30 Best Picture Oscar Winners You Can Stream Right Now

David Bornfriend, A24
David Bornfriend, A24

Picking any given year’s Oscar winners is far from an exact science. Of the 90 movies that have been named Best Picture since the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, there’s no clear-cut recipe for what makes a successful film. Just since 2005, we’ve seen a quirky Coen brothers crime drama (No Country for Old Men), a gritty war flick (The Hurt Locker), a black-and-white silent film (The Artist), an inspiring slavery epic (12 Years a Slave), an experimental meditation on the life of an actor (Birdman), a moving chronicle of a young man growing up in Miami at three stages of his life (Moonlight), and a love story between a mute woman and a fish-man (The Shape of Water) all claim the Academy’s top prize.

This weekend, the 91st annual Oscars are sure to add yet another distinctive film to that list—but there’s still time for you to bone up on Best Pictures past. Here are 30 Best Picture winners you can stream right now.

1. WINGS (1927)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, YouTube

William Wellman’s romantic war drama, about a love triangle involving two WWI fighter pilots and one Clara Bow, holds the distinction of being named the Academy’s very first Best Picture winner.

2. GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)

Where to watch it: iTunes, YouTube

At nearly four hours long, Victor Fleming’s adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book—about the tumultuous love life of Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), the ultimate Southern Belle—is the longest film to be named Best Picture.

3. CASABLANCA (1942)

Where to watch it: iTunes, YouTube

Like Gone With the Wind before it, Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca—about an American expat (Humphrey Bogart) running a nightclub in Morocco, and occasionally dabbling in some less legal business ventures, who bumps into a lost love (Ingrid Bergman)—is one of those films that any card-carrying cineaste must watch at least once in his or her life (or risk misquoting it, as so many others do).

4. MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969)

Where to watch it: Amazon, Cinemax, iTunes, YouTube

Since the X rating was done away with in 1990, Midnight Cowboy—John Schlesinger’s trippy buddy movie about a wannabe gigolo and a small-time criminal trying (and failing) to make a name for themselves with New York City's Upper East Side ladies—will forever be known as the only X-rated film to be named Best Picture.

5. THE GODFATHER (1972)

Where to watch it: Amazon, YouTube

Francis Ford Coppola didn’t invent the mob crime genre, but he may as well have. More than 45 years after its original release, The Godfather remains a quintessential film—and not just in terms of its own genre. If your most recent viewing(s) of the movie have been on network television, you owe it to yourself—and the art of cinema as a whole—to set aside three hours of quiet time to bask in its mastery.

6. THE GODFATHER: PART II (1974)

Where to watch it: Amazon, YouTube

In 1975, The Godfather: Part II became the first sequel to win the Oscar for Best Picture. And rightfully so. Coppola’s continuation of the Corleone family’s saga managed to capture all of the brilliance of the first film, while adding new layers of complexity to the story. Unfortunately, the same cannot exactly be said for the third entry in the trilogy.

7. ROCKY (1976)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, YouTube

Rocky is the script that Sylvester Stallone purports to have written in three days. It’s also the script that he refused to sell without having himself attached as the lead, even though he was destitute. Sly stuck to his guns and the rest is movie history. The story of a washed-up boxer who somehow almost manages to beat the champ is perhaps the greatest American-made David vs. Goliath story in Hollywood history. The film turned Stallone into an A-list name and earned him nods for both writing the film and starring in it.

8. AMADEUS (1984)

Where to watch it: YouTube

Amadeus, much like the music of the man it is named for, gets better with age. The lavish film tells the tragic story of musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his spiral into the depths of obsession and insanity at the hands of his nemesis, fellow composer Antonio Salieri. As life often imitates art, F. Murray Abraham (Salieri) beat out Tom Hulce (Mozart) for the Best Actor Oscar.

9. PLATOON (1986)

Where to watch it: Amazon Prime, Hulu, iTunes, YouTube

More than a decade after the Vietnam War ended, Hollywood was still reluctant to delve into its subject matter. But Oliver Stone changed that with Platoon, a semi-autobiographical account of the psychological and moral issues a young soldier (Charlie Sheen) faces after abandoning his privileged life to voluntarily enlist in the U.S. Army.

10. RAIN MAN (1998)

Where to watch it: Amazon Prime, Hulu, iTunes, YouTube

Prior to Rain Man, no one knew much, if anything, about autism. Barry Levinson’s film brought the condition into the public consciousness, even if it did show it in a quirky light. The film is a classic road movie that follows Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) and his unassuming—and only recently discovered—brother Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) as they watch The People’s Court and buy underwear at Kmarts across the country.

11. DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990)

Where to watch it: Amazon, HBO Go, iTunes, Netflix, YouTube

Dances With Wolves—which follows Civil War Lt. John Dunbar’s assimilation into the Sioux tribe—was the first Western to win the Academy’s most prestigious award since 1931’s Cimarron. Star Kevin Costner also took home the gold for directing, but missed out on the Best Actor award (he was bested by Jeremy Irons, who won for Reversal of Fortune).

12. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, YouTube

Director Jonathan Demme made genre history when The Silence of the Lambs became the first (and so far only) horror movie to be named Best Picture. It’s also one of only three films to win all Big Five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor (for Anthony Hopkins), and Best Actress (Jodie Foster).

13. UNFORGIVEN (1992)

Where to watch it: Netflix, YouTube

One of only three westerns to be named Best Picture (the aforementioned Dances With Wolves and Cimarron being the other two), Unforgiven stars Clint Eastwood (who also directed the film) as Bill Munny, an erstwhile shootist who is brought out of retirement to collect on one last bounty.

14. FORREST GUMP (1994)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, YouTube

“Run, Forrest, run!” is as firmly entrenched in the popular lexicon as any other famous movie quote—as are many other of this film’s catchphrases (there were enough to fill a book, apparently). And part of the thanks for that goes to Tom Hanks, who earned a consecutive Best Actor Oscar (following 1993’s Philadelphia) for playing the film’s namesake, who has an uncanny ability to inadvertently shape history, from teaching Elvis how to move his pelvis to blowing the lid on the Watergate break-in.

15. BRAVEHEART (1995)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, YouTube

Braveheart’s hair, makeup, costuming, and production design departments more than make up for the film’s lack of historical accuracy. Featuring some of the finest mullets and war paint ever put on celluloid, Braveheart recounts the life of Scottish legend William Wallace and his struggle against the truculent Longshanks (King Edward I of England). The movie culminates in perhaps the most memorable disembowelment scene in recent film history.

16. THE ENGLISH PATIENT (1996)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, YouTube

In case you’ve forgotten, this is the movie that ostensibly introduced the world to the "suprasternal notch." Largely through flashbacks, The English Patient recounts a torrid love affair between a cartographer (Ralph Fiennes) and a seemingly happily married woman (Kristin Scott Thomas) who find themselves thrown together in a surveying expedition circa WWII.

17. TITANIC (1997)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, YouTube

Girl meets boy. Girl gets boy. Girl loses boy to icy, underwater grave by way of the Titanic disaster. That old story. This was the film that catapulted Leonardo DiCaprio to stardom amidst the cacophony of collective screams let out by the world’s 13-year-old female population. Remember when director James Cameron infamously (if not nerdily) intoned, “I’m the king of the world!” during his Best Director Oscar acceptance speech? That happened.

18. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (1998)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, YouTube

Shakespeare In Love tells the story about that time Shakespeare lost and then regained his mojo. Gwyneth Paltrow took home the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of the Bard’s muse, and Dame Judi Dench notched a Best Supporting award for her role as Queen Elizabeth I, even though she only appeared on the screen for eight minutes—and in the same year that Cate Blanchett was nominated for playing the same character in Elizabeth, no less.

19. AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, YouTube

American Beauty’s tagline states, “Look Closer.” That just about sums it up as this film digs beneath the flimsy surface of a seemingly placid and pristine suburban neighborhood and turns it on its head. The film, which was Sam Mendes’s directorial debut, also gave the world new respect for windblown pieces of garbage.

20. GLADIATOR (2000)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, YouTube

Ridley Scott’s Gladiator marked Russell Crowe’s first (and so far only) Best Actor victory. It tells the story of Maximus, a Roman general who is betrayed, sold into slavery, and forced to fight as—you guessed it—a gladiator.

21. A BEAUTIFUL MIND (2001)

Where to watch it: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube

A Beautiful Mind, the first collaboration between Ron Howard and Russell Crowe, tells the true story of famed mathematician John Nash and his struggle with schizophrenia. In addition to its Best Picture win, the film took home Oscars for Best Director (Ron Howard), Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Connelly), and Best Adapted Screenplay. Though nominated for Best Actor, Crowe lost to Denzel Washington for Training Day.

22. THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (2003)

Where to watch it: iTunes, YouTube

Though it’s debated by fans whether the third installment in Peter Jackson’s lauded The Lord of The Rings trilogy is truly the best of the three films, what’s not in dispute is that it was the last film. And as such, the epic three-film endeavor—as a whole—demanded recognition from the Academy. The Return of The King mounted the biggest sweep in Oscar history, winning all 11 awards for which it was nominated (which, surprisingly, did not include a single acting nod).

23. THE DEPARTED (2006)

Where to watch it: iTunes, Netflix, YouTube

After seven nominations and no wins, Martin Scorsese finally earned a long-overdue Best Director statuette for 2006’s The Departed, an English language retelling of Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s Infernal Affairs. The film was loosely based on infamous Boston mobster Whitey Bulger, and chock full of bad Boston accents (plus very real Boston accents, courtesy of Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg).

24. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, YouTube

Adapted by the Coen brothers from Cormac McCarthy’s novel, No Country For Old Men is a quintessential American story of greed, violence, and disillusionment. Less about the plot and more about the chase, the film garnered the Coens Oscars for Best Picture, Best Directing, and Best Adapted Screenplay, and Javier Bardem was named Best Actor for his terrifying performance as Anton Chigurh.

25. THE HURT LOCKER (2008)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, Showtime, YouTube,

In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to be named Best Director for her work on The Hurt Locker, an unrelenting look at the psychology of warfare, as seen through the eyes of an American bomb squad in Iraq.

26. THE KING’S SPEECH (2010)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, YouTube

From laughing stock to maestro of one of Great Britain’s finest public addresses, The King’s Speech tells the true story of King George VI’s triumph over stuttering. The film took home Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director (Tom Hooper), Best Actor (Colin Firth), and Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler).

27. THE ARTIST (2011)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, YouTube

Director Michel Hazanavicius’s The Artist is only the second silent film to win the Oscar for best picture (1927’s Wings, the Academy's first Best Picture winner, is the other). A love story about a silent film star’s journey toward obscurity in the midst of the “talkie” revolution, The Artist also turned its star, Jean Dujardin, into the first-ever French actor to take home a Best Actor trophy.

28. 12 YEARS A SLAVE (2013)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, YouTube

Based on actual events, 12 Years A Slave is the amazing story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Filmmaker Steve McQueen made history with the film in 2014 when he became the first black producer to receive a Best Picture Oscar and the first black director behind the camera of a Best Picture-winning film.

29. BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) (2014)

Where to watch it: Amazon, iTunes, YouTube

When Alejandro González Iñárritu won the Best Director Oscar for The Revenant in 2016, it marked his second in a row, following 2015's win for Birdman, which tells the story of Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), an over-the-hill actor who tries to prove his worth as a thespian by starring in his own theatrical production of a Raymond Carver story. Unfortunately, Riggan cannot escape his past—which haunts him in the form of a superhero in a bird suit.

30. Moonlight (2016)

Barry Jenkins's Moonlight will forever be known as the movie that lost the Best Picture Oscar to La La Land ... then won it anyway. But the film is memorable for more reasons than being at the center of one of the Academy's biggest all-time snafus. In addition to proving that Jenkins is one of Hollywood's most talented new voices, as he showed yet again with If Beale Street Could Talk (which is nominated for three Oscars at this year's ceremony). The film is a deeply moving portrait of a young man's maturation from child to adult, and the struggles that come with it—including questions about his sexuality. In addition to being named the year's Best Picture, True Detective star Mahershala Ali took home the Best Supporting Actor statuette (an award he's up for again this year for Green Book) and Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney won for Best Adapted Screenplay.

11 Surprising Facts About George R.R. Martin

Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Game of Thrones fans know the epic HBO series is based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, but beyond the TV show, how much do they really know about the author? Sure, they know it’s taking him a really long time to finish The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in the series, but what about him as a person? Here are a few things you might not know about the man who brought us the world of Westeros.

1. As a kid, he made money selling monster stories.

The famed author grew up in Bayonne, New Jersey, where his father was a longshoreman. "When I was living in Bayonne, I desperately wanted to get away," Martin told The Independent. "Not because Bayonne was a bad place, mind you. Bayonne was a very nice place in some ways. But we were poor. We had no money. We never went anywhere."

Though his family didn't have the means to travel outside of Bayonne, Martin began to develop a love of reading and writing at a very young age, which allowed him to imagine fantastical worlds beyond his New Jersey hometown. He also learned that writing could be a profitable endeavor: he began selling his stories to other kids in the neighborhood for a penny apiece. (He later raised his prices to a nickel.) Martin's entrepreneurial efforts came to an end when his stories began giving one of his kid customers nightmares, which eventually got back to Martin's mom.

2. He is obsessed with comic books.

In 2014, Martin sat down for a Q&A about his career at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival. Though, given his love of fantasy worlds, it might not be surprising to learn that Martin is a comic book fan, he also credits the genre with inspiring him to begin writing in the first place.

"I’m so grateful for comic books because they were really the thing that made me a reader, which in return made me a writer," Martin said. "In the 1950s in America, we had these books that taught you to read, and they were all about Dick and Jane, who were the most boring family you ever wanted to meet ... I didn’t know anyone who lived like that, and it just seemed like a horrible thing. But Batman and Superman, they had a much more interesting life. Gotham City was much more interesting than wherever it was where Dick and Jane lived.”

3. He built a library tower in Santa Fe.

In 2009, Martin bought the home across the street from his house in Santa Fe, New Mexico and turned it into an office space with a library tower built inside. The tower is only two stories tall, because of city building restrictions, but it seems only fitting that the author/history buff would want to be surrounded with books while he writes.

4. A fan letter got his professional writing career started.

Martin's love of comic books is what got his professional career rolling, too. "I had a letter published in Fantastic Four, and because my address was in there I started getting these fanzines and I started writing stories for them," Martin said during the same Santa Fe Q&A. "Funny enough, people writing stories in these fanzines at the time were just awful. They were just really bad, which was good because I looked at these awful stories and knew I could do better than that. I may not have been Shakespeare or J.R.R. Tolkien, but I was certain I could write better than the crap in the fanzines, and indeed I could."

5. A failed novel led to a television writing career.

More than 10 years before A Song of Ice and Fire debuted in 1996, Martin wrote a book called The Armageddon Rag in 1983. Though it was a critical disappointment, producer Phil DeGuere was interested in adapting the project with Martin's help. While that never came to fruition, DeGuere thought of Martin when they were rebooting The Twilight Zone in the mid-1980s and brought him on board to write a handful of episodes. He later did some writing for the live-action Beauty and the Beast series, starring Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton.

6. Network television standards were not a fit for Martin's style of writing.

Though Martin found success as a television writer, the constant back-and-forth about what they were or were not allowed to show proved to be too much for the writer. "[T]here were constant limitations. It wore me down," Martin told Rolling Stone. "There were battles over censorship, how sexual things could be, whether a scene was too 'politically charged,' how violent things could be. Don’t want to disturb anyone. We got into that fight on Beauty and the Beast. The Beast killed people. That was the point of the character. He was a beast. But CBS didn’t want blood, or for the beast to kill people ... The character had to remain likable."

7. He owns an independent movie theater.

In 2006, The Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe closed its doors, which saddened many locals who were regular patrons, Martin among them. Several years later, Martin decided to give the theater a second life and, after a slight makeover, reopened its doors in 2013. Today, in addition to independent films, the theater holds regular special events—including screenings of Game of Thrones episodes. There's also an onsite bar that serves Game of Thrones-themed cocktails, like the signature White Walker.

8. Martin credits HBO with changing the rules of television.

Network television standards may have been too tame and regimented for Martin's tastes, but all that changed with HBO and The Sopranos, which he credits as paving the way for a series like Game of Thrones to exist in its current form at all.

"I credit HBO with smashing the damn trope that everybody had to be likable on television," Martin told Rolling Stone. "The Sopranos turned it around. When you meet Tony Soprano, he’s in the psychiatrist office, he’s talking about the ducks, his depression and that stuff, and you like this guy. Then he gets in his car and he’s driving away and he sees someone who owes him money, and he jumps out and he starts stomping him. Now how likable was he? Well you didn’t care, because they already had you. A character like Walter White on Breaking Bad could never have existed before HBO."

9. Martin thinks it's important for writers to break the rules.

While he's an admitted fan of William Goldman, Martin has a very different opinion of noted screenplay expert Syd Field. "There is a book out there by Syd and it’s his guide to writing screenplays and it’s probably one of the most harmful things that has ever been done for the movie industry,” Martin said. “For some perverse reason, it has become the bible not for writers but for what we call 'the suits,' the guys at the studios whose job it is to develop properties and give notes to supervise screenplays. They take Syd Field’s course and they buy the book and they start criticizing screenplays like, ‘Well you know, the first turn is supposed to be on page 12 and yours is not until page 17, so obviously this won’t do!'"

"Syd just writes downs these ridiculous rules," Martin continued. "If there really was a formula as he says, then every movie would be a blockbuster. We would just connect A, B, and C and we would have a great movie and everyone would pack the theater to see it. But every movie is not a blockbuster. Many movies that follow his rules precisely actually go down the toilet."

10. He’s a skilled chess player.

"I started playing chess when I was quite young, in grade school," Martin told The Independent. "I played it through high school. In college, I founded the chess club. I was captain of the chess team." Eventually, Martin discovered that he could actually make some money off this skill.

"For two or three years, I had a pretty good situation. Most writers who have to have a day job work five days a week and then they have the weekend off to write. These chess tournaments were all on the weekend so I had to work on Saturday and Sunday, but then I had five days off to write. The chess generated enough money for me to pay my bills."

11. He has a very specific way of writing, which is why he hasn't finished the winds of winter.

Fans have been waiting for a while for the next book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and Martin has been honest about why it's taking him so long. "Writer’s block isn’t to blame here, it’s distraction," he said. "In recent years, all of the work I’ve been doing creates problems because it creates distraction. Because the books and the show are so popular I have interviews to do constantly. I have travel plans constantly. It’s like suddenly I get invited to travel to South Africa or Dubai, and who’s passing up a free trip to Dubai? I don’t write when I travel. I don’t write in hotel rooms. I don’t write on airplanes. I really have to be in my own house undisturbed to write. Through most of my life no body did bother me, but now everyone bothers me every day."

Can You Guess the Meaning of These Dothraki Words?

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