Although the Oscars only come around once a year, there are decades worth of Oscar-winning movies that you can enjoy at any time. If you can’t get to the movie theater — or if you’ve already seen every critically acclaimed flick in the last year — you can still take part in the excitement over the Oscars. You can stream any of these previous Best Picture winners on Netflix today.
Directed by and starring Mel Gibson, this 1995 drama won Best Picture for its portrayal of Scottish warrior William Wallace. Nominated for 10 Academy Awards, Braveheart took home 5, including the Oscar for Best Director and Best Cinematography. Famous for its brutally realistic battle scenes, Braveheart helped cement Gibson’s reputation as a serious filmmaker.
Besides Gibson, the film also stars Angus Macfadyen, Patrick McGoohan, Sophie Marceau, Catherine McCormack, Brendan Gleeson, and many others. Braveheart currently has a 78% “Fresh” rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
2. No Country for Old Men
The Best Picture winner in 2008, this modern Western from the Coen brothers stars Josh Brolin as Llewelyn Moss, a hunter who comes across a heap of money after a drug deal goes wrong. It’s not long before a merciless killer, Chigurh (Javier Bardem), picks up his trail. Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) becomes involved as he tries to find and protect Moss.
Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and starring George C. Scott in the titular role, Patton tells the story of U.S. General George S. Patton during World War II. The film garnered 10 Oscar nominations in 1971, and ended up winning seven, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Scott. However, Scott famously refused the award due to his disdain for the idea of competitive acting.
4. Million Dollar Baby
The compelling sports drama Million Dollar Baby was in what’s known as “development hell” for several years before director, producer, and star Clint Eastwood was finally able to get it made. Eastwood, who also scored the film, plays Frankie Dunn, a cranky old boxer who takes on an unlikely student.
Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman costar as Maggie, the eager young woman who teaches Dunn as he coaches her, and Scrap, his employee (and the film’s narrator), who helps their often contentious friendship blossom. Not only did the film win Best Picture in 2004, but Eastwood, Swank, and Freeman all won for their respective roles.
Up against other semi-biographical films starring big names such as The Big Short and The Revenant, Spotlight shone through (no pun intended) for its behind-the-scenes look at The Boston Globe journalists responsible for breaking the story about the systemic child abuse in the Catholic Church.
Starring an ensemble cast including Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and many more, the film details the true story of how the “Spotlight” team uncovered a story that they weren’t even looking for, and continuing to dig as they discovered a pattern on abuse that dated back decades. The massive cover up was revealed slowly as the reporters pressed on, often interrupted by legal stipulations and breaking news like the September 11 attacks.
6. Shakespeare in Love
If you’re in the mood for a light-hearted romp, this John Madden film is a welcome break from the high drama of many of the other Oscar-winners on this list. Released in 1998, Shakespeare in Love follows the titular character as he falls for Viola and struggles to write Romeo and Juliet. It’s a whimsical film with an engaging script and charming performances from Joseph Fiennes, Judi Dench, and Gwyneth Paltrow. It won seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress.
7. Gentleman’s Agreement
Starring Gregory Peck and Dorothy McGuire, this Elia Kazan-directed movie tells the story of an investigative reporter who pretends to be Jewish in order to expose anti-Semitism. The film garnered eight Oscar nominations and took home three awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (for Celeste Holm), and Best Director. Controversial for its subject at the time of its release, Gentleman’s Agreement is a classic example of how cinema can help highlight society’s darkest problems.
Additional reporting by Nathanael Arnold, Sarah Schweppe, Evie Carrick and Becca Bleznak.
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