We Looked Back At Every Best Picture Winner At The Oscars Since 2000 To See Which Ones Still Hold Up (And Definitely Don’t) Today

which best pictures winners hold up

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In the run-up to the Academy Awards, it’s endlessly debated who should (and definitely shouldn’t) win an Oscar. Sometimes there’s a consensus favorite, other times one or two choices seem to rise above the rest, and then there are some years when it’s a full-on free-for-all; a real take-no-prisoners kind of situation where everyone has a choice and no one agrees with yours.

Then the ceremony happens. Awards are given out and we take a few days to process the results either in a negative or positive light. As is to be expected, the negative light tends to shine brighter. We shake our fists in the air and fire off snarky tweets. We make snide comments about the voters and explain to anyone willing to listen to us about why the wrong movie won and why this other movie should have.

Then it’s all over. We move on.

For all the attention something like the Oscars receives, once they are over, they’re firmly over and rarely do we remember much of what went down by the time the next weekend hits. Not even winning something like an Oscar for Best Picture can be enough to save a film from the cruel passage of time, and it seems like as soon as a movie wins, the clock starts ticking on its relevancy.

Of course, there are some exceptions. There have been a handful of Best Picture winners that hold up enough to keep on trucking long after the ceremony has happened.

So, I wanted to take a few minutes to look back at every Best Picture winner since 2000 and see how many actually do manage to hold up—and when I say “hold up,” I basically mean “Is there actually a reason to ever watch this again?”

Going into this, my money was on less than half of them actually being worth another view but here’s how things ultimately shook out.

Gladiator (2000)

which best pictures winners hold up

Universal


Well, we’re off to a good start here.

Does Gladiator still hold up? Of course it does.

Whether it’s that opening battle in the woods versus the Germanic tribes or when Maximus first reveals himself to Commodus or when he asks the crowd “Are you not entertained?” or has his final confrontation with the emporer, there is plenty to bring you back to Gladiator even if some of the background haggling gets a little tiresome at times.

And yes, it does get a little slow. However, this came out in 2000. Things were so much different back then.

Like our attention spans.

Verdict: Yup, holds up

A Beautiful Mind (2001)

which best pictures winners hold up

Universal


Russell Crowe again!

Ah, but this time, it’s “smart, paranoid, losing his marbles Russell Crowe” as opposed to the iconic badass we saw in Gladiator.

The film is based on the true story of economist John Nash, who develops paranoid schizophrenia. The movie appropriately blurs the line between reality and Nash’s visions and leaves the viewer asking countless questions.

Are the Soviets real? What about the mailbox where Nash drops off his top-secret assignments? Is Jennifer Connelly a figment of his imagination? How about Paul Bettany?

He did push a desk out of a window. That was definitely real.

If you’ve seen this movie more than twice, I’d be very surprised and also interested to know what it’s like running the Russell Crowe Fan Club.

Verdict: Nope, doesn’t hold up

Chicago (2002)

which best pictures winners hold up

Miramax


Do you get down with musicals? I don’t. If I did and if this piece was a musical, about now is when I’d bust into a song explaining why I do get down with musicals.

It’d be flashy. There’d be lots of dancing. Real top-notch choreography.

But again, I don’t get down with musicals and Chicago is a musical.

The worst part is it’s a musical that beat out Gangs of New York and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. That’s just completely absurd.

Gangs of New York might not have deserved to win (The Two Towers definitely did), and if I got down with musicals, I’d now break into a song explaining why the second Lord of the Rings movie should have won the Oscar for Best Picture over Chicago.

Musicals typically only hold up if you dig the songs. So if you like the songs from Chicago, this one’s for you. For me, not so much.

Verdict: Nope, doesn’t hold up (but might if you’re a musical person)

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

which best pictures winners hold up

New Line


Each movie in Peter Jackson’s original Lord of the Rings trilogy was nominated for Best Picture and the last installment finally won. You’ll get no argument from me. Those three movies were amazing. I don’t even care if honoring the third one was a way for the Academy to honor all three of them because I’m super cool with that too.

Without those three Lord of the Rings movies, I can assure you that we’d never get Game of ThronesThey made fantasy cool and something that could have mass appeal.

As for holding up? Let me just ask you this: Have you ever been scrolling through the channels on a lazy Saturday afternoon and come across The Return of the King on TBS and forty minutes later realized you’re still watching it?

Of course you have. We all have.

Unless you catch it during one of the film’s seventeen endings. Then you just keep scrolling.

Verdict: Yup, holds up

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

which best picture winners hold up

Warner Bros


On the one hand, boxing movies are usually pretty good. There’s something cinematic and narrative about boxing that lends itself well to creating movies based around the sport even if the sport itself has been declining in popularity over the past decade or so.

Boxing might even cease to exist at some point and people will still be making boxing movies.

On the other hand, do you want to see Hillary Swank get paralyzed again? Do you?

No, probably not.

Some movies are best left on a shelf, where not even the rainiest of days are enough to get them down from there. This is one of them.

Verdict: Nope, doesn’t hold up

Crash (2005)

which best picture winners hold up

Lionsgate


You know Crash, right?

It’s not the 1996 David Cronenberg film about people who get sexually aroused by car accidents. It’s the movie that healed the racial divide in this country.

Literally everything has been perfect since this movie came out. It’s been very relaxing here in America since 2005.

With that out of the way, it’s worth noting that one of the movies Crash edged out in the Best Picture race was Munich and I’m here to tell you that Munich is an amazing movie. Who cares about Crash? Crash solved racism and that’s fine but that doesn’t mean it’s an amazing film.

Munich is a good movie. No, Munich is a great movie.

Munich? Definitely holds up. Crash? Well…

Verdict: Nope, doesn’t hold up

The Departed (2006)

which best picture winners hold up

Warner Bros


The Boston accents? A little suspect.

Microprocessors? I still don’t know what those are.

The rat on the railing at the end? A little too on the nose, Marty.

Yet with that being said, The Departed is a lot to handle in the best possible way. Jack Nicholson is firing on all cylinders and the same goes for Leonardo DiCaprio. Matt Damon is so incredibly easy to hate, and damn it, Alec Baldwin just wants to know why no one put cameras back there.

Don’t even get me started on Mark Walhberg flexing the hell out of the place anytime he’s on screen.

It might not be in the top five when it comes to Scorcese movies but it’s still pretty damn great.

Verdict: Yup, holds up

No Country for Old Men (2007)

which best picture winners hold up

Miramax


No Country for Old Men is sneaky.

It’s very, very sneaky.

It’s sneaky because it’s a movie you can forget about and easily not think about for years at a time. When the Coen Brothers come up in conversation, it might not even get mentioned at first. It might be an afterthought after Fargo and The Big Lebowski and O Brother Where Art Thou?.

But that right there is a travesty because No Country for Old Men is a masterpiece; a brilliant meditation on the human condition and the unforgiving winds of change that we all fall victim to.

It features one of the most fearsome bad guys ever, is visually mesmerizing, and there are enough pauses in the action to give you a chance to contemplate your entire life based on what might be happening at that point.

The movie should be required viewing every year (if not twice a year).

Verdict: Yup, holds up

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

which best picture winners hold up

Warner Bros


Sometime last week was probably the first time I had thought about Slumdog Millionaire in at least five or six years (if not longer). As is often the case since Comedy Central started airing large blocks of episodes of The Office, I had gotten sucked into a random one in the form of “Company Picnic.”

In the episode, Holly and Michael reunite to perform a skit for everyone and decide to spoof Slumdog Millionaire. Does it work? Of course it doesn’t work!

Ah, but it briefly reminded me of Slumdog Millionaire, so depending on where you stand on the movie, it wasn’t a total loss.

“Paper Planes” by M.I.A. is featured prominently in this film and that song definitely still holds up. I don’t want to live in a world where that tune doesn’t hold up, actually. I love that song.

The movie, though?

Verdict: Nope, doesn’t hold up

The Hurt Locker (2009)

which best picture winners hold up

Summit Entertainment


2009 was the first year that more than five movies could be nominated for Best Picture. Up to ten films could get the nod, and that year, the category maxed out as if to really drive home the point that the change the Academy made was warranted.

Packed house aside, the race was quickly narrowed down to two choices: Avatar and The Hurt Locker. My memory might be a little questionable here but I feel like everyone thought Avatar was going to win.

But it didn’t!

*Cue: audible gasp*

Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker did win and it won for Best Director as well. As a result, Bigelow became the first woman to win that award (it also won Best Original Screenplay for good measure).

And yes, it still very much holds up.

It’s still as intense as it was in 2009; still operating with a wild, white-knuckled vibe of impending doom and certain demise. You know the bombs aren’t going to explode but it still feels like they’re going to regardless.

Verdict: Yup, holds up

The King’s Speech (2010)

which best picture winners hold up

Paramount


The King’s Speech beating The Social Network is going to look worse and worse every year. I lost track of the amount of the “Best Movies of the 2010s” lists there were that featured The Social Network first (or at the very least in the top five).

You know how many included The King’s Speech?

None.

Image result for the king's speech gif

It’s at least better than Cats, which The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper also directed, so he’s got that going for him which is nice.

Verdict: Nope, doesn’t hold up

The Artist (2011)

which best picture winners hold up

Warner Bros


Without looking it up or even putting much thought into it, do you remember The Artist?

I’d ask if you saw The Artist but I feel like I know the answer to that one.

In the spirit of moving this along, The Artist is a French silent film shot in black and white. Entirely in black and white. It was the first film that was black and white from start to finish to win the Oscar for Best Picture since The Apartment took home the trophy in 1960.

There was a cute dog in the movie. I do remember that.

I also remember it beat Moneyball and I remember thinking it shouldn’t beat Moneyball because I liked Moneyball. It also beat The Help and Midnight in Paris which are two movies I also liked.

In 2011, the Oscars and I’s friendship really took a dark turn.

Verdict: Nope, doesn’t hold up

Argo (2012)

which best picture winners hold up

Warner Bros


And we’re back!

That Ben Affleck fella makes incredibly entertaining movies.

The Town and Gone Baby Gone are super fun to watch but Argo made it official that we were cool with Ben Affleck again. And it felt really good. I didn’t want to not be cool with Ben and you might not have either.

As far as Argo goes, I’m always down for a good thriller ripped from the history books, especially if it’s about a situation I’m not all that familiar with. I learn a little, I laugh a little, I love a little.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

Verdict: Yup, holds up

12 Years a Slave (2013)

which best picture winners hold up

Fox Searchlight


You know what this movie is? It’s not a date movie. It is most definitely not a date movie.

My wife and I learned that the hard way. We went out and saw 12 Years a Slave, sat in silence in the car for a few minutes afterward, and then tried to get through dinner pretending that everything was okay.

But everything was not okay.

This movie is both a gut punch and a slap across the face. It’s intense and heavy and, whew, I’m glad I saw it but I don’t think I ever want to again.

For the most part, as we work through the winners since 2000, the major reason a movie holds up is because it’s a quality rewatchable and something you’d be down to revisit from time to time.

That is not the case with 12 Years a Slave. No way.

But still…

Verdict: Yup, holds up

Birdman (2014)

which best picture winners hold up

Fox Searchlight


I was listening to a podcast recently that was talking about 1917, and when they started discussing the use of scenes done in one shot, the hosts all agreed that it didn’t really hold up during a second viewing. Instead of being swept up in the trick, they found themselves searching for the cracks. The illusion was over and now they wanted to see how it was done.

This feels like a normal response to something like the long, single-take—especially now when it’s been used fairly frequently over the past few years. The novelty has worn off some, although I would argue that it’s still an effective tool in 1917 and enhances the story.

But we’re talking about 2014, and in 2014, one of the signature moments from the first season of True Detective was a long take in the show’s fourth episode. Once amazement settled in, the dam had broken and it seemed everyone was looking to get in on the action.

There was also Birdman, which came out a few months after that first season of True Detective. Birdman took the idea of something that appeared to be filmed in a single shot to a whole new level. In True Detective, it was a five-minute scene. In Birdman, it was the bulk of a full-length movie.

And it was cool. But what happens when the novelty wears off?

Verdict: Nope, doesn’t hold up

Spotlight (2015)

which best picture winners hold up

Open Road Films


Movies about reporters working at a newspaper are a lot like movies about boxing. Both newspapers and boxing might soon become extinct but movies about both will go on to live forever. There will always be movies about boxing and there will always be movies about dogged reporters chasing leads for a giant story.

Sorry bloggers. A movie about you cranking out a thousand words about a meme doesn’t have the same juice and probably never will. And yes, I write that as someone who blogs and is still harboring a sliver of hope that I could be wrong.

Spotlight can drag a little bit here or there, but overall, it’s a top-five newspaper movie as well as a top-five Boston movie.

Mark Ruffalo is throwing heat the entire time while the rest of the movie’s starting rotation is full of solid pitching that could easily win a team the pennant.

It’s worth noting that the Best Picture category in 2015 was straight up lethal. Spotlight beat out The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Brooklyn, and The Martian.

Of those movies, I’d say Bridge of Spies, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, and The Martian all hold up.

As for Spotlight?

Verdict: Yup, holds up

Moonlight (2016)

which best picture winners hold up

A24


Hey, for two years in a row, movies with “light” in the title won Best Picture! Chalk that up as both something only I probably find kind of interesting and a fun fact to be used randomly in a conversation you might have at some point about the Oscars.

This was the year when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway biffed it and announced La La Land had won before a “winning” producer hopped on stage and revealed Moonlight had actually taken home the award.

You know, everyone always blames Beatty, but after watching the video, I feel like Dunaway kind of skated away from responsibility. She was the one who said La La Land. Not Beatty. Why is it that we mainly blame Beatty? Am I forgetting something?

Well, either way, Moonlight was better, so it all worked out in the end.

La La Land was fine but Moonlight was beautiful and touching and emotional. We’ll always have movies like La La Land but films like Moonlight don’t come around nearly as often.

#FreeBeatty

Verdict: Yup, holds up

The Shape of Water (2017)

which best picture winners hold up

Fox Searchlight


Yes, the woman has sexual relations with a fish monster.

Like, a couple of times.

It doesn’t get any less weird the more times it happens. It actually gets weirder.

I think she becomes a fish monster too, but at that point in the movie, I didn’t know what the hell was going on so I’m giving myself a pass for missing a detail or two.

But yeah, a woman has sexual relations with a fish monster.

There’s obviously more to the movie than that and it’s not fair to The Shape of Water to diminish those accomplishments by only focusing on the woman/fish monster stuff. But at the same time, a woman had sexual relations with a fish monster.

Like, twice.

Verdict: Nope, doesn’t hold up

Green Book (2018)

which best picture winners hold up

Universal


It’s not really a good look for a movie based on what is supposedly a true story involving two dudes on a road trip to have to deal with one of the dudes who was actually on that road trip coming out and saying things didn’t happen that way. I’d say that it’s a pretty bad look.

Picking nits at movies based on historical events is part of the gig when involved in such an undertaking but this was more than just picking nits. This was poking holes. Giant holes.

Not a good look, indeed.

It’s been a year now and this movie winning hasn’t gotten any less egregious and troubling. It beat out A Star Is Born, Vice, Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, and Roma. All of those are solid movies—albeit not perfect ones, but really good ones nonetheless.

I would have taken any of those movies (all of which still hold up, by the way) over Green Book.

Do better, Academy. Do better.

Verdict: Nope, doesn’t hold up