"Best Pictures" Through the Years

Take a Walk Through Oscar History
Wed February 18, 2015 at 10:55 AM PST

As we hit Oscar Weekend, we thought it'd be a great chance to revisit all the "Best Picture" Academy Award winners found in the illustrious Warner Bros. Film Library, dating back more than 85 years! All told, there are 23 such films, and here they are:


The Broadway Melody (1929)

Anita Page as Queenie Mahoney (standing) and Bessie Love as Hank Mahoney. The Broadway Melody set a new standard for bigger budget films and became the first musical to win the "Best Picture" Academy Award. 

Cimarron (1931)

Irene Dunne and Richard Dix starred in the 1931 adaptation of Edna Ferber's classic novel of the same name. The scope of this early western epic stood out amongst other westerns of the early sound era. Cimarron was remade in 1960 with Glenn Ford. 

Grand Hotel (1932)

Grand Hotel was one of the first films to feature an all-star cast of established stars when it was released in 1932. Jean Hersholt (in character as Snef) displays the impressive cast list of Hollywood immortals whose characters experience a life-changing day.

Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

Clark Gable (sans his trademark mustache, and shirt!), with actress Mamo Clark, received a "Best Actor" nomination for his portrayal of Christian Fletcher in this 1935 classic, which received eight nominations, winning for "Best Picture."

The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

Luise Rainer, who won the "Best Actress" Oscar for her role as Anna Held, and William Powell as real-life stage producer Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. (aka The Great Ziegeld). With a then-whopping budget of two million dollars, The Great Ziegfeld turned out to be a huge box-office hit in 1936, and then went on to capture the "Best Picture" Academy Award to boot.

The Life of Emile Zola (1937)

Paul Muni as real-life novelist Emile Zola and Erin O'Brien-Moore as Nana in this critically-acclaimed biopic, which follows the life of the successful French writer who risked everything to champion the cause of the oppressed. Winner of three Academy Awards.

Gone with the Wind (1939)

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in their most famous roles as Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara in the legendary Gone with the Wind. Nominated for a remarkable 13 Oscars, this epic landed eight of them including "Best Actress" for Leigh and "Best Picture."

Mrs. Miniver (1942)

Greer Garson, in her Oscar-winning performance, and Walter Pidgeon wait it out in a bomb shelter during World War II. This "Best Picture" winner (six Oscar wins in all) struck a patriotic chord with audiences as it topped the box office in 1942 as well. 

Casablanca (1943)

Claude Rains, Paul Henreid, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman pictured during the dramatic climax of this 1943 classic. While the formidable cast was shut-out in their respective Oscar bids, Casablanca did capture three Oscars, including "Best Director" (for Michael Curtiz) and "Best Picture."

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Harold Russell was named "Best Supporting Actor"  for his memorable portrayal of war veteran Homer Parrish, while this popular melodrama captured seven Oscars, including "Best Picture." It's no wonder that American Movie Classics says it remains "one of the best films about war veterans ever made."

An American in Paris (1951)

Gene Kelly as Jerry Mulligan and Nina Foch as Milo Roberts in one of cinema's most popular musicals of all-time, An American in Paris. Featuring the timeless melodies of Ira and George Gershwin, as well as memorable dance performances from Kelly and Leslie Caron, it's little wonder that this six-time Oscar winning film was also a major box office success. 

Around the World in 80 Days (1956)

David Niven as Phileas Fogg and Robert Newton as Mr. Fix in the five-time Oscar winning adaptation of Jules Verne's classic tale of one man's dream of circling the globe in 80 days; a nearly impossible feat in the 1800s. The only thing more epic than the sheer breadth of the production is the startling number of stars who make appearances throughout this 1956 adventure.

Gigi (1958)

Leslie Caron gave a memorable performance in the "Best Picture" winner, Gigi, which landed nine Academy Awards in total. This blockbuster Lerner & Lowe musical tells the tale of a young girl raised by two Parisian courtesans to be the mistress of a wealthy young gentleman--although Gigi has her own plans.

Ben-Hur (1959)

Winner of 11 Academy Awards, a feat that would go unequalled until 1997's Titantic and 2003's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Ben-Hur remains a timeless classic. Charlton Heston, in his Oscar-winning role, is Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish nobleman in Palestine whose heroic odyssey includes enslavement by the Romans, vengeance against his tormentors and fateful encounters with Jesus Christ. The pulse-raising chariot race, pictured above, is one for the ages.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

Jack Nicholson gave an Oscar-winning performance as R.P. McMurphy, a small-time con who fakes insanity to avoid prison and winds up turning a mental hospital upside down with his disorderly antics. Louise Fletcher also gained Oscar gold for her role as the evil Nurse Ratched. A roller coaster ride of emotions, Cuckoo's Nest picked up all five major Academy Awards ("Best Picture," "Best Director," "Best Actor," "Best Actress" and "Best Screenplay.")

Chariots of Fire (1981)

Back in 1981, Chariots of Fire was the little movie that could: winning "Best Picture" and three other Academy Awards, including one for Vangelis' classic score. Featuring a sterling cast of newcomers and veterans alike, headed by Ben Cross and Ian Charleson, the film tells the inspiring true story of two young British athletes from far different backgrounds competing in the 1924 Olympics.

Amadeus (1984)

Tom Hulce played the free-spirited musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1984's period-drama Amadeus, which snared eight Academy Awards. This marvelous film portrays the rivalry between Mozart and the jealous court composer Antonio Salieri (F.Murray Abraham in his Oscar-winning role) who may have ruined Mozart's career and shortened his life.

Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

A box-office smash in 1989, Driving Miss Daisy is a warm, funny and tender tale of a feisty Southern lady (Jessica Tandy in her Oscar-winning role) and her chauffeur (Morgan Freeman in his Oscar-nominated role) as their 25-year relationship blossoms into one of respect and friendship as the civil-rights movement brings changes to the old South. 

Unforgiven (1992)

Clint Eastwood directed and starred in 1992's Unforgiven, picking up both "Best Director" and "Best Picture" for this unforgettable tale of two retired outlaws (Eastwood and Morgan Freeman) who pick up their guns one last time to claim a bounty offered by vengeful prostitutes. In this realistic look at the Old West, there are no black or white hats; only grey ones, as epitomized by Gene Hackman in his Oscar-winning role as the ruthless sheriff of Big Whiskey.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Tied with 1959's Ben-Hur and 1997's Titanic for the most Oscar wins (11), Peter Jackson's final installment of his Lord of the Rings trilogy came to a stunning conclusion. Focusing on the final battle for Middle-earth, this monumental films begins as Frodo and Sam, led by Gollum, continue their dangerous mission toward the fires of Mount Doom in order to destroy the One Ring. 

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman both captured Oscars for their roles in director/star Clint Eastwood's controversial film, which also snagged "Best Picture" and "Best Director." Swank is a boxing hopeful, Eastwood is the crusty trainer who reluctantly works with her and Freeman is the gym caretaker often caught in the middle in this stirring tale of heart, hope and family.

The Departed (2006)

Hollywood legends Jack Nicholson and "Best Director" winner Martin Scorsese are pictured on the set of the powerful crime drama, The Departed, which captured four Oscars. Nicholson plays mob boss Frank Costello in the star-studded pic that also featured Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg.

Argo (2012)

Ben Affleck directed and starred in this real-life thriller in which CIA exfiltration specialist Tony Mendez (Affleck) comes up with a risky plan to get six Americans hiding out in the Canadian Ambassador's home in Iran safely out of the country during the infamous Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979-80. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies. 


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