Locke’s Fave (and Least Fave) Best Picture Winners

by | Feb 22nd, 2011 | 6:07PM | Filed under: Award Shows, In My Humble Opinion, Movie Lists

I used to have this Academy Award Best Picture poster on my wall in college–it collects the posters of all the Best Pictures. (Mine stopped in 1985 with Out of Africa, because I was Doogie Howser-ing it up in college when I was seven years old. Uh huh, yep…)

I don’t really have a big dog in the Oscar hunt this year. I like most of the 10 Best Picture nominees (some more than others), but my two hands-down favorites–True Grit and Winter’s Bone–have zero chance of taking home the gold.

You can see and compete against Erika and my 2011 Oscar predictions over at the redbox Awards Show game on Facebook. (We had to make our picks the morning of the nominations, so yeah I’m probably going to get burned on my Melissa Leo choice.)

So with the Big Show coming up Sunday night, I thought I’d take the opportunity to look back over some of my favorite Oscar Best Pictures, and some of my least favorite. In order to keep the lists somewhat manageable, I’ve limited them to films that have won since year of my birth, 19… mumblemumble. Take a gander below and see if you agree or disagree.

(And feel free to comment on my lifelong leaning toward dark, often violent tales versus domestic melodrama. There are also a couple films I liked a lot when they came out and won, but have since cooled on with repeated viewings over the years: namely, Titanic and American Beauty.)


A Man For All Seasons

The uplifting tale of Sir Thomas More, who faces the great hardship of opposing Henry VIII’s split from the Catholic Church and having Robert Shaw bellow at him a lot. He triumphs by having his head cut off.


The uplifting tale of General George S. Patton, who faces the great hardship of fighting the Axis armies in North Africa and Europe. He triumphs by giving quotable speeches, slapping soldiers, and swearing at both the Germans and the British.

The Godfather

The uplifting tale of Michael Corleone, who faces the great hardship of out-maneuvering the five New York families, facing his own crumbling morality, and trying to understand what Marlon Brando is saying with those cotton balls in his mouth. He triumphs by having Moe Green shot in the eye during a massage.

The Godfather II

The uplifting tale of Fredo Corleone, who faces the great hardship of trying to catch fish on Lake Tahoe. He triumphs by getting shot in the back of the head at the order of his brother.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The uplifting tale of R.P. MacMurphy, who faces the great hardship of Nurse Ratched and the authoritarian society she represents. He triumphs by getting lobotomized and then mercy smothered by a large Native American. But in a very inspiring way.

The Silence of the Lambs

The uplifting tale of Clarice Starling and Dr. Hannibal Lecter, who face the great hardship of one of them being an FBI trainee and the other a suave, sophisticated serial killer. They triumph by working together to catch a man who seems very confused about where his man parts are supposed go.


The uplifting tale of William Munny, who faces the great hardships of someone cutting up whores, a town sheriff who’s building a house, and a past spent killing women and children. He triumphs by giving the townsfolk an inspirational speech about how if they don’t take better care of their whores he’s going to kill every one of the sons-a-bitches, kill their families, and burn their houses down.

Shakespeare in Love

The uplifting tale of Will Shakespeare, who faces the great hardship of trying to write a hit play about Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter. He triumphs by falling in love with Gwyneth Paltrow while she’s dressed up like a young man.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

The uplifting tale of Frodo Baggins, who faces the great hardship of trying to singlehandedly keep all of Middle Earth from falling into darkness and evil. He triumphs by throwing some jewelry into a volcano.

No Country for Old Men

The uplifting tale of Anton Chigurh, who faces the great hardship of trying to retrieve missing drug money using only a cattle stunbolt gun and a bowl haircut. He triumphs by being impossible to kill while killing everyone else.

Least Favorite

Now comes the controversial part! The following are Best Picture winners I personally find to be a mix of pandering, overwrought, manipulative, shallow, overrated, or just plain dull. I don’t have room to go into all my reasons below, but call me out in the comments section and I’ll gladly elaborate on why these films made the list.

Out of Africa

Rain Man

Driving Miss Daisy

Dances With Wolves

Forrest Gump


The English Patient

A Beautiful Mind

Million Dollar Baby


Okay, let’s hear your thoughts below!


Some of this year’s Best Picture nominees available from redbox:

Recent Best Picture winners available from redbox:

43 Responses to “Locke’s Fave (and Least Fave) Best Picture Winners”

  1. rharrison003
    Posted on March 1, 2011 at 9:57 am

    The issue of BEST can be evaluated with one simple term; entertaining!

    Good movies can do one of three results, make you laugh, make you cry or scare you to death. Make me think? OK, but give me one of the big 3 results or its weak.

  2. Todd
    Posted on March 1, 2011 at 10:08 am

    I think Shakespeare In Love is the most laughable film to ever win Best Picture. It’s just not a good film. It feels like something written and performed by a high school drama club.
    That said, thank you for including Crash on your Least Favorites list. I was dumbfounded that the film garnered so much acclaim and won Best Picture. It is one of the most forced, heavy handed examples of Oscar pandering ever. A pathetic attempt to try to make a meaningful statement about social, racial, cultural divisions that actually ends up being more divisive and reinforcing of stereotypes.
    Lastly, I was surprised that Titanic did not make your list of Least Favorites. You gotta admit, it’s an awful Best Picture winner!

  3. Kimmi
    Posted on March 1, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Come on! Least favorites: Crash, Million Dollar Baby, Braveheart and A Beautiful Mind are phenomonal movies that are watched over and over again! I totally disagree!

  4. John Randall
    Posted on March 1, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I gave up watching the Oscars in 2001 when the NAACP complained that not enought black actors had won Oscars. Whamo! Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won back to back Oscars on the same night. It is now all about politics. Yeah, yeah, call me a racist and send me to therapy. The facts stand. Oscars are BS!

  5. Chris B
    Posted on March 1, 2011 at 10:47 am

    One I’d put in the list for least favorite, and sorry to the peace hippies out there (I’m one of them for the most part), but “Gandhi” beating “E.T.” was arguably one of the worst decisions. Like “Avatar”, it shows that commercially and artistically successful Sci-Fi films have a hard time on Oscar night.

  6. Robin
    Posted on March 1, 2011 at 10:57 am

    I’m with you on Forrest Gump, The English Patient, Dances with Wolves, and Braveheart, while most of the others on your list sucked as well!!

  7. dbvoice
    Posted on March 1, 2011 at 11:13 am

    uhhhh…okay…i think you are crazy for putting Million dollar Baby in your LEAST favorite list…the others I could see if you yourself are a little shallow, but not that one…there wasnt a dull moment

  8. TxAzMark
    Posted on March 1, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    I’m definitely with you on The English Patient. That movie bored me to sleep.

  9. leonardml
    Posted on March 1, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    I think One Flew is such a classic it’s included in my movie library.

    Doesn’t everyone love the Coen Bros? Even though I’m not a fan of gratuitous violence, No Country has such an outstanding cast and storyline, none of it is overdone.

    Shakespeare sucked it big time.

    Least Favs
    Maybe it’s a girl thing, but I can’t get enough of the unrequited love represented in Out of Africa; it’s surefire to get me crying until my eyes are swollen shut.

    Million Dollar moved me if for only the unf$$#$ing fairness to life. Although I like Clint Eastwood, I think his acting is a tad smarmy at times. I still loved the movie.

  10. Loridan
    Posted on March 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    The English Patient – nearly bored me to tears.

  11. Bill B.
    Posted on March 1, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    I agree with a few of your favorites and with nearly all of your least favorites, but this year I am very frustrated as The Social Network was much the best. The Academy is in dire need of cleaning out its membership as it is so behind the times. When a nun who hasn’t worked in the business in about 50 years and was never a very prominent figure when in the movie business is still an Oscar voter, that will tell everyone volumes about what needs to be corrected.

  12. Barbara
    Posted on March 2, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Did Winter’s Bone win anything? I thought it was the best movie I’ve seen in a long time. Very true to life, also, if you know how life is lived among the poor in the Ozarks. I hope it won something. I just can’t watch those shows and all those plastic people giving awards to all those plastic movies.

  13. RdtheLiterature
    Posted on March 2, 2011 at 9:23 am

    I disagree with Rain Man, Forest Gump, Driving Miss Daisy, and Braveheart. Those were all fine films. Especially Forest Gump! It gets replayed on t.v. all the time…and the movie gets quoted all the time. it’s “life is a box chocolates” is practically a humorous cliche now.

    Shakespeare in Love was stupid and not that inspiring…Titanic was also a good movie for the person up there who said it wasn’t…it gets replayed to much also, which ruins the story, but the first time you watch it it’s kind of wowing. A little melodramatic but the whole ship sinking kind of helps that aspect a little bit.

  14. Caress
    Posted on March 2, 2011 at 10:08 am

    I personally didn’t think Forrest Gump was all that great, either. Could it have been the movie effects that were way ahead of their time? The story was okay, but overall, I agree with you and think it was overrated.

    Rain Man though? I loved that movie, but I understand.

  15. Ana
    Posted on March 2, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    The Oscars I totally hated was for No Country for all Man and Brokeback Mountain –two horrible movies…can’t imagine why they would be awarded Oscars.

  16. Sequoia
    Posted on March 2, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    I agree with a few of the movie choices on your favorites list but almost fully disagree with your least favorites. With that being said, I will start with your favorites list, I loved true grit with a passion as well as No Country For Old Men. Both were amazing movies with intrigue, that being said your least favorites list was rather appalling as at least three of those happen to be my all time favorite movies, especially with the movies coming out today that we have to choose from. Braveheart, Forrest Gump, and Rain Man were all movies that you can’t seem to find anymore in recent productions. You said you would defend your reasoning if called out on it, therefore I would like for you to state your reasoning please.

  17. George
    Posted on March 4, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Alot of great movies on you least fav list. I guess that just goes to show you that opinions are as varied as personalities. No one mentioned Chicago. WORST EVER!!!