10 Best Years For Movies In Hollywood History


  • 2019 saw
    steal the show at the Oscars, taking home major awards from expected frontrunner
  • 2010 featured a standout lineup for Best Picture, with entries like
    The King’s Speech
  • 2007 saw
    No Country for Old Men
    dominate with multiple awards, while
    delighted families and animation fans.



Over the past century, certain years have stood out as the best in Hollywood history. This may be due to an astonishing number of amazing movies that came out that year, or significant technical advancements that were made in the industry. While the best movies of all time likely did not make their respective years of release the best on their own, several more like them can make the date a truly impressive year to remember.

The movies released during years like this likely had a lasting impact in one way or another, giving rise to new talent or filmmaking techniques. The best years are probably considered so by critics and moviegoers because of many artistically worthwhile movies that were honored at the Academy Awards. However, a once-in-a-lifetime movie event can also turn the year into a highlight. Movie fans will not only remember it because of what won Best Picture, but also because of what galvanized audiences on an unprecedented level.

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10 1939

Best Movies Include: Gone With The Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, & The Wizard Of Oz


1939 is often referred to as *the* best year in the history of Hollywood, kicking off the Golden Age with several of the most famous classics of all time. Gone with the Wind remains the highest-grossing movie of all time when adjusted for inflation. While this long-form, dramatic motion picture took home the award for Best Picture at the 12th Academy Awards ceremony, the family adventure The Wizard of Oz was also a nominee. Dorothy Gale’s longing ballad “Over the Rainbow” and Rhett Butler’s brutal one-liners constitute some of the most famous movie moments ever.

The Academy was still selecting 10 Best Picture nominees every year before sticking to five for many decades. Another milestone hit and Best Picture nominee was the investigation into the ideals vs. reality of American politics in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, starring Jimmy Stewart, who was still relatively new at the time. After a decade or so of Hollywood being a true industry, these movies showcased the emotion and thoughtfulness that could be captured on-screen and made the following hundred years possible.

9 1959

Best Movies Include: Ben-Hur, North By Northwest, & Some Like It Hot


The Diary of Anne Frank and Anatomy of a Murder were among the Best Picture nominees in 1959, but Ben-Hur won the foremost award and changed the game for action movies. The Ancient Rome revenge epic raised the bar for stunts and intense action, the evolution of which can be seen in movies such as The Dark Knight and Mad Max: Fury Road (all of which are movies that revolutionized the action genre). Outside the Academy, Alfred Hitchcock hit another milestone in his career with North By Northwest, starring Cary Grant.

While Stewart continued to lead landmark movies, Marilyn Monroe was also one of the biggest stars in Hollywood at the time.

Stewart appeared in Anatomy of a Murder this year, but had already made Rear Window with Hitchcock; their two separate successes would have drawn attention to each other. While Stewart continued to lead landmark movies, Marilyn Monroe was also one of the biggest stars in Hollywood at the time. Possibly Monroe’s best movie came out in 1959: Some Like It Hot. Some Like It Hot changed Hollywood for the better with a more open-minded approach to gender and sexuality than had ever been seen at the movie theaters.

8 1975

Best Movies Include: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Barry Lyndon, & Jaws


1975 is one of the earliest years when the Best Picture category was overwhelmed by amazing choices which all likely had someone rooting for them, namely the trifecta of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Barry Lyndon, and Jaws. While neither of their movies won, this was an important moment in the careers of Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg and the genres they represented. Meanwhile, the realm of cult classics also saw some major additions with The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

1975 seemingly launched Hollywood into several more historical years. 1976 saw Rocky and Taxi Driver nominated for Best Picture, while in 1977, it was Annie Hall and Star Wars. The last title, of course, completely transformed the landscape of blockbuster movies and moved for special effects. Meanwhile, other brilliant writers, directors, and actors continued to rise in Hollywood in the wake of 1975.

7 1982

Best Movies Include: Gandhi, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, & The Thing


1982 was a huge year for sci-fi, with Spielberg’s E.T. and John Carpenter’s The Thing leading the way. Some more divisive contributions to this genre included Blade Runner and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The Terminator and Back to the Future were only a few years away and likely took some inspiration from this year. Disney also released Tron in 1982, making it a year of varied and wonderful sci-fi fantasies.

Meanwhile, Gandhi was the Best Picture winner, while The Verdict was its complementary drama nominee. Tootsie and Missing offered some variety among the nominees, representing the rom-com and thriller genres. Meanwhile, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and An Officer and a Gentleman also came out in 1982 — less critically acclaimed, but famous contributions to cinema nonetheless. Overall, 1982 saw many different movies released that made it a well-rounded and great year for cinema.

6 1994

Best Movies Include: Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, & The Shawshank Redemption


Few Best Picture races match the one that happened in 1994, still dividing critics and audiences over whether to favor Forrest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption, or Pulp Fiction. The epic and emotional that showcases the virtues of kindness and optimism Forrest Gump won, doubtlessly infuriating someone. This was unsurprising when Quentin Tarantino returned strong after his breakout movie with a fascinating non-linear comedic crime drama, and Frank Darabont made history with the story of a lasting friendship formed within the walls of Shawshank Prison.

Disney also dominated the Oscars this year, specifically in the Original Song category with the release of The Lion King. This contribution broadened the scope of 1994, adding a massively successful family movie to the line-up of adult dramas. Additionally, Jurassic Park, while released in 1993, was still showing in some theaters in October 1994 — which resulted in the famous movie history moment where Forrest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction, and Jurassic Park were all in theaters at the same time.

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5 1998

Best Movies Include: Saving Private Ryan, Shakespeare In Love, & The Truman Show


Another tight Best Picture race dominated the 1998 Oscars. The Academy started off the year with the results of the previous year’s movie season when Titanic swept the Oscars with a record-breaking number of nominations and wins. Following this, Saving Private Ryan and Shakespeare in Love were the frontrunners for the top prize, making for an almost unfair comparison when the movies are so different in story, tone, and themes. In a shocking turn of events, Shakespeare in Love narrowly won out.

Yet it was a great year for Hollywood when both movies were added to the library of genre-defining pictures.

Yet it was a great year for Hollywood when both movies were added to the library of genre-defining pictures. Meanwhile, more animated classics like The Prince of Egypt and Mulan came out in 1998 — some of the last majorly successful 2D animated movies their respective studios would produce. Cate Blanchette also achieved her breakthrough with the Best Picture nominee Elizabeth, while Jim Carrey starred in another hit called The Truman Show.

4 2001

Best Movies Include: The Fellowship Of The Ring, Spirited Away, & Moulin Rouge!


A Beautiful Mind won Best Picture for 2001, beating out the glitzy jukebox musical Moulin Rouge! and the beginning of the most epic fantasy franchise ever, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. This year saw the beginning of the modern fantasy franchise, with both Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter releasing their flagship movies. It was a big year for fantasy all around when the breathtaking, penultimate Studio Ghibli movie also came out, making waves in Hollywood.

Spirited Away didn’t win the Best Animated Feature award until the next year because of a later release in the U.S., while Shrek won for 2001, the first time the Academy bestowed this award. Other staples, both beloved by the Academy and completely ignored, hit theaters — like Mulholland Drive and Ocean’s Eleven. This was the set-up for another stretch of fantastic movies in Hollywood, with the next few years being dominated by Lord of the Rings, while also featuring Chicago, Gangs of New York, Million Dollar Baby, and The Aviator.

3 2007

Best Movies Include: No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood, & Ratatouille


2007 was the year for the modern Western: Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood made an impact, but nothing could compare to the exploration of personal honor codes and present-day bloodshed in No Country for Old Men. The Coen brothers’ epic took home not only Best Picture, but directing, writing, and acting awards. Juno and Atonement made for lower-key but also beautiful dramas nominated in the Best Picture category.

The Academy was inundated with these thoughtful dramas that all forced them to reflect, despite taking place in widely different times and places. However, some other movies appealing to musical fans and families also won nominations, even if not for Best Picture. Pixar released one of its best movies with Ratatouille, while Disney treated its fans to the delightfully nostalgic and subversive Enchanted. An ensemble of great stars also appeared together in the harrowing but highly enjoyable adaptation of the musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

2 2010

Best Movies Include: The King’s Speech, Inception, & The Social Network


2010 was the second year of the return of 10 movies being nominated for Best Picture, something that may have been partially caused by the wave of great movies in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Avatar and The Dark Knight were the pinnacle of the action genre in 2009; however, the overall high point is still 2010. The lineup of 2010 Best Picture nominees was astounding, featuring The King’s Speech, Inception, Black Swan, The Social Network, and Toy Story 3, among others. The King’s Speech won, something hard to accept when there were many contenders.

There was competition and comparisons everywhere this year; Leonardo DiCaprio doubled up with the coinciding releases of Inception and Shutter Island. Meanwhile, Toy Story 3 winning Best Animated Feature was a given — a disappointment when How to Train Your Dragon had just flown into theaters with an amazing debut. Additionally, while the trend may not have included the best-reviewed movies, Hollywood was seeing a lot of profits with popular franchises and more entering early development.

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1 2019

Best Movies Include: Parasite, Ford V Ferrari, & Once Upon A Time In Hollywood


The 2019 Oscars were particularly memorable when Parasite turned things around and claimed most of the major awards, including Best Picture, stealing it away from the expected winner 1917. However, Parasite should not distract from the fact that there were great movies everywhere this year, both recognized at the Oscars and beloved by general audiences. The Best Picture nominees included Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Marriage Story, and Jojo Rabbit.

Tarantino produced one of his best movies yet with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, while Greta Gerwig was on the rise with her second Best Picture nominee Little Women. Knives Out proved to be a popular new franchise, while the MCU reached its culmination with Avengers: Endgame. A mix of cultural phenomena and poignant nominees like this is what makes a year truly great for Hollywood.

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