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Every Best Picture Winner Ranked by How Good a Muppets Version Would Be

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences votes on the best movie every year. Whatever they chose is indeed the Best Picture: They have the word science in their title, so you know they’re legit. While there’s clearly no disputing that what they deem as the Best Picture is indeed the best, I do propose that there is a way to improve most, if not all, of these movies.

I have a film degree, so I wasted $10k and years of my life to come to this knowledge and will share it with you.

Every movie ever made would be better if it starred The Muppets. That’s an indisputable fact of life—every movie. We already know that A Muppets Christmas Carol and Muppets Treasure Island are the best adaptations of those novels, and that’s because The Muppets make everything better. I’ve been on a private campaign for years now to have Hollywood make a Muppets version of whatever won Best Picture the year before.

Could you imagine if every year there was a new Muppet movie that adapted the latest Best Picture winner? That’s what Hollywood is taking away from you.

So, while this may not be realized anytime soon, I can still dream. Part of this dream is imagining all previous Best Picture winners as Muppet movies. Each of these 95 films would be improved by being Muppets, but not all of them would be equal. There’s a hierarchy to how good each of these would be as Muppet films and I’m going to tell you.

It’s important to remember that I’m not ranking these based on how good they are in their current form. That’s a different list that I’m sure somebody else has already written. This one is based on how good a Muppet version would be.

As an aside, I am writing this before the 2024 Academy Awards, but Oppenheimer would rank somewhere in the Top 20.

95. Nomadland (2020)

Adding The Muppets to any film immediately improves it but there’s only so much our felt friends can do. I’m not here to argue with any of the 7 Nomadheads who love this movie, but watching Miss Piggy traveling around and living in her van would undoubtedly be the worst of any of these. For one, Miss Piggy as a lead would be agonizingly annoying, but there just isn’t enough going on to allow more Muppet hijinks and fun to prop up the film as anything more than solid but unremarkable.

94. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

A movie about a circus might make you think that a Muppets version would be incredible, but here’s the thing: the Muppets themselves are already like a circus, except better because they don’t have any clowns. There’s just nothing about The Greatest Show on Earth that we haven’t already seen The Muppets do better. There’s no doubt that Kermit and the gang would turn this into The Even More Greatest Show on Earth, but the other Best Picture winners would provide The Muppets the ability to stretch their talents more and let us see them in ways we never have before. This would be more of the same.

93. The Life of Emile Zola (1937)

A biography of 19th-century French author Emile Zola, this scores some points for being a period piece. As we all know, The Muppets excel when dropped into periods they have no business being in, and there would be some fun to be had seeing them take over French history. But it’s still a biopic, and a fairly bland and standard one at that. That’s right, even back then biopics were bland. It leaves out a lot of the more interesting and volatile parts of Zola’s life and those would be the parts that would make a Muppets version interesting. Without them, this would just be them playing dress up while we hoped they would do something more interesting given the possibilities of what they could do pretending to be French.

92. Cavalcade (1933)

Following thirty years in the life of a well-off English family in the early 20th century, Cavalcade tracks how this family is affected by major historical events like the First World War. There’s no doubt that watching The Muppets play up the melodrama would be fun, but there’s not enough here for The Muppets to do. Watching The Muppets in those historical events would be more interesting, and I doubt there’s much humor they could derive out of this premise so it wouldn’t play well to their comedic strengths either. It would honestly just be the same as the non-Muppets version but with the added benefit of Kermit.

91. Out of Africa (1985)

The thing about Kermit and Miss Piggy’s romance is that, while it’s funny for small bits, it would never be able to sustain a 160-minute epic romance. That running time alone would do nothing but make you scream at the screen telling Kermit he can do better. Now, there would be some merit in having a Muppet movie set in the backdrop of World War 1 as it reaches Africa but that wouldn’t be enough to make up for the fact that the rest just wouldn’t really be anything worth watching more than any other Muppet media.

90. The English Patient (1996)

The most entertaining thing about The English Patient is how much Elaine hates it in that one episode of Seinfeld. In fact, I’m positive that if not for that episode, this movie would be forgotten. The Muppets unfortunately wouldn’t be able to improve it that much. Just like with Out of Africa, an epic romance just doesn’t work for Kermit and Miss Piggy. Again, the wartime backdrop would provide some fun Muppet shenanigans in that regard, but it wouldn’t be enough to make up for the rest of it. The one thing that gets this ranked higher than the films below it is that Willem Dafoe is in it and you can bet your bottom dollar that in a Muppets version he would be the one human, and Willem Dafoe with Muppets would be nothing but a good thing.

89. CODA (2021)

This is a nice, if unremarkable movie and that’s where the trouble lies with a hypothetical Muppets version. The Muppets are too remarkable. We know how remarkable they are and how remarkable they can be. Is this a good movie? Yes. Would The Muppets make it better? Of course. But would The Muppets be able to showcase their full range of talent and abilities? Probably not. But it’s a better movie than the ones below it, so that immediately makes a Muppet version better.

88. The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

A musical starring Kermit the Frog about someone who yearns to make their mark in show business. No, I’m not talking about The Muppet Movie, I’m talking about a Muppet version of The Great Ziegfeld. The Muppets excel at being the epitome of show business, especially classic show business and that would prop this up like Atlas propping up the earth. But we’ve already gotten this kind of movie from them with The Muppet Movie, which is better than The Great Ziegfeld and better than a Muppet version of The Great Ziegfeld would be.

87. The Broadway Melody (1931)

This isn’t a particularly good film and a Muppet version would suffer for the same thing The Great Ziegfeld does. It’s a musical about show business aspirations and once again would be nowhere near The Muppet Movie in terms of being worthwhile. But what it does have going for it above The Great Ziegfeld is a plotline involving a love triangle. Watching Miss Piggy duke it out with another muppet for Kermit’s affection would be a fun little subplot. Still, it would struggle to justify its existence beyond the factor of The Muppets making it better than the original.

86. Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

Driving Miss Piggy. Enough said.

85. Green Book (2018)

This is the exact same as Driving Miss Daisy but I’m ranking it higher because if it were Muppets, Miss Piggy wouldn’t be in this one. I think Viggo Mortensen would still be in it and he’d be driving Gonzo.

84. Crash (2005)

I’m going to be upfront and rant a little. I hate Crash. I hate it with as much passion as Elaine Benes hates The English Patient and Larry David hates people. This movie sucks. It’s absolutely the worst Best Picture winner in history. It only won because the Academy hates gay people and was afraid to give Brokeback Mountain what it deserved. Even beyond that, this is just a bad movie. It’s about a bunch of people in L.A. and how racism affects their lives and how racism is wrong but it has the same views on racism that a third grader does. The whole film posits that racism can just be solved if we just be nicer to each other and less angry. That’s it. It presents itself as this serious introspective drama about racism but acts like it’s an individual failing and not a systematic societal one.

There’s a scene where Ludacris, of Fast & Furious fame, refuses to take the bus because he claims that buses have big windows because they’re racist. A racist cop learns the error of his ways after he saves a black woman that he previously sexually assaulted from a car accident. Sandra Bullock’s character stops being racist because she sprains her ankle and her Hispanic maid helps her. I wish any of those were just jokes that I wrote, but that all happens in this movie. Every character in this is a caricature of racism that wouldn’t be out of place in an elementary school play. And not a good one.

With that out of the way, you may be wondering why I ranked such an atrocious affront to cinema as higher than last. That’s because I truly believe that with The Muppets at the helm of this disaster, it would be a brilliant comedy. Seriously, Gonzo and Fozzy discussing racist bus windows would be hilarious. The way Miss Piggy would play up the melodrama of her racism ending when her maid helps her would be legendary. Now THAT would be worth an Oscar.

83. Dances With Wolves (1990)

Dances with Wolves is merely okay, but The Muppets would solve a lot of its problems. They’d inject it with more personality, and some humor, and of course you can be sure that The Muppets would eliminate that pesky old white savior problem. Some might say that the ideal Muppet version of this would be all Muppets and Kevin Costner, but they’re short-sighted. The real ideal Muppet version of this would be all Muppets and Graham Greene. A western starring The Muppets would be incredible, however, there’s another western that won Best Picture that’s so much better than this, and as a result another Muppets western that would be so much better than this one. So, with the knowledge that in a universe where every Best Picture has a Muppets version and there’s another Muppets western that’s better, the novelty of Dances with Muppets wears off and this becomes a lot less interesting as a result. Because as I said, this is merely just an okay movie.

82. It Happened One Night (1934)

A romantic comedy, and a pretty good one at that, The Muppets would absolutely cook with this kind of material. Kermit and Miss Piggy can’t sustain an epic romance but they could lead a rom-com like no other. The slapstick sensibilities of all of Jim Henson’s creatures make this the ideal type of film for them to adapt into their own. But as rom-coms go, while this is a good one, the plot is kind of standard and for Muppet versions of Best Picture winners to really rise to the top, they need something extra for The Muppets to really sink their teeth into. A narrative hook that makes seeing The Muppets do it be something special instead of something that you already expect them to be good at.

81. You Can’t Take It with You (1938)

Another rom-com. Again, this is a pretty good one, and it does benefit having kooky family members for the secondary Muppets to really shine with their comedic talents, but once again the plot is just too standard to make it stand out from anything else that The Muppets do. It would be an excellent film and it gets bonus points for the hypothetical of Jimmy Stewart being the one human, but it just wouldn’t offer anything special.

80. The Artist (2011)

This both gains and loses points for its style. The central romance is only fine, but watching Kermit play a fading star as showbusiness passes him by is interesting. The Muppets in a silent film is also a fun gimmick to think about as it’s something they’ve never done and would no doubt be great at. Seeing the muppets forced to rely on their ragdoll physicality more than their wit would be something special. But at the same time, it would mean losing half of what makes The Muppets great, which is their voices and wit and musical ability. There also would be the feeling that while watching as Kermit’s star fades would be narratively interesting, I’m not sure it would be as interesting as the 2011 Muppets movie that already really showcased a world that moved on from Kermit’s brand of entertainment.

79. Cimarron (1931)

This is a bad movie, but it’s one that The Muppets would be able to turn into something worth watching. There are a few good set pieces in this western that would only be made better by being done with Muppets, but where The Muppets would really improve this often boring movie is making everything not boring. A lot of this is just boring, slow-moving drama. But The Muppets would pick up the pace and add some pizzazz and make it decently entertaining. They would also get rid of all the racist characterizations and turn those into something decent and worth watching. It still wouldn’t be as good as most Best Picture winners and not even close to the Western that’s ranked a lot higher than this but it’s the first film on this list where The Muppets’ presence would drastically improve the film’s quality.

78. How Green Was My Valley (1941)

This movie’s biggest claim to fame is being the reason that there is no Muppets Citizen Kane on this list. That’s right, the oft-heralded “greatest film of all time” lost Best Picture to a movie about a mining town. The Academy has been getting things wrong almost since the beginning. Anyway, a movie about The Muppets all being miners that slowly get screwed by the higher-ups and the family drama that comes with that would definitely be good. Watching The Muppets go through the hardships of working the mines and how the industry abuses them would certainly be compelling, but not as compelling as most Best Picture winners. Definitely not as compelling as watching Kermit long for his childhood sled as he dies alone in his mansion. Damn you, Academy.

77. Grand Hotel (1932)

Grand Hotel falters as it’s less of a movie and more of a series of vignettes that barely connect. Like Love Actually if it was actually a good movie. Not being totally cohesive hurts it but there’s no doubt that what is here would be a great Muppet movie. There’s love, there’s drama, there’s crime. The Muppets would crush this and there’s so much room for them to add in their signature comedy that it’s really the whole package. But its disparate nature stops it from reaching its full potential the way the films above it do.

76. An American in Paris (1951)

A classic example of razzle-dazzle, this rom-com musical is the type of thing that The Muppets were made for. Song and dance, comedy, romance, drama. Not only that but since it takes place in Paris, you get to have The Muppets all doing accents and making fun of French people, which is always a good thing. The material given makes this a better Muppets movie than all ranked below it but it can’t go higher for the same reason as many of the previous entries: It’s just too similar to the type of thing we see from The Muppets all the time. It would be a terrific version of that, but seeing The Muppets act out more challenging material is what this is all about.

75. Gone with the Wind (1939)

I know I said that Kermit and Miss Piggy can’t sustain an epic romance, and they certainly can’t sustain one this long. I stand by that. But Gone with the Wind has a few things going for it that I think would make a Muppets version great in a way Out of Africa or The English Patient couldn’t be. One is that it’s a pre-20th century period piece which means they all have to wear garish historical outfits and speak in ways that we don’t anymore. The second is that it deals with topics like the Confederacy and slavery and seeing The Muppets handle that kind of material is exactly what you want when you say you want Muppet versions of other movies. It would still be too long and the romance would still bog the whole thing down but seeing how The Muppets handle those ancillary topics would be a hoot.

74. Going My Way (1944)

Going My Way is a musical, but what makes it rank this much higher than the musicals below is that the premise here is something that would make for incredible Muppet viewing. The film is about a hip priest who comes to a community to update the antiquated ways their church and the current priest do things. That’s right, it’s a musical about a cool youth minister. It’s fine, but with Muppets it would be great. Imagine hip young minister Kermit coming into town to shake up how old stuffy Statler and/or Waldorf are running the church. Imagine hip minister Kermit singing songs as he helps all the church-going young Muppets of this town. Imagine The Muppets, creatures that prove there is no god, learning how cool it can be to be catholic. Hilarious.

73. Marty (1955)

Marty is the tale of a plain, lonely guy named Marty who gets pestered by his family for still not being married at the ripe old age of 34. I mean, could you even imagine? A senior citizen who’s never found love. How sad. Well, you don’t have to because you could just watch this movie. A Muppets version would benefit as it would finally give Statler or Waldorf a starring role as the titular Marty, and letting them stretch their acting chops would make the whole thing worth it.

72. From Here to Eternity (1953)

Soldiers and their families stationed in Hawaii in the days before Pearl Harbor, toxic masculinity, infidelity, drama, and Muppets. Tell me you wouldn’t watch that. Tell me with a straight face that a bunch of toxically masculine Muppets do the Mah Nah Mah Nah with each other’s wives as the ticking clock of impending disasters looms over everything wouldn’t be awesome. You can’t. What holds this back from being higher is that there’s not a lot of room for secondary Muppets to shine as much. You want as many of The Muppets as possible to all get their hits in and here that’s just not as possible as other movies with more eclectic casts of characters.

71. Wings (1927)

The first-ever winner of Best Picture, Wings holds up a lot better than a lot of films from its day and even more than some other Best Picture winners. This tells the story of two rival men from the same town who join the Air Force together to fight in World War 1 and become friends. There’s action, drama, a love triangle, and a girl who one of the men is too stupid to see loves him. All it’s missing is The Muppets. Kermit and Fozzy both vying for the affection of the same girl while Kermit fails to realize Miss Piggy only has eyes for him. Muppet World War 1 dogfights that would rival Snoopy’s fights with the Red Baron. This does lose a lot of points for not having room for most of the supporting Muppets a chance to shine, and as a silent film it does lose a lot of The Muppets’ strengths as actors.

70. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

A Beautiful Mind might be one of the weaker Best Picture winners but it’s still a solidly entertaining movie. Russell Crowe plays a real-life math genius who gets embroiled in Cold War government ops and becomes more and more paranoid that he’s being watched. Now just imagine that happening to Kermit. Imagine Kermit as a math genius living a nice, stable life with Miss Piggy until other Muppets pull him into the world of espionage and he goes increasingly more paranoid and unhinged. Are the heckles of Statler and Waldorf even real?

69. A Man for All Seasons (1966)

A period piece courtroom drama in which one man stands up to the corruption of King Henry VIII. Do I really have to explain why The Muppets doing this would be Scorsese-certified cinema?

68. Forrest Gump (1994)

I don’t like Forrest Gump that much. It’s a good performance in an overly-long, overly-saccharine trip through history. But I think I would love it if it starred The Muppets. For one, it would be the only Muppet movie to properly portray how bad Miss Piggy is for and to Kermit. That alone would be worth the price of admission. Nice ole Kermit falling in love with Miss Piggy as she continually cheats and runs out on him while she gets more and more addicted to drugs until she dies? Sign me up. But I also think that the whole premise of the movie would work better if it starred Kermit. Legitimately, outside of the premise that this is a humor article on a satire site, I genuinely believe that the premise of a simple-minded character accidentally finding his way to being present during important historical events works better if that character is Kermit the Frog.

67. American Beauty (1999)

Sam the Eagle would absolutely play the kid with the camcorder.

66. The King’s Speech (2010)

The key to a Muppets version of this is that Geoffery Rush would keep his role and the role of the King would be played by the Swedish Chef.

65. Gigi (1958)

Gigi (1958) - IMDb

Gigi is a combination of many things The Muppets would excel at: It’s a romantic comedy, it’s a musical, and it’s a period piece that would allow The Muppets to put on funny French costumes and bad accents. Seeing Kermit play a French womanizer named Gaston would be a sight to behold.  It loses points for having a relatively small supporting cast, which would limit the number of Muppets that could have a role.

 

64. Mrs. Miniver (1942)

Mrs. Miniver is a tale of a British housewife who tries to hold her family together during World War 2 as bombs are falling and the threat of Nazi invasion is omnipresent. This, like many others in the bottom half of the ranking, doesn’t have much for many Muppets to do but for what it does offer, this would be solid. Watching Miss Piggy try to maintain a family as the horrors of war knock on their doorstep would be a compelling watch. There’s no way Miss Piggy has the range or nuance to pull it off, but that would somehow make it better.

63. All the King’s Men (1949)

This Best Picture winner is the closest we’ll come to anything along the lines of Muppet Citizen Kane. All the King’s Men chronicles the rise and fall of a corrupt populist politician in the American South. Watching Kermit stand in for the rot that represents the modern American Dream would be something to behold. I don’t think it’d be able to utilize all The Muppets to the best of their ability, certainly not as much as other films that would also have them in darker roles than normal, but it would be a nice showcase for Kermit in particular.

62. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

A swashbuckling drama of treachery, Mutiny on the Bounty would see The Muppets in their element as they don period costumes for this classic tale. The Muppets in historical periods is always a winning combination, and this features enough spectacle to be worthy of their talents. There’s enough here for them to add in all the humor they want while still maintaining the drama of the premise. While it would no doubt make an excellent Muppet film, it would be retreading ground from a previous Muppet film as Muppet Treasure Island features a mutiny already and what we really want to see with these is Muppets like we’ve never seen before.

61. Ordinary People (1980)

This is less flashy than most of these entries, and that’s why it’s not ranked as high as it could be. We expect The Muppets to bring a little flash and excitement with them, and you won’t get that here. What you will get is Kermit, Miss Piggy, and whichever Muppet plays their son as they navigate trauma and repressed grief and how that affects their family foundation. There’s something titillating about the notion of Kermit and Miss Piggy’s marriage slowly and silently breaking down as they each refuse to properly cope with the death of one of their children. Maybe it’s because they get to really stretch their dramatic chops or maybe it’s because any chance to see Kermit leave Miss Piggy fills me with joy.

60. Gandhi (1982)

If I even have to explain the merits of Muppet Gandhi then you’re not the target audience for this list.

59. Terms of Endearment (1983)

A dramedy chronicling 30 years of a mother-daughter relationship may not seem like it would make a good Muppet movie, but if you think a little deeper it actually plays to all The Muppets’ strengths. The Muppets excel just as much at being heartfelt as they do at being funny, and that’s where Terms of Endearment would let them shine. Much of it is fairly episodic as events transpire and characters come and go which allows every Muppet a chance to get a chance to come in and shine. It would be a Miss Piggy-centric film and that’s where the main problem lies because, as I’ve made abundantly clear, Miss Piggy can be very irritating in large doses but at the same time, that would probably help given the role of a steely, hard to get along with mother.

58. The Last Emperor (1987)

The Last Emperor is a sweeping, decade-spanning historical epic chronicling the life of Pu Yi, the child emperor of China. The Muppets would chew this up. There’s no way they wouldn’t eat this up. It might not offer many good opportunities for them to inject as much of their humor into it but a grand Muppet epic set in historical China would be enough.

57. Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Shakespeare in Love should not have won Best Picture. However, a Muppet version of Shakespeare in Love would indeed be Oscar-worthy. Why? Because it’s got everything needed to make a great Muppet movie. It’s historical, it’s about real figures they can riff on, and it has comedy, romance, and drama. They could probably even throw in a musical number. For extra points, they could keep Ben Affleck in there. It wouldn’t give them material as good as most Best Picture winners which stops it from being ranked higher but it would no doubt be a Muppet classic.

56. Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)

This is a pretty standard journalism movie about a reporter uncovering societal issues. In this case, it follows a reporter who goes undercover as a Jewish man to write about anti-semitism in America. As these types of films go, it’s solid but unremarkable. However, add some Muppets into the mix and you have a recipe for wonderful viewing. How would The Muppets handle this? I can’t really say, but you bet they would make a great movie out of it. Kermit pretending to be Jewish and having other Muppets be anti-Semitic to him would certainly be something we haven’t seen before. Would they add humor to it? Could they add humor to it? Would Kermit have to pretend he isn’t married to Miss Piggy because she’s not Kosher? Just fascinating to think about all the possibilities with a Muppet version of this.

55. La La Land (2016)

A musical about following your dreams in Hollywood, throw in some comedy and some romance and this would make a…. Oh, hang on, I’m getting word this didn’t actually win Best Picture.

55. Moonlight (2016)

Moonlight is such a beautiful, intimate movie that it’s almost hard to talk about about what a hypothetical Muppet version be. This is a movie about the life of a gay black man in three crucial stages of his life. It’s about the black identity and the gay identity but more than that, it’s about the human identity. What it is to live and to love. The Muppets could make a beautiful version of that. But The Muppets are owned by Disney, which means they would strip all the gay out of the film, so I can’t rank it higher.

54. The Hurt Locker (2009)

The image of Kermit defusing IEDs is enough to get this funded by most people. You could draw that on a whiteboard in an executive’s office like James Cameron writing Alien$ and the outcome would be the same. The movie would get made. Why it hasn’t yet is beyond me. Muppets dealing with PTSD and the inability to adjust back into civilian life? Sign me up. But there is a better Best Picture winner that deals with similar topics, so I can’t rank this higher.

53. The Shape of Water (2017)

The thing with this is that once you replace everyone with Muppets, the premise is ruined. A woman falls in love with a creature of a different species. Kermit and Miss Piggy already are that premise, so it kind of ruins the theme of the movie. But the rest of the movie would still be good and you can keep Michael Shannon so he can be mean to Muppets. That would be fun.

52. Annie Hall (1977)

Woody Allen, best known for marrying his stepdaughter and sexually abusing Dylan Farrow when she was a child, used to make movies. Some of them were good. None were as good as Annie Hall, though. This wouldn’t be the best Muppet movie but it scores major points just for the fact that it would erase Woody Allen from it. And who knows, maybe Miss Piggy could pull off Diane Keaton.

51. Chariots of Fire (1981)

Chariots of Fire is a historical sports movie about two runners in the 1924 Olympics trying to overcome prejudice and win gold for their country. It’s pretty lightweight stuff but watching The Muppets in a sports movie would be fun. The novelty of that carries this across the finish line.

 

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