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Oscar Best Picture winners from worst to first

  • Oscar Best Picture winners from worst to first

    Every year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences votes on the best and most influential films of the year. The Academy Awards or Oscars are a reflection of excellence within all filmmaking crafts and departments of that year, with an Academy Award for Best Picture being the crowning achievement that every film aspires to win.

    In recent decades, with the media and public opinion being a part of the broader discussion over the Academy Awards, the nominees and eventual winners undergo a significantly more significant amount of scrutiny. As audiences are recognizing the Oscars as an indicator of current pop culture trends, those watching the ceremony are sometimes quick to be critical over the winners.

    The Best Picture trophy, in particular, receives the most attention and controversy. As the Oscars shifted from including films of all genres to focusing on prestige arthouse dramas in the major categories, a backlash from audiences stemmed from a perceived snubbing of “The Dark Knight” in 2008 led to an expansion of the Best Picture category from five nominees to 10 nominees, at most. Since then, animated films and genre pictures have been recognized in this prestigious category.

    Whatever the case may be, the Best Picture winner of each ceremony can be seen as a reflection of where the national conversation is at a given time. These are motion pictures that tackle issues of race and class and include movies ranging from epic period pieces to modern-day crime dramas. Some of these films, particularly the older ones, may not resonate with modern audiences as a result.

    With that in mind, Stacker utilized IMDb to rank all 91 Oscar Best Picture-winning movies from worst to best. The movies are ranked according to their IMDb user rating, with ties broken by the number of votes each movie received. Ratings and vote counts are up to date as of December 2019. Please note that the years listed for each movie refer to the years they were released, which occasionally differ from the years in which they received Oscars.

    Click through Stacker's slideshow to see each of these Best Picture winners, and learn more about how they have lasted through the test of time.

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  • #91. The Broadway Melody (1929)

    - Director: Harry Beaumont
    - IMDb user rating: 5.7
    - Votes: 5,968
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 100 min

    Musical film “The Broadway Melody” was monumental in many respects: It was the first sound film, the first film with a Technicolor sequence, and the first musical film to win the Best Picture award. The film, which focused on a pair of vaudeville sisters trying to make it big on Broadway, was the top-grossing film in 1929 and is considered to be the first “complete” Hollywood musical. However, many contemporary critics and movie-watchers consider “The Broadway Melody” to be highly derivative and cliched.

  • #90. Cavalcade (1933)

    - Director: Frank Lloyd
    - IMDb user rating: 5.9
    - Votes: 4,129
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 112 min

    Considered in its time to be a compelling and well-acted story, “Cavalcade” follows two English families of two different socioeconomic classes and all of their respective tragedies and triumphs. The film spans from 1899 to 1933, with several historical events affecting the families differently. However, “Cavalcade” isn’t well remembered today, and the story is considered to be incohesive and sentimental by modern standards.

  • #89. Cimarron (1931)

    - Director: Wesley Ruggles
    - IMDb user rating: 5.9
    - Votes: 4,944
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 123 min

    Produced by long-defunct studio RKO, “Cimarron” was the first Western to receive the coveted Best Picture trophy. The film is epic in scale, starting with the Oklahoma land rush of 1899 and going to 1929. However, the storytelling is described as “scattershot” by contemporary critics, and its racial overtones and stereotypes are considered unacceptable by modern standards.

  • #88. Tom Jones (1963)

    - Director: Tony Richardson
    - IMDb user rating: 6.5
    - Votes: 10,736
    - Metascore: 77
    - Runtime: 129 min

    Based on a novel by Henry Fielding, “Tom Jones” was one of the most acclaimed comedies of its time. Starring Albert Finney as the eponymous character, the film takes place in 18th-century England and the exploits of a lively and womanizing man. Even beating out the epic film “Cleopatra,” “Tom Jones” was an unusual film for its time, featuring a silent film-like opening and constant fourth-wall-breaking.

  • #87. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

    - Director: Cecil B. DeMille
    - IMDb user rating: 6.6
    - Votes: 11,943
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 152 min

    Cecil B. DeMille’s 2.5-hour long film centers around the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, featuring Charlton Heston as the circus manager and James Stewart as a clown who never removes his makeup. The film also featured the real-life circus troupe, with this epic film showcasing over a thousand people and hundreds of animals, making this film a logistical triumph. However, the film was thought in later decades to be overstuffed, bloated, and dull.

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  • #86. The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

    - Director: Robert Z. Leonard
    - IMDb user rating: 6.7
    - Votes: 6,620
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 176 min

    This musical and drama film was a fictionalized account and tribute to Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., a Broadway producer and impresario. William Powell takes the lead in “The Great Ziegfeld,” which features several elaborate sets and dance numbers. While the film set a standard for musical filmmaking and biographical pictures, “The Great Ziegfeld” is now looked back upon as excessive and too lengthy, with the running time coming at nearly three hours.

  • #85. Gigi (1958)

    - Director: Vincente Minnelli
    - IMDb user rating: 6.7
    - Votes: 18,326
    - Metascore: 82
    - Runtime: 115 min

    Based on Collette’s novella of the same name, “Gigi” is about a carefree woman and a rich playboy in Paris as their relationship blooms. The film is a romantic musical, featuring many original songs from writer Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe, who previously collaborated to make “My Fair Lady.” The film set a then-record for winning nine Academy Award wins.

  • #84. Around the World in 80 Days (1956)

    - Director: Michael Anderson
    - IMDb user rating: 6.8
    - Votes: 22,774
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 175 min

    The Jules Verne novel “Around the World in Eighty Days” received its most successful adaptation in 1956, with an epic adventure/comedy film that ultimately won five Academy Awards. The film tells the classic tale of Phineas Hogg (David Niven) and his valet Passepartout (Mexican comedian Cantinflas), who has made a wager that a person can circumvent the entire globe in just 80 days. The film was praised as funny, although it is also thought to be long-winding.

  • #83. Going My Way (1944)

    - Director: Leo McCarey
    - IMDb user rating: 7.1
    - Votes: 9,577
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 126 min

    Bing Crosby established himself in Hollywood as a massive box-office draw with “Going My Way,” a light-hearted musical starring Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald, and Risë Stevens. Crosby plays Father Chuck O’Malley, a priest who is transferred to a church in New York City. The church is failing financially, but O’Malley’s unconventional style leads to success and inspires his older superior. The film is best known for introducing the song “Swinging on a Star,” which also won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

  • #82. Shakespeare in Love (1998)

    - Director: John Madden
    - IMDb user rating: 7.1
    - Votes: 204,686
    - Metascore: 87
    - Runtime: 123 min

    This film imagined an affair between playwright William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) and a woman (Gwyneth Paltrow), with “Shakespeare in Love” featuring several moments and characters that are meant to allude to Shakespeare’s most famous plays, with the film culminating in Shakespeare’s work in “Twelfth Night.” Now-disgraced Harvey Weinstein was one of the producers behind the film, with his Oscars campaign being infamously aggressive. The film controversially beat out Steven Spielberg’s World War II film “Saving Private Ryan” for the coveted Best Picture award.

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