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Film Studies 101
Empire & Sky Movies present coverage of the Academy Awards
A Guide To All The Oscar Best Picture Winners
An in-depth look at every winner, what it's about, why it won and did it deserve to


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HAMLET (1948)

What is it? Laurence Olivier's adaptation of Shakespeare's most famous play. Olivier plays the eponymous Danish prince, tortured by the suspicion that his uncle murdered his father in order to usurp his throne and marry Hamlet's mother. Like, bummer.


Why did it win? It's tempting to conclude that the snub for Henry V two years before had quite a bit to do with it, and it probably did, but it's hard to outdo Shakespeare when it comes to attracting awards: you've got impeccable literary roots (high-brow, but familiar too); brilliant characterisation and writing; tragedy without cynicism and epic sweep all built in.


Did it deserve to win? Well, Olivier's not known as one of the best Shakespearean actors / directors of the last century for nothing, and this is a good interpretation of the greatest play ever written (even if he controversially left out Rosencrantz and Guildenstern). Still, the nominee that probably deserved to win was John Huston's Treasure of the Sierra Madre, closely followed by Powell & Pressburger's Red Shoes. Also out that year and not nominated were the Ingrid Bergman-starring Joan of Arc and Humphrey Bogart in Key Largo - once again, noir is overlooked.


Worth a look? Yes, but not as worthwhile as The Red Shoes or Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Or, for that matter, the David Tennant Hamlet of the last few months.

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THE BEST PICTURE WINNERS

1. (Best Production) Wings (1927-1928)2. The Broadway Melody (1928-1929)
3. All Quiet on the Western Front (1929-1930)4. Cimarron (1930-1931)
5. Grand Hotel (1931-1932)6. Cavalcade (1932-1933)
7. It Happened One Night (1934)8. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
9. The Great Ziegfeld (1936)10. The Life of Emile Zola (1937)
11. You Can't Take It with You (1938)12. Gone with the Wind (1939)
13. Rebecca (1940)14. How Green Was My Valley (1941)
15. Mrs. Miniver (1942)16. Casablanca (1943)
17. Going My Way (1944)18. The Lost Weekend (1945)
19. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)20. Gentleman's Agreement (1947)
21. Hamlet (1948)22. All the King's Men (1949)
23. All About Eve (1950)24. An American in Paris (1951)
25. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)26. From Here to Eternity (1953)
27. On the Waterfront (1954)28. Marty (1955)
29. Around the World in Eighty Days (1956)30. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
31. Gigi (1958)32. Ben-Hur (1959)
33. The Apartment (1960)34. West Side Story (1961)
35. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)36. Tom Jones (1963)
37. My Fair Lady (1964)38. The Sound of Music (1965)
39. A Man for All Seasons (1966)40. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
41. Oliver! (1968)42. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
43. Patton (1970)44. The French Connection (1971)
45. The Godfather (1972)46. The Sting (1973)
47. The Godfather Part II (1974)48. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
49. Rocky (1976)50. Annie Hall (1977)
51. The Deer Hunter (1978)52. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
53. Ordinary People (1980)54. Chariots of Fire (1981)
55. Gandhi (1982)56. Terms of Endearment (1983)
57. Amadeus (1984)58. Out of Africa (1985)
59. Platoon (1986)60. The Last Emperor (1987)
61. Rain Man (1988)62. Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
63. Dances with Wolves (1990)64. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
65. Unforgiven (1992)66. Schindler's List (1993)
67. Forrest Gump (1994)68. Braveheart (1995)
69. The English Patient (1996)70. Titanic (1997)
71. Shakespeare in Love (1998)72. American Beauty (1999)
73. Gladiator (2000)74. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
75. Chicago (2002)76. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
77. Million Dollar Baby (2004)78. Crash (2005)
79. The Departed (2006)80. No Country For Old Men (2007)
81. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)82. The Hurt Locker (2009)
83. The King's Speech (2010)84. The Artist (2011)
85. Argo (2012)86. 12 Years A Slave (2013)


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