Once a movie has won Best Picture at the Oscars, it’s essentially achieved the highest honor a movie can get (at least as far as American award shows go). People love to talk about the Academy Awards more than other award shows. It might help that the Academy’s an institution that’s been doing the Awards for close to a century at this point, or maybe it being the last of the major award shows for any given year helps as well.
Either way, love them or hate them, they do attract attention, and as such, those films that take home the night’s biggest award – Best Picture – achieve a certain level of fame (or sometimes infamy). Yet it’s possible to assess which of the 94 Best Picture winners go above and beyond in terms of popularity by looking at their average ratings on IMDb. The following Best Picture winners are considered the best of the best, according to the users of the entertainment-related site, and are ranked below by average user rating.
10 ‘Gladiator’ (2000)
IMDb Rating: 8.5/10
An action-packed and emotional epic that harkens back to some of the biggest movies of the 1950s and 1960s, Gladiator always seemed destined to be a crowd-pleaser. It’s got a simple yet satisfying revenge story at its core, features a talented cast at the height of their powers, has an immense sense of scale, and contains great action sequences that still hold up today.
The average critic score for Gladiator on IMDb – provided by Metacritic – is only a 67/100, but audiences were more receptive to it, as it has an average user rating of 8.5/10. As a result, it just sneaks into the top 10 highest-rated Best Picture winners, and deservingly so; it’s a difficult movie not to get swept up in, after all.
9 ‘The Departed’ (2006)
IMDb Rating: 8.5/10
It’s always felt a little strange that The Departed was the movie that finally got Martin Scorsese a Best Picture win. After all, he’d directed some of the greatest movies of the 20th century, including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas, with all three feeling like they would have been worthy winners of the Academy’s top prize.
But at the end of the day, it’s still a very good movie, and earns its 8.5/10 rating on IMDb. It’s also a rare remake that doesn’t disappoint compared to the original, as it takes the complex story of undercover gangsters and undercover cops from 2002’s Infernal Affairs and gives it a respectable re-imagining.
8 ‘Parasite’ (2019)
IMDb Rating: 8.5/10
Making history by being the first foreign film to win Best Picture (a category usually dominated by US or UK films), Parasite also might well be the best Best Picture winner of the 2010s. It’s a darkly comedic thriller about one struggling family indoctrinating themselves in the lives of another wealthier family, but soon discovering a dark secret inside the wealthy family’s mansion which changes everything.
It’s a startlingly original and consistently gripping movie, and is funny, sad, tense, exciting, and thought-provoking all at once. If anything, the (still very high) average rating on IMDb of 8.5/10 might be a little low, especially when considering the average critic rating is an even higher 96/100, according to Metacritic.
7 ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ (1991)
IMDb Rating: 8.6/10
If The Silence of the Lambs is considered to be more of a horror movie than a crime/thriller, then it’s significant for being the only movie in the genre to win Best Picture (only a handful of others have even been nominated). It also stands as perhaps the most popular depiction of cannibal/serial killer Hannibal Lecter on screen, with the uneasy alliance between him and a young FBI agent working together to track down another serial killer making for a compelling film.
Even those who generally dislike scary movies are likely to be entertained by The Silence of the Lambs, as it features great storytelling and characters, pitch-perfect performances, and admittedly infrequent (though still unnerving) horror scenes. Its accessibility and timelessness make it easy to see why it sits at an 8.6/10 on IMDb.
6 ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ (1975)
IMDb Rating: 8.7/10
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is one of the greatest American films of the 1970s, which is no small feat when considering what a good decade that was for movies. It tells the story of a rebellious patient named McMurphy creating a stir at a psychiatric hospital in the 1960s and continually clashing with the domineering and often terrifying Nurse Ratched.
With great characters, a story that provides a rollercoaster of emotions, and an unforgettable ending, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is undoubtedly a classic. Few films have achieved an average rating as high as 8.7/10, and in this film’s case, it’s well deserved.
5 ‘Forrest Gump’ (1994)
IMDb Rating: 8.8/10
Telling the story of a seemingly simple man who moves at his own pace in life, Forrest Gump is an effective and crowd-pleasing blend of comedy, romance, tragedy, and historical drama. The title character is shown to have been unknowingly present at many of the most important moments of the 1960s and 1970s in America, with the film providing an often tongue-in-cheek look at a relevantly recent time in US history.
It’s far from a perfect movie, which might make its near-perfect score seem a little too generous at first. However, when you consider the fact that parts of the film are undeniably well-made, and it is ultimately likely to be a likable movie in the eyes of most viewers, the praise from the IMDb community becomes understandable.
4 ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ (2003)
IMDb Rating: 9.0/10
Bringing The Lord of the Rings trilogy to a triumphant (and suitably epic) conclusion, The Return of the King earns its place among the best of the 21st century’s Best Picture winners so far. Everything comes to a head, there are next to no threads left hanging, and it builds upon – and in many ways outdoes – the other two films in the acclaimed trilogy.
Only a small handful of movies on IMDb can boast a rating that’s at 9.0/10 or higher, but The Return of the King is one of them. It’s a textbook example of how to do an epic fantasy movie right, and it’s hard to imagine many people coming away from this trilogy’s conclusion unsatisfied or disappointed.
3 ‘The Godfather: Part II’ (1974)
IMDb Rating: 9.0/10
Sequels winning Best Picture are a rarity, making The Godfather: Part II stand out. It builds on the first film immaculately, taking the new boss of the family, Michael Corleone, down a dark and morally dubious path, all the while featuring flashbacks showing how Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando’s character in the first movie) established the Corleone crime family.
Its 9.0/10 rating puts it just behind the first Godfather, helping cement The Godfather: Part II’s legacy as one of the best sequels in film history. Even more impressive was the fact that it was one of two 1974 releases directed by Francis Ford Coppola, with his other – The Conversation – winning the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival: the Palme d’Or.
2 ‘Schindler’s List’ (1993)
IMDb Rating: 9.0/10
A haunting and emotionally intense three-hour war-drama shot in black and white, Schindler’s List is a difficult but essential watch. It tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a once-greedy industrialist who used his immense wealth to save the lives of more than 1000 Jewish prisoners during World War Two.
Seeing as it’s a seemingly impossible film not to be moved by, it’s clear to see why it has the high average rating of 9.0/10 on IMDb. It finds a small shred of hope and humanity within a horrific true life event, all the while being honest in depicting the atrocities that happened in unflinching detail. It’s a powerful and historically important film, and easily one of director Steven Spielberg’s best.
1 ‘The Godfather’ (1972)
IMDb Rating: 9.2/10
What more is there to say about The Godfather? For as beloved as its 1974 sequel is, this one has a slightly higher average rating, at 9.2/10. It’s also the second-highest-rated movie on the site overall, beaten only by the 1994 prison drama The Shawshank Redemption.
While it wasn’t the first great crime movie, it did help redefine what the genre could do, mainly by telling a crime-related story on a larger scale than had been seen before. It’s a beautiful, emotional, and near-perfectly made movie, and one of those rare highly-acclaimed films that feels like it deserves every ounce of praise it gets.
NEXT: Actors Who Have Appeared in the Most Best Picture Winners