Best Picture Oscar Winners of the 2010s: End of a Decade

2:30 PM 12/13/2019

by Annie Howard

The Hurt Locker - The Artist - Moonlight - Photofest stills - Split - H 2019

The Hurt Locker set the decade off with the first (and only) film directed by a woman to win best picture (director Kathryn Bigelow won the best director honor as well) and honored producer Dede Gardner as the only woman to win the best picture honor twice (12 Years a Slave, Moonlight). Stories based on true events and historical narratives dominated the wins of the decade with movies such as Hurt Locker, The King's Speech, Argo, 12 Years a Slave, Spotlight and Green Book, but were contrasted with whimsical films such as The Artist, Guillermo del Toro's fantasy romance The Shape of Water, Alejandro Iñárritu's dark comedy/drama Birdman and Barry Jenkins' coming-of-age tale Moonlight.

See the full list of Academy Award winners for best picture in the 2010s below.

(Please note all years reference the year the award was presented during the annual ceremony.)

  • 'The Hurt Locker'

    Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq War thriller follows a bomb squad led by a maverick sergeant played by Jeremy Renner. Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty also star in the film, written by Mark Boal. The Hurt Locker took home best picture, best director (for Bigelow, becoming the first and only female recipient of the award), best screenplay (Boal), best editing (Bob Murawski and Chris Innis), best sound mixing (Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett) and best sound editing (Ottosson). The film earned three additional nominations for Renner's lead role, Barry Ackroyd's cinematography and an original score from Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders.

    (2010 best picture nominees: Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air)

  • 'The King's Speech'

    Directed by Tom Hooper, The King's Speech stars Colin Firth as the late British Monarch King George VI along with Geoffrey Rush, who plays his speech therapist, and Helena Bonham Carter as his wife, Queen Elizabeth. The film won four Oscars including best picture, best director (Hooper), best actor (Firth) and best screenplay (David Seidler) and earned eight additional nominations. Bonham Carter and Rush each scored nominations for their supporting roles.

    (2011 best picture nominees: 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter's Bone)

  • 'The Artist'

    Michel Hazanavicius' silent, black-and-white comedy follows a Hollywood romance set during the silent film era. Jean Dujardin plays actor George Valentin who falls for a dancer played by Bérénice Bejo. John Goodman also stars. The film won a total of five Oscars for best picture, best director (Hazanavicius), best actor (Dujardin), best costume design (Mark Bridges) and best original score (Ludovic Bource). It earned five additional nominations for best writing (Hazanavicius), best supporting actress (Bejo) plus cinematography, editing and art direction.

    (2012 best picture nominees: The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse)

  • 'Argo'

    Ben Affleck directed and starred in Argo, a historical drama that follows an elaborate plan to free six Americans from Tehran during the 1979 Iran-U.S. hostage crisis. The film won a total of three Oscars for best picture, best screenplay (Chris Terrio) and best editing (William Goldenberg). The four additional nominations included Alan Arkin for best supporting actor and Alexandre Desplat for best original score, along with sound mixing and sound. Affleck was famously snubbed for a best director honor, but he won the Globe for best director for Argo earlier that same year.

    (2013 best picture nominees: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty)

  • '12 Years a Slave'

    Steve McQueen directed 12 Years a Slave, written by John Ridley, adapted from Solomon Northup's book about his journey from freedom into the slavery and back out again. Chiwetel Ejiofor portrays Northup in the film, starring alongside Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o, Michael K. Williams, Benedict Cumberbatch, Storm Reid, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Kelsey Scott, Bill Camp and more. The film won three Oscars including best picture, best supporting actress (Nyong'o) and best writing (Ridley). The film earned six additional nominations for best director (McQueen), best actor (Ejiofor), best supporting actor (Fassbender), best costumes, editing and production design. Nyong'o's first feature film out of drama school, her Oscar win shot the actress into immediate international recognition.

    (2014 best picture nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, NebraskaPhilomena, The Wolf of Wall Street)

  • 'Birdman'

    Alejandro G. Iñárritu's Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) won four Oscars including best picture, best director (the first of Iñárritu's two wins), best screenplay (Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo) and best cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki, the second of his three wins). Starring Michael Keaton as a washed-up superhero actor seeking his artistic revival with a run on Broadway, the film picked up five additional nominations, including best actor for Keaton, best supporting actress for Emma Stone, who plays his fresh-out-of-rehab daughter, and best supporting actor for Edward Norton, who plays Keaton's Broadway co-star and nemesis. Naomi Watts and Zach Galifianakis also star in Birdman, which earned nominations for sound mixing and sound editing.

    (2015 best picture nominees: American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash)

  • 'Spotlight'

    Spotlight is based on true events surrounding the special investigative team at the Boston Globe (the Spotlight team) that unearthed the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal. Directed by Tom McCarthy and written by McCarthy and Josh Singer, Spotlight won best picture and best screenplay, earning additional nominations for McCarthy's directing, best editing and supporting nods for actors Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo. Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Billy Crudup and Stanley Tucci also star.

    (2016 best picture nominees: The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room)

  • 'Moonlight'

    Barry Jenkins' second full-length feature, Moonlight, won three Oscars including best picture (making producer Dede Gardner the first woman to win best picture twice), best screenplay (Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney) and best supporting actor for Mahershala Ali (his first of two career wins).

    The film follows the story of a boy growing up in the Miami projects with a crack-addicted mother (Naomie Harris) who discovers his identity and sexuality over three distinct ages. Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes star as the protagonist, while Jaden Piner, Jharrel Jerome and André Holland portray his friend. The film also earned nominations for best original score (Nicholas Britell), best cinematography (James Laxton) and best editing, along with a directing nomination for Jenkins and a supporting actress nod for Harris.

    (2017 best picture nominees: Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea)

  • 'The Shape of Water'

    Guillermo del Toro's fantasy romance starring Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon and Richard Jenkins won four Oscars including best picture, best director (del Toro), best original score (Alexandre Desplat) and best production design. The film picked up nine additional nominations including best screenplay (del Toro and Vanessa Taylor), best cinematography, best costume design, best sound mixing, sound editing and film editing along with best actress (Hawkins) and two supporting nods (Spencer and Jenkins).

    (2018 best picture nominees: Call Me by Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

  • 'Green Book'

    Peter Farrelly's Green Book follows Dr. Donald Shirley (Mahershala Ali) on tour through the segregated south, driven by his white chauffeur, Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen). The film won three Oscars including best picture, best screenplay (Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga and Brian Hayes Currie) and best supporting actor (Ali, his second win in the category). Green Book earned two additional Oscar nominations for best actor (Mortensen) and best editing.

    (2019 best picture nominees: Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Roma, A Star Is Born, Vice)