I think one thing movie fans care about more than anything else is the oscars. That has become as of late become the way that movie fans who like quality movies get into movies. The oscars have the fun competition aspect that sports have. But I don't think the oscar is the ultimate prize for a film to get.
If you win best picture you get held up under a very close microscope. It's a lot of pressure. I wouldn't equate it to winning an olympic gold medal or the superbowl or a set in congress because you've won at that point. I would equate winning a best picture to being in the lead of a marathon or winning the big 10 basketball championship. Yeah, that's great and all but your goal is to make the final four.
Because, when you think about it, what's the ultimate prize? Being remembered in history. Having your picture be thought of as a classic, making AFI's top 100 or BFI's top 100 if you're British, or the Library of Congress's national film registry, or just being on video store shelves 10 or 20 years from now. The best picture gives you a good shot of being remembered in history but I think A Place in the Sun, MASH, or Raging Bull are remembered a lot better than Life of Emile Zola, Ordinary People, and Marty.
Also, my point of being put up to a lot of scrutiny is that a lot of people like to dissect, analyze, and knock down pictures which most of us can agree are at least good pictures but which we now hate for winning best picture over some other personal favorite of ours like Forrest Gump, Chicago, A Beautiful Mind or whatever else. I personally want no part of those discussions because that's pointless. Those are all good pictures and while the winner isn't guaranteed the best picture in absolute terms, it's very very often one that's good, at least. I think that's what a best picture oscar is: a seal of guarantee that the picture is at least good