For me, without a doubt its Citizen Kane. HGWMV gets more recgonition for beating Citizen Kane than for the film itself.
Other than Sunrise, How Green Was My Valley is the greatest winner ever.
However, it might not even be one of John Ford’s 20 best films.
My vote is for Citizen Kane, but it is awfully close.
The greatest winner is Lawrence of Arabia.
Well, I personally think One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest is the greastest winner, followed by On the Waterfront.
Anyhow, regarding this particular question, Citizen Kane. Without a doubt. It was not only the best picture, but far and away the most important.
Citizen Kane, followed by The Maltese Falcon (though count me in as a guy who genuinely loves How Green Was My Valley. The performance by Donald Crisp grew on me quite a bit during my 2nd viewing).
Personally find The Godfather films to be the greatest victors, as conventional of picks as they might be. Aside from the others mentioned, I’m a big fan of All Quiet on the Western Front’s, Unforgiven’s and Amadeus’ wins (though I haven’t seen Once Upon a Time in America).
should not it be in the polls section?
People keep talking about TSN vs. TKS, like Hooper’s film was so great even though he quite mediocre, but this is a real case of a great film that won beating a even greater film. “Citizen Kane” was for me the deserving nº1 on Sight & Sound all those decades. I find it to be a perfect film, and one that has a seismic impact and represents both the inner language cinema developed all the years prior while it also embraced new techniques that pointed towards the future of the medium. This is the kind of film for which the term “groundbreaking” is derserved. Very few films ever got to be this symbolic and reach the stature and influence it has.
That said, “How Green Was My Valley” is one of the best winners in this category ever (even if it’s not exatcly one of Ford’s greatest films – but very close!). Ford is one of the few filmmakers that knew how to imbue hsi films with heart without letting sacharrine music and overly sentimental directorial choices cloud what’s on the scene, with style and grace. Few directors know how to transmit emotion like him, and few ever got to the level of sophistication and taste he had for framing and use of score. If Citizen Kane had been released one year later, no one would ever have doubted about the reputation of this film. But unfortunately, he had to beat Welles and it was what it was.