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

5. Silence of the Lambs (1990)

(Image credit: Orion Pictures)

Since when did serial killer movies that include poetic cannibals and skin-wearing psychopaths win Oscars? That's what's so impressive about Jonathan Demme's movie. It's rare for a genre movie to win anything, never mind the Best Picture, but Silence of the Lambs beat its competitors in every single nominated category.

What clinched it? The dynamite script, utterly haunting score, and mesmerising turns from Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins? It's all of those things, and that tightly-edited final sequence, which remains just as chilling as the stuff you'll see in any horror movie worth its salt.

4. All About Eve (1952)

(Image credit: Fox)

The double-whammy of Bette Davis as veteran actress Margo Channing and Anne Baxter as her conniving ingenue Eve Harrington is what makes All About Eve still so watchable. The pair are flung together in this timeless story about our resistance to growing old, with Davis' scathing delivery of Joseph L. Mankiewicz's razor-sharp dialogue making this her finest performance.

"Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night", says Channing, unaware that the perils of ambition without decency might require a little more Dutch courage.

3. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

(Image credit: Columbia)

There are few movies that define spectacle cinema like David Lean's sprawling Lawrence of Arabia, which went on to inspire a generation of filmmakers – notably both Spielberg and George Lucas hold the movie as one of their favourites.

Lawrence of Arabia's cinematography is gorgeous, and Peter O'Toole plays World War One officer T.E. Laurence perfectly, managing to balance both arrogance and heartfelt sympathy for the people the British are invading. More impressive than its thousands of extras is the movie's length; at 227 minutes, it remains the longest movie to ever take home the Best Picture trophy. A true epic. 

2. Casablanca (1943)

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Casablanca's the great American movie. A brilliant blend of romance, thriller, and war-torn actioner that has two top-of-their-game actors in leading roles. Whatever you want to call it, you can't deny the watchability of Michael Curtiz's World War Two adventure, which sees Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as two lovers who can't be together.

Chemistry like theirs is rarely seen onscreen nowadays, a result of their off-set friendship which also gave the film its most memorable one-liner. In between takes, Bogart would teach his co-star poker, often repeating the phrase, "Heres looking at you, kid" to Bergman out of genuine affection.

1. The Godfather: Part II (1974)

(Image credit: Paramount)

Themes of loyalty, family, and sacrifice drive home Francis Ford Coppola's second chapter in the Corleone clan's tale. One of the first sequels ever to outdo its predecessor, the movie surges with confidence. Coppola takes everything that made the first movie jolt moviegoers out of their seats, and ups the stakes.

Part II takes a look back through the early years of Vito Corleone in Sicily, charting his accomplishments before he became the New York City mafioso. Robert De Niro joins the cast as the young Don, alongside Al Pacino in the greatest gangster movie ever made.

Gem is GR+'s west coast entertainment news reporter. She’s a bit obsessed with all things Aliens and Terminator.