The Best Years For Oscar Movies

List Rules
Vote up the best years for Oscar movies: the years that had the strongest fields with the most lasting and classic nominees.

The Oscars were first televised in 1953. Ever since, they have been the preeminent award show in film. However, Hollywood doesn't nail it every year, and some Oscar years are simply better than others when it comes to overall quality of content. Which years were best for the Academy Awards was the best? Film buffs often squabble about which movies really deserved the treasured Oscar statue. Time affords cinema fans the opportunity to look back on all of the Academy’s decisions to see which films remain a relevant part of cinema history - as well as which years simply fielded the strongest groups of nominees.

The most memorable Oscars feature heavyweight battles between great films and breathtaking performances. All About Eve versus Sunset Boulevard, Chinatown versus The Godfather II, and Robert DeNiro versus Jack Nicholson are just a few of the big moments. Some years were rife with major Oscar snubs while in other years the nominations were on the mark. What was the best year for the Oscars? Vote up the years below that had the strongest groups of nominees and vote down the years where the Academy was really stretching.


  • 1995
    Photo: Forrest Gump / Paramount Pictures
    133 VOTES


    Biggest Winners:
    Forrest Gump (Best Picture)
    Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Best Actor)
    Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Best Director)
    Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Best Original Screenplay)

    Honorable Mentions:
    Pulp Fiction (Best Picture)
    Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Best Director)
    The Shawshank Redemption (Best Picture)

    Historic Notes:
    The ceremony was packed with Best Picture selections that could have won the Oscar in any other year. Pulp Fiction became a seminal movie that sparked the independent film movement of the 1990s. The Shawshank Redemption is often cited as one of the best movies ever made, enjoying a top three spot on Ranker's best movies of all time list.

  • 1940
    Photo: Gone with the Wind / Loew's Inc.
    80 VOTES


    Biggest Winners:
    Gone with the Wind (Best Picture)
    Victor Fleming (Gone with the Wind, Best Director)
    Vivien Leigh (Gone with the Wind, Best Actress)
    Hattie McDaniel (Gone with the Wind, Best Supporting Actress)

    Honorable Mentions:
    The Wizard of Oz (Best Picture)
    Clark Gable (Gone with the Wind, Best Actor)
    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Best Picture)

    Historic Notes:
    Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American to win an Academy Award. She took home the Best Supporting Actress trophy for her performance as Mammy in Gone with the Wind.

  • 1973
    Photo: The Godfather / Paramount Pictures
    71 VOTES


    Biggest Winners:
    The Godfather (Best Picture)
    Bob Fosse (Cabaret, Best Director)
    Liza Minnelli (Cabaret, Best Actress)
    Marlon Brando (The Godfather, Best Actor)
    Joel Grey (Cabaret, Best Supporting Actor)

    Honorable Mentions:
    Cabaret (Best Picture)
    Deliverance (Best Picture)
    Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, Best Director)
    John Boorman (Deliverance, Best Director)

    Historic Notes:
    This was the year Marlon Brando boycotted the Oscar ceremony. The actor sent Sacheen Littlefeather to accept his trophy in protest of Hollywood's treatment of Native Americans.

    Bob Fosse's Broadway adaptation of Cabaret set a record for the most Academy Award wins (eight) without winning the Oscar for Best Picture.

  • 1975
    Photo: The Godfather II / Paramount Pictures
    58 VOTES


    Biggest Winners:
    The Godfather II (Best Picture)
    Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather II, Best Director)
    Robert De Niro (The Godfather II, Best Supporting Actor) 
    Robert Towne (Chinatown, Best Original Screenplay)
    Ellen Burstyn (Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Best Actress)

    Honorable Mentions:
    Chinatown (Best Picture)
    Roman Polanski (Chinatown, Best Director)
    Jack Nicholson (Chinatown, Best Actor)
    Dustin Hoffman (Lenny, Best Actor)
    Al Pacino (The Godfather II, Best Actor)

    Historic Notes: 
    Art Carney took home the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance as Harry Coombes in Harry and Tonto. Carney somehow beat out multiple historic acting performances, including Dustin Hoffman in Lenny, Jack Nicholson in Chinatown, and Al Pacino in The Godfather II.

    This was the only time in the history of the Academy Awards that different people won Oscars for playing the same role. Robert De Niro won for playing a young Vito Corleone in The Godfather II. Marlon Brando took home an Oscar for playing the same role in The Godfather two years earlier.

  • 1998
    Photo: Titanic / Paramount Pictures
    78 VOTES


    Biggest Winners:
    Titanic (Best Picture)
    James Cameron (Titanic, Best Director)
    Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (Good Will Hunting, Best Original Screenplay)
    Robin Williams (Good Will Hunting, Best Supporting Actor)
    Jack Nicholson (As Good as It Gets, Best Actor)
    Helen Hunt (As Good as It Gets, Best Actress)
    Kim Basinger (L.A. Confidential, Best Supporting Actress)

    Honorable Mentions:
    L.A. Confidential (Best Picture)
    As Good as It Gets (Best Picture)
    Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Best Original Screenplay)
    Good Will Hunting (Best Picture)
    Kate Winslet (Titanic, Best Actress)

    Historic Notes:
    James Cameron's epic Titanic tied Ben-Hur (1959) with 11 Oscar wins.

  • 1976
    Photo: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest / United Artists
    52 VOTES


    Biggest Winners:
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Best Picture)
    Miloš Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Best Director)
    Jack Nicholson (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Best Actor)
    Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Best Actress), Bo Goldman and Lawrence Hauben (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Best Adapted Screenplay)

    Honorable Mentions:
    Dog Day Afternoon (Best Picture) 
    Jaws (Best Picture), Nashville (Best Picture)
    Robert Altman (Nashville, Best Director)
    Al Pacino (Dog Day Afternoon, Best Actor)

    Historic Notes:
    The year 1976 was only the second time in Oscar history that a film swept the five major categories. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest took home the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Screenplay (Adapted). It Happened One Night accomplished this task in 1935 and The Silence of the Lambs would go on to do so in 1992.