List

BEST Best Pictures

By Cecilia Cygnar

Around "awards season," people often note the films that shouldn't have won Best Picture. Here, I'd rather highlight some of the best ones that did win...in my opinion.

  • The Shape of Water

    2018

    Part love story, part sci fi/fantasy, part science experiment, part action, this movie is not for everybody because, on the surface, it's a woman falling for a sea creature. I feel that sells it short, since this movie is so much more than that. It's a beautiful, tragic, poignant tale of love, friendship, and looking beneath the surface.

    Get this item
  • Chicago

    2003

    You want razzle dazzle? This movie delivers. In an adaptation of the Kander and Ebb stage musical, Zellweger stars as the murderous Roxy Hart. Just like in the musical, Zellweger's spotlight is taken by Zeta-Jones, who won a deserved Oscar for her role as Velma Kelly.

    Get this item
  • Shakespeare in Love

    1998

    The dialogue in this film is priceless, especially for Shakespeare fans. In addition to being well written, it fizzes with fun. Many saw this movie as a lesser choice to other Best Picture contender Saving Private Ryan. Although Ryan has stronger subject matter, I prefer the light tone of this historical comedy.

    Get this item
  • Unforgiven

    2010

    A modern take on the classic Western, Clint Eastwood uses everything he learned from all of his past films to create the quintessential American West masterpiece. With a plot dripping with all the western staples--greed, revenge, and lust--Eastwood, along with Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman, give us a Best Picture to remember.

    Get this item
  • Rain Man

    2004

    A road picture about two brothers, one of whom is an autistic savant and the other a cocky jerk? Doesn't sound like a recipe for a great, heartwarming film. Well, that's the gift of Rain Man. It surprises, entertains, and touches deeply. Dustin Hoffman won his second Oscar for this performance, but Tom Cruise is also excellent as the brother who gets brought down a peg.

    Get this item
  • Amadeus

    1997

    The music, the story, the costumes, the drama! Director Milos Forman's masterful adaptation of Peter Shaffer's play (Shaffer also wrote the screenplay) is lavish, bawdy, visceral, and highly entertaining to watch.

    Get this item
  • Kramer vs. Kramer

    2001

    On this list for both the subject matter and the high caliber of its performances, this film was the first to really take on issues of divorce and child custody. Not the easiest film to watch, it's worth it to see the evolving relationship between Dustin Hoffman's character and his young son.

    Get this item
  • The Sound of Music

    2010

    The Sound of Music is a well-made, stunningly refreshing Broadway adaptation for all ages. Although I think My Fair Lady and West Side Story were great musical Best Pictures as well, despite all of the abuse The Sound of Music gets for being so sappy, this film is in a class by itself.

    Get this item
  • The Apartment

    2007

    Writer/director Billy Wilder was known for his snappy dialogue, and this film is the snappiest of them all. Although it is a comedy, it has darker, sobering moments that lend it enough gravitas to be a serious Best Picture star.

    Get this item
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai

    2000

    Most folks pick Lawrence of Arabia as director David Lean's finest film. Being a rebel, I prefer the gritty jungle over the vast desert. To me, there is no better escape and survival film.

    Get this item
  • Rebecca

    2001

    Because this is the only Alfred Hitchcock movie to win Best Picture, I just had to include it. Though I do not think it is Hitchcock's finest work of the 1940s (those would be Shadow of a Doubt in 1943 and Notorious in 1946), I still think it is a strong thriller and a fantastic adaptation of the Daphne du Maurier novel.

    Get this item
  • It Happened One Night

    1999

    This is probably the only true romantic comedy to win Best Picture (You Can't Take It with You, another Frank Capra movie is, to me, more straight comedy than rom com). In this movie, Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert shine as sparring traveling companions who, naturally, stop sparring long enough to fall in love.

    Get this item