Best and Worst Oscars’ Best Picture Winners

Every year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents a golden statue to the film representing cinema’s best.

And every year, Rotten Tomatoes revisits every Best Picture winner of Oscars past — from the classics (Casablanca) to the dubious selections (The Greatest Show on Earth) — sorting them by the strict and rigorous standards of Tomatometer science. How many of the Best Picture winners have you seen? Where do your favorites rank?

Adjusted Score: 37.709%
Critics Consensus: The Broadway Melody is interesting as an example of an early Hollywood musical, but otherwise, it's essentially bereft of appeal for modern audiences.
Synopsis: This landmark MGM backstage musical of the early sound era about broken dreams on the Great White Way features a... [More]
Directed By: Harry Beaumont

Adjusted Score: 50.863%
Critics Consensus: The Greatest Show on Earth is melodramatic, short on plot, excessively lengthy and bogged down with clichés, but not without a certain innocent charm.
Synopsis: Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth is a lavish tribute to circuses, featuring three intertwining plotlines concerning romance... [More]
Directed By: Cecil B. DeMille


Cimarron (1931)

Adjusted Score: 51.947%
Critics Consensus: Cimarron is supported by a strong performance from Irene Dunne, but uneven in basically every other regard, and riddled with potentially offensive stereotypes.
Synopsis: Cimarron was the first Western to win the Oscar for Best Picture--and, until Dances with Wolves in 1990, the only... [More]
Directed By: Wesley Ruggles


Out of Africa (1985)

Adjusted Score: 63.371%
Critics Consensus: Though lensed with stunning cinematography and featuring a pair of winning performances from Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, Out of Africa suffers from excessive length and glacial pacing.
Synopsis: Out of Africa is drawn from the life and writings of Danish author Isak Dinesen, who during the time that... [More]
Directed By: Sydney Pollack


Cavalcade (1933)

Adjusted Score: 64.715%
Critics Consensus: Though solidly acted and pleasant to look at, Cavalcade lacks cohesion, and sacrifices true emotion for mawkishness.
Synopsis: Winner of Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director and "Interior Design," this is a period piece with excellent ambiance. Tracing... [More]
Directed By: Frank Lloyd

Adjusted Score: 69.273%
Critics Consensus: This biopic is undeniably stylish, but loses points for excessive length, an overreliance on clichés, and historical inaccuracies.
Synopsis: In this biopic, William Powell stars as the titular theatrical impresario, whose show business empire begins when he stage manages... [More]
Directed By: Robert Z. Leonard


Forrest Gump (1994)

Adjusted Score: 79.045%
Critics Consensus: Forrest Gump may be an overly sentimental film with a somewhat problematic message, but its sweetness and charm are usually enough to approximate true depth and grace.
Synopsis: "Stupid is as stupid does," says Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks in an Oscar-winning performance) as he discusses his... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

Adjusted Score: 76.116%
Critics Consensus: It's undeniably shallow, but its cheerful lack of pretense -- as well as its grand scale and star-stuffed cast -- help make Around the World in 80 Days charmingly light-hearted entertainment.
Synopsis: Razzle-dazzle showman Michael Todd hocked everything he had to make this spectacular presentation of Jules Verne's 1872 novel Around the... [More]
Directed By: Michael Anderson

Adjusted Score: 79.8%
Critics Consensus: Well-written, well-meaning and solidly acted, The Life of Emile Zola film may ultimately be more earnest than dramatically engaging.
Synopsis: This biographical film opens with French novelist Emile Zola starving in a Parisian garret. Each time Zola attempts to write... [More]


Crash (2004)

Adjusted Score: 80.532%
Critics Consensus: A raw and unsettling morality piece on modern angst and urban disconnect, Crash examines the dangers of bigotry and xenophobia in the lives of interconnected Angelenos.
Synopsis: Issues of race and gender cause a group of strangers in Los Angeles to physically and emotionally collide in this... [More]
Directed By: Paul Haggis

Adjusted Score: 87.031%
Critics Consensus: A grand, sweeping epic with inarguably noble intentions and arresting cinematography, but one whose center, arguably, is not as weighty as it should be.
Synopsis: A historical drama about the relationship between a Civil War soldier and a band of Sioux Indians, Kevin Costner's directorial... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Costner

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