There have been eight Academy Awards ceremonies this decade, and there has been a strong group of Best Picture winners at the Oscars. Since 2010, critically acclaimed films like Moonlight, Birdman and Spotlight have taken the top prize, while crowd-pleasers like Argo and The King's Speech have also been honored. Now, Guillermo Del Toro's The Shape of Water is a member of that group.
This decade has found Hollywood at a time of drastic change. It started with two consecutive Best Picture winners taken through the awards season by the disgraced Harvey Weinstein. Now, we're seeing small-budget indies winners taking the prize without making noise at the box office.
All eight of these films are drastically different, but here is a look at the last eight Best Picture winners from worst to best.
The biggest blemish on the Academy for the last eight years is The Artist winning Best Picture for 2011. This was the year of Alexander Payne's The Descendants, Martin Scorsese's Hugo and Bennett Miller's Moneyball. Even Terrence Malick's daring The Tree of Life was nominated for Best Picture. But instead, the Academy went with The Artist, a French-produced silent film directed by Michel Hazanavicius.
One way to judge Best Pictures is based on how important the filmmakers have been since its release. After The Artist, none of Hazanavicius' films have caught international attention. His immediate follow-up, 2014's The Search, was drubbed by critics. At least he made some good spy spoofs with his OSS 117 films before The Artist.
The King's Speech is another Best Picture winner we have to thank Harvey Weinstein for. It's a shame that his name has anything to do with it, because it's not actually an awful film as far as "Great Man" biopics go. Colin Firth really does give a great performance as King George VI and Geoffrey Rush is delightful as George's speech therapist. But 2010 is the year of Inception, The Fighter, Black Swan, True Grit and Toy Story 3, all films we'd rather talk about eight years later than The King's Speech.
Since its release, director Tom Hooper went on to direct the box office smash Les Miserables (2012) and The Danish Girl (2015), which earned Alicia Vickander an Oscar.
Sometimes, the weight of being a "Best Picture Winner" can hurt a film. Ben Affleck's Argo is a fun thriller, even if it is historically inaccurate. But a Best Picture winner? When Life of Pi, Lincoln and Django Unchained are on your ballot? Did you even consider Amour? Also, after The Shape of Water beat Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Argo is still one of only two modern Best Picture winners without a Best Director nomination. The other is Driving Miss Daisy, another Best Picture winner we wish wasn't.
Since Argo, Affleck has only directed one film, his box office bust Live By Night. He's also Batman, at the time of this writing.
Guillermo Del Toro's The Shape of Water is only fifth on this list because the next four movies are so good. The Shape of Water is the first science fiction film to win Best Picture, and really shows the beauty of love. While none of the film's performances won any Oscars, the cast - especially Sally Hawkins - is incredible. Del Toro crafted a visual marvel, and a film we will be talking about for awhile.
Alejandro G. Inarritu's films can be gruelling experiences, as anyone who has sat through Babel and his other films can acknowledge. But Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is the total opposite.
It is a blissful, dark comedic tribute to actors and their craft. Yes, the one-take gimmick can get a little old fast, but once you get into the movie it does not let you go. It's like watching an improvisational music piece unfold, with a cast of amazing actors in their place. Michael Keaton should have won that Best Actor Oscar.
Since Birdman, Inarritu directed Leonardo DiCaprio to an Oscar for The Revenant (2015), which also earned him the Best Director Oscar. He was the first director to pull off that feat since Joseph L. Mankiewicz won for A Letter To Three Wives (1949) and All About Eve (1950).
Also this year, Inarritu won a Special Achievement Oscar for his virtual reality film Flesh and Sand.
There are dozens of great movies about the newspaper business, a medium Hollywood has been obsessed with since The Front Page (1931). And then there is the greatest of them all, All The President's Men (1976). More than 40 years later, Tom McCarthy made Spotlight (2015).
It is a great, uncompromising look at the Boston Globe's reporting on the Catholic Church child molestation scandal, with an impressive ensemble cast. It makes you wonder what on earth Mark Ruffalo is going to have do to win an Oscar.
Unfortunately, McCarthy has not released a film since Spotlight, and we can't wait to see what he does next.
Moonlight is a magical film. Director Barry Jenkins and playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney chose to tell the story of Chiron through three different periods of his life. Costing only $1.5 million to make, the movie is a masterpiece of efficiency and storytelling.
The performances are also gripping. Mahershala Ali deserved every ounce of that Oscar, even though he was only seen in the first act. But he left such an impression behind that you could not forget him after leaving the theater. The three different actors who played Chiron - Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes - somehow make you feel like they are the same person. Whatever Jenkins does next will be exciting.
2013 was a very strong year, with two juggernauts - Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity and Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave. The other nominees, particularly Spike Jonze's Her, Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street and Alexander Payne's Nebraska, were great as well. But in the end, 12 Years a Slave was the champion.
The film is a masterpiece of acting and directing, with Chiwetel Ejiofour's performance as Solomon Northup at its heart. It also has an all-star cast in the vein of old Hollywood epics, with stars in nearly every role, including producer Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Michael Fassbender, Alfre Woodard and Paul Giamatti. But its real strength is the discovery of Lupita Nyong'o, who has become one of Hollywood's brightest stars since 2013.
Next year, McQueen is expected to be back in the Oscar race with Windows, starring Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki and Michelle Rodriguez. The movie is based on the 1983 ITV series of the same name.