The 7 toughest Best Picture races in Oscars history

With the Oscars just around the corner, the predictions are coming thick and fast, and while the Best Picture category is always tough to call, sometimes the calibre of nominees is staggering.

And here are the times that the competition was so fierce that most of the nominees could have justifiably picked up the Best Picture Academy Award

1994

FORREST GUMP
FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL
PULP FICTION
QUIZ SHOW
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION

Of the five nominees, only Quiz Show, the true story of the fixing of a TV quiz show in the 1950s, hasn't gone down in film history as an absolute cinematic classic.

Forrest Gump was the big winner on the night, picking up six awards including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor for Tom Hanks' performance, but it was considered the 'safe' choice by the Academy and many thought that they should have gone with Quentin Tarantino's best film, although he did win for Best Original Screenplay, possibly because they didn't hand him Best Film or Best Director.

1939

Gone with the Wind
Love Affair
Goodbye, Mr Chips
Dark Victory
Mr Smith Goes to Washington
Ninotchka
Of Mice and Men
Stagecoach
The Wizard of Oz
Wuthering Heights

A staggering selection for The Academy to choose from in the 12th Academy Awards, and six films which would have cleaned up in any other year were vying for the top prize.

Goodbye, Mr. Chips got Best Actor, Best Story went to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Wuthering Heights won Best Black and White Cinematography and The Wizard of Oz won Best Original Score and Best Song, but it really was Gone With the Wind's night, and of the thirteen awards it was nominated for, it won ten awards including Best Director, Best Actress, Screenplay and claimed Best Picture.

2010

The King's Speech
Inception
Toy Story 3
The Social Network
Black Swan
The Fighter
True Grit
127 Hours
The Kids Are All Right
Winter's Bone

In a bid to revitalise interest in the 2009 awards, it was decided to up the Best Picture Award to ten nominees, and the following year the competition was as tough as it could get.

The Fighter won both Supporting Actor categories (the first to do so since 1986), Natalie Portman won Best Actress for Black Swan and The Social Network won adapted screenplay.

But the big winner - and possibly another 'safe' choice - was The King's Speech, who won Director, Actor and Best Film, at the expense of some much higher regarded films from that year.

1982

Gandhi
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Missing
Tootsie
The Verdict

While E.T. has gone on to become one of the most celebrated films of all time, its Best Picture contemporaries were more than worthy rivals.

The  55th Academy Awards' five nominees have the highest average Rotten Tomatoes rating, with the lowest being the actual Oscar winner Gandhi with an 85% rating. Tootsie (89%), The Verdict (96%) Missing (97%) and E.T. (98%) were considerably higher, but unsuccessful when it came to the big prize.

E.T. won four of the nine awards it was up for, comedy Tootsie was nominated for ten Oscars but only won one, legal drama The Verdict was nominated for five winning none, historical drama Missing picked up one award from its four nominations, and Gandhi, won the Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture triumvirate and overall won eight of the ten awards it was nominated for.

1967

In the Heat of the Night
Bonnie & Clyde
Doctor Dolittle
The Graduate
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Despite widespread negative reviews, the studio's intense lobbying secured Doctor Dolittle's place among the candidates, and while that is an anomaly in the category, the other four are bona fide classics.

Both The Graduate and Bonnie & Clyde could feel aggrieved about missing out, and the Best Director award was given to The Graduate's Mike Nichols, while Katharine Hepburn won the second of her record-breaking four Best Actress awards for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

But the 40th Academy Awards ultimately belonged to In the Heat of the Night which went home with five awards, including Best Actor for Rod Steiger and the Best Picture prize.

1990

Dances with Wolves
Awakenings
Ghost
The Godfather - Part III
Goodfellas

Goodfellas not winning Best Picture at the 63rd awards will go down in history as one of the biggest missteps from Academy voters, with it being pipped to the post by Kevin Costner's directorial debut.

The highest-grossing film of the year Ghost also had a claim, while the third Godfather wasn't a shock to be nominated for seven Oscars as it was highly-praised on its release.

1989

Driving Miss Daisy
Dead Poets Society
My Left Foot
Field of Dreams
Born on the Fourth of July

Another year that could have seen each of the nominees legitimately warrant winning the big prize, with the award going to the racial drama Driving Miss Daisy, with The Academy looking to show a 'progressive' outlook, in a category in which it was perhaps the weakest choice.

Driving Miss Daisy became only the second Best Picture winner to not also receive a Best Director nomination (after Grand Hotel all the way back in 1932), but secured the big prize at the expense of Daniel Day-Lewis' Oscar-winning performance in My Left Foot, Oliver Stone picked up the director for Born on the Fourth of July and both were perhaps surprised that neither of them got the Best Picture statuette as well.

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