Oscars: 10 Best Pictures That Actually Were The Best

At least the Academy got these 10 best picture winners right out of the 83 dished out so far.

Jack Gann

Contributor

New Line Cinema

New Line Cinema

Next month is the 86th Academy Awards ceremony but ever since sentimental fighter pilot movie Wings beat F.W. Murnau’s still lauded Sunrise to the inaugural big prize, there has been a general feeling that the Best Picture Oscar doesn’t really represent the year’s best film at all. The Academy has a reputation for picking safe “prestige” dramas over anything original, innovative, stylised or genre films.

This is nothing new. The 14th ceremony in 1942 gave the top award to worthy Americanised Welsh mine drama How Green Was My Valley, despite the other nominees including the hugely innovative and influential (not to mention far more entertaining) Maltese Falcon and Citizen Kane.

In the 84 Oscar ceremonies between Wings’ first win and the triumph of 12 Years a Slave, Gravity or The Wolf of Wall Street this year, there have been bafflingly undeserved winners (Driving Miss Daisy in 1990), good films beating genuinely great ones (The English Patient over Fargo in 1997), and films that were definitely the best of the nominees but not of the year (Slumdog Millionaire is a far better film than Benjamin Button or The Reader, but is it really better than WALL-E?). But how many Oscar Best Pictures can genuinely be said to have been their year’s best? Just this ten, we think, and, as you’ll see, even these have some pretty strong competition.

Honourable mention: Rebecca (Best Picture in the 13th Oscar ceremony in 1941), The Godfather: Part 2 (1975), One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest (1976), and The Deer Hunter (1979) are all deserving of a place on a list of all time greats. Unfortunately they came out in the same years as His Girl Friday, Chinatown, Jaws, and Halloween respectively and therefore were not the best films of their year.