The Academy Awards—also known as the Oscars—isn’t the be-all and end-all of the award ceremonies in the film industry. However, they’re still, in some ways, a big deal. With the 2023 Oscars now over, you finally have some time to catch up on the films that were nominated and have won. If you’re struggling to decide, consider using this fun flowchart created by ExpressVPN.
While most films that win at the Oscars rarely make history, some do. Below, we look at the most recent films that have made history by winning in various prestigious categories at the Oscars.
1. Everything Everywhere All At Once (2023)
Everything Everywhere All At Once (EEAAO) is zany as it is brilliant. The film, directed by The Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), won big at the recent Oscars, taking home the Best Picture title.
The film’s cast members, Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Jamie Lee Curtis, also won three of the four major acting awards. Yeoh’s win for Best Actress, in particular, was historical as she was the first Asian woman and the second woman of color (after Halle Berry in 2002) to win.
EEAAO sweeping awards at the Oscars is a huge step forward for Asian-American representation in Hollywood. It’s especially important as themes in the film’s storyline discuss intergenerational trauma in an Asian-American family.
2. Parasite (2019)
Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite made history when it became the first non-English language film to win Best Picture at the 2019 Oscars. Beyond the best picture win, the film also won Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film. Bong’s Best Director win was particularly impressive considering how he was going up against industry heavyweights like Martin Scorcese.
Parasite’s big win at the Oscars increased the visibility of international and non-English films and highlighted the importance of inclusion.
3. Moonlight (2016)
Moonlight made history by becoming the first film with strong LGBTQ+ themes to win Best Picture at the Oscars. The win marks a huge step forward in the representation and recognition of the LGBTQ+ community in the U.S. and worldwide. The film, which features a mostly Black cast, also won for Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Actor Mashershala Ali is also the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar. Overall, 2016 was a great year for Moonlight and its actors.
4. 12 Years A Slave (2013)
12 Years A Slave is based on a memoir of the same name written by Solomon Northup. This biographical drama film directed by Steve McQueen chronicles the life of Northup as a kidnapped and abused slave in the 1800s.
The film features a stellar cast comprising Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’O, and Michael Fassbender. At the 2019 Oscars, the film won Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress. The film made history for being the only Best Picture winner to feature a Black filmmaker and portraying such a strong and heavy topic.
5. Nomadland (2020)
Directed by Chloé Zhao, Nomadland has received multiple nominations, awards, and some controversy.
The film stars Frances McDormand as a widow who travels the U.S. in her camper van and won three major awards at the Oscars. The film won Best Picture, Best Actress, and Zhao won Best Director. Zhao’s win, however, was marred with controversy when she made some remarks about China. As a result, Nomadland was pulled from theatrical release by Disney China.
Controversy aside, Zhao is the second woman and the first woman of color to win Best Director.
6. Get Out (2017)
Get Out is a psychological horror film directed by Jordan Peele, of Key and Peele fame. The 2017 film follows a young black man who travels to meet his girlfriend’s family and discover unsettling secrets about them.
At the Oscars, Get Out won Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director. Peele made history by being the first Black person to win Best Original Screenplay. Beyond the Oscars, Get Out is often cited as one of the best films to come out in the 2010s for its unique story.
7. Hurt Locker (2010)
Katheryn Bigelow made history when she became the first woman to win Best Director for her incredible work on Hurt Locker. Bigelow’s win was particularly important as she was also the only woman nominated in that category. Bigelow’s win gave rise to the need for recognition of female directors in the film industry. 10 years later, another female director, Chloé Zhao, won the award for her work in Nomadland.
Oscars aside, Hurt Locker was also praised for handling such heavy subject matters. In 2020, the film was nominated for preservation in the United States National Film Registry for being culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.