10 Best Picture Winners That Are Better Than Their Reputation

6. Forrest Gump (1994)

Since it was first released, Forrest Gump has polarised audiences. Whilst many see it as one of the best films of all time and one of the best Tom Hanks films, others view Forrest Gump as an overly sentimental film whose depiction of a man with limited intelligence is offensive and narrow minded.

Forrest Gump won Best Picture at the 67th Academy Awards, as well as picking up the awards for Best Director, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects and Best Editing. The film was up against Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pulp Fiction, Quiz Show and The Shawshank Redemption in the Best Picture category.

As with many other Best Picture winners that are later criticised, Forrest Gump suffers from being unfavourably compared to another one of the Best Picture nominees. In this case, The Shawshank Redemption was seen as the more worthy winner.

Forrest Gump is one of the most rewatchable Best Picture winners. Hanks is always watchable and always puts in a great performance, but Forrest Gump is one of his best. The film is also one of the most quoted films of all time.


7. Out of Africa (1985)


Out of Africa won Best Picture at the 58th Academy Awards as well as winning six other awards including Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Art Direction and Best Sound.

Out of Africa has also been frequently cited on lists featuring the worst Best Picture winners and appears to be another victim of the age curse – looking especially aged to modern audiences. It also has the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score of any Best Picture winner in modern history.

But Out of Africa should be credited for its portrayal of Kenya and the way it showcased the natural beauty of its locations. Out of Africa did for Kenyan tourism what every other tourism campaign had failed to do and many tourists still visit the film’s iconic locations. Out of Africa also showcases Meryl Streep at her best and is a film that should definitely be viewed for those who are a fan of her work – seeing one of her earlier performances helps modern audiences see how her talent and filmography has evolved.


8. Around the World in 80 Days (1956)

Around the World in 80 Days (1956)

Around the World in 80 days was nominated for eight Academy Awards at the 29th Academy Awards in 1957. It won five including Best Picture, beating Friendly Persuasion, Giant, The King and I, and The Ten Commandments to the top prize. Around the World in 80 Days was seen as a surprise win at the time because the other nominees were critically acclaimed and incredibly popular with audiences.

However, as the years have gone by, Around the World in 80 Days has persistently appeared on lists of ‘Worst Best Picture Winners.’ In this case, this may be one of the strongest incidences where it’s felt that Around the World in 80 Days win robbed other films that were far more worthy. Though this may or may not be the case, Around the World in 80 Days does have its own merits.

Around the World in 80 Days had a $6 million budget which was no mean feat in in the 1950s. It was also filmed in thirteen different countries using one hundred and forty sets and had over forty famous cameo appearances in it. The film employed thousands of extras and was a staggering production for its time. The film may not be as serious or as important as some of the other nominees, but it is without a doubt a crowd-pleasing film that many still see as a great nostalgic watch.


9. How Green Was My Valley (1941)

How Green Was My Valley (1941)

How Green Was My Valley was nominated for ten awards at the 14th Academy Awards, and won four including Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Supporting Actor and Best Picture. How Green Was My Valley was well received when it was released and continues to be well received within its own right by modern audiences. So why is How Green Was My Valley often cited as one of the worst Best Picture winners?

How Green Was My Valley can definitely be considered the kicked puppy on this list, because it had the bad luck to beat Citizen Kane to the Best Picture award. Citizen Kane, a film which is considered to be one the best films of all time and that many feel was absolutely robbed of the Best Picture award. And that’s all there is to it really.


10. Gladiator (2000)

“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son. Husband to a murdered wife. And recipient of a wrongful Best Picture award…”

Something about that quote doesn’t seem quite right…Anyway Gladiator won five awards at the 73rd Academy Awards, including Best Actor, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Visual Effects and Best Picture. Gladiator beat out Chocolat, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Erin Brockovich and Traffic to win Best Picture.

Gladiator is another film that polarised audiences, receiving mixed reviews, and it is widely thought by many that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was the far superior film and thus should have received the Best Picture Academy Award.

But Gladiator has so much going for it and is far better than its reputation would suggest. Firstly, it features an incredible performance from Joaquin Phoenix in arguably one of the best villain roles of all time. Gladiator also features some of the best lines of all time, which are often quoted in popular culture. And lastly the film is responsible for a revival of the swords and sandals genre, as well as a renewed interest in Roman history and culture. For those reasons alone, Gladiator is a great film.