Oscar winning movies

How to memorise the Oscar winning movies

Oscars awared to the Oscar winning movies at the Academy Awards

The Oscars, symbols of excellence at the annual Academy Awards

Everybody loves Oscar winning movies, and if you could only remember them all … but let’s face it, there are so many, and the thought of memorising all the Oscar winners is a bit daunting, yeah?

The Oscars is a big event, celebrating the very best of a year’s worth of filmic excellence, and we all enjoy the whole Academy Awards extravaganza. But if you ask someone to tell you which film won the Best Picture Oscar for a particular year, chances are they wouldn’t have a clue.

Oh, they know that certain films have attained this lofty level of achievement, but to populate the list of Oscar winning movies with specific names and dates is another thing entirely. Few people could recite a list of all the Oscar winning movies from the very first celebration of AMPAS (the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences).

What’s the secret of oscar winning movies

What is it that puts a film amongt the Oscar winning movies anyway? Is it the script (without it, there wouldn’t even be a film!), or the story or concept (likewise), or is it down to the outstanding performances by the actors, or the vision and organisational skills of the director? Truth is, it depends on all these things, and a whole host of other factors as well, without which a movie can slip from greatness back to mediocrity in a flash.

Just in the technical arena alone, there is an amazing range of skills and techniques that can combine to produce a film worthy of the Oscars. There are Oscars for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, for Best Sound Mixing, for Best Visual Effects, and so on, and on.

The Godfather, a worthy winner among the Oscar winning movies

The Godfather, a film that redefined the gangster genre

Some films are instantly recognisable as Oscar winners. The Godfather, for example, is well known to have won the award for Best Picture, and is, even now, after more than forty years, regarded as a seminal movie and one of the very best films of its genre.

Not only that, it was followed, just two years later, by a sequel which, by any standards, was phenomenal (some would argue that it was even better than the original). Not only was The Godfather Part II an outstanding film in every respect, but it also won the Oscar for Best Picture, like its predecessor, thereby achieving something unique in Oscars history – the only film, and its sequel, to have both won the Best Picture Oscar.

Could you recognise Oscar winners, or would you be fooled?

Statuette awarded to the Oscar winning movies A lot of other films are memorable in their own right, and most people wouldn’t have much problem recognising that Gladiator, for example, won the Best Picture Oscar, and the same goes for Schindler’s List, and Titanic. Some films, like these ones, were always destined to score big at the Oscars.

Many other films, though, might give you cause to pause and ponder awhile. Did Annie Hall win bigtime at the Oscars? Or The English Patient? How about Amadeus? Or All the King’s Men? Was Cavalcade an Oscar winner? Yes, as a matter of fact, they were all Oscar winners, and taking the Oscar for Best Picture, specifically.

Rambo, was he among the Oscar winning movies?

Rambo was tough alright … but was Rambo (the movie) a Best Picture Oscar winner? Err, lemme think …

But how about The Graduate? No, didn’t make it. Great movie, and Mike Nichols won an Oscar for Best Director, but as far as winning a Best Picture Oscar, Dustin Hoffman went through all that angst for nothing. The film was nominated for Oscars in six other categories though, apart from Best Director, which it won.

Or Rambo? Surely a film of such power must have run away with the Oscar for Best Picture? Nah, another miss.

Dirty Harry, surely. Nah, not lucky this time, punk! So how do you tell an Oscar winning movie from an also-ran? Simple! You just have to memorise the entire list, that’s all. And if you do it sensibly, using reliable memory techniques, it won’t take long at all. Then you’ll know for sure which films became Oscar winning movies and made it into the record books of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Memorising the Oscar winning movies

If you decide that, on balance, life’s hardly worth living if you don’t know the entire list of Oscar winning best movies, then the way to do it is to use a couple of trusty memory techniques and lots of creative imagination and imagery. For now, though, let’s take a look at the list, and see what amazing movies are on there. Many of them you’ll instantly recognise, and you will probably have seen. Some may be a completely unexplored country to you, but maybe they’re a delight waiting to happen. Anyway, here’s the list:

19292ndBroadway Melody
19303rdAll Quiet on the Western Front
19325thGrand Hotel
19347thIt Happened One Night
19358thMutiny on The Bounty
19369thThe Great Zeigfeld
193710thThe Life of Emile Zola
193811thYou Can't Take It With You
193912thGone With The Wind
194114thHow Green Was My Valley
194215thMrs. Miniver
194417thGoing My Way
194518thThe Lost Weekend
194619thThe Best Years of Our Lives
194720thGentlemen's Agreement
194922ndAll The King's Men
195023rdAll About Eve
195124thAn American In Paris
195225thThe Greatest Show on Earth
195326thFrom Here to Eternity
195427thOn The Waterfront
195629thAround The World in 80 Days
195730thThe Bridge on the River Kwai
196033rdThe Apartment
196134thWest Side Story
196235thLawrence of Arabia
196336thTom Jones
196437thMy Fair Lady
196538thThe Sound of Music
196639thA Man for All Seasons
196740thIn the Heat of the Night
196942ndMidnight Cowboy
197144thThe French Connection
197245thThe Godfather
197346thThe Sting
197447thThe Godfather Part II
197548thOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
197750thAnnie Hall
197851stThe Deer Hunter
197952ndKramer vs. Kramer
198053rdOrdinary People
198154thChariots of Fire
198356thTerms of Endearment
198558thOut of Africa
198760thThe Last Emperor
198861stRain Man
198962ndDriving Miss Daisy
199063rdDances With Wolves
199164thThe Silence of the Lambs
199366thSchindler's List
199467thForrest Gump
199669thThe English Patient
199871stShakespeare in Love
199972ndAmerican Beauty
200174thA Beautiful Mind
200376thThe Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
200477thMillion Dollar Baby
200679thThe Departed
200780thNo Country for Old Men
200881stSlumdog Millionaire
200982ndThe Hurt Locker
201083rdThe King's Speech
201184thThe Artist
201386th12 Years a Slave

Memorising the list of Best Picture Oscar winners
at the Academy Awards

Ben-Hur, record breaker among Oscar winning movies

Oww-w-w!! My lip ring ripped out … that really, really hurt!

If you want to memorise the list of Oscar winning movies, just use the Major System. Link the image for the year to something that symbolises the film. For example, for1959 (which gives ‘Lip’ for 59), you could imagine Ben-Hur racing in the chariot race, with his reins attached to a ring through his lip. A painful way to control a team of four excitable and straining horses, maybe, but then the upside is it would give you the freedom to use both hands to upset the opposition!

Only a tough, square-jawed hero like Charlton Heston could manage it! It’s such a ridiculous image that you won’t forget it, and that’s all that matters, right?

The Apartment, among the oscar winning movies of 1960

Can you visualise Miss Kubelik in the lift … er, I mean the elevator?

For 1993 (93 is ‘Bomb’ in the Major System), imagine the workers at the enamelware factory in Schindler’s List using their skills to manufacture a bomb to create a diversion so they can all escape. For 1960 (‘Cheese’), just link cheese to an image that brings The Apartment to mind. Maybe you could see Miss Kubelik closing the lift doors (that’s elevator doors, if you’re in the US of America!), and the only other occupant of the lift/elevator is a massive, smelly cheese, taller than Miss Kubelik. Make sure it’s really smelly, and crumbly, and anything else you can imagine that ‘brings it to life’. That way you’ll remember the image (and the smell, and the crumbs), and forever link The Apartment to 1960. Bingo, The Apartment just joined your memorised list of Oscar winning movies!

The winner of the Best Picture award at the Oscars in 1982 was Gandhi. Even if you’ve never seen the film, you know Gandhi was a thin, ascetic man in a loose robe, right? So that’s your image to start with. Then, for the year (1982), you would have ‘fan’. So your image would be this thin, robed man standing before a massive wind-blower, his robe practically being torn off by its force, and him clinging to it and wrapping it round himself to save it being ripped right off.

Memorise Oscar winnering movies using the Major System

A Man For All Seasons, among the oscar winning movies

Sir Thomas More, being judged in A Man For All Seasons

Shall we do one more? Okay! For 1966 (which in the Major System is ‘Judge’), imagine Thomas More being harshly judged (as indeed he was), and make sure the judge in question is a ridiculous caricature. Make him huge, with a scraggly wig, staring eyes, a warty nose, an oversized gavel that he keeps slamming down, and see him looming over the defendant threateningly. There! A Man For All Seasons will henceforth be forever linked to 1966!

Statuette awarded to the Oscar winning moviesYou only need to take about 10 seconds to come up with a link and visualise it and it’ll be there forever (well, virtually forever … it’ll be much more durable if you revisit it occasionally). For extra emphasis, close your eyes once you’ve decided on an image and concentrate on it, and its details. You’ll see it even more clearly in your mind. Some of the films won’t lend themselves so easily to this process, specially if you haven’t seen them, but use your innate creativity.

For the purposes of memorising this data (because if you’re just linking the film names to dates, then that’s all it is, a stack of data), it doesn’t really matter whether or not you’ve seen the films. All that matters is that you create memorable links between the film titles and the dates. And once you’ve done that, go over the list a few times over a period of a week or two. This will reinforce the memories you’re creating.

Within a few weeks (but actually taking only a few minutes of real time), you’ll have the entire list reliably memorised. And then you’ll be able to bore people half to death … er, I mean amaze people, yes, that’s it, amaze people, by reeling off the answer to any question about which film won Best Picture Oscar for a particular year. Or even by reciting the entire list from memory (Note: Please think very carefully before doing this, unless specifically requested!)

Wow … amaze your friends!!

At that point, all that’s left is to find an inquisitive and enquiring audience among your friends. Because you wouldn’t want to become the local bore, reeling off all these lists from memory just to amaze people, would you? I mean, would you? Hey, come on, you wouldn’t really want to do that … would you??

Oh … what about the number … the number that specifies the film’s position in the list? Can you memorise that as well? Sure, why not? All you have to do is tack on another item and include it in your image. In this case, why not make it a character from your 100 List.

Statuette awarded to the Oscar winning moviesSo, for The Apartment, which won the Best Picture Oscar in 1960, at the 33rd Academy Awards, you just need to add Cilla Black (I’m assuming here that you’re using my 100 List characters – if not, use whatever image your list contains). So, in that lift (okay, okay, elevator!), along with Miss Kubelik and the giant, smelly cheese, you just have to add Cilla Black. Maybe she’s shying away from the cheese because it smells so strong, or maybe she’s shamelessly gorging herself on it wildly and messily, to the astonishment and disgust of Miss Kubelik. It could be that the elevator is so small and the cheese so big that she’s squashed up against it and almost being engulfed by it.

Whatever you decide, make the image really odd, really vivid, and really memorable. Then, you’ll have linked not only the year (1960) to The Apartment (symbolised by Miss Kubelik in the elevator), but also the film’s position in the list (the 33rd Academy Awards). Not bad for maybe 20-30 seconds work!

Statuette awarded to the Oscar winning moviesGandhi won Best Picture in 1982, which was the year of the 55th Oscars. So, to integrate 55 into your Ghandi image, add your 100 List character. In my list, 55 is represented by Albert Einstein, so the image might become Ghandi, trying desperately to hold onto his robe against the force of the powerful fan (which gave us the year, 1982), while Einstein (55) scribbles equations furiously on a blackboard, trying to work out a solution to Gandhi’s dilemma.

Or you could have him trying to adjust the fan or turn it off, since he’s such an egghead. Give it a few moments’ thought and you’ll probably come up with a more inventive and weird connection. As long as the resulting image links the movie title to the year it won Best Picture Oscar and its position in the list, then it’s job done!

Become an authority on the Academy Awards!

So, you wanna memorise the Oscar winning movies in sequence, including the number of the awards (11th, 28th, or whatever), and be widely accepted as an authority on the Academy Awards? What … you thought it was going to be way too difficult? Well, now you know it can be done, and without much trouble either. So, what are you waiting for?

  Get to work right away on that list up above!

    Now you know how it’s done!


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