Movies & TV / Columns

What Are Your Favorite Best Picture Winners?

February 7, 2020 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Netflix SIlence of the Lambs
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This article, in picture form.

There’s no level of talking down enough that I can do to lower your expectations far enough that when you see my list, you will think, “Well, it’s not THAT bad”.

It’s going to be very, very bad. There’s no disagreement. We are in this together! That’s why I’m calling giving this article a title that is a call for conversation! If I called this some kind of definitive Top Ten list, I would deserve a solid slap.

To recap, every month, my podcast cohosts and I have a list challenge where we come up with the Top Ten of something, and then put it up to a vote to see whose list was best. We have done Best Video Games of the 2010’s (I won that one!), Best Candy (I still attest that Ho-Ho’s are a candy), Best Sitcoms, and others.

February, however, was a bit of a rough spot for our list decision, even though there is SO MUCH GOING ON in the shortest month of the year, we just had a hard time settling on a list idea. We spit-balled some ideas, but it took a while for one to stick.

It has Valentine’s Day! “Best Fictional Couples”, right? But no one was really feeling that besides me.

It’s the month of the Superbowl! “Best… something about football”! Maybe best NFL Quarterbacks Ever or Most Entertaining Superbowls Ever. It’s not that bad. Best Seasons Of Your Favorite NFL Team? It had options. But again, we decided against it. Sports is too… something? We couldn’t put our fingers on it.

It’s Black History Month! We… didn’t really think three to four white folks talking about that was ideal. We didn’t want to offend anyone with our possibly-not-well-enough-informed opinions or our general bad taste in humor. Pass for everyone’s own good.

So many ideas we threw right away. What to do?

Well, what always follows the Superbowl? The Academy Awards! Best “Best Picture” Winners Of All Time? That’s a slam dunk, right? Look over the very best films ever made, and pick ten that are your favorites or that you think are objectively the best. So. Obvious.

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Here is where I have to be honest with you: I am neither a liar nor a panderer. When I make a list of things, no matter how controversial, outside-the-box, or idiotic it may seem, I can at least promise you that it is my absolute honest truth. I may not share any opinions with you, dear reader, but I will not lie to you. I will give you my actual thoughts, and you can tell me what a buffoon I am for thinking them. This is our agreement.

Do you at least respect that? Boy, I hope so. Because I have an admission.

After initially thinking “Best Picture winners? That’s easy!”, I actually looked over the list of every Best Picture Winner ever.


I have only ever seen twenty of them. And that is really stretching the boundaries of the word “seen”, because I am including movies I haven’t watched since I was a little kid and remember virtually nothing about.

But still… twenty! That’s all right! I only have to have liked (and remembered enough about) half of them. That should be easy enough, right?

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Before we get into my actual Top Ten List–which, haha, I am stalling because it isn’t going to be noteworthy at all because I have SO LITTLE TO SAY on this matter–here is a chronological breakdown of every Best Picture Winner I HAVE seen, as well as a quick personal note that will work as a clue for you as to where they might place:

Gone With The Wind: Silly stereotypes and way too long.

Casablanca: Boring. Just… didn’t do anything for me.

The Sound of Music: It’s all right, and that might be good enough.

Oliver!: This is the “Please sir, can I have some more?” movie, right? I feel like I watched it in elementary school as a kid.

The Godfather: Saw this as kid. Remember Marlon Brando’s voice and nothing else. Offers you can’t refuse. Horse head.

Rocky: Hey, I liked this one.

Amadeus: Watched this in music class in middle school. Remember nothing. Wait, this won BEST PICTURE?!

Rain Man: Saw this in theater as a child. Never since.

Silence of the Lambs: This is fine.

Forrest Gump: This is fun enough, AND my wife’s favorite movie ever. So I prop it up based on loyalty.

Titanic: It’s Titanic. Everyone saw Titanic.

American Beauty: Aged about as poorly as humanly possible in every regard.

Gladiator: I didn’t love this when it came out and never watched it again. It’s almost certainly better than I remember.

Chicago: How sad it is that this is likely top five for me.

LOTR: Return of the King: I never cared the LotR movies. They were so repetitive with what felt like the same action scene over and over across nine hours of movies. The acting and cinematography were good, though.

Crash: This is the movie Crash.

The Departed and No Country For Old Men: It sure was nice of the Academy to put my #1 and #2 movies for this list in subsequent years.

Slumdog Millionaire: Regis Philbin: The Movie.

The Shape of Water: Watching this is what being on drugs is like.

And that’s it! Never saw The Godfather Part 2 that I can recall. I think I saw the last half hour or less of Schindler’s List once? Got bored and turned Birdman off after about fifteen minutes. I’m just not very good at Best Picture winners.

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This looks a lot better than the movie seemed to be.

There are two likely reasons for this: The first is that I’m bad at watching movies that existed before I was old enough to appreciate them or see them when they came out. I’m last person on Earth who is ever going to have the thought, “You know what I want to watch? A movie from the 1970’s”. And the 70’s seem archaic to me! So something from the 40’s? Never going to happen. There are so many movies released in the past ten or twenty years that I need to see. I ain’t got no time for the distant past! I have cinematic ageism.

That said, I’m not real big on modern Best Picture winners, either, because the Academy has gone out of their way in the past decade to become this weird exclusionary force. I remember growing up and seeing big movies come out and wondering how those movies might fare during award season. Now it’s more of a… “Gee, I wonder how a very select group of movies no one actually watched that are all released in November and December will do during the award season they were specifically marketed for”. It’s just… I don’t care, because the Academy is all a big circle jerk of elitist old straight white dudes.

It’s too bad our list wasn’t The Top Ten Movies That Were Nominated For Best Picture. I could do much better with that. Somehow, someway, Lord of the Rings beat out Lost in Translation in 2004. What a crock. Get Out fell to The god damned Shape of Water. Little Miss Sunshine deservedly lost to The Departed, but it’s still a great movie! I could make a quality Top Ten out of movies that DIDN’T win Best Picture!

But nope. That’s not what we are doing. So…

(Look, like I said, this is going to hurt both of us, so… I apologize in advance!)

#10. Gladiator

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Just here on the assumption that it’s better than I remember!

#9. The Sound of Music

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It’s about music! And Nazis!

#8. The Godfather

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It’s fun to talk like Marlon Brando in this movie!

#7. Titanic

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Kate Winslett and Leonard DiCaprio had really good chemistry!

#6. Silence of the Lambs

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Otherwise I’d have never heard of Fava Beans!

#5. Chicago

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It gave me the ol’ Razzle Dazzle!

#4. Forrest Gump

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It had no business winning Best Picture that year, but it’s still fun!

#3. Rocky

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Almost as good as Rocky IV!

#2. The Departed

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Leonardo DiCaprio strikes again!

#1. No Country For Old Men

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*Air gun to the skull noise*!

I tried to keep that fast and painless. I hope you appreciate it. Mostly, I want to know what YOUR ten favorite Best Picture winners are? How many have you seen? Are you an Oscar buff? Do you try to watch the nominees in advance of the big show? Or are you less invested?

Who do you think is going to win it all this year?

You just know they are looking at “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” and going, “Wait… WE’RE Hollywood! And it stars straight white men? ALL THE AWARDS!”

Personally, I’m pulling for Parasite. Or Jojo Rabbit. Or literally anything except Joker. Joker isn’t BAD; I gave it a B-. But it’s nothing that deserves a Best Picture nod.

It’s fine, I’m fine, this is fine. I’ll just ignore the awards like I normally do anyway. No harm, no foul.

… We really should have done “Best Fictional Couples”. What’s Next Month? “Best Use Of Pop Songs In A Movie Scene”? That’s more doable!

Until next time… take care!