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The Best Best Picture Lineups in Academy History

Inspired by a member query, we looked into the best years for Academy Award Best Picture nominees by average rating. (Updated on March 29, 2022.)

2019 certainly felt like a great film year for highly rated Best Picture finalists (indeed, all of the finalists in the 92nd Academy Awards are in our Official Top 250 Narrative Feature Films), but when we ran the data on 560* Best Picture-nominated films across 92 years of Academy Awards history, the year 1975 (awarded at the 48th Academy Awards in March 1976) was the winner by a decent margin. Time for medicine!

Each year’s lineup is represented in the list below by its highest-rated film. In the notes, you’ll find the overall average rating…

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  • Barry Lyndon

    1

  • Parasite

    2

  • The Godfather

    3

  • Taxi Driver

    4

  • There Will Be Blood

    5

  • Apocalypse Now

    6

  • The Godfather: Part II

    7

  • The Shawshank Redemption

    8

  • Schindler's List

    9

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

    10

  • Raging Bull

    11

  • Moonlight

    12

  • The Red Shoes

    13

  • The Father

    14

  • 12 Angry Men

    15

  • A Clockwork Orange

    16

  • Z

    17

  • The Green Mile

    18

  • Mad Max: Fury Road

    19

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

    20

  • Get Out

    21

  • Whiplash

    22

  • The Departed

    23

  • Life Is Beautiful

    24

  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

    25

  • Good Will Hunting

    26

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

    27

  • Unforgiven

    28

  • Cries and Whispers

    29

  • Lawrence of Arabia

    30

  • Fargo

    31

  • Anatomy of a Murder

    32

  • Inception

    33

  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

    34

  • 12 Years a Slave

    35

  • The Verdict

    36

  • GoodFellas

    37

  • Sunset Boulevard

    38

  • The Heiress

    39

  • Roma

    40

  • The Deer Hunter

    41

  • Django Unchained

    42

  • Drive My Car

    43

  • Judgment at Nuremberg

    44

  • It's a Wonderful Life

    45

  • The Silence of the Lambs

    46

  • The Postman

    47

  • Gladiator

    48

  • Hannah and Her Sisters

    49

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark

    50

  • Broadcast News

    51

  • Mildred Pierce

    52

  • Amadeus

    53

  • The Great Dictator

    54

  • Inglourious Basterds

    55

  • The Right Stuff

    56

  • The Graduate

    57

  • Dead Poets Society

    58

  • Star Wars

    59

  • The Lion in Winter

    60

  • Slumdog Millionaire

    61

  • Million Dollar Baby

    62

  • A Streetcar Named Desire

    63

  • The Sound of Music

    64

  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

    65

  • Roman Holiday

    66

  • Citizen Kane

    67

  • Miracle on 34th Street

    68

  • Brokeback Mountain

    69

  • Mississippi Burning

    70

  • Auntie Mame

    71

  • The Tree of Life

    72

  • The Apartment

    73

  • Casablanca

    74

  • The Color Purple

    75

  • Grand Illusion

    76

  • Random Harvest

    77

  • Double Indemnity

    78

  • On the Waterfront

    79

  • Five Easy Pieces

    80

  • Shanghai Express

    81

  • Wings

    82

  • Stage Door

    83

  • Giant

    84

  • Ruggles of Red Gap

    85

  • America America

    86

  • Marty

    87

  • High Noon

    88

  • I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

    89

  • All Quiet on the Western Front

    90

  • Dodsworth

    91

  • It Happened One Night

    92

  • The Front Page

    93

  • Alibi

    94