The Academy Awards, founded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), are considered the ultimate form of recognition for any film director or actor. AMPAS was originally set up for the purposes of mediating labor disputes, but the organization also created an awards ceremony to recognize talent in the film industry. Since the first ceremony in 1929, the Academy Awards, otherwise known as The Oscars, have grown in both stature and size. A live telecast from Hollywood is screened live in over 100 countries each year, while close to 40 million Americans tune in annually. Although the date of the ceremony has fluctuated over the years, in recent times The Oscars have been held in the last week of February or the first week of March. The most prominent award is the Academy Award for Best Picture, but there are many other categories that recognize films. Listed below are some of the all time great films to have been recognized at The Oscars.
The 12th Academy Awards in 1940 gave the Academy Award for Best Picture to "Gone with the Wind." In total, the film received ten Academy Awards, which stood as a record for two decades. "Gone with the Wind" is perhaps best known for being one of the first major films to be shot in color. In 1989, "Gone with the Wind" was included in the National Film Registry, thus cementing its status as an iconic American film.
A remake of a silent film from 1925, "Ben-Hur" surpassed the achievements of "Gone with the Wind" at the 32nd Academy Awards held in 1960. At that time, the film was the most expensive ever made. A scene with a nine-minute chariot race remains once of Hollywood most well-known action sequences. "Ben-Hur" won 11 Academy Awards, a record which stood for 37 years.
"West Side Story" was a film adaptation of a 1957 Broadway musical. One of the film's co-directors, Robert Wise, had no previous experience with directing, so it was a little more than surprising when the film scooped ten Oscars at the 34th Academy Awards in 1962, including the Academy Award for Best Director. To this day, "West Side Story" still holds the record for the most Oscars awarded to a musical film.
Starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, "The Godfather" is often thought of as one of greatest films of all time. Based around a 1969 novel, the film depicts the life of some of New York's most powerful crime bosses. Despite the film's success, "The Godfather" only picked up three Oscars at the 45th Academy Awards in 1973, although it did receive seven other nominations. Two other films followed as a result of the popularity of this film: "The Godfather Part II" and "The Godfather Part III."
Directed by Steven Spielberg, "Schindler's List" is about a German businessman who employees Jews during the Holocaust in order to save them. The film was especially difficult to direct for Spielberg due to his Jewish heritage. The film took home seven Academy Awards at the 66th Academy Awards in 1994, with Spielberg picking up his first Oscar for best director. Although the film was shot in black and white, "Schindler's List" is recognized by many film critics as one of the best films of all time.
Many people thought that the plot of "Titanic" would not catch on with moviegoers prior to its release. Despite this initial skepticism, "Titanic" became the first film in history to earn $1 billion at the box office. Nominated for 14 Oscars at the 70th Academy Awards in 1998, "Titanic" won eleven Oscars, which equaled the record set by "Ben-Hur" 38 years previously. Director James Cameron won the Academy Award for Best Director. At that time, "Titanic" was the most expensive film made, but it did become the highest grossing film of all time until "Avatar," also directed by Cameron, surpassed it in 2010.
The third film of a trilogy, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" received praise for the work contributed to all three movies. The film became the second to pass $1 billion at the box office and was nominated for 11 Oscars at the 76th Academy Awards in 2004. The film picked up an Academy Award for every category in which it was nominated. This put "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" alongside "Ben-Hur" and "Titanic" as the only films to have won 11 Oscars.