The list of films that have taken home the coveted Best Picture award at the Oscars is a small and exclusive one. Theoretically, these are the best movies from each year dating back to the late 1920s, even though a few years have had winners who were deemed controversial.
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Many of the users on Letterboxd are major film buffs who have seen plenty of these Best Picture winners. They’ve given out reviews to these Academy Award winners, with some of them being among the movies with the highest average rating on the website. The ones with the best average scores come from a range of eras and genres.
Updated on March 2nd, 2022 by Kevin Pantoja: With another Academy Awards ceremony on the horizon, now is a perfect time to really go back and check out the history of the Oscars. That means going back and seeing which films managed to pull off the impressive feat of taking home the coveted Best Picture prize, even if it means going back several decades. Thankfully, the movie-loving users at Letterboxd have given out their ratings and it can help you make sure that you’re seeing the absolute greatest films to ever win the prestigious prize.
15 The Departed (2006) – 4.19
Stream On HBO Max
It’s surprising that it took so long for Martin Scorsese to earn the Best Director Academy Award but it finally happened after his work on The Departed. Along with that victory, The Departed also took home Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing, and of course, Best Picture.
The film tells the story of a cat and mouse game between an undercover cop in the mob and the mob’s own mole rising through the police ranks. Helped along by a stellar cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson, it’s no wonder this received four stars on the site 33% of the time.
14 Moonlight (2016) – 4.20
Stream On Showtime, Hoopla, & Kanopy
Everyone will likely remember when Moonlight was award Best Picture and it’s for unfortunate reasons. Initially, La La Land was read as the winner that year, only for things to be corrected and Moonlight was given its rightful statue. On Letterboxd, it has a big advantage as La La Land sits at a 3.94.
Moonlight follows the life of a Chiron as he goes through a troubled childhood, a teenage era where he explores his sexuality, and adulthood. The gripping drama made history as the first LGBTQ+ movie with an all-Black cast to win the award and on Letterboxd, most reviews have it at five stars (35%).
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13 Amadeus (1984) – 4.21
Rent On Apple TV
One of the most iconic musicians in history is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the aptly titled Amadeus sought out to tell the story of his life. At nearly three hours in length, the film is certainly an epic and for the most part, it makes good use of the runtime.
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Based on a play of the same name, the film managed to dominate the Oscars that year. Along with Best Picture, it won Best Director, Best Actor (and had another nominated), Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Makeup, and more. Most reviews have it at five stars (31%).
12 Casablanca (1942) – 4.24
Stream On HBO Max
There aren’t many movies in history that can defined by one word but Casablanca is special in that way. Any mention of the word “rosebud” will likely many anyone think of the iconic film.
The premise of Casablanca centers on a cafe owner who must decide whether or not to help his former lover and her new husband escape the Nazis. It won a handful of Oscars and is often named among the greatest films in history. Letterboxd users most often gave it five stars (35%).
11 Lawrence Of Arabia (1962) – 4.24
Stream On DirecTV
Clocking in at just under four hours, there’s no doubt that Lawrence of Arabia is among the most epic films ever to grace the big screen. Along with its Best Picture victory, the movie went on to take home six other Oscars, including Best Picture.
Lawrence of Arabia is based on the life of T.E. Lawrence and his experiences in the provinces of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Almost no Letterboxd review gave it fewer than three stars and the most common score is the perfect five stars (35%).
10 All About Eve (1950) – 4.26
Stream On The Criterion Channel
A lot of the past Best Picture winners to score high on Letterboxd are considered true classics from decades past. Among them is All About Eve, which was released in 1950. At the time, the 14 Academy Award nominations it received were a record and it won six of them.
Among those nominations were four for the actresses. The story follows a fan who wiggles her way into the life of a famous Broadway star. On Letterboxd, All About Eve has mostly received the perfect five star rating (31%) but four stars follows closely (30%).
9 No Country For Old Men (2007) – 4.27
Stream On HBO Max
There’s no doubt that the Coen Brothers are among the greatest filmmakers in history. Their movies are often well-received immediately or they become that way as cult hits over time. 2007’s No Country for Old Men was one that was an instant sensation.
Both a critical and commercial success, this crime thriller focuses on three characters. One is a war veteran who finds a bag full of cash, one is a sheriff investigating it, and one is a hired killer out to retrieve the money. Five stars comes up 33% of the time for this modern classic.
8 One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) – 4.28
Stream On HBO Max
Jack Nicholson is one of Hollywood’s greatest actors for several reasons and one of them was his performance in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Released in 1975, this film did what The Silence of the Lambs did years later, winning in the five most prominent categories.
Among those wins was Nicholson as Best Actor. The film tells the tale of a new attendee at a mental institution who riles up his fellow patients to rebel against the system. Four star reviews happen often (30%) but like most Best Picture winners, five stars is the most common (32%).
7 The Silence Of The Lambs (1991) – 4.31
Stream On Amazon Prime & Kanopy
History was made in 1991 when The Silence of the Lambs took home the Best Picture Oscar. It became the first (and remains the only) horror film to win the award. To add to how impressive it was, the movie also won for Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
RELATED: 10 Best Horror Movies That Were Snubbed By The Oscars
The outstanding film remains an icon of the genre thanks to the work of Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. The plot sees an FBI agent get help from a cannibalistic murderer while hunting down a different serial killer. Once again, five stars is the most common rating (35%).
6 The Apartment (1960) – 4.32
Stream On The Roku Channel, Hoopla, & Tubi TV
Fast-forwarding a decade, 1960’s The Apartment took home the prestigious Best Picture Academy Award. Starring acting legends like Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, the film is an all-time great despite the fact that the subject matter is somewhat controversial.
The film centers around an insurance clerk who lets senior co-workers use his residence for their affairs in the hopes that it will help him move up in the company. Along with Best Picture, it won Best Director and Best Screenplay. 34% of ratings have it at five stars, while 28% are at four stars.
5 The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (2003) – 4.40
Stream On HBO Max
2003 was a year where some true history was made at the Academy Awards. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King set a record by sweeping the awards, winning all eleven Oscars that it was nominated for, with the two biggest being Best Picture and Best Director.
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It remains the biggest Oscar sweep in history. This Peter Jackson epic managed to wrap up The Lord of the Rings trilogy in a way that was both true to the source material and a masterpiece of a film. An incredible 46% of the user ratings have this at five stars.
4 Schindler’s List (1993) – 4.42
Rent On Apple TV
You’d be hard-pressed to find a powerful film than Schindler’s List. Arriving at theaters in 1993, this Steven Spielberg epic blew away audiences as soon as they laid eyes on it. Taking place during World War II, it followed a German industrialist who became concerned for his Jewish workers.
The reviews of Schindler’s List are overwhelmingly positive with next to nobody giving it fewer than three stars and a whopping 44% of users giving it the perfect five stars. Along with Best Picture, it won awards for Best Original Score, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and three others.
3 The Godfather Part 2 (1974) – 4.53
Rent On Vudu
Only two sequels have ever taken home the Best Picture trophy. Nearly 30 years before The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King pulled off the feat, The Godfather Part II did it. Directed again by Francis Ford Coppola, the 1974 drama is seen as just as good, if not better, than the original.
The film worked as both a sequel and a prequel, telling the journeys of Vito and Michael Corleone during the 1910s and 1950s, respectively. The middle leg of this trilogy racked up six Oscars, including Best Director, and on Letterboxd, more than half of the ratings (53%) consider it perfect.
2 The Godfather (1972) – 4.54
Rent On Vudu
In 1972, moviegoers were first introduced to the world of the Corleone family between the ’40s and ’50s. Hollywood has seen many mafia movies throughout history but it has arguably never been done better than with The Godfather, which still holds up decades later.
The film took home three key Oscars, winning Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay along with Best Picture. It is held up as one of the greatest films ever made and the scores reflect that as an incredible 57% of the reviews have given it the five star rating.
1 Parasite (2019) – 4.59
Stream On Hulu & Kanopy
Most of the highest-rated Best Picture winners are the ones that made history. 2019’s Parasite is one of them as it was the first and only non-English movie to win Best Picture. The Bong Joon-ho film is one of the most unique to ever be nominated for such major awards.
Telling the story of a poor Korean family who infiltrates a rich family by hustling into key roles in their lives, it delivered in terms of acting, directing, and emotion. Parasite also won Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, and on Letterboxd it received five stars 57% of the time.
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About The Author
(588 Articles Published)
Born in New York City, Kevin eventually went on to attain his Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing for Entertainment at Full Sail University as Valedictorian. He has written in the past for various websites covering movies, TV, pop culture, sports, and wrestling. You can always find him on his Twitter, @the_kevstaaa.
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