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Ranking all "Best Picture" Oscar Winners since 2000

Still from the movie Spotlight

Welcome to our retrospective article on the Best Picture Oscar winners of the 21st century. As we approach the 95th Academy Awards, we thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the films that have taken home the coveted golden statuette since the year 2000.

From the historic triumphs of The Departed to the more recent surprises like Moonlight, we will be ranking all the Best Picture winners of the past two decades and discussing what made each film a deserving champion. Whether you're a film buff or just a casual viewer, we hope you enjoy this journey through the past 22 years of cinema.

#22 The Shape of Water (2017)

Still from the movie The Shape of Water

Searchlight Pictures

GoatScore: 74.4%
IMDB: 73% Rotten Tomatoes: 82% Filmaffinity: 64% Metacritic: 79%

The world-renowned Guillermo del Toro directed and co-wrote The Shape of Water, and the film's idea stemmed from a childhood wish. Throughout the film, a lonesome janitor forms a relationship with a captive amphibian-like creature during the Cold War. Out of 13 Oscar nominations, the film won 4, the most notable being Del Toro for Best Director and Best Picture.

#21 Chicago (2002)

Still from the movie Chicago


GoatScore: 75.6%
IMDB: 72% Rotten Tomatoes: 85% Filmaffinity: 66% Metacritic: 80%

1920s housewife Roxie Hart longs for a taste of fame, but instead of paparazzi, she gets mugshots and death row. Roxie and Velma compete for fame to outrun their fate; meanwhile, they portray how women have been taught to compete against each other instead of working together. Chicago won 6 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Renée Zellweger, and Best Supporting Actress for Catherine Zeta-Jones.

#20 Nomadland (2020)

Still from the movie Nomadland

Cor Cordium Productions

GoatScore: 77.3%
IMDB: 73% Rotten Tomatoes: 88% Filmaffinity: 67% Metacritic: 80%

In times of loss, we reflect on our values, and for some, that may include traveling and seeing the beauty throughout the world. Nomadland follows a woman who lost everything in the Great Recession, but she takes it as an opportunity to embark on an adventure across America. Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland won best actress, director, and picture, making her the first woman of color filmmaker to win Best Director at the Oscars.

#19 Crash (2004)

Still from the movie Crash

Blackfriars Bridge Films

GoatScore: 77.6%
IMDB: 78% Rotten Tomatoes: 81% Filmaffinity: 76% Metacritic: 76%

Inspired by a real-life incident, Crash shows a tapestry of Los Angeles citizens that come from every side of the tracks as detectives investigate a racially-motivated hate crime. Crash was nominated for 6 awards and won half of them, including Best Film Editing, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture.

#18 CODA (2021)

Still from the movie CODA

Apple Original Films

GoatScore: 78.3%
IMDB: 80% Rotten Tomatoes: 93% Filmaffinity: 67% Metacritic: 74%

Ruby is a CODA, Child of Deaf Adults, and is the only person in her family with hearing. Ruby is torn between abandoning her parents with their family’s fishing business and pursuing her love for music at Berklee College of Music. With 3 nominations, CODA won all of them, Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor for Troy Kotsur, making him the first deaf male actor to win an Oscar.

#17 Moonlight (2016)

Still from the movie Moonlight

A24 Films

GoatScore: 78.9%
IMDB: 74% Rotten Tomatoes: 89% Filmaffinity: 68% Metacritic: 85%

Chiron is a young African-American struggling with his identity and sexuality while attempting to navigate the constant struggles of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Coming of age has never been easy, but society complicates things further. Shockingly, the film received 19 nominations and won 4 Academy Awards.

#16 Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

Still from the movie Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

New Regency Productions

GoatScore: 79%
IMDB: 77% Rotten Tomatoes: 85% Filmaffinity: 70% Metacritic: 85%

A washed-up movie star with something to prove; this could either go really well or really poorly. His Broadway production will be more challenging than he imagined, with critics out to get him, family troubles, and pompous cast members. Since Birdman was carefully rehearsed and shot, editing only took 2 weeks; that’s practically unheard of. Birdman went on to win 4 awards, including Best Achievement in Directing.

#15 Green Book (2018)

Still from the movie Green Book

Dreamworks Pictures

GoatScore: 79.1%
IMDB: 82% Rotten Tomatoes: 84% Filmaffinity: 76% Metacritic: 75%

In a time of racism and segregation, an African-American pianist entrusts an Italian-American bouncer as his driver and bodyguard while on tour in the Deep South. Interesting fact; the director, Peter Farrelly, also created the Dumb and Dumber movies, and this film was his first step away from comedy. Green Book won 3 awards from the Academy: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Mahershala Ali; it even won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018.

#14 The Hurt Locker (2008)

Still from the movie The Hurt Locker

Voltage Pictures

GoatScore: 79.1%
IMDB: 75% Rotten Tomatoes: 91% Filmaffinity: 67% Metacritic: 84%

Ever had a boss do all of your work for you? Me neither, but this army bomb squad Sergeant does. His squad mates are tired of his savior complex and need to disarm that before they even think of disarming any explosives. The Hurt Locker is the first film on the Iraq War to win an Academy Award and the first movie post-Vietnam War to win Best Picture.

#13 A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Still from the movie A Beautiful Mind

Universal Pictures

GoatScore: 79.3%
IMDB: 82% Rotten Tomatoes: 84% Filmaffinity: 75% Metacritic: 77%

A Beautiful Mind tells the story of John Nash, an American Nobel Prize winner whose years of mental illness shadowed his groundbreaking work on game theory in mathematics. The movie was shot in a particular way to show how his schizophrenia slowly warped his mind and how the effects of the disease spread like wildfire in his life. The film was awarded Best Director, Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress for Jennifer Connelly.

#12 Argo (2012)

Still from the movie Argo

Warner Bros.

GoatScore: 80.9%
IMDB: 77% Rotten Tomatoes: 93% Filmaffinity: 72% Metacritic: 82%

Argo is based on a series of events during the Iran hostage crisis from 1979-1981. The focus remains on multiple U.S. embassy employees who escape, find refuge with Canadian diplomats, and flee the country masquerading as a Canadian film crew. All the way from the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama announced Argo’s award for Best Picture.

#11 Gladiator (2000)

Still from the movie Gladiator

Universal Pictures

GoatScore: 81.1%
IMDB: 85% Rotten Tomatoes: 83% Filmaffinity: 79% Metacritic: 78%

Gladiator follows a former Roman General on a mission for justice against the crooked ruler who enslaved him and murdered his family. The former Roman General is out for blood, even if it leads to his demise. Interestingly, a smaller version of the iconic Colosseum had to be built for the film, costing $1 million. Also, the movie was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won 5 of them.

#10 Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Searchlight Pictures

GoatScore: 82.1%
IMDB: 80% Rotten Tomatoes: 91% Filmaffinity: 77% Metacritic: 81%

Jamal Malik is an Indian Muslim who becomes a contestant on a game show. Malik makes it to the last question, but before he can answer, the police detain and torture him due to suspected cheating. This critically acclaimed film was nominated for 10 Oscars, but none for acting. Of those 10 nominations, Slumdog Millionaire took home 8 awards.

#9 No Country for Old Men (2007)

Still from the movie No Country for Old Men

Paramount Vantage

GoatScore: 82.3%
IMDB: 82% Rotten Tomatoes: 90% Filmaffinity: 72% Metacritic: 86%

If you randomly stumble across a bunch of money, whatever you do, don’t take it. While out hunting, Llewelyn Moss couldn’t resist snagging the $2 million in cash after finding the remains of a drug deal gone wrong. A ruthless killer is hunting Moss because they obviously want their money back. Not to mention that No Country for Old Men won 4 Oscars.

#8 The Artist (2011)

Still from the movie The Artist

Studio 37

GoatScore: 82.8%
IMDB: 79% Rotten Tomatoes: 91% Filmaffinity: 76% Metacritic: 85%

Considered the most-awarded French film in film history, The Artist uses the Academy Screen Aspect Ratio because it gives actors presence and power. The movie takes place between 1927 and 1932, when silent films began to lose popularity and were replaced with talkies. The Artist was nominated for 10 awards and won 5, including Best Costume Design and Best Original Score.

#7 Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Still from the movie Million Dollar Baby

Warner Bros.

GoatScore: 82.9%
IMDB: 81% Rotten Tomatoes: 90% Filmaffinity: 80% Metacritic: 81%

Million Dollar Baby follows Maggie, a determined underdog boxer who gets help from an underrated trainer. Due to an incident in the ring, Maggie becomes quadriplegic. That year, Million Dollar Baby was the only film nominated for Best Actress as well as Best Actor. The film was nominated for 7 Oscars and won 4: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress for Hilary Swank, and Best Supporting Actor for Morgan Freeman.

#6 The King’s Speech (2010)

Still from the movie The King's Speech

The Weinstein Company

GoatScore: 83.1%
IMDB: 80% Rotten Tomatoes: 93% Filmaffinity: 74% Metacritic: 86%

The King’s Speech follows King George VI, who struggled with controlling his stuttering, so he finds and develops a relationship with a speech therapist. From this film, David Siedler, 73, became the oldest to win Best Original Screenplay from the Academy. The King’s Speech was nominated for 12 Oscars and won 4, including Best Director and Best Lead Actor for Colin Firth.

#5 The Departed (2006)

Still from the movie The Departed

Warner Bros.

GoatScore: 83.4%
IMDB: 85% Rotten Tomatoes: 92% Filmaffinity: 79% Metacritic: 78%

Billy Costigan tests his sanity while on his quest to infiltrate a savage Irish-American gang led by local mob boss Frank Costello. The film shows that no matter who you are, no one is safe from corruption. The Departed took home 4 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. 

#4 12 Years a Slave (2013)

Still from the movie 12 Years a Slave

New Regency Productions

GoatScore: 83.6%
IMDB: 81% Rotten Tomatoes: 93% Filmaffinity: 73% Metacritic: 88%

After being abducted and enslaved for 12 years, Solomon Northup becomes “Platt”. Through an admirable and stupendous level of strength, courage, and faith, Northup endures and survives 12 years as a slave despite the many ineffable hardships he faced throughout his life. Notably, 12 Years a Slave is the first movie by a black director to win Best Picture.  

#3 Spotlight (2015)

Still from the movie Spotlight

Participant Films

GoatScore: 84.1%
IMDB: 81% Rotten Tomatoes: 95% Filmaffinity: 73% Metacritic: 88%

Spotlight is based on a real-life investigation by Boston journalists. A team of journalists from the Boston Globe shined a spotlight on the sexual abuse perpetrated by Roman Catholic priests. Spotlight went on to win 2 Oscars: Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

#2 Parasite (2019)

Still from the movie Parasite

CJ Entertainment

GoatScore: 87.8%
IMDB: 85% Rotten Tomatoes: 95% Filmaffinity: 80% Metacritic: 92%

Parasite follows a deprived family conspiring to be employed by a rich one, as they attempt to replace their existing staff. Parasite won 4 Oscars: Best Director, Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film.

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

Still from the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

New Line Cinema

GoatScore: 88.1%
IMDB: 90% Rotten Tomatoes: 90% Filmaffinity: 82% Metacritic: 91%

Now, for the much-anticipated The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. This film shows the last fight between the good and evil forces to control Middle-earth's future. The most shocking fact thus far has to be that the movie was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won all of them. 

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