Film history—with its star-studded blockbusters, celebrity triumphs and tragedies, and mind-blowing technological advances—is as dramatic as the medium itself. From the earliest days of the silent film era through the advent of today’s stunning computer-generated imagery, audiences around the world have been captivated by the silver screen. According to Nielsen ratings, more than 26 million Americans tuned in to watch the2018 Academy Awards, and in recent years, box office profits exceeded $11 billion in the U.S. alone. Fans cannot get enough of their favorite films and actors, and routinely create and visit websites packed with little-known facts and photos.
Stacker sifted through sources, including film and history databases, critics’ compilations, and entertainment news to compile this list of most memorable movie moments from 1918 through 2017. What was happening in Hollywood the year you were born? Click through the list to find out!
Warner brothers Harry, Albert, Sam, and Jack, the children of Polish immigrants, purchased property on Sunset Boulevard for $25,000 and relocated their Pennsylvania-based film company to sunny Hollywood. Warner Bros. West Coast Studios would evolve into one of the world's largest and most innovative film companies.
Austrian native Erich von Stroheim made his Hollywood debut as a writer, director, and leading man with his feature "Blind Husbands." Notoriously difficult to work with, this legendary silent screen director went on to produce nine films. In later years, Stroheim starred alongside Gloria Swanson as her devoted servant in "Sunset Boulevard."
Before Brangelina or Kimye, there was Pickfair. Silent screen film star Douglas Fairbanks Sr. presented his sweetheart Mary Pickford with a lavish estate (appropriately christened Pickfair) as a wedding gift. The property boasted 22 rooms and what is thought to be the first swimming pool in Beverly Hills.
Rudolph Valentino, an Italian immigrant who became famous as the original "Latin Lover," made his mark in 1921 with not one but two blockbuster films. "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" became the highest-grossing film in silent screen history, while "The Sheik" cemented Valentino's status as a sex symbol.
At 70 years old, director Cecil B. DeMille embarked on the most challenging project of his career, "The Ten Commandments." A breathtaking spectacle renowned for its lavish sets, "The Ten Commandments" was the most expensive film ever produced at the time of its release. DeMille, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Times, had offered a $1,000 prize for the best idea for his next film. The winner, F.C. Nelson—a lubricating oil manufacturer from Michigan—submitted the biblical theme along with an ominous warning: "You Cannot Break the Ten Commandments—they will break you."
Warner Bros. released "The Jazz Singer" in 1927, bringing the silent screen era to an abrupt end. The film features several musical numbers by Al Jolson, a popular Vaudeville entertainer. In addition to being the first talkie—a movie with a soundtrack—"The Jazz Singer" is also notable for its considerable ad-libbing, including Jolson's famous line: "Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain't heard nothin' yet."
Mickey Mouse became the mouse everyone knows and loves by adapting an earlier Disney character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. When Universal acquired the rights to Oswald in a contract dispute, Walt Disney rebounded with Mickey, who made his silver screen debut in the 1928 short "Plane Crazy." He hit it big with his appearance in "Steamboat Willie" that same year.
Although the Oscar did not officially take its nickname until almost a decade later, the statuettes have been presented to talented recipients since 1929. Paramount's "Wings" took home the Best Picture award at the first Academy Awards banquet at Hollywood's Roosevelt Hotel, while Emil Jannings and Janet Gaynor walked away with Best Actor and Best Actress honors.
Jean Harlow, famous for her luminous platinum locks, famous for her luminous platinum locks, made Hollywood history in eccentric director and aviator Howard Hughes' "Hell's Angels." In the film, she utters the immortal phrase: "Would you be shocked if I put on something more comfortable?" Harlow, also known as "The Blonde Bombshell," was signed by MGM and enjoyed major Hollywood stardom until her death in 1937 from kidney failure. She was just 26.
MGM luminaries Clark Gable and Joan Crawford lit up the screen in "Dance, Fools, Dance," the first of eight films the duo made together. Gable and Crawford were not just co-stars; they were real-life lovers. When their adulterous affair became public, producer and MGM co-founder Louis B. Mayer demanded they end it. The couple parted ways, but with much difficulty judging from Crawford's recollections of their passionate relationship: "The electricity between us sparked on-screen. It wasn't just acting; we meant every damn kiss and embrace."
Shirley Temple, the little girl with the curly hair and the dimpled grin, was a breath of fresh air for audiences during the Great Depression. The 4-year-old talent made her big-screen debut in a series of low-budget shorts known as the "Baby Burlesques" in which toddlers played roles intended for adults and dressed the part. Later that same year, Shirley appeared in her first feature film, "The Red Haired Alibi," and would soon become one of the biggest box-office draws of the 1930s.
King Kong, the legendary giant ape, made his first silver screen appearance in 1933. Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack—documentarians and adventure enthusiasts—conceived the story and created the film on a shoestring budget. Only the petite Faye Wray could tame King Kong, and the scene in which Wray rests in his upturned hand became one of the most iconic in sci-fi film history.
As talkies grew in popularity, even the great Charlie Chaplin found himself confronting the challenges of technology—a theme he addressed in his final silent film, "Modern Times." Although Chaplin's initial attempts to transition to the world of sound were hit and miss, he eventually found success with the release of "The Great Dictator" in 1940, avoiding the same fate of many silent film stars whose careers faded into oblivion.
Howard Hawk's "Bringing Up Baby" flopped at the box office in 1938, only to be rediscovered years later and hailed as one of the best screwball comedies of all time. Consequently, the film's star, Katherine Hepburn, was deemed "box office poison" and her contract with RKO was terminated. Hepburn returned to the stage for a few years before resurrecting her film career with "The Philadelphia Story."
Adapted from Margaret Mitchell's best-selling Civil War novel by the same name, "Gone with the Wind," starred Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh as star-crossed lovers. The movie hit the big screen in 1939 and went on to become one of the most successful films ever produced, raking in $192 million. It was also one of the longest films ever made at the time, with a running time of 231 minutes.
Disney followed up its "Snow White" success with a slate of animated features, including the artistically ambitious Fantasia with an orchestral score and complex themes. It was the first film released in Fantasound, a multi-channel stereo format. Only a limited number of audiences were able to enjoy this enhanced sound technology, as the equipment was prohibitively expensive and available at only six theaters nationwide.
The Maltese Falcon is one of the most recognizable props in film history. According to Detective Sam Spade, played by Humphrey Bogart, the statuette symbolized "the stuff that dreams are made of," a line as iconic as the Maltese Falcon itself. In 1994, a collector's dream came true when the falcon was purchased at an auction for a whopping $398,500: the most a movie prop had ever sold for up to that point.
"Play it again, Sam" is of the most famous movie misquotes of all time, as it was never actually spoken by Humphrey Bogart's character Rick Blaine in the 1942 classic "Casablanca." The Academy Award-winning film about mismatched lovers in Morocco was a huge success with audiences and critics alike.
Batman made his film debut in Columbia's low-budget serial, which featured several elements familiar to fans of the comic book series including the Bat Cave and stately Wayne Manor The limited budget forced production to skimp on the Batmobile, which was a stock 1939 Cadillac convertible that also served as Bruce Wayne's everyday ride.
Born Betty Jane Perske, Lauren Bacall got her big break when the wife of Howard Hughes saw her photo on the cover of Harper's Bazaar and encouraged her husband to give the young actress a screen test. Hughes cast Bacall as the female lead in "To Have and Have Not," which would forever change the 19-year-old's life and name.
"Brief Encounter," based on the play by Noel Coward, is one of the most popular British films ever created—and one of the most heartbreaking. Laura and Alec engage in a furtive, adulterous love affair against a backdrop of mid-20th-century English propriety. When their doomed relationship must come to an end, the couple is robbed of a proper, final goodbye.
The first Cannes Film Festival was originally scheduled for the fall of 1939 but was postponed for seven years because of World War II. In 1946, the mood in France was jubilant and the well-attended festival introduced European films to an international audience.
The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) subpoenaed more than 40 members of the film industry, believing them to harbor communist sympathies. A group of writers and directors known as the Hollywood Ten challenged the committee and was consequently blacklisted. Many continued to write under pseudonyms until the ban was lifted in the 1960s.
Olivia de Havilland starred in this early effort to call attention to the plight of those suffering from mental illness. While the heroine's "cure"—embracing life as a wife and mother—has been denounced in recent years, "The Snake Pit" nevertheless played an important role in mental healthcare reform, calling attention to the abominable conditions prevalent in U.S. mental health institutions at the time.
On June 8, 1949, the FBI, lacking any substantive evidence, accused several American celebrities of being communists. The blacklist included some of Hollywood's brightest stars, like two-time Oscar winner Frederic March, "Little Caesar" and "Key Largo" tough guy gangster Edward G. Robinson, and stage and film actor and activist Paul Robeson.
Tennessee Williams adapted his play, "A Streetcar Named Desire," for the silver screen, refusing to spare censors in the process. The film openly tackles controversial, taboo topics and themes like mental illness, domestic violence, and sexual assault, and consequently ignited the ire of the Catholic Legion of Decency. Directed by Elia Kazan, "A Streetcar Named Desire" tells the story of former Southern belle Blanche Dubois, who resides in a squalid New Orleans apartment with her sister and earthy brother-in-law (Marlon Brando).
Gene Kelly made movie musical history with his joyfully infectious performance of "Singin' in the Rain" while suffering from a 101-degree fever. A clever satire on the transition from the silent film era to the age of talkies, "Singin' in the Rain" incorporated song and dance numbers from earlier films, including the title track, written by lyricist Arthur Freed and composer Nacio Herb Brown for MGM's "Hollywood Revue of 1929."
Love scenes are a cinema staple. Yet few are as memorable as the image of Burt Lancaster's First Sergeant Milton Warden and Deborah Kerr's Karen Holmes locked in a passionate embrace on a moonlit Hawaiian beach in "From Here to Eternity."
Filmed in just 36 days on location in Hoboken, N.J., director Elia Kazan's gritty drama "On the Waterfront" packs a powerful political punch. The story follows Terry Malloy, a longshoreman who inadvertently betrays his union brothers. The film has been interpreted by some as a commentary on Kazan's own betrayal of several of his Hollywood contemporaries, whose names he game up while under interrogation by The House Un-American Affairs Committee 30 years prior.
There is perhaps no image more iconic than that of Marilyn Monroe standing above a subway grate good-naturedly struggling to maintain a sense of decency as a subway train rushes by, creating a wind-tunnel beneath her white halter dress. Twentieth Century Fox turned the filming of the scene for the "The Seven Year Itch" into a publicity stunt, leaking the date and time of the shoot to the public. Thousands of fans turned out to see Monroe, and as much of her as possible, at the expense of her marriage to Joe DiMaggio who was less than thrilled by the spectacle.
Grace Kelly transitioned from Hollywood royalty to actual royalty when she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco on April 18, 1956. Kelly won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in "The Country Girl" in 1954, and served as Alfred Hitchcock's muse in "Dial M for Murder," "Rear Window," and "To Catch a Thief." She retired from acting after her marriage, concentrating instead on her duties as princess consort.
Camp classic "I Was A Teenage Werewolf" featured Michael Landon, who later starred in "Bonanza" and "Little House on the Prairie," as an all-American boy who is transformed into a werewolf when a science experiment goes awry. "I Was A Teenage Werewolf" was the highest-grossing teen horror film of its time, and also one of the first—if not the first—rock 'n' roll horror film.
Miyoshi Umeki won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "Sayonara." Against the will of her family and community, Umeki's character marries American airman Joe Kelly, played by Red Buttons. The young bride and her serviceman husband commit suicide when they are unable to return to the United States together. Umeki was the first woman of Asian descent to win an Oscar.
Hailed by critics as a comedic masterpiece, "Some Like It Hot" features Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon as struggling musicians who disguise themselves as members of an all-girl band after accidentally witnessing a mob hit. Marilyn Monroe stars as the band's lead singer. Inspired by the 1935 French farce "Fanfare d'Amour," "Some Like it Hot" was the highest-grossing comedy of its day.
Master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock set a new bar for fear with the release of the release of "Psycho," his first hardcore horror film. In the infamous shower sequence, the audience is never privy to the actual stabbing of Janet Leigh's character. Instead, Hitchcock makes viewers' blood run cold with closeup shots of the instrument of death, Janet Leigh's piercing scream, and the grisly aftermath of the murder swirling down the shower drain.
Sean Connery became the first actor to play James Bond in the 1962 film "Dr. No." The movie is set in Jamaica and features Ursula Andress as the original Bond Girl.
Sidney Poitier was honored for his performance in "Lilies of the Field," becoming the first person of color to win the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Julie Andrews dominated the opening musical number in "The Sound of Music" as nun-turned-nanny Maria von Trapp, spinning on a hilltop somewhere in the Swiss Alps. Inclement weather plagued the production, and the sequence was shot during a 20-minute break from chronic wind and rain on the final day of filming.
Although attitudes toward profanity in film began to loosen up in the early '60s, the f-word was not uttered on screen until British director David Strick's adaptation of James Joyce's "Ulysses" in 1967. The honor was bestowed on Barbara Jefford, the actress who played Molly Bloom.
Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi epic "2001: A Space Odyssey" at the time of production boasted the largest budget for special effects for any movie ever made, dedicating more than 60% of the film's budget to high-tech imagery. Kubrick oversaw the special effects team himself, which included heavyweights Con Pederson, Wally Veevers, and Douglas Trumbull, who later worked on "Blade Runner" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Just some of the special effects featured in "2001" were front projection, "Slit Scan" photography developed by Trumbull, an innovative rotoscoping setup, and achieving the weightlessness of space by suspending stunt actors from wires.
An X rating ordinarily would have sunk an Oscar contender, but "Midnight Cowboy" defied the odds and took the award for Best Picture despite its explicit content. The film chronicles the unlikely friendship between a Texas gigolo (Jon Voight), and a con artist (Dustin Hoffman). This marked the dawn of a new, hard-hitting era in American film that tackled issues relating to sex and drugs head-on.
"Airport" kicked off a decade-long love of disaster movies. The era spawned fatalistic features such as "The Poison Adventure," "Airport 1975," "Airport 77," "Earthquake," and "Avalanche."
The first installment of "The Godfather" trilogy, directed by Francis Ford Coppola arrived in 1972. The famous quote "Make him an offer he can't refuse" can be heard twice in the film. Michael Corleone uses the phrase when relating a story to his wife, Kay. The second time the line is spoken by Don Vito Corleone, promising his godson a covert role in an upcoming film.
The 1973 feature-film precursor to HBO's acclaimed series "Westworld" was written and directed by Michael Crichton, who went on to write the "Jurassic Park" series. "Westworld" was groundbreaking in its day, incorporating computer-generated imagery (CGI) with the first use of pixelation. The tech was used to show the perspective of a robot-gone-awry as it stalks human visitors at fantasy frontier resort Westworld.
Universal premiered "Jaws" at an unprecedented 464 movie theaters, making wide-release the norm for summer blockbusters.
Academy Award-winning Steadicam technology is a method of achieving smooth, sustained shots in film without the bounce of handheld cinematography. The movie-making breakthrough, developed by Garrett Brown, involved mounting a camera to a wearable vest so camera operators could follow movement seamlessly. "Bound for Glory" represents the first use of Steadicam, which became mainstream later that year as a cameraman kept crisp, smooth pace with Rocky Balboa as he ran up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Roger Moore played the British spy James Bond for the third time in "The Spy Who Loved Me," which opens with one of the most impressive (and expensive) sequences in action movie history. Moore's stuntman Rick Sylvester evades would-be assassins by skiing down a particularly challenging trail, off a cliff, only to land safely by deploying a Union Jack parachute.
National Lampoon's "Animal House" pushed gross-out comedy, which was aimed specifically at the youth market, to new extremes. The film chronicled the bawdy antics—drunken toga parties, graphic food fights, and a morally questionable road trip—of a particularly outrageous college fraternity. Inspired by screenwriter Chris Miller's experiences as an undergraduate at Dartmouth, "Animal House" was the first comedy to break $100 million dollars at the box office.
In 1979, director Francis Ford Coppola released "Apocalypse Now," his groundbreaking Vietnam War film inspired by Joseph Conrad's 1899 novella, "Heart of Darkness." Showered with numerous accolades and awards, the movie belies the fact that the filming was plagued by setbacks including inclement weather, Marlon Brando's unforeseen weight gain, and Martin Sheen's heart attack on set.
After child actors My-Ca Dinh Le, 7, and Renee Shin-Yi Chen, 6, were killed in a helicopter accident while filming "Twilight Zone: The Movie," U.S. child labor laws were reformed and greater safety precautions were adopted. Director John Landis, initially charged with involuntary manslaughter, was acquitted in 1987.
Tom Cruise made movie history in "Risky Business" with his lip-syncing rendition of Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock 'n' Roll" while wearing nothing but a button-down shirt, tighty whiteys, and a pair of white socks. The movie script called for Cruise's character to dance in his underwear, but the details—the candlestick microphone, the popped collar, and jumping on the bed—were all Cruise.
"This Is Spinal Tap," a satirical film about a mythical British band, evolved from a four-page treatment. The film was entirely improvised by the cast led by Christopher Guest and Michael McKeon. Guest and McKeon went on to make several other mockumentaries, including "Best in Show," "Waiting for Guffman," and "A Mighty Wind."
Back in the 80s, before Netflix and Amazon Prime, people got in their cars and drove to stores where they rented movies on VHS tapes and could be fined for forgetting to rewind the tape. Blockbuster Video was the behemoth of neighborhood video stores and opened its first outpost in Dallas in 1985.
Matthew Broderick entered the American consciousness as the eponymous hero of writer and director John Hughes' "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Ferris Bueller, his girlfriend, and his best friend knock off school for the day and treat Chicago as their own personal playground. Bueller's rationale for skipping school? "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
"Dirty Dancing," starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey as a pair of unlikely summer lovers holed up at a Borscht Belt resort, was the sleeper hit of 1987. Writer Eleanor Bergstein based the screenplay on her own experience. The chemistry between the couple sizzled, particularly in the final dance number when Johnny lifts Baby in the air to the strains of "The Time of My Life." Patrick Swayze, a trained dancer, was a natural fit for the role.
When "The Last Temptation of Christ" opened in the U.S., it was met with vociferous objections from numerous religious groups. The dream sequence in which Jesus, played by Willem Dafoe, leads a parallel existence as the husband of prostitute Mary Magdalene was found to be particularly objectionable. Despite the outcry, Martin Scorsese was awarded the Oscar for Best Director.
"When Harry Met Sally" resuscitated the romantic comedy—a genre which had been on life support for decades. The classic follows unlikely friends, played by Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, as their relationship blossoms into something much more serious. Nora Ephron's crisp, inventive dialogue keeps the film fresh, despite the sentimental subject matter. Meg Ryan faking the "Big O" in a New York City pastrami palace became an iconic moment in the history of comedy.
"Slacker," Richard Linklater's low-budget, meandering debut film, follows a motley group of Austin 20-somethings over a 24-hour period. The term "slacker," used to identify Linklater's underachievers, immediately entered the American lexicon.
"Malcolm X," directed by Spike Lee, was the first feature production permitted to film in the holy Islamic city of Mecca. The filming was performed entirely by Muslim actors, as those outside the faith are banned from the holy site. The movie contains a notable cameo when Nelson Mandela appears as a South African school teacher.
There are only a handful of colorized images in Steven Spielberg's harrowing Holocaust film, "Schindler's List," which was shot almost exclusively in monochrome. The now-iconic image of a little girl in a red coat running across the street as Nazi soldiers decimate the Krakow ghetto is an important turning point in the film. When Oskar Schindler, played by Liam Neeson, sees the girl in the red coat, he realizes that he must save as many Jews as possible.
While most CGI and special effects get used in action and sci-fi flicks, "Forrest Gump" used them to bring history to life. Whether shaking hands with JFK, dancing with Elvis, or inspiring John Lennon with the lyrics for "Imagine," the film utilized a number of techniques including compositing, chroma key, image warping, rotoscoping, and other technologies to seamlessly integrate famous historical figures into shots with Forrest (Tom Hanks) and his fellow characters. The stunning special effects helped to make the film one of the biggest box office earners of all time and among the most cherished of all American movies.
Jerry Maguire director Cameron Crowe's wildly successful rom-com spawned several time-tested catch phrases, including "Show me the money!" "You complete me," and "You had me at hello." The film stars Tom Cruise as an ethically challenged sports agent and newcomer Renee Zellweger as his love interest. Zellweger nabbed the Best Actress honor for her performance
When the screenplay for "Titanic" reached the desk of legendary Paramount Pictures executive Sherry Lansing, she immediately recognized the story's potential. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet were cast as the doomed lovers, and Lansing's instincts proved correct: "Titanic" was a huge hit with fans. At more than $1 billion in sales, it was the highest-grossing film in history at the time.
The Coen brothers, noted for their quirky independent vision, followed up the critically acclaimed "Fargo" with "The Big Lebowski." Starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, and Steve Buscemi as bowling buddies caught up in a case of mistaken identity. The film, with its endlessly quotable dialogue, became a cult classic.
Thriller writer and director M. Night Shyamalan's "The Sixth Sense" contains not only one of the best plot twists in movie history, but also one of the most frequently quoted lines. Six-year-old Cole, played by Haley Joel Osment, is gifted with psychic abilities; and his famous line, "I see dead people," has been immortalized in numerous gifs and memes.
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" transcended audience demographics to appeal to everyone from "suburban teen skate-rats who had never seen a subtitled film, to hip-hop fans, to middle-aged art-house movie lovers." The movie, filmed in Mandarin-Chinese, grossed $128,067,808 in U.S. box offices and took home four Oscars.
"Shrek," DreamWorks laugh-out-loud, larger-than-life homage to fairy tales, became the first film to win an Oscar for Best Animated Feature—a brand-new category introduced by the Academy in 2001. The lovable ogre, voiced by Mike Meyers, spawned four sequels—with a fifth scheduled to be released in 2019.
The Academy awarded the Best Actress honor to Halle Berry for her portrayal of Leticia Musgrove, the long-suffering wife of a death row inmate who finds comfort in the arms of a prison guard in "Monster's Ball." Berry became the first black woman to take home the Oscar in the Best Actress category, and her moving acceptance speech acknowledged many of the great black actresses who came before her, including Dorothy Dandridge and Lena Horne.
The 2004 hit comedy "Mean Girls," starring Lindsay Lohan as an awkward math geek who becomes popular, spawned a slew of slang words and catchy phrases. The majority of the words, including "fetch" and "skeez," were coined by "The Plastics," the superficial clique ruled by Regina George (Rachel McAdams).
Director Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain," adapted from the short story by E. Annie Proulx, is a devastating portrait of a love affair between two Wyoming men played by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. The relationship spans two decades and is rarely discussed by either partner, neither of whom is able to say "I love you." The film gave way to the immortal line, "I wish I knew how to quit you."
Grand dame of American film Meryl Streep received her 14th Oscar nomination in 2006 for her performance as icy fashion editor Miranda Priestly in "The Devil Wears Prada." Although Streep did not take home the Best Actress award, the two-time winner became the most-nominated performer in the history of the Academy. Since then, Streep has garnered seven more nominations and another win.
At 20 years old, Canadian actress Ellen Page became the youngest actress ever nominated for Best Actress by the Academy. The nod came for her spunky but sensitive role as a pregnant teenager in "Juno."
Just a few months before the scheduled release of Christopher Nolan's edgy Batman film "The Dark Knight," Heath Ledger, who starred as The Joker, died of a drug overdose in his New York City apartment. Ledger lived and breathed the demented villain during production, and his mood and sleep cycle suffered. The pills that ultimately killed him were prescribed in an attempt to cope with the effects of filming the most demanding role of his career.
Director James Cameron's "Avatar" reinvented 3D technology with the introduction of stereoscoping filming, a process which places two cameras next to one another in order to create a more convincing 3D illusion. "Avatar" went on to become one of the most successful movies ever made, and revolutionized feature film animation.
Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to take home the Best Director honor for her hard-hitting feature, "The Hurt Locker," about a group of bomb disposal experts during the Iraq War. Bigelow's ex-husband and "Avatar" director James Cameron was also nominated for Best Director and was sitting behind Bigelow when she was announced as the winner.
French film "The Artist" beat out big names and Hollywood blockbusters by sweeping the Oscars in a host of categories, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. The movie, which centers on a silent film star struggling to adapt to the introduction of talkies, was shot almost entirely in black and white, and virtually without spoken dialogue. The film, except for a single line of dialogue and dream sequence with sound, is the first silent movie since 1927's "Wings" to win Best Picture; and the Best Picture winner to be shot completely in black-and-white since "The Apartment" in 1960.
In 2012, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2," the fifth and final film in the teen vampire series, hit theaters. It was the first franchise to have three films exceed the $130 million mark in the first few days of release. The supernatural love affair between Kristen Stewart's Bella and Robert Pattinson's Edward proved irresistible to young female fans, upping their clout as an influential box office demographic
"Fifty Shades of Grey," adapted from E. L. James' erotic novel and starring Dakota Johnson, sold more advanced tickets than any other movie in history. Box office revenues were fueled by the film's taboo subject matter: a sadomasochistic love affair between a young woman and a controlling man.
"Wonder Woman," directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Israeli newcomer Gal Gadot, performed heroically at the box office. The film raked in $103.3 million opening weekend, making it the biggest blockbuster ever helmed by a female director.