The 14 Best Picture British Oscar Winners

Last updated on the 3 April 2024 by Maeve


British Oscar Winners

The criteria we are using for the British Oscar winners is that they were made, wholly or in part, by British production companies.


Hamlet (1948)

Hamlet (1948) poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.6

The first of our British Oscar winners is “Hamlet”, based on the tragedy by William Shakespeare. It follows the eponymous Prince of Denmark as he seeks revenge for his father’s murder by his uncle Claudius. Through a series of soliloquies, complex relationships, and tragic events, Hamlet grapples with existential questions, loyalty, and the consequences of his actions, leading to a tragic conclusion.

Top cast: Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, John Laurie, Esmond Knight, Anthony Quayle, Niall MacGinnis, Peter Cushing, Stanley Holloway.

Directed by Laurence Olivier

Production company – Two Cities


The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

The Bridge on the River Kwai poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.1

The second of our British Oscar winners is “The Bridge on the River Kwai” is set in a Japanese POW camp during World War II. It follows the story of British Colonel Nicholson, who is determined to build a bridge to boost his soldiers’ morale, unaware that it will aid the enemy. The film explores themes of honour, obsession, and the complexities of war.

Top cast: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa, James Donald, Geoffrey Horne, André Morell, Peter Williams.

Directed by David Lean

Production company – Horizon Pictures


Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Lawrence of Arabia poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.3

The third of our British Oscar Winners is “Lawrence of Arabia” that tells the epic true story of T.E. Lawrence, a British officer who played a key role in the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The film chronicles Lawrence’s transformation as he navigates the complex relationships, battles, and cultural clashes in the Arabian desert, ultimately becoming a legendary figure in history.

Top cast: Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Omar Sharif, José Ferrer, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains.

Directed by David Lean

Production company – Horizon Pictures


Tom Jones (1963)

Tom Jones poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.4

“Tom Jones,” is based on the novel by Henry Fielding, revolves around the adventures of a foundling named Tom Jones. Set in 18th-century England, the story follows Tom’s journey of self-discovery, his romantic entanglements, and his pursuit of social acceptance. Filled with humour, satire, and social commentary, the story explores themes of love, class, and morality.

Top cast: Albert Finney, Susannah York, Hugh Griffith, Edith Evans, Joan Greenwood, Diane Cilento, George Devine, David Tomlinson.

Directed by Tony Richardson

Production Company – Woodfall Film Productions


A Man for All Seasons (1966)

A Man for All Seasons poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.7

“A Man for All Seasons” is a historical drama based on the life of Sir Thomas More. Set in 16th century England, it portrays More’s moral dilemma as he refuses to support King Henry VIII’s divorce and break from the Roman Catholic Church. The story delves into themes of integrity, conscience, and the clash between personal beliefs and political pressures.

Top cast: Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Leo McKern, Robert Shaw, Orson Welles, Susannah York, Nigel Davenport, John Hurt.

Directed by Fred Zinnemann

Production company – Highland Films


Oliver! (1968)

Oliver! poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.4

“Oliver!” is a musical based on Charles Dickens’ novel “Oliver Twist.” It tells the story of an orphan boy named Oliver who escapes a harsh workhouse and finds himself entangled in a gang of pickpockets led by the villainous Fagin. Through adversity and unlikely friendships, Oliver seeks a better life and his true identity.

Top cast: Mark Lester, Ron Moody, Shani Wallis, Oliver Reed, Harry Secombe, Jack Wild, Hugh Griffith, Joseph O’Conor.

Directed by Carol Reed

Production company – Romulus Films


The Deer Hunter (1978)

The Deer Hunter poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.1

“The Deer Hunter” is a gripping war drama directed by Michael Cimino. Set during the Vietnam War, the story revolves around three friends from a small Pennsylvania town: Mike, Nick, and Steven. It explores their journey from joyful hunting trips to the brutalities of war, testing their friendship and challenging their sanity.

Top cast: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale, John Savage, Meryl Streep, George Dzundza, Chuck Aspegren, Shirley Stoler.

Directed by Michael Cimino

Production company – EMI


Chariots Of Fire (1981)

Chariots Of Fire poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.1

“Chariots of Fire” is a historical drama that follows the true story of two athletes, Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell, on their quest for Olympic glory in the 1924 Paris Olympics. It delves into their personal struggles, contrasting their different motivations and backgrounds, while highlighting themes of faith, determination, and the pursuit of excellence.

Top cast: Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Nicholas Farrell, Nigel Havers, Ian Holm, John Gielgud, Lindsay Anderson, Nigel Davenport.

Directed by Hugh Hudson

Production companies – Allied Stars Ltd, and Enigma Productions


Gandhi (1982)

Gandhi poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 8.0

“Gandhi” is a biographical film that portrays the life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, an influential leader and activist in India’s struggle for independence. It explores his nonviolent philosophy, his role in leading civil disobedience campaigns, and his impact on shaping India’s history. The film delves into Gandhi’s personal journey, his triumphs, and the challenges he faced.

Top cast: Ben Kingsley, Candice Bergen, Edward Fox, John Gielgud, Trevor Howard, John Mills, Martin Sheen, Ian Charleson, Athol Fugard.

Directed by Richard Attenborough

Production companies – Goldcrest Films, and National Film Development Corporation of India


The Last Emperor (1987)

The Last Emperor poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.7

“The Last Emperor” is a biographical drama that chronicles the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China. It depicts his ascent to the throne as a child, his tumultuous years as a puppet ruler under Japanese occupation, and his subsequent re-education as a civilian. The film offers a captivating portrayal of imperial China’s decline and the personal transformation of its last monarch.

Top cast: John Lone, Joan Chen, Peter O’Toole, Ruocheng Ying, Victor Wong, Dennis Dun, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Maggie Han.

Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci

Production companies – Hemdale Film Corporation, and Recorded Picture Company


The English Patient (1996)

The English Patient

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.4

“The English Patient” is a romantic war drama set in World War II. It follows the story of a burned and disfigured man known as the English Patient, his nurse, and the secrets they unravel. The film weaves together love, betrayal, and the haunting memories of war, exploring themes of identity, passion, and sacrifice.

Top cast: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Kristin Scott Thomas, Naveen Andrews, Colin Firth, Julian Wadham, Torri Higginson, Jürgen Prochnow.

Directed by Anthony Minghella

Production company – Tiger Moth Productions


Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Slumdog Millionaire poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 8.0

“Slumdog Millionaire” is a British Oscar winners that follows the journey of Jamal Malik, a young boy from the slums of Mumbai. Through a series of flashbacks, we witness his tumultuous life, love, and how his experiences and street smarts ultimately lead him to compete on the Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

Top cast: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Madhur Mittal, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Saurabh Shukla, Mahesh Manjrekar, Jeneva Talwar.

Directed by Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan

Production companies – Celador Films, and Film4 Productions


The King’s Speech (2010)

The King's Speech poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.0

The penultimate of our British Oscar Winners is “The King’s Speech” is a historical drama based on the true story of King George VI of Britain. Plagued by a debilitating stammer, the reluctant king seeks the help of an unconventional speech therapist, Lionel Logue. Through their unlikely friendship and determination, they work together to overcome his speech impediment and inspire the nation during a critical time in history.

Top cast: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall, Michael Gambon, Jennifer Ehle, Derek Jacobi, Freya Wilson.

Directed by Tom Hooper

Production companies – UK Film Council, Momentum Pictures, Aegis Film Fund, Molinare, FilmNation Entertainment, See-Saw Films, and Bedlam Productions


12 Years a Slave (2013)

12 Years a Slave poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.1

The last of our British Oscar winners is “12 Years a Slave”, a harrowing biographical drama based on the memoir of Solomon Northup. It follows the journey of a free African-American man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War United States. The film depicts his struggle for survival, his endurance of cruelty, and his eventual fight for freedom.

Top cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, Alfre Woodard.

Directed by Steve McQueen

Production companies – Film4, River Road Entertainment, Plan B Entertainment, and Regency Enterprises


Academy Award for Best Picture @Wikipedia


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