Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the prestigious Academy Award for Best Picture. Since its inception, this coveted accolade has been the pinnacle of recognition for filmmakers and movie enthusiasts alike. In this article, we will take you through a complete list of every film that has had the honor of receiving this esteemed award. From groundbreaking classics to modern masterpieces, join us as we celebrate the cinematic achievements that have shaped the world of cinema and left an indelible mark on the hearts of audiences worldwide. 

Academy Award for Best Picture Winners

Best Picture Winners — Complete List

The Oscars, officially known as the Academy Awards, have been honoring the best in cinema since 1929. The Best Picture award considered the most prestigious of all, has been a part of the ceremony from the very beginning.

Originally, the Oscars had two categories: Outstanding Picture and Unique and Artistic Picture, with "Wings" (1927) and "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" (1927) as the first winners, respectively. From the 2nd Academy Awards, these were merged into a single Best Picture award. 

The category has evolved over time, with varying nominee numbers and up to 10 nominees since 2009, reflecting the film industry's changing landscape and promoting diversity among contenders. It should also be noted that the studio or production company was given the award until 1950. After that, the producer or producing team was awarded the Oscar for Best Picture.

As we look back on the illustrious history of the Best Picture Oscar, it's clear that the award has played a pivotal role in recognizing and celebrating the most outstanding achievements in filmmaking. 

Academy Award for Best Picture History

OSCAR BEST PICTURE WINNERS

  • 1927/28 – Wings (Famous Players-Lasky)
  • 1928/29 – The Broadway Melody (MGM)
  • 1929/30 – All Quiet on the Western Front (Universal)
  • 1930/31 – Cimarron (RKO Radio) 
  • 1931/32 – Grand Hotel (MGM) 
  • 1932/33 – Cavalcade (Fox) 
  • 1934 – It Happened One Night (Columbia) 
  • 1935 – Mutiny on the Bounty (MGM) 
  • 1936 – The Great Ziegfeld (MGM) 
  • 1937 – The Life of Emile Zola (Warner Bros.) 
  • 1938 – You Can’t Take it with You (Columbia) 
  • 1939 – Gone With the Wind (Selznick International Pictures) 
  • 1940 – Rebecca (Selznick International Pictures) 
  • 1941 – How Green Was My Valley (20th Century-Fox) 
  • 1942 – Mrs. Miniver (MGM) 
  • 1943 – Casablanca (Warner Bros.)  
  • 1944 – Going My Way (Paramount) 
  • 1945 – The Lost Weekend (Paramount)  
  • 1946 – The Best Years of Our Lives (Samuel Goldwyn Productions) 
  • 1947 – Gentleman’s Agreement (20th Century-Fox) 
  • 1948 – Hamlet (J. Arthur Rank-Two Cities Films)  
  • 1949 – All the King’s Men (Columbia) 
  • 1950 – All About Eve (20th Century-Fox)  
  • 1951 – An American in Paris (Arthur Freed) 
  • 1952 – The Greatest Show on Earth (Cecil B. DeMille)  
  • 1953 – From Here to Eternity (Buddy Adler) 
  • 1954 – On the Waterfront (Sam Spiegel) 
  • 1955 – Marty (Harold Hecht) 
  • 1956 – Around the World in 80 Days (Michael Todd) 
  • 1957 – The Bridge on the River Kwai (Sam Spigel)
  • 1958 – Gigi (Arthur Freed) 
  • 1959 – Ben-Hur (Sam Zimbalist) 
  • 1960 – The Apartment (Billy Wilder) 
  • 1961 – West Side Story (Robert Wise)  
  • 1962 – Lawrence of Arabia (Sam Spiegel)   
  • 1963 – Tom Jones (Tony Richardson)  
  • 1964 – My Fair Lady (Jack L. Warner)  
  • 1965 – The Sound of Music (Robert Wise) 
  • 1966 – A Man for All Seasons (Fred Zinnemann)  
  • 1967 – In the Heat of the Night (Walter Mirisch) 
  • 1968 – Oliver! (John Woolf) 
  • 1969 – Midnight Cowboy (Jerome Hellman) 
  • 1970 – Patton (Frank McCarthy)  
  • 1971 – The French Connection (Philip D'Antoni)  
  • 1972 – The Godfather (Albert S. Ruddy) 
  • 1973 – The Sting (Tony Bill, Michael Phillips, Julia Phillips) 
  • 1974 – The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, Gray Frederickson, Fred Roos)   
  • 1975 – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Michael Douglas, Saul Zaentz) 
  • 1976 – Rocky (Irwin Winkler, Robert Chartoff)  
  • 1977 – Annie Hall (Charles H. Joffe) 
  • 1978 – The Deer Hunter (Barry Spikings, Michael Deeley, Michael Cimino, John Peverall)  
  • 1979 – Kramer vs. Kramer (Stanley R. Jaffe) 
  • 1980 – Ordinary People (Ronald L. Schwary) 
  • 1981 – Chariots of Fire (David Puttnam)  
  • 1982 – Gandhi (Richard Attenborough) 
  • 1983 – Terms of Endearment (James L. Brooks)  
  • 1984 – Amadeus (Saul Zaentz)  
  • 1985 – Out of Africa (Sydney Pollack)   
  • 1986 – Platoon (Arnold Kopelson) 
  • 1987 – The Last Emperor (Jeremy Thomas) 
  • 1988 – Rain Man (Mark Johnson)  
  • 1989 – Driving Miss Daisy (Richard D. Zanuck, Lili Fini Zanuck)  
  • 1990 – Dances with Wolves (Jim Wilson, Kevin Costner) 
  • 1991 – The Silence of the Lambs (Edward Saxon, Kenneth Utt, Ron Bozman)  
  • 1992 – Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood)   
  • 1993 – Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, Gerald R. Molen, Branko Lustig) 
  • 1994 – Forrest Gump (Wendy Finerman, Steve Tisch, Steve Starkey)  
  • 1995 – Braveheart (Mel Gibson, Alan Ladd Jr., Bruce Davey)   
  • 1996 – The English Patient (Saul Zaentz) 
  • 1997 – Titanic (James Cameron, Jon Landau) 
  • 1998 – Shakespeare in Love (David Parfitt, Donna Gigliotti, Harvey Weinstein, Edward Zwick, Marc Norman)  
  • 1999 – American Beauty (Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks) 
  • 2000 – Gladiator (Douglas Wick, David Franzoni, Branko Lustig)  
  • 2001 – A Beautiful Mind (Brian Grazer, Ron Howard)   
  • 2002 – Chicago (Martin Richards)    
  • 2003 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Barrie M. Osborne, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh) 
  • 2004 – Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood, Albert S. Ruddy, Tom Rosenberg)  
  • 2005 – Crash (Paul Haggis, Cathy Schulman)   
  • 2006 – The Departed (Graham King)    
  • 2007 – No Country for Old Men (Scott Rudin, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen) 
  • 2008 – Slumdog Millionaire (Christian Colson) 
  • 2009 – The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier, Greg Shapiro)  
  • 2010 – The King’s Speech (Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin)   
  • 2011 – The Artist (Thomas Langmann)  
  • 2012 – Argo (Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck, George Clooney)    
  • 2013 – 12 Years a Slave (Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Anthony Katagas) 
  • 2014 – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, James W. Skotchdopole) 
  • 2015 – Spotlight (Blye Pagon Faust, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, Michael Sugar)   
  • 2016 – Moonlight (Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner)    
  • 2017 – The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale) 
  • 2018 – Green Book (Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga) 
  • 2019 – Parasite (Kwak Sin-ae, Bong Joon-ho)  
  • 2020 – Nomadland (Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey, Chloé Zhao)  
  • 2021 – CODA (Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi, Patrick Wachsberger)  
  • 2022 – Everything Everywhere All At Once (Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, Jonathan Wang)

Best Academy Award for Best Picture Winners

20. Birdman (2014)

Birdman: "Does She Talk" Scene

Birdman, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, explores the struggles of a washed-up actor, Riggan Thomson (played by Michael Keaton), as he attempts to revive his career through a Broadway production. Birdman delves deep into themes of fame, ego, and artistic integrity, offering a biting commentary on the entertainment industry.

The film's groundbreaking cinematography, led by Emmanuel Lubezki, creates the illusion of a single continuous shot, immersing the audience in the frenetic energy of the story and the psychological turmoil of its protagonist. This technical achievement enhances the narrative's intensity and adds a layer of realism to the film.

Iñárritu Academy Award Best Picture

Conclusion

Birdman's unique blend of dark humor, thought-provoking themes, and innovative filmmaking techniques make it a deserving winner of the Best Picture Oscar and a standout in the pantheon of great films.

Ranking Academy Award Best Picture Winners

19. Spotlight (2015) 

Spotlight (2015)  •  Nobody Can Get Away With This! Scene

Spotlight, a gripping and powerful drama, uncovers the true story of a team of investigative journalists unraveling a massive scandal within the Catholic Church. The film's compelling narrative and stellar performances captivated audiences, leading it to win multiple Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. 

The film is loaded with heavy-hitting performances. Mark Ruffalo's Oscar-nominated performance in Spotlight delivers a captivating and emotionally charged portrayal of dogged determination in the pursuit of truth.

True Story Oscars Best Picture Winners

Conclusion

With its unflinching portrayal of truth-seeking, Spotlight has cemented its place as a cinematic masterpiece in both storytelling and impact.

Ranking Best Picture Academy Awards

18. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

A Beautiful Mind Wins Best Picture

Russell Crowe's exceptional performance in A Beautiful Mind brings depth to Nash's character, capturing both his genius and the challenges he faced due to mental illness. The film and brilliant screenplay present a nuanced exploration of the effects of schizophrenia on personal and professional relationships, evoking empathy and understanding. 

A Beautiful Mind also boasts a strong supporting cast, including Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris, further enhancing the cinematic experience. 

Best Film Academy Awards Rankings

Conclusion

The captivating story, powerful performances, and sensitive handling of mental health issues make A Beautiful Mind a deserving entry on the list of best films.

Crime Genre Academy Award Best Picture Winners

17. The Godfather Part II (1974) 

Vito Corleone and Clemenza steal a rug

The Godfather Part II, a masterful continuation of the Corleone family saga, expertly weaves together two parallel narratives that delve into the past and present. With its intricate storytelling, powerful performances, and striking cinematography, the film transcends the boundaries of the crime genre and ranks as one of the best crime movies of all time

Coppola’s Oscar Best Picture Winners

Conclusion

As an Oscar Best Picture winner, The Godfather Part II solidifies its status as an enduring cinematic triumph and a testament to the art of filmmaking.

Ranking Academy Award for Best Picture Winners

16. On the Waterfront (1954) 

I Coulda Been a Contender  •  On the Waterfront

On the Waterfront (1954), directed by Elia Kazan, is a powerful drama that delves into the world of corruption, crime, and moral conflict, making it a deserving Best Picture Oscar winner. Marlon Brando's iconic portrayal of Terry Malloy, an ex-boxer turned longshoreman, showcases his exceptional acting prowess and sets a new standard for method acting.

Brando’s Academy Award Winners Best Picture

Conclusion

On the Waterfront's exploration of redemption, loyalty, and the fight against corruption ensures its place among the best films in Best Picture Oscar history.

LOTR Academy Award for Best Picture 

15. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) 

"The Lord of the Rings" winning the Best Picture Oscar

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Peter Jackson's epic conclusion to his groundbreaking fantasy trilogy, immerses audiences in a breathtaking cinematic journey through Middle-earth. Jackson's visionary direction, coupled with stunning visuals, seamless special effects, and an evocative score, brings Tolkien's world to life like never before.

Peter Jackson's Academy AWard Best Picture

Conclusion

The Return of the King's unparalleled scale, imagination, and emotional depth make it a deserving Best Picture winner and a timeless classic among its contemporaries.

Timeless Academy Award for Best Picture 

14. Gone with the Wind (1940) 

Frankly My Dear, I Don't Give a Damn  •  Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind, a sweeping epic set against the backdrop of the American Civil War and Reconstruction era, remains a timeless masterpiece more than eight decades after its release. Directed by Victor Fleming, the film's breathtaking cinematography, lavish costumes, and evocative score further enhance the grandeur of the story. 

American Best Picture Academy Awards

Conclusion

Gone with the Wind's enduring appeal lies in its captivating narrative, unforgettable performances, and visual opulence, securing its place as a deserving Oscar winner and cinematic classic.

Historical Oscar Best Picture Winners

13. Amadeus (1984)

AMADEUS  •  MOZART INSULTS SALIERI

A symphony of cinematic brilliance, Amadeus (1984) orchestrates a harmonious blend of music, drama, and historical intrigue. The exquisite set design and atmospheric cinematography transport viewers to 18th-century Vienna, immersing them in a world of opulence and artistic fervor.

Historical Movies that Won Best Picture

Conclusion

Amadeus' accolades are well-deserved, as it transcends the biopic genre, offering a timeless exploration of ambition, genius, and the human condition.

Academy Award for best picture

12. No Country for Old Men (2007) 

Anton Chigurh Character Analysis  •  Subscribe on YouTube

A chilling odyssey through the barren landscapes of West Texas, No Country for Old Men (2007) grips its audience with unrelenting tension and masterful storytelling. The Coen Brothers' No Country For Old Men screenplay adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel delivers a raw, visceral exploration of human nature and morality, juxtaposing it against the unforgiving backdrop of the American Southwest making for one of the best Neo-Westerns of all time

Coen Brothers’ Academy Award Best Picture

Conclusion

 As a Best Picture winner, No Country for Old Men stands as a testament to the Coen brothers' prowess in crafting a film that is both visually stunning and thematically profound.

Best Academy Award for Best Picture of All Time List

11. Forrest Gump (1994) 

Forrest Speech about Vietnam and Meets Jenny in Washington

Forrest Gump (1994), a heartwarming journey through the tumultuous decades of American history, enchants audiences with its endearing protagonist and poignant narrative. Robert Zemeckis' visionary direction weaves together iconic moments from the 20th century, seamlessly integrating them into Forrest's life story, creating an unforgettable tapestry of love, loss, and friendship.

Classic Oscar Best Picture Winners

Conclusion

As a Best Picture winner, Forrest Gump offers a timeless testament to the power of human resilience and the beauty of the unexpected paths life takes us on.

Ranking Academy Award for Best Picture Winners

10. Annie Hall (1977)

Annie Hall  •  If Life Were Only Like This

Annie Hall, directed by the legendary Woody Allen, stands as a shining beacon of romantic comedy, and it's no wonder it won the Best Picture Oscar in 1977. The film's unique blend of humor, introspection, and poignant storytelling transcends genre expectations, creating a deeply resonant experience for viewers. 

Woody Allen’s Best Picture Academy Awards

Conclusion

Annie Hall is not only a timeless cinematic masterpiece but also a testament to the power of love and self-discovery that undoubtedly secures its place among the best films in Oscar history.

Best Academy Awatd Winners Best Picture

9. Titanic (1997)

How James Cameron Directed the Titanic Sinking Scene  •  Subscribe on YouTube

James Cameron's Titanic is an epic romance and disaster film that captivated audiences worldwide, earning it the Best Picture Oscar in 1997. Titanic's groundbreaking visual effects and meticulously recreated historical details transport viewers back to the fateful voyage, immersing them in the grandeur and tragedy of the era. 

James Cameron’s Best Picture Winner

Conclusion

Titanic's enduring appeal as a moving portrayal of love, sacrifice, and the human spirit solidifies its position among the best films in Best Picture Oscar history.

Unique Academy Award for Best Picture

8. Moonlight (2016)

Moonlight Explained: Symbols, Camera & More

Moonlight (2016), directed by Barry Jenkins, is a remarkable coming-of-age drama that explores themes of identity, self-discovery, and love. The film's unique narrative story structure, divided into three acts, provides an intimate look into the protagonist Chiron's life at different stages, allowing viewers to fully understand his journey. 

Barry Jenkins;’ Academy Award for Best Picture

Conclusion

Moonlight's stunning cinematography and evocative score work in harmony to create a visually and emotionally immersive experience. 

What are the Oscar Best Picture Winners?

7. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Visual Motifs in Film: The Silence of the Lambs and Americana  •  Subscribe on YouTube

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) fearlessly delves into the dark corners of the human psyche, cementing its status as a one of the most deserving Best Picture Oscar winners. Directed by Jonathan Demme, the film masterfully balances psychological thriller and crime drama elements, resulting in a gripping and haunting cinematic experience.

The movie's suspenseful narrative and meticulously crafted atmosphere keep viewers on the edge of their seats from start to finish.

Thriller Oscar Best Picture WInners

Conclusion

As a captivating exploration of the complexities of human nature and the battle between good and evil, The Silence of the Lambs undoubtedly stands among the best films in Best Picture Oscar history.

List of Oscars for Best Picture

6. Parasite (2019)

3 Act Story Structure with Save the Cat's Beat Sheet  •  Subscribe on YouTube

Parasite (2019), directed by Bong Joon-ho, is a masterful social commentary that captivated audiences and critics alike, leading to its historic Oscar wins. The film's perfect blend of dark humor, suspense, and drama creates an engrossing narrative that keeps viewers enthralled from start to finish.

Parasite's exceptional cinematography and meticulous set design contribute to the powerful visual storytelling that exposes the stark disparities between social classes.

Korean Oscar Best Picture WInners

Conclusion

With its thought-provoking themes, unforgettable performances, and stunning execution, Parasite not only stands as an extraordinary film, but also as a testament to the universal appeal of great storytelling.

Oscars Best Picture Winners

5. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Lawrence of Arabia  •  Best Editing

Directed by David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia (1962) stands as a timeless masterpiece in the realm of Oscar-winning films. Peter O'Toole's mesmerizing portrayal of T.E. Lawrence, combined with a gripping narrative, captures the essence of this larger-than-life historical figure. The movie's breathtaking cinematography, featuring vast desert landscapes and monumental battle scenes, immerses viewers in the heart of the Arab Revolt. 

Influential Oscar Best Picture Winners

Conclusion

Lawrence of Arabia’s breathtaking desert panoramas and grand cinematography create an immersive experience, transporting viewers to a world of beauty, conflict, and adventure.

Timeless Academy Award for Best Picture Winner

4. Casablanca (1943)

Here's Looking At You, Kid  •  Casablanca

Casablanca (1942) weaves a tale of love, sacrifice, and intrigue that has stood the test of time, marking its indelible presence among the greatest Oscar-winning movies. Directed by Michael Curtiz, the film features the iconic duo of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, whose on-screen chemistry and memorable performances breathe life into this classic wartime romance.

The movie's unforgettable dialogue, including lines like "Here's looking at you, kid," has become deeply ingrained in popular culture.

Romantic Oscar Best Picture Winners

Conclusion

Casablanca's timeless appeal, captivating story, and exceptional cinematography secure its position as a must-watch for any film enthusiast and a true gem among Oscar-winning films.

List of Oscars for Best Picture

3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest 1975 Best scene

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) made history by sweeping the five major Oscar categories, a testament to its exceptional filmmaking and powerful storytelling. The film triumphed in winning Best Picture, Best Director for Miloš Forman, Best Actor for Jack Nicholson's unforgettable performance, Best Actress for Louise Fletcher's chilling portrayal of Nurse Ratched, and Best Adapted Screenplay, an achievement shared by only two other films in history. 

This outstanding recognition highlights the movie's enduring impact, masterful character development, and its exploration of themes like freedom, individuality, and the human spirit. 

Drama Oscar Best Picture

Conclusion

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest masterfully balances dark humor with poignant drama, allowing audiences to explore themes of freedom, individuality, and the human spirit. 

Best Picture by Year List Ranked

2. Schindler's List (1993)

"Schindler's List" winning Best Picture

Schindler's List (1993) serves as a haunting and deeply moving testament to the resilience of the human spirit, firmly establishing itself among the greatest Oscar-winning movies of all time. Directed by Steven Spielberg, this heart-wrenching film tells the story of Oskar Schindler, played by Liam Neeson, who saved the lives of over a thousand Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. 

The movie's stark black-and-white cinematography, combined with powerful performances and a gripping narrative, immerses viewers in the harrowing reality of one of history's darkest periods.

Spielberg’s Oscar Best Picture Winners

Conclusion

Schindler's List, with its profound emotional impact and unflinching portrayal of humanity's capacity for both cruelty and compassion, remains an essential cinematic experience and a true masterpiece in the world of Oscar-winning films.

Best Academy Award for Best Picture

1. The Godfather (1972)

The Rise and Fall of Michael Corleone  •  Subscribe on YouTube

The Godfather (1972) reigns supreme as the paramount masterpiece among Best Picture Oscar-winning movies, transcending the boundaries of filmmaking to become a cultural phenomenon. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, this epic crime drama delves into the intricacies of the Corleone family, offering a captivating portrayal of power, loyalty, and the American Dream. Marlon Brando's iconic performance as Vito Corleone, along with Al Pacino's unforgettable turn as Michael Corleone, elevates the film to legendary status.

The Godfather's intricate storytelling, lush cinematography, and masterful direction transport viewers into the world of organized crime, immersing them in the lives and struggles of its complex characters. Its memorable lines like "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse" have become ingrained in popular culture, attesting to the film's lasting impact. 

Greatest Academy Award for Best Picture of All Time

Conclusion

As the pinnacle of cinematic achievement, The Godfather stands unrivaled in its ability to captivate audiences, making it the ultimate Best Picture Oscar-winning movie of all time.

UP NEXT

International Feature Films — Full List

In our next article, we explore the best international Oscar winners of all time. From Italy to South Korea, these films have made a lasting impact on the world of cinema and are essential viewing for any movie lover.

Up Next: Best International Feature →
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