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The Oscar Quest Reconsidered: Ranking the Best Pictures

I originally posted a version of this list in early 2012. Mostly because I like making lists. There was no real methodology to it. I looked back at it at some point in the past four months and saw it skewed heavily toward personal preference. The performances I liked the best went to the top, and the performances I thought were terrible winners went straight to the bottom.

Since the Oscar Quest, Version 2 that I’ve been doing, I noticed the point of it was more to reflect what my thoughts were now five years later from the completion/posting of all the original articles. I tried to stay away from redoing everything I did the first time, because a lot of it felt like it begat negativity on my part. I really don’t want to shit on things now so much as I’d want to openly discuss what is or isn’t a good choice historically.

Because that’s now where I’m at, I think redoing these lists is something I can get away with. If only to give myself a marker for where my head is at now.

I’m not putting any stock into these whatsoever. I don’t even really want to make these easily findable for people, though I guess I should, if only to track changes over the years. I was going to write up actual opinions for each one, justifying its position, but that’s a fool’s errand. That’s for people looking for extra clicks and people writing in the comments. I don’t want that. This is purely for me.

The first time I wrote this up, I specified that the rankings were not me attempting to make a list for everyone to follow. It was just my favorites. This time, I think what I ended up doing was trying to factor in everything into the decision. How iconic the performance/film is, how good of a choice it was in its year (extremely strong choices get slight bumps, and extremely weak choices get slight deductions), and also how I feel about them.

So here’s where my head is at now on all the Best Picture winners:

1. Gone With the Wind

2. All Quiet on the Western Front

3. Lawrence of Arabia

4. The Godfather

5. Casablanca

6. The Best Years of Our Lives

7. West Side Story

8. Schindler’s List

9. On the Waterfront

10. Ben-Hur

11. The Godfather Part II

12. Titanic

13. The Apartment

14. It Happened One Night

15. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

16. Wings

17. All About Eve

18. From Here to Eternity

19. The Sound of Music

20. The Bridge on the River Kwai

21. Unforgiven

22. The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King

23. Rocky

24. In the Heat of the Night

25. The Silence of the Lambs

26. The French Connection

27. Amadeus

28. 12 Years a Slave

29. How Green Was My Valley

30. Annie Hall

31. No Country for Old Men

32. Forrest Gump

33. The Hurt Locker

34. Gandhi

35. The Sting

36. Platoon

37. Mutiny on the Bounty

38. The Deer Hunter

39. Patton

40. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

41. Mrs. Miniver

42. Moonlight

43. Midnight Cowboy

44. Gladiator

45. The Last Emperor

46. The Lost Weekend

47. Kramer vs. Kramer

48. Spotlight

49. Terms of Endearment

50. Marty

51. The King’s Speech

52. The Departed

53. Shakespeare in Love

54. My Fair Lady

55. Dances with Wolves

56. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

57. American Beauty

58. Gentleman’s Agreement

59. Slumdog Millionaire

60. Braveheart

61. Around the World in 80 Days

62. A Man for All Seasons

63. The Artist

64. Out of Africa

65. Going My Way

66. Argo

67. The Great Ziegfeld

68. Grand Hotel

69. Hamlet

70. The English Patient

71. Rain Man

72. Ordinary People

73. Rebecca

74. Chariots of Fire

75. An American in Paris

76. You Can’t Take It With You

77. All the King’s Men

78. Chicago

79. Gigi

80. Driving Miss Daisy

81. Million Dollar Baby

82. Oliver!

83. Cimarron

84. The Greatest Show on Earth

85. Tom Jones

86. A Beautiful Mind

87. The Broadway Melody

88. Cavalcade

89. The Life of Emile Zola

90. Crash

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