Best Picture winners for a broader audience

Published: Friday, Feb. 22 2013 11:44 a.m. MST

Sunday night, the red carpet will roll out in Hollywood once again in preparation for the 85th annual Academy Awards. Ever since the awards began in 1929, the Oscars have gathered celebrities together to recognize the best productions and performances of the year.

But what the Academy voters dub as "Best Picture" does not always appeal to broader audiences, especially families. In the past 50 years, 25 of the Best Picture winners have been given R-ratings, including 13 of the past 20.

Winning Best Picture doesn't necessarily translate to box-office success, either. The 2006 winner, "Crash," totaled $54.6 million in domestic sales. In 2010, "The Hurt Locker," an R-rated war film, took home Best Picture but brought in a mere $17 million. By way of comparison, the 2012 list of the top 100 films at the box office ends with "The Five-Year Engagement," which fell just short of $29 million.

But not all Best Picture winners are esoteric films appealing to smaller numbers of viewers, and there are some that are appropriate for broader, and in some cases family, audiences.

Following are Best Picture winners from the past 50 years that could fit that criteria. A few contain some violence and challenging themes, PG-13-level profanity and limited sexual content.

The years listed are when the film received the Best Picture award.

Related: A history of surprising — and sometimes puzzling — Academy Award wins
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American Fork, UT

The best picture award is by no means a guarantee of box office success. A theatre full of sugar blasted prepubescents, however, is pretty much a guarantee I'm not there. I glad the best of this world isn't geared to twelve year olds, and most twelve year olds would agree.

Salt Lake City, UT

Quality vs. Quantity.

A cinematically great film is no guarantee of box office success, and a blockbuster is no guarantee of cinematic quality.

Somewhere in Time, UT

The Academy Awards are nothing more than a small-town popularity contest. The awards are based on who they like, don't like or who they agree with politically. Sean Penn won the oscar for playing Harvey Milk a few years ago as a protest against the passage of Prop 8. All the experts thought it should have been a lock for Frank Langella as Nixon. Zero Dark Thirty didn't have a chance because it wasn't politically correct as far a Hollywood is concerned. They voted for Argo because they like Ben Affleck and they thought he got dissed in the director category. I like Argo a lot, but I just don't see it as best-picture material. It isn't in the same class as Zero Dark Thirty or Lincoln.

I think there was a time when the Oscars actually did mean excellence. I think that standard has fallen by the wayside for a long time now.

Brave Sir Robin
San Diego, CA

Ask any director or producer which he'd rather have: A best picture Oscar or a box office hit. With very few exceptions they'll all have the same answer and it isn't the Oscar.

Herriman, UT

Surprised to see Million Dollar Baby on this list. It was anything but a family film. I was so disappointed by her desire to die because she couldnt box. She had so much else to live for.

On the other hand, I was very glad to see The Artist on the list. It has just the opposite theme. Someone who feels like he has lost all hope is helped to live again.

Park City, UT

One way to almost guarantee a film will make money is to watch rotten tomatoes and if the critics are less than thrilled, or give it a low rating, the public seems to love it. I use this method and it hasn't went against me yet.

Beaverton, OR

This is about the final "push" of kissing up to the judges, putting the name in front of them and keeping it there. Then, there are the gifts that are given to them. It's just like regular politics. The PACS are just like these film lobbyists. No wonder Hollywood gets involved with politics. They know how to play the game.

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