The Top 25 Best Picture Winners To Date


Alas. All good things must come to an end at some point. Yes folks, this is the final installment of the second go-around of this series of mine, and as such, it’s (hopefully) a bit of a doozy…the Best Picture field. Without a doubt, this is the big one, so it’s the one where the list will be the most important and I hope interesting to look at as well. Hopefully you’ve all been looking forward to it as well. Obviously, I could go on and on in preparation right now, waxing poetic and teasing, but at this point I know how the game works here for everyone. You all just want to see the lists that I do anyhow, so I have no problem obliging you good people there in that particular regard one more time. All you have to do is just be patient over the next paragraph or so and you’ll get the goods front and center for your reading pleasure…

One last time, try not to bury the lead and I’ll jump right into discussing my top ten a bit here now. To me, the best winner of this category so far to date has been Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. The best romantic comedy of all time, Allen’s Best Picture winner is a perfect film to me, so it’s not even close between this one and all the rest. That being said, the next two runners up aren’t miles behind. They’re Steven Spielberg’s heartbreaking Schindler’s List and Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs. Two very different works, but also two basically perfect ones. Rounding out the top five I have Billy Wilder’s The Apartment and Sam Mendes’ American Beauty, the latter of which is likely too high for some, but hey…it’s my list, right? Exactly. That’s a strong top five in my eyes, and the top ten consists of Ben Affleck’s Argo, John G. Avildsen’s Rocky, Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby, and Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. There’s not a weak one in that lot, and I’d especially say that Argo is still moving upwards for me. I could see it pushing towards the top five in the next decade, but again, that’s just me. There’s really no way to not come up with an amazing top ten, just like there’s no way not to leave off a ton of worthy contenders in a top 25. You could easily go 30 or 40 or even 50 deep without having to really run the well dry of quality winners. Not every Best Picture winner has been amazing, but plenty have, so it’s a pleasure to have to make these tough choices, without a doubt. Here’s hoping that the next few years will have plenty more winners that deserve inclusion on these lists.

Here now is how I’d rank the 25 top winners of the Best Picture Oscar:

25. Rain Man
24. Kramer vs Kramer
23. The Godfather
22. The Deer Hunter
21. The Godfather Part II
20. Forrest Gump
19. The French Connection
18. Midnight Cowboy
17. No Country for Old Men
16. On the Waterfront
15. Platoon
14. Moonlight
13. The Departed
12. Spotlight
11. Casablanca
10. Million Dollar Baby
9. Argo
8. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
7. Rocky
6. The Hurt Locker
5. American Beauty
4. The Apartment
3. Schindler’s List
2. The Silence of the Lambs
1. Annie Hall

Honorable Mentions: 12 Years a Slave, All About Eve, All Quiet on the Western Front, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), The Bridge on the River Kwai, Marty, Ordinary People, Rebecca, Shakespeare in Love, and The Shape of Water

I hope you all enjoyed the return of this series as much as I did. Until next time!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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