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The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s 

Ranker Film
Updated June 14, 2019 3.1k votes 252 voters 9.1k views 70 items

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
1
It's a Wonderful Life is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore

Released: 1946

Directed by: Frank Capra

Nominated in 1946.

It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy comedy-drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, based on the short story "The Greatest Gift", which Philip Van Doren ...more

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Ayn Rand Tried To Convince The US Government "It's A Wonderful Life" Was Communist Propaganda #89 of 349 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #134 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

2
Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre

Released: 1942

Directed by: Michael Curtiz

Won Best Picture in 1943.

Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison's unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick's. The film stars ...more

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#30 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #141 of 349 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
Citizen Kane is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Orson Welles, Alan Ladd, Agnes Moorehead

Released: 1941

Directed by: Orson Welles

Nominated in 1941.

Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film produced by, co-written by, directed by and starring Orson Welles. The picture was Welles's first feature film. The film was nominated for Academy ...more

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#576 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #56 of 130 Movies That Should Never Be Remadelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
Double Indemnity is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson

Released: 1944

Directed by: Billy Wilder

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 ...more

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5
The Maltese Falcon is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor

Released: 1941

Directed by: John Huston

Nominated in 1941.

The Maltese Falcon is a 1941 Warner Bros. film noir based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett. Directed by John Huston, the film stars Humphrey Bogart as private investigator Sam ...more

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#51 of 367 The Best Movies Based On Books #637 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #195 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

6
Rebecca is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine

Released: 1940

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Won Best Picture in 1940.

Rebecca is a 1940 American psychological thriller-drama film. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, it was his first American project, and his first film produced under contract with David O. Selznick. ...more

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#87 of 253 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #297 of 367 The Best Movies Based On Bookslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

7
The Grapes of Wrath is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Henry Fonda, John Carradine, John Qualen

Released: 1940

Directed by: John Ford

Nominated in 1940.

The Grapes of Wrath is a 1940 drama film directed by John Ford. It was based on John Steinbeck's 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. The screenplay was written by Nunnally ...more

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#89 of 367 The Best Movies Based On Books #758 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

8
Mildred Pierce is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Joan Crawford, Eve Arden, Butterfly McQueen

Released: 1945

Directed by: Michael Curtiz

Nominated in 1945.

Mildred Pierce is a 1945 American drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Joan Crawford, Jack Carson and Zachary Scott and featuring Eve Arden, Ann Blyth and Bruce Bennett, in a film ...more
9
The Best Years of Our Li... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright, Fredric March

Released: 1946

Directed by: William Wyler

Won Best Picture in 1946.

The Best Years of Our Lives is a 1946 American drama film directed by William Wyler and starring Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, and Harold Russell. The ...more

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10
The Treasure of the Sier... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Barton MacLane

Released: 1948

Directed by: John Huston

Nominated in 1948.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is an American dramatic adventurous neo-western written and directed by John Huston. It is a feature film adaptation of B. Traven's 1927 novel of the same name, ...more

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11
How Green Was My Valley ... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Maureen O'Hara, Roddy McDowall, Walter Pidgeon

Released: 1941

Directed by: John Ford

Won Best Picture in 1941.

How Green Was My Valley is a 1941 drama film directed by John Ford. The film, based on the 1939 Richard Llewellyn novel, was produced by Darryl F. Zanuck and scripted by Philip Dunne. The film ...more

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#1,451 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #398 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guyslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

12
Yankee Doodle Dandy is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston

Released: 1942

Directed by: Michael Curtiz

Nominated in 1942.

Yankee Doodle Dandy is a 1942 American biographical musical film about George M. Cohan, known as "The Man Who Owned Broadway". It stars James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston, and ...more

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#111 of 210 The Best Movies About Music #147 of 234 The Best Movies Based On True Storieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

13
Miracle on 34th Street ... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Natalie Wood, Maureen O'Hara, Thelma Ritter

Released: 1947

Directed by: George Seaton

Nominated in 1947.

Miracle on 34th Street is a 1947 Christmas film written and directed by George Seaton and based on a story by Valentine Davies. It stars Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood and Edmund ...more

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14
Sergeant York is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Joan Leslie

Released: 1941

Directed by: Howard Hawks

Nominated in 1941.

Sergeant York is a 1941 biographical film about the life of Alvin York, one of the most-decorated American soldiers of WWI. It was directed by Howard Hawks and was the highest-grossing film of ...more

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15
The Philadelphia Story ... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart

Released: 1940

Directed by: George Cukor

Nominated in 1940.

The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 American romantic comedy film directed by George Cukor, starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart and featuring Ruth Hussey. Based on the ...more

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#594 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #264 of 1,211 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

16
The Bells of St. Mary's ... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Ingrid Bergman, Bing Crosby, Una O'Connor

Released: 1945

Directed by: Leo McCarey

Nominated in 1945.

The Bells of St. Mary's is a 1945 American drama film produced and directed by Leo McCarey and starring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman. Written by Dudley Nichols based on a story by Leo McCarey, ...more

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17
Gaslight is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Ingrid Bergman, Angela Lansbury, Charles Boyer

Released: 1944

Directed by: George Cukor

Nominated in 1944.

Gaslight is an American 1944 mystery-thriller film adapted from Patrick Hamilton's 1938 play Gas Light. It was the second version to be filmed, following the British film Gaslight, directed by ...more
18
The Bishop's Wife is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
The Bishop's Wife

Nominated in 1947.

19
Suspicion is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine

Released: 1941

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Nominated in 1941.

Suspicion is a romantic psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine as a married couple. It also stars Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Nigel Bruce, Dame ...more

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20
Twelve O'Clock High is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Gregory Peck, Dean Jagger, Richard Anderson

Released: 1949

Directed by: Henry King

Nominated in 1949.

Twelve O'Clock High is a 1949 American film about aircrews in the United States Army's Eighth Air Force who flew daylight missions against Nazi Germany and occupied France during the early days ...more

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21
Mrs. Miniver is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Greer Garson, Teresa Wright, Walter Pidgeon

Released: 1942

Directed by: William Wyler

Won Best Picture in 1942.

Mrs. Miniver is a 1942 American romantic war drama film directed by William Wyler, and starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon. Based on the 1940 novel Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther, the film ...more

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22
The Lost Weekend is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Jane Wyman, Ray Milland, Howard Da Silva

Released: 1945

Directed by: Billy Wilder

Won Best Picture in 1945.

The Lost Weekend is a 1945 American drama film directed by Billy Wilder and starring Ray Milland and Jane Wyman. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four: Best Picture, Best ...more

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#75 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies For Best Picture #80 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

23
The Pride of the Yankees... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Babe Ruth, Gary Cooper, Bill Dickey

Released: 1942

Directed by: Sam Wood

Nominated in 1942.

The Pride of the Yankees is a 1942 American film directed by Sam Wood and starring Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, and Walter Brennan. It is a tribute to the legendary New York Yankees first baseman ...more
24
The Heiress is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson

Released: 1949

Directed by: William Wyler

Nominated in 1949.

The Heiress is a 1949 American drama film directed by William Wyler and starring Olivia de Havilland as Catherine Sloper, Montgomery Clift as Morris Townsend, and Ralph Richardson as Dr. Sloper. ...more

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25
The Letter is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s
Bette Davis, Gale Sondergaard, Herbert Marshall

Released: 1940

Directed by: William Wyler

Nominated in 1940.

The Letter is a 1940 American film noir directed by William Wyler, and starring Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall and James Stephenson. The screenplay by Howard E. Koch is based on the 1927 play of ...more