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Journey Through Oscar History With This Gallery of All 88 Best Picture Winners

The 2015 Oscars will be the 87th annual Academy Awards. In nearly a century of honoring Hollywood’s best, the Academy has made some bold choices, and some dumb choices. This gallery has them all; the complete history of nine decades of Best Picture winners in pictures. Some are classics, still watched to this day. A few are almost totally forgotten to history. (Cavalcade, anyone?) But they all won. Even Crash, somehow.

When assembled this way, it becomes clear that the Oscars are fallible just like any other award. They’re given an enormous amount of weight by society at large, but their batting average is low enough to make Mario Mendoza look good. A few masterpieces made it through the gauntlet; The GodfatherCasablanca, The Apartment. But so many others didn’t. Citizen Kane didn’t win; neither did Pulp FictionSingin’ in the Rain wasn’t even nominated in 1952.

It’s not always cut and dry, either. The Sting is a great movie, and a worthy Best Picture winner. But picking it meant The Exorcist and American Graffiti lost; ditto The Godfather Part II edging out masterpieces Chinatown and The Conversation. I’d say every year is a Sophie’s choice, but Sophie’s Choice didn’t get nominated for Best Picture either (although Meryl Streep did win Best Actress).

I’m not trying to bash the Oscars or the Academy. But I think we all need to reassess what they mean. Too much importance is placed on those handful of movies, and on those two months of the year when all the awards contenders come out. The Oscars should be where the conversation starts, not where it ends. Let’s keep that in mind when all our favorites lose on Sunday.

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