Best Picture Winners From 1985 to Today

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The Best Picture Winners From 1985 to Today

The Academy Awards is one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry. While Best Picture is arguably the most sought after accolade, it has also been awarded to filmmakers, actors and actresses of great reputations for decades. Ever since the first Academy Award was handed out in 1929, the selection of Best Picture has always been a highly anticipated event. Out of all the Academy Awards given out since then, the Best Picture award has some of the most iconic and memorable films.

The list of Best Picture winners from 1985 to today is particularly noteworthy, bestowing the highest of honors to some of the greatest blockbusters and classic works of art. From 1985 to present, here is a look back at the films that have made history.

1985: Out of Africa

The 1985 Best Picture Academy Award marked the break for two of the film industry’s most successful directors, James Ivory and Ismail Merchant. Their adaptation of Karen Blixen’s autobiographical novel, “Out of Africa,” was a phenomenal success thanks to stars Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. The movie was also an incredible technical feat, with director Sydney Pollack earning an Academy Award for Best Director.

1986: Platoon

In 1986, Oliver Stone’s masterful Vietnam war drama “Platoon” won the Best Picture Academy Award. The film was an incredibly realistic portrayal of the horrors of war, and acted as an incredible tribute to all veterans. The cast of stellar actors, including Charlie Sheen, Willem Defoe, Tom Berenger and Forest Whitaker, were all awarded for their standout performances.

1987: The Last Emperor

In 1987, another all-star ensemble was honored with a Best Picture Oscar. “The Last Emperor,” directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, was one of the greatest historical epics of all time. Its stunning cinematography and stellar performances by Peter O’Toole and Joan Chen brought the story of Pu Yi’s rise to power to life.

1988: Rain Main

The 1988 Academy Award for Best Picture went to “Rain Main,” directed by Barry Levinson and starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. The film was a beautiful look into the heart of autism and human connection. Hoffman earned an Academy Award for his phenomenal performance, and was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor with Cruise.

1989: Driving Miss Daisy

The 1989 Best Picture Academy Award marked the first time a women-led film received recognition. “Driving Miss Daisy,” starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman, was an emotional journey that spoke volumes about the possibilities of racial reconciliation. The film also earned director Bruce Beresford an Academy Award, and is highly regarded to this day.

1990: Dances with Wolves

The 1990 Best Picture Academy Award went to “Dances with Wolves,” a sweeping western drama starring Kevin Costner. Costner also directed and produced the film, which was also nominated for an additional 11 Academy Awards. The film stands as one of the most important films of the western genre, and for its groundbreaking themes of reconciliation with Native Americans.

1991: The Silence of the Lambs

Jonathan Demme’s 1991 thriller “The Silence of the Lambs” won the Academy Award for Best Picture. The film is widely regarded as the greatest thriller of all time and the performances of Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster are lauded to this day. Hannibal Lecter is also considered one of the most iconic film villains of all time, cementing this film as an all-time horror classic.

1992: Unforgiven

Clint Eastwood’s classic western, “Unforgiven,” was honored with the Best Picture Academy Award in 1992. The story follows William Munny, a retired gunslinger looking for vengeance. This began a new era of the western genre, undertones that are still present in the western genre today. Eastwood, Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman were all awarded for their performance.

1993: Schindler’s List

In 1993, Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” won the Best Picture Academy Award. The film is a widely regarded as one of the most important movies in history, and its scale and production earned Spielberg his fourth Academy Award in Best Director. The film also starred Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, and earned seven more Academy Awards for its powerful tale of World War II and the Holocaust.

1994: Forrest Gump

Robert Zemeckis’ “Forrest Gump” worked its way into the hearts of audiences and earned the Best Picture and Best Director Academy Awards in 1994. The simplistic story of a man with low IQ and a positive outlook on life spoke to many viewers, and Tom Hanks’ mesmerizing performance was awarded an Oscar. “Forrest Gump” has since become one of the most beloved films of all time.

1995: Braveheart

Mel Gibson’s 1995 hit “Braveheart” was honored with the Best Picture Academy Award. The film starred Gibson as William Wallace, a 13th century Scottish freedom fighter who led a rebellion against England’s oppressive rule. Its dazzling cinematography and epic battles captivated audiences around the world, and also won Gibson an Academy Award for Best Director.

1996: The English Patient

Anthony Minghella’s 1996 romantic epic “The English Patient” swept the Academy Awards, earning honors for Best Picture and Best Director. The film’s stellar cast, including Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas and Juliet Binoche, all received nominations for their performances. The amazing soundtrack and beautiful cinematography also added to the stunningly romantic atmosphere of the film.

1997: Titanic

James Cameron’s “Titanic” left a great impact in both popular culture and the Academy Awards. The film won a staggering 11 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director in 1997. The star-crossed romance between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet was an instant hit, and the shipwreck sequence was an impressive feat of technical achievement.

1998: Shakespeare in Love

The 1998 Best Picture Academy Award went to John Madden’s “Shakespeare in Love.” The film featured greats like Geofrey Rush, Judi Dench, and Gweneth Paltrow, who was awarded an Oscar for Best Actress. The film was a huge hit and launched a renewed appreciation for old Hollywood with its classic style, witty script and beautiful production.

1999: American Beauty

Sam Mendes’ 1999 drama “American Beauty” follows the mundane life of a suburban family and earned the Best Picture Oscar in 1999. Mendes also received a Best Director nomination, and Kevin Spacey was awarded an Oscar for his performance as Lester Burnham. The film was also notoriously controversial, and is remembered as one of the most memorable films of the decade.

2000: Gladiator

Ridley Scott’s epic “Gladiator” earned the Best Picture Academy Award in 2000. The film starred Russell Crowe as Maximus Decimus Meridius a general in the Roman army who is wrongfully betrayed and forced into slavery. The film’s memorable score and impressive fight scenes were a spectacle for audiences, and the dark tale of revenge captivated audiences around the world.

2001: A Beautiful Mind

Ron Howard’s 2001 biopic “A Beautiful Mind” earned the Best Picture Oscar in 2001. The film starred Russell Crowe as John Nash, a Nobel Laureate mathematician whose struggles with mental illness threaten his career and his life. The film was an accurate portrayal of the diseased and was subversive in its approach to its subject matter.

2002: Chicago

Rob Marshall’s 2002 film “Chicago” won the Best Picture Academy Award in 2002. The film was an adaptation of the beloved musical of the same name and was a flamboyant, comedic twist on a classic story of murder and crime. The film also starred big hitting names like Richard Gere and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and also earned Marshall an Academy Award for Best Director.

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

Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy trilogy “The Lord of the Rings” came to an end in 2003, with the “The Return of the King” earning the Best Picture Oscar. The third installment of the series was the grand finale and was award with accolades for its technical and practical achievements, story and fantastic performances by the entire cast.

2004: Million Dollar Baby

In 2004, Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby” was honored with the Best Picture Academy Award. The film follows the story of a young boxer and her devoted trainer, played by Eastwood and Hilary Swank, respectively. The film’s themes of gender inequality, disability, and mortality were a statement from Eastwood that still resonates today and earned him an Academy Award for Best Director.

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