My top 10 Oscar best picture winners

Since the 87th Academy Awards are just around the corner I’ve decided it’s time to catch Oscar fever and do some awards related lists. I’m starting with my favourite films that have been awarded the title of best picture. I have to add a caveat here that I haven’t actually seen that many of the early award winners and that my classic movie knowledge is limited. I have also realised that in very many cases I don’t think the best picture actually won… so look out for that list too.

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The Godfather
Year won: 1972
Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan
Producer: Albert Ruddy
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Other awards: 
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Marlon Brando
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium: Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola
“Sonny: What the hell is this?
Clemenza: It’s a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.”

Silence of the lambs

The Silence of the Lambs
Year won: 1991
Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney
Producers: Edward Saxon, Kenneth Utt, Ronald M. Bozman
Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Other awards:
Best actor in a leading role: Anthony Hopkins
Best actress in a leading role: Jodie Foster
Best director: Jonathan Demme
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published: Ted Tally
“Hannibal Lecter: A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”
SchindlerSchindler’s List
Year won: 1993
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley
Producers: Steven Spielberg, Gerald R. Molen, Branko Lustig
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Other awards:
Best director: Steven Spielberg
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published: Steven Zaillian
Best cinematography: Janusz Kaminski
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration: Allan Starski, Ewa Braun
Best film editing: Michael Kahn
Best Music, Original Score: John Williams
“Oskar Schindler: Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don’t.
Amon Goeth: You think that’s power?
Oskar Schindler: That’s what the Emperor said. A man steals something, he’s brought in before the Emperor, he throws himself down on the ground. He begs for his life, he knows he’s going to die. And the Emperor… pardons him. This worthless man, he lets him go.
Amon Goeth: I think you are drunk.
Oskar Schindler: That’s power, Amon. That is power.”

Kramer

Kramer vs Kramer
Year won: 1979
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander
Producer: Stanley R. Jaffe
Directed by: Robert Benton
Other awards:
Best director: Robert Benton
Best actor in a leading role: Dustin Hoffman
Best actress in a leading role: Meryl Streep
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium: Robert Benton
“Billy Kramer: When’s Mommy coming back?
Ted Kramer: I dont know, Billy. Soon.
Billy Kramer: How soon?
Ted Kramer: Soon.
Billy Kramer: Will she pick me up after school?
Ted Kramer: Probably. And if she doesn’t I will.
Billy Kramer: What if you forget?
Ted Kramer: I won’t forget.
Billy Kramer: What if you get run over by a truck and get killed?
Ted Kramer: Then Mommy will pick you up.”

Departed

The Departed
Year won: 2006
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson
Producer: Graham King
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Other awards:
Best director: Martin Scorsese
Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay: William Monahan
Best Achievement in Film Editing: Thelma Schoonmaker
“Frank Costello: When you decide to be something, you can be it. That’s what they don’t tell you in the church. When I was your age they would say we can become cops, or criminals. Today, what I’m saying to you is this: when you’re facing a loaded gun, what’s the difference?”

Cuckoos nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Year won: 1975
Starring:  Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Michael Berryman
Producers: Saul Zaentz, Michael Douglas
Directed by: Milos Forman
Other awards:
Best actor in a leading role: Jack Nicholson
Best actress in a leading role: Louise Fletcher
Best director: Milos Forman
Best Writing, Screenplay Adapted From Other Material: Lawrence Hauben, Bo Goldman
“McMurphy: [about shock treatments] They was giving me ten thousand watts a day, you know, and I’m hot to trot! The next woman takes me on’s gonna light up like a pinball machine and pay off in silver dollars!”

casablanca-4

Casablanca
Year won: 1942
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid
Produced by: Hal B. Wallis
Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Other awards:
Best director: Michael Curtiz
Best Writing, Screenplay: Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch
“Rick: Who are you really, and what were you before? What did you do and what did you think, huh?
Ilsa: We said no questions.
Rick: …Here’s looking at you, kid.”

American Beauty

American Beauty
Year won: 1999
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch
Producers: Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Other awards:
Best actor in a leading role: Kevin Spacey
Best director: Sam Mendes
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen: Alan Ball
Best cinematography: Conrad L. Hall
“Lester Burnham: Remember those posters that said, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”? Well, that’s true of every day but one – the day you die.”

Amadeus

Amadeus
Year won: 1985
Starring: F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge
Producer: Saul Zaentz
Directed by: Milos Forman
Other awards:
Best actor in a leading role: F. Murray Abraham
Best director: Milos Forman
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium: Peter Shaffer
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration: Patrizia von Brandenstein, Karel Cerný
Best Costume Design: Theodor Pistek
Best Sound: Mark Berger, Thomas Scott, Todd Boekelheide, Christopher Newman
Best Makeup: Paul LeBlanc, Dick Smith
“Salieri: On the page it looked nothing. The beginning simple, almost comic. Just a pulse – bassoons and basset horns – like a rusty squeezebox. Then suddenly – high above it – an oboe, a single note, hanging there unwavering, till a clarinet took over and sweetened it into a phrase of such delight! This was no composition by a performing monkey! This was a music I’d never heard. Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing, it had me trembling. It seemed to me that I was hearing the very voice of God.”

12 years a slave

12 Years a Slave
Year won: 2013
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michael Fassbender
Producers: Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Anthony Katagas
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Other awards:
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Lupita Nyong’o
Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay: John Ridley
“Solomon Northup: I will not fall into despair! I will keep myself hardy until freedom is opportune!”

21 Comments

  1. MIB

    I don’t know why but I had a horrible feeling that “Titanic” would be on your list… 😉

    Pleasantly surprised to see “Casablanca” there and of course “12 Years A Slave”. 🙂 Of the older winners, have you seen “Rebecca, All About Eve” or “The Apartment”?

    1. Abbi

      Titanic??? Oh dear Lord. I have seen Rebecca and The Apartment and while I liked both I wouldn’t call either a favourite.

      1. MIB

        That’s fair, I just wondered if you had seen them, since you said you hadn’t seen many of the older ones. I was curious how far back that went i.e 1930’s or even the first winner “Wings” in 1929. 🙂

  2. Glad Shakespeare In Love isn’t on here. 🙂

    1. Abbi

      *Shudder*. No way!

  3. smilingldsgirl

    Fun list. I may just have to come up with my own post.

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! I’d love to see it!

      1. smilingldsgirl

        Just working it out tonight. Tough to narrow it down to 10

  4. 🙂 Ah yes, stellar list, of course. Strong choices here.

    Looking forward to your list of films that should have won, I think we all agree at times certain pictures won and they certainly shouldn’t have.

    1. Abbi

      It’s going to be a bloodbath!

  5. Who could criticize such a list? Glad you like Amadeus. My list would include West Side Story and Gladiator. Fun post, Abbi.

    1. Abbi

      I love Amadeus. I even remember seeing it as a child. I’ve actually never seen West Side Story…

      1. I bet you would love it. The choreography is utterly fantastic.

  6. Wonderful list, nice to see Casablanca and Schindler’s List on here. I was gonna do a similar list around Oscar time, so we have those two in common! I also like Amadeus, F. Murray Abraham was absolutely brilliant in it.

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! I am looking forward to seeing your list!

  7. Very cool list! Although you wrote that (gasp!) Scorsese directed The Godfather! lol

    Mine would definitely include Chicago, which I think is just perfect; Titanic, English Patient, Deer Hunter, Annie Hall, The Sound of Music, as well as your picks The Godfather, American Beauty, Kramer and Schindler’s List.

    1. Abbi

      I have to stop doing this kind of thing late at night. Ha ha! I’ll fix it.

      Some great picks on your list!

  8. great list. cant wait to see your list of snubbed pictures.

    My list would include The Apartment, The Best Years of our lives, Bridge on the River Kwai, The Departed, The Return of the King, Platoon, Schindlers List, American Beauty, The Deer hunter and The Godfather.

    Biggest snubs IMHO are Saving Private Ryan and Network

    1. Abbi

      Excellent list! Biggest snubs goes out tomorrow.

  9. […] on from last week’s post about my favourite Oscar best picture winners, I want to talk about the movies that didn’t win the award that should have. I am talking […]

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