The Best Oscar Best Picture Winners
A lot of the fun of the Oscars is looking back at all the times this supposed authority about the art of motion pictures has gotten things completely wrong. Ordinary People over Raging Bull? Dances With Wolves over Goodfellas? Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption? Driving Miss Daisy over Do the Right Thing — and Do the Right Thing wasn’t even nominated? Oh, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; you do have such interesting ideas about what constitutes the “best” movie of the year.
If you want to wallow in the worst Oscar Best Picture winners, we have that well-covered here at ScreenCrush. But let’s give at least a little credit where credit is due. Once in while (okay once in a long while) the Academy does indeed recognize a true masterpiece and immortalizes it for all time. By my count, they’ve gotten it “right,” or at least picked a very respectable winner, about 25 percent of the time. That’s not a great average — if they were a baseball player, they’d probably get shipped down to the minors to work on their hitting — but it’s honestly better than I would have expected before I took a closer look at the history of Best Picture winners.
Here are my own personal picks for the Academy’s best choices for Best Picture from the late 1920s to today. I chose 20 of the 93 winners so far, and ranked them from the merely outstanding to the true masterpieces that belong in any cinema canon. And no, Ordinary People, Dances With Wolves, Forrest Gump, and Driving Miss Daisy did not make the cut...