Since 1929, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has celebrated the
best movies in a given year. Although the Academy Awards started from humble beginnings, the Oscars have grown into a huge ordeal over the years. Of the 24 awards handed out every year, the most prestigious honor is the Best Picture award handed out at the end of the night. Unlike other categories, every member of the Academy is allowed to vote on the Best Picture award, which often makes it the most divisive award of the night. Especially in the last decade, best picture winners have not only seen varying degrees of acceptance but also fluctuating quality within the actual films themselves. With the 92 nd annual Academy Awards quickly approaching, there’s no better time to look back on the Best Picture winners of the last decade and rank them.
Cover Photo: Summit Entertainment
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Ranking Best Picture Winners of the Last Decade
10. ‘The King’s Speech’ (2011)
The King’s Speech isn’t necessarily undeserving of winning Best Picture, it’s that it just happens to be the movie that somehow beat The Social Network that very same year. While the latter is undoubtedly a masterpiece from David Fincher, the former was a lucky winner from the guy who directed the cinematic abomination known as Cats. In other words, it’s honestly a shame that The King’s Speech won Best Picture because The Social Network feels as important and prophetic now as when it was released a decade ago.
9. ‘The Artist’ (2012)
If there’s one thing that we’ve learned in the past decade, it’s that the Academy loves movies about the film industry. At least from the outside looking in, this seems to be the singular reason that
The Artist ended up winning Best Picture in 2011. Although The Artist is notable for being the first French film to ever win Best Picture, it’s also completely charming, yet totally forgettable.
8. ‘Green Book’ (2019)
Out of all the Best Picture winners of the past decade,
Green Book is perhaps the most undeserving. Again, it’s not a bad movie. It just happens that it’s a highly contrived one that twists the “facts” upon which it’s supposedly based. In short, it’s the type of basic Oscar bait that gives the Academy a bad reputation. Seriously though, anyone who has actually watched Green Book after winning Best Picture is most likely lying to you.
7. ‘Argo’ (2013)
As one of the only Best Picture winners to exceed $100 million in domestic grosses this decade,
Argo is the closest thing that we’ve come to getting a traditional “blockbuster” to win the big prize. Despite being a good movie that not many people discuss these days, Ben Affleck’s flick is proof that the Academy rewards movies about the filmmaking process. Unfortunately, Argo is also notable for altering not only the truth of the events that unfold in the film itself but also bending the genders of its characters.
6. ‘Birdman’ (2015)
Birdman is a little too gimmicky for its own good, it’s still a solid Best Picture winner. While the film is far more notable for its technical elements than the story being told, the acting is excellent, the percussive score is a bold move, and Chivo’s cinematography is often breathtaking. Sadly, Alejandro G. Iñárritu can’t get out of his often pompous sensibilities for most of the film, which makes Birdman feel far less important than it thinks it’s being.
5. ‘The Hurt Locker’ (2010)
The Hurt Locker was technically released in 2009, it still manages to be one of the most engaging and intense Best Picture winners of the last decade. Aside from being the only Best Picture winner ever to be directed by a woman (Kathryn Bigelow), it’s also the type of movie that pretty much made the career of Jeremy Renner. Regardless, The Hurt Locker is still an emotional and resonant take on both the pleasure and pain that American soldiers experienced during the Iraq war. In this respect, it’s more about human nature than it is about war, which makes it so uniquely enthralling.
4. ‘Spotlight’ (2016)
Spotlight’s surprise Best Picture win in 2016 seemed to come out of nowhere, the time has already proven that it’s perhaps the most prescient Best Picture winners of the past decade. Despite being about some pretty heavy subject matter, the film manages to provide a fair-handed look into the trials and tribulations of honorable reporting practices. Considering that journalistic integrity and historical misinformation have become rampant in the past four years, Spotlight offers the perfect counterpoint to the dangers of so-called “fake news."
3. ‘12 Years a Salve’ (2014)
12 Years a Slave may not be the easiest pill to swallow, but it’s undoubtedly the most important Best Picture winner of the past decade. As the only film that British director Steve McQueen hasn’t written throughout his career, it’s also the most essential movie of his short filmography. It’s powerfully acted, features a wonderful screenplay, and its themes pack an emotional wallop. In the grand scheme of things, 12 Years a Slave is perhaps the most challenging film to ever win Best Picture, which also means that it’s an undisputed classic that will surely stand the test of time.
2. ‘Moonlight’ (2017)
As the movie behind the biggest Oscars controversy of the past decade, some might argue that
Moonlight may not be deserving of its Best Picture win. But that mentality is utter garbage. Out of all the Best Picture winners of the last decade, Moonlight is arguably the most soulful. It’s a movie that successfully captures a feeling of introspection more than outward plot details or storylines. While this only adds to the movie rather than detracting from it, it’s still a deeply moving and thought-provoking story. It’s a true art film and arguably the most deserving of all the Best Picture winners throughout the last decade.
1. ‘The Shape of Water’ (2018)
As the only true genre movie to win Best Picture in the past decade, it’s honestly a miracle that
The Shape of Water was even nominated. Seriously though, it’s still a mystery as to how the movie where a woman fucks a man-fish was able to win Best Picture. Aside from being Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece, the film offers the perfect amalgamation of what a Best Picture winner should be. Expertly crafted and thematically relevant, The Shape of Water is a great representation of when the Academy actually gets things right.