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best picture Oscar

INTRODUCTION

The Best Picture Oscar is considered to be the ultimate prize in cinema. This page looks at the movies which won or were nominated for the award and how they have changed over time.

Charts

1.  Genre of Oscar Nominated Films by Decade 1950s - 2010s

2. Highest Grossing Best Picture Oscar Winners & Nominees in North America Adjusted by Ticket Price

3. Best Picture Oscar Winner by Ticket Price Adjusted Gross Revenue in North America by Year 1950 - 2018

4. Best Picture Oscar Winner by Inflation Adjusted Worldwide Gross Revenue by Year 1989 - 2018

Data Table

5. Inflation Adjusted Revenue, Genre and Source for Best Picture Oscar Award Winners and Nominees 1950 - 2018

Prior to the 1970s, musicals were common among Best Picture nominated films. Since 2000, there has been a slight return of musicals including Chicago and La La Land but nothing like before the 1970s. This reflects the number of such musicals produced and their popularity.

 

Increasingly non-fiction movies have become dominant among Best Picture nominated films. The 2010s have been a particularly strong decade for non-fiction movies with non-fiction movies being over 40% of Best Picture nominees and 5 of the 9 Best Picture winners in the decade so far including 12 Years a Slave and Spotlight. This is a huge difference from the 1950s when movies based in true stories such as "The Diary of Anne Frank" were a small percentage of Best Picture nominees. Far more movies in the 1950s which were based on theatrical productions such as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Contemporary dramas such as 12 Angry Men were far more common among Best Picture nominees in the 50s than today. 

 

Science fiction movies such as Gravity and The Martian have in recent years received far more nominations for Best Picture than in the past, likely reflecting a greater number of Sci-Fi films being produced and changing attitudes towards them. Contemporary dramas have consistently been represented throughout all periods from the 1950s to the present (and likely before) although more so in the 1950s than presently. Superhero movies, which often dominate at the box office, have only received 1 nomination. This was for Black Panther in 2018. Comedy films, which had a solid representation from the 1950s to the 1990s, seem to have declined in the 20th century although it's far from unusual for a comedy film to receive a best picture nomination. 2018 was a particularly good year for comedy films with 3 of the 7 nominees being comedy films based on real events including the winner Green Book. 

Lawrence of Arabia, an epic historical drama, won the Best Picture Oscar in 1962. 

Gone with the Wind is the highest grossing movie of all time after adjusting for inflation. This is partly due to it being released multiple times. The above image is the poster for the 1967 re-release. 

The chart above shows the highest grossing Best Picture nominated films of all time in North America, adjusted for ticket price inflation.

The civil war epic, Gone with the Wind, is by far the highest grossing film of all time in North America after adjusting for ticket price inflation. Gone with the Wind had numerous releases, firstly in 1940, which helped it amass it's total sales. Star Wars is second and The Sound of Music is in a close third among Best Picture nominated films. Only 2 movies from the 90s, Titanic and Forrest Gump, are in the top 20. Avatar and Black Panther are the only two 21st century Best Picture nominated films to make the top 20. In recent years, it has become less common for the highest grossing films to be nominated or win the Best Picture award. Also films made nowadays receive a much larger proportion of revenue from overseas markets compared to older movies.

 

When looking at worldwide inflation adjusted gross, recent movies tend to do better with James's Cameron's movies Avatar and Titanic 2nd and 3rd respectively. Gone with the Wind, however, is also the highest worldwide. It's worth noting that the world population has grown significantly, as has global income per capita, so the global market for movies is far bigger. As such, more recent films have a much bigger advantage than movies from the mid 20th century. 

5. Inflation Adjusted Revenue, Genre and Source for Best Picture Oscar Award Winners and Nominees 1950 - 2018

Year
Movie
Genre
Source
Domestic Gross Adjusted by Inflation
CPI Inflation Adjusted Worldwide Gross
CinemaScore
1950
All About Eve
Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
166,904,348
N/A
Born Yesterday
Contemporary Romantic Comedy
Based on Play
352,898,460
N/A
Father of the Bride
Contemporary Comedy
Remake
201,378,043
N/A
King Solomon's Mines
Historical Adventure
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
221,982,783
N/A
Sunset Boulevard
Contemporary Drama
Original Screenplay
101,791,783
N/A
1951
An American in Paris
Musical
Original Screenplay
77,603,774
N/A
Decision Before Dawn
Historical Drama
Original Screenplay
26,730,189
N/A
A Place in the Sun
Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
60,358,491
N/A
Quo Vadis
Historical Drama
Based on Religious Text
517,358,491
N/A
A Streetcar Named Desire
Contemporary Drama
Based on Play
137,962,264
N/A
1952
The Greatest Show on Earth
Drama
Original Screenplay
548,400,000
N/A
High Noon
Historical Western
Original Screenplay
137,962,264
N/A
Ivanhoe
Historical Adventure
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
235,267,739
234,334,189
Moulin Rouge
Historical Musical
Original Screenplay
203,666,792
126,348,457
The Quiet Man
Contemporary Romantic Comedy
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
131,064,151
N/A
1953
From Here to Eternity
Drama
null
464,616,667
N/A
Julius Caesar
Historical Drama / Dramatized Drama
Based on Play/ Based on Real Life Events
30,786,567
36,866,646
The Robe
Historical Adventure
Based on Religious Text
548,400,000
N/A
Roman Holiday
Contemporary Romantic Comedy
Original Screenplay
76,166,667
112,857,079
Shane
Historical Western
Original Screenplay
304,666,667
N/A
1954
On the Waterfront
Contemporary Drama
Original Screenplay
194,986,667
N/A
The Caine Mutiny
Historical Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
442,782,222
N/A
The Country Girl
Contemporary Drama
Based on Play
132,022,222
N/A
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Historical Musical
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
101,555,556
N/A
Three Coins in the Fountain
Contemporary Romantic Comedy
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
101,555,556
N/A
1955
Marty
Contemporary Romantic Comedy
Original Screenplay
40,622,222
N/A
Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing
Contemporary Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
203,111,111
N/A
Mister Roberts
Contemporary Comedy
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
430,595,556
N/A
Picnic
Contemporary Romantic Comedy
Based on Play
127,960,000
N/A
The Rose Tattoo
Contemporary Drama
Based on Play
85,306,667
N/A
1956
Around the World in 80 Days
Historical Adventure
Remake
767,760,000
N/A
Friendly Persuasion
Historical Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
N/A
N/A
Giant
Contemporary Western
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
551,665,155
N/A
The King and I
Historical Musical
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story? (1st?)
389,364,000
N/A
The Ten Commandments
Dramatized Drama
Based on Religious Text
1,197,340,000
N/A
1957
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
497,216,000
N/A
12 Angry Men
Drama
Original Screenplay
36,560,000
N/A
Peyton Place
Contemporary/Historical Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
467,968,000
N/A
Sayonara
Contemporary Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
480,764,000
N/A
Witness for the Prosecution
Contemporary Drama
Based on Play
N/A
N/A
null
1958
Gigi
Historical Musical
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
133,444,000
N/A
Auntie Mame
Comedy
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
425,924,000
N/A
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Contemporary Drama
Based on Play
321,185,523
N/A
The Defiant Ones
Contemporary Drama
Original Screenplay
N/A
N/A
Separate Tables
Contemporary Drama
Based on Play
135,272,000
N/A
null
1959
Ben-Hur
Historical Adventure
Based on Religious Text
895,720,000
N/A
Anatomy of a Murder
Contemporary Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story?
N/A
N/A
The Diary of Anne Frank
Dramatized Drama
Based on Real Life Events
N/A
N/A
The Nun's Story
Dramatized Drama
Based on Real Life Events?
229,396,078
N/A
Room at the Top
Contemporary Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
N/A
N/A
null
1960
The Apartment
Romantic Comedy
Original Screenplay
333,341,176
N/A
The Alamo
Historical Western
Original Screenplay
141,580,392
N/A
Elmer Gantry
Contemporary Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
186,384,314
N/A
Sons and Lovers
Historical Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
26,882,353
N/A
The Sundowners
Historical Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
N/A
N/A
null
1961
West Side Story
Contemporary Musical
Based on Play
578,866,667
N/A
Fanny
Contemporary Drama
Based on Play
132,413,140
N/A
The Guns of Navarone
Historical Adventure
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
382,820,290
N/A
The Hustler
Contemporary Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
100,672,464
N/A
Judgment at Nuremberg
Dramatized Drama
Based on Real Life Events?
132,463,768
N/A
null
1962
Lawrence of Arabia
Dramatized Adventure
Based on Factual Book/Article
489,582,600
N/A
The Longest Day
Dramatized Action
Based on Real Life Events
510,534,286
N/A
The Music Man
Historical Musical
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
195,254,503
N/A
Mutiny on the Bounty
Dramatized Drama
Based on Factual Book/Article?
178,621,714
N/A
To Kill a Mockingbird
Historical Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
171,438,275
N/A
null
1963
Tom Jones
Historical Adventure
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
404,310,588
N/A
America America
Historical Drama
Original Screenplay?
N/A
N/A
Cleopatra
Dramatized Drama
Based on Real Life Events
614,056,800
N/A
How the West Was Won
Historical Western
Original Screenplay
500,011,765
N/A
Lilies of the Field
Contemporary Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
N/A
N/A
null
1964
My Fair Lady
Historical Musical
Based on Musical or Opera
548,400,000
N/A
Becket
Drama
Based on Play
90,067,034
N/A
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Contemporary Comedy
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
90,067,000
N/A
Mary Poppins
Kids Musical
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
304,666,700
N/A
Zorba the Greek
Contemporary Drama/Comedy
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
88,451,613
N/A
null
1965
The Sound of Music
Historical Musical
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
1,301,676,500
N/A
Darling
Contemporary Drama
Original Screenplay
N/A
N/A
Doctor Zhivago
Historical Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
1,134,598,100
N/A
Ship of Fools
Contemporary/Historical Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
31,673,267
N/A
A Thousand Clowns
Contemporary Drama/Comedy
Based on Play
21,718,812
N/A
null
1966
A Man for All Seasons
Historical Drama
Based on Real Life Events / Based on Play
237,723,853
N/A
Alfie
Contemporary Comedy
Remake
158,241,910
N/A
The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming
Contemporary Comedy
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
181,903,727
N/A
The Sand Pebbles
Historical Action/Adventure
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
251,707,609
N/A
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Contemporary Black Comedy
Based on Play
234,789,000
N/A
null
1967
In the Heat of the Night
Contemporary Drama
Original Screenplay
24,379,978
N/A
Bonnie and Clyde
Dramatized Drama
Based on Real Life Events
50,700,000
N/A
Doctor Dolittle
Historical Musical
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
68,550,000
N/A
The Graduate
Contemporary Comedy
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
781,606,200
N/A
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Contemporary Drama
Original Screenplay
395,369,000
N/A
null
1968
Oliver!
Historical Musical
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
260,963,585
N/A
Funny Girl
Historical Musical
Based on Play
365,600,000
N/A
The Lion in Winter
Dramatized Drama
Based on Real Life Events
155,554,595
N/A
Rachel, Rachel
Contemporary Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
20,931,298
N/A
Romeo and Juliet
Historical Drama
Based on Play
271,417,658
N/A
null
1969
Midnight Cowboy
Contemporary Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
288,264,400
N/A
Anne of the Thousand Days
Historical Drama
Based on Play / Based on Real life events
39,483,925
N/A
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Historical Western
Original Screenplay
644,898,800
N/A
Hello, Dolly!
Historical Musical
Based on Play
213,747,905
N/A
Z
Contemporary Thriller
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
91,936,203
N/A
null
null
1970
Patton
Historical Action
Based on Factual Book/Article
364,124,400
N/A
Airport
Contemporary Thriller
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
604,257,100
N/A
Five Easy Pieces
Contemporary Drama
Original Screenplay
106,726,253
N/A
Love Story
Contemporary Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
639,783,000
N/A
MASH
Historical Black Comedy
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
481,176,774
N/A
N/A
1971
The French Connection
Contemporary Drama
Based on Factual Book/Article
286,386,700
N/A
A Clockwork Orange
Science Fiction Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
142,956,900
N/A
Fiddler on the Roof
Historical Musical
Based on Musical or Opera
474,690,323
N/A
The Last Picture Show
Contemporary / Historical Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
161,379,200
N/A
Nicholas and Alexandra
Historical Drama
Based on Factual Book/Article
N/A
N/A
null
1972
The Godfather
Historical Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
718,828,300
N/A
Cabaret
Historical Musical
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
222,190,421
N/A
Deliverance
Contemporary Thriller
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
247,975,485
N/A
The Emigrants
Historical Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
N/A
N/A
Sounder
Historical Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
90,807,303
N/A
N/A
1973
The Sting
Historical Comedy
Original Screenplay
814,765,700
N/A
American Graffiti
Contemporary Drama
Original Screenplay
600,628,600
N/A
Cries and Whispers
Historical Drama
Original Screenplay
7,745,763
N/A
The Exorcist
Fantasy Horror
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
943,326,200
N/A
A Touch of Class
Contemporary Romantic Comedy
Original Screenplay
86,752,542
N/A
null
1974
The Godfather Part II
Historical Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
232,375,200
N/A
Chinatown
Contemporary Drama
Original Screenplay
142,720,900
N/A
The Conversation
Contemporary Thriller
Original Screenplay
21,603,600
N/A
Lenny
Historical Drama
Based on Real Life Events/ Based on Play
56,804,856
N/A
The Towering Inferno
Contemporary Action
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
560,973,600
N/A
null
1975
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Contemporary Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
490,684,200
N/A
Barry Lyndon
Historical Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
89,170,732
N/A
Dog Day Afternoon
Contemporary Drama
Based on Factual Book/Article
222,926,800
N/A
Jaws
Contemporary Horror
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
1,170,640,400
N/A
Nashville
Contemporary Drama
Original Screenplay
44,514,600
N/A
null
1976
Rocky
Contemporary Drama
Original Screenplay
503,065,400
N/A
All the President's Men
Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story?
302,950,200
N/A
Bound for Glory
Historical Drama
Original Screenplay
N/A
N/A
Network
Drama
Original Screenplay
101,655,200
N/A
Taxi Driver
Contemporary Drama
Original Screenplay
117,146,500
N/A
null
1977
Annie Hall
Comedy
Original Screenplay
156,779,400
N/A
The Goodbye Girl
Contemporary Romantic Comedy
Original Screenplay
343,057,399
N/A
Julia
Contemporary Thriller
null
84,901,200
N/A
Star Wars
Science Fiction Adventure
Original Screenplay
1,304,588,900
N/A
The Turning Point
Contemporary Drama
Original Screenplay
106,292,200
N/A
null
1978
Heaven Can Wait (1978)
Fantasy Comedy
Based on Play
318,885,500
N/A
The Deer Hunter
Historical Drama
Original Screenplay
191,312,400
N/A
Midnight Express
Contemporary Drama
Based on Factual Book/Article
136,709,400
N/A
Coming Home
Historical Drama
Original Screenplay
127,545,600
N/A
An Unmarried Woman
Contemporary Drama
Original Screenplay
93,743,590
N/A
null
1979
Kramer Vs. Kramer
Contemporary Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
393,205,000
N/A
Apocalypse Now
Historical Adventure
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
286,886,800
N/A
All That Jazz
Contemporary Drama
Original Screenplay
137,732,400
N/A
Norma Rae
Contemporary Drama
Original Screenplay
80,941,800
N/A
Breaking Away
Contemporary Drama
Original Screenplay
59,810,300
N/A
null
1980
Coal Miner's Daughter
Dramatized Drama
Based on Real Life Events
228,271,600
N/A
Ordinary People
Contemporary Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
186,085,400
N/A
The Elephant Man
Dramatized Drama
Based on Real Life Events
88,378,900
N/A
Raging Bull
Dramatized Drama
Based on Real Life Events
79,286,800
N/A
Tess
Historical Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
68,272,500
N/A
1981
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Historical Adventure
Original Screenplay
705,965,600
1,081,145,895
On Golden Pond
Contemporary Drama
Based on Play
370,940,800
N/A
Chariots of Fire
Dramatized Drama
Based on Real Life Events
183,356,500
N/A
Reds
Historical Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
126,236,700
N/A
Atlantic City
Drama
Original Screenplay
41,852,200
N/A
1982
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
Science Fiction Drama
Original Screenplay
1,136,457,000
2,070,918,033.25
Tootsie
Contemporary Comedy
Original Screenplay
520,102,000
N/A
The Verdict
Contemporary Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
159,037,800
N/A
Gandhi
Dramatized Drama
Based on Real Life Events
153,169,900
N/A
Missing
Contemporary Thriller
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
43,523,800
N/A
null
1983
Terms of Endearment
Contemporary Drama
Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
300,509,500
N/A
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