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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.

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 and the other finalists for…

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  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

    1

  • Parasite

    2

  • Taxi Driver

    3

  • The Godfather: Part II

    4

  • The Shawshank Redemption

    5

  • The Godfather

    6

  • Apocalypse Now

    7

  • There Will Be Blood

    8

  • Schindler's List

    9

  • Raging Bull

    10

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

    11

  • Moonlight

    12

  • The Red Shoes

    13

  • 12 Angry Men

    14

  • Call Me by Your Name

    15

  • A Clockwork Orange

    16

  • Mad Max: Fury Road

    17

  • The Green Mile

    18

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

    19

  • Z

    20

  • Saving Private Ryan

    21

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

    22

  • Whiplash

    23

  • Lawrence of Arabia

    24

  • The Departed

    25

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

    26

  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

    27

  • Inception

    28

  • Cries and Whispers

    29

  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

    30

  • Good Will Hunting

    31

  • Her

    32

  • Unforgiven

    33

  • Fargo

    34

  • Anatomy of a Murder

    35

  • Sunset Boulevard

    36

  • Roma

    37

  • Amour

    38

  • It's a Wonderful Life

    39

  • GoodFellas

    40

  • Judgment at Nuremberg

    41

  • The Heiress

    42

  • The Silence of the Lambs

    43

  • The Great Dictator

    44

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark

    45

  • Hannah and Her Sisters

    46

  • The Deer Hunter

    47

  • Amadeus

    48

  • Sense and Sensibility

    49

  • The Graduate

    50

  • Star Wars

    51

  • The Right Stuff

    52

  • Inglourious Basterds

    53

  • Mildred Pierce

    54

  • Gladiator

    55

  • A Streetcar Named Desire

    56

  • Dead Poets Society

    57

  • Broadcast News

    58

  • Slumdog Millionaire

    59

  • Million Dollar Baby

    60

  • The Lion in Winter

    61

  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

    62

  • Citizen Kane

    63

  • Brokeback Mountain

    64

  • The Sound of Music

    65

  • Roman Holiday

    66

  • Great Expectations

    67

  • Rain Man

    68

  • The Help

    69

  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

    70

  • The Apartment

    71

  • Casablanca

    72

  • Grand Illusion

    73

  • The Magnificent Ambersons

    74

  • The Color Purple

    75

  • Wings

    76

  • Double Indemnity

    77

  • On the Waterfront

    78

  • Five Easy Pieces

    79

  • The Awful Truth

    80

  • Shanghai Express

    81

  • Ruggles of Red Gap

    82

  • Giant

    83

  • America America

    84

  • Marty

    85

  • High Noon

    86

  • All Quiet on the Western Front

    87

  • I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

    88

  • Dodsworth

    89

  • It Happened One Night

    90

  • The Front Page

    91

  • Alibi

    92