60+ Oscar Photos Ranked: Worst To Best

Published on 05/13/2021
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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 93rd Academy Awards were postponed until April 25, 2021, but that didn’t stop the debate: what is the best and worst best picture of all time? To date, 93 films have won the Academy Award for Best Picture, ranging from “Wings” to “Nomadland.” Within that elite group, however, there are great films and, yes, not-so-great films. In fact, according to critics, some of the best picture Oscar winners are genuinely awful. Here’s a list of every best picture winner, from the worst to the best, in order. We based our list on data from Rotten Tomatoes, a film review aggregation site. We arranged movies by their Rotten Tomatoes user score in which there were ties.

70 Oscar Photos Ranked Worst To Best

70 Oscar Photos Ranked Worst To Best

69. “The Broadway Melody” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 36)

At the 2nd Academy Awards, this 1929 “talkie” won the best picture. ReelViews reviewer James Berardinelli said that the film “has not stood the test of time” 80 years after the release.  “viewers would be willing to ignore bad acting and pedestrian directing in order to experience singing, dancing, and talking on the silver screen.” he wrote.

The Broadway Melody

The Broadway Melody

68. “The Greatest Show on Earth” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 43)

This behind-the-scenes circus story won the best picture in 1952, beating out Gary Cooper’s Western “High Noon.” “It won the best Oscar for 1952, but God… only knows why,” the Chicago Reader reported in 2006.

The Greatest Show On Earth

The Greatest Show On Earth

67. “Cimarron” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 52)

In 1931, this Western took home the top prize. Since then, the film’s reception has deteriorated.  “As a motion picture, this is fairly worthless,” writes Matt Brunson for Creative Loafing, “with its casual cruelty and condescension toward Native Americans, blacks… Jews and the handicapped.”

Cimarron

Cimarron

66. “Out of Africa” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58)

Despite the fact that this 1985 romance won seven Academy Awards, not everyone was impressed. “I’m afraid that the film’s most moving moments are those that recall what life was like back in the good old days on the plantation.” wrote Vincent Canby of the New York Times of the film’s tone.

Out Of Africa

Out Of Africa

65. “Cavalcade” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63)

A rich London family laments the passing of time and the loss of loved ones in this 1933 movie. One of their sons is murdered in World War I, while the other perish on the Titanic. “Snobbery, sentimentality and jingoism run riot in Noël Coward’s pageant of life.” wrote Time Out in 2006.

Cavalcade

Cavalcade

64. “The Great Ziegfeld” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 66)

This glamorous 1936 musical is a tribute to Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., a legitimate Broadway entertainer. “It’s amazingly dull… so of course it won the best picture Oscar for 1936.” the Chicago Reader authored in 2000.

The Great Ziegfeld

The Great Ziegfeld

63. “Forrest Gump” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 70)

Forrest Gump won six Oscars in 1994 after jogging into the hearts and souls of Academy voters. The slow-talking hero, however, did not excite everyone. The film was described as “glib, shallow, and monotonous” by Entertainment Weekly.

Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump

62. “Around The World In 80 Days” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72)

Sure, David Niven and Shirley MacLaine played the lead roles in this 1956 film, but the cameo appearances are still larger: think Red Skelton, Marlene Dietrich, and Frank Sinatra. “Proof that you can buy an Academy Award,” wrote the Chicago Reader in 2006.

Around The World In 80 Days

Around The World In 80 Days

61. “Gentleman’s Agreement” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74; Audience Score: 77)

Gregory Peck performs Philip Schuyler Green, a journalist who poses as a Jew to evaluate antisemitism in New York, in this 1947 film. The Library of Congress has chosen the movie for preservation.

Gentleman's Agreement

Gentleman’s Agreement

60. “Crash” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74; Audience Score: 88)

In this 2004 film, an ensemble cast examines racism and socioeconomic conflicts in Los Angeles over the course of two days. The New York Times, on the other hand, wasn’t amazed, calling the film “crudely manipulative when it tries hardest to be subtle.”

Crash

Crash

59. “A Beautiful Mind” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74; Audience Score: 93)

Throughout this 2001 biopic, Russell Crowe plays John Nash, a Nobel Laureate economist who suffers from schizophrenia. Jennifer Connelly was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as Nash’s wife, Alicia.

A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind

58. “Braveheart” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76; Audience Score: 85)

Mel Gibson played the lead in and directed this biopic about Scottish warrior William Wallace, which was released in 1995. The Times newspaper in London ranked “Braveheart” second on a roster of the ten most historically incorrect films of all time in 2009.

Braveheart

Braveheart

57. “Gladiator” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76; Audience Score: 87)

In this 2000 movie, a renowned Roman war general (Russell Crowe) is enslaved by Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ vicious son. Some critiques, however, were underwhelmed: “It’s mournful, serious, beautiful and, finally, pointless.” LA Weekly’s Manohla Dargis stated.

Gladiator

Gladiator

56. “Terms Of Endearment” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78; Audience Score: 84)

a star Shirley MacLaine was selected four times for best actress before winning her first Oscar in 1983 for this film. In addition, Jack Nicholson was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Terms Of Endearment

Terms Of Endearment

55. “Green Book” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78; Audience Score: 91)

This 2018 film stars Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen and tells the story of jazz pianist Dr. Don Shirley and his driver and security guard, Tony Vallelonga. The novel is based on a true incident.

Green Book

Green Book

54. “Gigi” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80)

Gigi is raised in turn-of-the-century Paris to participate in her family’s business and become a courtesan. However, when an elderly playboy falls in love with her, he must choose between making her his mistress and his wife. In 1958, the movie was released.

Gigi

Gigi

53. “The Life Of Emile Zola” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81; Audience Score: 73)

This biopic of French author Emile Zola was selected for ten Academy Awards and won three of them. Dennis Schwartz of Ozus’ World Film Reviews dubbed it “a piece of pap” in 2008.

The Life Of Emile Zola

The Life Of Emile Zola

52. “Driving Miss Daisy” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81; Audience Score: 81)

In the American South, Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy investigate prejudice and aging. Despite winning four Oscars, some critics were unconvinced. The Tampa Bay Times’ Thomas B. Harrison described the film as “self-righteous and silly.”

Driving Miss Daisy

Driving Miss Daisy

51. “Oliver!” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82)

When it was first published in 1968, this theatrical remake of Charles Dickens’ classic “Oliver Twist” was hailed as a triumph. “It is as well-made as a film can be,” Roger Ebert authored.

Oliver!

Oliver!

50. “Going My Way” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83; Audience Score: 75)

In this 1944 musical, Bing Crosby plays a young priest who struggles to fit in when he takes over at a new church. The movie was the highest-grossing of 1944, and it spawned a sequel, “The Bells of St. Mary’s,” which was released in 1945.

Going My Way

Going My Way

(TIE) 49. “Dances With Wolves” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83; Audience Score: 87)

In 1990, Kevin Costner made his directorial debut with this Western masterpiece about a Union Army lieutenant on the American frontier who befriends Lakota Indians. Costner was also nominated for an Academy Award for his work as a director.

Dances With Wolves

Dances With Wolves

(TIE) 48. “A Man For All Seasons” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83: Audience Score: 87)

The novel of Sir Thomas More, who was condemned to death by King Henry VIII for resisting a royal divorce, is told in this 1966 biopic. As Cardinal Wolsey, Orson Welles made an appearance.

A Man For All Seasons

A Man For All Seasons

47. “Chariots Of Fire” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84; Audience Score: 80)

Two runners — one Christian, the other Jewish — find various intentions to accomplish athletic excellence in the 1924 Olympics in this 1984 drama. The story is based on real events.

Chariots Of Fire

Chariots Of Fire

46. “The Sound Of Music” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84; Audience Score: 91)

Although this Julie Andrews musical is now considered a masterpiece, it got mixed reviews when it was first published in 1965. It was viewed as “romantic nonsense and sentiment” by the New York Times.

The Sound Of Music

The Sound Of Music

45. “Gandhi” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84; Audience Score: 92)

In this 1982 film adaptation about India’s independence leader, Ben Kingsley acts the title role. Kingsley won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

Gandhi

Gandhi

44. “Tom Jones” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85; Audience Score: 58)

In this 1963 British journey comedy, the actors eventually break the fourth wall and address the audience directly. The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won four of them.

Tom Jones

Tom Jones

(TIE) 43. “The English Patient” (Metascore: 85; Audience Score: 83)

This 1996 war movie received 12 Academy Award nominations and won nine of them. “The English Patient” won best picture over “Fargo” and “Jerry Maguire.”

The English Patient

The English Patient

(TIE) 42. “Chicago” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86; Audience Score: 83)

When “Chicago” tangoed it onto the shot and awarded six Academy Awards, as well as the top prize in 2003, it had been 34 years since a musical had won for best picture Oscar. What was the last musical to win an Academy Award for Best Picture? “Oliver!” exclaims the speaker.

Chicago

Chicago

41. “Ben-Hur” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86; Audience Score: 89)

With 11 Academy Awards, this 1959 biblical film is tied with “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” for the most Oscars. By the period this version was published, the movie had already been given the Hollywood treatment twice.

Ben Hur

Ben Hur

40. “American Beauty” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87)

A man suffering from a midlife crisis dreams about his daughter’s best friend. “American Beauty” won five Academy Awards in 2000, more than any other movie.

American Beauty

American Beauty

39. “Grand Hotel” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88; Audience Score: 77)

In this 1932 story, Greta Garbo performs a suicidal, aging ballerina. “I want to be alone,” one of her most famous lines, is ranked No. 30 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years 100 Movie Quotations list.

Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel

38. “Ordinary People” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88; Audience Score: 88)

In 1980, Robert Redford made his directorial debut with this movie about a family dealing with their teenage son’s death. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director.

Ordinary People

Ordinary People

37. “Kramer Vs. Kramer” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88; Audience Score: 89)

In 1980, Meryl Streep won her first Academy Award for her role as Joanna Kramer, a woman who seeks a divorce from her hardworking husband and then battles for custody of their young son. “As nearly perfect a film as can be,” critic Charles Champlin wrote in the Los Angeles Times.

Kramer Vs. Kramer

Kramer Vs. Kramer

36. “Platoon” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88; Audience Score: 93)

Oliver Stone wrote and directed this 1986 film based on his experiences as a US infantryman in the Vietnam War. The Philippines acted as a stand-in for Vietnam during filming.

Platoon

Platoon

35. “Titanic” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89)

James Cameron’s 1997 iconic about the infamously sinking luxury liner won 11 Academy Awards, tying for the most in history, and was a massive box office hit. Even so, the film’s reception was not universally positive. “Cameron has little finesse, or originality, as a storyteller,” Salon’s Stephanie Zacharek wrote.

Titanic

Titanic

(TIE) 34. “The Last Emperor” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90; Audience Score: 88)

This 1987 Italian-British co-production was the very first western feature permitted by the Chinese government to film in the Forbidden City, based on the autobiography of Puyi, China’s last emperor. As an outcome, director Bernardo Bertolucci makes extensive use of the setting in his film.

The Last Emperor

The Last Emperor

(TIE) 33. “Midnight Cowboy” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90; Audience Score: 88)

This film, released in 1969, was the first and only X-rated movie to win Best Picture. The “X” rating was eventually replaced by an “R” by the MPAA.

Midnight Cowboy

Midnight Cowboy

32. “Rain Man” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90; Audience Score: 90)

Tom Cruise performs a Los Angeles hustler who uncovers that he has an older brother who is a genius and lives in a mental hospital in Ohio in the 1988 movie. Throughout a cross-country road trip, the two become closer.

Rain Man

Rain Man

31. “Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91; Audience Score: 77)

Michael Keaton plays a self-absorbed actor attempting to revive his profession and reconnect with his estranged daughter. In this 2014 film, Emma Stone also appears as a co-star

Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)

Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)

30. “How Green Was My Valley” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91; Audience Score: 81)

At the 1942 Academy Awards, this movie about the citizens of a 19th-century Welsh mining town beat out “Citizen Kane” for best picture. The plot is based on the best-selling novel of the same name.

How Green Was My Valley

How Green Was My Valley

29. “From Here To Eternity” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91; Audience Score: 84)

In the months prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, this 1953 movie depicts troops deployed in Hawaii. But you’re probably most familiar with it because of this iconic beach scene starring Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr.

From Here To Eternity

From Here To Eternity

(TIE) 28. “Million Dollar Baby” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91; Audience Score: 90)

In this 2004 sports drama starring Clint Eastwood and Hillary Swank, a boxer and an irritable manager are pitted against each other. The movie was also produced, directed, and scored by Eastwood.

Million Dollar Bab

Million Dollar Baby

(TIE) 27. “Slumdog Millionaire” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91; Audience Score: 90)

The story of a “slumdog” boy who wins the Indian edition of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” conquers poverty, and wins the lady is told in this 2008 movie. The plot is based on the novel “Q & A,” which won an award.

Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire

26. “Gone With The Wind” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91; Audience Score: 93)

This Civil War melodrama from 1939 was selected for 13 Academy Awards and won eight of them. Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American to succeed in an Academy Award, but she was forced to sit in a separate section from her co-stars at the ceremony in 1940. After John Ridley, the Oscar-winning journalist of “12 Years a Slave,” authored an op-ed about the damage of the film’s idealized portrayal of the Confederacy, the film was pulled from HBO Max in June 2020. “Gone With the Wind” was later re-released on Netflix with a disclaimer stating that the film “denies the horrors of slavery, as well as its legacies of racial inequality.”

Gone With The Wind

Gone With The Wind

25. “The Departed” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91; Audience Score: 94)

For this Boston Irish mob drama, Martin Scorsese earned his first Academy Award for best director in 2007. He was nominated for the award for the sixth time.

The Departed

The Departed

24. “The Shape Of Water” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92; Audience Score: 72)

This 2017 romantic fantasy directed by Guillermo del Toro is about a lady who falls in love with an aquatic suitor. Doug Jones, a well-known creature actor, plays the male lead.

The Shape Of Water

The Shape Of Water

23. “Shakespeare In Love” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92; Audience Score: 80)

In this 1998 romantic comedy, William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) falls for a rich young woman (Gwyneth Paltrow). Paltrow won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.

Shakespeare In Love

Shakespeare In Love

22. “West Side Story” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92; Audience Score: 84)

With ten Academy Awards, this 1961 adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” is the most lauded musical in Oscar history. The film is based on a hit Broadway musical from 1957.

West Side Story

West Side Story

21. “Wings” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93; Audience Score: 78)

This silent film starring Clara Bow won the Academy Award for Best Picture for the first time in 1927. It takes place during World War I.

Wings

Wings

20. “Mutiny On The Bounty” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93; Audience Score: 84)

This 1935 movie, starring Charles Laughton as the ruthless Captain Bligh, was dubbed “one of the greatest films of all time” by the Hollywood Reporter.

Mutiny On The Bounty

Mutiny On The Bounty

19. “Mrs. Miniver” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93; Audience Score: 85)

This World War II story was especially timely because it was released in June 1942, right in the middle of the conflict. Greer Garson was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance.

Mrs. Miniver

Mrs. Miniver

(TIE) 18. “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93; Audience Score: 86)

The third and final episode of the Lord of the Rings film series won the best picture for the second time in 2004. The most recent winner was 1974’s “The Godfather II.”

The Lord Of The Rings The Return Of The King

The Lord Of The Rings The Return Of The King

(TIE) 17. “No Country For Old Men” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93; Audience Score: 86)

This 2007 Western thriller starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin was written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. The film is based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel.

No Country For Old Men

No Country For Old Men

16. “You Can’t Take It With You” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93; Audience Score: 88)

In this 1938 comedy, Jimmy Stewart plays a pair — a rich son of a banker and a stenographer from an idiosyncratic family — who struggle to make their relationship work amidst their disparate backgrounds. Frank Capra, the legendary director, directed the film.

You Can't Take It With You

You Can’t Take It With You

15. “The Deer Hunter” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93; Audience Score: 92)

Three buddies’ lives are altered as a result of their participation in the Vietnam War. Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and John Savage star in the 1978 movie.

The Deer Hunter

The Deer Hunter

14. “The Apartment” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93; Audience Score: 94)

In this 1960 movie, a clerk lets his superiors use his residence for illicit trysts in the hopes of getting promoted. The topic was viewed as shameful at the time it was released.

The Apartment

The Apartment

13. “Amadeus” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93; Audience Score: 95)

In this 1984 biopic about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Murray Abraham, and Tom Hulce star. Both men were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, with Abraham taking home the prize.

Amadeus

Amadeus

12. “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93; Audience Score: 96)

In 1976, Jack Nicholson won his 1st Academy Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture for his performance in this film. He played a convicted criminal who conned his way into a mental hospital.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

11. “Rocky” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94; Audience Score: 69)

Sylvester Stallone performs a small-time Philadelphia boxer in this 1976 movie. The scrappy boxer is given the opportunity to compete for the world heavyweight championship.

Rocky

Rocky

10. “Nomadland” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94; Audience Score: 82)

This drama, about a van-dwelling woman who travels the American West, has been compared to “The Grapes of Wrath” by reviewers. Chloé Zhao was also named best director, and Frances McDormand was named best actress.

Nomadland

Nomadland

9. “In The Heat Of The Night” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94; Audience Score: 92)

In this 1967 cop drama about racism in small-town Mississippi, Sidney Poitier, and Rod Steiger star. It’s based on the same-named novel.

In The Heat Of The Night

In The Heat Of The Night

8. “Patton” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94; Audience Score: 93)

In 1971, George C. Scott was awarded the Academy Award for Best Actor for his representation of General Patton. However, he famously declined the award because he despised the voting system and acting contests in general.

Patton

Patton

7. “The Sting” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94; Audience Score: 95)

In this caper, two charming crooks con a mob boss. Julia Phillips became the first female producer to be selected for and earn the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1973, after nearly half a century of ceremonies.

The Sting

The Sting

6. “All The King’s Men” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95; Audience Score: 78)

This 1949 classic film, based on the book by Robert Penn Warren, was appointed for seven Academy Awards and won three of them. The story follows a ruthless politician’s ups and downs.

All The King's Men

All The King’s Men

5. “An American In Paris” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95; Audience Score: 79)

The music for this 1951 film was written by George Gershwin, and it includes songs like “I Got Rhythm” and “‘S Wonderful.” The film’s closing dance sequence was particularly well received by critics.

An American In Paris

An American In Paris

4. “The Artist” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95; Audience Score: 87)

An older superstar suffers from the shift to “talkies” in this 2011 black-and-white (mostly) silent movie. Some critiques petitioned for a special dog Oscar for Uggie, a Parson Jack Russell terrier who played such an unforgettable role in the film.

The Artist

The Artist

(TIE) 3. “12 Years A Slave” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95; Audience Score: 90)

The memoir of Solomon Northrup, a free-born black man abducted and sold into slavery in 1841, inspired this 2013 movie. The film was directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor and starred Chiwetel Ejiofor.

12 Years A Slave

12 Years A Slave

(TIE) 2. “My Fair Lady” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95; Audience Score: 90)

Rex Harrison plays an arrogant phonetics professor who bets a buddy that he can instruct a crass, Cockney flower girl “to speak beautifully, like a lady in a florist’s shop” in this 1964 musical. Audrey Hepburn starred in the film.

My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady

1. “The King’s Speech” (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95; Audience Score: 92)

In this 2010 film, King George VI battles a stammer that makes public speaking a terrifying experience for him. Lionel Logue, a speech therapist, will assist the new king in overcoming his stammer and related fears.

The King's Speech

The King’s Speech

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