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The 25 best Oscar-winning movies you should watch before you die

Other than celebrating the year in cinema with a star-studded event, the Oscars is also a fairly reliable barometer for sorting the good from the bad when it comes to deciding which movie you want to watch on any given day. 

Just look at the nomination lineup for the Oscars 2018. Get Out, The Shape of Water, Dunkirk, Lady Bird... they're all nominated for Best Picture because they're all brilliant, but you don't see Justice League or Transformers: The Last Knight up there with them, and rightly so. 

While we won't know which films will be crowned Oscar winners 2018 until this Sunday, we can look back on the victors from previous ceremonies, and rank the best of the best to give you a collection of movies so prestigious that they'll practically glow from your TV screen with all their award-winning glory. Here are the 25 best Oscar-winning movies you should watch before you die. 

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25. The Deer Hunter (1978)

Talk about your bleak victories. It can't be said that Michael Cimino's Vietnam drama is an uplifting film and that's partly why it struck a chord with the Academy. One of only a few films to directly address the effects of the war, it's a striking piece of cinema that cuts between the delight of American soldiers enlisting and the horrors they face once they're at war. It's a haunting epic that boasts a stellar cast, and has the Russian roulette scene to end all Russian roulette scenes.

24. West Side Story (1961)

Is West Side Story the best musical of all time? Since its release, plenty of competitors have emerged, but there's something infectious about the sheer energy of the film. A Romeo and Juliet story told in New York City's west side through the medium of song and dance, its as fun as you might expect. Think Grease but with way smoother collar-poppin'. And afterwards, you won't be able to stop clicking your fingers, telling people to just be cool.

22. Unforgiven (1992)

You know how it goes. A cop on the verge of retirement is dragged into his most life-changing case on his last day. Clint Eastwood's 1992 western takes that idea and yanks it through the dust and grime of Big Whisky, a small town that's witnessed some heinous activities.

At the top of his game, both in front and behind the camera, it's one of Eastwood's best performances as the grizzled (is he ever anything else?) William Munny, an outlaw who returns to finish one last job. It's still a surprise that such a dark, violent fable managed to bag the Oscar.

23. Argo (2012)

A stylish period movie produced, directed by, and starring Ben Affleck, Argo nabbed the Best Picture award in a year where true story films dominated the ballot. Beating the likes of Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln, its win left quite a few furrowed brows.

It tells the story of CIA expert Tony Mendez (Affleck) who negotiated the Iran hostage crisis in 1979, a covert op to ensure safe passage out of the country for six Americans by pretending to be a Hollywood producer shooting a movie. The facts might be fudged in places to make the story gel, but none of that takes away from the thrill of watching this plan unfold.

21. Amadeus (1984)

Still lingering over Milos Forman's film is the small matter of accuracy. What actually went down between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his noted rivals? Was it really this soap opera-ish? It's not the first biopic to dally with the truth, and that shouldn't make a difference when the movie itself is this much of a majestic experience. Tom Hulce tackles the part of the classical composer, displaying quite a lot of restraint considering Mozart's reputation as a larger-than-life character.

20. The Hurt Locker (2009)

Before he became Hawkeye, Jeremy Renner took the lead role in Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq drama as Sergeant First Class William James. As a war-savvy vet, he heads up an explosive ordnance disposal team in Baghdad, eventually going off-mission to seek revenge for the murder of a young boy.

It's through his maverick and often dangerous methods that the movie opens up to its larger theme; how conflict truly affects soldiers. Plus, it's the first Best Picture winner directed by a woman.

19. On The Waterfront (1954)

Based on the real-life story of a New Jersey whistleblower, the tale of corruption at the docks made Marlon Brando into a bona fide star. He also bagged his first Oscar as longshoreman Terry Malloy, a conflicted soul who stands up against the mob-controlled union despite his own shortcomings.

Sure, he's most fondly remembered for The Godfather, but this put him on the map. The film also earned director Elia Kazan his second Oscar and introduced Eva Marie Saint to the world.

18. No Country For Old Men (2007)

One of the Coen brothers' most ambitious efforts. No Country for Old Men plays like an updated western, ripe with dark, seedy undertones setting the scene for one hell of a mystery. Seeing as this is a Coen film, the story is told through the experiences of a regular joe who opts to completely ruin his life.

Josh Brolin plays Llewelyn Moss, the man in question, who discovers a bag of cash and decides "I'll keep it! Why the hell not?". Javier Bardem's bolt gun-wielding psychopath Anton Chigurh answers that question for him, as one of cinema's most menacing and fearsome villains.

17. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

David Lean directs one of the best-ever World War 2 movies, reimagining the brutal enslavement of Allied prisoners forced to build the Burma railway. Alec Guinness' British Colonel encourages his soldiers to help the Japanese with the bridge as a way of boosting morale, while a fellow Brit pushes William Holden's American officer to destroy the bridge upon completion.

It exposes the truth behind Japanese POW camps, and how thin the line between heroism and loyalty really is.

16. Rocky (1976)

Sylvester Stallone wrote and directed his breakout role in Rocky. Like his on-screen counterpart, he too rose like the Philadelphian underdog who dreams of boxing in the heavyweight championship.

The movie became the highest-grossing of the year, bagging $225 million, and turned Stallone into a massive star. From his determination to succeed to his ambitious air-punch at the top of the museum steps, you can't help but root for Rocky to bag that title.