THE BEST PICTURE PROJECT – Ranking all 89 Best Picture winners

At the beginning of this insane and epic The Best Picture Project journey, a promise was made to deliver a final ranking of all 89 Best Picture winners. In all honesty, that proved more difficult than ever imagined. It’s always tough to rank any list of films because they’re often wildly different pieces of cinema. But when you’re talking about films from different decades, it’s even harder.

As with my annual top 10 list, it’s come down to a combination of what impact each film had on me and how that ultimately measures up with the other films on the list. It’s not necessarily about their worthiness of winning. That’s what each individual year’s piece was for. But, rather, how each stands as an example of, what is essentially meant to be, the best in cinema.

So, without further ado, I present to you The Jam Report’s definitive ranking of all 89 films which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Let the debate begin…

89. Crash (2005)

There has to be a worst, and Crash is without a doubt the worst film to ever win Best Picture.

Check out the full rundown of the 2005 Best Picture race here.

88. Cimarron (1931)

An absolute mess of a film, even for the 1930s. A new record for how many racial stereotypes you can fit in one film.

Check out the full rundown of the 1931 Best Picture race here.

87. Around the World in 80 Days (1956)

It may sound like a wondrous journey, but it quickly becomes a tedious (and culturally insensitive) ride.

Check out the full rundown of the 1956 Best Picture race here.

86. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

Literally just a two-and-a-half-hour circus which sounds as awful as it actually is.

Check out the full rundown of the 1952 Best Picture race here.

85. The Great Ziegfeld (1936)One spectacular and iconic 15-minute musical number, wrapped in a three-hour long tiresome film.

Check out the full rundown of the 1936 Best Picture race here.

84. Cavalcade (1933)

Large in scope and heavy on sentiment, but horrendously light in narrative.

Check out the full rundown of the 1933 Best Picture race here.

83. Going My Way (1944)

A charming little film which provided some much-needed escapism, but hardly a great work of art.

Check out the full rundown of the 1944 Best Picture race here.

82. The Broadway Melody (1929)

The birth of the movie musical and a great revolution for its time, but far from impressive today.

Check out the full rundown of the 1929 Best Picture race here.

81. Tom Jones (1963)

One of the most bizarre choices the Academy ever made, unless absurd British comedies are your thing.

Check out the full rundown of the 1963 Best Picture race here.

80. Out of Africa (1985)

A supreme example of Oscar-bait but an absolute drag and bore of a film to endure.

Check out the full rundown of the 1985 Best Picture race here.

79. Oliver! (1968)

The worst example of a musical winning Best Picture. It’s a fine film, but nothing spectacular.

Check out the full rundown of the 1968 Best Picture race here.

78. Gandhi (1982)

A decent biopic, albeit a long one, but it skips so many aspects of the man’s life, it’s far from an accurate portrayal.

Check out the full rundown of the 1982 Best Picture race here.

77. Chariots of Fire (1981)

One iconic sequence. One great piece of film scoring. One utterly dull piece of cinema.

Check out the full rundown of the 1981 Best Picture race here.

76. Ordinary People (1980)

Just another 1980s familial drama about family drama in the 1980s.

Check out the full rundown of the 1981 Best Picture race here.

75. The Life of Emile Zola (1937)

A simple and decent enough film, but nothing particularly special, in the grand scheme of things.

Check out the full rundown of the 1937 Best Picture race here.

74. Gigi (1958)

Lavish and beautiful, but its narrative is horribly outdated and rather uncomfortable in a modern context.

Check out the full rundown of the 1958 Best Picture race here.

73. The English Patient (1996)

I’m sorry. I don’t like The English Patient. Judge me, if you will, but it’s a tedious piece of cinema.

Check out the full rundown of the 1996 Best Picture race here.

72. A Beautiful Mind (2001) 

Another biopic which twisted history and left far too much out in order to deliver a more engaging story.

Check out the full rundown of the 2001 Best Picture race here.

71. Braveheart (1995)

Dull, historically-inaccurate, a dreadful screenplay and woeful acting, but, hey, how ’bout those action scenes?

Check out the full rundown of the 1995 Best Picture race here.

70. The Last Emperor (1987)

It ticked all the boxes required to win, and it is a stunning production achievement. But, dear god, is it far too long.

Check out the full rundown of the 1987 Best Picture race here.

69. Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

A glorious performance from Jessica Tandy, but the film is problematic as hell, especially its racial issues.

Check out the full rundown of the 1989 Best Picture race here.

68. How Green Was My Valley (1941)

Cops relentless hatred for being the film which beat Citizen Kane, but it’s a perfectly fine and charming little film.

Check out the full rundown of the 1941 Best Picture race here.

67. American Beauty (1999)

Groundbreaking and confronting for its time. Horrendously uncomfortable viewing nowadays.

Check out the full rundown of the 1999 Best Picture race here.

66. Forrest Gump (1994)

A terrific crowd-pleaser and a textbook example of Oscar-bait, but far from a truly great film.

Check out the full rundown of the 1994 Best Picture race here.

65. Rain Man (1988)

An undeniably iconic performance from Hoffman, with great support from Cruise, but the film itself is fairly subpar.

Check out the full rundown of the 1988 Best Picture race here.

64. Dances With Wolves (1990)

Unfairly demonised by its victory over Goodfellas, it’s impeccably made, but with a deeply problematic narrative.

Check out the full rundown of the 1990 Best Picture race here.

63. Shakespeare in Love (1998)

A delightful film, but we all know it only won because Harvey Weinstein threw $15 million behind its campaign.

Check out the full rundown of the 1998 Best Picture race here.

62. Gladiator (2000)

A wonderfully entertaining piece of blockbuster cinema, but it’s really nothing groundbreaking or unique.

Check out the full rundown of the 2000 Best Picture race here.

61. An American in Paris (1951)

Stunning, glorious, and one of the finest movie musicals of all time. But its narrative is far too light and fluffy.

Check out the full rundown of the 1951 Best Picture race here.

60. Marty (1955)

A decidedly simple film, by Best Picture standards, but therein lies its beautiful charm and power.

Check out the full rundown of the 1955 Best Picture race here.

59. Grand Hotel (1932)

A sublime ensemble cast, a terrific screenplay, and a revolutionary piece of cinema.

Check out the full rundown of the 1932 Best Picture race here.

58. All the King’s Men (1949)

In a Post-Trump world, the film takes on a whole new disturbing level of relevance and accuracy regarding politics.

Check out the full rundown of the 1949 Best Picture race here.

57. A Man for All Seasons (1966)

One of the first examples of Oscar-bait, but a terrific film with a gripping narrative, nonetheless.

Check out the full rundown of the 1966 Best Picture race here.

56. Wings (1928)

The one that started it all. Even for a silent movie, it’s somehow still utterly captivating and damn entertaining.

Check out the full rundown of the 1928 Best Picture race here.

55. Platoon (1986)

A harrowing and brutal portrait of the hell that was the Vietnam War.

Check out the full rundown of the 1986 Best Picture race here.

54. Mrs. Miniver (1942)

A film which genuinely changed the world. A touch of propaganda, maybe, but who cares when the film is this good?

Check out the full rundown of the 1942 Best Picture race here.

53. The Lost Weekend (1945)

An unflinching portrait of addiction, and a true turning point for cinema and the Academy Awards.

Check out the full rundown of the 1945 Best Picture race here.

52. Hamlet (1948)

Still the gold standard of Shakespeare adaptations, thanks to the impeccable work of Lawrence Olivier.

Check out the full rundown of the 1948 Best Picture race here.

51. You Can’t Take it With You (1938)

So ridiculously warm, uplifting, and surprisingly relevant, it really is impossible not to adore this film.

Check out the full rundown of the 1938 Best Picture race here.

50. The Sting (1973)

One of the most gloriously cool and suarve Best Picture winners, and one hell of a good time.

Check out the full rundown of the 1973 Best Picture race here.

49. Annie Hall (1977)

Yes, it’s somewhat cringey to watch today (you know why), but it’s still one of the best romantic comedies ever made.

Check out the full rundown of the 1977 Best Picture race here.

48. Rocky (1976)

We all know it didn’t exactly deserve to win, but you can’t really hate this supremely enjoyable film, can you?

Check out the full rundown of the 1976 Best Picture race here.

47. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

A perfectly-timed and succinctly-relevant film which still manages to pack a hell of a punch today.

Check out the full rundown of the 1979 Best Picture race here.

46. The King’s Speech (2010)

Another piece of Oscar-bait which had no place winning, but it’s hard to deny it wasn’t still a gorgeous film.

Check out the full rundown of the 1986 Best Picture race here.

45. Million Dollar Baby (2003)

Three stellar performances and that devastating ending help elevate the film beyond its cliché-ridden screenplay.

Check out the full rundown of the 2003 Best Picture race here.

44. Argo (2012)

A safe choice in a year with several better choices, but still a taut, captivating, and beautifully crafted thriller.

Check out the full rundown of the 2012 Best Picture race here.

43. Ben-Hur (1959)

It’s only this high up on the list because of how stunning its production values still are. Its narrative is a total bore.

Check out the full rundown of the 1959 Best Picture race here.

42. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

Three sensational performances, a wildly impressive production, and a gripping and captivating narrative.

Check out the full rundown of the 1935 Best Picture race here.

41. Amadeus (1984)

The biggest surprise of this whole journey. Genuinely enthralling from start to finish, and visually spectacular.

Check out the full rundown of the 1984 Best Picture race here.

40. Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)

One of the earliest examples of cinema finally tackling bigotry, and still as powerful today as it was then.

Check out the full rundown of the 1947 Best Picture race here.

39. The Sound of Music (1965)

Hate it all you like, it’s still one of the finest and most entertaining movie musicals in history.

Check out the full rundown of the 1965 Best Picture race here.

38. The Artist (2011)

The ultimate example of a gimmick working wonders on the Academy, but what a marvellous gimmick it is.

Check out the full rundown of the 2011 Best Picture race here.

37. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

No romanticism. No sugar-coating. This is the most genuine and sobering depiction of life after World War II.

Check out the full rundown of the 1946 Best Picture race here.

36. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

One of the most unusual and original Best Picture winners, elevated higher by Danny Boyle’s supreme direction.

Check out the full rundown of the 2008 Best Picture race here.

35. My Fair Lady (1964)

A true thing of beauty to behold, filled with the most glorious music numbers, and that iconic Hepburn performance.

Check out the full rundown of the 1964 Best Picture race here.

34. Terms of Endearment (1983)

A perfect balance of comedy and drama, and a familial narrative which is impossible not to connect with.

Check out the full rundown of the 1983 Best Picture race here.

33. Titanic (1997)

It became the biggest movie in history, at that time, for a reason – it’s a sensational and beautiful piece of cinema.

Check out the full rundown of the 1997 Best Picture race here.

32. In the Heat of the Night (1967)

The dawn of a new breed of Best Picture winners, and still a powerful film with a whole new sense of relevance.

Check out the full rundown of the 1967 Best Picture race here.

31. The French Connection (1971)

A film which moves at a pace many have tried to copy, but rarely achieve. And that car chase is still as iconic as ever.

Check out the full rundown of the 1971 Best Picture race here.

30. The Apartment (1960)

Deserves far more respect than it garners. Often dismissed as a fluffy romantic comedy, this film is anything but.

Check out the full rundown of the 1960 Best Picture race here.

29. Midnight Cowboy (1969)

Deeply-flawed, in a modern context, but such a daring and groundbreaking film for its time.

Check out the full rundown of the 1969 Best Picture race here.

28. Birdman (2014)

A deeply divisive winner, but if you find yourself loving it, you understand why its such a masterful piece of cinema.

Check out the full rundown of the 2014 Best Picture race here.

27. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

80-years later, it’s still one of the greatest films ever made and one of the strongest anti-war statement pieces.

Check out the full rundown of the 1930 Best Picture race here.

26. Rebecca (1940)

Far from Alfred Hitchcock’s best, but still a beautifully gothic, highly suspenseful, and deeply unnerving film.

Check out the full rundown of the 2014 Best Picture race here.

25. West Side Story (1961)

While its two leads are horribly miscast, the dazzling choreography and sensational music more than make up for it.

Check out the full rundown of the 1961 Best Picture race here.

24. Spotlight (2015)

A tribute to the work of journalists and the pursuit of truth becomes a deeply important and powerful piece of cinema.

Check out the full rundown of the 2015 Best Picture race here.

23. Chicago (2002)

I’ll probably get grief for this one, but whatever. This is my list, and I’ll do as I please. It’s a masterpiece. Case closed.

Check out the full rundown of the 2002 Best Picture race here.

22. The Departed (2006)

Not the film which should have given Martin Scorsese his Oscar, but who cares? It’s still a bloody sensational film.

Check out the full rundown of the 2006 Best Picture race here.

21. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

With a deeply emotional core and that phenomenal ending, it’s one of the greatest films of all time for a reason.

Check out the full rundown of the 1957 Best Picture race here.

20. From Here to Eternity (1953)

A shining example of what occurs when every single aspect of a film production works in perfect collaboration.

Check out the full rundown of the 1953 Best Picture race here.

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

The greatest trilogy in the history of cinema concludes with an absolute bang that rightly swept the entire ceremony.

Check out the full rundown of the 2003 Best Picture race here.

18. Gone with the Wind (1939)

It’s got some deep, deep problems, but how can you deny the impact and legacy of one of the biggest films in history?

Check out the full rundown of the 1939 Best Picture race here.

17. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

It won those Big Five Academy Awards for a reason – it’s impeccably acted, directed, and written.

Check out the full rundown of the 1975 Best Picture race here.

16. Patton (1970)

An epic production, filled with spectacular battle scenes, and one of the greatest performances there has ever been.

Check out the full rundown of the 1970 Best Picture race here.

15. Unforgiven (1992)

The rebirth of the once-dead Western genre just so happens to be one of its finest examples the genre has ever seen.

Check out the full rundown of the 1992 Best Picture race here.

14. The Deer Hunter (1978)

An uncompromising and disturbing insight into the devastating consequences of the Vietnam War.

Check out the full rundown of the 1978 Best Picture race here.

13. The Hurt Locker (2009)

A visceral and riveting experience like few others, crafted by the work of a masterful director at the top of her game.

Check out the full rundown of the 2009 Best Picture race here.

12. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

A hypnotic and sensational psychological thriller, featuring two of the most iconic performances there’s ever been.

Check out the full rundown of the 1991 Best Picture race here.

11. 12 Years a Slave (2013)

One of the most harrowing and devastating films you’ll ever see, but one you cannot possibly look away from.

Check out the full rundown of the 2013 Best Picture race here.

10. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Both a stunning visual masterpiece and a captivating character piece, it has stood the test of time like few films.

Check out the full rundown of the 1962 Best Picture race here.

9. It Happened One Night (1934)

One of the earliest winners is still one of the absolute best. So adorable. So loveable. Such a true masterpiece.

Check out the full rundown of the 1934 Best Picture race here.

8. No Country for Old Men (2007)

Dark, twisted, and bleak, its the kind of masterclass of cinema which leaves an indelible mark on its viewer.

Check out the full rundown of the 2007 Best Picture race here.

7. On the Waterfront (1954)

One of the greatest screenplays ever written. One of the finest performances ever seen. One of the best films ever made.

Check out the full rundown of the 1954 Best Picture race here.

6. Moonlight (2016)

The most unlikely of Best Picture winners also happens to be one of the greatest ever. A genuine work of art.

Check out the full rundown of the 2016 Best Picture race here.

5. Schindler’s List (1993)

From a master director at the top of his craft, few films have ever captured a moment in history quite like this.

Check out the full rundown of the 1993 Best Picture race here.

4. Casablanca (1943)

The shining example of the glorious Golden Age of Hollywood. Filmmaking rarely gets finer than this.

Check out the full rundown of the 1943 Best Picture race here.

3. The Godfather (1972)

An icon of cinema for a reason. Masterful performances. Ingenious direction. And a flawless screenplay.

Check out the full rundown of the 1972 Best Picture race here.

2. The Godfather Part II (1974)

Almost impossible to rank the two films, but the masterpiece that is the sequel just gets the edge. Just.

Check out the full rundown of the 1974 Best Picture race here.

1. All About Eve (1950)

As close to cinematic perfection as it comes. 68-years later, it’s still the greatest Best Picture winner ever.

Check out the full rundown of the 1950 Best Picture race here.

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