Best Picture Winners

Done. I have watched every Best Picture Academy Award Winner from 1927 until today. Yaaaassss!!! Here is one list lover’s assorted rankings.

**Disclaimer: The controversial views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent those of her wife, her friends, or her assorted coworkers.


Most Entertaining

  1. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Pure epic adventure)
  2. Forest Gump (Quality, delicious, fascinating fun. Eminently rewatchable)
  3. Titanic (Emotionally involving and super dramatic. Rarely a dull moment)
  4. The Sound of Music (Such a feel-good movie)
  5. Ben-Hur (The storytelling ride of a lifetime)
  6. Gone With the Wind (Historical melodrama on steroids)
  7. The Greatest Show on Earth (Pure escapism)
  8. My Fair Lady (Colorful, quirky, and joyous)
  9. Mutiny on the Bounty (High drama, sadism, and open sea adventure)
  10. It Happened One Night (One of the all-time greatest screwball comedies)



  1. Ben-Hur (So much happens. So many epic set pieces)
  2. Titanic (Exquisite detail paired with massive scale)
  3. Gone With the Wind (Arguably the epic of all epics)
  4. The Last Emperor (Mind blowing number of extras. Incredible set variety)
  5. Gladiator (Unforgettable battle scenes)
  6. Gandhi (Detailed depiction of the life of one of history’s most beautiful of humans)
  7. The English Patient (The veritable definition of a sweeping saga)
  8. Braveheart (Massive battles plus incredible castles)
  9. The Great Ziegfeld (Those crazy production numbers could never fit on a real stage!)
  10. The Greatest Show on Earth (The big top brought to the silver screen on a grand scale)


Most Disturbing

  1. The Silence of the Lambs (Clarisse investigating the house at the end of the film is one of the scariest things ever!)
  2. American Beauty (Dark and disturbing psychological states)
  3. Schindler’s List (Realistic brutality)
  4. The Godfather Part II (The sex worker in the bed… and so much more)
  5. Midnight Cowboy (Depicts such a disconcerting, disturbed, and nihilistic world)
  6. Platoon (Vietnam, nuff said)
  7. Gladiator (The menace of Commodus)
  8. Braveheart (Extreme medieval brutality)
  9. In the Heat of the Night (Murder in a terribly hot, sticky, menacing town filled with bigots)
  10. Spotlight (Shows the discovery of not only child sex abuse perpetrated by priests, but also the coverup orchestrated those at the very top)


What Were They Thinking? (Films that really should not have won Best Picture)

  1. The Greatest Show on Earth (As stated above, very entertaining, but nowhere near a Best Picture quality script. Somewhat iffy acting, sorry Betty)
  2. Shakespeare in Love (Okay film with an intelligent script, but nothing outstanding.
  3. Oliver! (Super enjoyable for musical lovers, but too episodic for the Best Picture)
  4. Chicago (Well done, but not enough depth for Best Picture)
  5. The Apartment (Gem of a comedy, but again, not enough depth)
  6. Going My Way (Sweet, but uneven)
  7. Broadway Melody (Extremely creaky)
  8. Slumdog Millionaire (Lacking that special something extra. Sorry to be so vague, but missing something I cant quite put my finger on)
  9. Argo (Well-made action thriller, yet not particularly memorable)
  10. Green Book (Great acting, yes. Fairly forgettable, yes)


Most Depressing

  1. The English Patient (Just about the saddest story EVER)
  2. Midnight Cowboy (Immerses you in a hopeless, lonely world)
  3. Million Dollar Baby (Heartbreak to the max)
  4. The Lost Weekend (Relapse and hallucinations on repeat)
  5. The French Connection (Depicts a brutal, soulless world)
  6. Ordinary People (Important look at depression, but unsurprisingly depressing as all heck)
  7. How Green Was My Valley (Little beyond a hard, gray life for these Welsh Miners)
  8. On the Waterfront (A bleak, desolate New York)
  9. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest (The extreme trauma within one terrifying mental institution)
  10. All Quiet on the Western Front (WWI and so much senseless loss of life)

the-last-emperor 2


  1. The Last Emperor (Sometimes you feel like you’re watching paint dry)
  2. Ordinary People (Very slow moving)
  3. How Green Was My Valley (Slow pacing)
  4. Hamlet (Difficult to watch in one sitting)
  5. A Man For All Seasons (Complex, but with many slow patches)
  6. Terms of Endearment (I was not engaged with the characters, so it did little for me)
  7. Tom Jones (Incredibly silly and pointless and sexist)
  8. Chariot’s of Fire (Good film, but with several sections that drag)
  9. The Life of Emile Zola (A bit dry)
  10. Cavalcade (Static filming gives it a very play-like feel)


Better Than Expected (This is 100% about Mary’s expectations vs. Mary’s reality)

  1. All About Eve (Went into the viewing expecting something rather boring, instead experienced enough wit, charm, and insight to fill several movies)
  2. Wings (Helped to shatter the stigmas I held against silent films)
  3. Amadeus (Expected it to be tedious, but found that while it’s not always exciting, it’s extremely well acted and well written)
  4. Spotlight (Had low expectations going in. Became an all time favorite)
  5. The Departed (Thought it would be brutal and depressing. While it was those things, it was also quite engaging and interesting.
  6. The Godfather (Thought it might be good, discovered it was great!)
  7. No Country For Old Men (Went in expecting to be rather bored, instead was quite impressed by it’s depth and complexity)
  8. Million Dollar Baby (Didn’t think I’d like it, but the story sucked me in and made me cry)
  9. All the King’s Men (Not AS excruciating as I feared)
  10. Cavalcade (Expected torture, instead got a little bit out of seeing certain social dynamics captured on film.


Overrated AKA Not So Great

  1. An American in Paris 
  2. Tom Jones 
  3. Shakespeare in Love 
  4. The French Connection 
  5. The Sting (Plot holes and a certain artificiality of setting)
  6. Annie Hall (Unique and rather clever, but not THAT funny)


Please Don’t Make Me Watch That Again

  1. The Last Emperor (Paint drying- see above)
  2. Tom Jones (Obnoxious- see above)
  3. Terms of Endearment (I don’t care- see above)
  4. All the King’s Men (You’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it enough)
  5. The French Connection (Makes me feel grimy and despondent)
  6. Ordinary People (Depressing- see above)
  7. Birdman (Weird and not in a way I like. Makes me feel itchy and depressed)
  8. Shakespeare in Love (Not that good [see above] and they think they’re so cute)
  9. Hamlet (Fairly boring, though many Shakespeare and Olivier fans will beg to differ)
  10. An American In Paris (I’m mad at Gene Kelly because I think he was a jerk. Also, the goings on are mostly very superficial)


10 Best Best Picture Winners

  1. Casablanca (Improves with each and every viewing. It is imprinted on my very soul)
  2. The Godfather (A fantastic film. Truly unforgettable)
  3. All About Eve (One of the most witty scripts ever written. Contains one of the all time great performances, namely, Betty Davis as Margo Channing)
  4. Moonlight (Lyrical and poetical and painterly, aka beautiful in every way)
  5. Deer Hunter (Lingers in your soul. Haunting)
  6. The Godfather Part II (Every bit as good as the first)
  7. Braveheart (Terribly moving and exciting)
  8. Gone With the Wind (Perfect in almost every way)
  9. Schindler’s List (A masterpiece of filmmaking)
  10. Amadeus (An incredible story presented with loads of filmmaking class)


My Favorites:

  1. Casablanca (A ridiculously romantic, not to mention inspiring, story)
  2. The Sound of Music (Julie Andrews, could she be more charming and talented?)
  3. Spotlight (Investigative journalism at its best! Makes me want to be a reporter)
  4. Moonlight (Such a thoughtful, sensitive, devastating picture)
  5. The Godfather (A story like none other)
  6. Ben-Hur (“Ramming speed!”)
  7. Mutiny on the Bounty (Clark Gable and Charles Laughton in top form)
  8. The Bridge on the River Kwai (“Madness, it’s all madness!”)
  9. In the Heat of the Night (“They call me Mr. Tibbs!”)
  10. The Silence of the Lambs (One of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. Also, incredibly intelligent and brilliantly acted)

What do you think? I’d love to hear your objections, rants, and/or commiserations. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Here’s looking at you kid.