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Best Picture Winners [Universal 100th Anniversary] [3 Discs] [DVD]

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The Lost Weekend
Billy Wilder's searing portrait of an alcoholic features an Oscar-winning performance by Ray Milland as Don Birnam, a writer whose lust for booze consumes his career, his life, and his loves. The story begins as Don and his brother Wick (Philip Terry) are packing their bags in their New York apartment, preparing for a weekend in the country. Philip, aware of his brother's drinking problem, is keeping an eye of him, making sure he doesn't sneak a drink before the departure of their train. Arriving at the apartment is Don's girlfriend, Helen St. James (Jane Wyman), who has tickets to a Carnegie Hall concert that night. Don persuades Wick and Helen to go to the concert without him, hoping to find one of his well-hidden bottles of booze. But when Wick and Helen go to the concert, Don discovers that Wick has gotten rid of the liquor. Don has no money, so he can't visit the neighborhood bar -- that is, until the cleaning lady arrives to reveal money hidden in a sugar-bowl. Don grabs the cash and hits the street, heading off to Nat's Bar. Nat (Howard Da Silva), a bartender who has seen it all, is surprised to see Don. But when Don shows he can pay for his drinks, Nat reluctantly serves him, telling Don, "One's too many and a thousand's not enough." Soon Don plunges in an alcoholic haze, his boozing landing him in a harrowing drunk tank, presided over by the cynical attendant Bim (Frank Faylen). ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

The Deer Hunter
One of several 1978 films dealing with the Vietnam War (including Hal Ashby's Oscar-winning Coming Home), Michael Cimino's epic second feature The Deer Hunter was both renowned for its tough portrayal of the war's effect on American working class steel workers and notorious for its ahistorical use of Russian roulette in the Vietnam sequences. Structured in five sections contrasting home and war, the film opens in Clairton, PA, as Mike (Robert De Niro), Nick (Christopher Walken), and Stan (John Cazale, in his last film) celebrate the wedding of their friend Steve (John Savage) and go on a final deer hunt before the men leave for Vietnam. Mike treats hunting as a test of skill, lecturing Stan about the value of "one shot" deer slaying and brushing off Nick's urgings to appreciate nature's beauty. As Mike ruminates post-hunt, the film cuts to the horror of Vietnam, where the men are captured by Vietcong soldiers who force Mike and Nick to play Russian roulette for the V.C.'s amusement. Mike turns the game to his advantage so they can escape captivity, but the men are permanently scarred by the episode. Steve loses his legs; Nick vanishes in the Saigon Russian roulette parlors. Mike returns alone to Clairton a changed man, as he rejects the killing of the deer hunt and finds solace with Nick's old girlfriend Linda (Meryl Streep). Disgusted by the antics of his male cohorts at home, Mike decides to bring Steve back from a veterans' hospital, and he returns to Saigon to find Nick. As Saigon falls, Mike discovers how far gone Nick is; the survivors gather in Clairton for a funeral breakfast, singing an impromptu rendition of "God Bless America." ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

The Sting
Four years after setting box offices ablaze in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and director George Roy Hill re-teamed with similar success for The Sting. Redford plays Depression-era confidence trickster Johnny Hooker, whose friend and mentor Luther Coleman (Robert Earl Jones) is murdered by racketeer/gambler Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw). Hoping to avenge Luther's death, Johnny begins planning a "sting" -- an elaborate scam -- to destroy Lonnegan. He enlists the aid of "the greatest con artist of them all," Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman), who pulls himself out of a drunken stupor and rises to the occasion. Hooker and Gondorff gather together an impressive array of con men, all of whom despise Lonnegan and wish to settle accounts on behalf of Luther. The twists and surprises that follow are too complex to relate in detail -- suffice to say that you can't cheat an honest man, and that you shouldn't accept everything at face value. The Sting became one of the biggest hits of the early '70s; grossing 68.5 million dollars during its first run, the film also picked up seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Adapted Score for Marvin Hamlisch's unforgettable setting of Scott Joplin's ragtime music. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Ray Milland
    Ray Milland - Don Birnam
  • Jane Wyman
    Jane Wyman - Helen St. James
  • Howard Da Silva
    Howard Da Silva - Nat the Bartender
  • Image coming soon
    Phillip Terry - Nick Birnam
  • Doris Dowling
    Doris Dowling - Gloria
Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.