Every year comes a string of new movies by the hundreds. According to market insights company Statista, 449 feature films hit movie theatres in Canada and the US in 2022. For all the excitement of discovering a brand-new story on the silver screen, though, great cinematic experiences are few and far between. Hollywood is struggling to bring in crowds, as many big-budget productions bombed spectacularly these past few months.
But what if you were looking for a definite crowd-pleaser on your next movie night? As controversial as some of their picks might be, the Academy Awards remain a safe barometer as to a film’s sheer quality. So, we bring you three Oscar-winning blockbusters to watch or revisit.
We kick off our ranking with a throwback to the golden age of Hollywood-made ancient epics. If you’re in for a vintage movie night and aren’t afraid to sit still for over 3 hours, Ben-Hur is a perfect choice. Granted, this William Wyler film does show its age. Charlton Heston’s dated style of acting may leave even hardcore cinema lovers a bit perplexed. Still, this grand-scale historical epic remains a milestone in cinema history.
From wealthy merchant to a galley slave and charioteer, the journey of Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur takes us around all corners of 1st-century Judaea, all the way to a climactic crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Just as impactful on the big screen, an 11-minute-long chariot race will surely keep you on the edge of your seat. Boasting too many iconic scenes to count, Ben-Hur was the first-ever motion picture to receive 11 Oscars. And although a 2016 remake tried to rejuvenate that fabled story, this recent attempt pales in comparison with the 1959 original.
In 1997, Titanic was on every moviegoer’s lips. Blending history and fiction, the dramatic story of the infamous unsinkable ship left a lasting impression on audiences worldwide. And its legacy hasn’t worn out. The legendary couple played by Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio keeps inspiring fanfictions and burning controversies. Despite the movie pushing 26 this year, the wreck’s incredibly realistic scenes are as suffocating as they were back in the day, thanks to a blend of computer-generated visual effects and practical effects.
Throughout its entire run – reissues accounted for – the film grossed over $2 billion at the box office. The first movie to hit that mark would only be dethroned by another James Cameron production, Avatar. Tying Ben-Hur, Titanic earned 11 Oscars, taking home Best Picture and Best Director. So, grab a box of tissues and get ready to tear up with this poignant and timeless story of love and loss.
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The masterpiece penned by J.R.R Tolkien had long been regarded as nearly impossible to adapt into a film. But Peter Jackson would have it otherwise. Fearless enough to take on this daunting task, Jackson worked tirelessly to bring Tolkien’s universe to life on the silver screen. And in 2003, his effort paid off as he was awarded an Academy Award for Best Director for his work on the third and last chapter of one of the greatest movie trilogies of all time. A perfect conclusion to the adventures of the Fellowship of the Ring, The Return of the King reaped a whopping 11 Oscars.
The movie would mark a turning point for all fantasy epics, even reviving the genre in the gaming medium, from movie tie-in games to the recent Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. The franchise also inspired the iGaming industry, with platforms like Vegas Slots Online featuring Lord of the Rings-themed pokies. Die-hard fans can therefore try their luck on machine slots such as Microgaming’s Lord of the Rings Jackpot. Thousands of other fun options await alongside classic casino games. Bonuses like free spins also reward newcomers eager to spin the wheel.
Big-budget cinema is far from a dying art. Blockbusters cross the billion-dollar mark at the box office on the regular. Yet big-budget productions are arguably losing their appeal. A sure hit-maker for well over a decade, even the MCU is experiencing turbulence. Marvel exhaustion translates into underperforming and underwhelming superhero flicks. While Black Panther: Wakanda Forever recently received an Oscar for Best Costume Design and Avatar: The Way of Water for Best Visual Effects, the Academy Awards have been avoiding rewarding box office smashes for Best Picture trophies. Still, the movies above combined critical acclaim and massive commercial success.