When it comes to timeless flicks, we just couldn’t make the cut, so we had no choice but to compile another list of Hollywood’s finest films. All that’s left for you to do is bring out the popcorn!
Year Released: 1972 There was no way we could have our list without this crime drama classic from the early 1970s. The film is directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and James Caan, as members of an infamous Italian American crime family.
The Godfather constantly makes all kinds of “best films of all times” lists, and currently holds a nearly perfect (98%) score on Rotten Tomatoes. It also won a number of prestigious awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Golden Globe for Best Director.
The Godfather: Part II
Year Released: 1974 Two years after the ultra-successful first installment of The Godfather film franchise, the second part was released – and it did not disappoint. Starring the same celebrities and again directed by Coppola, the film brought in $88 million at the box office against a budget of just around $13 million.
Most films on our list were at most around an 8.2 or 8.5/10 on IMDb, but The Godfather: Part II sits at a 9/10, which isn’t an easy feat when it comes to over one million votes. Critics, publications, and audience members across the world continue to dissect it and praise it to this day. In 1975, the film was nominated for 11, and received five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. It also received several other accolades, which include two National Society of Film Critics Awards.
Year Released: 1924 And we’re looking back on the 1920s during Hollywood’s silent film era, to revisit this silent comedy directed by, and starring, Buster Keaton. Keaton plays a projectionist who wants to be a detective and finds himself framed for a crime he didn’t commit, instead.
Sherlock Jr. holds a 95% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is constantly named one of the best films of all time. It’s considered such a classic that it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in 1991.
12 Angry Men
Year Released: 1957 More than 50 critics have pulled together to give this film a perfect 100% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. They aren’t the only ones who love this 1957 courtroom drama, either. Roger Ebert gives it a 4/4, and 94% of Google users have rated it positively, as well.
The film was written by Reginald Rose and directed by Sidney Lumet. Shot in a single location, it’s known for its minimalistic filmmaking. The year after its release, it won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written Drama, and several decades later in 1997, it was added to the PGA Hall of Fame.
Year Released: 1993 Schindler’s List is a historical drama directed by Steven Spielberg and released in the early 90’s. It’s hard to find many “best films” lists that don’t include this movie, which stars Liam Neeson as Schindler himself. It earned a $300 million profit, scoring $322 million at the box office against a $22 million budget.
The film was nominated for twelve Academy Awards, the most nominations of any film on our list, and won seven, including Best Director and Best Picture. In 2004, the Library of Congress preserved it in the National Film Registry. And, a few years later in 2007, the AFI ranked it number eight on their list of the 100 best American films.
Year Released: 1941 The legendary Orson Welles is the man behind this classic. His 1941 drama/mystery film has been called the “Mona Lisa of all films.” Citizen Kane has been praised by critics all over the globe, and named a “work of genius,” repeatedly, in publications from all four corners of the world.
The film won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1942. It was nominated for eight more, including Best Director. Unfortunately, John Ford’s How Green My Valley beat it out in that big five category.
Year Released: 1942 Even those who’ve never before seen a single minute of Casablanca have likely heard the famous line, “Here’s looking at you, kid.” But those who haven’t seen it should definitely check it out sometime, considering it is widely known as one of the greatest films of all time.
At the 16th Academy Awards, the film was nominated for a total of eight honors, and wound up receiving three; Best Director, Outstanding Motion Picture, and Best Writing in a Screenplay.
Year Released: 1950 Produced during Hollywood’s Golden Age, Sunset Boulevard tells the story of an aging silent film star who refuses to let her career die. It is often referred to as one of the best movies in film history and holds a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes – from 63 reviews.
Critics had nothing but good things to say, with a 4/4 from Roger Ebert, and Scott Mignola from Common Sense Media writing, “the performances do justice to the ruthlessly witty script.” Sunset Boulevard brought home four Golden Globes in 1951 – including the award for Best Picture. That same year, it scored three Academy Awards as well.
Year Released: 1994 If you’ve been expecting to see this one pop up on the list, you won't be disappointed! Pulp Fiction is one of director Quentin Tarantino’s best films, and his follow-up to his mega-hit, Reservoir Dogs.
The film stars Uma Thurman and John Travolta, a powerhouse on-screen team, along with Samuel L. Jackson and a score of other great actors. At the 1995 Independent Spirit Awards, it won four accolades, including Best Male Lead (Samuel L. Jackson.) It also won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and the 1995 MTV Movie & TV Award for Best Movie.
Year Released: 1931 This pre-Code romantic comedy was made in 1931, when Charlie Chaplin was still producing his silent hits. The film is widely regarded as the star’s masterpiece, which follows The Little Tramp on his attempts to court a blind girl that he’s fallen for.
Sight and Sound magazine’s 1952 poll named it the second-best film of all time, and that was one of many times it’s been given that honor. American Film Institute has included it in seven of their “100 Years” lists and called it the single “Best Romantic Comedy” on their 2008 “10 Top 10.”
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Year Released: 2018 This installment in Marvel’s Spider-Man franchise is a huge hit with children, families, critics and just humans in general. The animated film made over $375 million at the box office upon its 2018 release, and nearly every review is glowing.
The film won both the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film/Best Animated Feature Film. It also won a number of other awards in 2019 from all over the world, including Best Imported Film at the Bandung Film Festival in Indonesia.
Year Released: 1990 Martin Scorsese makes yet another appearance on the “best of” list with his classic 1990 gangster drama, Goodfellas. The film stars Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta as members of the infamous NYC Lucchese crime family.
Goodfellas holds a 96% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is widely regarded as one of the best movies in film history. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Picture, and won the Best Supporting Actor (Joe Pesci.) That was among several other accolades and nominations, which include a number of Golden Globes and British Academy Film Awards.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Year Released: 1975 Of course we’d include this 1975 classic drama on our list. The film stars Jack Nicholson as a psychiatric patient who leads an uprising in a mental hospital. The film was based on the 1962 novel of the same name, written by Ken Kesey, and is often referred to as one of the best films of all time, both by critics and audience members.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was the winner of several prestigious awards, including the big five Oscars; Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress. It also won six Golden Globes, including Best Motion Picture (Drama) and Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Drama.)
The Third Man
Year Released: 1949 Orson Welles is known both in and out of the film industry for being one of the best filmmakers of all time. His work on-screen in The Third Man is no different, and is highly regarded as a favorite, both in the United Kingdom and the United States.
The British Film Institute called it the greatest film in history in 1999, and a poll of 150 actors, directors, critics and producers in Time Out magazine ranked it second-best of all time. It won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, and was nominated for two others, including Best Director, and also won the British Academy Film Award for Best British Film.
Year Released: 1969 This British drama directed by Ken Loach is based on a 1968 novel titled A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines. It tells the story of an abused young boy who forms a strong bond with a falcon – only to have the relationship end in tragedy.
It won several awards in 1970 and 1971, including the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Award for Best British Screenplay and the British Academy Film Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
All About Eve
Year Released: 1950 Joseph L. Mankiewicz both wrote and directed this 1950 drama, based on a short story called The Wisdom of Eve by Mary Orr. Bette Davis stars as an aging Broadway star whose career is threatened by a young woman who worms her way into her life. It is widely known for being one of the best films of all time.
AFI ranked the film number 16 on their 100 Best American Films list, and it was one of the first 50 in history to be selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. It won an outstanding number of Oscars and Golden Globes, including Best Picture, Best Motion Picture, and Best Director, and was nominated for a score of others.
Year Released: 1936 Charlie Chaplin was the comic relief that the world needed during the Great Depression and some of the most troubling times society had seen. He took serious situations and satirized them, providing laughs when there weren’t very many reasons to smile.
In 1989, the Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally significant” and it was preserved in the National Film Registry. The film has also made several of AFI’s “100 Movies” lists.
Year Released: 1974 With a nearly perfect rating of 99% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, Chinatown has been hailed as director Roman Polanski’s best film. It stars a young Jack Nicholson as a detective hired to investigate a case of adultery and ends up stumbling upon something much larger and darker.
The film won several awards in 1975, including the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and four Golden Globes; Best Motion Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Director. It also won a number of other awards including BAFTAs and the Bodil Award for Best American Film.
The Dark Knight
Year Released: 2008 Directed by Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight is hands-down one of the best films in the Batman franchise. Christian Bale plays the superhero, trying to save the city from the maniacal Joker. The iconic villain was played by the late Heath Ledger in his final role on film, which won him the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
The film holds a 94% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 4/4 from Roger Ebert. But critics weren’t the only ones who ate it up. Audiences loved the film, too, with one member saying it was the “sequel we deserved to the Batman we wanted,” and went on to add, “Heath Ledger is a legend!” Yes, yes he is.
Year Released: 1964 This 1964 film, which is also known as it’s full title: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, is directed by Stanley Kubrick and stars George C. Scott and Peter Sellers. Sellers, who plays three separate roles throughout the production, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his work in the film.
The movie was nominated for four Oscars in total, along with six BAFTAs. Of the six, Dr. Strangelove took home four wins, including Best Film from Any Source and Best British Film.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Year Released: 1966 This 1966 epic Western stars Clint Eastwood, who teams up with an outlaw in the Southwest during the Civil War to take out a sinister villain. It has a 97% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is widely regarded as the best of all Spaghetti Western films.
Many more recent films have paid tribute to the classic western. One of them is Quentin Tarantino's 1992 movie Reservoir Dogs, when he creates a cinematic nod to the famed standoff scene. Stephen King also said that the film was his inspiration behind his novel, The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger.
The Shawshank Redemption
Year Released: 1994 This film is arguably one of the best prison drama films ever made, and potentially one of the best dramas period. Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins star as two inmates serving life sentences in a rough prison. Unfortunately, one of the men (Robbins) didn’t actually commit the murders he was accused of, which makes his life particularly tough.
It’s kind of surprising that The Shawshank Redemption didn’t win more awards than it received, which didn’t include any Oscars or Golden Globes. It was, however, nominated for several of each, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay.
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Year Released: 1957 This 1957 epic war film is based on the 1952 novel of the same name written by Pierre Boulle. With a 95% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it follows a group of British POWs in a Japanese prison camp who are forced to build a bridge across the river Kwai.
The film won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Film, and Best Director. It also won three Golden Globes the same year; Best Motion Picture, Best Director of a Motion Picture, and Best Actor in a Motion Picture. It is widely regarded as one of the best movies of its time, and in film history, period.
On the Waterfront
Year Released: 1954 Marlon Brando stars as an up-and-coming boxer/dockworker who gets wrapped up with the mob in this 1954 crime drama. Roger Ebert gives the film a 4/4 rating, calling Brando’s performance “extraordinary.” Neil Minow of Common Sense Media says it’s an, “excellent, thoughtful drama.”
On the Waterfront received an impressive number of Oscars and Golden Globes, including both the Academy and Globe for Best Director, and Best Picture/Motion Picture.
Lawrence of Arabia
Year Released: 1962 Another epic war adventure film, Lawrence of Arabia is directed by David Lean, and based on the life of British archaeologist and army officer, T.E Lawrence. It follows and documents the officer’s experiences throughout the Ottoman Empire, such as his attacks on Damascus and Aqaba.
At the 35th Academy Awards show in 1963, the film was nominated for a total of ten Oscars – and won seven of them. Among the wins include the award for Best Director and Best Picture. It also took home the BAFTA Award for Best Film and the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture (Drama.) In 2004, a Sunday Telegraph poll of the leading filmmakers in Britain named it the third-greatest film in British history.
Year Released: 1960 Perhaps Alfred Hitchcock’s most widely known and recognized film, Psycho is a classic horror-thriller that still gets played today around every Halloween. The film stars Anthony Perkins as a mentally unstable owner of a hotel who has a ton of dark secrets hidden within the building where he works.
The movie is considered one of the director’s best films and was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Supporting Actress. Since the original’s release, it has been remade several times, both for film and television. The infamous shower scene has been the subject of all kinds of skits, as well as a documentary released in 2017 by filmmaker Alexandre O. Phillippe, called 78/52, a reference to the number of cuts and setups used by Hitchcock for the original film.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Year Released: 1981 Harrison Ford stars as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, an action/adventure movie about an archaeologist who must find the fabled Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis do. The film is directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Lawrence Kasdan, but it’s actually based on a story written by George Lucas and Howard Kazanjian.
The film grossed nearly $385 million against a budget of $18 million, and it was, for the most part, well-received by critics. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Score. It won five, including Best Sound and Best Visual Effects. Raiders of the Lost Ark currently holds a 95% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Year Released: 1954 How many Alfred Hitchcock films do we have on this list? Let’s just say that there are a lot of them here. This picture stars James Stewart as a journalist that’s stuck at home in a wheelchair after he suffers a broken leg. He begins to watch his neighbors out of boredom, and winds up discovering something much more sinister than he expected to find.
Rear Window is widely regarded as one of Hitchcock’s best films. It was nominated for four Academy Awards, and in 1997 was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. It was also listed on AFI’s list of the “100 Years…100 Movies” list as number 42.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Year Released: 1948 This 1948 American adventure movie has a perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on nearly 50 different reviews. It also holds a 4/4 on Roger Ebert, and an 8.2/10 on IMDb.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre won three Academy Awards, including Best Director for John Huston, along with three Golden Globes; Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress and another Best Director Award.
Paths of Glory
Year Released: 1970 Legendary film director, Stanley Kubrick, created this 1957 war film, which tells the story of failed leadership and mishaps during World War I. The motion picture was based on the novel that holds the same title and was written by Humphrey Cobb.
Paths of Glory was considered “incontestably offensive” to France and was banned in the country. It also wound up being banned in all of the U.S military bases, both in and out of the United States. Despite the controversy, it wound up earning a number of awards and being nominated for several others, including the BAFTA for Best Film. The movie holds a 95% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is preserved in the U.S National Film Registry.
Year Released: 1976 Taxi Driver stars a young Robert De Niro as a seriously unstable cab operator in NYC who gets wound up in trying to play hero to an underage prostitute. Directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese, the film was named the 31st-best ever made by Sight & Sound in 2012.
A 12-year old Jodie Foster, who played a controversial role in the film that required psychological testing and counseling before production, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her part. That was among several other nominations that year, which included Best Picture. The movie didn’t end up winning in any of the categories, though it does have a 97% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and received the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1976.
Year Released: 1944 This 1944 film noir is directed by Billy Wilder, and stars Fred MacMurray, an insurance salesman married to a woman who’d like to claim her own policy – on a dead husband. It was hailed by critics across the country upon its release, and, in 1992 it was selected by The Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Double Indemnity was nominated for seven awards at the 17th Academy Award show. Unfortunately, it didn’t end up winning in any of the categories, which included Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress. It did, however, wind up on several of AFI’s list of “Top 100s.”
North by Northwest
Year Released: 1959 With a nearly perfect rating of 99% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, North by Northwest is consistently listed as one of the best films in history. Of course, when you pair director Alfred Hitchcock with leading man Cary Grant, you get award winning films.
The motion picture was nominated for three Oscars including Best Film Editing and Best Art Direction. Hitchcock also won a Silver Shell Award for Best Director, which was his second after receiving the first for his work on Vertigo.
The Great Dictator
Year Released: 1940 This film, released in 1940, was the first from actor, writer and director Charlie Chaplin to involve dialogue. Up until then, the movie star was used to working on silent films, although he did have a background in live music, which made it a bit easier for him to transition over.
The Great Dictator is a political satire comedy that poked fun at Adolph Hitler – making light of a very serious situation, which is something the world desperately needed during those days. Chaplin won several awards for his work on the film, including the 1940 New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor and the Jussi Award for Best Foreign Filmmaker in 1974.
Kind Hearts and Coronets
Year Released: 1949 This 1949 British black comedy was fairly well-received by critics when it was initially released. It tells the story of the son of an aristocratic woman who becomes exiled from her wealthy family when they disapprove of her marrying someone they consider to be beneath their social class. The son, Louis, goes on a killing spree after his mother’s death, killing everyone in his way to the throne.
As with many classics, the more it is seen over the years, the more it seems to grow on the critics who watch it. One publication in the 60’s for instance, called it, “the most confident comedy to ever come out of a British studio.” Time and the British Film Institute (BFI) both listed the film on their “Top 100” lists.
Year Released: 1926 Buster Keaton stars in this 1926 silent comedy based on a true event known as the Great Locomotive Chase that occurred during the Civil War. Unfortunately, when it came out in theaters, audiences weren’t rushing to see it, which resulted in a less-than-stellar box office turn out.
However, as the years have gone by, critics have changed their thoughts about the film, and it’s now considered one of the best in movie history. It has made a number of the American Film Institute’s lists, from 1998-2007.
The Red Shoes
Year Released: 1948 The Red Shoes is a British drama released in the U.K in 1948. Written, produced, and directed by Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell, the film tells the tale of a ballerina that falls in love with a composer at her company and must decide between love and her career.
The film was nominated for a total of five Academy Awards, winning both Best Original Score and Best Art Direction. It also won the Golden Globe for Best Original Score and made the Top Ten Films list of the National Board of Review.
Star Wars: Episode V- The Empire Strikes Back
Year Released: 1980 This addition to the famed movie franchise did just as well as the rest of them, scoring a 95% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with nearly a 9/10 score on IMDb. The original cast teamed up with George Lucas to create another mega hit that grossed nearly $223 million after its 1981 re-release.
Critics were just as thrilled with the film as audiences, with one even using the word “thrilling” to describe his experience in theaters. The Empire Strikes Back won the Academy Award for Best Sound, along with several other accolades over the years.
Toy Story 3
Year Released: 2010 The Toy Story franchise has brought joy to children and families all over the world for decades. In 2010, the third installment hit theaters and did not disappoint fans, new or old. In this movie, the gang of toys are accidentally dropped off at a daycare center and chaos ensues.
Toy Story 3 won a number of awards throughout 2010 and 2011, including both the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Animated Film. Although the film had a mega $200 million budget, it still grossed an impressive $1.067 billion worldwide.
Singin’ in the Rain
Year Released: 1952 Everyone in the western world is at the very least familiar with the famous theme (title) song from Singin’ in the Rain. “What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again!” But the film that the song was pulled from was just as successful, especially in its heyday in the ‘50s.
The musical comedy was both directed and choreographed by Gene Kelley, along with Stanley Donen. Kelley also stars as male lead, Don Lockwood, a silent film star whose production company is transitioning over to sound for the first time. In 1953, the film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Director and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written Musical.
Year Released: 1979 Martin Sheen plays a war captain in 1970’s Vietnam who leads a team upriver on the hunt for an officer (played by Marlon Brando) who’d completely lost his mind. The film was directed, produced, and co-written by Francis Ford Coppola, and somewhat based on the 1899 novella Heart of Darkness, written by Joseph Conrad.
Critics around the world praised the film, and it is constantly named one of the best films in history by publications left and right. At the 52nd Academy Awards, it was nominated for eight different accolades, winning for Best Cinematography and Best Sound, and just missing out on Best Picture and Best Director.
Year Released: 1927 This 1927 film, which is also known by its longer title, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, is a romantic silent drama. The picture was directed by German director F.W Murnau, who was also the man behind the famous silent vampire film, Nosferatu. Sunrise was the director’s American debut.
Like most of the films on our list, Sunrise has glowing reviews from critics on every major platform, including a 4/4 from Roger Ebert and a 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film won three Academy Awards in 1929, including the Oscar for Best Actress, awarded to Janet Gaynor. This made her the first actress in history to receive that honor multiple times.
Year Released: 2015 This adorable animated tale from Pixar and Disney tells the story of a young Midwestern girl who’s forced to deal with a cross-country move when her parents uproot her life and move out to California. Her emotions, Joy, Fear, Disgust, Sadness, and Anger come to life and try and help her cope.
The film has a 98% rating out of a whopping 362 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and grossed nearly $858 million at the box office.
It’s a Wonderful Life
Year Released: 1946 This 1946 fantasy drama film is an American Christmastime classic. Produced and directed by Frank Capra, it’s based on a short story called The Greatest Gift by Phillip Van Doren Stern.
The film, and its director, won the Golden Globe Award for Best Director of a Motion Picture, and that was one of many other accolades the production received. It’s a Wonderful Life is widely hailed as being one of the best movies of all time.
The Last Picture Show
Year Released: 1971 You know a film is good when it has a perfect 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes out of over 55 votes. Roger Ebert also gave the film a 4/4 in his review, saying that the movie “felt new and old at the same time.”
The Last Picture Show won two Academy Awards and two BAFTA Awards in 1972, for both Best Actor and Actress in a Supporting Role.
The Maltese Falcon
A film noir from the 1940s, The Maltese Falcon was both written and directed by John Huston and based on the 1930 novel by Dashiell Hammett.
During the 14th Academy Awards, the film received three nominations, including for the award of Best Picture. After Warner Bros. saw how successful the first film was, they discussed creating a sequel. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get the original cast together and it was never made. Luckily, the film was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in 1989.
The Night of the Hunter
Year Released: 1955 This 1950’s film-noir focuses on the tale of a preacher who goes off the rails and on to a murder spree. The film was directed by actor Charles Laughton, his only feature-length film in which he wasn’t acting.
Roger Ebert gave the film a 4/4 rating, and it holds a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes out of nearly 70 votes. The film is available for viewing on Amazon Prime Video, where it also has a stellar rating of 4.3/5.
Aguirre, the Wrath of God
Year Released: 1972 With a 4/4-star rating from Roger Ebert, this 1972 film follows a group of conquistador explorers on a failed expedition on the hunt for a lost city. It’s directed by Werner Herzog, and stars Klaus Kinski – a powerhouse team when it comes to creating cinema legends, though this is said to be their best collaboration by far.
The film has a near-perfect rating of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, and has won awards internationally, including the 1973 German Film Award and the 1977 National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cinematography.
Some Like it Hot
Year Released: 1959 This classic romantic comedy stars the legendary Marilyn Monroe and is widely regarded as one of the best films of all time. It tells the story of two musicians who must dress in drag to hide from the mafia after they wind up accidentally witnessing a crime.
Some Like it Hot was a huge success with critics and at the box office. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Actor and Best Director. In 2000, the American Film Institute named it number one on their list of 100 years of 100 laughs.
Year Released: 2014 Whiplash premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, where it won both the Grand Jury Prize for the drama category, and the Audience Award. It follows a jazz drumming student as he tries to learn and rise up at the (fictional) Shaffer Conservatory despite an abusive instructor.
The movie became critically acclaimed upon its release, and received a number of prestigious accolades, including three Oscars at the 87th Academy Awards show. It grossed nearly $50 million at the box office against a budget of just $3.3 million.
The Gold Rush
Year Released: 1925 One of Charlie Chaplin’s many famous films that he wrote, produced, and directed; The Gold Rush first came out in the middle of the 1920s. The film combines comedy with some very real struggles being faced by workers across America, which made it hugely popular.
Chaplin himself has said more than once that if he could be remembered for one film, this would be it. It was nominated for multiple Academy Awards: Best Music and Best Sound Recording.
It Happened One Night
Year Released: 1934 This screwball comedy follows a recently married spoiled heiress who gets entangled with a newspaper reporter who happens to fall in love with her. The film was directed and co-produced by Frank Capra and was welcomed by stunning reviews upon its release.
It Happened One Night is one of just three films to ever win all five of the major Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. The only two other films to ever pull that off have been The Silence of the Lambs and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Year Released: 1980 Raging Bull stars a young Robert De Niro as a boxer rising up through the ranks, who falls in love along his way. Unfortunately, he has some issues expressing his feelings properly which sends him into a downward spiral that inevitably ruins chunks of his life.
The film holds a 94% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes out of 69 reviews. Director Martin Scorcese won a Golden Globe for his work on the movie, which also won two Academy Awards, including the one for Best Picture in 1981.
The Wages of Fear
Year Released: 1953 This French-Italian film is based on the French Novel Le salaire de la peur, which roughly translates to “the salary of fear.” It was hailed by critics everywhere when it debuted in the 1950’s and became the 4th highest earning film of the year in France.
The Wages of Fear earned a number of awards around the time of its release, including the Golden Bear Award at the 1953 Berlin Film Festival, and the 1954 BAFTA Award for Best Film.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Year Released: 1968 Hollywood legend Stanley Kubrick wrote, directed, and produced this 1968 epic sci-fi film, which is commonly referred to as one of the best and most influential movies of all time. In fact, The Moving Arts Film journal called it the single best film in movie history in 2010. In the early 90’s, it was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress.
Upon its initial release, the film kind of flopped at the box office, leaving the production company in the red by around $800,000. But it was re-released a number of times over the years, including in 1977, 2001, and 2017, which were all much more profitable than the original. 2001: A Space Odyssey was nominated for four Academy Awards and won one, in the category of Best Special Visual Effects.
Year Released: 1958 Alfred Hitchcock is the man behind this classic psychological thriller film, Vertigo, based on a 1954 novel from Boileau-Narcejac. When it was first released, the movie received both positive and negative reviews. But, as is the case with so many classics, as the years went by, it gained more recognition and started to land on more “top films” lists.
The American Film Institute has recognized Hitchcock’s thriller several times, including on a number of “100 Years of 100 Movies” lists. Famed director Martin Scorsese (among many others) has said that Vertigo is one of his favorite films.
Year Released: 1979 Of course, we have to include the original Alien on our list. After all, it’s the film that started it all. There aren’t many people who haven’t seen this movie, or at the very least, know about it.
Alien won the 1980 Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, which shouldn’t come as any surprise to those who’ve seen it! The 94% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes goes to show just how popular and well-received the classic sci-fi is.
12 Years a Slave
Year Released: 2013 This historical drama tells the tale of a free black man living in New York the 1800s that finds himself kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. The film grossed nearly $188 million at the box office against a budget of $22 million.
The film won a number of prestigious awards, including both the 2014 Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Picture and Best Motion Picture, and the BAFTA for Best Film.
Stairway to Heaven
Year Released: 1946 David Niven stars in this 1946 film, which was also released under the alternate title, A Matter of Life and Death. With a 97% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film continues to make “best of” lists, despite it being filmed several decades ago.
Critic reviews were all very positive, for the most part. This includes a 2017 addition from Village Voice critic Alan Scherstuhl, which says that it “bursts with tantalizing ideas, surprising connections, suggestive flights of fancy.” And this isn’t the only film that Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell have teamed up on that have made our list. They’re also two of the people involved in Black Narcissus.
Steamboat Bill, Jr.
Year Released: 1928 An older film, and a rare silent one on our list with a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes is Steamboat Bill Jr., circa 1928. The picture stars film legend Buster Keaton, and contains his most famous on-screen stunt, where an entire house falls on him. It is said that this film actually inspired Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willie – AKA the debut of Mickey Mouse.
The house stunt is hands-down the most widely recognized part of this film and has been recreated several times in other movies and television shows, including on MacGyver and Arrested Development. The film was featured in a book titled 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
Year Released: 1939 It’s unlikely you’ll find many people that haven’t at least heard of this 1939 film starring John Wayne in his first major role, and the one that would launch his career. Adapted from a short story by Ernest Haycox, the motion picture follows a group of people riding through Apache territory.
Stagecoach was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning two; Best Supporting Actor and Best Music Scoring. The others that they were up for included Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography. Critics absolutely loved the film as much as audiences, which is evidenced by great reviews across the board, and a perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Year Released: 2014 There’s a very interesting production tale behind this 165-minute film that was released in 2014. Written and directed by Richard Linklater, it took more than a decade to shoot, beginning in 2001 and wrapping up the year before it came out. The script was actually conceptualized throughout the years, as well, as they began with just basic plot points.
The film premiered at Sundance in 2014 and was released in theaters not long after. It won several awards, including the Silver Bear Award for Best Director at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival, and two Golden Globes, though it was nominated for five.
Year Released: 1933 Duck Soup is another one of the films on our list that didn’t do so hot in the box office but gained more recognition and appreciation as time went on. The Marx Brothers comedy follows some silly spies trying to stage a revolution in the small nation of Freedonia.
It has a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 50 reviews, and holds a 7.8/10 on IMDb. Roger Ebert gives it a 4/4, including in his review that he believes it to be the best of the Marx Brothers films.
Out of the Past
Year Released: 1947 This 1947 flick is based on the novel Build My Gallows High by Geoffery Homes, which is the same title used for the film adaption in the United Kingdom. No matter which title you prefer, the film noir is filled with mystery, twists and turns, and of course, amazing cinematography.
Out of the Past is often hailed as being one of the best of its kind, including in a review by Roger Ebert, which is accompanied by a perfect rating of 4/4. It holds an impressive 94% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. In 1984, the film was remade, being released under the title Against All Odds. Among the cast members of the remake include Rachel Ward, Jeff Bridges and James Woods.
To Be or Not to Be
Year Released: 1942 This film came out in the middle of World War II and uses comedy to shine a light on some very real things that were happening in those days. The movie tells the story of a Polish theater company that’s threatened by the invading Nazis, so they turn into spies to support themselves.
The reviews for To Be or Not to Be were mainly positive, with Rob McShane of Time Out saying, “It’s certainly one of the finest comedies to come out of Paramount.”
The Silence of the Lambs
Year Released: 1991 You probably won’t run into many people who haven’t at least heard of The Silence of the Lambs. Or, even if they’ve never heard the title, who don’t know about Hannibal Lecter. Anthony Hopkins stars as the deranged cannibal who gets inside the head of the young detective played by Jodie Foster.
The film won several awards, including four Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Actress. Jodie Foster then won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her role in the film.
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
Year Released: 1977 With Star Wars being the immensely popular film franchise that it is, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that they would make an appearance on the list. This film stars the original cast, including Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher, and hit theaters in 1977. It was met with nearly $776 million – and it was filmed for just $11 million.
Star Wars: Episode IV won a whopping six Academy Awards, including Best Film Editing and Best Visual Effects, along with the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score in 1978.
Once Upon a Time in America
Year Released: 1984 This epic crime drama is based on a novel by Harry Grey. It stars Robert De Niro and James Woods and tells the tale of two best friends and Jewish gangsters living in New York City. The film was directed by Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone, and it would be his last before he passed away five years later.
When Once Upon a Time in America premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, it received a standing ovation that lasted for around fifteen minutes. Unfortunately, it flopped at the box office, bringing in just over $5 million with a budget of $30 million. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great movie!
Witness for the Prosecution
Year Released: 1957 This 1957 crime drama holds a perfect 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes out of 31 reviews. On IMDb, nearly 100,000 votes have been cast to rate it an 8.5/10. Based on an Agatha Christie novel, it follows a screenwriter accused of murdering a wealthy older woman.
Witness for the Prosecution never actually won any Oscars, but it was nominated for six, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress.
Year Released: 2015 Spotlight is aptly named, as it definitely shines just that on the Catholic Church’s coverups of thousands of cases of clergy members sexually abusing children. The film stars Mark Ruffalo as a reporter at the Boston Globe who’s tasked with interviewing victims and digging up proof of the church’s involvement in burying evidence of the crimes (which they do, by the way.) It garnered nearly $99 million at the box office against a budget of $20 million.
The film won a score of awards in 2016, including the Academy Awards for both Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, and three Critics’ Choice Awards, among many others.
Year Released: 1992 This early 90’s crime thriller was Quentin Tarantino’s first feature-length film, and he didn’t disappoint. It’s become a cult masterpiece, with Empire listing it as the single “Greatest Independent Film of All Time.” Now that we’re all used to Tarantino’s love for gore, it’s not so shocking, but it was seen as controversial at the time of its release.
Still, the film was a huge hit, both with critics and audiences. It’s only gained more popularity and notoriety over the years as Tarantino continued to put out hits. In 1993, it won the Critic’s Award at the 4th Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival.
Sweet Smell of Success
Year Released: 1957 Sweet Smell of Success first came out in 1957, created by Hecht-Hill-Lancaster Productions. It stars the legendary Burt Lancaster as a newspaper columnist who doesn’t approve of his younger sister’s growing relationship with a jazz musician. So, he hired a public relations specialist to get between them and destroy the romance.
The drama noir has racked up a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but when it debuted, it didn’t exactly get the best reaction from fans. In fact, it did pretty terribly at the box office. But critics felt differently, with the New York Herald and Time magazine even putting it on their top-ten best films of the year lists.
The Grapes of Wrath
Year Released: 1940 Film legend Henry Fonda stars in this 1940 film, which is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by John Steinbeck. It can be risky business to adapt a novel into a screenplay, as you risk irritating fans of the original. But The Grapes of Wrath film was well-received by audiences and critics and followed the novel closely.
Film critic Bosley Crowther called the movie “one of the best fifty films ever made.” The Film Daily’s 1940 poll called it the second-best film of the year (Rebecca was first.)
Touch of Evil
Year Released: 1958 This 1958 film noir stars Orson Welles, who also happens to be the movie’s writer and director. It tells the tale of corrupt law enforcement officers in Mexico, and, aside from Welles, stars Janet Leigh, Charlton Heston, Akim Tamiroff, and Joseph Calleia. It is commonly referred to as one of Welles’ best motion pictures.
The Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the U.S National Film Registry in 1993, and it continues to impress those who see it for the first time in the 2020’s, which is evidenced by its 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Year Released: 1967 Roger Ebert gave this 1967 film a 4/4-star rating. In his review, he goes on to say that Playtime is “one of a kind,” and, “complete in itself.” And he’s not the only one. With a 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s highly recommended by both critics and audience members.
The film was the most expensive ever produced in French history, and, even though it was very well-received, it didn’t end up being very successful at the box office. It did, however, win a silver prize at the 6th Moscow International Film Festival, and made the British Film Institute’s director’s list of the “50 Greatest Films of All Time.”
All Quiet on the Western Front
Year Released: 1930 This 1930 epic anti-war film is directed by Lewis Milestone, and tells the story of a group of young German Army recruits in the midst of World War I. It is often regarded as the best anti-war film in history and has been praised by critics all over the world.
Of course, Hitler and the Nazis didn’t appreciate the film, so they stooped so low as to toss sneezing powder and mice in movie theaters to keep people from viewing it. All Quiet on the Western Front was nominated for four Academy Awards and won two of them; Best Director and Outstanding Production.
Year Released: 1938 This romantic Golden Age comedy stars the powerful on-screen co-stars Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. It didn’t make a ton of money in theaters, but critics loved it. Time Out London said that it was one of director George Cukor’s best films.
Holiday was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction and carries a 100% rating (out of 24 reviews,) on Rotten Tomatoes.
Year Released: 1986 Look back into the cinematic world of the 1980s and we land on one of the most popular sci-fi thrillers of all time: Aliens. This 1986 film starring Sigourney Weaver is still referenced as one of the best of its kind.
The film, directed by James Cameron, won two Academy Awards in 1987; Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Editing. And, it gave us one of the creepiest scenes in film history – you know the one!
All the President’s Men
Year Released: 1976 This 1976 film starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford delves into the story of the infamous Watergate scandal that occurred during the presidency of Richard Nixon. Based on a 1974 novel from Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the movie was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in 2010.
All the President’s Men has a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and was nominated for several awards upon its release, including multiple Golden Globes and Oscars. It’s also made a number of lists, like placing 34th on the American Film Institute’s list of “America’s Most Inspiring Movies.”
His Girl Friday
Year Released: 1940 If you haven’t seen this 1940 romantic comedy, you must add it to your list for movie nights. His Girl Friday stars Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell and tells the story of a newspaper editor and reporter who get wrapped up in a murder case.
The film made number 19 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Years and 100 Laughs. In 1993, the Library of Congress selected it for preservation for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
Year Released: 1921 The oldest and only silent film on our list so far, The Kid is a black and white film starring the legendary Charlie Chaplin in his first full-length feature. But Chaplin wasn’t just the star of the show, he also wrote, directed, and produced it.
Critics had nothing but wonderful things to say about it upon its release, including one review in Theatre Magazine that said, “The Kid may be counted as a screen masterpiece.”
Year Released: 1997 This 1997 neo-noir crime thriller was based on Jame’s Ellroy’s novel which was published seven years before the film hit theaters. It stars Kim Basinger, Kevin Spacey and Danny Devito, along with Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe, whose careers both skyrocketed after taking part in this production.
L.A Confidential, which tells the tale of police corruption in Los Angeles during Hollywood’s Golden Age, was nominated for nine Academy Awards. Of the nine, it won two, including Best Supporting Actress (for Kim Basinger,) and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Year Released: 1940 Next on our list is an Alfred Hitchcock film. This time, it’s for his 1940 picture, Rebecca. This was actually Hitchcock’s first American-made movie, and by far one of his best.
Rebecca won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture (the only one of those particular awards the director ever won.) It was also awarded Best Cinematography and was nominated for nine others.
Cool Hand Luke
Year Released: 1967 With a perfect 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Cool Hand Luke is an absolute classic from the Golden Age of Hollywood. The film stars Paul Newman as the title character, Luke, a man who’s sentenced to a rough prison camp. Newman ended up being nominated for an Oscar for his part.
And, even those who’ve never even seen the film are probably still aware of its most famous line; “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate,” which has become a popular saying since the movie’s release in 67’.
The Philadelphia Story
Year Released: 1940 We’ve headed back in time to 1940, when this romantic comedy directed by George Cukor hit the scene. Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn star as a young married couple on the verge of divorce. Critics seem to agree that the storyline is one of the best of its time, with one calling it a “beautifully spun tale.”
The film won the Academy Award for Best Writing in an Adapted Screenplay and brought in $3.3 million – which was a lot of money in 1940.
Year Released: 2010 Leonardo DiCaprio stars in this unique sci-fi film from Christopher Nolan that delves into lucid and hive-mind dream exploration. Audiences and critics alike went wild for the film, which the latter referred to as “wholly original,” and “cut from a new cloth.” And, indeed it’s not like anything we’ve ever seen before.
Inception was nominated for eight Oscars and won four, including the awards for Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects. It was nominated for four more, including Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture.
Shadow of a Doubt
Year Released: 1943 It shouldn’t come as a surprise there are a few Alfred Hitchcock films popping up on this list. Shadow of a Doubt is a psychological thriller full of murder and mystery, but unlike the majority of Hitchcock films, is somewhat of a slow burn. The director has apparently said it’s his favorite of all that he’s created.
The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Story and won the Satellite Award for Best Classic DVD. It has a 4/4 from Roger Ebert and a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Year Released: 2017 Coco is Disney’s 2017 coming of age tale about a pre-teen boy named Miguel that has dreams of becoming a musician. He finds himself in the land of the dead having a life altering experience and communicating with skeletons. The film, while it’s definitely a comedy, also really tugs on the heartstrings of viewers, and is hard to watch without getting at least a little teary-eyed.
The film won several awards in 2018, including both the Academy and Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film. It is a favorite of both children and their parents and makes a great choice for family film night.
Year Released: 2008 The first animated film on our list thus far, Wall-E came out in 2008 and delighted children and families all over the world. It grossed over $533 million across the globe against a $180 million budget. The film centers on lonely trash compactor robot who’s been left alone on an uninhabitable world and falls in love with another robot who happens to come visit him.
Wall-E made Time’s list of the “Best Movies of the Decade,” and voted 29th out of 100 “Best of the 21st Century” films by 117 international film critics. It won the 2008 Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film, and the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, among several other accolades.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Year Released: 2002 While many of the films on our list are a bit older, now we’re in a different area of film history now. The Lord of the Rings is one of the most popular film franchises, and the 2002 release of The Two Towers was met with $951.2 million at the box office, making it the highest grossing film of the year, and the fourth highest of all time, at least, at that point.
Often hailed as being one of the best fantasy films, the movie was nominated for six awards during the 75th Academy Awards show and wound up winning two.
Year Released: 1960 Although at one point, it was simply known as a romantic comedy and drama, The Apartment would be grouped into the “dramedy,” category these days.
The movie follows an insurance clerk played by Jack Lemmon, who lets his seniors at work use his nice apartment in the city to meet with women (that their wives obviously didn’t know about.) The Guardian has called it the sixth best romantic film of all time. It was nominated for ten awards and won five of the ten at the 33rd Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture.
Year Released: 1944 Laura is hailed as being one of the best film noirs of the 1940s. Full of mystery, the film follows a New York City Police Detective who investigates a woman’s murder, and as he does, winds up falling in love with her.
The film won three Oscars, including Best Cinematography for a Black-and-White Film, Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Director, and was nominated for two more, including Best Writing in a Screenplay.
In a Lonely Place
Year Released: 1950 Film star legend Humphrey Bogart stars in this film noir as an unstable screenwriter named Dixon Steele who is suspected of murder. It’s made several “best of all time” lists, including Time’s, “All-Time 100’s,” and Slant’s “100 Essential Films.”
Directed by Nicholas Ray, the movie was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in 2007. Two years later, Roger Ebert added it to his own list of great movies.
Year Released: 1973 This 1970’s crime drama stars Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen as a young couple on the run from the law for murder. It’s often referred to as one of the best and most powerful films in history. The movie is rated 98% “Certified Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes. Film critic Vincent Canby called it a “most important and exciting film.”
Sissy Spacek later said that shooting the film changed the entire way she thought about filmmaking in general. “The artist rules,” she said of the work. “Nothing else matters.” Her co-star, Sheen, says that Badlands is still, to this the day, the best script he’s ever read.
Strangers on a Train
Year Released: 1951 Another one of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, Strangers on a Train has a near perfect rating on every major review platform, with a 4/4 on Roger Ebert and a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film follows two men who meet on a train and hatch a deadly plan to murder someone in each of their lives.
Aside from the suspense that Hitchcock is famous for, the film is also full of his unique camera angles. The film’s cinematographer, Robert Burks, was nominated for the Oscar for Best Cinematography, while Hitchcock was nominated for an award from the Directors Guild of America and the National Board of Review.
Year Released: 1992 Clint Eastwood stars in this 1992 film that he also produces and directs. He ended up winning the Academy Award for Best Director and being nominated for Best Actor. Aside from Eastwood, the cast was full of big names including Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman.
The film saw four Academy Award wins in total, including Best Picture and Best Film Editing. It was the third Western to ever win the Oscar for Best Picture and spent three weeks as the Number one film in North America upon its release.
Year Released: 1947 Around the same time as Notorious was released, Black Narcissus came out, as well. The film dives into the story of a small group of nuns on a goodwill mission on top of a mountain in the Himalayas. But the natives aren’t thrilled to have them there trying to mess with their way of life, and conflict between the groups (and within them) ensues.
The film has great reviews across the board and comes very highly recommended from several critics and publications. Although it’s been on the market for seven decades, it continues to impress new generations to this day.
Year Released: 1946 Well, we’re slipping back in time as we progress down the list, and right now, we’ve landed in the 1940s. In Alfred Hitchcock’s heyday, he released plenty of films that would be remembered as classics, and Notorious is one of them.
The film stars Carey Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Raines, and falls into the spy film noir category. The film was chosen to be preserved by the Library of Congress in 2006.
Year Released: 1956 Another Western, The Searchers came out in the mid 1950’s, starring John Wayne. The film has high ratings on nearly every movie critic website, including Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert, and IMDb. Directed by John Ford, it follows Wayne, playing a Civil War veteran on the hunt for his abducted niece. Of course, he’s actually hunting her, not trying to rescue her like one may assume.
Of all of the Western films that Wayne starred in, this one is known for being one of, if not his absolute best. It’s both influenced and made an appearance in several other films and television shows, including Martin Scorsese’s 1967 film, Who’s That Knocking at My Door, in which two of the characters have a conversation about it.
The Wild Bunch
Year Released: 1969 The Wild Bunch is an American western that first hit theaters in 1969. The film, which stars William Holden, Robert Ryan, and Ernest Borgnine, is known for being controversial for its time. These days, graphic violence is pretty much expected in certain types of films. But in the late 60’s, it was just starting to emerge.
Sam Peckinpah directed and co-wrote the revisionist movie, which was deemed as “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant,” by the U.S National Film Registry in 1999. Now, it’ll be forever preserved in the Library of Congress as such.