Top 9 Best Picture Winning Films Of The 21st Century | Oscars for Best Pictures over the last 21 years
Welcome to Awesome Definition and this week we’re counting down the absolute best 9 films of 21st Century that won an Oscar for Best Pictures. These are the films to have win the most prestigious award on planet — Oscars for Best Pictures over the last 21 years. There are some other fantastic movies that won an Oscar for Best Pictures but didn’t make the list, please let us know in comments if we missed any.
Number 9 — Nomadland — 2020
With only her third feature writer director Chloe Zhao has already established a track record for crafting intimate and empathetic films that focus on small-scale lives, which he turns into rich portraits of everyday Americans. Zhao’s naturalistic docudrama approach to Nomadland provides a deeply felt path towards empathy for the film’s characters. This is a movie about those who society has cast aside, the film not only puts a spotlight on them but also digs deeper to understand them and whilst there’s an undercurrent of pain running through almost every character in the film there’s also a beauty to the way that they live and the way that they look at the world.
Number 8 — The Hurt Locker — 2008
The movie going public has largely proved resistant to films about the Iraq war maybe because it remained the subject of heated controversy. Even as the film started to appear and still remain so to this day one exception. However, its Catherine Bigelow’s best picture winning. The Hurt Locker which doesn’t ignore the politics of the conflicts but also focuses on the terrifying experiences of an explosive ordnance disposal team led by Jeremy Renner’s William James. Bigelow captures the intensity and how the experience becomes so enveloping that any other way of life starts to feel impossible.
Number 7 — Gladiator — 2000
Once upon a time Hollywood used to make big grand period pieces that were expensive, dramatic and compelling and weren’t packed with visual effects. Gladiator is the last best picture winner in that vein and Ridley Scott’s stylized sword and sandals movie holds it probably better than you remember. Its story feels huge and personal all at once and Russell Crowe gives a towering lead performance. A case could be made that Steven Soderbergh’s brilliant drama Traffic deserved best picture instead but there’s something about Gladiator that just feels truly unique.
Number 6 — Lord of The Rings — The Return of The King — 2003
Peter Jackson’s film trilogy earned billions at the box office, the intense loyalty of fans and industry admiration for the new technology introduced in the fantasy epic. Plus, all three films earned the best picture nomination with The Return of The King going on to win and also becoming only the third film to win 11 Oscars after Ben-Hur and Titanic and also became the only one to win every single one of its nominations. The Lord of The Rings trilogy was probably the greatest gamble in filmmaking history. Executives at new line cinema risked the entire studio by giving Peter Jackson 300 million dollars and a free hand to make all three films at once.
Number 5 — Moonlight — 2016
Directed and co-written by Barry Jenkins, Moonlight hums with immediacy in heart telling the story of a young man during three crucial periods in his life. Drafting different actors for each era the rawness of Moonlight’s pain and the thrill of its redemptive power are undiminished. The film is well remembered at the Oscars due in part to a fiasco that put the LaLa Land team on the stage first. And whilst Damian Chazelle’s musical is fantastic, Barry Jenkins moonlight is a masterpiece of human drama.
Number 4 — The Departed — 2006
You wouldn’t find very many people who would call this Martin Scorsese’s best film. Even though it is the one that finally got him his Oscar but it remains compulsively watchable today with Scorsese just sort of casually putting together a relentlessly entertaining spectacle that still touches on. Some of the primary themes of his entire career and whilst many would have rather given him an Oscar for Raging Bull or Goodfellas but departed is still one of the strongest films in the director’s filmography and perhaps his greatest achievement. It is that the film is just phenomenally entertaining.
Number 3–12 Years a Slave — 2013
It’s possible no film on this list has more inspired the reaction — “the best movie you’ll never want to watch again” as much as Steve McQueen’s brutal look at American slavery. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon a free northern black man in the 1840s who through terrible circumstances finds himself sold into slavery in the south. Twelve Years a Slave is a rolling nightmare refusing to let viewers off the hook or give them the comfort, that someone will come and save the day. By simply portraying the events as they actually were and maintaining an intimacy with the stunning cinematography. 12 Years a Slave lay’s bear one of humanity’s greatest sins and asks us to witness what so many want to forget.
Number 2 — No Country for Old Men — 2007
No Country for Old Men is one of the boldest best picture wins in Academy Awards history. The Coen brothers were no stranger to the Oscars, having previously won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Fargo but their core Matt McCarthy adaptation eschewed their penchant for dry humor. Instead dived into dramatic territory with an absolutely horrifying film about fate and inevitability. It’s a star movie that ends with a monologue about a dream a man had and it won best picture. Even more astounding is the fact that it was up against Paul Thomas Anderson’s — There Will Be Blood another stone-cold masterpiece with dark subject matter.
Number 1 — Parasite — 2019
And so we moved to our top spot and we had to do this list justice by making way for one of the most surprising yet pleasing Best Picture Winners of the last decade. The first international film to take home Best Picture is Bong Joon Ho’s incredible South Korean black comedy thriller. Its an intriguing social satire that offers an uncompromising vision that also acts as a commentary on Korean society at the same time we get an entertaining picture that’s rife with incredible craft and stylist visuals.
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