The Oscars are notorious for not getting it right.
That's the reputation you earn when you don't reward "Citizen Kane" Best Picture, or when "Crash" topples "Brokeback Mountain," or "Dances with Wolves" nabs the big prize.
But there are also plenty of times that the Academy got it right.
In truth, there's no way of knowing whether a film will have staying power through the years. But sometimes, voters make truly great and interesting choices.
Here are the 12 greatest Best Picture winners of all time:
12. "Amadeus" (1984)
The stereotype of an Oscar movie is an overlong, stale, historical biopic. "Amadeus" could have been just that but, instead, it turns the whole formula on its head. It brings 1700s Austria to life by making it feel just as alive as the present day.
Portraying a rivalry that might not ever have existed and turning one of history's greatest composers into a spoiled, giggling buffoon, who might have been a genius by accident, the film says so much more about the past than any buttoned-up, historically accurate film could.
No movie can get the past completely right — that's both the power and the danger of the medium. The great thing about "Amadeus" is that it acknowledges that almost immediately by letting Salieri tell somebody else's story. And the fact that it works so well is a true stroke of genius.
11. "Schindler's List" (1993)
After years of snubs, Spielberg rightfully won his first Oscar ever for "Schindler's List," the true story of a German businessman who saved countless Jewish lives during the Holocaust. This is such difficult subject matter and it is truly incredible to see the way Spielberg handles it. He spares none of the awful details and yet finds a ray of light in a horrible world during a horrible period of time. This is quite simply essential viewing.
10. "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991)
"The Silence of the Lambs" is notable for two big reasons.
First off, it's the only horror film to win Best Picture. The character of Hannibal Lecter himself is bigger than just one film, but "The Silence of the Lambs" delivers the goods. This is the perfect horror movie for the Academy, as it is one that relies less on gore (though it is there) and more so on mounting dread. If a horror movie was going to win the big prize, it was going to be the one with the most likable cannibal of all time.
Secondly, it was released on February 14, 1991, basically a full year before the actual Oscar ceremony. So it proved that awards aren't just for that stretch of movies released during the last two weeks of every year.
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