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2002 – the Best year for Best Picture in Oscar history

Here we have 85 years of the Academy Award nominees for Best Picture.

This list covers a complete ranking of all 85 of those years, from the very worst to the very best.  This was preceded by a ranked list of all 86 winners (because there were two in the first year) and will be followed by a complete ranking of all 505 films that have earned Best Picture nominations (not including the one that is lost).  Now, in this list, there are not links to all the individual posts I wrote about all the years, because it really takes quite a while to do all the links.  So, if you go to the winners, you can find the links there.

A brief note, which will be repeated in the next post:  In the course of this project, in which the first post went up on 9 March 2010 and the last went up on 6 March 2013, we had three more years of Oscar races.  So 28 more films got added to the Best Picture mix, which now has 506 films, 1 of which I haven’t seen.  Therefore, the rankings on each individual post has fluctuated.  Aside from that, because I was ranking them as I went, not knowing that some films would go up and others would go down, I was doing the best approximation I could do at the time, waiting for the eventual full list.  But something else happened as well.  I would re-watch the films (or watch for the first time, for the last few years) and then rate the film.  So those ratings were fresh from watching the films.  Sometimes that can change.  I found, at least twice, when writing the actual reviews, that I had to adjust my rating based on the actual review I was writing (Five Easy Pieces and Fatal Attraction).  And twice, since the reviews have been posted, I have had comments on specific films that suggested my review implied a lower rating than I had given the film (Wilson and The Towering Inferno).  So, before doing this ranked list of the winners (and the other two), I have gone back and re-read all 503 of my reviews.  And then I re-ranked all 503 films based on what I feel my actual review said about the film.

How I Created These Rankings:  First, let’s mention the star system.  Many critics use a star system.  If you use a star system, you have conceded that you can apply a numerical value to films.  The question then is how fine of one you apply.  I use a four star system and I use a 99 point scale.  Thus, it roughly corresponds to:

  • ****  –  99 – 88
  • ***.5  –  87 – 76
  • ***  –  75 – 63
  • **.5  –  62 – 51
  • **  –  50 – 38
  • *.5  –  37 – 26
  • *  –  25 – 13
  • .5  –  12 – 1
  • 0  –  0

which is actually the same scale that Metacritic uses to break down the star system, though they always go with the highest value.  But I actually cut it finer and give films a numerical value.  So that makes it easy to do a list like this one.  Each year has two numbers – an average of the films score.  Then I take their final finish among the Best Picture nominees and I average that.  Then I divide the second number by the first, and you want the lowest number.  That final number is how I rank the films.  That number appears below with each year.  I rounded to two digits unless I needed to distinguish finer than that.  The winner of the Oscar is irrelevant for these scores – I base it on the whole slate of nominees.  To show some examples, here is how the scores were derived for the worst year, the middle year and the best year.

The Worst Year:  1928-29

  • The Films:
    • Alibi  (58, 455)
    • In Old Arizona  (56, 465)
    • Hollywood Revue of 1929  (49, 481)
    • The Broadway Melody  (43, 494)
  • Point Average:  51.50
  • Rank Average:  473.75
  • Total Score:  9.20

The Middle Year:  1985

  • The Films:
    • Kiss of the Spider Woman  (95, 124)
    • Witness  (93, 187)
    • The Color Purple  (89, 233)
    • Prizzi’s Honor  (86, 256)
    • Out of Africa  (63, 435)
  • Point Average:  85.20
  • Rank Average:  247.00
  • Total Score:  2.90

The Best Year:  2002

  • The Films:
    • The Two Towers  (97, 66)
    • Gangs of New York  (97, 70)
    • The Hours  (96, 77)
    • The Pianist  (96, 86)
    • Chicago  (94, 159)
  • Point Average:  96.00
  • Rank Average:  91.60
  • Total Score:  0.95

Point Average:  Most years either fall into the range of 99-88 (a **** film) or 87-76 (a ***.5 film).  Only the bottom 13 years fail to reach that, though they aren’t in exactly the same order as they are for point average.  The worst 2 years fail to even reach a *** average – 1930-31 averages a 54.00 and 1928-29 averages a 51.50 (in fact, 1928-29 has no films that even reach ***).  It is also ironic that 1929 is certainly hurt by the absence of The Patriot.  It’s not a question that The Patriot would be the best film from the year, but by how much.  The top of the list isn’t quite the same.  While 19 years average an 88 or better, there are two which are much better (2002 averages a 96 and 2007 averages a 95), because they are the only two years in which all five nominees are **** films.  But, because of the math involved, the rank average factors in a bit more than the point average.  So, 2010, which ranks 3rd here (91.8), comes in 10th overall.  So, there are 3 years that average **** but are ranked overall lower than 19th – 1982 (20th), 1972 (21st) and 1975 (22nd).  They are replaced by 1974 (which only ranks 33rd here – because it has a ** film with four **** films) and two eerily similar years – 1984 and 1986.  Both have two films in the Top 50, another in the lower part of the Top 100 and then two films in the 300’s, both have a film about Southeast Asia, both have an E.M. Forster adaptation and both have a film directed by Roland Joffe.  One thing that hurts is not having truly great films – 1982 has four **** films and a ***.5 film while 1988 has four **** films and a *** film.  But neither has a film that earns above a 94.  So while they have high point averages (a 90.2 for 1982, which ranks 9th and a 86.4 for 1988 which ranks 27th), neither has a film in the Top 150, so they have lower rank averages and lower overall ranks (1982 is 20th and 1988 is 40th).

Rank Average:  Only one year has an average below 100 – 2002, which earns a 91.6.  Likewise, only the two worst years have averages above 400.  As I said, it helps here to have truly great films – 1962, which only came in 52nd in point average (80.4), here comes in 29th because it has three films in the Top 100 to go with its two other crappy films.  1971 is very much the same as 1962.  There are 15 years which have an average higher than 300 while there are five years (2002, 2007, 1993, 1982) which don’t have a single film that ranks lower than 299.

There are certain years where one film made a big difference in the ranking.  If the Academy had nominated a different major film instead (several of which were nominated for Best Director), the year would have done much better.  Here are some examples, in chronological order:

  • 1950  –  replace Father of the Bride with The Third Man  –  goes from 60th place to 14th
  • 1954  –  replace Three Coins in the Fountain with Rear Window  –  goes from 65th place to 25th
  • 1967  –  replace Dr Dolittle with In Cold Blood  –  goes from 55th place to 15th
  • 1973  –  replace A Touch of Class with Serpico – goes from 7th place to 2nd
  • 1974  –  replace Towering Inferno with Day for Night  –  goes from 18th place to 2nd
  • 1977  –  replace Turning Point with Close Encounters of the Third Kind  –  goes from 38th place to 9th
  • 1979  –  replace Norma Rae with Being There  –  goes from 19th place to 3rd
  • 1987  –  replace Fatal Attraction with Empire of the Sun  –  goes from 54th place to 19th
  • 1992  –  replace Scent of a Woman with The Player  –  goes from 28th place to 5th
  • 1993  –  replace The Fugitive with The Age of Innocence  –  goes from 11th place to 3rd

The following years have the same thing, except the replaced film happens to have won Best Picture:

  • 1985  –  replace Out of Africa with Ran  –  goes from 43rd place to 8th
  • 1989  –  replace Driving Miss Daisy with Glory  –  goes from 23rd place to 3rd

Top 5 Years where the Academy Blew it in Relation to the Nominees (difference between point average for the year and the score of the winner):

  1. 1995  –  Braveheart  (-26.20)
  2. 1952  –  The Greatest Show on Earth  (-24.60)
  3. 1989  –  Driving Miss Daisy  (-22.40)
  4. 1985  –  Out of Africa  (-22.20)
  5. 2001  –  A Beautiful Mind  (-20.20)

Top 5 Years where the Academy got it Most Right:

  1. 1929-30  –  All Quiet on the Western Front  (+30.00)
  2. 1963  –  Tom Jones  (29.40)
  3. 1934  –  It Happened One Night  (26.64)
  4. 1954  –  On the Waterfront  (21.20)
  5. 1950  –  All About Eve  (20.40)

note:  The average for the nominees in 1934 and 1950 are so low and the winner is so good that even though they went with my #2 choice, they still rank among the best choices ever.

Top 6 Years where the Best Director Nominees were way better in point average than the Best Picture nominees:

  1. 1934  –  It Happened One Night, The Thin Man, One Night of Love  (+14.94)
  2. 1950  –  Sunset Blvd., The Third Man, All About Eve, The Asphalt Jungle, Born Yesterday  (+13.80)
  3. 1963  –  Tom Jones, Hud, 8 1/2, America America, The Cardinal  (+13.40)
  4. 1967  –  Bonnie and Clyde, In the Heat of the Night, The Graduate, In Cold Blood, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner  (+12.40)
  5. 1954  –  On the Waterfront, Rear Window, Sabrina, The Country Girl, The High and the Mighty  (+11.20)
  6. 1951  –  A Streetcar Named Desire, The African Queen, Detective Story, A Place in the Sun, An American in Paris  (+10.80)

note:  I listed six because 1934 had 12 Best Picture nominees, four of which ranked below ***, but only had 3 Best Director nominees, so it didn’t quite seem fair.  I didn’t list 1950 in the replacement years above because it replaces two films.  But if that were the Best Picture lineup it would have placed 3rd instead of 60th.  Likewise with 1951, which would have gone from 56th to 12th.

By the way, of the 85 years, the Best Director films have a better rank average than the Best Picture films in 58 years (five were ties, because it was the same five films up for each).  Of the years with the expanded Best Picture lineups, the directors do better in all of them except 1938 (where the two best nominated films – Grand Illusion and The Adventures of Robin Hood – weren’t nominated for Best Director), 1943 (when The Human Comedy and The Song of Bernadette were nominated for Best Director instead of The Ox-Bow Incident, In Which We Serve or For Whom the Bell Tolls) and 2012 (no explanation needed).

a quick guide:  The Best Picture nominees in each year are in rank order.  Titles in bold are the winners.  Titles in green are films I haven’t been able to see.  Titles in red are my #1 film of the year (not just of the Oscar nominees).  Notes in blue are just so they’re easy to make out against the years.

The Best Picture Years:

#85  –  1928-29  –  9.20  (Alibi, In Old Arizona, Hollywood Revue of 1929, The Broadway Melody, The Patriot)

#84  –  1930-31  –  8.03  (The Front Page, Trader Horn, Skippy, East Lynne, Cimarron)

note:  Interesting to note, that in the two worst years for Best Picture nominees, the Academy compounded the problem by choosing the worst of the nominees.  They are the only two years in which no nominated film meets my criteria for Best Picture consideration (***.5 or ****).  Also, looking at this year, bear in that in 67 of the 85 years the worst of the nominees isn’t as bad as Trader Horn, which is the second best film here.

#83  –  1934  –  5.78  (The Thin ManIt Happened One Night, The Gay Divorcee, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, The White Parade, The House of Rothschild, Imitation of Life, Here Comes the Navy, One Night of Love, Flirtation Walk, Viva Villa, Cleopatra)

note:  The only year with three ** films.  A bad enough year that finally seeing The White Parade moved it down, even though its the fifth best of the 12 nominees.

#82  –  1963  –  5.77  (Tom Jones, Lilies of the Field, America America, How the West Was Won, Cleopatra)

note:  The directors went with Hud and 8 1/2 rather than How the West Was Won and Cleopatra.  This year, like 1930, has one four star film and then no other films that get higher than mid-level ***.

#81  –  1956  –  5.71  (The King and I, Around the World in 80 Days, Giant, Friendly Persuasion, The 10 Commandments)

note:  The only year in the 5 Best Picture Era (1944-2008) in which no nominated film gets **** from me.

#80  –  1931-32  –  5.68  (Five Star Final, Grand Hotel, Arrowsmith, Shanghai Express, Bad Girl, One Hour With You, The Smiling Lieutenant, The Champ)

note:  One of only four years in which no film reaches ****.

#79  –  1932-33  –  5.21  (I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, The Private Life of Henry VIII, State Fair, Lady for a Day, Little Women, A Farewell to Arms, Smilin Through, Cavalcade, 42nd Street, She Done Him Wrong)

#78  –  1929-30  –  5.16  (All Quiet on the Western Front, The Big House, Disraeli, The Love Parade, The Divorcee)

#77  –  1936  –  4.97  (Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, A Tale of Two Cities, Dodsworth, Libeled Lady, The Story of Louis Pasteur, Romeo and Juliet, The Great Ziegfeld, Three Smart Girls, Anthony Adverse, San Francisco)

note:  Hurt because, while the top two films are ****, they are low **** films.  This is the only year beside the four years with no **** films in which no film ranks in the Top 200.

#76  –  1937  –  4.78  (A Star is Born, The Awful Truth, Stage Door, Dead End, The Life of Emile Zola, Lost Horizon, 100 Men and a Girl, The Good Earth, Captains Courageous, In Old Chicago)

#75  –  1968  –  4.18  (The Lion in Winter, Rachel Rachel, Oliver!, Romeo and Juliet, Funny Girl)

note:  Another much better year from directors – they replaced Rachel Rachel and Funny Girl with 2001 and The Battle of Algiers.

#74  –  1927-28  –  4.15  (Sunrise, 7th Heaven, Wings, Chang, The Racket, The Crowd)

note:  In spite of the two different categories, I combined them into one.  If I had separated them, Best Production (7th Heaven, Wings, The Racket) would have earned a 4.46 and been two spots lower.  Best Artistic Quality of Production (Sunrise, Chang, The Crowd) would have earned a 3.82 and ended up nine spots higher.  If I included The Last Command in the former (which it used to be listed in), it would move up to a 3.98.

#73  –  1970  –  4.13  (M*A*S*H, Five Easy Pieces, Patton, Airport, Love Story)

note:  The only year in the 5 Best Picture Era to have two ** films.  And yet, the Directors were actually worse.  They replaced Five Easy Pieces with Women in Love (which goes down slightly), they gave a nomination to Love Story and they replaced the horrible Airport with the execrable Fellini Satyricon.

#72  –  1955  –  3.97  (Mr. Roberts, Picnic, The Rose Tattoo, Marty, Love is a Many-Splendored Thing)

note:  The directors replaced Mr. Roberts, The Rose Tattoo and Love is a Many-Splendored Thing with East of Eden, Bad Day at Black Rock and Summertime – a much better lineup.

#71  –  1952  –  3.95  (High Noon, The Quiet Man, Moulin Rouge, Ivanhoe, The Greatest Show on Earth)

#70  –  1942  –  3.92  (Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Magnificent Ambersons, Random Harvest, Kings Row, Mrs. Miniver, Pride of the Yankees, The 49th Parallel, The Talk of the Town, The Pied Piper, Wake Island)

#69  –  1965  –  3.91  (Doctor Zhivago, Darling, A Thousand Clowns, The Sound of Music, Ship of Fools)

#68  –  1935  –  3.87  (The Informer, Mutiny on the Bounty, Les Miserables, Captain Blood, Top Hat, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, David Copperfield, Ruggles of Red Gap, Alice Adams, Naughty Marietta, The Broadway Melody of 1936)

note:  The first serious year for the Academy.  The point average is over 8 points higher than for any year before it.  And they nominated four **** films – as many as they had nominated in 1931, 32, 33 and 34 combined.

#67  –  1958  –  3.83  (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Defiant Ones, Separate Tables, Auntie Mame, Gigi)

#66  –  1938  –  3.79  (The Grand Illusion, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Pygmalion, You Can’t Take It With You, Jezebel, The Citadel, Test Pilot, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Four Daughters, Boys Town)

#65  –  1954  –  3.74  (On the Waterfront, The Country Girl, The Caine Mutiny, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Three Coins in the Fountain)

note:  As mentioned above, this year has a much, much better lineup for Best Director.  That lineup would have been 45 spots higher.

#64  –  1944  –  3.69  (Double Indemnity, Gaslight, Going My Way, Since You Went Away, Wilson)

#63  –  1953  –  3.67  (From Here to Eternity, Roman Holiday, Julius Caesar, The Robe, Shane)

#62  –  1945  –  3.58  (The Lost Weekend, Spellbound, Anchors Aweigh, Mildred Pierce, The Bells of St. Mary’s)

#61  –  1995  –  3.52  (Sense and Sensibility, Il Postino, Apollo 13, Babe, Braveheart)

note:  The lowest year of my lifetime, by 7 spots.  The lowest spot since I’ve been an Oscar fanatic by 13 spots.  And the directors were worse because they passed over Ang Lee.

#60  –  1950  –  3.40  (Sunset Blvd., All About Eve, King Solomon’s Mines, Born Yesterday, Father of the Bride)

note:  Mentioned above.  The choice of King Solomon’s Mines and Father of the Bride rather than Best Director nominees The Third Man and The Asphalt Jungle is mind-boggling in its stupidity.

#59  –  1959  –  3.39  (Anatomy of a Murder, The Diary of Anne Frank, Ben Hur, Room at the Top, The Nun’s Story)

#58  –  1949  –  3.37  (The Heiress, A Letter to Three Wives, All the King’s Men, Twelve O’Clock High, Battleground)

#57  –   1960  –  3.36  (The Apartment, Elmer Gantry, Sons and Lovers, The Sundowners, The Alamo)

#56  –  1951  –  3.31  (A Streetcar Named Desire, A Place in the Sun, Decision Before Dawn, An American in Paris, Quo Vadis)

#55  –  1967  –  3.3073  (Bonnie and Clyde, In the Heat of the Night, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Doctor Dolittle)

#54  –  1987  –  3.3071  (Hope and Glory, Broadcast News, The Last Emperor, Moonstruck, Fatal Attraction)

#53  –  1939  –  3.17  (The Wizard of Oz, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Wuthering Heights, Stagecoach, Gone with the Wind, Of Mice and Men, Ninotchka, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Dark Victory, Love Affair)

note:  Not as great a year as so many claim, but it was the first year where the point average topped 80 (81.3).  Also, it was the first time that none of the nominated films were below ***.

#52  –  1941  –  3.16  (Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon, The Little Foxes, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Suspicion, How Green Was My Valley, Hold Back the Dawn, One Foot in Heaven, Sergeant York, Blossoms in the Dust)

note:  The only year with two films in the Top 20.

#51  –  1940  –  3.15  (The Grapes of Wrath, Rebecca, The Philadelphia Story, The Great Dictator, The Letter, The Long Voyage Home, Foreign Correspondent, Our Town, Kitty Foyle, All This and Heaven Too)

note:  The first time the Academy nominated 5 **** films.

#50  –  1957  –  3.10  (The Bridge on the River Kwai, 12 Angry Men, Witness for the Prosecution, Sayonara, Peyton Place)

#49  –  1943  –  3.08  (Casablanca, The Ox-Bow Incident, In Which We Serve, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The More the Merrier, Watch on the Rhine, Heaven Can Wait, The Human Comedy, The Song of Bernadette, Madame Curie)

#48  –  2008  –  3.03  (Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, The Reader, Frost/Nixon, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)

#47  –  2000  –  2.97  (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Chocolat, Gladiator)

#46  –  1969  –  2.95  (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Z, Midnight Cowboy, Anne of the Thousand Days, Hello Dolly)

#45  –  1978  –  2.92  (The Deer Hunter, Midnight Express, Heaven Can Wait, Coming Home, An Unmarried Woman)

#44  –  1964  –  2.8993  (Dr. Strangelove, Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, Becket, Zorba the Greek)

note:  In a space of 7 spots, we have three of the 5 years in the 5BP Era where Picture and Director matched 5/5 (1957 and 2008 were the others).  So, when the Directors and Picture and matched it wasn’t necessarily all that great.

#43  –  1985  –  2.8991  (Kiss of the Spider Woman, Witness, The Color Purple, Prizzi’s Honor, Out of Africa)

#42  –  2011  –  2.87  (Hugo, The Artist, The Descendents, Midnight in Paris, The Tree of Life, Moneyball, War Horse, The Help, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)

note:  The first bad film since 1992 means this is by far the lowest of the new expanded Best Picture lineup.  Also, with five best films being the Best Director nominees, the point average for Best Director is 9.73 higher than Best Picture.  This is the only time in an expanded Best Picture year where the five best nominated films were the five Director nominees.

#41  –  1966  –  2.808  (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, A Man for all Seasons, Alfie, The Russians are Coming The Russians are Coming, The Sand Pebbles)

#40  –  1988  –  2.806  (Dangerous Liaisons, Mississippi Burning, Rain Man, The Accidental Tourist, Working Girl)

#39  –  1999  –  2.80  (American Beauty, The Sixth Sense, The Insider, The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile)

#38  –  1977  –  2.72  (Star Wars, Annie Hall, The Goodbye Girl, Julia, The Turning Point)

note:  The only year aside from 1941 with two films in the Top 25.  As noted above, had their nominated Close Encounters instead of Turning Point this would be in the Top 10.

#37  –  1971  –  2.69598  (A Clockwork Orange, The French Connection, The Last Picture Show, Fiddler on the Roof, Nicholas and Alexandra)

note:  This would have been next on the Director list, with a 10.2 difference replacing Nicholas and Alexandra with Sunday Bloody Sunday.

#36  –  1948  –  2.69596  (Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Hamlet, The Snake Pit, The Red Shoes, Johnny Belinda)

#35  –  1946  –  2.684  (The Best Years of Our Lives, It’s a Wonderful Life, Henry V, The Yearling, The Razor’s Edge)

#34  –  1947  –  2.678  (Great Expectations, Crossfire, Gentleman’s Agreement, Miracle on 34th Street, The Bishop’s Wife)

note:  This was the first time (and until 1973, the only time) when the Academy nominated 4 **** films in the 5BP Era.

#33  –  1962  –  2.67  (Lawrence of Arabia, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Music Man, The Longest Day, Mutiny on the Bounty)

note:  Three films in the Top 100 along with two films in the bottom 100.

#32  –  1998  –  2.66  (Shakespeare in Love, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line, Elizabeth, Life is Beautiful)

#31  –  1981  –  2.64  (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Reds, Atlantic City, Chariots of Fire, On Golden Pond)

#30  –  2006  –  2.5661  (The Departed, The Queen, Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine)

#29  –  1961  –  2.5660  (West Side Story, The Hustler, The Guns of Navarone, Fanny, Judgment at Nuremberg)

#28  –  1992  –  2.53  (Unforgiven, The Crying Game, Howards End, A Few Good Men, Scent of a Woman)

#27  –  1983  –  2.46  (Terms of Endearment, The Big Chill, The Right Stuff, The Dresser, Tender Mercies)

#26  –  2009  –  2.45  (Inglourious Basterds, The Hurt Locker, A Serious Man, Up, An Education, Up in the Air, District 9, Precious, Avatar, The Blind Side)

note:  The first year of the new expanded lineup and they nominated 7 **** films.  Well done.  Too bad that two of the films that don’t reach **** were nominated for Director.

#25  –  1997  –  2.40  (L.A. Confidential, Good Will Hunting, The Full Monty, As Good as It Gets, Titanic)

#24  –  1990  –  2.36  (GoodFellas, Dances with Wolves, The Godfather Part III, Awakenings, Ghost)

#23  –  1989  –  2.35  (Field of Dreams, Born on the Fourth of July, My Left Foot, Dead Poets Society, Driving Miss Daisy)

note:  With Daisy replaced by Crimes and Misdemeanors for Director (and Field of Dreams a wash, replaced by Henry V), this had the biggest discrepancy during the last 37 years of the 5BP Era.

#22  –  1975  –  2.25  (Jaws, Dog Day Afternoon, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Barry Lyndon, Nashville)

#21  –  1972  –  2.238  (The Godfather, Cabaret, Deliverance, The Emigrants, Sounder)

#20  –  1982  –  2.237  (The Verdict, Tootsie, E.T., Missing, Gandhi)

note:  The first time all five films at least scored an 80, but as I said above, hurt because no film breaks into the Top 150.

#19  –  1979  –  2.19  (Apocalypse Now, All That Jazz, Kramer vs. Kramer, Breaking Away, Norma Rae)

#18  –  1974  –  2.09  (Chinatown, The Godfather Part II, The Conversation, Lenny, The Towering Inferno)

#17  –  2012  –  2.08  (Lincoln, Argo, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, Amour, Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi, Beasts of the Southern Wild)

#16  –  1986  –  2.032  (Hannah and Her Sisters, Platoon, A Room with a View, Children of a Lesser God, The Mission)

note:  One of only 3 years (along with 2005 and 2002) with three films in the Top 80.  And the directors were even better, replacing Children with Blue Velvet.

#15  –  2004  –  2.031  (The Aviator, Sideways, Million Dollar Baby, Finding Neverland, Ray)

#14  –  1976  –  1.99  (All the President’s Men, Network, Taxi Driver, Rocky, Bound for Glory)

note:  This was the first time that all five films were ***.5 or better.

#13  –  1984  –  1.963  (Amadeus, A Passage to India, The Killing Fields, A Soldier’s Story, Places in the Heart)

#12  –  1996  –  1.959  (The English Patient, Fargo, Secrets and Lies, Jerry Maguire, Shine)

#11  –  1993  –  1.93  (Schindler’s List, In the Name of the Father, The Remains of the Day, The Piano, The Fugitive)

#10  –  2010  –  1.88  (The Social Network, The King’s Speech, Inception, True Grit, Winter’s Bone, Black Swan, Toy Story 3, The Kids are All Right, 127 Hours, The Fighter)

note:  By far the best of the expanded BP lineups – 8 **** films and two ***.5 films.

#9  –  1991  –  1.85  (The Silence of the Lambs, JFK, Beauty and the Beast, Bugsy, The Prince of Tides)

#8  –  1980  –  1.84  (Raging Bull, The Elephant Man, Ordinary People, Tess, Coal Miner’s Daughter)

#7  –  1973  –  1.80  (Cries and Whispers, The Exorcist, American Graffiti, The Sting, A Touch of Class)

note:  The directors replaced A Touch of Class with Last Tango in Paris, making this the first time that the Academy nominate 5 **** films for Best Director (they would do it again in 1989, 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2011).  Third best class of Best Director ever.

#6  –  2005  –  1.65  (Good Night and Good Luck, Munich, Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Crash)

note:  By far the best of the 5/5 Picture/Director lineups.  The only year that has three films in the Top 50.  Munich, the #3 film ranks 49th.  The next best #3 film is A Room with a View at 76th.

#5  –  2001  –  1.64  (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Moulin Rouge, Gosford Park, In the Bedroom, A Beautiful Mind)

#4  –  2003  –  1.54  (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Mystic River, Lost in Translation, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Seabiscuit)

note:  The best ever Best Director lineup because they replaced Seabiscuit with City of God.  Not mentioned above in the replacement list because it only moves up three spots, but that would have put it in 1st.

#3  –  1994  –  1.51  (Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Quiz Show, Forrest Gump)

note:  Likewise, would have been in 1st with either Red or Bullets Over Broadway in place of BP winner Gump.

#2  –  2007  –  1.31  (No Country for Old Men, Atonement, There Will Be Blood, Michael Clayton, Juno)

note:  One of only two years, along with 2002, to have 5 **** films.  Both this and 2002 go down for Best Director because they replace a great film (Two Towers, Atonement) with a slightly less great film (Talk to Her, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly).

#1  –  2002  –  .95  (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Gangs of New York, The Hours, The Pianist, Chicago)

note:  2002 is the only year to have four films in the Top 100 and the only film in the 5BP Era to have four films in the Top 150.  Yet, it doesn’t have any films in the Top 50 (and 2007 didn’t have any films in the Top 50 either).

note:  In the six best years, four times the Academy chose the weakest film while the other two times they chose the best.