The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s

Picking the very best decade in Hollywood filmmaking is no easy task. But many film buffs will agree that the 1940s marked an era of unparalleled excellence on the silver screen. The winners and nominees of the Academy Award for Best Picture during this time reflect the decade's finest films. Oscar winners of the 1940s include movies by Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, and other legends. Some are side-splitting comedies, some tear-jerking dramas, but all are considered some of the greatest films ever made.

What films will you find on this list of 1940s Oscar-winning movies? The 1941 drama Citizen Kane is often cited as the best film of all time by critics and fans alike. Though the Orson Welles masterpiece has received many accolades, it lost the Best Picture Oscar to the film How Green Was My Valley. Casablanca, which won Best Picture in 1943, is another great movie from the 1940s. Holiday movies aren't often nominated for Oscars, but It's a Wonderful Life was up for Best Picture in 1946. Other good films featured on this list of Oscar-nominated 1940s films include Great Expectations, Double Indemnity, and The Pride of the Yankees.

Which 1940s Oscar-nominated film do you think deserves the top spot on this list? Give your personal picks a thumbs up to move them towards number one.

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list ordered by
  • Won Best Picture in 1943.

    Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), who owns a nightclub in Casablanca, discovers his old flame Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) is in town with her husband, Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid). Laszlo is a famed rebel, ...more
  • Nominated in 1944.

    Double Indemnity is a 1944 film noir crime drama directed by Billy Wilder, co-written by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, based on James M. Cain's 1943 novella of the same name, which originally appeared ...more
  • Nominated in 1940.

    The Joad clan, introduced to the world in John Steinbeck's iconic novel, is looking for a better life in California. After their drought-ridden farm is seized by the bank, the family -- led by ...more
  • Nominated in 1946.

    After George Bailey (James Stewart) wishes he had never been born, an angel (Henry Travers) is sent to earth to make George's wish come true. George starts to realize how many lives he has changed ...more
  • Won Best Picture in 1945.

    Writer Don Birnam (Ray Milland) is on the wagon. Sober for only a few days, Don is supposed to be spending the weekend with his brother, Wick (Phillip Terry), but, eager for a drink, Don convinces ...more
  • Won Best Picture in 1941.

    Huw Morgan (Roddy McDowall), the academically inclined youngest son in a proud family of Welsh coal miners, witnesses the tumultuous events of his young life during a period of rapid social change. ...more
  • Nominated in 1941.

    In this noir classic, detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) gets more than he bargained for when he takes a case brought to him by a beautiful but secretive woman (Mary Astor). As soon as Miss ...more
  • Won Best Picture in 1940.

    Story of a young woman who marries a fascinating widower only to find out that she must live in the shadow of his former wife, Rebecca, who died mysteriously several years earlier. The young wife ...more
  • Nominated in 1945.

    When Mildred Pierce's (Joan Crawford) wealthy husband leaves her for another woman, Mildred decides to raise her two daughters on her own. Despite Mildred's financial successes in the restaurant ...more
  • Won Best Picture in 1946.

    Fred, Al and Homer are three World War II veterans facing difficulties as they re-enter civilian life. Fred (Dana Andrews) is a war hero who, unable to compete with more highly skilled workers, has ...more
  • Nominated in 1941.

    Prize-winning Tennessee marksman Alvin York (Gary Cooper), a recent convert to Christianity, finds himself torn between his non-violent beliefs and his desire to serve his country when recruited to ...more
  • Nominated in 1942.

    Brought to the White House to receive a Congressional Gold Medal from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Broadway legend George M. Cohan (James Cagney) reflects on his life. Flashbacks trace ...more
  • Nominated in 1944.

    After the death of her famous opera-singing aunt, Paula (Ingrid Bergman) is sent to study in Italy to become a great opera singer as well. While there, she falls in love with the charming Gregory ...more
  • Won Best Picture in 1942.

    A moving drama about a middle-class English family learning to cope with war, told in a series of dramatic vignettes. The family, headed by the lovely and gracious matriarch, endures the departure of ...more
  • Nominated in 1941.

    When a reporter is assigned to decipher newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane's (Orson Welles) dying words, his investigation gradually reveals the fascinating portrait of a complex man who rose from ...more
  • Nominated in 1947.

    In this Christmas classic, an old man going by the name of Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) fills in for an intoxicated Santa in Macy's annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Kringle proves to be such a hit that ...more
  • Nominated in 1948.

    In this classic adventure film, two rough-and-tumble wanderers, Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Curtin (Tim Holt), meet up with a veteran prospector, Howard (Walter Huston), in Mexico and head into the ...more
  • Nominated in 1941.

    Charming scoundrel Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant) woos wealthy but plain Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine), who runs away with him despite the warnings of her disapproving father (Cedric Hardwicke). ...more
  • Nominated in 1940.

    This classic romantic comedy focuses on Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn), a Philadelphia socialite who has split from her husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant), due both to his drinking and to her ...more
  • Nominated in 1943.

    In this adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's popular novel, idealistic American Robert Jordan (Gary Cooper) travels to Spain to join the guerrilla forces opposing dictator Francisco Franco. Jordan, who ...more
  • The Bishop's Wife
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    The Bishop's Wife

    Nominated in 1947.

  • Won Best Picture in 1947.

    When journalist Phil Green (Gregory Peck) moves to New York City, he takes on a high-profile magazine assignment about anti-Semitism. In order to truly view things from an empathetic perspective, he ...more
  • Nominated in 1947.

    In this Dickens adaptation, orphan Pip (John Mills) discovers through lawyer Mr. Jaggers (Francis L. Sullivan) that a mysterious benefactor wishes to ensure that he becomes a gentleman. Reunited with ...more
  • Nominated in 1943.

    Spoiled playboy Henry van Cleve (Don Ameche) dies and arrives at the entrance to Hell, a final destination he is sure he deserves after living a life of profligacy. The devil (Laird Cregar), however, ...more
  • Nominated in 1949.

    In 1942, an American Air Force unit stationed in England is plagued with morale problems until no-nonsense Brigadier General Frank Savage (Gregory Peck) assumes command. His tough leadership is ...more