All films that ever won the Oscar for Best Picture

Table of Contents

Wings – 1929


During the first edition of the Oscars, ‘Wings’ won the award for ‘Outstanding Picture’, the category equivalent to the current ‘Best Picture.’ It’s a film about aviators in World War I directed by William A. Wellman.

The Broadway Melody – 1930


The first major motion picture musical got its status as the best film of the year in the midst of economic crisis.

All Quiet on the Western Front – 1931


A profoundly anti-war film that adapted Erich Maria Remarque’s novel of the same title: ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’.

Cimarron – 1932


A Western starring two great actors of the time, Richard Dix and Irene Dunne, this movie tells the story of how Oklahoma’s colonisation through the story of several generations of the same family.

Grand Hotel – 1933


Greta Garbo dazzled in this film of crossing stories in a luxurious Berlin hotel. Other stars of the time, such as John Barrymore and Joan Crawford, also participated.

Cavalcade – 1934


A popular play by Noel Coward that recounts the milestones in British history between 1899 and 1933 through the events of a family. From World War I to the sinking of the Titanic, and looking forward to a future in which war clouds were (again) looming.

It Happened One Night – 1935


A Frank Capra masterpiece with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in the leading roles. A romantic comedy that would set the stage for many other Hollywood films.

Mutiny on the Bounty – 1936


Once again, Clark Gable was the big star. The best role of this film, however, is that of Charles Laughton as the odious Captain Bligh.

The Great Ziegfeld – 1937


The biography of Florenz Ziegfeld, a theatrical producer.

The Life of Emile Zola – 1938


Another biopic; this time about the great French novelist Emile Zola,  by Paul Muni.

You Can’t Take It with You – 1939


Another great Frank Capra comedy. It reflects the optimism of the Roosevelt era just before World War II broke out.

Gone with the Wind – 1940


The most ambitious production ever made in Hollywood. It won the Oscar for Best Picture and seven other statues.

Rebecca – 1941

A masterpiece of suspense signed by the great Alfred Hitchcock. It was his definitive breakthrough in Hollywood.

How Green Was My Valley – 1942


A film about the pride of being a miner in Wales in the 19th century.

Mrs. Miniver – 1943


How to boost public morale during World War II, with the story of a family who goes about their daily lives while the Germans bomb Britain. Directed by William Wyler.

Casablanca – 1944


A film full of phrases for cinema history, with Humprey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman at their best. Another Oscar movie with propagandistic and anti-fascist content.

Going My Way – 1945


This film obtained seven statues portraying good religious feelings with a priest (played by Bing Crosby) as the main character. The academics of 1944 decided that this film was better than ‘Double Indemnity’ (Billy Wilder’s masterpiece) or ‘Gaslight’, both contenders for Best Film in 1945.

The Lost Weekend – 1946


Billy Wilder directed this shocking plea against alcoholism, with an air of film noir, starring Ray Milland.

The Best Years of Our Lives – 1947


William Wyler directed this moving film about the difficulties of a group of World War II veterans to reintegrate into everyday life.

Gentleman’s Agreement – 1948


A feature film denouncing anti-Semitism, starring Gregory Peck, and directed by Elia Kazan.

Hamlet – 1949


Laurence Olivier played and directed Shakespeare’s classic.

All The King’s Men – 1950


The adaptation of an American literary classic and a portrait of the (rather dirty) depths of politics. It was directed by Robert Rossen. Many years later (in 2006), another adaptation was made by Sean Penn, but not with the same success.

All About Eve – 1951

With fabulous performances by Bette Davis, Anne Baxter and George Sanders. Also, the (very brief) appearance of a young Marilyn Monroe.

An American in Paris – 1952


This film established Gene Kelly as a great dancer and Vicente Minelli as a great director of musicals. With a score by George Gershwin.

The World’s Greatest Show on Earth – 1953

In a year when academics could have awarded the Oscar for Best Picture to titles such as ‘The Quiet Man’ by John Ford or ‘Viva Zapata!’ by Elia Kazan, they decided to give it to this movie by Cecil B. De Mille.

From Here to Eternity – 1954


A spectacular cast (Montgomery Clift, Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Warden, Deborah Kerr…), some of whose scenes (the kiss on the beach, for example) are part of Hollywood iconography. It got eight Oscars.

On the Waterfront – 1955


One of Marlon Brando’s great interpretations and, for some, a most skillful denunciation of the anti-communist McCarthy era.

Marty – 1956


An unexpected success for this story about an affair between an Italian-American butcher from the Bronx and an insecure teacher. There were Oscars for Best Picture, Best Leading Actor (Ernest Borgnine), Best Director (Delbert Mann) and Best Adapted Screenplay (P. Chayefsky).

Around the World in 80 Days – 1957


A super production that could have been shot by Orson Welles (one of the names considered) but ended up in the hands of Michael Anderson. It is not a great film but it is also true that 1956 was not a very glorious year for Hollywood: it competed with ‘Giant’, ‘The Ten Commandments’ and ‘The King and I’. All good movies but not extraordinary.

The Bridge over the River Kwai – 1958


One of the most famous soundtracks in the history of cinema and one of the great works of David Lean. British actor Alec Guiness got a well-deserved statuette.

Gigi – 1959


A tribute to Paris from Hollywood directed by Vicente Minelli. Starring Leslie Caron and Maurice Chevalier.

Ben-Hur – 1960


A show that still fascinates after many years. The action in the heat and the charisma of Charlton Heston are of a timeless beauty.

The Apartment – 1961


A sad comedy directed by Billy Wilder and starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley McLain, both of whom won Oscars.

West Side Story – 1962


‘Romeo and Juliet’ turned into a musical with New York street gangs. One of Leonard Berstein’s most beautiful scores. And Natalie Wood in her best moment of acting.

Lawrence of Arabia – 1963


A super-production of the kind that elevated David Lean as a director and Peter O’Toole as a great interpreter of extreme and tormented characters.

Tom Jones – 1964


A classic of British (18th-century) literature that director Tony Richardson adapted to the spirit of the 1960s. It won four Oscars but Albert Finney, its protagonist, lost ‘Best Actor’ to Sidney Poitier.

My Fair Lady – 1965


Eight Oscars for this musical starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. Their songs have been part of the sentimental memory of generations.

The Sound of Music – 1966


For the second year in a row, the Oscar-winning film was a musical. ‘The sound of music’ popularized the Von Trapp family across the world.

A Man For All Seasons – 1967


The life of Thomas More, British politician and humanist. It is a somewhat forgotten title today, but at the time it won six Oscars.

In the Heat of the Night – 1968


A police film with a black detective (Sidney Poitier) in the deep South of the U.S.

Oliver – 1969


The musical adaptation of ‘Oliver Twist’, the classic by Charles Dickens. It won five Oscars.

Midnight Cowboy – 1970


In the fabulous 60s of the 20th century, (nearly) anything was possible. For example, a movie rated for explicit language and violence won three Oscars, with Best Picture among them. However, neither Jon Voight nor Dustin Hoffman, the leading couple, got a statue.

Patton – 1971


George C. Scott’s extraordinary performance (awarded with an Oscar) and the fantastic script of a young Francis Ford Coppola (who also got a statue) made ‘Patton’ a great film.

The French Connection – 1972


The spectacular chases in this police film directed by William Friedkin appealed to both the audience and Hollywood academics. Gene Hackman got a statuette for his leading role.

The Godfather – 1973


A masterpiece that the most traditional Hollywood producers did not like. They said it was “too dark.” It swept away other critics and the public, and it won the Oscar for Best Film, Best Actor (Marlon Brando) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo).

The Sting – 1974


A film in which Robert Redford and Paul Newman gave a great performance together. It has a soundtrack to remember. And seven! Oscar awards. More than The Godfather.

The Godfather 2 – 1975


A sequel better than the first part? Francis Ford Coppola did it. With Al Pacino and Robert de Niro in their best shape.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – 1976


Jack Nicholson showed his capacity for well-understood histrionics and Milos Forman directed with an enormous talent. A shocking film about the limits of madness and the repression of individualism.

Rocky – 1977


An honest working man from Philadelphia is crushed by the economic crisis but overcomes it by boxing. Sylvester Stallone became a symbol of the working class and won a huge statue.

Annie Hall – 1978


Woody Allen’s masterpiece, this comedy won four Oscars.

The Deer Hunter – 1979


Five Oscars for this film by Michael Cimino, which portrayed the difficult return for a Vietnam veteran. One award went to Christopher Walken for his electrifying performance. Robert de Niro was also magnificent, but there was no statuette for him.

Kramer vs. Kramer – 1980


The story of a divorce with a child in between and one of the most beautiful (and contained) performances by Dustin Hoffman. Beautiful, exciting and worthy of the Oscar he won.

Ordinary People – 1981


Robert Redford directed this film, which was to take four Oscars at the gala.

Chariots of Fire – 1982


Actually, the Oscar this movie deserved was the one for Best Soundtrack (for Vangelis’s music), but the Hollywood academics decided to give it three other awards, including Best Picture.

Gandhi – 1983


Richard Attenborough directed this hagiography of the leader of Indian independence, starring Ben Kingsley. It won eight Oscars.

Terms of Endearment – 1984


A film for a good cry and with a great cast: Shirley McLaine, Jack Nicholson, Debra Winger, Danny de Vito, and Jeff Daniels. This was a more modest Oscar edition: titles like ‘Tender Mercies’, ‘Chosen for Glory’ and ‘The Big Chill’ competed. All of them are great films but not on the level of masterpieces.

Amadeus – 1985


The relationship between Mozart and Salieri, an excessive genius and a simple though talented mortal, made for an unforgettable film and fabulous performances. Directed by Milos Forman.

Out of Africa – 1986


Sidney Pollack directed Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in this romantic film based on the stories of Isak Dinesen (a pseudonym of the Danish author Karen Blixen).

Platoon – 1987


Oliver Stone’s iconic film denouncing war in Vietnam with Charlie Sheen and Willem Dafoe.

The Last Emperor – 1988


A super production shot by Bernardo Bertolucci with magnificent photography by Vittorio Storaro. It won nine Oscars.

Rain Man – 1989


Dustin Hoffman in the role of a clever autistic man and Tom Cruise playing his younger brother.

Driving Miss Daisy – 1990


A tender story about the unexpected bonds between two very different people: an African-American driver and a tough white lady. Starring Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy (who also won an Oscar).

Dances with Wolves – 1991

Starring and directed by Kevin Costner, this film tells the history of Western expansion in the young United States from the perspective of the Native Americans who were displaced.

The Silence of the Lambs – 1992


Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter’s story of affection and horror was an unexpected success in the Academy.

Unforgiven – 1993


Clint Eastwood, a Western veteran, paid tribute to the genre that had lifted him to stardom.

Schindler’s List – 1994


Steven Spielberg’s gripping film about the horrors of the Holocaust.

Forrest Gump – 1995


“Life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get.” It’s one of the phrases that many will remember from ‘Forrest Gump,’ a movie that told the story of modern America through the eyes of a man with an intellectual disability.

Braveheart – 1996


Directed by and starring Mel Gibson, ‘Braveheart’ recounts how one man led a revolt against King Edward I of England.

The English Patient – 1997


A romantic film set in World War II, directed by Anthony Minghella. Starring Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, and Colin Firth.

Titanic – 1998


This film swept away the awards gala of 1998, thanks to the great chemistry between Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio under the direction of James Cameron.

Shakespeare in Love – 1999

A fresh look at Shakespeare: a young man full of inspiring ideas and very much in love with a beautiful woman. It was one of Gwyneth Paltrow’s best works.

American Beauty – 2000

The downside of the American dream involves a father with a mid-life crisis having sexual fantasies about his daughter’s best friend. Starring Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, and Mena Suvari.

Gladiator – 2001


Gladiator, an epic film starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix, skillfully directed by Ridley Scott.

A Beautiful Mind – 2002

Russell Crowe again, this time playing John Forbes Nash, a genius who suffered from schizophrenia and won the Economics Nobel Prize in 1994.

Chicago – 2003


A musical winning the Oscar for Best Picture is always something special. Starring Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Richard Gere.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – 2004


It is chronologically the third of the trilogy, coming after ‘The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers’. It was also one of the biggest blockbusters of all time.

Million Dollar Baby – 2005


As the oldest Best Director Oscar winner, Clint Eastwood also co-produced this film, composed the soundtrack, and played one of the main roles. Hilary Swank won an Oscar for her amazing performance as a young female boxer.

Crash – 2006

Film critics have debated the choice of this Best Picture, telling the intertwined stories of Los Angeles residents with different ethnicities. ‘Crash’ competed with ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ a big favourite.

The Departed – 2007

An undercover cop versus a mole, lots of action, violence, and suspense. This movie has all the elements necessary to make what Martin Scorsese does best.

No Country for Old Men – 2008

Javier Bardem starring in a nihilistic crime comedy about a drug deal gone wrong.

Slumdog Millionaire – 2009


A touching story about a Mumbai orphan who is about to win the Indian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

The Hurt Locker – 2010


A realistic portrayal of an American bomb squad’s daily activities in Iraq. It was the breakthrough for director Kathryn Bigelow, the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Director.

The King’s Speech – 2011


Starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter, this movie recalls the stuttering of King George VI and his constant struggle to give an inspiring speech.

The Artist – 2012


An incredible film. Shot in a soundless black and white, it transmitted many emotions and was well-deserving of the Oscar.

Argo – 2013

In the middle of a political crisis in Tehran, a CIA agent poses as a Hollywood producer to save U.S. embassy officials. Directed and played by Ben Affleck.

12 Years a Slave – 2014


Steve McQueen directed this masterpiece about an African-American man born into freedom, then sold into slavery, and finally released after 12 years.

Birdman – 2015


An excellent story directed by the talented Mexican Alejandro González Iñárritu. A lot of black humour, some fantasy, and shot in a single sequence (except for some loose shots at the beginning and the end).

Spotlight – 2016


Based on real events, it tells how the Boston Globe uncovered a child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

Moonlight – 2017


‘Moonlight’ shows the childhood, adolescence and maturity of Chiron, an African-American boy who grows up fatherless in a depressed and troubled suburb of Miami.

The Shape of Water – 2018


This is a modern fantastic tale, a beautiful yet sad story that speaks of love, innocence (or its loss), and alienation.

Green Book – 2019


Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) is an African-American pianist who hires a tough Italian-American man (Tony Vallelonga, Viggo Mortensen) as a driver and bodyguard during his tour of the southern United States in the 1960s. Directed by Peter Farrelly.

Parasite – 2020

‘Parasite,’ or ‘Gisaengchung’ in Korean, is a dark comedy about a poor family that enters into a wealthy household through an elaborate scheme. It’s critical of economic inequality and shocking as well as funny. Bong Joon-ho’s masterpiece was the first film ever to win both the category ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best International Feature Film.’

Nomadland – 2021


‘Nomadland,’ like other films in this list, is very much a product of the time in which it was released. It shows how sixty-something Fern decides to travel across the western United States after she loses her job and her home. Lead actress Frances McDormand and director Chloe Zhao won several awards – including Oscars – for their work on this movie.

CODA – 2022

The winning film of 2022 is a remake of a French coming-of-age drama from 2014, ‘La Famille Bélier,’ centering on a high school student (Emilia Jones) whose parents are deaf (CODA stands for Child of Deaf Adults). She helps them manage their troubled fishing business while dreaming of a rosier future after graduation. Cast member Troy Kotsur won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He was the first deaf person to do so.

Everything Everywhere All at Once – 2023


A touching story about the relationship between an Asian mother and daughter, using the effects of magical thinking to tell its layered tale. The mother, a Chinese-American immigrant played by Michelle Yeoh – who also won an Oscar for her role – connects with her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) by traveling through parallel universes in which they meet each other in different phases of their lives.

Oppenheimer – 2024


The biography of one of the US atomic bomb’s inventors swept all awards galas in 2024. At the Oscars, both the lead actor Cillian Murphy and the supporting actor Robert Downey Jr won the coveted statuette. Director Christopher Nolan got the award for Best Director.



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