The best Oscar-winning movies of all time are, quite frankly, some of the best films of the era. Every year, Hollywood’s best and brightest gather for a star-studded event to celebrate their most significant accomplishments. Of course, we’re talking about the Oscars, where the most numerous prizes take away.
They are, as expected, an excellent barometer for separating good movies from bad ones. But choosing the best Oscar-winning films of all time is quite a challenge. Since the award’s inception, nearly 100 awards ceremonies have honored a few dozen movies.
So how did we come to this list? We only watched the movies that won the prestigious Best Picture award, then picked our favorites from this list. So without further ado, here are the movies to watch before you die.
Table of Contents
1. The Godfather: 1974
The second installment of the Corleone family saga by Francis Ford Coppola is characterized by themes of loyalty, family, and sacrifice. The film is confident and one of the first sequels to surpass its predecessor. Coppola increases the stakes while keeping everything that made the original film startle viewers out of their chairs.
In Part II, Vito Corleone’s early years in Sicily are examined, along with his successes before his rise to power as a mafioso in New York City. In the most excellent gangster film ever made, Robert De Niro joins Al Pacino’s cast as the young Don.
2. Casablanca: 1943
The best American film ever made is Casablanca. A masterful fusion of romance, thriller, and war-torn actioner starring two top-tier performers. Whatever you want to call Michael Curtiz’s World War Two adventure, which stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as lovers who cannot be together, you can’t deny its watchability.
Their on-screen chemistry is uncommon these days because of their off-screen friendship, which also provided the movie with its most memorable one-liner. During the breaks between takes, Bogart would teach his co-star poker, frequently repeating to Bergman, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” with sincere affection.
3. Lawrence Of Arabia: 1962
A generation of filmmakers, including Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, was inspired by David Lean’s vast Lawrence of Arabia, one of the few films that genuinely define spectacle cinema.
The photography of Lawrence of Arabia is stunning, and Peter O’Toole portrays World War One commander T.E. Laurence to perfection, balancing his haughtiness with genuine pity for the people the British are attacking. The movie’s 227 minutes length is more impressive than its tens of thousands of extras; it continues to be the longest film to win the Best Picture award. Real epic.
4. All About Eve: 1952
What still makes All About Eve so entertaining is the twin whammy of Bette Davis as seasoned actress Margo Channing and Anne Baxter as her cunning ingenue Eve Harrington. The two are thrown together in this classic tale about our resistance to aging. Davis gives her best performance in this role because of the caustic way she delivers Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s razor-sharp dialogue.
Channing warns passengers to buckle up because it will be a rough night, not realizing that the dangers of ambition without decency might call for a little more Dutch courage.
5. Silence Of The Lambs: 1990
Since when have serial killer films that include poetic cannibals and psychopaths who dress in animal skins won Oscars? That is what makes Jonathan Demme’s film so unique. It’s uncommon for a genre film to win anything, much less Best Picture, but Silence of the Lambs(opens in new tab) defeated its rivals in every category in which it was nominated.
What sealed the deal? Fantastic writing, hauntingly beautiful music, and riveting performances from Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins? All of those things, along with the carefully edited climax, make this film just as spooky as any horror film worth it’s salt.
6. The Godfather: 1972
The Godfather, an original by Mario Puzo, is the source for the modern mafia film. The Corleone family served as a model for the crime lords of New York City, who influenced the entire gangster genre.
The horse head in the bed, Marlon Brando’s wisecracking, and that endearing line of improvised dialogue are just a few examples of the many elements from the film that have been lifted into pop culture through spoofs and parodies “Drop the weapon. Grab a cannoli.” It’s perhaps not surprising that many people think the film is one of, if not the best, movie of all time.
7. Annie Hall: 1977
In one of his best romantic comedies, director Woody Allen departed from the strange, eccentric films he had been producing in favor of a project that was more in line with popular culture. It was a genius to choose Diane Keaton to play the title role. She’s the ideal counterbalance to Allen’s neurotic Alvy Singer since she’s carefree, fashionable, and avant-garde.
The most fun part of their conversation about their next date is when a series of captions that show the discrepancies between what we say and what we mean suddenly appear. He wasn’t the first director to do so. He is the one who most successfully exploited its potential for humor.
8. The French Connection: 1971
The motorhead prowess of Gene Hackman in The French Connection is unmatched by Dom Toretto’s team. In his capacity as Detective Jimmy Doyle, he may seek justice from the security of a badge, but there is nothing remotely conventional about his swaggering tenacity.
Assigned to take down a network of heroin traffickers in New York City, he starts one of the finest vehicles chases ever captured on camera. For the scene in which Hackman’s cop races through the streets in his Pontiac to pursue his train-bound target, a significant portion of the city’s subway system had to be shut unhappy due to director William Friedkin’s incessant demands.
9. The Apartment: 1960
Billy Wilder, who was at the time best renowned for his screwball comedies, experimented with The Apartment. It immediately changed the game and set the bar for what Hollywood could get away with.
Baxter, played by Jack Lemmon, is an insurance agent who lets his coworkers use his apartment to amuse their mistresses while he searches for love. that is, of course, until he meets Fran, the razor-sharp elevator attendant played by Shirley Maclaine. The actual tipping factor was her performance. She adds a touch of darkness to Baxter’s routine life despite being full of biting wit and one-liners about her shortcomings.
10. Schindler’s List: 1993
Steven Spielberg has adapted numerous unrelated ideas into consumable blockbusters. You name it, Spielberg has probably made a movie about it, including robots, aliens, and spies. With Schindler’s List, the director takes on a more somber subject than usual, creating a moving film based on a real-life incident that saw 6 million Jews murdered mercilessly.
Spielberg chose to concentrate his film on the 600 people who survived the Holocaust because of Oskar Schindler despite facing criticism while it was being made (Liam Neeson). It is blatantly a Spielbergian interpretation of events, shining a light on human decency even in the worst times.
11. Gone With The Wind: 1939
Gone With the Wind, an opulent, beautiful film that won eight Oscars, is still regarded as a classic. It’s still a little miracle that this great operatic story of injustice and love during the American Civil War made it to the big screen.
Numerous issues plagued the film throughout its protracted production, from the many directors who came and went to the hundreds of actresses who auditioned for the role of Scarlett O’Hara. It was on a novel by Margaret Mitchell, and after adjusting for inflation, it remains the most profitable motion picture ever made.
12. <1975> One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
The movie version of Ken Kesey’s book by Miles Forman is a classic for a reason. Jack Nicholson portrays Randle McMurphy, a wisecracking con guy who bluffs his way into a mental hospital to avoid a lengthy prison term in what is arguably his best performance. He rebels against the apparatus commanded by the wicked Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) and makes friends with a wide range of people there, including a young Christopher Lloyd.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest will both lift your spirits and break your heart in equal measure, and the fact that it does both so masterfully justifies all of the accolades bestowed upon it.
13. Midnight Cowboy: 1969
Dustin Hoffman’s con man exclaims, “I’m walking here!” as a New York City taxi almost runs him over. It’s important to note that Hoffman improvised the statement at this moment because it is so well-known that it virtually eclipses the entire film. Part of what makes John Schlesinger’s drifter film feel so natural is his willingness to let his leads go wherever they pleased.
The story revolves around Joe Buck, played by Jon Voight. He uses trickery to make a living after leaving Texas for the vibrant lights of the big city, and along the way, he befriends Ratso (Hoffman). The first ever Best Picture winner rated X.
14. It Happened One Night: 1934
A pioneer, It Happened One Night, helped create the modern romantic comedy(opens in new tab) as we know it today. There were no funny scenarios for when couples first met in movies before Frank Capra’s screwball caper, and there were no scenes when characters discussed their sadness with their friends.
All of that is related to the tale of the hoity-toity heiress. It took place One Night twisted the post-Depression era conventions when women were seeking financial security into something new.
15. <2003> Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King
The Academy could not disregard the Tolkien trilogy by Peter Jackson. A graphic adventure story about Hobbits, Elves, Orcs, and—most importantly—the true strength of friendship, it was a disgrace that the first two films didn’t win any prizes.
The Return of the Kings’ A-list cast, meticulous attention to detail, and reverence for the original novels were benefits to voters who realized, a third time around, just how revolutionary this trilogy was.
Also read: 7movierulz