In total, there have been 93 Academy Award shows since 1929. The prestigious event has built itself up honoring the best of the best films, with incredible movies such as Gladiator, The Godfather, and most recently, Nomadland making their marks at the awards show. However, 93 Academy Award shows mean that 93 films have taken home the best picture Oscar; Do you remember every film that has taken home the big award? Of course not! We’re all human here and despite these films being etched in the history books, most people have forgotten these five best picture award winners. Let’s get started with the first film:
Out of Africa (Best Picture Winner of the 58th Academy Awards)
If someone asked you which film won the Academy Award for best picture, what would you likely say? Out of Africa, The Color Purple, Kiss of the Spider woman, Prizzi’s Honor, or Witness? If you said The Color Purple then you’re not alone as that’s one of the most talked-about films in the 1980s. Surprisingly, the Steven Spielberg film had 11 nominations going into the 58th Academy Awards; however, the film walked out empty-handed once the night was said and done. Despite the clear snub, The Color Purple is considered one of the best movies of all time and is currently in the Library of Congress. Out of Africa was actually red hot during the awards season with the film winning three Golden Globes and leaving with seven Oscars. However, it’s rarely in talks for “best of” conversations because it’s an average film at best, with its current rotten tomatoes score being at 62%. So why did the Academy choose such an average film to take top honors? There’s no official word why, though The Color Purple was met huge controversy when it first released in 1985, but the film also caused a much-needed debate on racism and the image of black people in the United States.
Chariots of Fire (Best Picture Winner of the 54th Academy Awards)
In 1981, Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark came out and rocked the entire movie world. This Hugh Hudson classic ended up getting nine Academy Award nominations, including best picture. Unlike The Color Purple, Raiders of the Lost Ark walked out with five big Oscars, though it failed to beat Chariots of Fire in the best picture race. The film remains relevant in today’s popular culture and the overall franchise is on the list of all-time greatest movies. Just like Out of Africa, Chariots of Fire was simply overshadowed by the big blockbuster film and it’s rarely brought up in conversations when talking about great films in the 1980s.
The Hurt Locker (Best Picture Winner of the 82nd Academy Awards)
The Hurt Locker is a tremendous film that absolutely deserves the best picture award. The Problem? The film flew under the radar for most mainstream audiences, only making about $50 million worldwide. The Hurt Locker also came out in the year that featured the top-grossing film of all time, Avatar. Throw in critical and commercial successes District 9, Up, and Inglorious Basterds, and you can understand why it’s easy to forget that The Hurt Locker walked out with best film honors at the 82nd Academy Awards. Despite a pedestrian story, Avatar was a huge achievement in filmmaking and a movie that changed the landscape of the business. Like so many movies on this list, The Hurt Locker didn’t have much of a chance to stand out because of the lack of its mainstream appeal.
The King’s Speech (Best Picture Winner of the 83rd Academy Awards)
2010 was an amazing year for filmmaking in general. The world was buzzing about Christopher Nolan’s Inception, David Fincher’s The Social Network, David O. Russell’s The Fighter, and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, with each film being a critical and commercial success. Add in Toy Story 3, True Grit, 127 Hours, The Kids Are All Right, and Winter’s Bone, and the best picture category was stacked with great films. Unfortunately, the Academy decided to pick the most pedestrian film on the list, The King’s Speech. While the movie was also a critical and commercial success ($414.2 million worldwide), many felt that Inception or The Social Network should’ve taken home the top honors. In a stacked year full of movies, Inception, The Social Network, and Black Swan is still talked about as 2010’s best films due to the boundaries all three movies pushed in filmmaking; however, The King’s Speech suffers the same problems as the first two films on the list, meaning that’s it’s overshadowed by its competition.
The Artist (Best Picture Winner of the 84th Academy Awards)
A great film that likely came out in the wrong era. The Artist was a tribute to the silent era of filmmaking; however, there’s a reason why silent movies aren’t made in the 2000s anymore. Loved by critics and film fanatics, The Artist came out of nowhere with its best picture win that had Moneyball, Hugo, and Midnight in Paris on the nomination list, though the film had been cleaning up in the awards circuit, notably at the Golden Globes and the British Academy awards. By no means the worst choice on the list (how Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close was nominated remains mind-boggling), though a film not many mainstream audiences cared too much about. The Academy voters always had a soft spot for arthouse films, thus likely the reason behind the movie’s big win.
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