×
Back to IndieWire

Best 25 Horror Oscar Winners, Ranked

There are more Oscar-winning horror movies than you may think. Check out our rankings.

Sigourney WeaverAliens - 1986

Sigourney Weaver in “Aliens”

REX/Shutterstock

10. “Rebecca” (1940)

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Selznick/United Artists/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5885915e) Judith Anderson, Joan Fontaine Rebecca - 1940 Director: Alfred Hitchcock Selznick/United Artists USA Scene Still Daphne Du Maurier

Judith Anderson and Joan Fontaine in “Rebecca”

Artists/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Based on the 1938 Daphne du Maurier bestseller, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” is an atmospheric ghost story starring Laurence Olivier as withholding wealthy widower Max de Winter, who tries to start again with a second wife (Joan Fontaine) after mysteriously losing his first, Rebecca. Haunted by her luminous predecessor, young Mrs. de Winter is intimidated by housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), who adored her deceased mistress and feeds Mrs. de Winter nuggets of information that only feed her increasing paranoia and insecurity. One of Hitchcock’s best, “Rebecca” scored a remarkable 11 Oscar nominations including Best Director, Actor, Actress and Supporting Actress, and won two: Best Picture (producer David O. Selznick) and Black and White Cinematography (George Barnes). — AT

9. “The Fly” (1986)

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by 20th Century Fox/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5883298g) Jeff Goldblum The Fly - 1986 Director: David Cronenberg 20th Century Fox USA Scene Still Family La Mouche

Jeff Goldblum in “The Fly”

Fox/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

At the height of his filmmaking prowess, David Cronenberg updated a cheesy premise — scientist’s experiment goes horribly wrong, he becomes a human-fly hybrid — into a traumatic body horror saga for the ages, at least when it’s not a tragic love story. Jeff Goldblum’s gradual transformation into a grotesque humanoid insect scored a best make-up Oscar for Chris Walas and Stephan Dupuis. To date, it’s the only Cronenberg movie to ever win an Oscar for anything, and it’s easy to see why: “The Fly” isn’t just a horrific portrait of one man losing touch with his humanity; it’s a visceral illustration of that downward spiral that’s both nightmarish and utterly, terribly believable. — EK

8. “Black Swan” (2010)

Despite her gorgeous and smooth mastery of point shoes, ballet dancer Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman)’s psyche is a cauldron of angst in Darren Aronofsky’s most-lauded film. A competitive perfectionist with a suffocating mother (Barbara Hershey) and a violating ballet master (Vincent Cassel), Nina grows increasingly paranoid, unable to discern real life from her hallucinations. She believes she’s surrounded by people who want her to fail at work, including her alternate in an upcoming production of “Swan Lake” (Mila Kunis) and a begrudgingly-retired stage fixture (Winona Ryder). Featuring an ambiguous, bloody finale, Aronofsky’s self-described companion piece to “The Wrestler” merited a standing ovation at it’s Venice Film Festival world premiere, plus five nominations from The Academy, and a Best Actress win for Portman. — JM

7. “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)


There are Oscar-winning horror films, and then there’s “The Silence of the Lambs,” which remains only one of three films to win all five of the major Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay. Jonathan Demme’s iconic masterpiece earned every one of those trophies and then some. Elevating a pulpy airport thriller into the stuff of a truly unnerving psychodrama, Demme strips the flesh right off the seedier bits of the story, focusing instead on the bond that develops between a cannibal serial killer and the young FBI trainee he mentors from his see-through prison cell. Graced with the steely feminist resolve that soaked into so much of Demme’s work — and balanced between two of the most affecting performances that the horror genre has ever known — “The Silence of the Lambs” remains as eerily penetrating as any of its signature close-ups. The experience of watching the movie still feels like being stared at by an unblinking Hannibal Lecter for two hours at a time. — David Ehrlich

6. “Jaws” (1975)

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Universal/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5886241bx) Susan Backlinie Jaws - 1975 Director: Steven Spielberg Universal USA Scene Still Les Dents de la mer

“Jaws”

Universal/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Steven Spielberg was 27 when he directed Martha’s Vineyard fright-fest that briefly reigned as history’s highest-grossing film. A motley trio — a police chief (Roy Scheider), an ichthyologist (fish expert Richard Dreyfuss), and a bootlegger/boat owner (Robert Shaw) — hunts down the great white that’s killing swimmers — and the town’s tourism business. Famously, Spielberg’s longer-than-anticipated shoot was riddled with problems, from a blown budget and constant eleventh-hour script changes to a sunken boat and $250,000 mechanical shark (it’s replacement worked for exactly one day). But Spielberg knew how to capitalize on our too-human fear of unseen danger lurking, and John Williams’s heart-pounding, instantly-recognizable, Oscar-winning score. “Jaws” also picked up statuettes for Best Sound and editor Verna Fields). — JM  

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Film and tagged ,


Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox