Only 13 Best Picture Winners Are Available On Netflix Instant
That’s right, out of the 84 movies to have won best picture at the Academy Awards only 13 are available to stream instantly through Netflix. They try to trick you because they prominently display the last two best picture winners (The Artist and The King’s Speech) but after that the winners are few and far between. What’s even more disappointing is that many of the “winners” they do have are notoriously some of the worst movies ever to win best picture. Before you get too depressed they also have some real classics and even the “worst” best picture winners are still pretty good movies. So, since there are only 13 I just ranked them all…
13. Crash (2004)
Universal agreement and movies don’t often go hand in hand. Sure, we all agree that Citizen Kane is the most influential movie of all time and that The Godfather and The Godfather Part II make up the greatest original/sequel combination of all time, but just about every other opinion about movies is debatable, except that Crash is the worst movie to ever win best picture, we all agree on that.
12. Gandhi (1982)
A lot of movies win best picture that are movies of their moment, that are THE movies of that year, even if in hindsight they weren’t the best movie of that year. Movie fans can throw their hands up at the travesty of Dances with Wolves besting Goodfellas or Rocky beating Taxi Driver or Forrest Gump beating Pulp Fiction all they want but the truth is at the time not only were those not considered upsets they weren’t even considered mistakes. They were THE movies of those particular years and nothing was beating them on Oscar night. Gandhi was THE movie of 1982 (along with ET, but back then movies that were that popular weren’t allowed to win awards too). Should The Verdict have been the best picture that year? Absolutely, but that was never going to happen.
11. Terms of Endearment (1983)
Say what you will about the Oscars but they really don’t stick to a type when it comes to best picture winners. Don’t believe me? Try to find two movies more different than Terms of Endearment and Gandhi (they won in back to back years). Even how or why they won is completely different. Gandhi was THE movie of 1982 but there was no THE movie of 1983 so Terms of Endearment won because The Right Stuff was boring and The Big Chill was like Terms of Endearment but didn’t make people cry quite so much and Tender Mercies was all about Duvall but was never going to win best picture.
10. Ordinary People (1980)
Like I said when discussing Gandhi, most of the Oscar travesties only seem that way in hindsight. There are some exceptions to that rule, like Ordinary People beating Raging Bull. This was inexcusable then just as it is inexcusable now. Is Ordinary People a bad movie? No, it’s fine, a little slow but OK. The problem isn’t with Ordinary People the problem is that Raging Bull is a classic of the first order, and we all knew it was a classic that year.
I know I should have shown a clip from Ordinary People but I couldn’t help myself. I mention Raging Bull so I have to show something from Raging Bull, even if it isn’t available on Netflix.
9. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
Man, the Oscars really had a rough patch there between 1979 and 1983 didn’t they? First off, Apocalypse Now was never going to win best picture. It doesn’t matter that it is one of the greatest movies ever made, it wasn’t going to win. If you can move past that fact then you can see that Kramer vs. Kramer, while perhaps not quite as good as fellow nominee Breaking Away (another movie that was never going to win best picture), isn’t a bad best picture winner. It just isn’t a particularly good one either.
8. Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)
Looking at a number of other ranking of best picture winners Gentleman’s Agreement is most often described with the backhanded complement of being more important than good. While I don’t think that is entirely fair it isn’t entirely out of bounds either.
7. Shakespeare in Love (1998)
I am not going to try to argue that Shakespeare in Love beating Saving Private Ryan was anything other than a joke, but I will say that Shakespeare in Love gets a bad rap more often than not. This is a really good movie, a really charming movie, with fun performances and a lot of chemistry (I don’t know what happened to Joseph Fiennes but he has never had the charm or comedic timing in any other role that he had in spades here). Maybe it isn’t a classic, but it is a fun movie that is definitely worth watching.
6. The King’s Speech (2010)
Back to back Geoffrey Rush movies. I would still argue that The Social Network and True Grit and Inception and possibly The Fighter were all better movies than The King’s Speech, but not so much better that this was a bad win. Colin Firth does so much to make this movie entertaining that you can forgive the fact that it feels a lot like what it is, a play made for the big screen.
5. The Artist (2011)
OK, I liked The Artist, I think it was fun and fresh and interesting. Still this may be exhibit A as a movie that won best picture because there was no other movie that was really worthy of being best picture. Great for The Artist and it can hold its head high as a legitimate best picture winner but go look through the years and try to find any other year The Artist wins (maybe 2005, the year Crash won, but that’s about it).
4. The Last Emperor (1987)
I am surprised that The Last Emperor isn’t considered more of a classic. It is one of those movies that has been lost to time a little bit and I don’t think anyone would have guessed that 25 years ago when it came out. It seemed destined for classic status.
3. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
The only X rated movie to ever win best picture seems positively tame in many ways by today’s standards and as far away from “x rated” as a typical evening of premium cable TV. At the same time it feels like a movie no one would dare make today. It is too depressing, too stark, too hopeless, too naive, to see anyone making it today. This is a movie that I never try to “sell” because I know that most people wont like it, but those who do end up more than liking it, they end up loving it.
2. My Fair Lady (1964)
It is kind of crazy to think that only five years before Midnight Cowboy was receiving its best picture award a movie as completely different as My Fair Lady was winning the same award and yet it makes perfect sense. My Fair Lady is simply a classic. It is hopeful and romantic and in lesser hands it likely would have been sappy but George Cukor’s direction (a man who is near the top of the most underrated directors of all time list), Audrey Hepburn’s charm and the perfection that was Rex Harrison make this movie sing even when all they are doing is talking.
1. Platoon (1986)
Truthfully you could flip a coin between who should be #1 on this list. Platoon or My Fair Lady, My Fair Lady or Platoon, does it matter, they are both awesome. Platoon isn’t the greatest Vietnam movie ever (Apocalypse Now holds that distinction). It isn’t the greatest war movie ever (Apocalypse Now holds that distinction too). But it may be the best of both categories that isn’t named Apocalypse Now, and believe me, that is very high praise.