Can you feel a movie while watching it? Many award-winning films throughout the years have proved a point. They might not feel like a blockbuster hit, but they contain some quirky elements, visual details, symbolic stories, and great acting performances, which an average viewer usually neglects. However, if you are one of those people who watch a movie, not for entertainment but to grasp and absorb it thoroughly, you came to the right place. Here is a list of the 30 best award-winning movies, mainly the recent ones, which I feel will tickle your brain. I have added movies that have won numerous Oscars, BAFTAs, Golden Globe Awards, etc. So, without any further ado, here are the 30 best award winning movies to watch right now.
20 Best Award-Winning Movies You Should Watch (2022)
Before we begin, please note that the Rotten Tomatoes score in the list is in critics/audience format. You can also find additional details like IMDb rating, the cast, creators, and the movie’s runtime to make an informed decision before dedicating your time to it. At last, make sure you find the perfect genre for your watch. The list contains everything from romantic drama to Sci-Fi adventures. Take the help of the table below to navigate to a movie that quickly raises your excitement.
1. Dune (2021)
- Rotten Tomatoes:83%/90%
- Director: Denis Villeneuve
- Writer: Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth
- Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård
- Runtime: 2 hours, 36 minutes
Dune (titled onscreen as Dune: Part One) is a 2021 American epic science fiction film, a two-part adaptation of the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert. The movie is set in the far future. It follows Paul Atreides and his family, the noble House Atreides. Tension arises between multiple houses, which leads to a war for the deadly and inhospitable desert planet Arrakis for a rare and valuable substance called “Spice,” which helps in interstellar travel.
The film premiered at the 78th Venice International Film Festival in 2021 before its international release. Now, the movie is available for streaming on various platforms like HBO Max, Prime Video, and more based on your country. It received ten nominations at the 94th Academy Awards, including Best Picture. This epic movie won the most awards in the ceremony with six titles Best Sound, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, Best Visual Effects, and Best Cinematography.
2. Coda (2021)
- Rotten Tomatoes:94%/92%
- Director: Sian Heder
- Writer: Sian Heder
- Cast: Emilia Jones, Eugenio Derbez, Troy Kotsur, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo
- Runtime: 1 hour, 51 minutes
CODA is a 2021 coming-of-age comedy-drama film and a remake of the 2014 French-Belgian film La Famille Bélier. The film’s title, CODA, stands for children of deaf adults, which is the primary context of the plot. The movie follows Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones), the only hearing member of a deaf family. She helps her family’s struggling fishing business while pursuing her own aspirations of being a singer.
The film premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, after which Apple acquired the streaming rights, and it is now available on the Apple TV+ streaming service. You can check out our list of best movies on Apple TV+ to find more such gems. CODA won three Oscars at the 94th Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Troy Kotsur), and Best Adapted Screenplay. It became the first movie distributed by a streaming service and the first starring deaf actors to win the Best Picture award.
3. Encanto (2021)
- Rotten Tomatoes:91%/93%
- Director: Jared Bush, Byron Howard
- Writer: Charise Castro Smith, Jared Bush
- Cast: Stephanie Beatriz, María Cecilia Botero, John Leguizamo, Mauro Castillo
- Runtime: 1 hour, 49 minutes
Encanto is a 2021 American animated musical fantasy comedy film produced by Walt Disney Animation. Encanto follows the Madrigals, a multigenerational Colombian family whose members receive magical gifts on their 5th birthday, except for Mirabel. When Mirabel learns that the family is losing their magic, she starts to find out what is happening to save her family and their magical house.
Encanto received critical acclaim and praise from viewers for its characterization, music, animation, voice acting, emotional depth, and cultural fidelity. The movie won in the Best Animated Film category at the 94th Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs, and the Producers Guild of America. It is one of many Disney movies to win in the category. You can check out our dedicated article for the best Disney movies so far.
4. King Richard (2021)
- Rotten Tomatoes:90%/98%
- Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green
- Writer: Zach Baylin
- Cast: Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton
- Runtime: 1 hour, 25 minutes
King Richard is a 2021 American biographical sports drama film. The movie stars Will Smith in the title role of Richard Williams, the father and coach of famed tennis players Venus and Serena Williams. The two tennis players are also the producer of the movie. The National Board of Review awarded Best Actor to Smith and Best Supporting Actress to Ellis for their breathtaking performances. Will Smith went on to win many more awards as the Best Actor for the movie, including the Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award.
5. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
- Rotten Tomatoes:91%/90%
- Director: Danny Boyle
- Writer: Simon Beaufoy
- Cast: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Madhur Mittal, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan
- Runtime: 2 hours
Slumdog Millionaire is a 2008 British drama film loosely based on the novel Q & A (2005) by Indian author Vikas Swarup. The movie begins with 18-year-old Jamal Malik from the Juhu slums of Mumbai as a contestant on Kaun Banega Crorepati, an Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Everyone is surprised to see how Jamal is able to answer each question correctly. However, the police torture him before the last question on accusations of cheating. We then see the movie as Jamal’s flashbacks when he searches for the answers from his life experiences.
Regarded as a sleeper hit, initially unsuccessful but succeeding, Slumdog Millionaire was widely acclaimed for its plot, soundtrack, cinematography, editing, direction, and performances. It won eight Academy Awards in 2009 out of ten nominations becoming the most Oscars winning movie of the ceremony; apart from the Best Original Score and Best Original Song – “Jai Ho” for A. R. Rahman, the movie succeeded in the categories of Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It makes it one of the best Award-winning movies in the list.
6. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
- Rotten Tomatoes:74%/93%
- Director: Ron Howard
- Writer: Akiva Goldsman
- Cast: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany, Adam Goldberg
- Runtime: 2 hours, 15 minutes
A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 American biographical drama film based on the life of mathematician John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics. The movie was inspired by the 1997 book of the same name by Sylvia Nasar. The story begins in John’s life as a graduate student at Princeton University. He begins to develop paranoid schizophrenia and endures delusional episodes, which hardens his relationship with his wife Alicia and friends. The movie won four Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress in the 74th Academy Awards.
7. Argo (2012)
- Rotten Tomatoes:96%/90%
- Director: Ben Affleck
- Writer: Chris Terrio
- Cast: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman
- Runtime: 2 hours
Argo is a 2012 American historical drama-thriller film adapted from the 1999 book of the same name by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency operative Tony Mendez. The film shows the story of “Canadian Caper,” in which Mendez rescued six U.S. diplomats from Tehran, Iran, under the guise of filming a science fiction film during the 1979–1981 Iran hostage crisis.
Argo was praised for Alan Arkin’s and John Goodman’s acting and Affleck’s direction. The movie won three Oscars out of seven nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing at the 85th Academy Awards. It also won Best Film, Best Editing, and Best Director at the 66th British Academy Film Awards.
8. Forrest Gump (1994)
- Rotten Tomatoes:70%/95%
- Director: Robert Zemeckis
- Writer: Eric Roth
- Cast: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, Sally Field
- Runtime: 2 hours, 22 minutes
You will love Tom hanks in and as Forrest Gump. If you haven’t yet watched this movie, I must say you were missing out on one of the brightest gems of Hollywood cinema. Forrest Gump is loosely based on the 1986 novel by the same name and revolves around a dim-witted and kindhearted man from Alabama. He witnesses and unwittingly influences several defining historical events in the 20th century United States.
Forrest Gump won six Oscars, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Tom Hanks, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects, and Best Film Editing, in the 67th Academy Awards. Later, the Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
9. The Shape of Water (2017)
- Rotten Tomatoes:92%/72%
- Director: Guillermo del Toro
- Writer: Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
- Cast: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg
- Runtime: 2 hours, 3 minutes
If you are a fan of fantasy movies and find solace in romantic ones, The Shape of Water will fill you with plenty of emotions and introduce you to an uncommon world. This 2007 American romantic fantasy film is set in 1962 Baltimore, Maryland. It follows a mute cleaner at a high-security government laboratory who falls in love with a captured humanoid amphibian creature. The protagonist then decides to help him escape from an evil colonel.
The movie was screened at the 74th Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion, the highest award of the ceremony. Critics and audiences acclaim the Shape of Water for the acting, screenplay, direction, visuals, production design, cinematography, and musical score. The film got thirteen nominations at the 90th Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Production Design, and Best Original Score.
10. Shakespeare in Love (1998)
- Rotten Tomatoes:92%/80%
- Director: John Madden
- Writer: Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard
- Cast: Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth, Ben Affleck
- Runtime: 2 hours, 3 minutes
Shakespeare in Love is a 1998 romantic period comedy-drama film talking about the fictional story of Shakespeare and his love life. It shows William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) and Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow) knowing each other while Shakespeare was writing Romeo and Juliet. Many characters are based on historical figures. Meanwhile, a few characters, lines, and plots pay homage to Shakespeare’s plays. The movie won seven Oscars at the 71st Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress (Gwyneth Paltrow), Best Supporting Actress (Judi Dench), and Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.
11. The Hurt Locker (2008)
- Rotten Tomatoes:97%/84%
- Director: Kathryn Bigelow
- Writer: Mark Boal
- Cast: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Evangeline Lilly, Ralph Fiennes
- Runtime: 2 hours, 11 minutes
Are you on the hunt for an action-packed war epic film? If yes, give a chance to “The Hurt Locker” as it’s one of the most loved war-drama movies. It has a palpable star cast led by Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, and Brian Geraghty. The story is centered around the Iraq War Explosive Ordnance Disposal team, which is on the hit list of insurgents. Find out their bravery and how they tackle huge challenges.
The movie was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won six, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. It also became the first Oscar-winning movie in the Best Picture category to be directed by a female director.
12. The Imitation Game (2014)
- Rotten Tomatoes:89%/91%
- Director: Morten Tyldum
- Writer: Graham Moore
- Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear
- Runtime: 1 hour, 54 minutes
Based on the 1983 biography Alan Turing: The Enigma, the Imitation game occurred during the second world war when Alan Turing deciphered the Enigma by creating a machine. It played a significant role in the U.S. winning the war. Alan is considered the father of artificial intelligence and answered an important question of the time, “Can machines think?” Words are not enough to say how much Turing has helped humanity on the technological path we are headed. It won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, which shows you will love the movie, and it will leave you thinking about the beginning of the new age we are living in currently.
13. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
- Rotten Tomatoes:90%/90%
- Director: Clint Eastwood
- Writer: Paul Haggis, F.X. Toole
- Cast: Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman
- Runtime: 2 hours, 12 minutes
If you find sports exciting, looking into the life of a sportsperson can be a huge motivation. Million Dollar Baby is a 2004 American sports drama film based on short stories by F.X. Toole, pen name adapted by Jerry Boyd, a fight manager, and cutman. The film follows Margaret “Maggie” Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), an underdog amateur boxer helped by an underappreciated boxing trainer (Clint Eastwood) to achieve her dream of becoming a professional. The film bagged seven nominations at the 77th Academy Awards and won four in the categories of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (for Swank), and Best Supporting Actor (for Freeman).
14. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
- Rotten Tomatoes:93%/86%
- Director: Peter Jackson
- Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
- Cast: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin
- Runtime: 3 hours, 21 minutes
Boasting a fascinating story, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King is an epic fantasy adventure movie. The award-winning Netflix film is directed by Peter Jackson based on the third volume of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. It’s the third installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and features an ensemble cast including Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, and Cate Blanchett.
The fantasy adventure received critical acclaim and grossed $1.142 billion worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of 2003 and the second highest-grossing film of all time. Moreover, it won all the eleven Academy Awards for which it had been nominated, including Best Film Editing, Best Picture, and Best Director. It also became the most Oscar-winning movie tying with Ben-Hur and Titanic.
15. Titanic (1997)
- Rotten Tomatoes:87%/69%
- Director: James Cameron
- Writer: James Cameron
- Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher
- Runtime: 3 hours, 15 minutes
R.M.S. Titanic was the biggest ship at the time publicized as an unsinkable one. However, destiny took a wrong turn, and we all know what happened afterward; it sank. Well, on a good note, it gave director James Cameron an excellent film story. Titanic is a 1997 American epic romance and disaster film casting Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in the lead roles. They belong to different social classes and fall in love aboard the boat during its ill-fated maiden voyage. It was the most expensive film ever made at the time, with a production budget of $200 million.
After its release, Titanic achieved significant critical and commercial success. It was nominated for 14 Oscars, becoming the second film tied with All About Eve (1950) for the most Oscar nominations. It went on to win 11 Academy Awards in categories such as Best Picture, Best Director, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and more. The 2017 re-released 3D version of the movie is selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”
16. No Country for Old Men (2007)
- Rotten Tomatoes:93%/86%
- Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
- Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
- Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin
- Runtime: 2 hours, 2 minutes
A neo-western crime thriller film like “No Country for Old Men” can seamlessly find a top spot in your watchlist. The movie is based on Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel of the same name and stars Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin in pivotal roles.
The plot revolves around a Texas welder in the desert landscape. With thrilling high-voltage scenes and an engaging storyline, the movie has received four prestigious Academy Awards like Best Picture, Best Director (Joel and Ethan Coen), Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem), and Best Adapted Screenplay.
17. Nomadland (2020)
- Rotten Tomatoes:93%/82%
- Director: Chloé Zhao
- Writer: Chloé Zhao
- Cast: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Swankie
- Runtime: 1 hour, 48 minutes
Nomadland is a 2020 American drama film based on the 2017 nonfiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder. The movie follows a widow who leaves to travel around the United States in her van as a nomad. Several real-life nomads appear as fictionalized versions of themselves, including Linda May, Swankie, and Bob Wells.
Nomadland premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion, the highest achievement. It also won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress for McDormand, from a total of six nominations at the 93rd Academy Awards.
18. Parasite (2019)
- Rotten Tomatoes:98%/90%
- Director: Bong Joon-ho
- Writer: Bong Joon-ho, Han Jin-won
- Cast: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam
- Runtime: 2 hours, 12 minutes
Parasite, one of the most popular foreign films, is a 2019 South Korean black comedy thriller. The film follows a poor family who cleverly becomes employed by a wealthy family while posing as unrelated, highly qualified individuals. The movie’s name suggests someone depending on another living thing for its benefit. The concept is brilliantly shown while using the economic gap in urban societies.
Parasite premiered and became the Cannes Film Festival Winner in 2019. It is the first South Korean film to win the Palme d’Or, the highest achievement in the Cannes Film Festival. Later, the movie went on to garner numerous accolades, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film in the 92nd Academy Awards. It is the first non-English movie to win an Oscar in the Best Picture category. In addition, Parasite also bagged the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language.
19. Silence of the Lambs (1991)
- Rotten Tomatoes:95%/95%
- Director: Jonathan Demme
- Writer: Ted Tally
- Cast: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine
- Runtime: 1 hour, 58 minutes
The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 American psychological horror film adapted from Thomas Harris’s 1988 novel. The story follows a young F.B.I. trainee who is hunting a serial killer who skins his female victims. On her mission, she seeks the advice of the imprisoned Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychiatrist, and cannibalistic serial killer.
The Silence of the Lambs became the third film to win Academy Awards in all five major categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It is the only horror movie to win in the Best Picture category.
20. Summer of Soul (2021)
- Rotten Tomatoes:99%/98%
- Director: Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
- Cast: Dorinda Drake, Barbara Bland-Acosta, Darryl Lewis
- Runtime: 1 hour, 58 minutes
Summer of Soul, A.K.A., …Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised is a 2021 American documentary film examining the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. It was held at Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park) in Harlem and lasted for six weeks. Despite having a large attendance and performers, the festival isn’t commonly known. Documentarians find this pop-culture phenomenon intriguing and usually investigate it.
Summer of Soul received praise for footage restoration and won several awards. The Oscar-winning documentary also bagged the Best Documentary award at the 75th British Academy Film Awards and became the Best Music Film at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards.