What’s the Best “Best Picture” Winner from the 1950s?

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  • Cal.Sunshine

    This is a very difficult list….and then a lot of great movies were left off as well !! Like John Wayne in RIO BRAVO, & where is AFRICAN QUEEN or TAMMY AND THE BACHELOR ?? Incomplete
    listing, but ALL LISTED are great movies = each one was/ is worth viewing more than once!

  • Edgard Lassalle

    In my opinion,the best picture ever made!

    • Cal.Sunshine

      WHICH ONE is bpem ??

  • Gord Jackson

    It’s all apples and oranges really. Comparing gritty fare such as FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, ON THE WATERFRONT and THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI with confections like AN AMERICAN IN PARIS and GIGI strikes me as being quite incongruous. So for me it was more about choosing a ‘favourite’ instead of best, which is why I voted for ALL ABOUT EVE.

  • Richard Finn

    Ben Hur is still one of my favorite movies, but I would have placed From Here to Eternity 2nd and Around the World in Eighty Days 3rd. The movie Stalag 17 also rated high with me, I believe that Wm. Holden won Best Actor for his role in that movie, beating out Burt Lancaster for From Here to Eternity.

    • Cal.Sunshine

      See what I mean by an incomplete listing……..maybe if designated in specific catagories would’ve been better so you wouldn’t have to pit each genre when there’s such a wide variation to this list…….??

      • WDPjr

        This list, these choices, are exclusively Oscar winners from the 50s. There isn’t supposed to be a wide variation – there are only 10 of them.

    • Bruce Reber

      If only Lancaster were nominated for FHTE he might have edged out Holden for Best Actor, but Montgomery Clift also got a Best Actor nod, which cancelled both of them out.

      • Richard Finn

        I believe Clift’s award was best Supporting Actor.

  • Michele Wood

    For me it was a toss-up between Ben Hur and Marty. I enjoyed Bridge on the River Kwai, but after hearing a documentary on what really happened with those forced to build that bridge, I put it down to 3rd on my list

  • Mario Brescio

    Mr. Gord Jackson is absolutely right…it is apples and oranges…so I choose from the list this way:
    Best Drama: All About Eve
    Best Action & Adventure: Ben Hur
    Best Musical: Gigi
    Best Comedy: Around the World in 80 Days

    • Cal.Sunshine

      GR8 summary……thank you!!

  • Philip

    There’s not one movie on this list that you couldn’t make a case for. But for the iconic role of Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront and that scene in the car with Rod Steiger just stands out a little bit more then the chariot race or the dance scenes in Paris and even the beach scene with Burt and Deborah in From here to Eternity. Of course Marty was just a great all around movie. I’ll say this this is one of the few lists that I love every entry on it, this is a great representation of movies made in the 50′s and the fact that each is on the AFI’s 100 greatest films of all time speaks volumes!

    • agenteightysix

      The scene in From Here to Eternity that resonates for me is Montgomery Clift playing Taps with tears streaming down his face.

      • Cal.Sunshine

        agree, TOTALLY!!

  • Lisanne

    I can’t say if one is the best, but An American In Paris and Marty are the two from the list I can watch over and over and over again .

  • Harry Robbins

    My favorite movie from the 50′s is The Ten Commandments

  • pianodoc

    The Incredible Shrinking Man, 1957. I love that movie.

    • Bruce Reber

      Yes, that was a great movie, but sci-fi usually got Oscar nods for SFX, editing, set decoration or sound, but seldom for actors or directors, because more often than not they weren’t too well known. And especially not for Best Picture. At least that was true in the 50′s and 60′s.

      • Jon DeCles

        The prejudice against science fiction lasted a long time. It is worth remembering that Best Picture went to “Annie Hall” the year that “Star Wars” appeared and changed movie making completely.

  • Jim

    I agree with most of the posts, especially Ben Hur as the number one movie choice. I just wanted to mention “Giant and Shane”

  • WDPjr

    Just wanted to point out that there were many many great movies of the ’50s but this poll is about the Best Picture Oscar winners, not any and all ’50s movies.

    It should be no surprise that Oscar “gets it wrong” sometimes, in so far as they don’t always choose the Oscar for the movie that best stands the test of time. I don’t consider that to be the fault of The Academy since it is far easier judge in hindsight.

    But as to this list, I personally think there are 5 really really good movies here, but good in different ways that makes it hard for me to choose just one as my personal favorite. I voted for Bridge/River Kwai bcz I think it is the best overall movie. The majority seems to be going w/Ben-Hur which is also a great movie and has just about the best action sequence ever, but I just preferred Bridge as the most satisfying story overall.

    • Cal.Sunshine

      Maybe the major difficulty with the great films of the 50′s IS that some that didn’t win were equally as good as the ones that did, so choices are ENDLESS!!

  • The G-Man

    Hard to argue any of the top 5…but On the Waterfront is as riveting today as it probably was a few years before I was born…and probably will be a few years after I’m gone. Some additional great movies in the 50′s: Seven Year Itch, Some Like it Hot, Dial M for Murder, vertigo, Nort by Northwest….and how about Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday.

  • AAA7353

    I loved Ernest Bognine in Marty. I guess because I’ve seen that same scenario happen in real life with parents and their children.

  • Jenny

    All About Eve, From Here to Eternity, Around the World…are all great movies. I chose An American in Paris just for Gene Kelly’s performance and the beauty of the film.

  • Virginia

    That’s a very good list, but doesn’t it depend mostly on your taste? I love mysteries so my list wouldn’t include many musicals or epic films like Ben-Hur, even though I really liked that picture.

    My list might include, North by Northwest, Witness for the Prosecution (British?), Stalag 17, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much, A Place in the Sun. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, etc.
    It also might include comedies like The Seven Year Itch, and though I’m not a hugh western fan, I might include award winning films like Shane and High Noon.

  • SuitcaseMurphey

    From Here to Eternity

  • Mgm Fan

    I enjoyed watching “All About Eve” because it seemed like the part of Margo was practically autobiographical for Bette Davis. She worked hard to become the star she was. She had fought Warner Brothers for good parts in the 1930′s and was willing to walk out on her contract, or go on suspension to get them. I understand that she was upset about not winning the academy award for Best Actress, but as one reviewer stated, the picture was “All About EVE”, not Margo.

  • Bruce Reber

    I’ve seen all the 50′s BP winners, except “Gigi” (I’ve seen only a couple of scenes). Four lavish Epics, four fine Dramas and two Musicals – a good balance, considering no Sci-Fi, Comedies or Westerns.

  • Evrrdy1

    A thoroughbred list without question. While I don’t argue against any of the choices, there were so many other high quality, indelible films of the 50s it is difficult to choose. Here’s my list of films which should also be remembered and watched repeatedly from that era, in no particular order:

    12 Angry Men
    Sunset Blvd.
    Anatomy of a Murder
    Spirit of St. Louis
    Some Like it Hot
    On The Beach
    Mr. Roberts
    Singin’ in the Rain
    The Quiet Man
    Operation Petticoat
    Who Was That Lady
    Pillow Talk
    The Harder They Fall


    NO surprise BEN HUR may be the best picture in history. They had perfect casting , a great story and even though some of the script is dated, the acting and roles are very believable, and for those who have good sound systems, watching this in Blue ray is as good as it was in the big theaters when it was made.

  • Bruce Reber

    Here is my “Runner Up” Best Picture Oscar winner list of the 50′s:
    1950 – Sunset Boulevard
    1951 – A Streetcar Named Desire
    1952 – Come Back Little Sheba
    1953 – Stalag 17
    1954 – The Country Girl
    1955 – Bad Day At Black Rock
    1956 – Giant
    1957 – The Sweet Smell Of Success
    1958 – Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
    1959 – North By Northwest
    If anyone else has their own “Runner Up” 50′s BPO winner please post
    Bruce Reber

    • Jon DeCles

      I’m with you on this one. Norma Desmond, Tennessee Williams and Alfred Hitchcock. Only the prejudices of the Academy in bad old 50s America (“If I vote for that they might think I’m a Communist!”) could have produced that winner’s list, with all the great competition.

  • Jcog

    “The Great Caruso” with Mario Lanza and all his movies; great talent that has never been equaled in Hollywood.

  • Sandra

    1956 The Catered Affair…Ernest Borgnine is even better in this one than in Marty. Bette Davis gives a top performance as well & Debby Reynolds, in a rare, serious film, is also outstanding.

  • TrippyTrellis

    With the exception of “All About Eve” and “Gigi”, I hated the rest of the winners. From the nominated films of each year, I would have chosen:
    1951 – All About Eve
    1952 – NONE. Come Back, Little Sheba
    1953 – Roman Holiday
    1954 – NONE. Rear Window
    1955 – Picnic
    1956 – The King and I
    1957 – Witness for the Prosecution
    1958 – Separate Tables
    1959 – The Diary of Anne Frank

    • Bruce Reber

      You left out 1950. My choice for that year on my “Runner Up” list was “Sunset Boulevard”.

      • TrippyTrellis

        Advanced old age (70) is catching up with me. Sorry.

    • RobinAnn Duplessis

      You have some awesome pics here such as Rear Window, Witness for the Prosecution All About Eve was really excellent

      • TrippyTrellis

        Love your last name! On my first trip to Paris the first thing I did was visit the tomb of Marie Duplessis (actually she was born Plessis but added the Du to make it more elegant).

  • EM

    I chose ON THE WATERFRONT, but FROM HERE TO ETERNITY is a very close second. That said, the movie on the list that I actually enjoy watching most is THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH.

  • KarenG958

    Tough one with some great choices. I picked All About Eve, but The Bridge on the River Kwai is outstanding, Gigi is wonderful, and Around the World in 80 Days is fun, but not a Best Picture.

  • hiram

    Th best movie of the 50s, however, is NORTH BY NORTHWEST.

    • TrippyTrellis

      Certainly the best movie of 1959.

  • RobinAnn Duplessis

    All About Eve & Bridge on the River Kwai were ties for me with Waterfront. Love American in Paris but not best film. I thought Gigi was just OK. Sorry I know I will get some haters: From Here to Eternity is a giant bore, I can not get excited about that movie

  • julian

    My best films of the 1950s were “NIGHT OF THE HUNTER” and “PATHS OF GLORY”

  • Terry

    That’s really a tough call!

    • Guest

      That’s really a tough call!

  • Marko

    What about “Sunset Blvd.”?

  • Mark W. Johnson

    How can they possibly leave out “Vertigo”, 1958? Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest film, one of Jimmy Stewart’s best, Kim Novak’s best, a beautiful San Francisco and Golden Gate Bridge, and a brilliant musical score by Bernard Herrmann, let alone one of the very best psychological love stories ever put on celluloid! Now days, many film critics and film historians rate it even above “Casablanca” and “Citizen Kane”! If you haven’t seen it, do so.

    • Elizabeth

      This is the best “Best Picture Winner” of the 1950′s, meaning that you’re choosing from one of those 10, although I agree with you and prefer Vertigo.

  • Cara

    Tough choice between On the Waterfront, All About Eve and The Bridge on the River Kwai. I finally climbed into the taxi with Brando and Steiger and voted for On the Waterfront. I realize many people don’t get musicals, but Gigi and An American in Paris are two of the best. It’s a shame that the two greatest musicals of the 50s didn’t even win an Oscar–Singing in the Rain and The Band Wagon.

  • raysson

    George Stevens’ SHANE from 1953 and his 1956 three and half hour epic GIANT

    • lovestorun

      Oh man, Shane made grown men cry. Great movie.

  • raysson

    Cecil B. DeMille’s THE TEN COMMANDMENTS is not even mention here!!!! One of the great biblical spectacles of the mid-1950′s

  • raysson

    THE ROBE…the first motion picture to be presented in CINEMASCOPE

  • raysson

    Bing Crosby in Irving Berlin’s WHITE CHRISTMAS one of the first musical to be filmed in VISTAVISION and TECHNICOLOR that became a top boxoffice hit in 1954.

  • raysson

    George Stevens’ THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK from 1959

  • raysson

    QUO VADIS one of the great biblical epics from the 1950′s……this was a huge hit for MGM making it the highest grossing film of 1951 that was nominated for 8 Oscars including Best Picture.

  • Lisanne

    Many folks are overlooking the same thing I did initially- this is a list of the films that won the Oscar for best picture for the decade of 1950-1959, and we are being asked which is our favorite(s) from them.

  • Wayne P.

    I agree with a lot of the commenters posting here who seem to think the vote we cast should be for our own personal favorites and not simply the very subjective choice of a so-called ‘best’. Such a latter selection is far too limiting and, unfortunately, mimics the all too often poor choices of the Academy in picking their (more than likely only politically correct) supposed best picture winners! Perhaps MU fanfare can take these views to heart and change the wording of future similar polls; well, at least theres no harm in suggesting such a possible change, right?

    • Charles M Lee

      Very profound. I have never been a fan of the Oscars. It is very seldom that the best picture is truly the best picture. It is all about hype, behind the scenes deals, and who is with in their little circle.

  • Ralph Hudnall

    Something about Borgnine in Marty. It was such a departure for him, but so brilliantly done. REALLY hard to choose, because there are some fantastic choices. I picked Marty.

  • laustcawz

    Aren’t we forgetting about “A Face In The Crowd”, “High Noon”,
    “The Fly”, “The Blob” & “The Girl Can’t Help It”??

  • Jim

    I voted for On The Waterfront, but let’s face it: the best movies of every decade, by and large, are the runners-up, and pictures that never even got nominated. And it will always be so.

    • Charles M Lee

      I agree with you on that. The “BIG” movies that get all the hype tend to overshadow the genuine works of art.

  • Daisy

    I voted for Ben-Hur, but It really was not the great movie of the 50′s. My favorites from that period were The Court Jester (still one of the funniest movies of all time), and certainly The King and I, which is another film that stays with you forever. Sunset Boulevard is unforgettably creepy. I also like Gigi, and my guilty pleasure is Around the World in 80 Days. For all its faults (and there are plenty), it is still a pleasant Victorian fairy tale, and this first film probably did it better than subsequent versions.

  • classicsforever

    I believe “Ben-Hur” and “Lawrence Of Arabia” are the two greatest epic films ever made. A very slight edge to “Ben-Hur”.

  • MaryLouiseC

    I’m glad to see Gigi is the one least voted for. I have never liked that movie. But the others are all great for different reasons — for some the acting (On the Waterfront, Marty, From Here to Eternity, All About Eve), for others the filmmaking itself (Ben Hur, The Greatest Show on Earth, Around the World, American in Paris, Bridge on River Kwai).

  • EdG

    although 1949 the best war movie was twelve o’clock high.

    • Charles M Lee

      Saving Private Ryan tops the war movie list.

  • Agingcourt

    How can Paths of Glory be ignored? Kubrick’s masterful anti-war film (perhaps best ever example) shows explicitly the horrors of trench warfare and the disregard for mass loss of life of their own soldiers by the inept Generals. The ending brings tears every time! An exceptional film in every respect.

  • Edgard Lassalle

    Is the best picture of all time!!

    • Edgard Lassalle

      Ben-Hur of course!!

      • Disernment

        BEN HUR A tale of Christ These comments reflect the age and cultural ethos
        of the commentators. This is an age of hedonistic, narcissistic, relativism. Education today is saturated with relativism which titillates the ego into thinking
        its views are as good or better than any others.
        of greatness or beauty. Some clarity is needed here. Are we talking about “TASTE” or ” BEAUTY/TRUTH”.
        One of the greatest thinkers in human history once said “In matters of
        taste there is no “RIGHT or WRONG”
        Greatness on the other hand always contains something called “TRUTH”
        along with unity and integrity. “TRUTH” what’s that your truth isn’t my truth
        and so it goes until you come to the next stop light.
        Now, “EMOTIONAL EGO TITILLATION” that something that “MODERN HOLLYWOOD knows ALLLL about..all the way to the bank.
        What titillates sells. Elevate, Inspire, … What’s that? Lew Wallace was
        reacting to the CIVIL WAR. The viewers of BEN HUR were reacting in the era
        of post WORLD WAR II America.
        No, I’m not a pin head professor but am a child of the fifties and really lived what some many today “THINK” they know so much about.

        BEN HUR should be included in any list of the 10 best movies of all time. Some “older” producers and directors would also agree. I will not give a carefully reasoned argument for that assertion here. BEN HUR is not
        Jackson Pollock but rather Michael Angelo.

        • Charles M Lee

          I was born in 1950 and your ranting aside, Ben Hur does not make my list of top ten best movies of all time.

    • Charles M Lee

      It would be hard to pick one movie as there are so many great movies that could be considered. Ben-Hur would be way down on my list as the best movie of all time. I would go with a Saving Private Ryan, and I am sure many people will disagree with that. It all comes down to what you – and the list makers – like. It is subjective.

  • flip

    “Singing in the Rain” surely, or perhaps “Vertigo,” assuming we’re only talking American movies – who make up this list to choose from anyway? – a more open-ended format for the poll would help – next time?

  • Dave Clayton

    A list of the best 1950s films that doesn’t include Rear Window, Rebel Without a Cause, or Kiss Me Deadly?

    • Charles M Lee

      That is a problem with a list like this. Some films are going to be left out. This is why I never make up lists like this.

      • Dave Clayton

        I agree. But this list seems especially obtuse. Marty is a competently made movie but it’s more significant as a commercial phenomenon–the increasing importance of independent production in Hollywood–than anything else.

        • lyle ferguson

          The list is of the movies that won the “Best Picture” Oscar. Nothing was left out.

          • Dave Clayton

            Thank you for pointing that out, I had overlooked the quotation marks, and assumed it was someone’s personal choices. But that makes the list far more depressing.

          • Charles M Lee

            I missed the quotes also. That sheds a whole new light. But the Academy does not have a lot of credibility in my view.

          • Dave Clayton

            Exactly. It might be amusing to think of of an individual eccentric (or foolhardy) enough to include both On the Waterfront and Around the World in 80 Days on a list of the best pictures of the 1950s. But the best picture Oscars are nothing more than a statistical average of the tastes of AMPAS voters. They have no more interest than an actuarial table of traffic fatalities would have for most of us–unless you’re an insurance salesman or a studio executive.

          • Craig Michaels


    • Craig Michaels

      Wonderful and valid point. The current list lacks credibility and I refuse to vote, until the movies you mentioned, are put on the list.

  • Jim Carstensen

    The blend of humor and suspense make Witness for the Prosecution a great film.

  • Old Griz

    My personal Favorite was John Wayne in “The Searchers”. He proved he could act in that movie!

    • Craig Michaels

      That is more a, “Best Director,” film, although Mr. Wayne did a very admirable job and proved he had some acting chops.

  • SB

    I think many people here don’t realize these are the films of the 50s that won Best Picture Oscars. Probably the worst decade for the academy, IMO. A few of these they got right, but there were many 50s films that were much better than all of them.

  • SLH

    I am amazed by the comments made considering there is no other choices THESE ARE OSCAR WINNERS OF THE 1950′s the poll is for you to pick your FAVORITE of those WHO DID WiN THE OSCAR ! Seems a simple question to me. Why are people reading it as tell us your favorite 1950′s film ?