The 84th annual Academy Awards ceremony takes place this Sunday in Los Angeles so I figured this is the right time to look at past Best Picture winners and just how much of an impact they had at the box office. It’s basically to see if the Academy’s preferences mirrored those of the movie going public.
Following will be a top 10 of the highest grossing Best Picture winners of all time and since we’re talking about some really old movies here, we’ll go adjusted for inflation. Also since there is no accurate worldwide adjusted data I have to chose North America only.
10. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) $469.8 million ($36M unadjusted) – Bet you didn’t see this coming in 10th place and with so much money no less. Winner of 2 Oscars in 1953, including Best Writing besides Best Picture. One of the last movies by Cecil B. DeMille, who was extremely popular at the time, The Greatest Show on Earth is definitely a movie to have in your collection.
9. My Fair Lady (1964) $469.8 million ($72M) – Starring the late Audrey Hepburn, this one took home 8 Oscars and deservingly so. Between this and the wonderful Merry Poppins, I think the overall best film won.
8. Around the World in 80 Days (1956) $505.9 million ($42M) – Since I grew up reading Jules Verne novels and watching this movie, I guess you could say I am a little biased when it comes to praising it. But you know what, Around the World in 80 Days is great and you should see it. Watch out, don’t grab by accident the 2004 version, you don’t want that. Also the film won 5 Oscars in 1957, impressive for a movie clearly not aimed at the Academy.
7. Forrest Gump (1994) $615 million ($329.7M) – Another one of my favorite films on this list, winner of 6 Oscars in 1995 and it seems also a favorite of many others since it’s sporting an 8.7 rating on IMDB from 448,908 voters. While Forrest might not be the brightest tool in the shed, he is definitely among the most popular ones.
6. The Godfather (1972) $617.9 million ($134.9M) – Marlon Brando promised an offer we can’t refuse and even 40 years later I’d say he damn well delivered. The Godfather is one of the great classics of cinema, a film you are not allowed to skip if being a movie buff is your thing.
5. The Sting (1973) $697.9 million ($156M) – Paul Newman and Robert Redford as two con man as well as 7 Oscars in 1974, The Sting is the kind of movie that just works, no pretentious crap here, just a real good time. Great film, definitely watch it plus you can find it easy now in remastered form on various online streaming services.
4. Ben-Hur (1959) $767.3 million ($74M) – One of the great epics of all time, Ben-Hur was the kind of event film you just had to see in theaters. This held the record for most Oscars (11) up until it was tied in 1998 by Titanic.
3. Titanic (1997) $1,004.9 million ($600.7M) – James Cameron, 11 Oscars, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”, and obviously a timeless love story set during one of the biggest naval disasters in history, the sinking of the Titanic. It’s getting a 3D re-release on April 4th so if you’re one of the 2-3 people that still hasn’t seen this, it’s worth the price of a ticket or better, two tickets, one for you and one for your loved one.
2. The Sound of Music (1965) $1,115.1 million ($158.6M) – Winner of 5 Oscars, The Sound of Music is another film I grew up watching so I do have fond memories of it. Now bear in mind I don’t exactly enjoy musicals but this was the rare exception for me. The Sound of Music is a classic that’s best enjoyed with the entire family, young or old, this is a film for all ages.
1. Gone with the Wind (1939) $1,582 million ($198.6M) – Winner of 8 Oscars, this is without a doubt one of the most celebrated movies of all time. Based on the best selling novel with the same name written by Margaret Mitchell (that I so happen to own a copy), Gone with the Wind was re-released in theaters 6 times over the course of 51 years, something absolutely incredible and a testament to the quality and ageless nature of this motion picture.
So now that we have that out of the way, tomorrow we’ll look at the current Best Picture nominees and see how they stack and just how out of touch with the public the Academy has gotten over the years. That or people really lost their taste in movies. I mean isn’t it strange that there’s not a single film from the past decade on that list? Think about that until next time.