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Ranking the best Oscar ceremonies of the past 50 years

Ranking the best Oscar ceremonies of the past 50 years
1/ROBYN BECK // Getty Images

Ranking the best Oscar ceremonies of the past 50 years

The Academy Awards isn’t just a chance for actors, directors, and producers to recognize their peers. It’s also a televised phenomenon that tens of millions of viewers tune into every year. Whether you come for the couture gowns on the red carpet, inevitable goof-ups by presenters, or inspiring speeches from winning talent, it’s hard to deny the appeal of the Oscars.

Still, some ceremonies have undoubtedly been better than others. Who could forget the “La La Land”/”Moonlight” Best Picture mix-up at the 2017 Oscars? To find out which Academy Awards ceremonies resonated the most with audiences, Stacker ranked each televised broadcast by IMDb user ratings. Any ties were broken by the number of IMDb user votes. Read through the list to find out which Oscar hosts flopped on Hollywood’s biggest night and which award ceremonies delighted audiences around the world.

#50. The 60th Annual Academy Awards
2/AFP // Getty Images

#50. The 60th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 4.6
IMDb votes: 186
Year: 1988

At the Oscars in 1988, Michael Douglas took home Best Actor for his role in "Wall Street." Cher was named Best Actress for her role in “Moonstruck” and famously accepted her award by saying, “And I don't think that this means that I am somebody, but... I guess I'm on my way.”

#49. The 58th Annual Academy Awards
3/Scoot Flynn // Getty Images

#49. The 58th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 4.8
IMDb votes: 180
Year: 1986

Though it was hosted by three acting powerhouses—Alan Alda, Jane Fonda, and Robin Williams—the 1986 Oscars still didn't delight audiences. It comes in second to last on this list. In the above photo, president of the Motion Picture Association of America Jack Valenti (at left) stands with Argentine Director Luis Puenzo and actress Norma Aleando after Puenzo won an Oscar for the Best Foreign Film for "Official Story."

#48. The 61st Annual Academy Awards
4/Alan Light // Flickr

#48. The 61st Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 5.5
IMDb votes: 202
Year: 1989

Dustin Hoffman famously took home the Best Actor award for his role in “Rain Man” at the 61st Academy Awards, which was apparently otherwise largely forgettable. Another highlight of the evening was Tom Cruise presenting the award for Best Actress, which went to Jodie Foster for her role as Sarah Tobias in "The Accused."

#47. The 68th Annual Academy Awards
5/Kim Kulish // Getty Images

#47. The 68th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 5.6
IMDb votes: 308
Year: 1996

Whoopi Goldberg hosted the 1996 edition of the Academy Awards. Big winners included Nicolas Cage, Susan Sarandon, Kevin Spacey, Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, but the ceremony itself didn't win in the eyes of fans. Above, winners celebrate winning the Best Visual Effects Oscar for "Babe."

#46. The 74th Annual Academy Awards
6/Gettty Images // Getty Images

#46. The 74th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 5.6
IMDb votes: 987
Year: 2002

In 2002, “Shrek” took home the award for Animated Feature Film while “A Beautiful Mind” won for Best Picture. Sidney Poitier also won an Honorary Award for his distinguished career and groundbreaking work as an African-American actor. But what stole the show when Halle Berry became the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in "Monster's Ball." 

#45. The 48th Annual Academy Awards
7/Hulton Archive // Getty Images

#45. The 48th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 5.7
IMDb votes: 102
Year: 1976

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest” cleaned up at the 1976 Oscars: Jack Nicholson won Best Actor, Louise Fletcher won Best Actress, Milos Forman won for his directing, and the film won Best Picture overall and Best Writing.

#44. The 90th Annual Academy Awards
8/Frederic J. Brown // Getty Images

#44. The 90th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 5.8
IMDb votes: 1,166
Year: 2018

In 2018, multihyphenate Jordan Peele made history by becoming the first African-American to win Best Original Screenplay for “Get Out.” Presenters and attendees were also abuzz about the #MeToo movement, and several speeches called for equal pay and representation for women, minorities, and other disenfranchised groups in Hollywood.

#43. The 57th Annual Academy Awards
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#43. The 57th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 5.9
IMDb votes: 123
Year: 1985

The 1985 Academy Awards ceremony is best known for one moment: When Sally Field accepted her award for Best Actress with a heartfelt cry of “You like me, right now, you like me!” A close second is the scene pictured above when actor Michael Douglas kissed his father, Kirk Douglas.

#42. The 62nd Annual Academy Awards
10/Mark Loundy // Getty Images

#42. The 62nd Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 5.9
IMDb votes: 248
Year: 1990

Funnyman Billy Crystal hosted the Oscars in 1990, when “Driving Miss Daisy” took home the award for Best Picture. Disney's “The Little Mermaid” won for Original Score.

#41. The 71st Annual Academy Awards
11/Hector Mata // Getty Images

#41. The 71st Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 5.9
IMDb votes: 513
Year: 1999

Whoopi Goldberg hosted the Oscars again in 1999, opening the proceedings in full Elizabethan costume as a nod to nominated films like “Shakespeare in Love” and “Elizabeth.” Meanwhile, Roberto Benigni won Oscars for Best Foreign Film and Best Actor in "Life Is Beautiful."

#40. The 56th Annual Academy Awards
12/drmvm1 // Flickr

#40. The 56th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.0
IMDb votes: 103
Year: 1984

Jack Nicholson and Shirley Maclaine took home the Oscars for Best Actor and Best Actress, both for their roles in “Terms of Endearment,” at the 56th Academy Awards. The film also won Best Picture, Best Writing, and Best Directing.

#39. The 52nd Annual Academy Awards
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#39. The 52nd Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.0
IMDb votes: 125
Year: 1980

1980 was the year that Meryl Streep won her first Oscar—for Best Actress in “Kramer vs. Kramer.” She has been nominated 21 times since then, more than any actor or actress since the award's origin.

#38. The 72nd Annual Academy Awards
14/Scott Nelson // Getty Images

#38. The 72nd Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.0
IMDb votes: 591
Year: 2000

After his win for Actor In a Leading Role in “American Beauty” at the 2000 ceremony, Kevin Spacey became the tenth actor to win both the categories of Actor in a Leading Role and Actor in a Supporting Role. Billy Crystal hosted the ceremony for the seventh time.

#37. The 73rd Annual Academy Awards
15/Kevin Winter // Getty Images

#37. The 73rd Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.0
IMDb votes: 786
Year: 2001

“Gladiator” swept several of the big categories in 2001—winning Best Actor, Costume Design, Sound, and Visual Effects. Steven Soderbergh was also nominated twice in the Best Directing category, for his work on “Erin Brockovich” and “Traffic” (he won for the latter).

#36. The 66th Annual Academy Awards
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#36. The 66th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.1
IMDb votes: 302
Year: 1994

1994 was Steven Spielberg's year at the Academy Awards. Two of his films—“Jurassic Park” and “Schindler's List”—won a total of 10 awards. He also won his first Oscar for Best Picture for “Schindler's List.”

#35. The 64th Annual Academy Awards
17/Carlos Schiebeck // Getty Images

#35. The 64th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.1
IMDb votes: 317
Year: 1992

In 1992 “Silence of the Lambs” became the first picture since “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest” to sweep the five biggest categories: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Directing, Best Writing, and Best Picture. The movie had such a big impact on pop culture that host Billy Crystal appeared onstage at one point in a Hannibal Lecter mask.

#34. The 63rd Annual Academy Awards
18/Hulton Archive // Getty Images

#34. The 63rd Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.1
IMDb votes: 319
Year: 1991

When Joe Pesci won Best Supporting Actor for “Goodfellas,” he gave one of the shortest acceptance speeches ever. He simply said, “It was my privilege. Thank you.”

#33. The 77th Annual Academy Awards
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#33. The 77th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.1
IMDb votes: 1,075
Year: 2005

Clint Eastwood at age 74 set a record in 2005 when we won the Directing category for his work on “Million Dollar Baby” as the oldest winner so far. The film also won Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor.

#32. The 54th Annual Academy Awards
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#32. The 54th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.2
IMDb votes: 93
Year: 1982

In 1982, Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda respectively won the Best Actress and Best Actor categories for “On Golden Pond.” That was only the fifth time in Oscar history that the winners in those categories acted in the same film.

#31. The 55th Annual Academy Awards
21/Hulton Archive // Getty Images

#31. The 55th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.2
IMDb votes: 115
Year: 1983

This Academy Awards ceremony had not one, not two, but four hosts: Walter Matthau, Liza Minnelli, Dudley Moore, and Richard Pryor. “Gandhi” was the darling of the Academy, winning eight of its 11 nominations—including Best Picture.

#30. The 42nd Annual Academy Awards
22/Staff // Getty Images

#30. The 42nd Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.3
IMDb votes: 107
Year: 1970

Iconic Western actor John Wayne won his one and only Oscar at the 42nd Annual Academy Awards for playing U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit.” A young Barbra Streisand presented the award.

#29. The 46th Annual Academy Awards
23/Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

#29. The 46th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.3
IMDb votes: 108
Year: 1974

Composer and conductor Marvin Hamlisch set a new record at the 1974 ceremony by winning all three music awards: Best Song for “The Way We Were,” Best Original Dramatic Score for “The Way We Were,” and Best Scoring for “The Sting.” In this image, Groucho Marks holds his Honorary Award, given at the 46th Annual Academy Awards at Music Center, Los Angeles, Calif.

#28. The 49th Annual Academy Awards
24/Hulton Archive // Getty Images

#28. The 49th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.3
IMDb votes: 116
Year: 1977

“Rocky” was the film to beat at the 1977 Oscars: It ended up taking home the awards for Best Picture, Best Directing, and Best Film Editing. Although Sylvester Stallone didn't win, he became the third person in history to be nominated as both an actor and screenwriter in the same year.

#27. The 69th Annual Academy Awards
25/Kim Kulish // Getty Images

#27. The 69th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.3
IMDb votes: 374
Year: 1997

“The English Patient” swept the 69th Annual Academy Awards with wins in nine categories. Billy Crystal emceed the ceremony yet again. In the photo above,  Frances McDormand(at center), Best Actress Oscar winner for her role in "Fargo," poses with her husband Joel Coen and his brother Ethan Coen, who jointly won the Best Original Screenplay for "Fargo."

#26. The 70th Annual Academy Awards
26/Hal Garb // Getty Images

#26. The 70th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.3
IMDb votes: 678
Year: 1998

In 1998, “Titanic” not only won Best Picture and 10 other awards, but also tied the records for most nominations earned by a single film (“All About Eve”) and most awards won by a single film (“Ben Hur”). This was also the most watched ceremony in history, with a whopping 87 million viewers in the United States. "Good Will Hunting" and "L.A. Confidential" each got nine nominations, with the former winning Oscars for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Robin Williams) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck).

#25. The 75th Annual Academy Awards
27/Kevin Winter // Getty Images

#25. The 75th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.3
IMDb votes: 930····
Year: 2003

Five days before the 75th Annual Academy Awards, the United States declared war on Iraq. The ceremony proceeded as scheduled, just with a less glamorous red carpet. “Chicago” won Best Picture.

#24. The 43rd Annual Academy Awards
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#24. The 43rd Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.4
IMDb votes: 56
Year: 1971

Patton” won the award for Best Picture and several other major categories in 1971. Orson Welles also took home an honorary award for his contributions to the industry, while Helen Hayes (pictured here) was awarded an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "Airport."

#23. The 76th Annual Academy Awards
29/Frazer Harrison // Getty Images

#23. The 76th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.4
IMDb votes: 1,160
Year: 2004

In 2004, “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” accomplished a feat that few other films have: It won all 11 of the awards it was nominated for. Screenwriter, producer, and lyricist Fran Walsh netted three awards for her roles on the film, becoming the first woman ever to do so.

#22. The 83rd Annual Academy Awards
30/Jason Merritt // Getty Images

#22. The 83rd Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.4
IMDb votes: 1,458
Year: 2011

The 2011 Oscars ceremony didn't see any films rack up a ton of awards. Instead, “The King's Speech” and “Inception” tied with four statues each. Meanwhile, Christian Bale won Best Actor in a Supporting Role for "The Fighter," Natalie Portman won Best Actress in a Leading Role for "Black Swan," Melissa Leo won Best Actress in a Supporting Role for "The Fighter," and Colin Firth won Best Actor for "The King's Speech."

#21. The 45th Annual Academy Awards
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#21. The 45th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.5
IMDb votes: 83
Year: 1973

Charlton Heston was originally slated to host the ceremony with Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, and Rock Hudson, but got a flat tire on the drive there. Clint Eastwood filled in for him until he arrived.

#20. The 67th Annual Academy Awards
32/Jeff Haynes // Getty Images

#20. The 67th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.5
IMDb votes: 429
Year: 1995

When he won Best Actor for the titular role in “Forrest Gump” in 1995, Tom Hanks became the first person to win back-to-back statues in the category. The movie also won Best Picture and four additional Oscars.

#19. The 88th Annual Academy Awards
33/Christopher Polk // Getty Images

#19. The 88th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.5
IMDb votes: 1,871
Year: 2016

After four nominations, Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar for his role in “The Revenant.” The film also won the Best Directing and Best Cinematography categories.

#18. The 44th Annual Academy Awards
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#18. The 44th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.6
IMDb votes: 75
Year: 1972

The iconic theme from “Shaft” won the award for Best Song in 1972 and has been referenced in pop culture ever since. Singer-songwriter Isaac Hayes became the first African American to win an Oscar in any music category. Pictured here are Raquel Welch, Gene Hackman, and Cloris Leachman, holding her Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

#17. The 87th Annual Academy Awards
35/Christopher Polk // Getty Images

#17. The 87th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.6
IMDb votes: 3,523
Year: 2015

2015 was a wonderful year for actors who were nominated for the first time. About half of the nominees in the acting categories were first timers, and three of them—Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, and J.K. Simmons—won.

#16. The 78th Annual Academy Awards
36/Vince Bucci // Getty Images

#16. The 78th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.7
IMDb votes: 1,036
Year: 2006

Jon Stewart hosted this year's Academy Awards ceremony, at which “Crash” took home the statue for Best Picture (considered to be a major upset for critical darling “Brokeback Mountain”) and the supremely popular “March of the Penguins” won Best Documentary Feature.

#15. The 53rd Annual Academy Awards
37/NBC Televsion // Getty Images

#15. The 53rd Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.8
IMDb votes: 113
Year: 1981

After an assassination attempt on then-President Ronald Reagan, the 53rd Annual Academy Awards was postponed 24 hours. Johnny Carson emceed the evening for the third consecutive year.

#14. The 80th Annual Academy Awards
38/Kevin Winter // Getty Images

#14. The 80th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.8
IMDb votes: 1,405
Year: 2008

In the months leading up this Oscars ceremony, there was some uncertainty over whether or not it would take place: The industry-wide Writers Guild of America strike was only resolved 12 days before the ceremony. Jon Stewart hosted. Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (pictured here) took home Best Director for "No Country for Old Men."

#12. The 82nd Annual Academy Awards (tie)
39/Kevin Winter // Getty Images

#12. The 82nd Annual Academy Awards (tie)

IMDb user rating: 6.8
IMDb votes: 1,650
Year: 2017

The 2017 Academy Awards are best known for an embarrassing snafu. One of the PricewaterhouseCoopers officials responsible for tallying the vote accidentally handed presenter Warren Beatty a leftover envelope from one of “La La Land”'s earlier wins, although “Moonlight” actually won Best Picture. A few moments later, crew announced that there had been a mistake and the correct winners took the stage.

#12. The 89th Annual Academy Awards (tie)
40/Kevin Winter // Getty Images

#12. The 89th Annual Academy Awards (tie)

IMDb user rating: 6.8
IMDb votes: 1,650
Year: 2010

Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin co-hosted the 2010 ceremony, the first to have more than one host since 1987. Notably, “The Hurt Locker” director Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Best Directing category.

#11. The 47th Annual Academy Awards
41/Roy Jones // Getty Images

#11. The 47th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 6.9
IMDb votes: 84
Year: 1975

“The Godfather: Part II” won six Academy Awards in 1975, including the coveted Best Picture category—the first sequel to do so. The awards marked the first and only time every nominee for Costume Design was from the same studio.

#10. The 51st Annual Academy Awards
42/Evening Standard // Getty Images

#10. The 51st Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 7.0
IMDb votes: 145
Year: 1979

Two standing ovations happened at the Academy Awards in 1979 for special appearances by Laurence Olivier and John Wayne. “The Deer Hunter,” starring Robert De Niro and Wynn Hammer, landed Best Picture.

#9. The 65th Annual Academy Awards
43/Mike Nelson // Getty Images

#9. The 65th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 7.0
IMDb votes: 330
Year: 1993

Clint Eastwood became the fourth actor in history to win an award for directing a movie in which he also took the starring role—“Unforgiven.” The film also took home the Best Picture award.

#8. The 79th Annual Academy Awards
44/Kevin Winter // Getty Images

#8. The 79th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 7.3
IMDb votes: 1,345
Year: 2007

In 2007, Martin Scorsese won his first Oscar for directing “The Departed” after seven previous nominations. “An Inconvenient Truth” won for Best Documentary Feature, which brought former Vice President Al Gore to stage (along with director Davis Guggenheim and other members of the crew).

#7. The 84th Annual Academy Awards
45/Kevin Winter // Getty Images

#7. The 84th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 7.3
IMDb votes: 1,757
Year: 2012

In 2012, Jean Dujardin won Best Actor for his role in “The Artist”—a film in which he only speaks two words. That's the smallest amount of dialogue of any winning performance since the decline of silent films.

#6. The 85th Annual Academy Awards
46/Jason Merritt/TERM // Getty Images

#6. The 85th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 7.4
IMDb votes: 2,997
Year: 2013

George Clooney not only acted in, but also produced “Argo,” the Best Picture winner in 2013. He was also nominated in both lead and supporting acting categories, directing, and original and adapted screenplay.

#5. The 59th Annual Academy Awards
47/Georges Biard // Getty Images

#5. The 59th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 7.7
IMDb votes: 248
Year: 1987

While Paul Newman won his first Oscar for Best Actor in “The Color of Money” in 1987, he didn't attend the ceremony. After being previously nominated six times and failing to take home any statues, Newman thought being away might help his chances.

#4. The 86th Annual Academy Awards
48/Handout // Getty Images

#4. The 86th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 7.9
IMDb votes: 3,700
Year: 2014

“12 Years a Slave” won top honors in 2014, making director Steve McQueen the first African American person to direct a Best Picture-winning film. Alfonso Cuarón won Best Directing for “Gravity,” becoming the first Latinx winner in that category.

#3. The 81st Annual Academy Awards
49/Mark Ralston // Getty Images

#3. The 81st Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 8.0
IMDb votes: 2,161
Year: 2009

Hugh Jackman hosted the 2009 Academy Awards ceremony, at which “Slumdog Millionaire” won Best Picture and seven other categories. The Bollywood-infused breakout film was nominated for 10 awards in total.

#2. The 41st Annual Academy Awards
50/Harry Benson // Getty Images

#2. The 41st Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 8.3
IMDb votes: 90
Year: 1969

For the second time in history, two performers tied for an award. Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand tied for Best Actress for their roles in “The Lion in Winter” and “Funny Girl,” respectively.

#1. The 50th Annual Academy Awards
51/YouTube

#1. The 50th Annual Academy Awards

IMDb user rating: 8.4
IMDb votes: 207
Year: 1978

The Academy Awards ceremony with the highest ranking among viewers took place in 1978. Woody Allen's “Annie Hall” won Best Picture that year, while “Star Wars” won six categories.

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