Every Oscar Best Picture Winner Ever, In Icon Form. Can You Guess Them All?

In hindsight, everyone agrees that 2005’s “Toga Dude With Baby On His Shoulder” stole that award from Brokeback Mountain.

The Oscars are this coming Sunday, and Hollywood will–among many, many other things–determine which of the many fine films released in 2013 was the one truly deserving of the title “Best Picture.”


This will be the 86th time that the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored a film in such way–and while there are countless ways to look back at the films that have received the distinction in the past, one of the most visually pleasing is this infographic, created by communications firm Beutler Ink, in which each Best Picture winner in Oscars history is represented by a single, iconic, minimalist image (in black-and-white or color, depending on the film).

Some of those images are truly iconic, as well–the blue-and-white facepaint of William Wallace’s army in Braveheart, the torch of Chariots of Fire, the floofy hat of My Fair Lady–which serves as a reminder of how lasting certain images are.

Of course, some of the other films to receive the award lack such a compelling visual touchstone. This is perhaps most effectively illustrated by looking at the nine films up for the award this Sunday, each of which is represented in an icon at the bottom of Beutler Ink’s poster: Gravity, Dallas Buyer’s Club, and Nebraska are all immediately recognizable, while American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Captain Philips could all represent almost any movie. It’s an interesting way to consider the importance of the defining image in film–after all, relatively anonymous Best Picture winners like 2005’s Dude In A Toga With a Baby on His Shoulder or 1997’s That’s Definitely an Airplane, What 90’s Movie Had An Airplane In It?, or even 1944’s I Dunno, Maybe A Shirt Collar? are rarely regarded as the Academy’s proudest moments. Meanwhile, every single film in the cinematic golden age of the 1970s is represented by an icon that’s downright classic. Keep that in mind, filmmakers aspiring to immortality (answer key is at the bottom of the poster).

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About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club.