90 Films To Watch To Become A Film Expert, According To The Academy

90 Films To Watch To Become A Film Expert, According To The Academy

The Academy Awards have been choosing the best movies of the year for almost a century. Here are the 90 movies that have taken home the Oscar for Best Picture.

The 91st Academy Awards are around the corner, and a new movie will be crowned the best of 2018. That means that, in almost a century, the Academy has selected ninety movies as the very best of the best. Most of the time, we’ve agreed with their decision, while other times, we’ve questioned these people’s judgment because there have clearly been better choices.

Still, we can say that, all in all, their choices are pretty much the best of Hollywood and, thus, a great list to understand how the industry works and how cinema has evolved (at least in the US). So, grab some snacks and prepare to embark on a long, 90-year journey of film and Oscar history, with all the winners of the Best Picture category. 

Wings (1927) Dir. William A. Wellman

The Broadway Melody (1929) Dir. Harry Beaumont

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) Dir. Lewis Milestone

Cimarron (1931) Dir. Wesley Ruggles

Grand Hotel (1932) Dir. Edmund Goulding

Calvacade (1933) Dir. Frank Lloyd

It Happened One Night (1934) Dir. Frank Capra

Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) Dir. Frank Lloyd

The Great Ziegfeld (1936) Dir. Robert Z. Leonard

The Life of Emile Zola (1937) Dir. William Dieterle

Set in the 19th century, the biopic follows the unique friendship between acclaimed author Émile Zola and post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne. It also shows Zola’s rise to fame after the publication of his iconic novel, Nana, in which he shows the underground life of the early days of bohemian Paris.

You Can’t Take It with You (1938) Dir. Frank Capra

Gone with the Wind (1939) Dir. Victor Fleming

Rebecca (1940) Dir. Alfred Hitchcock

How Green Was My Valley (1941) Dir. John Ford

Mrs. Miniver (1942) Dir. William Wyler

Casablanca (1942) Dir. Michael Curtiz

Going My Way (1944) Dir. Leo McCarey

The Lost Weekend (1945) Dir. Billy Wilder

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) Dir. William Wyler

Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) Dir. Elia Kazan

Winning three out of eight nominations (including, of course, Best Picture) just two years after the end of WWII, the movie tells the story of a journalist who pretends to be Jewish to expose the growing distrust and hatred against Jewish people in the US.

Hamlet (1948) Dir. Laurence Olivier

All the King’s Men (1949) Dir. Robert Rossen

All About Eve (1950) Dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz

An American in Paris (1951) Dir. Vincente Minnelli 

The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) Dir. Cecil B. DeMille

From Here to Eternity (1953) Dir. Fred Zinnemann

On the Waterfront (1954) Dir. Elia Kazan

Marty (1955) Dir. Delbert Mann

Around the World in 80 Days (1956) Dir. Michael Anderson

With top Mexican comedian Cantinflas accompanying legend David Niven, the movie takes us into Jules Verne’s epic adventure around the world. The movie was a total success, taking home five out of eight Oscars, and giving Cantinflas his only Golden Globe Award.

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) Dir. David Lean

Gigi (1958) Dir. Vincente Minnelli

Ben-Hur (1959) Dir. William Wyler

The Apartment (1960) Dir. Billy Wilder

West Side Story (1961) Dir. Robert Wise and Jerome Robins

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) Dir. David Lean

Tom Jones (1963) Dir. Tony Richardson

My Fair Lady (1964) Dir. George Cukor

The Sound of Music (1965) Dir. Robert Wise

A Mall for All Seasons (1966) Dir. Fred Zinnemann

In the Heat of the Night (1967) Dir. Norman Jewison

Academy Award winner Sidney Poitier (the first African-American ever to win an Oscar in a leading role) plays a policeman from Philadelphia who is arrested after visiting his mother in Mississippi and has to deal with racism while helping the sheriff solve a murder case.

Oliver! (1968) Dir. Carol Reed

Midnight Cowboy (1969) Dir. John Schlesinger

Patton (1970) Dir. Franklin J. Schaffner

The French Connection (1971) Dir. William Friedkin

The Godfather (1972) Dir. Francis Ford Coppola

The Sting (1973) Dir. George Roy Hill

The Godfather Part II (1974) Dir. Francis Ford Coppola

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) Dir. Miloš Forman

Rocky (1976) Dir. John G. Avildsen

Annie Hall (1977) Dir. Woody Allen

This heartbreaking story about a very intense couple of New Yorkers gave Allen his first Oscars when the movie got four out of five nominations. The story is said to be inspired by his own relationship with Keaton, who also got a statuette for her performance. 

The Deer Hunter (1978) Dir. Michael Cimino

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) Dir. Robert Benton

Ordinary People (1980) Dir. Robert Redford

Chariots of Fire (1981) Dir. Hugh Hudson

Gandhi (1982) Dir. Richard Attenborough

Terms of Endearment (1983) Dir. James L. Brooks

Amadeus (1984) Dir. Miloš Forman

Out of Africa (1985) Dir. Sydney Pollack

Platoon (1986) Dir. Oliver Stone

The Last Emperor (1987) Dir. Bernardo Bertolucci

Winner of nine Oscars, this biopic tells the story of Puyi, the last Emperor of China. From the moment he ascended to the throne when he was just a young boy, to the moment of his imprisonment, the movie shows the transition from monarchy to communism in China. 

Rain Man (1988) Dir. Barry Levinson

Driving Miss Daisy (1989) Dir. Bruce Beresford

Dances with Wolves (1990) Dir. Kevin Kostner

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) Dir. Jonathan Demme

Unforgiven (1992) Dir. Clint Eastwood

Schindler’s List (1993) Dir. Steven Spielberg

Forrest Gump (1994) Dir. Robert Zemeckis

Braveheart (1995) Dir. Mel Gibson

The English Patient (1996) Dir. Anthony Minghella

Titanic (1997) Dir. James Cameron 

I don’t think there’s a single human being who hasn’t seen Titanic at least once in their lives. This movie, which broke all box-office and Oscar records in its time, has become an iconic part of popular culture.

Shakespeare in Love (1998) Dir. John Madden

American Beauty (1999) Dir. Sam Mendes

Gladiator (2000) Dir. Ridley Scott

A Beautiful Mind (2001) Dir. Ron Howard

Chicago (2002) Dir. Rob Marshall

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) Dir. Peter Jackson

Million Dollar Baby (2004) Dir. Clint Eastwood

Crash (2005) Dir. Paul Haggis

The Departed (2006) Dir. Martin Scorsese

No Country for Old Men (2007) Dir. Joel and Ethan Coen

Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, the movie tells the story of a man who, after finding a fortune that clearly doesn't belong to him, finds himself on the road two other men with not the best intentions exactly. The movie got four out of eight nominations at the Oscars, making Javier Bardem the very first Spanish actor to win an Oscar. 

Slumdog Millionaire (2008) Dir. Danny Boyle

The Hurt Locker (2009) Dir. Kathryn Bigelow

The King’s Speech (2010) Dir. Tom Hopper

The Artist (2011) Dir. Michel Hazanavicius

Argo (2012) Dir. Ben Affleck

12 Years a Slave (2013) Dir. Steve McQueen

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) Dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu

Spotlight (2015) Dir. Tom McCarthy

Moonlight (2016) Dir. Barry Jenkins

The Shape of Water (2017) Dir. Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro’s love story between a mute cleaner and a recently-captured amphibian creature stole everybody’s hearts, including those of the members of the Academy. Not only did the movie surprise everybody with its gorgeous cinematography and great performances, but it also confirmed that Mexican directors are here to stay.

Having said that, we must say that this year’s Oscars could change film history if fellow Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón manages to win Best Picture for his movie Roma, making it the first film in a foreign language to win the category (you can read more about that here).

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