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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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THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (1957)

What is it? David Lean's tale of two men on opposing missions: the prisoner-of-war (Alec Guinness) who's trying to keep up camp morale by building a bridge, and the Special Forces men (led by William Holden) who are trying to destroy it.


Why did it win? It's hard to beat a film like this - it's got scale, unquestionably great ingredients, a gripping story and pedigree to burn. The two previously mentioned courtroom dramas, racy potboiler Peyton Place and so-so racial awareness flick Sayonara never had much of a chance. Either that, or Alec Guinness was already using the Force twenty years before Star Wars, which we wouldn't rule out: dude had skills.


Did it deserve to win? It's a great film, yes. You've got the performance of a lifetime (in a lifetime of great performances) from Alec Guinness, and Lean's magic eye for an image and personal drama amid the grand themes. Closest behind it, among the nominees, was probably 12 Angry Men, which maybe lost out because some of them didn't get that angry so really it's false advertising, followed by Billy Wilder's Witness for the Prosecution, another noir-ish courtroom drama. And left out in the cold altogether was the brilliant but pitch-black Sweet Smell of Success and (horror!) The Seventh Seal.


Worth a look? Powerful, provocative and brilliantly put together - that's a hell yes.

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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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The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
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