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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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ARGO (2012)

What is it? A based-on-a-true-story historical thriller telling the tale of CIA agent Tony Mendez's (Ben Affleck) bonkers-sounding scheme to rescue six US embassy officials from their hideout in post-revolution Iran. Said bonkers-sounding scheme involves the officials pretending to be a film crew location scouting for a copycat Star Wars movie called – you guessed it – Argo.


Why did it win? Much like those who derided The Artist for being too self-congratulatory, cynics say Argo's another case of Hollywood patting itself on the back, but it's much more than that: as well as giving audiences a thrilling spy adventure, it also shines a light on an oft-ignored part of history still very relevant to today's international politics. Then there's the Oscar-friendly cast, including its in-from-the-cold director/producer/lead to scene-stealing veterans like John Goodman and Alan Arkin.


Did it deserve to win? Considering it was up against such Oscar-friendly fodder as Lincoln (biopic) or Life Of Pi (literary adaptation) and Silver Linings Playbook (mental illness), this popcorn-friendly thriller had just enough history in the mix to see it through. Interestingly, though it had the all-important Best Editing nomination – which it went on to win – it didn't have a Best Direction nod, with that category eventually going to Ang Lee for Life Of Pi.


Worth a look? Very much so. Where certain Academy Award winners go heavy on the worthiness and light on the watchability – we're looking at you, The Last Emperor – this manages both in a one-two punch that saw it bring in $100 million plus in the box office.

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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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