Filippo Scotti in "The Hand of God."

(CNN)The best international feature film category at the Academy Awards could, in some ways, be compared to flying economy. Often, the five films that get a seat aboard the Oscars seem squashed in the back, lest they take up space that Hollywood might want to luxuriate in. You’d like to upgrade to best picture? With twice the room and more prestige, who wouldn’t. But many of those seats still appear to be reserved for English-language pictures.

However, things are changing for the better, with Academy voters finding increasing space for international films in other categories. As the awards continues to ask existential questions of itself, this is cause for celebration.
In the Oscars’ 94th year, there are a few firsts among the nominees for best international feature. “Drive My Car” by Ryusuke Hamaguchi became the first Japanese film to be nominated for best picture, and “Flee” by Danish writer-director Jonas Poher Rasmussen became the first film nominated across best international feature film, best animated feature and best documentary feature. Meanwhile Bhutanese cinema received its first nomination in any category with Pawo Choyning Dorji’s “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom.”

    Norwegian nominee “The Worst Person in the World” and “Drive My Car” both made the cut in writing categories — director Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt sharing a nomination for best original screenplay, and Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe for best adapted — while Hamaguchi finds himself only the third Japanese filmmaker nominated for best director.


      Here's every film that won the Oscar for best picture

      Frances McDormand stars in the movie "Nomadland," <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/25/entertainment/nomadland-best-picture/index.html" target="_blank">which won the Academy Award for best picture in 2021.</a> McDormand also won best actress for her role as a woman who, following job loss and the death of her husband, finds a community and kinship among people who live in their vans. Director Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color and the first woman of Asian descent to win the Oscar for best director.

      <strong>"Parasite" (2020):</strong> This South Korean film, which centers on two families on opposite sides of the economic gap, became the first non-English film to win best picture. Director Bong Joon Ho won an Oscar, too, and the film also won for best original screenplay.

      <strong>"Green Book" (2019):</strong> "Green Book," the true story about a friendship between an African-American pianist and a white bouncer touring the Deep South in the early 1960s, won the best picture Oscar and two others: best original screenplay and best supporting actor (Mahershala Ali). The "green book" refers to the guide that told black motorists which hotels would accept them.

      <strong>"The Shape of Water" (2018):</strong> Guillermo del Toro's story about a mute woman who falls in love with a man-like fish creature won four awards on Oscar night: best picture, best director (del Toro), best production design and best original score.

      <strong>"Moonlight" (2017):</strong> "Moonlight," a coming-of-age drama about a gay black man in a rough Miami neighborhood, was named the winner for 2016 -- but only after "La La Land" was mistakenly announced first. "Moonlight" is based on Tarell Alvin McCraney's play "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue."

      <strong>"Spotlight" (2016):</strong> "Spotlight" -- a film about Boston Globe investigative reporters digging into a sex abuse scandal involving Catholic priests -- won best picture at the 88th annual Academy Awards.

      <strong>"Birdman" (2015):</strong> "Birdman," starring Michael Keaton, also won three other Oscars: best director, best cinematography and best original screenplay. The film, about a onetime superhero actor making a comeback bid through a Broadway play, was filled with unusual touches: It was filmed as if all one shot, scored with a jazzy-drum soundtrack and shaded with magical realism.

      <strong>"12 Years a Slave" (2014):</strong> Benedict Cumberbatch, left, and Chiwetel Ejiofor appear in "12 Years a Slave," which won the Oscar in 2013. The story of Solomon Northup (Ejiofor), a free African-American man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery, won three awards: best picture, best supporting actress (Lupita Nyong'o) and best adapted screenplay (John Ridley).

      <strong>"Argo" (2013):</strong> "Argo," based on a 1980 operation to free some of the American hostages during the Iran hostage crisis, won three Oscars: best picture, best adapted screenplay and best film editing. Ben Affleck, right, directed and starred.

      <strong>"The Artist" (2012):</strong> Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo star in "The Artist," the first (mostly) silent film to win best picture since 1927's "Wings." The film, about the fall and rise of a silent film star, won five Oscars.

      <strong>"The King's Speech" (2011):</strong> "The King's Speech," about England's King George VI and how he overcame his stutter, won four Oscars, including a best actor trophy for star Colin Firth.

      <strong>"The Hurt Locker" (2010):</strong> In a David-vs.-Goliath scenario, "Avatar," James Cameron's big-budget box office king, was pitted against "The Hurt Locker," a low-budget film about a bomb disposal unit in the Iraq War. "The Hurt Locker" won six Oscars, including best picture and best director (Kathryn Bigelow, one of Cameron's ex-wives).

      <strong>"Slumdog Millionaire" (2009): </strong>Another little movie that paid off big, "Slumdog Millionaire" was slated to go straight to video until its American distributor found a partner. The sleeper film, about a poor Indian man (Dev Patel, left) whose success on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" is questioned by a suspicious detective, won eight Oscars.

      <strong>"No Country for Old Men" (2008):</strong> The Coen brothers' grim "No Country for Old Men," about a Texas drug deal gone wrong, won four Oscars. Javier Bardem received a best supporting actor award for his portrayal of the brutal enforcer Anton Chigurh, who carries around a lethal bolt gun and doesn't hesitate to use it.

      <strong>"The Departed" (2007):</strong> Director Martin Scorsese's films were often well-reviewed but couldn't win the big prize, until "The Departed," about a Boston gangster and some corrupt cops. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, left, Ray Winstone, and Jack Nicholson, right.

      <strong>"Crash" (2006):</strong> Few best pictures have been as polarizing as "Crash," about the criss-crossing lives of several Los Angeles residents. The film touches on issues of race and justice and stars -- among many others -- Thandie Newton and Matt Dillon.

      <strong>"Million Dollar Baby" (2005):</strong> "Million Dollar Baby" is about an old trainer (Clint Eastwood, left, with Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank) who takes on a female boxer, with unforeseen consequences. The film won four Oscars, including a directing prize for Eastwood, best actress for Swank and best supporting actor for Freeman.

      <strong>"Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2004):</strong> The final film in Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "The Return of the King," swept all 11 categories in which it was nominated -- including best picture. From left, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis and Sean Astin play three of J.R.R. Tolkien's characters: Frodo Baggins, Gollum and Samwise Gamgee.

      <strong>"Chicago" (2003):</strong> For years, musicals had had a rough time at the Oscars -- indeed, they'd had a rough time in Hollywood, period -- until 2002's "Chicago" won best picture. The movie, which stars Renee Zellweger as a wily murderess in 1920s Chicago, won six Oscars.

      <strong>"A Beautiful Mind" (2002):</strong> "A Beautiful Mind," the story of troubled mathematician John Nash (Russell Crowe) and his battle with mental illness, won four Oscars.

      <strong>"Gladiator" (2001):</strong> Russell Crowe stars as Maximus in "Gladiator," the hugely successful Ridley Scott film about a warrior in ancient Rome. The film took home five Oscars, including best actor for Crowe.

      <strong>"American Beauty" (2000):</strong> Kevin Spacey stars as a frustrated middle manager who develops a crush on one of his daughter's friends (Mena Suvari) in "American Beauty." Besides the big prize, the film won best director for Sam Mendes and best actor for Spacey as part of its five Oscars. Also immortalized: a plastic bag blowing in the breeze.

      <strong>"Shakespeare in Love" (1999):</strong> Was the film really that good or had Harvey Weinstein, its co-producer and head of studio Miramax, done an exceptionally good job at lobbying? Either way, there were gasps when best picture went to "Shakespeare" and not to favorite "Saving Private Ryan." Still, "Shakespeare" had plenty going for it, including an Oscar-winning best actress performance by Gwyneth Paltrow (here with Joseph Fiennes) and a clever script by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard. It won seven Oscars total.

      <strong>"Titanic" (1998):</strong> In the months leading up to its release, "Titanic" was rumored to be as big a disaster as the ship on which its story was based. But director James Cameron had the last laugh: When the final results were tallied, "Titanic," with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, had become the biggest box-office hit of all time (since surpassed by another Cameron film, "Avatar") and winner of 11 Oscars in 1997 -- the most of any film since 1959's "Ben-Hur." Cameron took home a trophy for best director, too.

      <strong>"The English Patient" (1997):</strong> Some found it lyrical. Others, such as an episode of "Seinfeld," mocked it as boring. Either way, "The English Patient," with Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas, was a huge hit with audiences and critics -- and with the academy, which bestowed nine Oscars on the film about a burned British soldier and a loving nurse. Among the winners: director Anthony Minghella and supporting actress Juliette Binoche.

      <strong>"Braveheart" (1996):</strong> Mel Gibson directed and starred in the story of Scottish warrior William Wallace, who led the Scottish army against English invaders led by King Edward I. The film won five Oscars, including best picture and best director, and has led to countless sports teams yelling "Freedom!" as they go up against opponents.

      <strong>"Forrest Gump" (1995):</strong> Tom Hanks plays a Southern bumpkin who always seems to be in proximity to great events, whether they be the Vietnam War, U.S.-Chinese ping-pong diplomacy or the writing of "Imagine." Though some critics hooted, the film was a popular success and also won Oscars for Hanks, director Robert Zemeckis and adapted screenplay -- six in all.

      <strong>"Schindler's List" (1994):</strong> By 1993, Steven Spielberg was already known as one of the great directors in Hollywood history, but an Oscar had eluded him. That changed with "Schindler's List," a gripping story about a German industrialist who saved more than 1,000 Jews during the Holocaust. The film earned honors for picture, director, adapted screenplay and cinematography.

      <strong>"Unforgiven" (1993):</strong> "It's a hell of a thing, killing a man," says Clint Eastwood's gunfighter, William Munny, in "Unforgiven" -- and, indeed, the Western can be seen as one of Eastwood's many meditations on the impact of violence in society. The actor and director plays Munny, a retired outlaw who is drawn back into his old role to avenge himself on a brutal sheriff (Gene Hackman). "Unforgiven" was just the third Western to win best picture, after "Cimarron" (1931) and "Dances With Wolves" (1990).

      <strong>"The Silence of the Lambs" (1992):</strong> It's rare that a film released early in the year manages to even get nominated for best picture, not to mention winning the award, but "Lambs" -- based on the Thomas Harris novel about a serial killer helping an FBI agent to catch another killer -- took home best picture, best actor (Anthony Hopkins, who plays Hannibal Lecter), best actress (Jodie Foster), best director (Jonathan Demme) and best adapted screenplay. Hopkins' performance had relatively little screen time -- less than 20 minutes -- but was so commanding he can be credited for the continuing fascination with Lecter, who now headlines an NBC series.

      <strong>"Dances With Wolves" (1991):</strong> In what was essentially a two-horse race, Kevin Costner's three-hour "Dances With Wolves" faced off against one of Martin Scorsese's best, "Goodfellas." "Dances With Wolves," about a Civil War soldier who falls in with a Lakota tribe in the American West, was the decisive winner, earning best picture, best director for Costner and best adapted screenplay for Michael Blake, three of its seven Oscars. "Goodfellas" won just one: Joe Pesci's best supporting actor trophy.

      <strong>"Driving Miss Daisy" (1990):</strong> Stage actress Jessica Tandy finally became a movie star at age 80 as an Atlanta Jewish matriarch who develops a close relationship with her driver, Hoke, played by Morgan Freeman, in Bruce Beresford's film of Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize-winning play. "Driving Miss Daisy" didn't compete for best picture against some of the year's most acclaimed movies -- "Sex, Lies, and Videotape," "Do the Right Thing" and "Drugstore Cowboy" weren't nominated for the top award.

      <strong>"Rain Man" (1989):</strong> Though "Rain Man" is ostensibly about the relationship between Dustin Hoffman's autistic Raymond Babbitt and his brother, Charlie (Tom Cruise), it's probably best remembered for Hoffman's performance as a savant who can do complicated calculations in his head, count cards in Las Vegas and never miss an episode of Judge Joseph Wapner's "People's Court." The film won four Oscars, including a best actor award for Hoffman and a best director trophy for Barry Levinson.

      <strong>"The Last Emperor" (1988):</strong> Director Bernardo Bertolucci's film about the life of Chinese emperor Puyi won nine Oscars -- quite an achievement, considering it was nominated for zero awards in the acting categories. Besides best picture, it also won best director, best adapted screenplay and best cinematography, among others.

      <strong>"Platoon" (1987):</strong> "Platoon" made headlines in 1986 for its blunt and unsparing look at the U.S. experience in Vietnam. It follows a small group of men, including leaders Willem Dafoe, pictured, and Tom Berenger, who play on the loyalties of raw recruit Charlie Sheen. The film made director and writer Oliver Stone, himself a Vietnam veteran, a household name. "Platoon" won four Oscars, including best picture and best director.

      <strong>"Out of Africa" (1986):</strong> Isak Dinesen's autobiographical book was turned into a movie that won seven Oscars. Meryl Streep stars as the independent-minded Danish author who spent part of her married life in British East Africa, later Kenya. She falls for a big-game hunter, played by Robert Redford, while her fragile marriage falls apart.

      <strong>"Amadeus" (1985):</strong> Another epic, "Amadeus" was based on Peter Shaffer's award-winning play about composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce) and his rival, Antonio Salieri. The film won eight Oscars, including awards for director Milos Forman -- his second, after "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" -- and star F. Murray Abraham, who played Salieri.

      <strong>"Terms of Endearment" (1984):</strong> Debra Winger, Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson starred in James L. Brooks' adaptation of Larry McMurtry's novel about an up-and-down mother-daughter relationship. Brooks produced, directed and wrote the film and won Oscars for all three (best picture goes to the producer); to this day, he's the only person to pull off the trick solo.

      <strong>"Gandhi" (1983):</strong> Director Richard Attenborough's epic, three-hour film about the life of Mohandas K. "Mahatma" Gandhi won eight Oscars. Ben Kingsley, here with Candice Bergen, played the inspiring leader who used nonviolent tactics to help establish the modern country of India. Among the films it beat for best picture: "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" and "Tootsie."

      <strong>"Chariots of Fire" (1982):</strong> In another Oscar sleeper, "Chariots of Fire," a small British film about two English runners competing in the 1924 Olympics, beat Warren Beatty's epic film "Reds" for best picture. "Chariots" won four Oscars, including one for its stirring score by Vangelis. The theme music also hit No. 1 on the pop charts. Beatty wasn't entirely shut out: He picked up the Oscar for best director.

      <strong>"Ordinary People" (1981):</strong> Timothy Hutton, right, played a suicidal young man struggling to cope with the death of his brother in "Ordinary People," the first film directed by actor Robert Redford. Donald Sutherland, left, was his helpless father, and Mary Tyler Moore surprised audiences with her portrayal as Hutton's icy, controlling mother.

      <strong>"Kramer vs. Kramer" (1980):</strong> Dustin Hoffman played a bewildered dad who had paid little attention to family life until his wife leaves him and he has to raise their son (Justin Henry, right) alone in "Kramer vs. Kramer." A bitter custody battle ensues once the wife (played by Meryl Streep) decides she wants her son back. Both Hoffman (best actor) and Streep (best supporting actress) won Oscars for their roles, and Robert Benton took home direction and writing honors for the film.

      <strong>"The Deer Hunter" (1979):</strong> Hollywood began to explore the Vietnam War in the late '70s. Michael Cimino's "The Deer Hunter" examined the effects on steelworkers, from left, John Cazale, Chuck Aspegren, Robert De Niro, John Savage and Christopher Walken. Cimino and Walken also won Oscars for best director and best supporting actor, respectively.

      <strong>"Annie Hall" (1978):</strong> Moviegoers fell in love with Diane Keaton in her Oscar-winning role as the ditsy, insecure heroine of Woody Allen's autobiographical "Annie Hall." Her thrift-store fashions and offbeat sayings ("La-di-da, la-di-da") became hallmarks of the late '70s. Allen won Oscars for best director and original screenplay (with Marshall Brickman) for the film.

      <strong>"Rocky" (1977):</strong> Sylvester Stallone, left, as struggling boxer Rocky Balboa, gets his shot at the championship against Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed in this best picture winner. Like its hero, "Rocky" was an underdog, a low-budget film written by Stallone, then an unknown actor, that became one of the decade's biggest sleeper hits. Stallone would go on to make five sequels.

      <strong>"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1976):</strong> "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" captured all four top Academy Awards, a feat that had not been accomplished in more than 40 years (not since "It Happened One Night.") Besides best picture, the movie took home Oscars for best director (Milos Forman), actor (Jack Nicholson) and actress (Louise Fletcher). It won a fifth for best adapted screenplay. In this film of Ken Kesey's novel, Nicholson, second from left, struck a chord with audiences as McMurphy, a rebellious inmate in a mental institution who faces off against the ultimate authority figure, Nurse Ratched (Fletcher).

      <strong>"The Godfather: Part II" (1975):</strong> Al Pacino returned as Michael Corleone in "The Godfather: Part II," which became the first sequel to win the best picture Oscar. Francis Ford Coppola received the best director award this time, and newcomer Robert De Niro won the best supporting actor Oscar playing Vito Corleone as a young man. Coppola's "The Godfather: Part III," released in 1990, did not repeat the success of the first two films.

      <strong>"The Sting" (1974):</strong> Teaming up again after "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969), Paul Newman and Robert Redford in best picture winner "The Sting" helped make the buddy film one of the key movie genres of the '70s. The two played con men in 1930s Chicago in the George Roy Hill movie, which featured the music of ragtime composer Scott Joplin.

      <strong>"The Godfather" (1973):</strong> With his career in decline for nearly a decade, Marlon Brando scored a comeback as Don Vito Corleone, the aging patriarch of a crime family, in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather." Brando won his second Oscar for best actor (which he refused), and the movie made a superstar of Al Pacino as the son who takes over the "family business." The movie ranked <a href="http://www.afi.com/100years/movies10.aspx" target="_blank">No. 2 on the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 U.S. films.</a>

      <strong>"The French Connection" (1972):</strong> Gene Hackman as Detective "Popeye" Doyle goes after hit man Marcel Bozzuffi in William Friedkin's "The French Connection." This best picture winner about New York cops trying to stop a huge heroin shipment from France features one of the movies' most memorable chase scenes.

      <strong>"Patton" (1971):</strong> George C. Scott made Oscar history when he became the first actor to refuse the award. Scott played the title role in this biography of volatile World War II Gen. George S. Patton Jr. The film, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, reportedly was one of President Richard Nixon's favorite films.

      <strong>"Midnight Cowboy" (1970):</strong> John Schlesinger's "Midnight Cowboy" was the first best picture Oscar winner to be rated X, reflecting the easing of censorship in the late '60s. The movie established Jon Voight, right, as a star for his portrayal of a dumb, naive Texan who fancies himself a gigolo to rich women in New York but ends up a hustler. Fresh from "The Graduate," co-star Dustin Hoffman as con man Ratso Rizzo proved he was one of the top actors of his generation.

      <strong>"Oliver!" (1969):</strong> This best picture winner was a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" with Mark Lester as an orphan who teams up with other young pickpockets led by an old criminal. Carol Reed also took home the Oscar for best director. Two of 1968's best-remembered movies, Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" and Roman Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby," weren't even nominated for best picture.

      <strong>"In the Heat of the Night" (1968):</strong> Youth-oriented movies began taking over Hollywood by 1967, the year of "Bonnie and Clyde" and "The Graduate." But the best picture winner went to Norman Jewison's "In the Heat of the Night," an old-fashioned crime drama in which an African-American detective (Sidney Poitier, left) goes South to solve a murder, working with a reluctant redneck sheriff (Rod Steiger). Poitier played the role of Virgil Tibbs in two sequels, and the movie later spawned a hit TV series with Carroll O'Connor.

      <strong>"A Man for All Seasons" (1967):</strong> Paul Scofield re-created his stage role as Sir Thomas More in Fred Zinnemann's film version of the Robert Bolt drama "A Man for All Seasons." The film portrayed More as a man of conscience who refused to recognize King Henry VIII as head of the Church of England because of his denial of the Pope's authority. Scofield and director Zinnemann both won Oscars for their work. Susannah York, right, co-starred.

      <strong>"The Sound of Music" (1966):</strong> Forget the <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/06/showbiz/tv/sound-of-music-live-nbc/">recent live broadcast of the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein musical</a> on NBC with Carrie Underwood. For many movie fans, Julie Andrews remains the one and only Maria, governess to the von Trapp children in Austria on the eve of World War II. Marni Nixon, who dubbed the singing voices of Natalie Wood in "West Side Story," Deborah Kerr in "The King and I" and Audrey Hepburn in "My Fair Lady," had her first on-screen role as a nun. Not only did "The Sound of Music" win best picture, it was also for a time the biggest moneymaker ever.

      <strong>"My Fair Lady" (1965):</strong> Julie Andrews' fans were upset when the original Broadway star of "My Fair Lady" wasn't chosen for the film of the Lerner-Loewe musical. Audrey Hepburn may not have been convincing as a guttersnipe in the opening scenes of George Cukor's best picture winner, but no one could deny she was ravishing in Cecil Beaton's costumes once Eliza Doolittle had been transformed into a swan.

      <strong>"Tom Jones" (1964):</strong> Albert Finney tackled the amorous title role in "Tom Jones," a British comedy based on Henry Fielding's novel about a foundling raised by a wealthy landowner. Diane Cilento, right, was one of his conquests. Tony Richardson also won the Oscar for his direction of the film.

      <strong>"Lawrence of Arabia" (1963):</strong> David Lean created the <a href="http://www.afi.com/10top10/epic.html" target="_blank">epic of all epics</a> with "Lawrence of Arabia." <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/15/showbiz/peter-otoole-obit/">Peter O'Toole</a>, left, with Omar Sharif, became a superstar with his portrayal of T.E. Lawrence, the legendary British officer who helped lead the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire in World War I. The movie won seven Oscars, including for Lean's direction.

      <strong>"West Side Story" (1962):</strong> "West Side Story" used the streets of New York as backdrops for this musical version of "Romeo and Juliet." The Jets and Sharks replaced the Montagues and Capulets as rival gangs ready to rumble, leading to tragedy for young lovers Tony (Richard Beymer) and Maria (Natalie Wood). The film took home 10 Oscars, including best supporting actor (George Chakiris), supporting actress (Rita Moreno) and direction (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, the first time the award was shared).

      <strong>"The Apartment" (1961):</strong> Long before "Mad Men," Billy Wilder's "The Apartment" skewered corporate life of the early 1960s. Up-and-comer Jack Lemmon stays busy loaning his apartment key to company men who need a place to cheat on their wives. He falls for Shirley MacLaine, center, who is having an affair with one of the bosses ("My Three Sons' " Fred MacMurray in an unsympathetic role).

      <strong>"Ben-Hur" (1960):</strong> Biblical epics were all the rage in the 1950s, and none more so than William Wyler's "Ben-Hur." The movie won a then-record 11 Academy Awards, including best picture, director (Wyler) and actor (Charlton Heston, right). The chariot scene undoubtedly helped ensure <a href="http://www.afi.com/10top10/epic.html" target="_blank">"Ben-Hur's" No. 2 ranking on the American Film Institute's list </a>of greatest epics.

      <strong>"Gigi" (1959):</strong> For one of its last great musicals, MGM turned to Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe after their success with "My Fair Lady" to create a musical based on Colette's "Gigi." The Vincente Minnelli film with Louis Jourdan, center, and Leslie Caron, right, won every Oscar it was nominated for (nine), including best picture and director. Legendary French star Maurice Chevalier had a memorable song with "Thank Heaven for Little Girls."

      <strong>"The Bridge on the River Kwai" (1958): </strong>Director David Lean proved filmmakers could make intelligent epics such as "The Bridge on the River Kwai." Already a star in British films, Alec Guinness won international fame and a best actor Oscar as a British colonel held prisoner with his men in a Japanese camp during World War II.

      <strong>"Around the World in 80 Days" (1957): </strong>Responding to the competition from TV, the movies turned increasingly to epics in the 1950s such as producer Mike Todd's "Around the World in 80 Days." The picture  was based on Jules Verne's novel and starred Shirley MacLaine, David Niven and Cantinflas as well as dozens of other celebrities in cameo roles, such as Noel Coward, Marlene Dietrich, Red Skelton and Frank Sinatra.

      <strong>"Marty" (1956):</strong> Hollywood studios saw television as the enemy in the 1950s as Americans stayed home in droves to watch series such as "I Love Lucy." But live TV plays soon were providing material for movies, including 1955's best picture winner, "Marty." Ernest Borgnine won stardom and the best actor award as a lonely butcher in the Paddy Chayefsky drama.

      <strong>"On the Waterfront" (1955):</strong> Marlon Brando, right, went up against corrupt union boss Lee J. Cobb in  Elia Kazan's "On the Waterfront." In one of moviedom's most famous scenes that inspired countless future actors, Brando confronts his brother, a union lawyer played by Rod Steiger, in the back seat of a car: "I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am."

      <strong>"From Here to Eternity" (1954):</strong> Facing the strict movie censorship of the 1950s, director Fred Zinnemann's version of "From Here to Eternity" considerably toned down James Jones' tough and profane novel about military life in Hawaii on the eve of the Pearl Harbor attack. But Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr's sexy tryst on the beach made waves among moviegoers.

      <strong>"The Greatest Show on Earth" (1953):</strong> Producer-director Cecil B. DeMille had been making epics since the silents, but none had won best picture until "The Greatest Show on Earth," a 1952 circus spectacular with Betty Hutton, pictured, and Charlton Heston. Many critics and fans dismiss the movie as one of the worst best picture Oscar winners. "Singin' in the Rain," considered <a href="http://www.afi.com/100years/musicals.aspx" target="_blank">Hollywood's greatest movie musical</a>, wasn't even nominated that year.

      <strong>"An American in Paris" (1952):</strong> This MGM musical with Gene Kelly as an aspiring artist who falls for Leslie Caron in the City of Light faced stiff competition at the Oscars. But "An American in Paris" scored a major upset when it beat dramatic heavyweights "A Place in the Sun" and "A Streetcar Named Desire" for best picture.

      <strong>"All About Eve" (1951):</strong> Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's screenplay about an aging actress (Bette Davis, right) battling a scheming newcomer (Anne Baxter) remains one of the most quotable movies ever almost 65 years after its release. "All About Eve" held the record for a movie with the most Oscar nominations (14) until "Titanic" tied it in 1997. A young Marilyn Monroe, center, also attracted attention in an early role. As Margo Channing (Davis' character) would say, "Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be bumpy night!"

      <strong>"All the King's Men" (1950):</strong> Unlike the 2006 remake with Sean Penn, this adaptation of Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was a critical and box-office success. Star Broderick Crawford also won the best actor award for his role as Willie Stark, a cynical politician who rises to become governor. Any resemblance to Louisiana's Huey Long was mere coincidence.

      <strong>"Hamlet" (1949):</strong> A British film took home the best picture Oscar when Laurence Olivier directed himself in an Oscar-winning role as Shakespeare's famous Danish prince who cannot make up his mind. Olivier trimmed the play's text and chose to do Hamlet's famous soliloquy ("To be, or not to be, that is the question") as a voice-over. Jean Simmons was Ophelia.

      <strong>"Gentleman's Agreement" (1948):</strong> Elia Kazan's "Gentleman's Agreement" continued Hollywood's exploration of more serious subject matter, this time anti-Semitism. Gregory Peck, right, plays a reporter who goes undercover posing as a Jew, making his girlfriend (Dorothy McGuire) face uncomfortable truths about her upper class WASP life. A young Dean Stockwell played Peck's son.

      <strong>"The Best Years of Our Lives" (1947):</strong> Veterans Fredric March, pictured, Dana Andrews and Harold Russell returned home to adjust to life in post-war America in this William Wyler classic. Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright and Cathy O'Donnell were the women in their lives who also found the world much more complicated with the war's end. Russell, a real vet, lost both hands in World War II.

      <strong>"The Lost Weekend" (1946):</strong> With World War II coming to an end, Hollywood turned to dark subject matter, such as alcoholism in Billy Wilder's "The Lost Weekend." Star Ray Milland, left, won the best actor award as a writer on a binge. Howard Da Silva was the bartender.

      <strong>"Going My Way" (1945):</strong> Hollywood's favorite crooner became its favorite priest. Bing Crosby, left, won the best actor award as Father Chuck O'Malley in "Going My Way." He encountered resistance from a crusty old priest (Barry Fitzgerald) when he tried to help an impoverished church parish.

      <strong>"Casablanca" (1944):</strong> We'll always have Bogart and Bergman, aka Rick and Ilsa, in Michael Curtiz's "Casablanca." Nobody at Warner Bros. expected this movie, based on an unproduced play, "Everybody Comes to Rick's," to be a classic when it came out, but the <a href="http://www.afi.com/100Years/movies10.aspx" target="_blank">American Film Institute ranked this best picture winner as the third-greatest U.S. film</a> more than 60 years later.

      <strong>"Mrs. Miniver" (1943):</strong> Hollywood's war effort went full throttle with William Wyler's "Mrs. Miniver" starring Walter Pidgeon and Greer Garson as a heroic couple whose family endures German air raids during the Battle of Britain. Garson also won the best actress award and received much flak for a lengthy acceptance speech that became the stuff of Hollywood legend.

      <strong>"How Green Was My Valley" (1942):</strong> <a href="http://www.afi.com/100Years/movies10.aspx" target="_blank">The movie many critics regard as the greatest American film</a> didn't win the best picture Oscar for 1941. Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" lost to a film directed by another classic director, John Ford, who helped re-create a Welsh mining village in California for "How Green Was My Valley." Roddy McDowall, left, and Walter Pidgeon starred.

      <strong>"Rebecca" (1941):</strong> After "Gone With the Wind," producer David O. Selznick scored again with another adaptation of a best-seller, Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca." He brought Alfred Hitchcock from Britain to direct Laurence Olivier and <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/16/showbiz/joan-fontaine-obit/">Joan Fontaine</a> in a tale of a shy young woman living in the shadow of her husband's first wife. "Rebecca" was not only Hitchcock's first American film, but also his only one to win a best picture Oscar.

      <strong>"Gone With the Wind" (1940):</strong> Still considered one of the great Hollywood epics, 1939's "Gone With the Wind" won 10 Oscars, including best picture and best actress for star Vivien Leigh, right. Though Clark Gable was nominated for best actor, he lost to Robert Donat ("Goodbye, Mr. Chips") in one of the great Oscar upsets.

      <strong>"You Can't Take It With You" (1939):</strong> "You Can't Take It With You" is one of the rare comedies to win best picture. The film, based on the George Kaufman and Moss Hart play, stars James Stewart, Jean Arthur and Lionel Barrymore. It also won a best director Oscar for Frank Capra, Capra's third in five years.

      <strong>"The Life of Emile Zola" (1938):</strong> "The Life of Emile Zola" won three Oscars, including best picture. The film is a biography of the famed French author. Star Paul Muni was nominated for best actor but lost to Spencer Tracy ("Captains Courageous").

      <strong>"The Great Ziegfeld" (1937):</strong> Luise Rainer stars in "The Great Ziegfeld." She picked up an Oscar for best actress, though William Powell, who played the title figure, came up empty (although he was nominated for another movie, "My Man Godfrey").

      <strong>"Mutiny on the Bounty" (1936):</strong> Clark Gable was in the best picture winner the next year as well, playing Fletcher Christian in the 1935 version of "Mutiny on the Bounty." Charles Laughton plays Captain Bligh.

      <strong>"It Happened One Night" (1935): </strong>"It Happened One Night" was one of the great underdog winners. Its studio, Columbia, wasn't considered one of the majors at the time, and neither Clark Gable nor Claudette Colbert, its stars, were excited about the project. But it became the first film to sweep the five major categories of picture, actor, actress, director and screenplay. To this day, only two other films -- "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975) and "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991) -- have pulled off the same trick.

      <strong>"Cavalcade" (1934):</strong> "Cavalcade," based on a Noel Coward play, won the 1932-33 prize for best picture. The film follows a London family from 1899 to 1933 and stars, left to right, Una O'Connor, Diana Wynyard and Clive Brook.

      <strong>"Grand Hotel" (1933):</strong> The all-star cast of "Grand Hotel," including Greta Garbo and John Barrymore (pictured), portrayed characters in a mix of plot lines at a Berlin hotel. The film won just the one Oscar, but has been immortalized for one of Garbo's lines of dialogue: "I want to be alone."

      <strong>"Cimarron" (1932):</strong> "Cimarron," based on the Edna Ferber novel, is best remembered for its portrayal of the 1889 Oklahoma Land Rush, which literally featured a cast of thousands. Richard Dix and Irene Dunne star in the film.

      <strong>"All Quiet on the Western Front" (1931):</strong> "All Quiet on the Western Front," best picture of 1929-30, was the film adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's classic novel. The film stars Lewis Wolheim and Lew Ayres and was directed by Lewis Milestone.

      <strong>"The Broadway Melody" (1930):</strong> The musical "The Broadway Melody" was the first sound film to win best picture. The film stars Charles King, Anita Page and Bessie Love.

      <strong>"Wings" (1929):</strong> The first Academy Awards were given out at a dinner on May 16, 1929. The best picture winner was 1927's "Wings," a film about World War I pilots starring Clara Bow, right, Charles "Buddy" Rogers, left,  Richard Arlen and Gary Cooper. Even today, the silent film's aerial sequences stand out as some of the most exciting ever filmed. Another film, "Sunrise," was given an Oscar as most "unique and artistic production," an honor that was eliminated the next year.





























































































      “Drive My Car” ties Akira Kurosawa’s “Ran” (1986) for most nominations ever for a Japanese film, but a “Parasite”-level sweep is unlikely, even if few would quibble with the movie’s brilliance. However, the repeated inroads of non-English language cinema suggests, to borrow a phrase from Bong Joon-ho, that voters are overcoming the one inch tall barrier of subtitles and finding a whole world of movies to celebrate. No doubt the Academy’s increasingly international membership is helping too.

      Last year’s resurgent festival scene and a backlog of releases due to the pandemic meant there was even greater choice than usual. As always, each country may only nominate one movie for best international feature, with 93 countries submitting this year. Many big-hitters missed out. France had Julia Ducournau’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Titane” and Audrey Diwan’s Venice Golden Lion winner “Happening” at its disposal; “Titane” was submitted over “Happening,” only to fail to make the shortlist. Spain submitted Fernando Leon de Aranoa’s “The Good Boss” over Pedro Almodovar’s “Parallel Mothers,” only for it to strike out and see Almodovar’s film nominated for original score (Alberto Iglesias) and star Penelope Cruz for best actress. Romania’s Berlin-winner “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” by Radu Jude, two-time Iranian Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi’s “A Hero” and Austrian submission “Great Freedom” by Sebastian Meise are all fantastic films that were either not shortlisted or nominated.
      There was such an abundance of great international cinema, the question of whether this category should be expanded to 10 nominees, like best picture, must be asked once more. Until then, we have these five. If you need to catch up on this year’s crop, here’s all the details, along with where to watch them.

        “The Hand of God

        Filippo Scotti in "The Hand of God."
        Italian director Paolo Sorrentino is up to his usual tricks in “The Hand of God,” setting them loose on a work of poignant, sometimes bizarre, autofiction.
        Set in sweltering 1980s Naples, Sorrentino’s stand-in Fabietto (Filippo Scotti) is an awkward teenager struggling to find his voice among his large, bickering carnival of a family. The talk of the town is the possible move of football megastar Diego Maradona to local club Napoli, but Fabietto is equally preoccupied with his aunt Patrizia (a disquieting Luisa Ranieri). An abused woman with mental health concerns, the director chooses to present this primarily through the medium of her exposed breasts, at which her nephew can’t help but stare. It is not the most conventional sexual awakening committed to screen, and where the film goes from there is eyebrow-raising to say the least (kudos to Sorrentino for his honesty if it’s all true).
        That aside, there’s beauty aplenty in how director and regular cinematographer Daria D’Antonio shoot their hometown. Visual flourishes and a Fellini-esque menagerie of larger-than-life characters combine in an elegy to the city and the director’s youth — one defined by a tragedy that set Sorrentino on his path.
        “You’ve got to have a story to tell,” a director urges aspiring filmmaker Fabietto toward the end of the movie. Sorrentino, already an Oscar winner for “The Great Beauty” in 2013, hasn’t exactly made a bad fist of telling fictional stories. By returning to Naples and telling his own, he’s come full circle and made one of his richest films to date.
        “The Hand of God” is available to watch on Netflix.

        “Drive My Car”

        Hidetoshi Nishijima and Toko Miura as Yusuke Kafuku and Misaki Watari in "Drive My Car."
        Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi had a huge 2021, debuting not one but two critically acclaimed films. “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy” enchanted the Berlin Film Festival, but it was his three-hour adaptation of Haruki Murakami short story “Drive My Car” that gained traction after its debut at Cannes.
        The adaptation is an expansion of the story of actor Yusuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) grieving the sudden death of his wife. Two years on, he’s hired to direct a production of Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya,” where Kufuku meets chauffeur Misaki Watari (Toko Miura), with whom he has unlikely kinship. Through chance and his own making, the past surrounds Kufuku, forcing him to confront his loss.
        Hamaguchi’s intricately woven story contemplates the disconnect between inner turmoil and outward stoicism. He brilliantly uses Chekhov’s play, with its thematic overlap, as a safe space for characters to wrestle with their real lives. By casting the play as a multilingual production (actors perform in Korean, Tagalog, Mandarin and Korean Sign Language, among others), Hamaguchi steers the audience’s attention towards language and the body. Like Kafuku, we become attuned to when the two fail to tell the same story. His frustrations become our own, his direction of his actors a proxy for what he desires for himself: self-knowledge, and perhaps through that, catharsis.
        This is intellectual filmmaking that offers no concessions to the audience. It demands your attention and offers rich rewards in return. Hamaguchi may be surprised by the Academy’s love for the film, but that comes off the back of topping multiple critics’ best of year lists. The film has already won a BAFTA and must be considered red-hot favorite to take the Oscar on Sunday.
        “Drive My Car” is available to watch on HBO Max (like CNN, a WarnerMedia company) and Amazon Prime Video in the US.
        Read more: Ryusuke Hamaguchi is as surprised as anyone by the Oscar love for ‘Drive My Car’

        “The Worst Person in the World”

        Herbert Nordrum and Renate Reinsve as Eivind and Julie in Joachim Trier's "The Worst Person in the World."
        The capstone of Joachim Trier’s Oslo Trilogy, “The Worst Person in the World” refuses to stick to the rom-com blueprint in its portrait of the Norwegian city and its inhabitants.
        Julie (Renate Reinsve) is approaching 30 and is coasting. Her older boyfriend Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie) is looking to get serious, but Julie has reservations; thoughts that crystallize when free-spirited Eivind (Herbert Nordrum) walks into her life, setting off a charisma bomb that will go down as one of cinema’s great meet-cutes.
        Trier has no interest in fairy tale endings, however. His and Eskil Vogt’s rich and textured script drills into the ideation and idealization of modern living, and the life that happens while you’re making — and breaking — plans.
        Julie something of a paradox, riven by impulsiveness and indecisiveness (and she’s privileged enough that she can be). The writing is strong, but this is a film propelled by a star turn. Reinsve’s iridescent performance won her the best actress award at Cannes (remarkably, she’d been about to give up the industry before being cast) and as Julie she’s nothing short of a marvel; a muddle of inconsistencies and equally beguiling and infuriating. In other words: deeply human.
        “The Worst Person in the World” paints a portrait that’s so arrestingly real, it recasts much of what came before in the genre as synthetic. For romcoms, this is a corner turned.
        “The Worst Person in the World” is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV in the US.
        Read more: Joachim Trier ripped up the romcom script with ‘The Worst Person in the World’

        “Flee”

        Amin (right), the subject of Jonas Poher Rasmussen's "Flee."
        Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s international animated documentary represents an impressively original triple threat at the Oscars this weekend.
        The Danish film debuted at Sundance in 2021 where it won the world cinema documentary award and it’s been attracting high-profile admirers ever since. It centers on Amin, a gay Afghan who as a boy fled Kabul in the 1990s. Now an academic in his thirties living in Denmark, he narrates the story of his perilous flight, dredging up myriad horrors that are written and rewritten before our eyes as what was once suppressed breaches consciousness and finds form.
        The choice of animation allows Amin (a pseudonym) anonymity, but what it affords Rasmussen is dazzling scope for creative expression, utilizing a variety of styles from smooth rotoscope to scratchy sketching in stylistic collusion with the tone of the moment. It’s truly beautiful, impactful filmmaking that’s not quickly forgotten.
        “Flee” is available to watch on Hulu and Apple TV in the US.

        “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom”

        Sherab Dorji as Ugyen in "Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom."
        This year’s surprise contender, “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” is only Bhutan’s second entry to the Academy Awards and its first nominee.
        Writer-director Pawo Choyning Dorji’s mild-mannered addition to the “city-slicker-goes-to-the-countryside-and-learns-what’s-important-in-life” canon follows Ugyen (Sherab Dorji), a government employee and wannabe singer whose dreams of Australia are put on hold when he’s sent to teach in the remote mountain community of Lunana. Initially dismissive, his petulance gives way to an appreciation of rural life and the culture he was so ready to leave behind, helped by cute kid Pem Zam (Pem Zam) and singer and local beauty Saldon (Kelden Lhamo Gurung).
        It’s familiar story, but perhaps one shouldn’t hold that against the film. “Lunana’s” trump card is its stunning setting and window into an underexposed part of the world. Handsomely shot by Jigme Tenzing, we see both bustling capital Thimphu and the majestic foothills of the Himalayas, an idyll if ever there was one. The guileless turns of the film’s real-life highlander cast also grounds the film nicely and act as an effective foil to Ugyen.
        Academy voters have plucked from relative obscurity a film that debuted at the London Film Festival way back in 2019. Dorji beat out giants of world cinema to bag a nomination — and with a debut feature, no less. All this considered, “Lunana” represents a landmark in Bhutanese cinema.

          “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” is available to watch on Kanopy and Amazon Prime Video.
          The 94th Academy Awards takes place on Sunday March 27.
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