To celebrate Oscar season, explore our collection of movies that have won the heart of the Academy members over the past 65 years.
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SBS Movies

22 Feb 2016 - 4:44 PM  UPDATED 22 Feb 2017 - 4:46 PM

Bicycle Thieves

(Italy, 1948)

22nd Academy Awards
Winner: 
Honorary Award / Special Foreign Language Film Award
Nominated: Best Screenplay

What's it about?
This masterpiece of Italian neorealism was voted by the Academy Board of Governors as the most outstanding foreign language film released in the United States during 1949. It follows an unemployed man in post-World War II Italy, who finally manages to find a job. However his bike, essential for his job, is stolen. Together with his son, they walk the streets of Rome to look for his bicycle.

Dinner and a Movie: Bicycle Thieves

 

The Red Balloon

(France, 1956)

29th Academy Awards
Winner:
 Best Writing, Best Original Screenplay

What's it about?
This poetic and magical short film directed by Albert Lamorisse captured the hearts and imaginations with a celebration of childhood. It tells the story of a young boy (played by Lamorisse's son), who develops a friendship with a red balloon that follows him around the gloomy streets of post-war Paris (in the Belleville area).

The beloved 1956 Oscar-winning French short film 'The Red Balloon' leaves SBS On Demand on April 30th.
  

The Last Emperor

(China/Italy/UK/France, 1987)

60th Academy Awards
Winner:
 Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best cinematography, Best art direction-set decoration, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Editing, Best Music. 

What's it about?
Bernardo Bertolucci's epic account of the life of China's final Emperor, Pu Yi, won an impressive 9 Oscars in 1988. This lavish production, which was shot in the Forbidden City, follows Pu Yi's ascent to the throne as small boy, through to the tumultuous circumstances of his abdication, and eventual slide into anonymity in Communist China.

Dinner and a Movie: The Last Emperor
10 of the Best: Benjamin Law

 

Driving Miss Daisy

(USA, 1989)

62nd Academy Awards
Winner: Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay), Best Makeup

What's it about?
A wealthy, strong-willed Southern matron (Jessica Tandy) trades barbs over 25 years with her equally indomitable black chauffeur (Morgan Freeman). Their relationship provides a unique perspective on the civil rights movement and other social changes sweeping the South in the 1960s.

 

Murder on a Sunday Morning

(France, USA, 2001)

74th Academy Awards
Winner: Best Documentary Feature

What's it about?
Director Jean-Xavier de Lestrade won an Academy Award in 2001 for his fascinating documentary feature Murder on a Sunday Morning about the trial of a black American teenager accused of robbing and murdering an elderly white tourist at a Florida hotel. The film follows the teen's defense team as they build a case that shows ineptitude and prejudice on the part of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, which led to one of the most appalling miscarriages of justice in American history.

 

Nowhere in Africa

(Germany, 2001)

75th Academy Awards
Winner: Best Foreign Language Film

What's it about?
This family saga tells the story of a Jewish family in pre-WWII Germany. As Walter and Jettel witness the ascension of Nazis in Europe, they decide to flee their home with daughter Regina and find refuge in Kenya (the movie was beautifully shot on location). While the little girl takes straight away to her new surroundings and forms a strong friendship with the farm's cook, Owuor, her parents struggle – particularly Jettel, who had been used to a life of luxury.

Nowhere in Africa: Cinematic and emotionally enchanting

 

Bowling for Columbine

(USA, 2002)

75th Academy Awards
Winner:
 Best Documentary

What's it about?
Michael Moore explores the culture of violence in an America traumatised by terrorism, teenage killers and economic inequality. Moore puts the hard questions to trigger-happy suburbanites and militia members, alongside the likes of NRA spokesman Charlton Heston, shock rocker Marilyn Manson, South Park co-creator Matt Stone and surviving students of the Columbine High School shootings.

Watch The Movie Show original ★★★★★ review
Watch interview with Michael Moore
Read review

 

The Barbarian Invasions

(Canada, 2003)

76th Academy Awards
Winner: Best Foreign Language Film

What's it about?
Denys Arcand's Oscar-winning movie is a five-star, five-hankie masterpiece about life, death and the importance of family and friends. Profound and affecting, it focuses on the final days of a professor/father/husband/lover/lout, as he mends relationships and farewells all of the loves of his life. You'll laugh, cry and feel everything in between.

Why You Should Watch: The Barbarian Invasions
The Barbarian Invasions Review

 

The Sea Inside

(Spain, 2004)

77th Academy Awards
Winner: Best Foreign Language Film

What's it about?
Based on the true story of Ramon Sampedro (beautifully portrayed by Javier Bardem), a quadriplegic who after failing to win the right to an assisted suicide through the courts, decides to take matters into his own hands with some help from a voluntary euthanasia group and grudging loved ones. An important story about the merits of euthanasia and the humanity that it can preserve for people, which doesn't delve too far into sentimentality.

The Sea Inside review: A truly moving story
SBS On Demand: Javier Bardem Double Bill

 

Born into Brothels

(USA, 2004)

77th Academy Awards
Winner: Best Documentary Feature

What's it about?
This documentary depicts the lives of child prostitutes in the red light district of Songachi, Calcutta. Director Zana Briski went to photograph the prostitutes when she met and became friends with their children. Briski began giving photography lessons to the children and became aware that their photography might be a way for them to lead better lives.

Watch interview with director Ross Kauffman

 

Tsotsi

(South Africa, 2005) 

78th Academy Awards
Winner:
 Best Foreign Language Film 

What's it about?
Set amidst the sprawling Johannesburg township of Soweto, Tsotsi recounts six days in the life of a ruthless young gang leader, who ends up caring for a baby accidentally kidnapped during a car-jacking. It is a gritty and moving portrait of an angry young man living in a state of extreme urban deprivation. His world pumps with the raw energy of 'Kwaito music', the modern beat of the ghetto that reflects his troubled state of mind.

Watch trailer
Watch the original Movie Show review

 

The Counterfeiters

(Germany, 2007)

80th Academy Awards
Winner:
 Best Foreign Language Film 

What's it about?
Salomon 'Sally' Sorowitsch is an expert Jewish counterfeiter enjoying the good life until he’s sent to a concentration camp. Sally manages to survive for five years before transfer to Sachsenhausen, where he is assigned to produce perfect forgeries of British and US banknotes for the Third Reich. The Counterfeiters is both engrossing and confronting, mainly due to the complexity of Sorowitsch - a flawed man, but one full of humanity.

Watch original Movie Show review
Read review

 

The Secret in Their Eyes

(Argentina, 2009)

82nd Academy Awards
Winner:
 Best Foreign Language Film

What's it about?
Benjamín Espósito (Ricardo Darin, The Aura), a recently retired federal agent, decides to write a novel based on an unresolved homicide case he investigated 25 years earlier. He hopes to find closure for his failure in the investigation and for the unreciprocated love of his old boss - both of which still haunt him. This fascinating movie was recently remade in the USA with Julia Roberts, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Nicole Kidman.

Watch trailer
The Secret in Their Eyes Review

 

Departures

Japan, 2008

81st Academy Awards
Winner: Best Foreign language Film

What's it about?
Taking home Best Foreign Language Film at the 2009 Oscars, director Yôjirô Takita’s delicately powerful movie tackles mortality with a shimmering grace. Masahiro Motoki stars as a handsome young man who embraces an expensive new cello even as his career hits the skids, before winding up working at a funeral parlour. Imbued with loss, Departures is predominantly a film about hope and the joy we can and must find while we’re here.

Departures Review

 

The Cove

(USA, 2009)

82nd Academy Awards
Winner:
 Best Documentary

What's it about?
Using state-of-the-art equipment, a group of activists, led by renowned dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, infiltrate a cove near Taijii, Japan to expose both a shocking instance of animal abuse and a serious threat to human health. An exhilarating, infuriating, heartbreaking monument to how bad and how good mankind can choose to be, which calls to action change in the future by exposing the horrid facts of the past.

The Cove ★★★★ ½ Review

 

In a Better World

(Denmark, 2010)

83rd Academy Awards
Winner:
 Best Foreign Language Film

What's it about?
This earnest drama from director Susanne Bier is a tale of a once-loving marriage succumbing to various external pressures – yet one which touches on real-world political issues, its action shuttling (much like its doctor protagonist) between the surface placidity of a small town in Denmark, and the violent chaos of a Sudanese refugee camp. As ever, Bier extracts fine performances from her cast, charismatic star Mikael Persbrandt in particular.

Watch trailer
In a Better World Review

 

Beginners

(USA, 2010)

84th Academy Awards
Winner: Best Supporting Actor

What's it about?
Christopher Plummer won an Oscar for his performance as Hal, a father who comes out of the closet at the ripe old age of 75. His new fabulous life brings him closer than ever to his son Oliver (Ewan McGregor), who takes a lesson from his emboldened dad, to pursue a new relationship. An insightful and touching father/son dramedy that will inspire you to live life to the full.

Beginners: It's never too late
Beginners Review


Ida

(Poland, 2014)

87th Academy Awards
Winner: Best Foreign Language Film

What's it about?
In 1960s Poland, a novitiate (Agata Trzebuchowska) brought up by nuns in a convent, is set to take her vows, but discovers that she is actually Jewish. She discovers an aunt she never knew existed Agata Kulesza) and together they discover a dark family secret dating back to the Nazi occupation.

A Minute With: 'Ida' director Pawlikowski on Oscars, Poland
Ida Review

 

Explore the entire "The Oscar Goes To" collection at SBS On Demand 

See what else is screening across SBS channels

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