Welcome to The Best of Netflix Top 10 Academy Award Winners. We curated this list off of a very subjective opinion as what counts as a “featured” Academy Award; feel free to disagree in the comments. Some are Best Picture winners, some are Best Cinematography winners and some are Best Screenplay winners.
This list of Academy Award winners on Netflix is curated by our editorial staff and updated when new movies begin streaming that we feel should be included on this list. We try to keep it up to date, but if you notice a film on this list that is no longer streaming, please let us know!
Seemingly uncharacteristically directed by Martin Scorsese, Hugo is pure magic on the screen. The art direction is unique, the casting spot on, and the story, an adapted children’s novel, was perfectly transcribed onto film. The story follows Hugo through an adventure of discovering his late father’s last mystery all while avoiding capture by the marvelously evil Paris train station guards. Hugo was a brave step for Scorsese, but one that played out brilliantly.
9) The Last Emperor
Following the life of Puyi, The Last Emperor tells his story in a series of flashbacks, from his time as a young child in a royal family, through his political exile and eventual political rehabilitation during the 1950s. A historical biopic, Emperor gave a great piece of film to a mass audience that was most likely unfamiliar with these events in history.
8) Midnight Cowboy
The only X-rated film to ever win an Academy Award for Best Picture, Midnight Cowboy might likely barely scratch the surface of “R” in this day and age. Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight are brilliant in this unlikely pairing of a deteriorating con man with a wannabe male prostitute. Midnight Cowboy was deemed culturally significant by the Library of Congress in 1994 — may it live in infamy in all of our memories.
Following the illegal drug trade back and forth across the US/Mexico border, Traffic is about as terrifying as it is fascinating. The reality that the War on Drugs will never be won, that violence will only increase the more the problem is attacked inappropriately, that the victim demographic reaches for both sides of the spectrum; this film is as important of a political statement as it is a great piece of cinema.
6) Rain Man
Definitely… definitely gotta include Rain Man on this list. Following the semi-successful and overly confident Charlie Babbitt, played by Tom Cruise, as he meets and tries to understand his recently made rich, autistic brother Raymond Babbitt. The film challenges the two characters to interact cohesively on various schemes with Charlie Babbitt continually asking, “Why didn’t somebody tell me I had a brother?”
5) Brokeback Mountain
Brokeback Mountain came at a time right when societal tides were shifting on homosexuality. What was once a taboo subject, one often ignored, this film cast major light on a topic we needed to face. Based on the short story of the same name by Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain was beautifully directed with some of the best visuals of the midwest in modern film as well as perfectly acted by Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger.
4) The Artist
Sometimes movies are seemingly created to win awards, The Artist certainly fits that profile. A silent film in the era of modern special effects and blockbuster summer smash hits? Beautiful cast, excellent score, and a keen respect for it’s influence, it shouldn’t really be all that surprising that this one took home some major accolades.
3) The King’s Speech
Colin Firth’s wonderful portrayal of King George VI in this historical drama won him a nod for Best Actor, and in recent memory, there was no performance that stood out quite like this. But he stood nowhere near alone, as his partner in crime Geoffry Rush playing Lionel Logue, his speech therapist, was masterfully brilliant as well. A great historical piece with humor, sensitivity and a great story of personal improvement.
2) Good Will Hunting
Written by two young punks from Boston, Damon and Affleck came out in full force with their first screenplay. Good Will Hunting is an emotional story of a rough kid with unrecognized genius working through his own personal struggles as he reevaluates the direction of his life through mentorship from the brilliant Robin Williams. With plenty of laughs and cries throughout, Hunting was masterful in every way.
Based on director Oliver Stone’s own experiences in Vietnam, Platoon aimed to prominently display the dark and terrifying side of war. It was also a direct counter to John Wayne’s The Green Berets, an attempt to glorify US involvement in Nam to sway the existing negative public perception in the 70s. Platoon creates a dark shadow over the lives of the young men in the film, displaying how their innocence was quickly stripped the minute they stepped foot into combat.