprise twist to this delightful turn-of-the 20th century Cinderella story.
|Gladiator||2000||Ridley Scott||187.7||34.8||Best Picture Winners|
Maximus is a powerful Roman general, loved by the people and the aging Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Before his death, the Emperor chooses Maximus to be his heir over his own son, Commodus, and a power struggle leaves Maximus and his family condemned to death. The powerful general is unable to save his family, and his loss of will allows him to get captured and put into the Gladiator games until he dies. The only desire that fuels him now is the chance to rise to the top so that he will be able to look into the eyes of the man who will feel his revenge.
|Going My Way||1944||Leo McCarey||14.4||45.0||Best Picture Winners, Bestselling Blockbusters Through History, Greatest Musicals, Mega Money Makers Through History|
Youthful Father Chuck O’Malley led a colorful life of sports, song, and romance before joining the Roman Catholic clergy, but his level gaze and twinkling eyes make it clear that he knows he made the right choice. After joining a parish, O’Malley’s worldly knowledge helps him connect with a gang of kids looking for direction and handle the business details of the church-building fund, winning over his aging, conventional superior, Father Fitzgibbon.
|Gone with the Wind||1940||George Cukor, Sam Wood, Victor Fleming||176.8||196.7||Best Picture Winners, Bestselling Blockbusters Through History, Mega Money Makers Through History|
Scarlett is a woman who can deal with a nation at war, Atlanta burning, the Union Army carrying off everything from her beloved Tara, the carpetbaggers who arrive after the war. Scarlett is beautiful. She has vitality. But Ashley, the man she has wanted for so long, is going to marry his placid cousin, Melanie. Mammy warns Scarlett to behave herself at the party at Twelve Oaks. There is a new man there that day, the day the Civil War begins. Rhett Butler. Scarlett does not know he is in the room when she pleads with Ashley to choose her instead of Melanie.
|Grand Hotel||1932||Edmund Goulding||2.7||9.6||Best Picture Winners|
Berlin’s plushest, most expensive hotel is the setting where in the words of Dr. Otternschlag “People come, people go. Nothing ever happens.”. The doctor is usually drunk so he missed the fact that Baron von Geigern is broke and trying to steal eccentric dancer Grusinskaya’s pearls. He ends up stealing her heart instead. Powerful German businessman Preysing brow beats Kringelein, one of his company’s lowly bookkeepers but it is the terminally ill Kringelein who holds all the cards in the end. Meanwhile, the Baron also steals the heart of Preysing’s mistress, Flaemmchen, but she doesn’t end up with either one of them in the end…
|Green Book||2018||Peter Farrelly||85.1||9.4||Best Picture Winners|
A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.
|Hamlet||1948||Laurence Olivier||3.3||8.3||Best Picture Winners|
William Shakespeare’s tale of tragedy of murder and revenge in the royal halls of medieval Denmark. Claudius, brother to the King, conniving with the Queen, poisons the monarch and seizes the throne, taking the widowed Gertrude for his bride. Hamlet, son of the murdered King, mournful of his father’s death and mother’s hasty marriage, is confronted by the ghost of the late King who reveals the manner of his murder. Seeking revenge, Hamlet recreates the monstrous deed in a play with the help of some traveling actors to torment the conscience of the evil Claudius. In a visit with his mother, Hamlet expresses his anger and disappointment concerning her swiftly untimed marriage. Thinking a concealed spy in his mother’s chamber to be the lurking Claudius, he mistakenly kills the meddling counselor, Polonius, father of Ophelia and Laertes. Claudius, on the pretext that Hamlet will be endangered by his subjects for the murder of Polonius, sends the prince to England.
|How Green Was My Valley||1942||John Ford||5.4||20.1||Best Picture Winners|
Life is hard in a Welsh mining town and no less so for the Morgan family. Seen through the eyes of the family’s youngest, Huw, we learn of the family’s trials and tribulations. Family patriarch Gwilym and his older sons work in the mines, dangerous and unhealthy as it is. Gwilym has greater hopes for his youngest son, but Huw has his own ideas on how to honor his father. Daughter Angharad is the most beautiful girl in the valley and is very much in love with Mr. Gruffydd, who isn’t sure he can provide her the life she deserves. Times are hard and good men find themselves out of work and exploited by unseen mine owners.
|In the Heat of the Night||1967||Norman Jewison||10.9||9.1||Best Picture Winners||Detective Virgil Tibbs is caught up in the racial tension of the US South when he is arrested after the murder of a prominent businessman. Tibbs was simply waiting for his next train at the station in Sparta, Mississippi and the confusion is soon resolved but when local police chief Gillespie learns that Tibbs is the Philadelphia PD's number one homicide expert, he reluctantly asks for his assistance. The murdered man, Mr. Colbert, had come to Sparta from the North to build a new factory and his wife and business associates immediately point the finger at Endicott, the most powerful man in the county and the one who had the most to lose if a major new employer comes to the area. Tibbs' life is clearly in danger but he perseveres in a highly charged and racially explosive environment until the killer is found.|
|It Happened One Night||1934||Frank Capra||4.4||15.6||Best Picture Winners|
Ellie Andrews has just tied the knot with society aviator King Westley when she is whisked away to her father’s yacht and out of King’s clutches. Ellie jumps ship and eventually winds up on a bus headed back to her husband. Reluctantly she must accept the help of out-of- work reporter Peter Warne. Actually, Warne doesn’t give her any choice: either she sticks with him until he gets her back to her husband, or he’ll blow the whistle on Ellie to her father. Either way, Peter gets what (he thinks!) he wants …. a really juicy newspaper story.
|Kramer vs. Kramer||1979||Robert Benton||106.3||42.4||Best Picture Winners|
Ted Kramer is a career man for whom his work comes before his family. His wife Joanna cannot take this anymore, so she decides to leave him. Ted is now faced with the tasks of housekeeping and taking care of himself and their young son Billy. When he has learned to adjust his life to these new responsibilities, Joanna resurfaces and wants Billy back. Ted, however, refuses to give him up, so they go to court to fight for the custody of their son.
|Lawrence of Arabia||1962||David Lean||44.5||55.4||Best Picture Winners, Mega Money Makers Through History, Sight & Sound 2022 Directors' Top 100||Due to his knowledge of the native Bedouin tribes, British Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence is sent to Arabia to find Prince Faisal and serve as a liaison between the Arabs and the British in their fight against the Turks. With the aid of native Sherif Ali, Lawrence rebels against the orders of his superior officer and strikes out on a daring camel journey across the harsh desert to attack a well-guarded Turkish port. READ: Lawrence, Kierkegaard, and the limits of self-invention|
|Marty||1955||Delbert Mann||6.7||14.3||Best Picture Winners|
Stuck as the last of six children at home with an overbearing Italian mother, the only child still unmarried, 34 year old socially awkward Bronx butcher Marty faces middle age with no prospects of marriage, and he faces permanent bachelorhood. But when he is goaded by his mother into going to the Stardust Ballroom one Saturday night, Marty unexpectedly meets Clara, a lonely teacher. Suddenly, Marty’s future seems bright.
|Midnight Cowboy||1969||John Schlesinger||44.8||31.5||Best Picture Winners|
Texas greenhorn Joe Buck arrives in New York for the first time. Preening himself as a real ‘hustler’, he finds that he is the one getting ‘hustled’ until he teams up with a down-and-out but resilient outcast named Ratso Rizzo. The initial ‘country cousin meets city cousin’ relationship deepens. In their efforts to bilk a hostile world rebuffing them at every turn, this unlikely pair progress from partners in shady business to comrades. Each has found his first real friend.
|Million Dollar Baby||2004||Clint Eastwood||100.5||15.7||Best Picture Winners||Wanting to learn from the best, aspiring boxer Maggie Fitzgerald wants Frankie Dunn to train her. At the outset he flatly refuses saying he has no interest in training a girl. Frankie leads a lonely existence, alienated from his only daughter and having few friends. Maggie's rough around the edges but shows a lot of grit in the ring and he eventually relents. Maggie not only proves to be the boxer he always dreamed of having under his wing but a friend who fills the great void he's had in his life. Maggie's career skyrockets but an accident in the ring leads her to ask Frankie for one last favor.|
|Moonlight||2016||Barry Jenkins||27.9||3.2||Best Picture Winners, Sight & Sound 2022 Critics' Top 100, Sight & Sound 2022 Directors' Top 100||Three time periods - young adolescence, mid-teen and young adult - in the life of black-American Chiron is presented. When a child, Chiron lives with his single, crack addict mother Paula in a crime ridden neighborhood in Miami. Chiron is a shy, withdrawn child largely due to his small size and being neglected by his mother, who is more concerned about getting her fixes and satisfying her carnal needs than taking care of him. Because of these issues, Chiron is bullied, the slurs hurled at him which he doesn't understand beyond knowing that they are meant to be hurtful. Besides his same aged Cuban-American friend Kevin, Chiron is given what little guidance he has in life from a neighborhood drug dealer named Juan, who can see that he is neglected, and Juan's caring girlfriend Teresa, whose home acts as a sanctuary away from the bullies and away from Paula's abuse. With this childhood as a foundation, Chiron may have a predetermined path in life, one that will only be magnified in terms of its problems when he reaches his difficult teen years when peer pressure affects what he and many of his peers do, unless he follows Juan's advice of truly making his own decisions for himself.|
|Mrs. Miniver||1942||William Wyler||11.9||44.1||Best Picture Winners, Bestselling Blockbusters Through History, Mega Money Makers Through History|
The Minivers, an English “middle-class” family experience life in the first months of World War II. While dodging bombs, the Minivers’ son courts Lady Beldon’s granddaughter. A rose is named after Mrs. Miniver and entered in the competition against Lady Beldon’s rose.
|Mutiny on the Bounty||1935||Frank Lloyd||5.7||22.2||Best Picture Winners||Midshipman Roger Byam joins Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian aboard HMS Bounty for a voyage to Tahiti. Bligh proves to be a brutal tyrant and, after six pleasant months on Tahiti, Christian leads the crew to mutiny on the homeward voyage. Even though Byam takes no part in the mutiny, he must defend himself against charges that he supported Christian.|
|My Fair Lady||1964||George Cukor||76.4||80.1||Best Picture Winners, Bestselling Blockbusters Through History, Greatest Musicals, Mega Money Makers Through History|
Pompous phonetics professor Henry Higgins is so sure of his abilities that he takes it upon himself to transform a Cockney working-class girl into someone who can pass for a cultured member of high society. His subject turns out to be the lovely Eliza Doolittle, who agrees to speech lessons to improve her job prospects. Higgins and Eliza clash, then form an unlikely bond — one that is threatened by an aristocratic suitor.
|No Country for Old Men||2007||Ethan Coen, Joel Coen||74.3||10.6||Best Picture Winners, Greatest Westerns|
In rural Texas, welder and hunter Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) discovers the remains of several drug runners who have all killed each other in an exchange gone violently wrong. Rather than report the discovery to the police, Moss decides to simply take the two million dollars present for himself. This puts the psychopathic killer, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), on his trail as he dispassionately murders nearly every rival, bystander and even employer in his pursuit of his quarry and the money. As Moss desperately attempts to keep one step ahead, the blood from this hunt begins to flow behind him with relentlessly growing intensity as Chigurh closes in. Meanwhile, the laconic Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) blithely oversees the investigation even as he struggles to face the sheer enormity of the crimes he is attempting to thwart.
|Nomadland||2020||Chloé Zhao||3.7||0.4||Best Picture Winners||After losing everything in the Great Recession, a woman embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.|
|Oliver!||1968||Carol Reed||16.8||12.8||Best Picture Winners, Greatest Musicals|
Musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’s classic tale of an orphan who runs away from the orphanage and hooks up with a group of boys trained to be pickpockets by an elderly mentor.
|On the Waterfront||1954||Elia Kazan||9.6||21.3||Best Picture Winners|
Terry Malloy dreams about being a prize fighter, while tending his pigeons and running errands at the docks for Johnny Friendly, the corrupt boss of the dockers union. Terry witnesses a murder by two of Johnny’s thugs, and later meets the dead man’s sister and feels responsible for his death. She introduces him to Father Barry, who tries to force him to provide information for the courts that will smash the dock racketeers.
|One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest||1975||Milos Forman||112||54.6||Best Picture Winners, Mega Money Makers Through History||McMurphy has a criminal past and has once again gotten himself into trouble and is sentenced by the court. To escape labor duties in prison, McMurphy pleads insanity and is sent to a ward for the mentally unstable. Once here, McMurphy both endures and stands witness to the abuse and degradation of the oppressive Nurse Ratched, who gains superiority and power through the flaws of the other inmates. McMurphy and the other inmates band together to make a rebellious stance against the atrocious Nurse.|
|Ordinary People||1980||Robert Redford||23.1||8.6||Best Picture Winners|
Beth, Calvin, and their son Conrad are living in the aftermath of the death of the other son. Conrad is overcome by grief and misplaced guilt to the extent of a suicide attempt. He is in therapy. Beth had always preferred his brother and is having difficulty being supportive to Conrad. Calvin is trapped between the two trying to hold the family together.
|Out of Africa||1985||Sydney Pollack||87.1||24.5||Best Picture Winners|
Follows the life of Karen Blixen, who establishes a plantation in Africa. Her life is Complicated by a husband of convenience (Bror Blixen), a true love (Denys), troubles on the plantation, schooling of the natives, war, and catching VD from her husband.
|Parasite||2019||Bong Joon Ho||53.4||5.8||Best Picture Winners, Sight & Sound 2022 Critics' Top 100, Sight & Sound 2022 Directors' Top 100||Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan.|
|Patton||1970||Franklin J. Schaffner||61.7||39.8||Best Picture Winners|
“Patton” tells the tale of General George S. Patton, famous tank commander of World War II. The film begins with Patton’s career in North Africa and progresses through the invasion of Europe and the fall of the Third Reich. Side plots also speak of Patton’s numerous faults such his temper and tendency toward insubordination, faults that would prevent him from becoming the lead American general in the Normandy Invasion as well as to his being relieved as Occupation Commander of Germany.
|Platoon||1987||Oliver Stone||138.5||37.3||Best Picture Winners|
Chris Taylor is a young, naive American who gives up college and volunteers for combat in Vietnam. Upon arrival, he quickly discovers that his presence is quite nonessential, and is considered insignificant to the other soldiers, as he has not fought for as long as the rest of them and felt the effects of combat. Chris has two non-commissioned officers, the ill-tempered and indestructible Staff Sergeant Robert Barnes and the more pleasant and cooperative Sergeant Elias Grodin. A line is drawn between the two NCOs and a number of men in the platoon when an illegal killing occurs during a village raid. As the war continues, Chris himself draws towards psychological meltdown. And as he struggles for survival, he soon realizes he is fighting two battles, the conflict with the enemy and the conflict between the men within his platoon.
|Rain Man||1988||Barry Levinson||172.8||42.0||Best Picture Winners|
Charles Sanford “Charlie” Babbit is a self-centered Los Angeles-based automobile dealer/hustler/bookie who is at war with his own life. Charlie, as a young teenager, used his father’s 1949 Buick convertible without permission and as a result, he went to jail for two days on account that his father reported it stolen. It is then that Charlie learns that his estranged father died and left him from his last will and testament a huge bed of roses and the car while the remainder will of $3 Million goes into a trust fund to be distributed to someone. Charlie seemed pretty angry by this and decides to look into this matter. It seems as if that “someone” is Raymond, Charlie’s unknown brother, an autistic savant who lives in a world of his own, resides at the Walbrook Institute. Charlie then kidnaps Raymond and decides to take him on a lust for life trip to the west coast as a threat to get the $3 Million inheritance. Raymond’s acts and nagging, including repeated talks of “Abbott & Costello”, “Four minutes till Wapner” and refusal to fly on an airline except Quantas drives Charlie insane… and out of his selfish world into a cross-country trek of pure love and understanding that these two both have.
|Rebecca||1940||Alfred Hitchcock||2.0||8.3||Best Picture Winners|
A shy ladies’ companion, staying in Monte Carlo with her stuffy employer, meets the wealthy Maxim de Winter. She and Max fall in love, marry and return to Manderley, his large country estate in Cornwall. Max is still troubled by the death of his first wife, Rebecca, in a boating accident the year before. The second Mrs. de Winter clashes with the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, and discovers that Rebecca still has a strange hold on everyone at Manderley.
|Rocky||1976||John G. Avildsen||117.2||55.0||Best Picture Winners, Mega Money Makers Through History||Rocky Balboa is a struggling boxer trying to make the big time, working as a debt collector for a pittance. When heavyweight champion Apollo Creed visits Philadelphia, his managers want to set up an exhibition match between Creed and a struggling boxer, touting the fight as a chance for a “nobody” to become a “somebody”. The match is supposed to be easily won by Creed, but someone forgot to tell Rocky, who sees this as his only shot at the big time.|
|Schindler's List||1993||Steven Spielberg||96.9||23.1||Best Picture Winners||Oskar Schindler is a vainglorious and greedy German businessman who becomes an unlikely humanitarian amid the barbaric German Nazi reign when he feels compelled to turn his factory into a refuge for Jews. Based on the true story of Oskar Schindler who managed to save about 1100 Jews from being gassed at the Auschwitz concentration camp, it is a testament to the good in all of us.|
|Shakespeare in Love||1998||John Madden||100.2||19.8||Best Picture Winners|
Will Shakespeare is a known but struggling poet, playwright and actor who not only has sold his next play to both Philip Henslow and Richard Burbidge but now faces a far more difficult problem: he is bereft of ideas and has yet to begin writing. He is in search of his muse, the woman who will inspire him but all attempts fail him until he meets the beautiful Viola de Lesseps. She loves the theatre and would like nothing more than to take to the stage but is forbidden from doing so as only men can be actors. She is also a great admirer of Shakespeare’s works. Dressing as a man and going by the name of Thomas Kent, she auditions and is ideal for a part in his next play. Shakespeare soon sees through her disguise and they begin a love affair, one they know cannot end happily for them as he is already married and she has been promised to the dour Lord Wessex. As the company rehearses his new play, Will and Viola’s love is transferred to the written page leading to the masterpiece that is Romeo and Juliet.
|Slumdog Millionaire||2008||Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan(co-director)||141.3||19.0||Best Picture Winners||The story of Jamal Malik, an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India's Kaun Banega Crorepati? (2000) (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?) But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much? Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother grew up, of their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika, the girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the game show's questions. Each chapter of Jamal's increasingly layered story reveals where he learned the answers to the show's seemingly impossible quizzes. But one question remains a mystery: what is this young man with no apparent desire for riches really doing on the game show? When the new day dawns and Jamal returns to answer the final question, the Inspector and sixty million viewers are about to find out. At the heart of its storytelling lies the question of how anyone comes to know the things they know about life and love.|
|Spotlight||2015||Tom McCarthy||45.1||5.3||Best Picture Winners||When the Boston Globe's tenacious "Spotlight" team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston's religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world.|
|Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans||1927||F.W. Murnau||0.0||0.0||Best Picture Winners, Greatest Silent Films, Sight & Sound 2022 Critics' Top 100, Sight & Sound 2022 Directors' Top 100|
In this fable-morality subtitled “A Song of Two Humans”, the “evil” temptress is a city woman who bewitches farmer Anses and tries to convince him to murder his neglected wife, Indre.
It cleaned up at the 1st Academy Awards, winning the Unique and Artistic Picture Award and Best Actress for Janet Gaynor.
|Terms of Endearment||1983||James L. Brooks||108.4||34.4||Best Picture Winners||Aurora and Emma are mother and daughter who march to different drummers. Beginning with Emma's marriage, Aurora shows how difficult and loving she can be. The movie covers several years of their lives as each finds different reasons to go on living and find joy. Aurora's interludes with Garrett Breedlove, retired astronaut and next door neighbor are quite striking. In the end, different people show their love in very different ways.|
|The Apartment||1960||Billy Wilder||14.9||24.8||Best Picture Winners, Sight & Sound 2022 Critics' Top 100|
As of November 1, 1959, mild mannered C.C. Baxter has been working at Consolidated Life, an insurance company, for close to four years, and is one of close to thirty-two thousand employees located in their Manhattan head office. To distinguish himself from all the other lowly cogs in the company in the hopes of moving up the corporate ladder, he often works late, but only because he can’t get into his apartment, located off of Central Park West, since he has provided it to a handful of company executives – Mssrs. Dobisch, Kirkeby, Vanderhoff and Eichelberger – on a rotating basis for their extramarital liaisons in return for a good word to the personnel director, Jeff D. Sheldrake. When Baxter is called into Sheldrake’s office for the first time, he learns that it isn’t just to be promoted as he expects, but also to add married Sheldrake to the list to who he will lend his apartment. What Baxter is unaware of is that Sheldrake’s mistress is Fran Kubelik, an elevator girl in the building who Baxter himself fancies. In turn, Sheldrake has no idea of Baxter’s own interest in Fran. And Fran, who is in love with Sheldrake, has no idea that she is only the latest in a long line of Sheldrake’s mistresses, that Sheldrake has no intention of leaving his wife for her, and that the apartment belongs to Baxter, who she likes as a friend. As some of these facts come to light on Christmas Eve, one of the three makes a unilateral decision. That decision sets off a series of events over the course of the next week which makes each of the three examine what he/she really wants which in turn may be incompatible with the other two. They are helped along the way by Dobisch, Kirkeby, Vanderhoff and Eichelberger who are now feeling neglected as Baxter no longer needs their assistance in moving up, by Miss Olsen, Sheldrake’s long serving secretary who was also once his mistress, and by Dr. Dreyfus, a physician and one of Baxter’s many exasperated neighbors who believes Baxter is a playboy based on all the noise he hears in Baxter’s apartment and the plethora of empty liquor bottles Baxter seems to be always discarding.
|The Artist||2011||Michel Hazanavicius||44.7||5.6||Best Picture Winners, Greatest Silent Films|
Outside a movie premiere, enthusiastic fan Peppy Miller literally bumps into the swashbuckling hero of the silent film, George Valentin. The star reacts graciously and Peppy plants a kiss on his cheek as they are surrounded by photographers. The headlines demand: “Who’s That Girl?” and Peppy is inspired to audition for a dancing bit-part at the studio. However as Peppy slowly rises through the industry, the introduction of talking-pictures turns Valentin’s world upside-down.
|The Best Years of Our Lives||1947||William Wyler||22.9||60.0||Best Picture Winners, Bestselling Blockbusters Through History, Mega Money Makers Through History|
The story concentrates on the social re-adjustment of three World War II servicemen, each from a different station of society. Al Stephenson returns to an influential banking position, but finds it hard to reconcile his loyalties to ex-servicemen with new commercial realities. Fred Derry is an ordinary working man who finds it difficult to hold down a job or pick up the threads of his marriage. Having had both hands burnt off during the war, Homer Parrish is unsure that his fiancée’s feelings are still those of love and not those of pity. Each of the veterans faces a crisis upon his arrival, and each crisis is a microcosm of the experiences of many American warriors who found an alien world awaiting them when they came marching home.
|The Bridge on the River Kwai||1957||David Lean||38.2||71.9||Best Picture Winners, Bestselling Blockbusters Through History, Mega Money Makers Through History|
The film deals with the situation of British prisoners of war during World War II who are ordered to build a bridge to accommodate the Burma-Siam railway. Their instinct is to sabotage the bridge but, under the leadership of Colonel Nicholson, they are persuaded that the bridge should be constructed as a symbol of British morale, spirit and dignity in adverse circumstances. At first, the prisoners admire Nicholson when he bravely endures torture rather than compromise his principles for the benefit of the Japanese commandant Saito. He is an honorable but arrogant man, who is slowly revealed to be a deluded obsessive. He convinces himself that the bridge is a monument to British character, but actually is a monument to himself, and his insistence on its construction becomes a subtle form of collaboration with the enemy. Unknown to him, the Allies have sent a mission into the jungle, led by Warden and an American, Shears, to blow up the bridge.
|The Broadway Melody||1929||Harry Beaumont||5.6||16.0||Best Picture Winners||Harriet and Queenie Mahoney, a vaudeville act, come to Broadway, where their friend Eddie Kerns needs them for his number in one of Francis Zanfield’s shows. Eddie was in love with Harriet, but when he meets Queenie, he falls in love to her, but she is courted by Jock Warriner, a member of the New Yorker high society. It takes a while till Queenie recognizes, that she is for Jock nothing more than a toy, and it also takes a while till Harriet recognizes, that Eddie is in love with Queenie.|
|The Deer Hunter||1978||Michael Cimino||49.0||20.9||Best Picture Winners|
Michael, Steven and Nick are young factory workers from Pennsylvania who enlist into the Army to fight in Vietnam. Before they go, Steven marries the pregnant Angela, and their wedding party also serves as the men’s farewell party. After some time and many horrors, the three friends fall in the hands of the Vietcong and are brought to a prison camp in which they are forced to play Russian roulette against each other. Michael makes it possible for them to escape, but they soon get separated again.
|The Departed||2006||Martin Scorsese||132.4||21.1||Best Picture Winners||In South Boston, the state police force is waging war on Irish-American organized crime. Young undercover cop Billy Costigan is assigned to infiltrate the mob syndicate run by gangland chief Frank Costello. While Billy quickly gains Costello's confidence, Colin Sullivan, a hardened young criminal who has infiltrated the state police as an informer for the syndicate is rising to a position of power in the Special Investigation Unit. Each man becomes deeply consumed by their double lives, gathering information about the plans and counter-plans of the operations they have penetrated. But when it becomes clear to both the mob and the police that there is a mole in their midst, Billy and Colin are suddenly in danger of being caught and exposed to the enemy - and each must race to uncover the identity of the other man in time to save themselves. But is either willing to turn on their friends and comrades they've made during their long stints undercover?|
|The English Patient||1996||Anthony Minghella||73.0||16.1||Best Picture Winners|
October 1944 in war torn Italy. Hana, a French-Canadian nurse working in a mobile army medical unit, feels like everything she loves in life dies on her. Because of the difficulty traveling and the dangers, especially as the landscape is still heavily booby-trapped with mines, Hana volunteers to stay behind at a church to care solely for a dying semi-amnesiac patient, who is badly burned and disfigured. She agrees to catch up to the rest of the unit after he dies. All the patient remembers is that he is English and that he is married. Their solitude is disrupted with the arrival at the church of fellow Canadian David Caravaggio, part of the Intelligence Service, who is certain that he knows the patient as a man who cooperated with the Germans. Caravaggio believes that the patient’s memory is largely in tact and that he is running away from his past, in part or in its entirety. The patient does open up about his past, all surrounding his work as a cartographer in North Africa, which was interrupted by the war. He may not be running from his work as a spy for the Germans as Caravaggio believes, but rather the memory of an affair he had with married Katherine Clifton, the love of his life, and the memory of a promise not totally fulfilled. Hana may also test her theory of her fates with love and death as she embarks on a relationship of her own with Kip Singh, a Sikh from India, whose unit has camped on the now overgrown lawn of the church. Their work entails sweeping for and diffusing mines, the discovery of one such mine which had earlier saved her life.
|The French Connection||1971||William Friedkin||51.7||31.3||Best Picture Winners|
William Friedkin’s gritty police drama portrays two tough New York City cops trying to intercept a huge heroin shipment coming from France. An interesting contrast is established between ‘Popeye’ Doyle, a short-tempered alcoholic bigot who is nevertheless a hard-working and dedicated police officer, and his nemesis Alain Charnier, a suave and urbane gentleman who is nevertheless a criminal and one of the largest drug suppliers of pure heroin to North America. During the surveillance and eventual bust, Friedkin provides one of the most gripping and memorable car chase sequences ever filmed.
|The Godfather||1972||Francis Ford Coppola||135.0||79.2||Best Picture Winners, Bestselling Blockbusters Through History, Mega Money Makers Through History, Sight & Sound 2022 Critics' Top 100, Sight & Sound 2022 Directors' Top 100|
When the aging head of a famous crime family decides to transfer his position to one of his subalterns, a series of unfortunate events start happening to the family, and a war begins between all the well-known families leading to insolence, deportation, murder and revenge, and ends with the favorable successor being finally chosen.
|The Godfather: Part II||1974||Francis Ford Coppola||47.5||25.4||Best Picture Winners, Sight & Sound 2022 Directors' Top 100|
The continuing saga of the Corleone crime family tells the story of a young Vito Corleone growing up in Sicily and in 1910s New York; and follows Michael Corleone in the 1950s as he attempts to expand the family business into Las Vegas, Hollywood and Cuba.
|The Great Ziegfeld||1936||Robert Z. Leonard||6.9||27.6||Best Picture Winners, Bestselling Blockbusters Through History, Mega Money Makers Through History|
At the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, sideshow barker Flo Ziegfeld turns the tables on his more successful neighbor Billings, and steals his girlfriend to boot. This pattern is repeated throughout their lives, as Ziegfeld makes and loses many fortunes putting on ever bigger, more spectacular shows (sections of which appear in the film). French revue star Anna Held becomes his first wife, but it’s not easy being married to the man who “glorified the American girl.” Late in life, now married to Billie Burke, he seems to be all washed up, but…
|The Greatest Show on Earth||1952||Cecil B. DeMille||31.6||60.8||Best Picture Winners, Bestselling Blockbusters Through History, Mega Money Makers Through History|
To ensure a full profitable season, circus manager Brad Braden engages The Great Sebastian, though this moves his girlfriend Holly from her hard-won center trapeze spot. Holly and Sebastian begin a dangerous one-upmanship duel in the ring, while he pursues her on the ground. Subplots involve the secret past of Buttons the Clown and the efforts of racketeers to move in on the game concessions. Let the show begin!
|The Hurt Locker||2008||Kathryn Bigelow||12.7||1.7||Best Picture Winners||An intense portrayal of elite soldiers who have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world: disarming bombs in the heat of combat. When a new sergeant, James, takes over a highly trained bomb disposal team amidst violent conflict, he surprises his two subordinates, Sanborn and Eldridge, by recklessly plunging them into a deadly game of urban combat, behaving as if he's indifferent to death. As the men struggle to control their wild new leader, the city explodes into chaos, and James' true character reveals itself in a way that will change each man forever.|
|The King's Speech||2010||Tom Hooper||135.5||17.1||Best Picture Winners||England's Prince Albert must ascend the throne as King George VI, but he has a speech impediment. Knowing that the country needs her husband to be able to communicate effectively, Elizabeth hires Lionel Logue, an Australian actor and speech therapist, to help him overcome his stammer. An extraordinary friendship develops between the two men, as Logue uses unconventional means to teach the monarch how to speak with confidence.|
|The Last Emperor||1987||Bernardo Bertolucci||41.5||10.1||Best Picture Winners|
This sweeping account of the life of Pu-Yi, the last emperor of China, follows the leader’s tumultuous reign. After being captured by the Red Army as a war criminal in 1950, Pu-Yi recalls his childhood from prison. He remembers his lavish youth in the Forbidden City, where he was afforded every luxury but unfortunately sheltered from the outside world and complex political situation surrounding him. As revolution sweeps through China, the world Pu-Yi knew is dramatically upended.
|The Life of Emile Zola||1937||William Dieterle||3.3||13.2||Best Picture Winners|
Fictionalized account of the life of famed French author Emile Zola. As portrayed in the film, he was a penniless writer sharing an apartment in Paris with painter Paul Cezanne when he finally wrote a best-seller, Nana. He has always had difficulty holding onto a job as he is quite outspoken, being warned on several occasions by the public prosecutor that he risks charges if he does not temper his writings. The bulk of the film deals with his involvement in the case of Captain Alfred Dreyfus who was falsely convicted of giving secret military information to the Germans and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devils Island. Antisemitism played an important role in the real-life case but is hardly mentioned in the film. Even after the military found definitive evidence that Dreyfus was innocent, the army decided to cover it up rather than face the scandal of having arbitrarily convicted the wrong man. Zola’s famous letter, J’Accuse (I Accuse), led to his own trial for libel where he was found guilty and forced to flee to England. Dreyfus was eventually exonerated and restored to his military rank.
|The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King||2003||Peter Jackson||377.0||61.9||Best Picture Winners, Greatest Fantasy Films, Mega Money Makers Through History||The final confrontation between the forces of good and evil fighting for control of the future of Middle-earth. Hobbits: Frodo and Sam reach Mordor in their quest to destroy the “one ring”, while Aragorn leads the forces of good against Sauron’s evil army at the stone city of Minas Tirith.|
|The Lost Weekend||1946||Billy Wilder||10.0||28.6||Best Picture Winners||Don Birnam, long-time alcoholic, has been “on the wagon” for ten days and seems to be over the worst; but his craving has just become more insidious. Evading a country weekend planned by his brother Wick and girlfriend Helen, he begins a four-day bender. In flashbacks we see past events, all gone wrong because of the bottle. But this bout looks like being his last…one way or the other.|
|The Shape of Water||2017||Guillermo del Toro||63.9||7.0||Best Picture Winners, Greatest Fantasy Films||At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.|
|The Silence of the Lambs||1991||Jonathan Demme||130.7||31.0||Best Picture Winners, Greatest Horror Films|
FBI trainee Clarice Starling works hard to advance her career, including trying to hide or put behind her West Virginia roots, of which if some knew would automatically classify her as being backward or white trash. After graduation, she aspires to work in the agency’s Behavioral Science Unit under the leadership of Jack Crawford. While she is still a trainee, Crawford does ask her to question Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist imprisoned thus far for eight years in maximum security isolation for being a serial killer, he who cannibalized his victims. Clarice is able to figure out the assignment is to pick Lecter’s brains to help them solve another serial murder case, that of someone coined by the media as Buffalo Bill who has so far killed five victims, all located in the eastern US, all young women who are slightly overweight especially around the hips, all who were drowned in natural bodies of water, and all who were stripped of large swaths of skin. She also figures that Crawford chose her as a woman to be able to trigger some emotional response from Lecter. After speaking to Lecter for the first time, she realizes that everything with him will be a psychological game with her having often to read between the very cryptic lines he provides. She has to decide how much she will play along as his request in return for talking to him is to expose herself emotionally to him. The case takes more dire turns when a sixth victim is discovered, this one from who they are able to retrieve a key piece of evidence if Lecter is being forthright as to its meaning. A potential seventh victim is high profile Catherine Martin, the daughter of Senator Ruth Martin, which places greater scrutiny on the case as they search for a hopefully still alive Catherine. Who may factor into what happens is Dr. Frederick Chilton, the warden at the prison, he an opportunist who sees the higher profile with Catherine, meaning a higher profile for himself if he can insert himself successfully into the proceedings.
|The Sound of Music||1965||Robert Wise||151.1||139.3||Best Picture Winners, Bestselling Blockbusters Through History, Greatest Musicals, Mega Money Makers Through History|
In 1930’s Austria, a young woman named Maria is failing miserably in her attempts to become a nun. When the Navy captain Georg Von Trapp writes to the convent asking for a governess that can handle his seven mischievous children, Maria is given the job. The Captain’s wife is dead, and he is often away, and runs the household as strictly as he does the ships he sails on. The children are unhappy and resentful of the governesses that their father keeps hiring, and have managed to run each of them off one by one. When Maria arrives, she is initially met with the same hostility, but her kindness, understanding, and sense of fun soon draws them to her and brings some much-needed joy into all their lives — including the Captain’s. Eventually he and Maria find themselves falling in love, even though Georg is already engaged to a Baroness and Maria is still a postulant. The romance makes them both start questioning the decisions they have made. Their personal conflicts soon become overshadowed, however, by world events. Austria is about to come under the control of Germany, and the Captain may soon find himself drafted into the German navy and forced to fight against his own country.
|The Sting||1973||George Roy Hill||173.6||91.9||Best Picture Winners, Bestselling Blockbusters Through History, Mega Money Makers Through History|
When a mutual friend is killed by a mob boss, two con men, one experienced and one young try to get even by pulling off the big con on the mob boss. The story unfolds with several twists and last minute alterations.
|Titanic||1997||James Cameron||659.4||136.0||Best Picture Winners, Bestselling Blockbusters Through History, Mega Money Makers Through History||84 years later, a 100 year-old woman named Rose DeWitt Bukater tells the story to her granddaughter Lizzy Calvert, Brock Lovett, Lewis Bodine, Bobby Buell and Anatoly Mikailavich on the Keldysh about her life set in April 10th 1912, on a ship called Titanic when young Rose boards the departing ship with the upper-class passengers and her mother, Ruth DeWitt Bukater, and her fiancé, Caledon Hockley. Meanwhile, a drifter and artist named Jack Dawson and his best friend Fabrizio De Rossi win third-class tickets to the ship in a game. And she explains the whole story from departure until the death of Titanic on its first and last voyage April 15th, 1912 at 2:20 in the morning.|
|Tom Jones||1963||Tony Richardson||38.7||44.9||Best Picture Winners, Mega Money Makers Through History||In eighteenth-century England, “first cousins” Tom Jones and Master Blifil grew up together in privilege in the western countryside, but could not be more different in nature. Tom, the bastard son of one of Squire Allworthy’s servants Jenny Jones and the local barber Partridge, was raised by virtuous Allworthy as his own after he sent Jenny away. Tom is randy, chasing anything in a skirt, he’s having a sexual relationship on the sly with Molly Seagrim, the peasant daughter of Allworthy’s gamekeeper. Tom is nonetheless kind-hearted and good-natured, he who is willing to defend that and those in which he believes. Blifil, on the other hand, is dour, and although outwardly pious, is cold-hearted and vengeful. Despite his randiness, Tom eventually falls in love with Sophie Western, who has just returned to the area after a few years abroad. Despite Sophie’s love for Tom, Squire Western and his spinster sister would rather see Sophie marry Blifil rather than a bastard, who Western nonetheless liked before he knew that Tom liked Sophie. Based on half truths, Tom, out of circumstance, is forced to leave his home and strike out on his own in London. While Sophie sneaks away in search of Tom, and Squire Western and Miss Western go off in search of Sophie, Tom gets into one misadventure after another on his way to London, some involving his randiness, and some which will reveal certain aspects of his life previously unknown to him. Through it all, Sophie, deep down, is never far from his mind, even when his life is in danger.|
|Unforgiven||1992||Clint Eastwood||101.2||24.4||Best Picture Winners, Greatest Westerns|
The town of Big Whisky is full of normal people trying to lead quiet lives. Cowboys try to make a living. Sheriff ‘Little Bill’ tries to build a house and keep a heavy-handed order. The town whores just try to get by.Then a couple of cowboys cut up a whore. Dissatisfied with Bill’s justice, the prostitutes put a bounty on the cowboys. The bounty attracts a young gun billing himself as ‘The Schofield Kid’, and aging killer William Munny. Munny reformed for his young wife, and has been raising crops and two children in peace. But his wife is gone. Farm life is hard. And Munny is no good at it. So he calls his old partner Ned, saddles his ornery nag, and rides off to kill one more time, blurring the lines between heroism and villainy, man and myth.
|West Side Story||1961||Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise||50.9||60.3||Best Picture Winners, Greatest Musicals, Mega Money Makers Through History|
West Side Story is the award-winning adaptation of the classic romantic tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet”. The feuding families become two warring New York City gangs- the white Jets led by Riff and the Puerto Rican Sharks, led by Bernardo. Their hatred escalates to a point where neither can coexist with any form of understanding. But when Riff’s best friend (and former Jet) Tony and Bernardo’s younger sister Maria meet at a dance, no one can do anything to stop their love. Maria and Tony begin meeting in secret, planning to run away. Then the Sharks and Jets plan a rumble under the highway – whoever wins gains control of the streets. Maria sends Tony to stop it, hoping it can end the violence. It goes terribly wrong, and before the lovers know what’s happened, tragedy strikes and doesn’t stop until the climactic and heartbreaking ending.
|Wings||1927||Harry d'Abbadie d'Arrast, William A. Wellman||4.3||13.9||Best Picture Winners, Greatest Silent Films|
Two young men from the same town but different social classes end up as fighter pilots in WW1. Jack Preston is a keen auto mechanic, building and modifying cars. David Armstrong comes from a wealthy family. They are both in love with the same woman, Sylvia. Her heart belongs to David but she doesn’t let Jack know and plays along with his infatuation. Meanwhile, Jack’s neighbour, Mary, is deeply in love with him but he just views her as a friend. WW1 interrupts the romantic entanglements as Jack and David enlist in the US Army Air Service (Air Service of the AEF at the time). They are initially bitter enemies, due to them both vying for Sylvia’s affections. Over time, however, they become very good friends. They are both posted to the same fighter squadron in France, where being a fighter pilot means every day could easily be your last.
|You Can't Take It with You||1938||Frank Capra||2.1||8.4||Best Picture Winners|
The stenographer Alice Sycamore is in love with her boss Tony Kirby, who is the vice-president of the powerful company owned by his greedy father Anthony P. Kirby. Kirby Sr. is dealing a monopoly in the trade of weapons, and needs to buy one last house in a twelve block area owned by Alice’s grandparent Martin Vanderhof. However, Martin is the patriarch of an anarchic and eccentric family where the members do not care for money but for having fun and making friends. When Tony proposes Alice, she states that it would be mandatory to introduce her simple and lunatic family to the snobbish Kirbys, and Tone decides to visit Alice with his parents one day before the scheduled. There is an inevitable clash of classes and lifestyles, the Kirbys spurn the Sycamores and Alice breaks with Tony, changing the lives of the Kirby family.