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Top Grossing Oscar Best Picture Winners

Updated on September 30, 2014

Show Me The Money!

Academy Award-winning movies don’t just take home gold on Oscar night, but often times at the box office as well. The buzz around nominated movies sends audiences to theaters in droves to find out what the fuss is all about. Here is the list of the movies that won the Academy Award for Best Picture and took home the most cash during their theatrical run.

1. Titanic (1997)

Love it or hate it, Titanic is arguably the biggest movie of all time. After its release on December 19, 1997, it grossed $600,788,188 at the box office and garnered 14 Academy Award nominations with 11 wins. Writer/director James Cameron’s behemoth of a movie solidified Leonardo DiCaprio as a heartthrob and gave Kate Winslet her second Oscar nomination (her first was in 1996 for Sense and Sensibility). All of this for a movie that has no possibility of a sequel…spoiler alert: the boat sinks.

Titanic At The 1998 Academy Awards


Best Picture: James Cameron/Landau

Best Director: James Cameron

Best Cinematography: Russell Carpenter

Best Art Direction/Set Decoration: Peter Lamont (Art Director)/Michael Ford (Set Decorator)

Best Costume Design: Deborah Lynn Scott

Best Sound: Gary Rydstrom/Tom Johnson/Gary Summers/Mark Ulano

Best Film Editing: Conrad Buff IV/James Cameron/Richard A. Harris

Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing: Tom Bellfort/Christopher Boyes

Best Visual Effects: Robert Legato/Mark A. Lasoff/Thomas L. Fisher/Michael Kanfer

Best Original Song: James Horner (Music)/Will Jennings (Lyrics) “My Heart Will Go On”

Best Original Dramatic Score: James Horner


Best Actress in a Leading Role: Kate Winslet

Best Supporting Actress: Gloria Stuart

Best Makeup: Tina Earnshaw/Greg Cannom/Simon Thompson


2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the third installment in the movie trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels, was released on December 17, 2003. During the course of its run at the box office, it picked up a hefty $377,027,325. The big payday was at the 2004 Academy Awards when the movie triumphantly won all 11 categories in which it was nominated. This was a big deal considering the first two movies failed to take home the award for Best Picture the two previous years. However, The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Rings won 4 Oscars out of 9 nominations, while the second film, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers won only 2 Oscars out of 4 nominations. The third time really was a charm for Peter Jackson.

The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King At The 2004 Academy Awards


Best Picture: Barrie M. Osborne/Peter Jackson/Fran Walsh

Best Director: Peter Jackson

Best Adapted Screenplay: Fran Walsh/Philippa Boyens/Peter Jackson

Best Film Editing: Jamie Selkirk

Best Art Direction/Set Decoration: Grant Major (Art Director)/Dan Hennah (Set Decorator)/Alan Lee (Set Decorator)

Best Costume Design: Ngila Dickson/Richard Taylor

Best Makeup: Richard Taylor/Peter King

Best Original Score: Howard Shore

Best Original Song: Fran Walsh/Howard Shore/Annie Lennox “Into the West”

Best Sound Mixing: Christopher Boyes/Michael Semanick/Michael Hedges/Hammond Peek

Best Visual Effects: Jim Rygiel/Joe Letteri/Randall William Cook/Alex Funke


3. Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump ran its way into theaters on July 6, 1994, and didn’t stop until it made $329,694,499 at the box office. The movie picked up 13 Oscar nominations and 6 wins at the 1995 Academy Awards, including Tom Hanks’s back-to-back win in the Leading Actor category (he won for Philadelphia the previous year). Forrest Gump may have claimed to be "not a smart man," but he was laughing all the way to the Oscar podium in 1995.

Forrest Gump At The 1995 Academy Awards


Best Picture: Wendy Finerman/Steve Starkey/Steve Tisch

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Tom Hanks

Best Director: Robert Zemeckis

Best Adapted Screenplay: Eric Roth

Best Film Editing: Arthur Schmidt

Best Visual Effects: Ken Ralston/George Murphy/Stephen Rosenbaum/Allen Hall


Best Supporting Actor: Gary Sinise

Best Cinematography: Don Burgess

Best Art Direction/Set Decoration: Rick Carter/Nancy Haigh

Best Sound: Randy Thorn/Tom Johnson/Dennis S. Sands/William B. Kaplan

Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing: Gloria S. Borders/Randy Thorn

Best Makeup: Daniel C. Striepeke/Hallie D’Amore/Judith A. Cory

Best Original Score: Alan Silvestri


Which Is Your Favorite Best Picture Winner On This List?

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4. Gladiator (2000)

Gladiator burst into theaters on May 5, 2000 and battled its way to earning $187,705,427 at the box office. The movie was doused in 12 Oscar nominations and took home 5 golden statues. Russell Crowe garnered his second nomination and first win; he was nominated for The Insider the previous year. The buzz also surrounded Joaquin Phoenix, who picked up his first-ever Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, but he lost to Benicio del Toro for his work in Traffic.

Gladiator At The 2001 Academy Awards


Best Picture: Douglas Wick/David Franzoni/Branko Lustig

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Russell Crowe

Best Costume Design: Janty Yates

Best Sound: Scott Millan/Bob Beemer/Ken Weston

Best Visual Effects: John Nelson/Neil Corbould/Tim Burke/Rob Harvey


Best Supporting Actor: Joaquin Phoenix

Best Director: Ridley Scott

Best Original Screenplay: David Franzoni (Screenplay/Story)/John Logan (Screenplay)/William Nicholson (Screenplay)

Best Cinematography: John Mathieson

Best Film Editing: Pietro Scalia

Best Original Score: Hans Zimmer

Best Art Direction/Set Decoration: Arthur Max (Art Director)/Crispian Sallis (Set Decorator)


5. Dances with Wolves (1990)

Dances with Wolves pranced its way into theaters on November 21, 1990, and made $184,208,848 during its time at the box office. It dazzled at the 1991 Academy Awards with 12 nominations and 7 wins, but the big winner was Kevin Costner taking home two statues for Best Picture and Best Director. Not too shabby for a dude who had a mullet for most of the movie.

Mullet Of The Year


Dances With Wolves At The 1991 Academy Awards


Best Picture: Jim Wilson/Kevin Costner

Best Director: Kevin Costner

Best Adapted Screenplay: Michael Blake

Best Cinematography: Dean Semler

Best Sound: Russell Williams II/Jeffrey Perkins/Bill W. Benton/Gregory H. Watkins

Best Film Editing: Neil Travis

Best Original Score: John Barry


Best Actor in a Leading Role: Kevin Costner

Best Supporting Actor: Graham Greene

Best Supporting Actress: Mary McDonnell

Best Art Direction/Set Decoration: Jeffrey Beecroft/Lisa Dean

Best Costume Design: Elsa Zamparelli


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