The 50 best movies of all time.
Screen Rant breaks down the 50 best movies of all time, which are based on original scores weighted by rankings from IMDb and Metacritic.
Here are the Best Movies of All-Time, as evaluated by Screen Rant. Covering Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Rear Window , it’s the perfect list for emerging cinephiles or checking off the essentials from your watchlist.
Deciding the best movies ever takes a balance of objective and subjective preference, which can differ for industry professionals and general viewers. We took the top 250 movies on IMDb and Metacritic and assigned each movie a score based on the range of scores in the dataset. These equally weighted scores were summed and then standardized into our own Screen Rant score. The result is a scoring system that equally and fairly honors both the audience and critic voice, leading to a list that runs the full length of cinema history.
50 My Left Foot (1989)
- Metacritic: 97/100
- IMDb: 7.8/10
- Screen Rant: 93.64/100
My Left Foot tells the true story of Christy Brown, an Irish man born with cerebral palsy who learns how to paint with his left foot, the only limb he has control over. The film stars Daniel-Day Lewis as Christy Brown, for which he won his first Academy Award for Best Actor. A story of family, adversity, stubbornness, and triumph, My Left Foot has been praised by critics and audiences alike for the inspiring performance by Lewis and the film’s ability to maintain an upbeat tone. The movie brilliantly captures the story of a man’s life while defeating the odds, which effectively tugs at the heartstrings and restores faith in humanity.
My Left Foot is available to stream on Paramount+ .
49 The Wild Bunch (1969)
- Metacritic: 98/100
- IMDb: 7.9/10
The epic revisionist Western film The Wild Bunch follows an aging outlaw gang on the US-Mexican border adapting to the changes of the modern world in 1913. While controversial upon release for its depiction of graphic violence and crude anti-heroes, The Wild Bunch ’s legacy has since established it as an essential classic in its genre. Arriving at a time when Westerns were leaving the Hollywood mainstream, the film’s meta themes about a dying breed have also cemented its iconic reputation. In addition to its engrossing ode to Westerns, The Wild Bunch is celebrated for its groundbreaking technical achievements of quick cuts, multi-angle editing, and slow-motion sequences. It is a favorite Western of filmmakers like John Carpenter and Quentin Tarantino showing its lasting legacy.
The Wild Bunch is available to stream on HBO Max.
48 Jules And Jim (1962)
- IMDb: 7.7/10
Set before and after World War I, Francois Truffaut’s drama Jules and Jim explores the tragic love triangle of the Bohemian Frenchman Jim, his Austrian friend Jules, and wife Catherine. Jules and Jim is considered the pinnacle of Truffaut’s French New Wave era, which was a hit upon release and remains a poignant tale of the intersections of love, freedom, and loyalty. The celebrated legacy of Jules and Jim surrounds its cinematic style that originated in post-war Europe, as well as the timeless manner in which it captures the unspoken truth of relationships and changing perspectives on modern love.
Jules and Jim is available to stream on HBO Max.
47 A Separation (2011)
- Metacritic: 95/100
- IMDb: 8.3/10
- Screen Rant: 93.88/100
The movie follows the dilemma of a married couple who must decide to move to another country and improve the life of their child or stay in Iran and care for a parent with advancing Alzheimer’s disease. The winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012, A Separation also became the first critically acclaimed non-English film in five years to be nominated for Best Original Screenplay. In addition to providing a suspenseful narrative, the movie is essential for its moral complexities, engrossing portrait of a dissolving relationship, and intensely felt performances by the cast.
A Separation is available to rent on Apple TV.
46 Double Indemnity (1944)
The film follows an insurance salesman (Fred MacMurray) involved in the murder scheme of a seductive housewife (Barbara Stanwyck), who plans to kill her husband and cash in on his fraudulent death claim. Double Indemnity is a classic in the film noir genre of the 1940s, maintaining an eerie black-and-white format, a captivating femme fatale, and a compelling narrative choice in which the investigation is simultaneously a doomed confession. Billy Wilder’s revolutionary direction in Double Indemnity was also a precursor to his classic noir Sunset Boulevard (1950), with both receiving nominations for Best Picture at the Oscars.
Double Indemnity is available to rent on Apple TV.
45 12 Years A Slave (2013)
- Metacritic: 96/100
- IMDb: 8.1/10
- Screen Rant: 93.95/100
The 2013 biographical drama is based on the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup, a free Black man kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1941. Northup is forced to work on Louisiana plantations with varying cruelties for 12 years before being released. The Steve McQueen-directed drama 12 Years a Slave isn't easy to watch, but it’s an important and crucial piece of filmmaking that tells the honest, painful stories that need to be told. It’s an upsetting portrait of the lows of humanity and a deeply emotional exploration of what it means to live, which is enhanced by the brilliant performances of Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o in her Oscar-winning feature film debut. 12 Years a Slave is also a triumph in cinema for its cinematography, moving score, and McQueen’s direction.
12 Years a Slave is available to rent on Apple TV.
44 Goodfellas (1990)
- Metacritic: 91/100
- IMDb: 8.7/10
- Screen Rant: 93.99/100
Martin Scorsese’s crime drama tells the rise and fall of real-life mobster Henry Hill and his relationships with his friends and family over 25 years. The film stars Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Lorraine Bracco. Goodfellas is often considered to be Scorsese’s greatest achievement as well as an essential installment in the gangster genre. The thrilling style, gripping ensemble cast, clever use of freeze frames and fast cuts, and writing make it a violently energetic piece of classic entertainment. If not for its enduring cultural legacy, Goodfellas is essential for its achievements in filmmaking and perfecting a genre.
Goodfellas is available to stream on HBO Max.
43 Hoop Dreams (1994)
- Screen Rant: 94.09/100
The groundbreaking sports documentary depicts the stories of two aspiring inner-city Chicago basketball players, following them through high school as they work toward college scholarships and their dreams of playing professionally in the NBA. Proving the emotional power of documentary filmmaking, Hoop Dreams remains one of the most inspiring films of all time as a sobering portrait of social inequality with high school basketball as the backdrop. Hoop Dreams looks at the impacts that race, class, uncontrollable hurdles, and education inequality have on the players' experiences and goals. The teens’ heartbreaking adversity and well-earned victories yield rewarding results that will appeal to even the most cynical of viewers.
Hoop Dreams is available to stream on HBO Max and Peacock.
42 The Rules Of The Game (1939)
The 20th-century French movie directed by Jean Renoir surrounds members of upper-class French society and their servants as they gather in a château in the time leading up to World War II. The Rules of the Game was generally dismissed by critics and audiences upon release, but has gained a more positive and influential legacy over time. The social satire has since been lauded for its biting satire of the upper class and criticism of social pretenses, with the film also being important for its early use of deep focus cinematography and complex sound. Its influence can also be seen in films like The Big Chill and Gosford Park .
The Rules of the Game is available to stream on the Criterion Channel and Kanopy.
41 The Lady Vanishes (1938)
The Oscar-less Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes follows Iris, a young English tourist traveling through Europe by train, who awakens to discover that her elderly companion has inexplicably disappeared. After other passengers deny the lady’s existence, Iris works with another traveler to solve the mystery. The Lady Vanishes is early British Hitchcock at his finest, renowned as an unconventional and sophisticated comedy-thriller that stands as one of the director’s wittiest films. It arrived amid the popularity of train movies in the 1930s, though Hitchcock’s entertaining direction, the chemistry between the leads, and the clever construction of the mystery make it an unmissable example of its genre and certainly one of the best Alfred Hitchcock movies .
The Lady Vanishes is available to stream on HBO Max.
40 Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)
Au hasard Balthazar is a 1966 French drama about a donkey and his mistreatment as he’s passed to different owners. The movie is primarily effective for its unique naturalistic aesthetic style, religious imagery, and spiritual allegories. The film is heartbreaking as the treatment of the donkey ranges from abuse from an angry man to a warm hug from a lonely woman, though what sets the film apart is that, without reactions from Balthazar, it leaves empathy up to the viewers. The result is a deeply emotional film about the suffering in human experience, told simply through the eyes of a donkey.
Au hasard Balthazar is available to stream on the Criterion Channel.
39 Apocalypse Now (1979)
- Metacritic: 94/100
- IMDb: 8.5/10
- Screen Rant: 94.20/100
The war epic Apocalypse Now follows a group of American soldiers traveling dangerous rivers in Vietnam as they embark on a secret mission to assassinate a renegade officer. It’s not an exaggeration to deem this one of the greatest war films ever created, with Francis Ford Coppola’s hallucinatory visuals, a modern soundtrack, and the haunting ways that war brings out of the horrors of humanity make it a unique, engrossing staple of the genre. In addition to the sobering performances of Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando, Apocalypse Now is a cinematic achievement in thematic paradoxes and visuals reflecting the darkness of humanity and war.
Apocalypse Now is available to rent on Apple TV.
38 The Dark Knight (2008)
- Metacritic: 84/100
- Screen Rant: 94.23/100
Batman forms an alliance with James Gordon and Harvey Dent to dismantle organized crime in Gotham, though their endeavors are thwarted as anarchist The Joker strives to send the city into chaos. The Dark Knight ’s gritty realism and Christopher Nolan’s visuals defy the typical superhero genre conventions to cement it as a masterpiece neo-noir crime thriller, with Heath Ledger’s haunting portrayal of The Joker earning him a posthumous Academy Award. The Dark Knight became the first comic-book film to win major industry awards, with its dark complexities, timely themes of ethics, and exciting action making it a winner among critics and audiences. Instead of a superhero movie with a neo-noir style, it’s a neo-noir with superhero characters at the center.
The Dark Knight is available to stream on HBO Max and Netflix.
37 Toy Story (1995)
- Screen Rant: 94.27/100
Pixar’s first adventure of wind-up cowboy doll Woody and space cadet action figure Buzz Lightyear, toys that come to life when humans aren’t around. The dynamic between Woody and Buzz, existential crises, and a hilarious look into the lives of toys and their association with childhood make Toy Story a timeless tale, not to mention a revolutionary feat in animation and the beginning of Pixar’s domination. Toy Story also appeals to adults as much as kids through the exploration of a toy’s psyche, prankish humor between the characters, and compelling voice acting by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. The film set the stage for three sequels that would continue its critically-acclaimed writing, vivid storytelling, and sharp wit with Toy Story 5 in the works to continue the franchise.
Toy Story is available to stream on Disney+.
36 Ran (1985)
- IMDb: 8.2/10
- Screen Rant: 94.34/100
From Akira Kurosawa, Ran is based on Shakespeare’s King Lear and legends of the daimyo Mori Motonari. The movie follows an elderly warlord who abdicates and gives his empire to his three sons, with the power corrupting them before turning the family against one another. Ran is Kurosawa’s last samurai epic , having been a culmination of the director’s many achievements and influences on cinema. The movie is beloved by critics and audiences for its spectacle and brilliant demonstrations of the Western, war, and period film genres. It’s a completely immersive experience in which the visuals, sound, and music enhance the familiar tale of morality, with Kurosawa pulling out all the trademarks from his career.
Ran is available to rent on Apple TV.
35 The Third Man (1949)
- Screen Rant: 94.41/100
The Third Man is a film noir about an American Holly Martins who accepts a job from his friend Harry Lime in Vienna, only to learn that his friend has died. Finding Lime’s fate mysterious, Martins remains in Europe and investigates the death. Praised for its film techniques with black-and-white expressionism, the “Dutch angle,” and harsh lighting, The Third Man is also known for its iconic film score and cast performances, particularly by Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles. The movie is a landmark example of how to achieve a proper atmosphere in film noir for a thrilling cinematic experience, with the filmmaking techniques making the suspenseful story and exciting, sinister twists all the more entertaining.
The Third Man is available to stream on the Criterion Channel.
34 Gone With The Wind (1939)
Gone With the Wind follows Scarlett O’Hara, the daughter of a Southern plantation owner, throughout the Civil War and Reconstruction era, focusing on her romantic relationships with Ashley Wilkes and Rhett Butler. Though Gone With the Wind 's themes are problematic and criticized today for racist stereotypes, historical negationism, and whitewashing of the Civil War, the movie is regarded as a revolutionary achievement in historical epics, the romance genre, and ambition with its massive scale. The box office record-breaking film also features some of the most iconic performances in film history from Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, and Hattie McDaniel, with McDaniel becoing the first Black person to win an Academy Award.
Gone With the Wind is available to stream on HBO Max.
33 Touch Of Evil (1958)
- Metacritic: 99/100
- Screen Rant: 94.55/100
Orson Welles’ film noir centers on a murder mystery at the US/Mexico border. As a Mexican drug enforcement agent suspects an American police captain of planting evidence, the investigation places himself and his wife in danger. The twists and turns of Touch of Evil are a masterpiece in film noir and depicting the grayness of good and evil. Welles’ style, the performances of himself, Charlton Heston, and Janet Leigh, as well as the poignant music combine to form a vividly entertaining unorthodox pulp. As one of the best movies of all time, Touch of Evil is an essential viewing for film noir in the classic era and Welles’ filmography.
Touch of Evil is available to stream on The Criterion Channel.
32 Pinocchio (1940)
- IMDb: 7.5/10
Adapted from an 1883 Italian children’s story, Disney’s Pinocchio is about a wooden puppet who must prove himself worthy to become a real boy. Following Snow White (1937), Pinocchio is the second animated feature made by Disney, which was an ambitious venture with an emotional core that has stood the test of time. Still culturally relevant today, the film was a brilliant technical achievement for Disney that set the tone for the enchanting nature, beautiful visuals, and storytelling power that became the golden standard for animation. Pinocchio was also the first animated feature to win a competitive award at the Oscars, including Best Original Song and Best Original Score.
Pinocchio is available to stream on Disney+.
31 Intolerance (1916)
A silent film telling the story of a poor young woman who is separated from her husband and baby due to prejudices, with instances of intolerance throughout history being interwoven. Intolerance is considered one of the most influential films of the silent film era, with its epic scale and unconventional editing style serving as inspiration for many European and Hollywood directors at the time. It’s arguably one of the very first art-house movies, with the gamble paying off as D.W. Griffith made one of the most ambitious experimental films in history. In addition to the visuals making Intolerance a great movie, the thrilling stories effectively explore how evil and exploitation transcend time.
Intolerance is available to stream on Prime Video and Paramount+.
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The 100 best movies of all time
Silent classics, noir, space operas and everything in between: Somehow we managed to rank the best movies of all time
When it comes to greatness in art, nothing is set in stone. There is no such thing as an objective, definitive canon, no matter the medium, and no matter what a media outlet may tell you when it releases a list of, oh, say, the greatest movies ever made – present company included. Sure, it’s a surefire way to get readers clicking. But we’re not so foolish as to think of ourselves like Moses on the mountain, proclaiming these films as the best of all-time, with no room for debate. Instead, we’re merely hoping to shake up (and in some spots confirm) the conventional wisdom, introduce different perspectives and, maybe most importantly, spark passionate debate. Because the only thing better than watching movies is arguing over them.
Don’t get us wrong, though: we feel pretty strongly about movies over here, and we’ll defend our picks until our throats are raw and our typing fingers worn down to nubs. But we’re not brutes. Really, we’re just trying to help. If you’re a fledgling cinephile looking to solidify your film-buff bona fides, think of this as a handy reference guide. And if you’ve already seen everything, take it as a way to challenge your own canon. Because with all the ground covered here – over 100 years, multiple countries, and just about every genre imaginable – you’re bound to find something you disagree with.
Written by Abbey Bender, Dave Calhoun, Phil de Semlyen, Bilge Ebiri, Ian Freer, Stephen Garrett, Tomris Laffly, Joshua Rothkopf, Anna Smith and Matthew Singer
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Best movies of all time
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
- Science fiction
The greatest film ever made began with the meeting of two brilliant minds: Stanley Kubrick and sci-fi seer Arthur C Clarke. ‘I understand he’s a nut who lives in a tree in India somewhere,’ noted Kubrick when Clarke’s name came up – along with those of Isaac Asimov, Robert A Heinlein and Ray Bradbury – as a possible writer for his planned sci-fi epic. Clarke was actually living in Ceylon (not in India, or a tree), but the pair met, hit it off, and forged a story of technological progress and disaster (hello, HAL) that’s steeped in humanity, in all its brilliance, weakness, courage and mad ambition. An audience of stoners, wowed by its eye-candy Star Gate sequence and pioneering visuals, adopted it as a pet movie. Were it not for them, 2001 might have faded into obscurity, but it’s hard to imagine it would have stayed there. Kubrick’s frighteningly clinical vision of the future – AI and all – still feels prophetic, more than 50 years on.— Phil de Semlyen
2. The Godfather (1972)
From the wise guys of Goodfellas to The Sopranos , all crime dynasties that came after The Godfather are descendants of the Corleones: Francis Ford Coppola’s magnum opus is the ultimate patriarch of the Mafia genre. A monumental opening line (“I believe in America”) sets the operatic Mario Puzo adaptation in motion, before Coppola’s epic morphs into a chilling dismantling of the American dream. The corruption-soaked story follows a powerful immigrant family grappling with the paradoxical values of reign and religion; those moral contradictions are crystallized in a legendary baptism sequence, superbly edited in parallel to the murdering of four rivaling dons. With countless iconic details—a horse’s severed head, Marlon Brando’s wheezy voice, Nino Rota’s catchy waltz— The Godfather ’s authority lives on.— Tomris Laffly
3. Citizen Kane (1941)
Back in the headlines thanks to David Fincher’s brilliantly acerbic making-of drama Mank , Citizen Kane always finds a way to renew itself for a new generation of film lovers. For newbies, the journey of its bulldozer of a protagonist – played with inexhaustible force by actor-director-wunderkind Orson Welles – from unloved child to thrusting entrepreneur to press baron to populist feels entirely au courant (in unconnected news, Donald Trump came out as a superfan). You can bathe in the film’s groundbreaking techniques, like Gregg Toland’s deep-focus photography, or the limitless self-confidence of its staging and its investigation of American capitalism. But it’s also just a damn good story that you definitely don’t need to be a hardened cineaste to enjoy.— Phil de Semlyen
4. Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)
Long considered a feminist masterpiece, Chantal Akerman’s quietly ruinous portrait of a widow’s daily routine—her chores slowly yielding to a sense of pent-up frustration—should take its rightful place on any all-time list. This is not merely a niche film, but a window onto a universal condition, depicted in a concentrated structuralist style. More hypnotic than you may realize, Akerman’s uninterrupted takes turn the simple acts of dredging veal or cleaning the bathtub into subtle critiques of moviemaking itself. (Pointedly, we never see the sex work Jeanne schedules in her bedroom to make ends meet.) Lulling us into her routine, Akerman and actor Delphine Seyrig create an extraordinary sense of sympathy rarely matched by other movies. Jeanne Dielman represents a total commitment to a woman’s life, hour by hour, minute by minute. And it even has a twist ending.— Joshua Rothkopf
5. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
- Action and adventure
Starting with a dissolve from the Paramount logo and ending in a warehouse inspired by Citizen Kane , Raiders of the Lost Ark celebrates what movies can do more joyously than any other film. Intricately designed as a tribute to the craft, Steven Spielberg’s funnest blockbuster has it all: rolling boulders, a barroom brawl, a sparky heroine (Karen Allen) who can hold her liquor and lose her temper, a treacherous monkey, a champagne-drinking villain (Paul Freeman), snakes (“Why did it have to be snakes?”), cinema’s greatest truck chase and a barnstorming supernatural finale where heads explode. And it’s all topped off by Harrison Ford’s pitch-perfect Indiana Jones, a model of reluctant but resourceful heroism (look at his face when he shoots that swordsman). In short, it’s cinematic perfection.— Ian Freer
6. La Dolce Vita (1960)
Made in the middle of Italy’s boom years, Federico Fellini’s runaway box-office hit came to define heated glamour and celebrity culture for the entire planet. It also made Marcello Mastroianni a star; here, he plays a gossip journalist caught up in the frenzied, freewheeling world of Roman nightlife. Ironically, the movie’s portrayal of this milieu as vapid and soul-corrodingly hedonistic appears to have passed many viewers by. Perhaps that’s because Fellini films everything with so much cinematic verve and wit that it’s often hard not to get caught up in the delirious happenings onscreen. So much of how we view fame still dates back to this film; it even gave us the word paparazzi .— Bilge Ebiri
7. Seven Samurai (1954)
It’s the easiest 207 minutes of cinema you’ll ever sit through. On the simplest of frameworks—a poor farming community pools its resources to hire samurai to protect them from the brutal bandits who steal its harvest—Akira Kurosawa mounts a finely drawn epic, by turns absorbing, funny and exciting. Of course the action sequences stir the blood—the final showdown in the rain is unforgettable—but this is really a study in human strengths and foibles. Toshiro Mifune is superb as the half-crazed self-styled samurai, but it’s Takashi Shimura’s Yoda-like leader who gives the film its emotional center. Since replayed in the Wild West ( The Magnificent Seven ), in space ( Battle Beyond the Stars ) and even with animated insects ( A Bug’s Life ), the original still reigns supreme.— Ian Freer
8. In the Mood for Love (2000)
Can a film really be an instant classic? Anyone who watched In The Mood for Love when it was released in 2000 may have said yes. The second this love story opens, you sense you are in the hands of a master. Wong Kar-wai guides us through the narrow streets and stairs of ’60s Hong Kong and into the lives of two neighbors (Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung) who discover their spouses are having an affair. As they imagine—and partly reenact—how their partners might be behaving, they fall for each other while remaining determined to respect their wedding vows. Loaded with longing, the film benefits from no less than three cinematographers, who together create an intense sense of intimacy, while the faultless performances shiver with sexual tension. This is cinema.— Anna Smith
9. There Will Be Blood (2007)
On the road to becoming the most significant filmmaker of the last 20 years, Paul Thomas Anderson transformed from a Scorsesian chronicler of debauched L.A. life into a hard-nosed investigator of the American confidence man. The pivotal point was There Will Be Blood , an epic about a certain kind of hustler—the oil baron and prospector. Daniel Plainview is, in the final analysis, an ultra-scary Daniel Day-Lewis who will drink your milkshake. Scored by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood (himself emerging as a major composer), Anderson’s mournful epic is the true heir to Chinatown ’s bone-deep cynicism. As Phantom Thread makes clear, Anderson hasn’t lost his sense of humor, not by a long shot. But there once was a moment when he needed to get serious, and this is it.— Joshua Rothkopf
10. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Forget The Artist—sorry Uggie—and relish instead the sheer, serotonin-enhancing verve of MGM’s glorious epitaph to cinema’s silent era. Its trio of dancers—rubber-faced (and heeled) Donald O’Connor, sparkling newcomer Debbie Reynolds and co-director and headline act Gene Kelly—are a triple threat, nailing the stellar songs, intricate and physically demanding dance routines and selling all the comic beats with consummate skill. But kudos also belongs to Betty Comden and Adolph Green, whose effervescent screenplay provides the beat for the spectacle to move to, and Jessica Hagen, whose often-overlooked turn as croaky silent star Lina Lamont is the movie’s funny-sad counterpoint. Not forgetting co-director Stanley Donen, who was always happy to let his stars take the credit but deserves an equal share for a musical that never puts a foot wrong.– Phil de Semlyen
11. Goodfellas (1990)
‘As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.’ Ray Liotta’s opening line is the crime movie equivalent of ‘Once upon a time…’, and what follows is Martin Scorsese’s version of a fairy tale – the story of a starry-eyed Brooklyn kid who realises his boyhood dream and still comes out a schnook in the end. Based on the true life of mobster Henry Hill, Goodfellas was born in the shadow of The Godfather , but as the years go on, the question of which is more influential becomes mostly a matter of generation. Certainly, the former is more easily rewatchable, owing to its breakneck pacing – its two and a half hours (and three decades) just whiz by. And for a movie about violent career criminals, it’s also strangely relatable. Where Coppola went inside the walls of organised crime’s one percent, Scorsese’s gangsters are more blue collar. And as it turns out, working for the mafia isn’t much different than any other job - you spend 30 years busting your hump to climb the ladder, only to end up face down on a bloody carpet in some tacky house in the burbs. — Matthew Singer
12. North by Northwest (1959)
There’s no other thriller as elegant, light-touched and sexy as Hitchcock’s silken caper. Cary Grant’s suavely hollow adman Roger O. Thornhill (“What does the O. stand for?” “Nothing.”) is Don Draper with a sense of humor, which he sorely needs when he contracts a bad case of Wrong Man–itis. The set pieces, the villains, Eva Marie Saint’s femme fatale, Saul Bass’s credits, Bernard Herrmann’s musical cues—somehow the film manages to be even more than the sum of its glorious parts. Oh, and somewhere in there, Thornhill even manages to find his soul.— Phil de Semlyen
13. Mulholland Drive (2001)
Not many movies are known equally for a genuinely erotic lesbian sex scene and a heart-stopping jump scare involving some kind of terrifying trash witch. Then again, this is David Lynch we’re talking about: the man’s entire career is dedicated to doing things most other filmmakers wouldn’t even consider. But Mulholland Drive is where the phrase ‘Lynchian’ earned its definition. What appears, at first, to be a relatively straightforward noir about a gorgeous amnesiac (Laura Harring) trying to piece together the mystery of her own identity plunges, in its third act, into a hallucinatory dream world, effectively undoing everything that came before. The hairpin turn frustrated some critics, who apparently anticipated a movie that would explain itself in the end. Fans knew better – and for those willing to accept the movie as an experience, rather than a riddle to be solved, it’s a gift that reveals new pleasures (and nightmares) with each viewing. — Matthew Singer
14. Bicycle Thieves (1948)
Vittorio de Sica’s Neorealist masterpiece is set in a world where owning a bicycle is the key to working, but it could just as easily be set in one where the absence of car, or affordable childcare, or a home, or a social security number are insurmountable barriers in the constant slog to put food on the table. That’s what makes simultaneously it a film for postwar Italy and modern-day anywhere-at-all. That’s what makes it such a powerful, enduring landmark in humanist cinema. You can feel it in virtually every social drama you care to mention, from Ken Loach to Kelly Reichardt. — Phil de Semlyen
15. The Dark Knight (2008)
There’s a new Batman in Gotham, in the shadowy form of Matt Reeves’s The Batman – and this is the bar it has to clear. The middle entry in Christopher Nolan’s Bat-trilogy is an almost flawless case study of how to do a sophisticated superhero epic for modern audiences – and the ‘almost’ is only because the final act refreshingly tries to cram in almost too many ideas, much moral arithmetic. Heath Ledger’s Joker, meanwhile, redefines big-screen villainy: It’s not enough to be sinister, you need a party trick now too.— Phil de Semlyen
16. City Lights (1931)
Charlie Chaplin’s total vision remains awe-inspiring: He wrote, directed, produced, edited and starred in his own movies, which he also scored with an orchestra. And when those cameras were rolling, they captured a self-made icon with a global audience. Still, City Lights was something else. Chaplin, reluctant to give up the visual techniques he’d mastered, insisted on making his new comedy a silent film even as viewers were growing thirsty for sound. As ever, the star had the last laugh: Not only was the film a huge commercial success, it also ended on the most heartbreaking close-up in cinema history—the peak of the reaction shot (since cribbed by movies from La Strada to The Purple Rose of Cairo ), no dialogue required.— Joshua Rothkopf
17. Grand Illusion (1937)
There’s never a bad time to revisit one of Jean Renoir’s great masterpieces (along with The Rules of the Game ), but this current era of populists, nationalists and shouty rabble-rousers feels like a particularly good one. Set in a German POW camp during WWI, the film lays bare the fault lines of class and nationality among a group of French prisoners and their German captors and comes to the conclusion that all that really matters is man’s nobility toward his fellow man.— Phil de Semlyen
18. His Girl Friday (1940)
Calling this one the peak of screwball comedy may be too limiting: Among the many topflight movies directed by journeyman filmmaker Howard Hawks, His Girl Friday is his most romantic and most verbose (the constant banter feels like foreplay). Though the laconic Hawks would downplay his own proto-feminism throughout his life, the film is also his most liberated; strong women who had jobs and ran with newshounds were simply what he wanted to see. Most wonderfully, this comedy best celebrates the rule of wit: He—or, more often, she —with the sharpest tongue wins. If you love words, you’ll love this movie.— Joshua Rothkopf
19. The Red Shoes (1948)
You could stick nearly every Powell and Pressburger film on this list; such was the dynamic duo’s stellar output. But for our money—and that of superfan Martin Scorsese—this dazzling ballet-set romance is first among equals. It's a perfect expression of artists’ drive to create, set in a lush Technicolor world shot by the great Jack Cardiff. Scorsese describes it as “the movie that plays in my heart.” We’ll take two seats at the back.— Phil de Semlyen
20. Vertigo (1958)
A sexy Freudian mind-bender that’s often considered Alfred Hitchcock’s finest triumph, Vertigo is pitched in a world of existential obsession and cunning doubles. Shape-shifting her way through Edith Head’s transformational costumes, Kim Novak haunts in two roles: Madeleine Elster and Judy Barton, both objects of desire for James Stewart’s curious ex-cop. Completing this vivid psychodrama is Bernard Herrmann’s alarmingly duplicitous score, which twists its way to a towering finale.— Tomris Laffly
21. Beau Travail (1999)
Increasingly a giant of world cinema, France’s Claire Denis continues to confound expectations, making movies in sync with her own offbeat rhythms and thematic preoccupations (colonialism, power, repressed attraction). This one, her celebrated breakout, is something of a spin on Herman Melville’s Billy Budd —but that’s like calling Jaws something of a spin on Moby-Dick . The genius is in Denis’s technique, manifesting itself in images of shattering emotional precision: sinewy silhouettes of soldiers, abstract tests of will in the desert and, most ravishingly, the euphoria of breaking into dance, courtesy of a loose-limbed Denis Lavant and Corona’s ‘Rhythm of the Night’.— Joshua Rothkopf
22. The Searchers (1956)
Showing some personal growth as well as filmmaking craft, John Ford makes some amends for his appearance in DW Griffith’s virulently racist The Birth of a Nation with this landmark western. It’s a story of hatred slowing giving way to compassion that strips away the toxic myths of the old frontier via the swaggering but broken-down figure of Ethan Edwards (John Wayne). Edwards is no white-hatted Shane type, but an embittered war veteran who hunts his own niece (Natalie Wood) with the intention of killing her for the crime of have been assimilated with the Comanche. The shot of Edwards framed in that doorway is one of the most famous – and most mimicked – in cinema .— Phil de Semlyen
23. Persona (1966)
Back when David Lynch was still saving up money to buy his first camera, Ingmar Bergman was figuring out how to transmit the vagaries of the subconscious mind to the screen. Persona is a nightmare in the dreamiest and most confounding sense. In terms of plot, it involves two women, one an actress suffering from an unknown affliction (Liv Ullmann), the other her live-in nurse (Bibi Andersson), who retreat to an isolated seaside cabin in order to treat the latter’s disorder and who possibly, maybe start fusing into the same person. But whatever linear narrative exists is consistently upended by seemingly random images – a dead lamb, a crucifixion, a flash of a sudden erect penis – and meta-cinematic references, including a shot of cinematographer Sven Nykvist filming the movie itself. Critics have been dissecting its meaning ever since. But Persona doesn’t exist simply as a challenge to film scholars. If you give up any hope of literal understanding and give yourself over to it, you’ll experience a sense of unease few movies before, and hardly since, have managed to achieve. — Matthew Singer
24. Do the Right Thing (1989)
Spike Lee’s bitterly funny, ultimately tragic fresco of a Brooklyn neighborhood during one sweltering summer day was hugely controversial at the time: Critics dinged Lee for his depiction of an uprising in the wake of a police killing. The movie has lost none of its relevance or power; if anything, it’s gained some. But the filmmaking is what makes this a classic, particularly the energy, wit and style with which Lee presents this microcosm and the social forces at play inside it.— Bilge Ebiri
25. Rashomon (1950)
It’s no exaggeration to say that Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon redefined cinematic storytelling. With its shifting, unreliable narrative structure—in which four people give differing accounts of a murder—the film is remarkably daring and serves as a reminder of how form itself can beguile us. Flashbacks have never been so thrillingly deployed; nearly 70 years after its release, filmmakers are still trying to catch up to its achievements.— Abbey Bender
26. The Rules of the Game (1939)
Jean Renoir cemented his virtuosity with this pitch-perfect study of social-strata eruptions among the ditzy, idle rich, about to be blown sideways by WWII. Affairs among aristocrats and servants alike bloom during a weeklong hunting trip at a country manor, where the only crime is to trade frivolity with sincerity. Renoir captures his sparklingly astute ensemble cast with fluid, deep-focus camera movements, innovations that inspired directors from Orson Welles to Robert Altman.— Stephen Garre tt
27. Jaws (1975)
Steven Spielberg’s immortal blockbuster doesn’t need political prescience to stay relevant: it’s a movie about a big-ass shark eating people. Thanks in large part to the film itself, that’s one irrational fear the public is never letting go of. Over the last two years, though, whenever some elected official has argued against mask mandates and said it’s time to reopen schools, it’s been hard not to think about Mayor Vaughn in his goofy anchor-print suit telling the citizens of Amity Island that it’s safe to go back in the water. And that element – along with the masterful pacing, the get-you-every-time jump scares and that banger of a third act – is what really makes Jaws forever frightening: sharks are scary, but greed and incompetence are far more likely to get you. — Matthew Singer
28. Double Indemnity (1944)
The deliciously dark, stylish genre of film noir simply wouldn’t exist without Double Indemnity . This one truly has it all: flashbacks, murder, shadows and cigarettes galore, and, of course, a devious femme fatale (Barbara Stanwyck). As one of the great directors of Hollywood’s golden age, Billy Wilder excelled across a variety of cinematic types, but this hard-boiled gem is his most influential work.— Abbey Bender
29. The 400 Blows (1959)
The first in a five-film autobiographical series, Francois Truffaut’s The 400 Blows is the story of Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud)—stuck in an unhappy home life but finding solace in goofing off, smoking and hanging with his friends—and it’s cinema’s greatest evocation of a troubled childhood. Plus, it’s the perfect primer to get kids into subtitled movies.— Ian Freer
30. Star Wars (1977)
Popcorn pictures hit hyperdrive after George Lucas unveiled his intergalactic Western, an intoxicating gee-whiz space opera with dollops of Joseph Campbell–style mythologizing that obliterated the moral complexities of 1970s Hollywood. This postmodern movie-brat pastiche references a virtual syllabus of genre classics, from Metropolis and Triumph of the Will to Kurosawa’s samurai actioners, Flash Gordon serials and WWII thrillers like The Dam Busters . Luke Skywalker’s quest to rescue a princess instantly elevated B-movie bliss to billion-dollar-franchise sagas.— Stephen Garrett
31. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
Carl Theodor Dreyer’s classic tale of the trial of Joan of Arc is somehow both austere and maximalist. The director shows restraint with setting and scope; the film focuses largely on the back-and-forth between Joan and her inquisitors. But the intense close-ups give free reign to Maria Falconetti’s marvelously expressive turn as the doomed Maid of Orleans. Made at the close of the silent era, it set new standards in screen acting.— Bilge Ebiri
32. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
The ultimate cult film, Leone’s spaghetti Western is set in a civilizing America—though mostly shot in Rome and Spain—but the real location is an abstract frontier of old versus new, of larger-than-life heroes fading into memory. It’s a triumph of buried political commentary and purest epic cinema. Henry Fonda’s icy stare, composer Ennio Morricone’s twangy guitars of doom and the monumental Charles Bronson as the last gunfighter (“an ancient race…”) are just three reasons of a million to saddle up .— Joshua Rothkopf
33. Alien (1979)
If all it did was to launch a franchise centered on Sigourney Weaver’s fierce survivor (still among the toughest action heroines of cinema), Ridley Scott’s claustrophobic, deliberately paced sci-fi-horror classic would still be cemented in the film canon. But Alien claims masterpiece status with its subversive gender politics (this is a movie that impregnates men), its shocking chestburster centerpiece and industrial designer H.R. Giger’s strangely elegant double-jawed creature, a nightmarish vision of hostility—and one of cinema’s most unforgettable pieces of pure craft.— Tomris Laffly
34. Tokyo Story (1951)
Simply spun, Yasujiro Ozu’s domestic drama is small but perfectly formed. Chishu Ryu and Chieko Higashiyama are dignified and moving as parents who visit their children and grandchildren, only to be neglected. Delicately played, beautifully shot (often with the camera hovering just off the ground), Ozu’s masterpiece is the family movie given grandeur and intimacy. If you loved last year’s Shoplifters , you’ll love this.— Ian Freer
35. Pulp Fiction (1994)
Like Nirvana and The Sopranos in their respective mediums, Quentin Tarantino’s second feature arrived in the waning years of the 20th century and felt, at once, like a culmination of cinema’s first hundred or so years and an explosion of everything we thought we knew about film. A gangster flick where the gangsters chat about cheeseburgers and enter twist contests at kitschy diners? Where the narrative is like a smashed jigsaw puzzle put back together out of order? With the guy from Look Who’s Talking starring as a slick-talking, suit-wearing hitman? That’s a movie that can make money, win Oscars and spin off so many imitators it’s practically a genre unto itself? Turns out, it could; it just took an over-caffeinated ex-video store clerk with the right amount of irrational confidence to make it happen. The end result is a film preserved in an amber of eternal cool – when the aliens come pick over the remains of our decimated planet and discover a VHS copy among the rubble, they’ll agree that John Travolta was the perfect casting choice, Samuel L Jackson is the baddest motherfucker on the planet and the true contents of the briefcase really don’t matter. —Matthew Singer
36. The Truman Show (1998)
The late ’90s spawned two prescient satires of reality TV, back when it was still in its pre-epidemic phase: the underrated EDtv and, this, Peter Weir’s profound statement on the way the media has its claws in us. In some ways a kinder, gentler version of Network , The Truman Show is a TV parable in which a meek hero (Jim Carrey) wins back his life. It can also be considered an angrier film, slamming both the controlling TV networks (represented by Ed Harris’s messiahlike Christof) and us, the viewing public, for making a game show of other people’s lives.— Phil de Semlyen
37. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Notions of masculinity, conflicted sexuality and tribal identity (or lack of it) boil beneath the surface of David Lean’s historical epic like magma. They seeps through the cracks of its depiction of iconoclastic Edwardian nomad and Arab leader T E Lawrence (Peter O’Toole), locating its huge set pieces within the megalomaniac compass of its hero and lending depth to its intimate moments when the cost of all is laid bare. Amid its sweeping Arabian landscapes, famously captured by cinematographer Freddie Young’s cameras, it’s the interior landscape of Lawrence himself that this great biopic maps out so memorably.— Phil de Semlyen
38. Psycho (1960)
Alfred Hitchcock had made a few scary movies earlier in his career, but Psycho was something completely different – not just for his personal oeuvre, or the horror genre, but movies in general. Shoot, some have even argued that it changed society as a whole. That discussion can fill a book – and it has – but for the purposes of this list, its contributions to cinema more than suffice. May we count the ways? It invented the modern slasher flick. It anticipated the moral ambiguity that would become de rigueur in the New Hollywood of the ‘70s. It upturned the established rules of narrative, killing off the supposed heroine midway through, in unprecedentedly shocking fashion. It also showed a toilet in use for the first time. Sure, there are other filmmakers who can claim to have covered some of that ground first; Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom , in fact, arrived a few months earlier and hit on many of the same themes. The difference with Hitch is he knew how to transmit new ideas to the widest possible audience. He didn’t just break the rules – he rewrote the manual. And horror directors are still reading from it today. — Matthew Singer
39. Sansho the Bailiff (1954)
Japanese cinema has produced no shortage of heavy hitters, but director Kenji Mizoguchi may deserve prime of place. He was able to turn out impeccable ghost stories ( Ugetsu ) and backstage dramas ( The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums ), but his greatest trait was a deep, unshakable empathy for women, beaten down by the patriarchy but heartbreaking in their suffering. These women are central to Sansho the Bailiff , a feudal tale of familial dissolution that will wreck you. Make no apologies for your tears; everyone else will be crying, too.— Joshua Rothkopf
40. Andrei Rublev (1966)
Mournful, challenging and mesmerizing, Soviet director Andrei Tarkovsky’s epic portrait of the life and times of one of Russia’s most famous medieval icon painters foregrounds qualities such as landscape and mood over story and character. Ultimately, it’s the tale of a man’s attempt to overcome his crisis of faith in a world that seems to have an endless supply of violence and strife—and it’s a remarkable testament to the persistence of artists working under oppressive regimes.— Bilge Ebiri
41. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
The melancholy of Michel Legrand’s glorious score washes over viewers’ hearts from the first moment of Jacques Demy’s nontraditional, sung-through musical. One of the most romantic films ever made about the pains and purity of first love, the immaculately styled The Umbrellas of Cherbourg challenged the lighter Hollywood musicals of the era (like The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady ) and launched the sensational Catherine Deneuve into international stardom. Later, it would be a major influence on La La Land. — Tomris Laffly
42. Chinatown (1974)
Director Roman Polanski and screenwriter Robert Towne took a modestly sleazy noir setup and turned it into a meditation on the horrors of American history and rapacious capitalism. The film also sports a perfect cast, with a top-of-his-game Jack Nicholson as a cynical private eye, an impossibly alluring Faye Dunaway as the femme fatale with a past so dark her final revelation still shocks, and the legendary John Huston as the monstrous millionaire at the heart of it all.— Bilge Ebiri
43. The Seventh Seal (1957)
Not just any film gets homaged by Bill and Ted. But Ingmar Bergman’s great treatise on mortality isn’t just any film. Despite becoming somehow synonymous with “difficult art-house statement,” it’s not all weighty themes, plague-strewn landscapes and chess games with the Grim Reaper. As Max von Sydow’s medieval knight travels the land witnessing the apocalypse, loads of life-affirming moments lighten the load. Of course, it’s a work of profound philosophical thought, too, so you’ll feel brainier for having seen it.— Phil de Semlyen
44. Lost in Translation (2003)
Worlds collide in Sofia Coppola's pitch-perfect tale of a movie star (Bill Murray) and a newlywed (Scarlett Johansson) in Tokyo. Coppola approaches each of her characters with a warmth and sensitivity that exudes from the screen—and ensures that “Brass in Pocket” will remain a karaoke favorite around the world (pink wig optional). Why has the film endured so vividly in viewers’ hearts? Maybe because it captures those gloriously melancholic moments we’ve all experienced that seem to be gone in a flash, yet linger forever.— Anna Smith
45. Taxi Driver (1976)
A time capsule of a vanished New York and a portrait of twisted masculinity that still stings, Taxi Driver stands at the peak of the vital, gritty auteur-driven filmmaking that defined 1970s New Hollywood. Martin Scorsese’s vision of vigilantism is filled with an uncomfortable ambience, and Paul Schrader’s screenplay probes philosophical depths that are brought to vicious life by Robert De Niro’s unforgettable performance.— Abbey Bender
46. Spirited Away (2001)
The jewel in Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli’s crown, Spirited Away is a glorious bedtime story filled with soot sprites, monsters and phantasms—it’s a movie with the power to coax out the inner child in the most grown-up and jaded among us. A spin on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (with the same invitation to follow your imagination), Spirited Away has been ushering audiences into its dream world for almost two decades and seems only to grow in stature each year, a tribute to its hand-drawn artistry. Trivia time: It remains Japan’s highest-grossing film ever, just ahead of Titanic .— Anna Smith
47. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The first no-budget horror movie to become a bona-fide calling card for its director, George A. Romero’s seminal frightfest begins with a single zombie in a graveyard and builds to an undead army attacking a secluded house. Most modern horror clichés start here. But nothing betters it for style, mordant wit, racial and political undertow, and scaring the bejesus out of you, all some 50 years before Us .— Ian Freer
48. Battleship Potemkin (1925)
This rousing Russian silent film was conceived in the heat of Soviet propaganda and commissioned by the still-young Communist government to salute an event from 20 years earlier. It tells of a sailors’ revolt that morphs into a full-blown workers’ uprising in the city of Odessa; the movie is most famous for one breathtaking sequence—much copied and parodied since—of a baby carriage tumbling down a huge flight of steps. But Battleship Potemkin is full of powerful images and heady ideas, and director Sergei Eisenstein is rightly considered one of the pioneers of early film language, with his influence felt through the decades.— Dave Calhoun
49. Modern Times (1936)
The only Charlie Chaplin movie to see the Little Tramp go on a massive cocaine binge, this relentlessly inventive silent classic hardly needs the added kick. The gags come almost as fast as you can process them, with the typically pinpoint Chaplin slapstick conjured here from scenarios that seem purpose-built to end in disaster. The sight of Chaplin literally feeding himself into a massive machine offers a still-germane satire on technological advancement.— Phil de Semlyen
50. Breathless (1960)
Film critic Jean-Luc Godard’s seismic directing debut is a bravado deconstruction of the gangster picture that also reinvented moviemaking itself. It features Cubistic jump cuts, restless handheld camerawork, location shoots, eccentric pacing (the 24-minute centerpiece is two lovers talking in a bedroom), and self-conscious asides about painting, poetry, pop culture, literature and film. A sexy fling between petty thief Jean-Paul Belmondo and Sorbonne-bound gamine Jean Seberg morphs into an oddly touching, existential meditation. It’s pulp fiction, but alchemically profound.— Stephen Garrett
51. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
So much of Stanley Kubrick’s genius was conceptual, and this one asks his most audacious question: What if the world came to an end—and it was hilarious? Nuclear annihilation was a subject in which Kubrick immersed himself, reading virtually every unclassified text. His conclusion was grim: There would be no winning. Via darkest comedy (the only way into the subject) and an unhinged Peter Sellers playing three separate parts, Kubrick made his point.— Joshua Rothkopf
52. M (1931)
One of those epochal films—there’s only a handful—that sits on the divide between silent cinema and the sound era but taps into the virtues of both, Fritz Lang’s serial-killer thriller burns with deep-etched visual darkness while perking ears with its whistled “In the Hall of the Mountain King” (performed by a purse-lipped Lang himself; his star, Peter Lorre, couldn’t whistle). The movie’s theme is vigilance: We must protect our children, but who will protect society from itself? M is like a sonar listening to a pre-Nazi Germany on the cusp of shedding its humanity.— Joshua Rothkopf
53. Blade Runner (1982)
Set in (eek!) 2019, Ridley Scott’s vision of a dystopian future is one of the most stylish sci-fi films of all time. With a noir-inspired aesthetic and a haunting synth score by Vangelis (a massive influence on Prince), Blade Runner is iconic not just for its era-defining look, but also for its deeper philosophical examination of what it means to be human. Many have tried to imitate the film’s uncanny vibe, but these rain-slicked streets and seedy vistas possess a singular menace.— Abbey Bender
54. The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
The creative fecundity of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, dead from an overdose at age 37 after completing more than 40 features, deserves enshrinement by a new generation. This film is arguably his sharpest and most psychologically complex; inarguably, it’s his bitchiest. There is so much to love in Fassbinder’s shag-carpeted showdown, which goes beyond the spectacle of two dueling fashionistas into a profound exploration of aging and obsolescence.— Joshua Rothkopf
55. Rome, Open City (1945)
Few film movements can boast the hit rate of Italian neorealism, a post-WWII wave dedicated to working-class struggle that seems to comprise only masterpieces. Robert Rossellini was responsible for a few of them, including Germany Year Zero and this earlier drama of repression and resistance, which boasts not one but two of the most memorable death scenes in all of cinema.— Phil de Semlyen
56. Nosferatu (1922)
Brace for the land of phantoms and the call of the Bird of Death: One of the earliest (though unauthorized) adaptations of Dracula is still the most terrifying. Max Schreck’s insectlike performance as the bloodthirsty Count Orlok is just as transfixing and repulsive as it was almost a century ago. German Expressionist director F.W. Murnau’s haunting images of a crepuscular world set the chilling standard for generations of cinematic nightmares.— Stephen Garrett
57. Airplane! (1980)
Should a movie whose primary function is to make fun of other movies be allowed inclusion on a list of the greatest movies of all time? When it’s as deliriously anarchic, sublimely silly and just plain hilarious as Airplane! , well, surely it should. In their first true feature, directors David and Jerry Zucker, along with partner Jim Abrahams, take aim at the disaster movies that were all the rage at the multiplex in the 1970s, and machine-gun jokes at the screen at such a pace that it requires multiple screenings just to catch them all. The context of the spoof is somewhat lost to time, and its progeny isn’t exactly illustrious – although the first Naked Gun is a classic in its own right – but that’s only helped the movie stand on its own as a truly transcendent laugh riot. — Matthew Singer
58. Under the Skin (2013)
Hypnotic, bewitching, thought-provoking, disturbing, horrifying: However you react to it, you won't forget Jonathan Glazer's startling adaptation of Michel Faber's woman-who-fell-to-earth novel. Using her celebrity in a radical way, Scarlett Johansson is perfectly cast as an alien in human form who roams Glasgow trying to pick up men in her van. It was shot guerrilla-style on the streets of the Scottish city, so look out for the footage of genuinely baffled passersby.— Anna Smith
59. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Both a sequel and a reboot, the fourth entry in director George Miller’s series of post-apocalyptic gearhead epics fuses death-defying stunts with modern special effects to give us one of the all-time-great action movies. This one is a nonstop barrage of chases, each more spectacularly elaborate and nightmarish than the last—but it’s all combined with Miller’s surreal, poetic sensibility, which sends it into the realm of art.— Bilge Ebiri
60. Apocalypse Now (1979)
Francis Ford Coppola’s evergreen Vietnam War classic proves war is swell, as assassin Martin Sheen heads upriver to kill renegade colonel Marlon Brando. En route, there’s surfing, a thrilling helicopter raid, napalm smelling, tigers and Playboy bunnies, until Sheen steps off the boat and into a different zone of madness—or is it genius? Who knows at this point?— Ian Freer
61. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Forget what the Oscars crowned as the Best Picture of 2005: Ang Lee’s tragic gay romance is the nominee that stands the test of time. Anchored by Rodrigo Prieto’s swoonworthy cinematography and a wistful Heath Ledger (whose performance toppled societal perceptions of masculinity), Brokeback Mountain is a milestone in LGBTQ art-house cinema. It reimagined the Western genre and became a part of the zeitgeist.— Tomris Laffly
62. Duck Soup (1933)
Biting political satires don't have to be long and complicated: This 68-minute masterpiece is perfectly pithy, exposing the absurdities of international politics with swift wit and spot-on slapstick. Often regarded as the funniest of the Marx Brothers’ oeuvre, the film is also—sadly—timeless, as its portrayal of a war-mongering dictatorship remains relevant to this day.— Anna Smith
63. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
In 1997, a group of no-name actors went into the Maryland backwoods with some handheld cameras, a loose script and a budget that wouldn’t cover the catering on most of the other films on this list, and emerged with a blockbuster. Perhaps no movie in history has ever achieved more with less than Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’s atmospheric horror classic. For years, though, The Blair Witch Project was discussed as a triumph of marketing more than anything else. It was pushed by an ad campaign that played coy with the veracity of the allegedly ‘found footage’: did an amateur documentary crew really disappear in the woods while investigating a local myth? Sheer curiosity drove audiences to theatres en masse – and it wasn’t uncommon to leave a screening and overhear confused grumbling in the lobby. Twenty-plus years and an oversaturation of lesser imitators later, it’s easier to appreciate Blair Witch as a master class of low-budget cinema. Honestly, if there’s a scarier scene in the last two decades than when those children’s hands imprint on the crew’s tent in the middle of night, it surely cost a hell of a lot more to make.
64. All the President’s Men (1976)
Many movies have been made depicting journalism as it happens. Vanishingly few get the process right, and even fewer manage to convey the obsessiveness, the anxious frustration and the exhilaration of chasing a big story. Alan J Pakula’s movie about two reporters chasing the biggest story in American political history nails every beat. The achievement is especially remarkable considering that, at the time, the story could barely even be considered history: Nixon had resigned from office not even two years prior. But that nearness lends the film a living energy that would’ve dulled with additional hindsight. Even with its unspoilable ending, Pakula and screenwriter William Goldman still managed to build an uncommonly nervy thriller that never digresses from the central narrative. No, you won’t get much of an idea of who Woodward and Bernstein (played with typical ’70s naturalism by Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford) are apart from their work. Instead, you just see the work – and in this case, that’s more than enough. —Matthew Singer
65. The Apu trilogy (1955, 1956, 1959)
We’re cheating by including all three films ( Pather Panchali , Aparajito and The World of Apu ), but really, how do you separate the installments of Satyajit Ray’s magnificent coming-of-age trilogy? The Bengali great follows young Apu (Apurba Kumar Roy) from boyhood to adult life via schooling and a move from his remote village to the big city, as well as loves and losses. Some of the most intimate Indian cinema ever captured, it’s also completely relatable, whether you hail from Kolkata, Kansas or Camden Town.— Phil de Semlyen
66. The General (1926)
Boy meets train. Boy loses train. Boy chases Union forces who stole train, wins back train and fires off in the opposite direction. It may not sound like your average love story, but that’s exactly what Buster Keaton’s deadpan and death-defying silent comedy is: a majestic demonstration of trick photography, balletic courage and comic timing, all underpinned by genuine heart. Trust us, it’s loco-motional.— Phil de Semlyen
67. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
There are countless movies about romantic relationships, yet few explore the subject more creatively than Michel Gondry’s breakthrough, scripted by Charlie Kaufman (who was then becoming a household name with Being John Malkovich and Adaptation ). The sci-fi–inflected tale of two halves of a broken-up couple going through a memory-erasing procedure takes many surprising, poignant turns; the film’s impeccably executed combination of authentically quirky imagery and philosophical inquiry has become a signpost of modern independent cinema.— Abbey Bender
68. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
The title is still a killer piece of marketing, suggesting something much gorier than what you get. That’s not to say Tobe Hooper’s masterpiece doesn’t deliver. A grungy vision of horror captured during a palpably sweaty and stenchy Texas summer, the film has taken its rightful place as a definitive parable of Nixonian class warfare, eat-or-be-eaten social envy and the essentially unknowable nature of some unlucky parts of the world.— Joshua Rothkopf
69. Come and See (1985)
As unsparing as cinema gets, the influence of Elem Klimov’s sui generis war movie transcends the genre in a way that not even Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan can match. At its heart it’s a coming-of-age story that follows a young Belarusian boy (Aleksei Kravchenko) through unspeakable horror as Nazi death squads visit an apocalypse on his region. Alongside its historical truths, the film’s grammar and visual language—there are passages that play like an ultra-violent acid trip—are what truly elevates it. Like an Hieronymus Bosch masterpiece, the images here can never be unseen.— Phil de Semlyen
70. Heat (1995)
Writer-director Michael Mann’s heist masterpiece put two of our greatest actors, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, together onscreen for the first time—one as a stoic master criminal, the other as the obsessive cop determined to bring him down. In weaving their stories together, Mann presents dueling but equally weighted perspectives, with our allegiance as viewers constantly shifting. The last word on cops-and-robbers movies, it’s suffused with a magic that crime thrillers try to recapture to this day.— Bilge Ebiri
71. The Shining (1980)
Our list doesn’t lack for Stanley Kubrick movies (nor should it). Still, it’s shocking to remember that The Shining —so redolent of the director’s pet themes of mazelike obsession and the banality of evil—was once considered a minor work. It’s since come to represent the most concentrated blast of Kubrick’s total command; he’s the god of the film, Steadicam-ing around corners and making the audience notice that he was born to redefine horror. Even if we can’t roll with the crackpot fan theories about how Kubrick allegedly faked the Apollo moon landing, we’ll readily admit that this film contains cosmic multitudes.— Joshua Rothkopf
72. Toy Story (1995)
The one that got Pixar’s (Luxo) ball rolling and still an absolute high-water mark for CG animation, Toy Story reinvented what a family movie could be. On the surface, it’s a simple story about a couple of miniature rivals sizing each other up (Woody was originally going to be a whole mess meaner), before falling into peril at the hands of next-door pyrotechnics genius Sid. But it’s also about jealousy, power dynamics and our relationships with our own childhoods. With it, Pixar took storytelling to infinity and far, far beyond.— Phil de Semlyen
73. Killer of Sheep (1977)
Shot on 16-millimeter film in sketchy light, Charles Burnett’s UCLA graduate thesis film stitches together seemingly mundane vignettes to form a compelling mosaic of late-’70s African-American life. A landmark of independent black cinema, it’s set to a great soundtrack ranging from blues and classical to Paul Robeson. Poetic, compassionate, angry, ironic: All human life is present here.— Ian Freer
74. A Woman Under the Influence (1974)
There’s a tendency in these greatest-of-all-time exercises to prioritize the director, the camerawork or the screenplay. But respect must be paid to the performer, too: In a decade of brilliant acting, no turn was quite as galvanizing as the one given by Gena Rowlands in this stunning peek into a fraying mind. A fluky Los Angeles housewife and mother who’s constantly being told to calm down, Rowlands’s Mabel is the apotheosis of John Cassavetes’s improvisatory cinema; our concern for her never flags as she teeters through excruciating scenes of breakdown and regrouping.— Joshua Rothkopf
75. Annie Hall (1977)
Quotable, endearing and bursting with creative moments, Annie Hall is one of the most revolutionary of romantic comedies. This quintessential New York movie turned countless viewers on to the joys of verbose dialogue (and experimentation in menswear for women), and has long been lauded for both its accessibility and its poignancy, a balance that few movies have since achieved so memorably.— Abbey Bender
76. Some Like It Hot (1959)
Clocking it at number 15 on our list of the 100 Greatest Comedies Ever Made , Billy Wilder’s classic gangster farce plays like Scarface on helium. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon make one of cinema’s most delightful double acts as a couple of musicians on the run from the Mob, but Marilyn Monroe steals the picture as the coquettish, breathy and entirely loveable Sugar. Nobody’s perfect but this movie gets pretty darn close. — Phil de Semlyen
77. Metropolis (1927)
Hugely expensive for its time, Metropolis is Blade Runner , The Terminator and Star Wars all rolled into one (not to mention 50 years prior). Fritz Lang’s silent vision of a totalitarian society still astounds through its stunning cityscapes, groundbreaking special effects and a bewitchingly evil robot (Brigitte Helm). It’s science fiction at its most ambitious and breathtaking—the not-so-modest beginnings of onscreen genre seriousness.— Ian Freer
78. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
The accepted wisdom is that the noir era really kicked off during the hard-bitten post-WWII years, which makes John Huston’s adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's detective novel a real trailblazer. It’s a template for the swathe of noir flicks that would follow, offering up a jaded-but-noble gumshoe in Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade, a femme fatale (Mary Astor), a couple of shifty villains (Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre) and a labyrinthine plot that drags you around by the nose. If the movie were any more hard-boiled, you’d crack your teeth on it.— Phil de Semlyen
79. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Exploding drummers, amps that go to 11, tiny Stonehenges, “Dobly”: This spoof rock documentary—rockumentary, if you must—is monumentally influential on cinema, cringe comedy and, possibly, the music industry itself. (There’s not a band out there without at least one Spinal Tap moment to its name.) Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer are comic royalty, and we can only genuflect in their presence; shortly after this film, Guest kicked off his own directorial brand of humor, directly inspired by Rob Reiner’s heavy-metal satire.— Phil de Semlyen
80. It Happened One Night (1934)
If only Hollywood made ’em like they used to: crackling romantic comedies that conquered the Oscars. Frank Capra’s hilarious hate-at-first-sight love story is still one of the fastest movies ever made. Claudette Colbert’s spoiled heiress and Clark Gable’s opportunistic reporter hit the road and bicker their way toward a happily-ever-after ending, class barriers be damned. Not only did this smart and suggestively sexy pre-Code screwball shape every rom-com that followed, it still has a leg up on most of them.— Tomris Laffly
81. Die Hard (1988)
Let’s get this out of the way: Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Deal with it. Another, less controversial statement about John McTiernan’s blockbuster: it’s the platonic ideal of an action movie, and Bruce Willis as wiseass New York cop John McClane is the coolest action hero of all-time. The sequels would stretch the limits of his charisma by getting bigger and stupider, but the original hits the perfect amount of big and brash, as McClane attempts to thwart the plans of a European terrorist group that’s seized an LA high-rise and taken his wife hostage. But the truest reason Die Hard succeeds to the degree it does – aside from the cracking dialogue, spectacular stunts and small details, i.e. McClane being forced to fight a bunch of terrorists in his bare foot – is that McClane has the ideal foil in Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber, who might also be the best action movie villain of all-time, an erudite pseudo-revolutionary who makes it clear that he reads Forbes and doesn’t much care for garrulous American cowboys.
82. The Conformist (1970)
In Mussolini’s Italy, a repressed homosexual (Jean-Louis Trintignant) joins the Fascist party in order to blend in and hide his true self. Part psychoanalysis session, part colorful genre fantasia, director Bernardo Bertolucci’s enormously influential drama journeys through different styles and aesthetics. As much as Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane did with the films of the ’20s, ’30s, and early ’40s, The Conformist offers a powerful compendium of cinematic techniques from the eras preceding it.— Bilge Ebiri
83. The Thing (1982)
Let John Carpenter’s real masterpiece—the one that horror mavens bow down to—take its place in the pantheon. A passion project that got clobbered by audiences and critics alike, The Thing was, in fact, that rarest of remakes: one that improves upon its source. Carpenter’s widescreen elegance and spooky synth minimalism (here furthered by composer Ennio Morricone) found a new counterpoint in some of the most disgusting practical special effects ever sprung on a paying audience. But the film’s ice-cold paranoia, uncut and pharma-grade, has been its most lasting legacy: a template of perfection for all since.— Joshua Rothkopf
84. Daughters of the Dust (1991)
Writer-director Julie Dash should have become an Ava DuVernay-level success after her poetic feature debut, an achievement of otherworldly beauty. The first film made by an African-American woman to receive theatrical distribution, Daughters of the Dust is permeated with pride, history and matriarchal wisdom. Set in 1902, it follows the Gullah, descendents of slaves living off the coast of South Carolina, who painfully reckon with their fading traditions. Singularly ahead of its time, Daughters mourns the enduring tragedy of enslavement. Its tranquil strength later found an echo in Beyoncé’s Lemonade .— Tomris Laffly
85. Barry Lyndon (1975)
Back in 1975, Stanley Kubrick’s somber adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel about a young Irishman’s journey from lovestruck exile to cynical grifter in 18th-century Europe seemed out of step with the gritty, intense output of contemporary cinema. Years later, it’s considered by many to be Kubrick’s masterpiece, and its deliberate, highly aestheticized approach has influenced everybody from Ridley Scott to Yorgos Lanthimos.— Bilge Ebiri
86. Raging Bull (1980)
Martin Scorsese’s hallucinogenic biography of the tenacious boxer Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro) is a bold mash-up of neorealist grit and hyperstylized, gossamer beauty. Put on the gloves and LaMotta is in his element; take them off and he’s an insecure sociopath consumed by sexual jealousy. De Niro’s monstrous portrayal is miraculously empathetic, but what’s truly revolutionary is Scorsese’s technique: Like a modern-day Verdi, the Italian-American auteur elevates the profane to the operatic.— Stephen Garrett
87. Seven (1995)
David Fincher is the most signature director of his era: a crafter of iconic music videos and decade-defining dramas like Zodiac and The Social Network . But his transition to Hollywood was rocky; it was a town that barely understood him. The turning point was Seven , the first time that Fincher’s fearsome vision arrived uncut. Stylistically, the dark movie (shot by an inspired Darius Khondji, working with a silver-nitrate-retention process) has proven more durable than even The Silence of the Lambs , but it’s that meme-able sucker punch of an ending that still rattles audiences.— Joshua Rothkopf
88. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)
Ever-overshadowed by the Herculean feat that was Fitzcarraldo , Werner Herzog’s other exploration of male vainglory in the remotest parts of South America applies another coolly obversational lens to the malignant madness of out-of-control obsession. It’s colder, greedier here: Klaus Kinski’s conquistador craves gold, not culture. Featuring a river journey, a haunting, synthy Popul Voh score and a bunch of taunting monkeys, it’s Herzog’s Apocalypse Now .— Phil de Semlyen
89. The Battle of Algiers (1966)
Political thrillers still owe a debt to Gillo Pontecorvo’s ever-timely tour de force. Recounting the Algerian uprising against French colonial occupiers in the 1950s, The Battle of Algiers boldly examines terrorism, racism and even torture as a means of intelligence-gathering. Screened at the Pentagon for its topical significance during the early phases of the Iraq War, Algiers has its rebellious legacy vested in numerous politically charged epics, from Z to Steven Spielberg’s Munich .— Tomris Laffly
90. No Country for Old Men (2007)
Cormac McCarthy and the Coen brothers are a match made in the most dry, desiccated and violent corner of heaven. The filmmaking duo’s fixation with choice, chance and fate reaches its apex with their adaptation of the late author’s 2005 novel – which began life as a screenplay – an existentialist neo-Western that still functions as a gripping piece of entertainment. Its premise is the stuff of bygone pulp thrillers: a hunter in a West Texas border town circa 1980 stumbles upon the aftermath of a botched drug deal in the desert, decides to take off with a satchel full of money, pursued by both a relentless hitman (Javier Bardem) and an exhausted sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones). But an almost otherworldly sense of mystery hangs over the entire film, while Roger Deakins’ cinematography makes its dusty trailer towns feel like the edge of the Earth. It’s the Coens’ most frightening movie, owing to Bardem’s bravura turn as Anton Chigurh, a psychopath on the level of Jason Voorhees, with a pageboy haircut in place of a hockey mask and a cattle gun as his weapon of choice. It’s one of the great villain performances of all time. — Matthew Singer
91. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)
Pedro Almodóvar broke into the mainstream with this gloriously colorful ensemble comedy, an entry point for many into a style of smart, sexually liberated European cinema. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown offers juicy roles for a range of Spain’s finest female actors (plus a charmingly baby-faced Antonio Banderas) and consistently delights with its creative choices in costuming and interior design. The combination of screwball dynamics and the garishness of the 1980s is perfectly calibrated and fun.— Abbey Bender
92. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
Movies have always been a gateway into radical art; Hollywood may have made them sleek and accessible, but experimentation was there from the start. Luis Buñuel counts among the top rank of dreamers to ever grace the field of filmmaking. Without him, there’s no David Lynch, no Wong Kar-wai—even Alfred Hitchcock was a fan. Of Buñuel’s many seismic features (don’t skip his slicin’-up-eyeballs short, “Un Chien Andalou”), begin with this radical satire of class warfare, which sums up everything he did well. It even won him an unlikely Oscar.— Joshua Rothkopf
93. Paths of Glory (1957)
An antiwar movie, a courtroom thriller, an upstairs-downstairs study of social status, a religious critique, an absurdist satire and, finally, a heartbreakingly futile plea for compassion in the face of destruction, Stanley Kubrick’s humanist masterpiece dissects all the delusional facets of the male psyche. Battlegrounds abound—psychological, emotional, physical—making the bleakly entrenched soldiers of 1916, and the officers who confuse folly for fame, still feel painfully relevant.— Stephen Garrett
94. Secrets & Lies (1996)
Actors are the lifeblood of director Mike Leigh’s famous process, a much-discussed method of workshopping, character exploration, group improvisation and collaborative writing. It can often be months before the camera rolls. The results have been consistently exquisite over the years, funneled into period musical-comedies ( Topsy-Turvy ) and brutal contemporary dramas ( Naked ) alike. We recommend Leigh’s critical breakthrough, featuring nervy turns by Brenda Blethyn and Timothy Spall, as the perfect place to begin your deep dive.— Joshua Rothkopf
95. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
This smoky, jazzy noir from director Alexander Mackendrick ( The Ladykillers ) is one of the great movies about power, influence and print journalism at its midcentury height. It’s a seedy, intoxicating tale that unfolds in Manhattan’s backroom bar booths, and it features brain-searing performances from Tony Curtis as Sidney Falco, a bottom-feeding gossip monger, and Burt Lancaster as J.J. Hunsecker, a towering, corrupt newspaper columnist. The dialogue is snappy and delicious; the morals are as empty as Times Square at dawn— Dave Calhoun
96. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
This German Expressionist masterpiece came out in 1920, a long time before the invention of the spoiler warning. We only hope that audience members instinctively knew not to give away cinema’s first ever twist ending and ruin the sting of this fractured horror-fable for their pals. Director Robert Wiene conjured up something truly dark and lingering from its shadows: You can feel Dr. Caligari ’s influence in everything from Tim Burton’s movies to Shutter Island .— Phil de Semlyen
97. Nashville (1975)
This multilayered epic of country music, politics and relationships is Robert Altman’s signature achievement. With its overlapping dialogue and roving camera, Nashville created an earthy, idiosyncratic panorama of American life, featuring many of the most memorable actors of the decade. The 1970s were U.S. cinema’s most exciting period, and Nashville —broadened by its admirable scope and freewheeling energy—is emblematic of that creativity.— Abbey Bender
98. Don’t Look Now (1973)
Nicolas Roeg influenced and inspired a generation of filmmakers, from Danny Boyle to Steven Soderbergh – and here’s why. Roeg shrouds Daphne du Maurier’s short story in an icy chill, seeding the idea of supernatural forces at play in a wintry Venice through sheer filmmaking craft and the power of his editing. He finds a deep humanity in the horror, too, with Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland’s grieving parents reconnecting and drifting apart like flotsam on some invisible tide. His masterpiece, Don’t Look Now remains a primal cry of grief that shakes you to the core.— Phil de Semlyen
99. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Arthur Penn’s game-changing action film was made in the same spirit of the revisionist Westerns of the ’60s and ’70s—irreverent, fun, morally all over the place, and unafraid of blood and bullets. The movie takes us back to the 1930s during the legendary crime spree of lovers Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty), careening around Depression-era America and robbing it blind. Why did this film resonate so well at the end of its decade? With the Vietnam War, inner-city rioting and Nixon on the rise, all bets were off. Add the swoony pair of Beatty and Dunaway, and you’ve got a classic on your hands: a revolution in period dress.— Dave Calhoun
100. Get Out (2017)
Watch this space: Jordan Peele’s newly minted horror classic is sure to rise in the rankings. Taking cues from grand master George A. Romero and his counterculture-defining Night of the Living Dead , Peele infused white liberal guilt with a scary racial subtext; the “sunken place” is precisely the kind of metaphor that only horror movies can exploit to the fullest. During its theatrical run—which stretched into a summer that also saw the white-supremacist Charlottesville rally— Get Out felt like the only movie speaking to a deepening divide.— Joshua Rothkopf
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The 100 Greatest Movies of All Time
The movies are now more than 100 years old. That still makes them a young medium, at least in art-form years (how old is the novel? the theater? the painting?). But they’re just old enough to make compiling Variety ’s first-ever list of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time a more daunting task than it once might have been. Think about it: You get an average of one film per year. A great deal of ardent discussion and debate went into the creation of this list. Our choices were winnowed from hundreds of titles submitted by more than 30 Variety critics, writers and editors. As we learned, coming up with which movies to include was the easy part. The hard part was deciding which movies to leave out.
Variety , which recently celebrated its 117th anniversary, is a publication as old as cinema. (We invented box office reporting, in addition to the words “showbiz” and “horse opera.”) And in making this list, we wanted to reflect the beautiful, head-spinning variety of the moviegoing experience. We don’t just mean different genres; we don’t just mean highbrow and lowbrow (and everything in between). The very spirit of cinema is that it has long been a landscape of spine-tingling eclecticism, and we wanted our list to reflect that — to honor the movies we love most, whatever categories they happen to fall into.
Do we want you to argue with this list? Of course we do. That’s the nature of the beast — the nature of the kind of protective passion that people feel about their favorite movies. We invited prominent filmmakers and actors to contribute essays about the movies that are significant to them, and that passion comes across in all that they wrote. No doubt you’ll say: How could that movie have been left off the list? Or this one? Or that one? Trust us: We often asked that very same question ourselves. But our hope is that in looking at the films we did choose, you’ll see a roster that reflects the impossibly wide-ranging, ever-shifting glory of what movies are.
We invite you to find out how many films from the list you’ve seen on this poll .
These film writers and critics contributed suggestions for movies: Manuel Betancourt, Clayton Davis, Peter Debruge, Matt Donnelly, William Earl, Patrick Frater, Steven Gaydos, Owen Gleiberman, Dennis Harvey, Courtney Howard, Angelique Jackson, Elsa Keslassy, Lisa Kennedy, Jessica Kiang, Richard Kuipers, Tomris Laffly, Brent Lang, Joe Leydon, Guy Lodge, Amy Nicholson, Michael Nordine, Naman Ramachandran, Manori Ravindran, Jenelle Riley, Pat Saperstein, Alissa Simon, Jazz Tangcay, Sylvia Tan, Zack Sharf, Adam B. Vary, Nick Vivarelli, Meredith Woerner.
The Graduate (1967)
Mike Nichols’ indelible comedy of alienation is that rare thing, a movie that really does define a generation. That’s because there has never been another movie like it (and no, “Rushmore” doesn’t count). Dustin Hoffman, with the halting prickly-pear neurotic charisma that would make him a star, plays a clueless college graduate who drops out without quite rebelling, and it’s that combination of hostility and passivity that elevated Hoffman into a culture hero. His Ben has an affair with Anne Bancroft’s deliriously blasé Mrs. Robinson, then stalks her daughter (Katharine Ross) to campus and breaks up her wedding by screaming like a banshee. Now that’s an original romantic comedy. One that showcases the new spirit of antisocial passion in a socially acceptable — and divinely infectious — way.
Read Variety ‘s original review of “The Graduate .” Rent or purchase the film on Prime Video.
12 Angry Men (1957)
How elemental — and riveting — is this: an entire courtroom drama set inside the jury room, where Henry Fonda, as the only member of the jury who suspects that a teenage defendant might not be guilty of murder, questions, cajoles and gradually convinces his fellow jurors to look more closely at the evidence. Sidney Lumet’s direction makes the back-and-forth dialogue so electrifying that it’s almost like music. The greatness of “12 Angry Men” is that it finds drama in discovering what America really is: a place where one man with an open mind can change the world.
Read Variety ‘s original review of “12 Angry Men,” and stream “12 Angry Men” on Prime Video.
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)
You never forget your first. That may be how many American art-house habituésthink of Pedro Almodóvar’s riotous comedy. It wasn’t his first film to get international distribution, but with its vivid palette and lush score, the movie heralds his genius and obsessions: women; their moods, hysterical and amusing; Hollywood cinema, camp, desire and, yes, spiked gazpacho. Before Penelope Cruz, Carmen Maura was for a spell the director’s muse. Here she plays a voice-over artist whose co-worker and lover is leaving her. The director gathered artists — on camera and on the set — who became his go-to company and underlined his wholly original sensibility.
Read Variety ‘s original review of “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown “. Stream the film on Prime Video.
A smothering tentacled thingy attaches itself to an astronaut’s face. Several scenes later, an alien fetus erupts right out of his belly, and the cinema would never be the same. Director Ridley Scott, drawing on the imagery of H.R Giger, staged a kind of Skinner box sci-fi nightmare that left audiences in a state of primal shock. Scott envisioned the film’s spaceship not in clean Kubrickian whites but in shades of murk that could speak to the film’s queasy fusion of the organic and the inorganic. And once Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley starts to take on the monster all by herself, a paradigm shift is born: the female action hero, who Weaver invested with such fierce, industrious, yet tossed-off authority that it’s as if she’d always been there.
Read Variety ‘s original review of “Alien” here , the film is available for streaming on Starz.
A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
The most transportive rock ’n’ roll movie ever made. Richard Lester, drawing on cutting-edge film techniques that are still bracing, fulfilled his assignment of directing a Beatles movie at the dawn of Beatlemania by staging it all as a day in the life of the Beatles as they really were. It’s like seeing a documentary, a postmodern backstage burlesque and a joyful early-Beatles musical all wrapped up into one black-and-white vérité rock reverie. The beauty of it is that the band members, with faces as beguiling as that of any movie star, had the instinctive showbiz wit to portray themselves as gods who’d swooped down on earth and were mingling with everyone else, the happy joke being that they suffuse every encounter with magic.
Read Variety ‘s original review for “A Hard Day’s Night” here , and stream “A Hard Day’s Night” on HBO Max.
Toy Story (1995)
In the early ’80s, director John Lasseter tried to convince Disney to invest in CGI. Instead, the studio fired him, so he went to work for the Graphics Group at Lucasfilm. When the team (scooped up by Steve Jobs and renamed Pixar) released the first fully computer-animated feature, the engineers still hadn’t perfected human skin — or feathers or fur, for that matter. Practically every surface looked fake, like plastic, which made a buddy comedy starring a bunch of toys ideal for the new medium. Bugs and fish and monsters would follow, but even as the technology evolved — liberating the heretofore hand-rendered form — nothing has surpassed that first toon, thanks to great writing and voice work that, even more than the CGI, brought Woody, Buzz Lightyear and their pals to life.
Read Variety ‘s original review of “Toy Story” here , the Pixar film is available for streaming on Disney+.
A decade has passed since “Bridesmaids” launched a thousand think pieces about the future of female-driven films, but Hollywood has yet to produce a funnier movie from any corner. With most comedies, audiences are lucky to get one hall-of-fame set piece. “Bridesmaids” serves up no fewer than five, from Maya Rudolph’s food-poisoned dress-fitting to Kristen Wiig’s mile-high anti-anxiety high to the scene on an airplane that single-handedly catapulted Melissa McCarthy to superstardom. Wiig said she and Annie Mumolo set out to write “not a female comedy, just a comedy that has a lot of women in it.” That they did, collaborating with producer Judd Apatow to create an uproarious, insightful look at personal insecurity and self-delusion.
Read Variety’s original review of “Bridesmaids” here . The film is available to stream on Peacock.
Le Samouraï (1967)
Long before Tarantino, Jean-Pierre Melville obsessed about movies, admiring American directors and absorbing their codes. In the early ’50s, when the restrictive French film industry wouldn’t let him direct, Melville opened his own film studio and did it anyway, inspiring the nascent New Wave (and later, John Woo’s “The Killer”). Melville made crime movies mostly, taking the essence of film noir from Hollywood and filtering it through his own streetwise sensibility. “Le Samouraï” is his chef d’œuvre, featuring a stone-faced Alain Delon in one of cinema’s most understated performances: a gun for hire who dedicates his life to protecting the eyewitness pianist who spares him from the slammer. Featuring meticulous attention to procedural detail and long stretches of near silence, it’s the essence of cool, with an existential twist.
Read Variety’s original review of “Le Samouraï” here . Stream the Melville film on HBO Max.
Pink Flamingos (1972)
It was panned by Variety , which called it “one of the most vile, stupid and repulsive films ever made.” And, of course, it became famous for the scene in which Divine, its snarling drag-queen star, eats a handful of dog poop. (Eat your heart out, P.T. Barnum!) But we’re here to tell you that Variety was wrong. John Waters’ ultimate midnight movie is, in fact, one of the funniest, most audacious and scandalously compelling films ever made. That’s because every moment in it is touched with a gleeful outlaw rageaholic danger too weirdly joyous to be faked. Divine was a stupendous actor, and in “Pink Flamingos,” he’s the clown demon of the Baltimore underground taking revenge on the world.
Read Variety ‘s original review of “Pink Flamingos” here.
Scenes From a Marriage (1974)
In the ’50s and ’60s, Ingmar Bergman became the poster boy for the mystique of art-house cinema by filling his black-and-white movies with symbols, metaphors, dreams. Yet his great searing drama about the experience and meaning of divorce carries none of that literary burden. It’s a straight-up naturalistic drama about a bourgeois Swedish couple going through the five stages of marriage, and Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson bring these loving, warring characters to life in a way that makes them feel like people in your own orbit. Bergman, tearing into the very meat of middle-class experience, made what now looks like the defining cinematic statement about how modern marriages live and die.
Stream “Scenes From a Marriage” on HBO Max.
The Shining (1980)
No offense to Stephen King, who’s vocally dismissive of Kubrick’s adaptation of his work, but “The Shining” is a mind-bending (and wildly entertaining) horror masterwork, encapsulating the filmmaker’s signature labyrinthine fixations. Stalked by a snaky camera alongside an ear-splitting tricycle, the spine-tingling Overlook Hotel on the brink of redrum with torrents of crimson blood is its own battlefield here. So is the mind of Jack Nicholson’s superbly maniacal Jack Torrance, host to the creepiest writer’s block in history. It’s the most insidious of nightmares.
Read the original Variety review of “The Shining” here and it’s available to stream on HBO Max.
Belle de Jour (1967)
Catherine Deneuve comes across like an alabaster doll in Luis Buñuel’s still-shocking, since-unparalleled exploration of the erotic fantasies of a bourgeois French housewife, who dabbles in prostitution by day (or does she?). Whereas the character’s seemingly impassive face betrays only a fraction of what she is really thinking, the film — from the key pioneer of surrealism on screen — reveals to us alone what’s really going on in her head: The sound of bells heralds sadomasochistic daydreams, in which she is whipped and humiliated. This isn’t just some male director’s fetish, mind you, but an empowering portrayal of forbidden sexuality, depicted almost entirely through suggestion, as with buzzing box and bloody towel, which leave so much up to the imagination.
Read Variety’s original review of “Belle de Jour” here , and stream the film on HBO Max.
Malcolm X (1992)
The studio initially wanted Norman Jewison to direct this monumental biopic of the human rights activist, but Spike Lee lobbied hard for Warner Bros. to hire a Black filmmaker instead. Lee won that fight, with severe restrictions. Then the studio and bond company pulled the plug, so he solicited donations from the likes of Oprah Winfrey, a strategy that allowed Lee to make the film as he saw fit. Malcolm X was an undeniably controversial and widely misunderstood figure, and Lee dedicates no fewer than 201 minutes to capturing the deep introspective complexity of a man who was constantly leveling up in his pursuit of justice, from teenage criminal to Muslim convert to Black nationalist leader and beyond. Denzel Washington is there at every step, working with his director — who fuses prestige-movie gravitas with his own curveball style — through the seismic shifts of a man who had the courage of his fury, but ultimately sought a greater enlightenment. Every bit as impactful as the assassination sequence is the montage that precedes it, which evokes all that could have been as Malcolm drives to the Audubon Ballroom, haunted by the perception that martyrdom would be his final evolution.
Read the original Variety review for “Malcolm X” here , and stream the film on HBO Max or Paramount+.
The Sound of Music (1965)
Julie Andrews is most famous for two movies, “Mary Poppins” and “The Sound of Music” (made in 1964 and ’65), and her character in the latter film — a nun-turned-governess who looks after the seven Von Trapp children, teaches them to sing and brings them to life, all under the watchful gaze of their stern military father (Christopher Plummer) — is such a goody-two-shoes that her stardom, on occasion, gets mocked and dismissed. Yet if you really watch her in “The Sound of Music,” you’ll see that Julie Andrews has her own sublime and saintly incandescence. The whole movie makes goodness into something larger-than-life. Yes, it turns the true story of the Von Trapp Family Singers into the squarest of romantic fairy tales, yet the songs lift the film into the heavens, and so does Andrews’ beaming belief in every note.
Read the original Variety review of “the Sound of Music” here . The musical is available for streaming on Disney+.
Hailing from a country with some of the strictest limits on cinematic expression, Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami’s rule-bending docufiction hybrid dissolves the line between representation and reality. The hook: In the late ’80s, a nobody was arrested for passing himself off as director Mohsen Makhmalbaf to a wealthy Tehran family. He flattered them into thinking they might appear in his next movie, borrowing money before he was busted. Intrigued by the case, Kiarostami visited the impersonator in jail, filming their conversations and the subsequent trial. He also re-creates the so-called crime, making good on the con man’s promise by casting the parties involved as themselves in a playful meta-examination of how ordinary people can be seduced by the allure of filmmaking.
Read more about “Close-Up” here . The film is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video.
Natural Born Killers (1994)
Oliver Stone possesses a hypnotically fierce, at times reckless talent that, for 40 years, has sprawled in all directions. But his greatest period arrived in the ’90s, when he made “JFK” and fastened onto a new kaleidoscopic aesthetic — a born-again burst of filmmaking energy that culminated in his mesmerizing, one-of-a-kind head-trip psychodrama about two homicidal criminals in love. Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis play Mickey and Mallory Knox like Bonnie and Clyde on a psychosis bender, but the black magic of the film’s MTV-on-peyote imagery is that it literally becomes the experience they’re living inside. “Natural Born Killers” is about love and murder and tabloid sensationalism, but more than that it’s the cinema’s great hallucination of media-age madness, rendered haunting by the music of Leonard Cohen.
Read the original Variety review of “Natural Born Killers” here . The film is available for streaming on Netflix.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
With “Pinocchio,” Guillermo del Toro has finally made a fairy tale for children. Prior to that, the Mexican fabulist wove fantasies much too dark for impressionable eyes. Although this id-tickling anti-fascist allegory stars an 11-year-old girl, the grimmer-than-Grimm inversion of “Alice in Wonderland,” set in the wake of the Spanish Civil War, would give underage audiences nightmares for life. For adults, it’s like witnessing someone else’s dreams, as young Ofelia escapes into a macabre underworld of now-iconic characters, including the Faun and the Pale Man. Together with compatriots Cuarón (“Roma”) and Iñárritu (“Birdman”), del Toro elevated Mexican cinema to international attention. All three are visionaries, but this film leaves the strongest imprint.
Read Variety’s original review of “Pan’s Labyrinth” here , and stream Guillermo del Toro’s film on Starz.
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
Landing the first of three Oscar wins for Meryl Streep, this dramatic study of a family reshaping itself through divorce — at a time when separations were skyrocketing — pits the chameleonic star against fellow acting titan Dustin Hoffman. Where Streep’s future roles sometimes called for elaborate accents and physical transformations, this one demands vulnerability and a willingness to be unlikable. Meanwhile, Hoffman’s performance caught mainstream American manhood at a key moment of transition, trying to balance old-fashioned “strength” with a new kind of nurturing. “Kramer vs. Kramer” benefits from having been made as popular entertainment, trading straightforwardly in big, relatable feelings and demanding suitably broad, open-hearted reactions from us in turn. It’s piercingly perceptive grown-up filmmaking, all too rare today.
Read Variety’s original review of “Kramer vs. Kramer” here . The film is available on Showtime.
The wealthy Park family lives high on a hill; the broke Kims wallow below in the slums of Seoul, sometimes in sewer water up to their waists. Social mobility — in this case, ascending from their city’s literal bottom to its top — is impossible unless the poorer clan is willing to lie, betray and even kill, and yet, Bong Joon Ho’s breakthrough best picture winner refuses to make the Kims the villains, when the class system itself is to blame. It’s a thriller both pointed in its intentions and universal in its appeal, which today marks a tipping point both in the global conversation about the one percent, and in the Academy Award’s sense of what kinds of films can seriously contend for the big prize.
Read Variety’s original “Parasite” review here . The film is available for streaming on Hulu.
The Dark Knight (2008)
The greatest comic book film ever made, Christopher Nolan’s second Batman movie has the sprawling urban film noir grandiloquence, and the ripe sense of evil, to live up to its operatic ambitions. It’s at once a heady treatise on corruption and one of the most innovative action spectaculars of our time, with Christian Bale’s seething, obsessive Batman poised between two poles of moral decadence: the mangled Gotham City district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and Heath Ledger’s Joker, a scarred sick puppy who dominates the movie wearing crooked lipstick the actor slicked on himself to create a character of pure disruptive insanity. Co-star Michael Caine lauded Ledger’s as “one of the scariest performances I’ve ever seen.” He was right; it has yet to be topped.
Read the original Variety review of “The Dark Knight” here . The film is available for streaming on Hulu.
Brazil was still under dictatorial control when Héctor Babenco directed this shocking indictment of how terribly authorities had been treating street kids in São Paulo, testing the limits of what state censorship permitted at the time. With the film’s nonprofessional cast and stripped-down, documentary-style realism, you can draw a line from De Sica’s “Shoeshine” to Buñuel’s “Los Olvidados” to “Pixote” — and on to such eye-openers as Larry Clark’s “Kids” and Fernando Meirelles’ “City of God.” So much of the power of “Pixote” depends on the tough scowl of young Fernando Ramos da Silva, who, in a cruel turn of fate, was killed by Brazilian police at age 19. It’s both a time capsule and cutting edge, especially in its nonjudgmental depiction of Pixote’s trans friend Lilica.
Read the original Variety “Pixote” review here . The film is available for streaming on the Criterion Channel.
Waiting for Guffman (1996)
Christopher Guest’s cracked ensemble comedies are as funny as anything by Woody Allen, Monty Python, or the “Airplane!” crew, yet they have a personal quality that sets them apart — an obsessiveness about how human ego and human cheesiness dance together. Guest’s most delectable creation is this mockumentary about a small-town theater troupe struggling to put on a musical; it’s a comedy as touching as it is hilarious. Guest’s performance as the troupe’s director, Corky St. Clair, with his beaming eyes and bowl cut, his flamboyant-but-closeted mannerisms, his flat-out passion equaled only by his lack of talent, is one for the ages. He’s a character at once so retrograde and so affectionately observed that “Guffman” became the ultimate cult film for a newly liberated generation.
Read the original Variety review of “Waiting for Guffman” here . The film is available for streaming on HBO Max .
Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)
For three minutes, middle-aged single mother Jeanne Dielman (Delphine Seyrig) sits peeling potatoes. She washes the dishes. She makes the bed. Belgian director Chantal Akerman radically expanded what movies could and should be with this cornerstone entry in the slow-cinema canon — a rigorous style of filmmaking that emphasizes duration over action. Confined largely to the kitchen, dining room and hallways of a nondescript apartment, Akerman’s debut challenges what the experimental auteur called the “hierarchy of images,” concentrating on mundane domestic rituals associated with women, typically overlooked in movies. Over three-plus hours, the film re-creates tasks that Akerman observed her mother practicing for years, though in this case they’re disrupted by Jeanne’s double life as a prostitute — a feminist twist that builds to a shattering climax. Maddening at times yet never less than mesmerizing, it’s the very best film of its kind. But hardly the best film of all time.
Stream “Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” on HBO Max.
The DNA of the James Bond series was forged in “North by Northwest,” and the series itself came into being with startling finesse in “Dr. No” (1962), the first Bond film. But it wasn’t until two years later, in “Goldfinger,” that the Bond films hit their quintessential pitch of pop exhilaration — a note-perfect blend of audacity and spectacle, danger and ’60s erotic cool, unforgettable theme song and iconic villain, not to mention Sean Connery at his most royally cutthroat and commanding. The Bond series is in all our DNA now, and there’s a reason: It’s one of the greatest escapes the movies have ever given us. “Goldfinger” marks the moment it becomes a popcorn epiphany.
Read the original Variety review of “Goldfinger” here . The film is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video.
The Tree of Life (2011)
Time will tell how much higher this film can climb. Despite being one of the younger entries on the list, Terrence Malick’s metaphysical wrestling match with grace and grief — and God’s very existence — has already made an indelible imprint on other directors, most notably in its reverence for the natural world and the way DP Emmanuel Lubezki’s gravity-defying camera captures it. Malick takes the loss of his brother as subject, factoring the creation of the universe into his soul-searching exercise. He casts movie stars, but refuses to treat them as such, stripping them of their lines and the chance to “act,” while privileging impressionistic fragments from his own memory (plus empathy among dinosaurs!). It’s like “2001” turned inward, posing impossibly big questions.
Read the original Variety review of “The Tree of Life” here . The film is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video.
Boogie Nights (1997)
Every Paul Thomas Anderson film now seems to be greeted with reviews more awestruck than those that greeted the previous one. But sorry, we’ll stick with his youthful gem about the ’70s and ’80s porn world — a drama of such empathy, virtuosity and Tarantinoid sprawl that every moment in it gives you a buzz. As Dirk Diggler, Mark Wahlberg plays a simpleton of sweetness teetering into the hedonistic outer limits. The film’s drama, more than just a ride, is driven by a visionary perception: that as measured by the ironic yardstick of porn, the rise of technology paralleled the rise of a more detached and doom-struck world.
Read the original Variety review of “Boogie Nights” here. The film is available to stream on Paramount+.
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Walt Disney may have pioneered the field of hand-drawn animated features, but Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki elevated it, bringing down-to-earth storytelling and attention to everyday detail (raindrops falling in puddles, a snail inching its way up a plant) to the realm of the fantastic, where a plush orange Catbus offers lost kids a lift. Later Studio Ghibli achievements, such as “Princess Mononoke” and “Spirited Away,” may have been bigger hits in the U.S., but this bucolic trip down memory lane is by far Miyazaki’s most beloved achievement around the world. Through its title character, “Totoro” introduced a benevolent forest spirit — whose fuzzy, round, owl-eyed design rivals Mickey Mouse in its appeal — that generations have adopted as their imaginary friend of choice.
Read the original Variety review of “My Neighbor Totoro” here . The film is available for streaming on HBO Max.
In the silent era, D.W. Griffith did nothing less than build the ground floor of what filmmaking became, inventing the nuts and bolts of visual storytelling and doing it with breathtaking imaginative sweep. Yet the movie in which he first codified this achievement, “The Birth of a Nation” (1915), was a scandalous and morally toxic epic — a celebration of the Ku Klux Klan that helped to construct Hollywood on a foundation of racism. It was “Intolerance,” the film Griffith made in response to the outrage triggered by “The Birth of a Nation,” where he rose to his most visionary heights. A three-and-a-half-hour parable spanning 2,000 years and told in four parts (a modern saga of poverty and crime; the story of Jesus; the St. Bartholomew Day’s Massacre; and the fall of the Babylonian empire, complete with elephants), the movie is one of the most soul-boggling spectacles ever attempted: tender, hyperbolic, spellbinding and half-mad. It seems to contain the glorious seeds of everything that movies could, and would, be.
Read the original Variety review of “Intolerance” here . The film is available to stream on Prime Video or Paramount+.
Breaking the Waves (1996)
Lars von Trier’s greatest work was shot on film with a hand-held camera and then transferred to video, and it looks and feels like a home movie — yet it’s about a woman, a winsome Scottish newlywed named Bess (Emily Watson), who speaks directly to God, and the film’s herky-jerky naturalism makes you believe that that’s actually happening. Especially when she asks God to bring her husband (Stellan Skarsgård) back from a construction site, and sure enough the husband returns … after sustaining a paralyzing injury. Did God do that? And if so, what’s she going to do in return? Von Trier, striking a tone of solemn enchantment that begs comparison with that of Dreyer or Bergman (even the ’70s-glam-rock chapter interludes are like something out of the world’s most electric church mass), creates a drama of loss, faith and soul-scalding sacrifice that will move you to the core, as Watson’s heroine of destiny becomes the very essence of love.
Read the original Variety review for “Breaking the Waves” here . The film is available to and rent or purchase on Prime Video.
My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
When you think of Julia Roberts, you think of her 1,000-watt smile — and behind that, her complete and total movie-star radiance. Yet in P.J. Hogan’s splendid romantic comedy, Roberts gives a performance rooted in moodiness and anger and despair, and it’s the most transcendent acting of her career. She plays a food critic who arrives at the wedding of her lifelong friend (Dermot Mulroney) with a plan to sabotage it, all because she realizes she’s really in love with him. You may think you know where this is going, but you don’t, and that’s one reason (along with Rupert Everett’s slashing wit and the all-time perfect use of a Burt Bacharach song) why “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” with apologies to Nora Ephron, remains the most delectable and heartbreaking rom-com of its era.
Read the original Variety review of “My Best Friend’s Wedding” here . The film is available to purchase on Prime Video.
12 Years a Slave (2013)
How do you make a film that stays true to the brutal obscenity of America’s “peculiar institution” yet is also a compelling and, at moments, even hopeful drama? British director Steve McQueen brings off that staggering balancing act in his grueling and essential adaptation of Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir. Chiwetel Ejiofor, in an intensely physical yet stunningly internal performance, plays Solomon, a free man living in New York State who, in 1841, was kidnapped and trafficked to a plantation owner. This horrific scenario allows McQueen to dramatize the evils of slavery with more detail, psychological understanding and complex emotional power than we’ve ever seen in a dramatic feature. An extended image of Solomon with a noose around his neck, his tippy toes working the dirt so that he can breathe, is one of many that sear themselves into your memory.
Read Variety’s original review of “12 Years a Slave” here . Stream the film on HBO Max .
Beau Travail (1999)
Whether in “Beau Geste” or Van Damme’s ludicrous “Legionnaire,” the French Foreign Legion tends to be treated on film with a kind of reverent machismo — one brilliantly unraveled in French auteur Claire Denis’ audacious reworking of Herman Melville’s “Billy Budd.” Foregrounding the homoerotic yearnings in Melville’s moral tale of military power plays, Denis turns it into a sinuous, mesmerizing film ballet of male beauty and physicality, shot by Agnès Godard in stark, orderly formations against the African desert, in which desire becomes as competitive an exercise as everything else in the army. No other filmmaker has better captured the military’s masculine crisis.
Read Variety’s original review of “Beau Travail” here . Stream the film on HBO Max.
King Kong (1933)
The 1930s was an astonishing decade for Hollywood monster movies. “Frankenstein,” “Dracula,” “The Mummy,” “The Invisible Man” — these divinely spooky fairy tales of humanized horror colonized our nightmares. Yet the grandest of them all was a creature feature about an island beast who was less monstrous than misunderstood. That was Kong, the giant ape who remains the most innocently awesome and poetic special-effects feat in film history. The Skull Island sequence has a primeval magic, yet the longevity of Merian C. Cooper’s landmark also hinges on scenes where the filmmaking is stripped to its spine, notably an unbroken shot of a fledgling ingenue being guided through her first screen test. Fay Wray raises her eyes toward an imaginary monster, feigns to choke on her own terror and unleashes a scream that has echoed for 90 years.
Read Variety’s original review of “King Kong” here . Stream the film on Peacock .
Bicycle Thieves (1948)
The timeless humanist gem of Italian Neorealism. With urgent working-class concerns around financial despair at its center, Vittorio De Sica’s soul-crushing classic delicately perceives its unforgiving post-World War II Italy where the poor must own bikes for below-minimum-wage jobs. There’s no holding back tears while De Sica’s dignified yet underprivileged Antonio desperately searches for his stolen pedals and tries to set an upstanding example for his impressionable young son, a luxury heartbreakingly denied to him that De Sica affectionately showers with empathy.
Read Variety’s original review for “Bicycle Thieves” he re . Stream the film on Prime Video .
Paris Is Burning (1990)
While a list like this could include any number of documentaries, Jennie Livingston’s legendary celebration of the queer haven that Harlem drag balls provided for Black and Latino, gay and trans youth signifies a pre-reality-TV apotheosis of the form: It educates and inspires, while illuminating a vibrant demimonde all but invisible to mainstream society at the time — despite Madonna’s hit “Vogue” appropriating the scene’s strike-a-pose dance style. After immersing herself in that world, Livingston brought the culture of rival “houses” (ersatz families with names like Xtravaganza and LaBeija) into the light, letting the fierce den mothers define such concepts as reading , realness and shade . The movie paved the way for RuPaul and “Pose,” while exponentially expanding LGBT visibility at large.
Stream “Paris is Burning” on HBO Max.
A Man Escaped (1956)
The economical style developed by French auteur Robert Bresson reached a pinnacle with his fourth film. The dispassionate prison-break procedural, based on a memoir, proved a perfect vehicle for the “pure” filmmaking now known as “Bressonian” in which nonprofessional actors (here François Leterrier plays Fontaine, the aspiring escape artist) are often shot in close-ups of hands and faces, with minimal dialogue but minute attention to offscreen sound, to create an extraordinarily absorbing cinematic experience. To watch Fontaine painstakingly shave wood from his cell door, or quietly assess the other convicts, or tap messages on his wall, is like watching a colossal mechanism being assembled piece by piece from scratch. Once it’s finally set in motion, you may have to remind yourself to breathe.
Rent or purchase “A Man Escaped” on Prime Video .
Brian De Palma, with his virtuosic film-freak fetishism, is one of the most celebrated directors of the past half century, and if you ask De Palma stans what his greatest movie is, a lot of them will tell you it’s “Blow Out.” Actually, it’s this delectable and terrifying gothic bloodbath “Cinderella.” Adapted from Stephen King’s first novel and starring the incomparable Sissy Spacek as a telekinetic high-school wallflower who gets invited to the prom as a prank, plus Piper Laurie as her seething fundamentalist mother (a relationship as resonant as anything in Tennessee Williams), “Carrie” is a mesmerizing emotional chiller that remains the most revered movie fairy tale of former teen geeks everywhere.
Read Variety’s original review for “Carrie” here . Stream the film on Pluto TV .
Animation may not strictly be a children’s medium, but one reason it’s thought of as such is the splendid way Walt Disney used the hand-drawn form to bring dreams to life. In “Snow White,” the wildlife doesn’t talk, but within five years, Disney was making it seem perfectly normal that wide-eyed forest animals might chatter among themselves (e.g., “He can call me a flower if he wants to”). There’s a purity to “Bambi” — evident in the scene where Thumper encourages the wobbly fawn to walk — unmatched by any cartoon since, though the death of the mother at the hands of man has traumatized countless kids. What makes this Disney’s best is the simple way it invites audiences to empathize with creatures.
Read Variety’s original review for “Bambi” here . Stream the film on Disney+ .
Dazed and Confused (1993)
Richard Linklater’s free-flowing comedy about the last day of high school in 1976 is the cinema’s most shaggy-dog lyrical and authentic depiction of teenage life … ever. It’s also the greatest Robert Altman film that Altman never made. Every detail (the cars, the clothes, the jocks who look like hippies, the stoners who look like nerds) makes you feel like you’ve entered a time machine, as Linklater lets his characters ramble and roam, turning every setting — a Little League game, a midnight kegger in the woods — into an opportunity to eavesdrop that leaves the audience feeling alright, alright, alright. He also captures that pivotal moment when the idea of “counterculture” first became embedded in the culture it was countering.
Read Variety ‘s original review of “Dazed and Confused” here . Rent and purchase the film on Prime Video .
The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
Somehow stringently severe and ecstatic at the same time, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s imposing obelisk of silent cinema is one of the most soulful and emotionally immediate historical portraits ever made. Sticking to the record of the 15th-century French warrior’s trial and execution, Dreyer’s film offers little in the way of dramatic embellishment, relying instead on the extraordinary, transparently expressive face of star Renée Jeanne Falconetti for its steadily escalating, finally devastating power, with no words required.
Read Variety’s original review for “The Passion of Joan of Arc” here . Stream the film on Prime Video .
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
The movie musical, already not a genre given to restraint, has never been so gloriously maximalist as it is in Baz Luhrmann’s fin de siècle jukebox romance, which throws so many contrivances, naked anachronisms and ornamental formal flourishes at the screen that they somehow balance each other out into the purest kind of old-Hollywood showmanship — one that appears to believe its naive credo (Truth! Beauty! Freedom! Love!) with such sincere intensity that you can’t help but buy into it too. It’s a neon-lit landmark that changed the way musicals could be constructed in the 21st century, did for Elton John’s “Your Song” what “Muriel’s Wedding” did for “Dancing Queen,” and relaunched Nicole Kidman as the gutsiest actress of her generation.
Read Variety’s original review for “Moulin Rouge!” here . Stream the film on Starz .
In 1955, while still in her mid-20s, a young French photographer named Agnès Varda picked up a camera and made a movie, beating the likes of Godard and Truffaut to the task. For the next six decades, she continued to make films on her own terms, without asking permission or worrying about commercial prospects. Varda was as independent a filmmaker as the medium has ever seen, and that uncompromising but deeply humanist sensibility is best reflected in “Vagabond.” The intricately crafted film opens with the discovery of homeless Mona (Sandrine Bonnaire) dead in a ditch, then works backward as the people whose lives she touched seek to explain this elusive free spirit. Thus, Mona serves as a mirror for them and the audience.
Read Variety’s original review for “Vagabond” here .
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Seven films into his career, the child inside of Steven Spielberg finally shot a movie that sees the world as if the towering director were still just 4½-feet tall. This generational touchstone about an alien who befriends a home of free-range kids portrays adults as intimidating shapes shielded behind masks and impenetrable mutterings about contagions. Empathy and awe, curiosity and adventure — these emotions are for the young, and are made literal in E.T.’s beating heart. While it’s no easy task to settle on Spielberg’s masterpiece, “E.T” is his only film to bring Princess Diana to sobs, inspire the United Nations to award him a Peace Medal and, upon its Cannes premiere, move François Truffaut to send Spielberg a telegram that read, “You belong here more than me.”
Read Variety’s original review for “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” here . Stream the film on Prime Video .
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Taiwan-born Ang Lee had already made a Marvel superhero movie (“Hulk”) and the highest-grossing foreign-language film in American history (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) when he assumed the relatively intimate task of adapting Annie Proulx’s short story about two cowboys’ decades-spanning secret. Now considered among the most indelible Hollywood love stories, the tragic queer romance might have been a niche release, as opposed to the culture-shifting crossover phenomenon it became, were it not for a pair of peerless movie-star performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and especially Heath Ledger, who conveys so much within the character’s muffled reticence to speak. Lee has often credited his grasp of America’s aching truths to his status as an immigrant, but it’s his poetic capacity for restraint that makes “Brokeback” so powerful.
Read Variety’s original review of “Brokeback Mountain” here . Rent and purchase the film on Prime Video .
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Some say “The Exorcist” is the scariest movie ever made. But even the explicit way the devil reveals himself in that classic of demonic possession doesn’t get under your skin the way the devil does in Roman Polanski’s majestically creepy everyday nightmare about the Satan cult next door. It’s a thriller worthy of Hitchcock, with Mia Farrow’s Rosemary — a woeful waif, hair shorn like a prison-camp victim — going through a pregnancy from hell, which the film elevates into a feminine trauma of shuddery profundity.
Read Variety’s original review of “Rosemary’s Baby” here . Stream the film on Prime Video .
Pather Panchali (1955)
Long before Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood,” there was Satyajit Ray’s exquisitely paced and structured Apu Trilogy, the holy peak of all chaptered coming-of-age narratives. Restrained but also universally relatable, the Bengali filmmaker’s debut is the first of those three movies, which put Indian cinema on the international art-house map. Like a regional riff on Italian Neorealism, the inherently humanist “Pather Panchali” is both a loving portrait of a mostly matriarchal upbringing and an awe-inspiring vision of rural life, as reflected through the impressionable eyes of its young protagonist. The film’s captivating images include chasing after a passing train and playing in a monsoon, which add up to a pure and soul-nourishing experience.
Read Variety’s original review of “Pather Panchali” here . Stream the film on HBO Max .
The Road Warrior (1981)
Hollywood has given us some good action films in the past 100 years. But no one, simply put, has made an action film as great — as combustible and thrilling, as surgically shot and edited, as poetic in its close-to-the-ground nihilism — as George Miller’s “Mad Max” films. We adore all of them (well, OK, not “Beyond Thunderdome”), but this is one that lives in our dreams. It’s the movies’ most vivid and threatening dystopian fairy tale, with Mel Gibson’s Max going up against a crew of terrifying punk marauders. The vehicular chases (we’re hesitant to call a number of these contraptions cars) are such extraordinary duels of velocity and aggression that they make speed itself into the film’s main character.
Read Variety’s original review of “The Road Warrior” here . Rent and purchase the film on Prime Video .
In the Mood for Love (2000)
Easily one of the most beautiful movies ever made, Hong Kong master Wong Kar Wai’s rapturously repressed romance unfolds between two never-more-gorgeous stars: Maggie Cheung, an elegant sliver of sadness in a high-necked silk cheongsam, and Tony Leung, the model of smoldering, yearning hesitance. Christopher Doyle’s sensuous cinematography glories in jewel tones, frames-in-frames and the smoky layers of separation between the pair, drawn together when they discover their spouses having an affair. But most of the mood flows from Wong’s feel for the tantalizing erotics of the near miss: the door left ajar, the phrase left unspoken, the burning gaze met then reluctantly broken. Wong has made more complex films, but none that lingers quite like this one, like incense and unconsummated desire.
Read Variety’s original review of “In the Mood for Love” here . Stream the film on HBO Max .
The General (1926)
Upon its release, critics considered this tight Civil War epic to be Buster Keaton’s least funny film, missing what has since made it his most respected achievement: The vaudeville-trained silent-film comedian took the true story of the robbery and recovery of a Confederate steam engine as a creative opportunity to stage reckless stunts aboard a moving train. His comic timing and daring combine in the scene where he stands astride the General’s cow-catcher, tossing a railroad tie to dislodge another blocking the tracks ahead. To understand his genius, watch how Keaton pantomimes clumsiness in order to mask the precision required to pull off the gag. Keaton, who co-directed, was meticulous about historical detail, creating images — like the climactic collapsing-bridge crash — of an immortal quality.
Read Variety’s original review of “The General” here . Stream the film on Prime Video .
Apocalypse Now (1979)
A war movie that’s never been surpassed for sheer cataclysmic spectacle. In 1976, Francis Ford Coppola journeyed into the jungles of the Philippines, emerging more than a year later after a shoot ravaged by a typhoon, the heart attack of 36-year-old star Martin Sheen and Coppola’s own cultivation of chaos. Yet in the movie that emerged, we see elements of all that disaster and madness onscreen. Coppola’s delirious and druggy Vietnam bad trip features one of the greatest sequences ever filmed — the “Ride of the Valkyries” helicopter attack, which channels the adrenalized rush of war that’s inseparable from its horror — and the rest of the movie works on you with a slow-burn hypnosis. The vigorous excess of Coppola’s visual language and the spiritual force of its antiwar messaging all slap you in the face every time.
Read Variety’s original review of “Apocalypse Now” here . Rent and purchase the film on Prime Video .
Jean-Paul Belmondo glances at a vintage movie still, traces his lips with his thumb and utters the enchanted word “Bogie.” In that simple moment, a cinematic ocean gets crossed. The baton of Old Hollywood has been passed to the French New Wave — but what that means is that it has passed into a new way of seeing. Jean-Luc Godard’s astonishing first feature is the breakneck tale of Belmondo’s small-time car thief and the American cub reporter he fancies, played by a perfectly pert Jean Seberg. Their affair still feels strikingly “modern,” as the two hang out in an apartment, together but separate. Yet the film’s most indelible gestures come from Godard, the director who revolutionized movies. In “Breathless,” he teases sound and silence, layers musical themes and casually invents the jump cut, so that what looked at first like the tale of a petty gangster turns into a tsunami of new perception.
Read Variety’s original review of “Breathless” here . Stream the film on HBO Max .
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
A vanful of kids snaking their way down a sunbaked highway. An old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. The most terrifying psycho since “Psycho” — a human runt, hidden behind a mask of human skin, wielding his buzzing phallic chain saw not just as a weapon of death but as an instrument of sadistically surreal torture and fear. Tobe Hooper’s brilliant grindhouse landmark has been imitated so often that it has become nothing less than the paradigm of contemporary horror. Yet the film’s mastery is that it’s an existential nightmare told with lyrical cunning, right down to the legendary final shot of insanity at dawn.
Read Variety’s original review of “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” here . Stream the film on Prime Video .
The Piano (1993)
There has never been another character like Holly Hunter’s Ada, a mute Scotswoman who journeys to the bleak colonial bush of 1850s New Zealand to join in an arranged marriage, and who wills herself to silence just because. Jane Campion’s masterful drama is hypnotically torn between inchoate feminist fury and a kind of desolate romantic yearning. Ada is not about to confess her soul to the men who lay claim to her, be it her husband (Sam Neill) or the tattooed lover (Harvey Keitel) who controls her access to a piano, her supreme instrument of self-expression. Yet Hunter’s austerely powerful performance becomes a testament of silent passion, speaking to the audience so directly that it’s as if she were wired to us.
Read Variety’s original review of “The Piano” here . Rent or purchase the film on Apple TV .
Mean Streets (1973)
Martin Scorsese has made many masterpieces (who’d want to live in a movie world without “Taxi Driver” or “Raging Bull”?), yet the film that established him as a major artist — not to mention the cinema’s foremost chronicler of mob life from the ground up — still stands above nearly all of them. It’s that electrifying and memorable an experience. “Mean Streets” is brilliantly staged (to the most ecstatic rock ’n’ roll score in film history), yet every scene in it just seems to happen , as Charlie, a Little Italy numbers runner played with wormy ambition by Harvey Keitel, tries to rein in his firecracker of a cousin, Johnny Boy, played by Robert De Niro as the very id of ’70s Hollywood. Imagine Coppola, Cassavetes and Kenneth Anger mixed into one explosive cocktail, and you have the timeless genius Scorsese showed here.
Read Variety ‘s original review of “Mean Streets” here . Stream the film on Prime Video or Paramount+ .
Of the 50-odd features Hitchcock made in his career, this is the one where every element fits together perfectly, like a Swiss watch. The director’s technical brilliance shines through at multiple points, as in the crane shot from the balcony to the key hidden in Ingrid Bergman’s hand. But it’s the three lead performances that make this cloak-and-dagger love triangle so engaging … and perverse: A secret agent (Cary Grant) falls for the woman (Bergman) he recruited to dupe a dapper Nazi (Claude Rains), complicating the mission to uncover the MacGuffin — as Hitchcock called the whatsit everybody wants — locked in his wine cellar. The movie is elegant, sexy and the most suspenseful of his oeuvre, because we sense how much is at stake for the couple.
Read Variety’s original review of “Notorious” here . Stream the film on HBO Max .
It’s possible that no movie in history has been as simultaneously beloved and attacked as James Cameron’s jaw-droppingly spectacular love story. It’s arguably the only disaster movie that’s a work of art. Yet the carping began almost immediately (“The script is terrible!” — actually, it’s quite good, though with a few lines that clink), to the point that the movie became one of the foundation stones of hater culture. Yet listen to the heart of the ocean and forget that noise! “Titanic” has a primal sweep that evokes the majesty of D.W. Griffith, and there’s a regal irony built into the romance that the haters all missed. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet have an enchanting chemistry, yet the film knows all too well that these two characters are just having a starry-eyed youthful fling. It’s only the close encounter with an iceberg that renders their love timeless.
Read Variety’s original review of “Titanic” here . Rent or purchase the film on Prime Video .
A young woman goes missing during a pleasure-boat vacation. Her best friend (Monica Vitti, in a star-making role) and her lover search for her, but gradually fall in love. Michelangelo Antonioni’s first masterpiece — there are several more, notably “La Notte” and “L’Eclisse,” also starring Vitti, which form a thematic trilogy with “L’Avventura” — has the bones of a Hitchcock thriller. But this solution-less mystery is essentially an inversion of that model, which is what made it, and Antonioni, so revolutionary: He renders the eerie areas of story and character psychology, which would ordinarily be the negative space between plot beats, not only visible but achingly, inexpressibly beautiful.
Read Variety’s original review of “L’Avventura” here . Stream the film on HBO Max .
Many a cinephile has put off watching Claude Lanzmann’s expansive, illuminating and cumulatively shattering Holocaust documentary in the course of their film education: Nine and a half hours of confrontation with the victims and perpetrators alike of systematic genocide is no easy watch, after all, and nor should it be. Yet there’s an essentially human pull to the film’s witnessing of lives and communities broken and sometimes rebuilt in the 40 years following the Holocaust that makes it riveting — an urgent historical chronicle recorded at the precise time it needed to be done, distant enough from the events to take in their multigenerational impact, and close enough to hear its voices firsthand.
Rent or purchase “Shoah” on Prime Video .
The dramatic Oscar-night twist — which saw Barry Jenkins’ queer Black indie drama upset old-school front-runner “La La Land” — revealed a major shift in sensibility from the Academy, which had snubbed “Brokeback Mountain” and “Do the Right Thing” (the unacknowledged best pictures of their respective years). At a moment when the industry was coming to terms with a lack of diversity in its stories and storytellers, “Moonlight” sublimely illustrated what had been missing: an opportunity to discover someone like Chiron, deemed “soft” by his peers, taken under the wing of a compromised father figure (Mahershala Ali), who gives in to love and aggression alike. Told in three distinct chapters, this hopeful portrayal of what the character’s future might bring paved the way for so many other voices.
Read Variety’s original review of “Moonlight” here . Stream the film on Hulu .
The Wild Bunch (1969)
For the first half-century of cinema’s existence, the Western was the medium’s defining genre, in America at least. But hundreds of movies — plus primetime television series like “Bonanza” and “Gunsmoke” — wore it out, until Sam Peckinpah gave things a New Hollywood kick. The director learned at the feet of action maestro Don Siegel (master of the montage) but brought his own macho sensibility to “The Wild Bunch,” subverting the idealism of “Shane” and other iconic Westerns. Even the kids are violent by nature here. The film focuses on an aging gang of outlaws who go down in a blaze of glory. It’s bloody as hell, culminating in an epic shootout that rivals the “Psycho” shower scene or the “Saving Private Ryan” beach landing in sheer bravura.
Read Variety’s original review of “The Wild Bunch” here . Rent or purchase the film on Prime Video .
Over the course of their eccentric, uncompromising careers, the Coen brothers have contributed some of cinema’s most colorful characters: human meltdown Barton Fink, baby-snatching H.I. and evil-incarnate Anton Chigurh. But their greatest invention is pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), the Midwestern-accented voice of reason in this sly, subzero crime drama, which is just deranged enough to sell its cheeky “true story” claim. Look past the carnage and the Coens’ more-serious-than-it-seems colloquial satire serves as a contrast in marriages. On one hand, you have a spineless used-car salesman (William H. Macy) so desperate for cash that he kidnaps his own wife. On the other, there’s good-natured Marge — as diligent a detective as any Dude — who takes time away from the stressful investigation to pep-talk her husband.
Read Variety ‘s original review of “Fargo” here . Stream the film on Hulu .
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Men dressing as women has been fuel for comedy for longer than cinema has been around, but never so cleverly or chaotically as in Billy Wilder’s note-perfect bauble, which races through one genre template after another — gangster thriller, backstage musical, bedroom farce — without missing a comic beat. Playing Jack Lemmon’s nebbishy charm against Tony Curtis’ alpha suaveness is a recipe for laughs, while their fumbling attempts to pass as two classy dames subversively critique the duo’s own sexism. Wilder, who had directed Marilyn Monroe’s iconic subway-grate scene in “The Seven Year Itch,” recognized better than anyone the hyper-feminine star’s potential, using her luminous, so-dazed-it’s-almost-Zen comic timing to upstage her cross-dressing co-stars. It’s a treat with teeth.
Read Variety’s original review of “Some Like It Hot” here . Rent or purchase the film on Prime Video .
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Six decades of changing attitudes toward colonialism, feminism and militarism should have dated this men-only story of an arrogant British Army lieutenant’s exploits in the Middle Eastern theater of World War I. But David Lean’s epic, shot by Freddie Young with unparalleled panoramic majesty, is both a spectacular celebration and a lacerating critique of such endeavors. From his sand-gold hair to his sky-blue eyes, Peter O’Toole plays T.E. Lawrence as a man possessed by the Arabian Desert, a towering hero and a hubristic narcissist, a manipulator and a pawn, a genius tactician and a monster of repressed sadomasochistic impulse. Such fertile contradictions mean that aside from its eternally jaw-dropping technical virtues, exemplified by Omar Sharif materializing on camelback out of the heat-hazed desert horizon, “Lawrence of Arabia” still feels thrillingly current.
Read Variety’s original review of “Lawrence of Arabia” here . Rent or purchase the film on Prime Video .
Annie Hall (1977)
For most of the first decade of his movie career, Woody Allen made what we now call his “early, funny films,” and some were as inspired in their lunacy as the movies of the Marx Brothers. So it was a pleasurable shock when he embedded his hilarious sense of surrealist vaudeville in a romantic comedy that turned out to be as sophisticated and transporting as it was funny. Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall, all adorable thrift-shop charm and enchanting ditherer, became an immortal screen heroine of the ’70s, and Allen pushed the neurotic narcissism of “the Woody Allen character” to such a pesky, honest extreme that he seemed, at least for that cultural moment, to stand in for a generation of men who had never learned to commit.
Read Variety’s original review of “Annie Hall” here . Rent or purchase the film on Prime Video .
On the Waterfront (1954)
Marlon Brando redefined American acting, first onstage and then on-screen with “A Streetcar Named Desire.” But it was this reunion with The Actors Studio founder Elia Kazan that repped the pair’s greatest collaboration: a street-level redemption story about an ex-boxer (Brando) who decides he’s tired of being pushed around by the corrupt union bosses — the same guys who forced him to take a dive in the ring. In his pursuit of realism, Kazan insisted on shooting on the New Jersey docks, while trusting Brando’s instincts to bring the character to life. The “I coulda been a contender” scene with Rod Steiger is classic, but study how Brando picks up and plays with Eva Marie Saint’s glove to appreciate the unpredictable, improv-ready brilliance of his Method.
Read Variety’s original review of “On the Waterfront” here . Stream the film on HBO Max .
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The serial killer has become a talismanic figure in pop culture, maybe because one can’t rationalize away his drive to murder. And no drama of serial killers — their dread, fascination and mystery — has cast a greater spell than Jonathan Demme’s exquisitely crafted landmark of a thriller. It’s a plunge into evil made with so much humanity — as well as a perverse spirit of play — that it leaves you both unnerved and exhilarated. Anthony Hopkins’ performance as Hannibal Lecter, the genius serial-killer cannibal, didn’t take long to become a meme, and that’s because Hopkins makes Lecter as witty as he is mad, dispatching his victims as a cathartic form of superiority. And Jodie Foster, as the FBI agent who bonds with Lecter to catch a killer of twisted terror, gives her most valiant performance, playing a solo woman warrior poised against a patriarchy of fear.
Read Variety’s original review of “The Silence of the Lambs” here . Stream the film on Prime Video .
It took John Ford, one of the greatest American filmmakers, to elevate the image of the Western and earn the genre the respect it deserved. For more than half a century, Ford found poetry in frontier stories, and though his thorny rescue saga “The Searchers” (which came much later) is his most modern, this groundbreaking love and revenge picture set the high-water mark. Starring an iconic John Wayne as a reckless outlaw, in a collaboration that would span 12 movies, and navigating the tale of a band of outsiders against the majestic backdrop of Monument Valley, Ford’s influential epic is sweepingly rich with artistic shots and exacting framing, as well as surprisingly intimate in its exploration of a much fabled land.
Read Variety’s original review of “Stagecoach” here . Stream the film on Prime Video .
After achieving international acclaim with increasingly expressionistic portraits of the world as he saw it — from the simple circus performers of “La Strada” to the decadent Roman nightlife of “La Dolce Vita” — Italian maestro Federico Fellini lost confidence in his capacity to create. Instead of giving up, he channeled that artistic despair into his most uninhibited triumph: a freewheeling and shamelessly autobiographical movie about a philandering filmmaker’s crippling case of directile dysfunction, full to bursting with past mistresses, childhood memories and psychoanalytic symbology. From the opening anxiety dream, in which Marcello Mastroianni (as Fellini’s self-flattering/flagellating stand-in) claws his way out of a traffic jam, to the climactic rondelet around the rocket set, the blocked director found surrealistic inspiration in his subconscious.
Read Variety’s original review of “8½” here . Stream the film on HBO Max .
No, it’s not Hitchcock’s greatest film. But it is his most rapturous and formally head-spinning dream-poem of romantic fatalism. The entire movie seems to take place in a hypnotic trance, as James Stewart’s wayward San Francisco detective follows, and falls in love with, Kim Novak’s walking specter of a temptress, only to learn that she’s not who she seems. But can he turn her back into who she seemed? “Vertigo,” a mystery tucked inside an enigma, is really the cinema’s most solemnly fantastic vision of fetishism, and the gliding-camera visuals turn the Bay Area into a deliriously sculptured game board of fate.
Read Variety’s original review of “Vertigo” here . Rent or purchase the film on Prime Video.
In the sharpest, most scathing screenplay in American cinema, Paddy Chayefsky gave us the line, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!” blurted from the lips of a mad prophet, burned-out UBS anchorman Howard Beale (Peter Finch). Since the introduction of television, the movies saw their existence threatened by the boob tube’s lowest-common-denominator approach. In “Network,” the big screen bites back, taking to task the culture of distraction — what Neil Postman called “amusing ourselves to death” — and fearmongering practiced by ratings-thirsty execs, like Faye Dunaway’s ethically challenged programming chief. Without the cynical spitfire genius of Chayefsky’s script (in Sidney Lumet’s hands), there would be no Aaron Sorkin, no “The Morning Show,” no film by which the industry could keep itself honest.
Read Variety’s original review of “Network” here . Rent or purchase the film on Prime Video .
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The “long, long ago” preamble at the top of “Star Wars” established George Lucas’ interstellar adventure saga as a kind of space-age fairy tale. But it wasn’t until the sequel — when Luke Skywalker discovered Darth Vader was his dad, Leia was his sister and he could bench-press X-wings by using the Force — that the series showed its full potential. Handled differently, the Irvin Kershner-directed follow-up could’ve killed the franchise. But instead of merely repeating the thrills of the blockbuster original, “Empire” introduces new information — and characters, like Yoda — that lend an emotional dimension to what had come before. Plus, the heroes really take a beating, all of which made audiences profoundly invested in seeing the revenge of the Jedi (as the next movie was tentatively called).
Read Variety’s original review of “The Empire Strikes Back” here . Stream the film on Disney+ .
Double Indemnity (1944)
The moody seductive apex of film noir, Billy Wilder’s lustrous drama sizzles with the most elegant offerings of a filmmaking style defined by the era’s World War II-infused paranoia: a gleaming cinematography of dark shadows, deceit, homicide and plenty of cigarette smoke. Emerging out of the picture’s Los Angeles enclave of Spanish-style houses is Barbara Stanwyck’s definitive femme fatale and Fred MacMurray’s defenseless insurance salesman, who can’t help but get caught in the conniving double-crosser’s scheming web. With this gripping tale of the dark side of romance, the genre-defying director set the bar for the famously hard-boiled genre.
Read Variety’s original review of “Double Indemnity” here . Rent or purchase the film on Prime Video .
City Lights (1931)
Four years after the invention of talkies, Charlie Chaplin stuck to what made him the world’s biggest star: keeping his mouth shut. The silent comedian had spent years finding the right mix of silliness and sentimentality, and the combination was never more sublime than in this romantic pearl of a film. Chaplin reprises his signature “Little Tramp” character, who falls for a blind flower girl (Virginia Cherrill). Unable to see his tattered suit, the young woman falls for what she thinks is a millionaire. To get the poetic moment where these two meet just right, Chaplin shot and reshot the scene a total of 342 times. Better still is the moment after her sight is restored where she touches his hand and recognizes the truth.
Read Variety’s original review of “City Lights” here . Stream the film on HBO Max.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
A gangster movie so fresh and bold, so brazen in its eroticism, so shocking in its bullet-in-the-eye violence that it effectively became the stake through the heart of the Hollywood studio system. Yet the aesthetic secret of “Bonnie and Clyde” is that it’s actually poised, with a one-of-a-kind perfection, between the cinematic world that came before it and the one that came after. Telling the story of the infamous 1930s bank robbers Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, who are played with breathtaking glamour and heartbreaking vulnerability by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the film kicked open the door to the flowing freedom of the New Hollywood, yet Arthur Penn directed it with a visual rigor and an iron-clad design that can only be called classical.
Read Variety’s original review of “Bonnie and Clyde” here . Rent or purchase the film on Prime Video .
The 400 Blows (1959)
Many a canonized classic has had its edges softened by intervening years of admiration. But the debut from foundational French New Waver François Truffaut, a film critic of notoriously brutal insight, resists this certain tendency, just as Truffaut, although mining his own childhood, resists nostalgia. Instead, this portrait of parentally neglected adolescent Parisian truant Antoine (Jean-Pierre Léaud, in one of the greatest-ever juvenile performances) remains beautifully raw, playing not as memories meticulously re-created but as incidents being lived for the first time. After this, Léaud would be an actor, and Truffaut not just a director but an auteur (a theory he’d passionately advocated). But here, nothing is yet written and “The 400 Blows,” from its classroom opening to its stunningly evocative final freeze frame, stays eternally new.
Read Variety’s original review of “The 400 Blows” here . Stream the film on HBO Max.
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
The funniest, and most zany-sublime, of the four Cary Grant-Katharine Hepburn collaborations, Howard Hawks’ uproarious farce is fast, wild and awash with feisty chemistry in all the ways the screwball genre of speedy wisecracks and chaotic couplings demands. But what’s perhaps most special about “Bringing Up Baby” is its commitment to high levels of absurdity in a disorderly and unusual playpen, one that embraces both an on-the-loose leopard and a misplaced dinosaur bone. From ahead-of-its-time observations on gender norms to blistering zingers exchanged between a nerdy paleontologist and a frantic socialite, Hawks’ dizzying romantic comedy is an ageless classic.
Read Variety’s original review of “Bringing Up Baby” here . Rent or purchase the film on Prime Video .
Tokyo Story (1953)
Over and over in his astonishing career, Japanese legend Yasujirō Ozu proved his miraculous facility for a piercingly precise, intimate humanism that unfurls in every direction into an epic thematic landscape. The last film in Ozu’s “Noriko trilogy,” after “Late Spring” and “Early Summer,” “Tokyo Story” takes the director’s deceptively quiet domestic focus to its most transcendent height. Out of the minutely observed story of an aging couple visiting Tokyo and treated with different flavors of neglect and disrespect by their grown-up children, Ozu, abetted by a superlative cast led by Chishū Ryū and Chieko Higashiyama as the elderly parents, fashions simply the greatest and most devastating film about the generation gap ever made.
Stream “Tokyo Story” on HBO Max or Prime Video .
The Apartment (1960)
In 1960, Billy Wilder was convinced that corporations were ruining Hollywood. He spun that cynicism into this mordant comedy that casts a cold eye on the effect of big business on human decency, where Jack Lemmon’s cubicle worker Bud Baxter might sell out the woman he loves (Shirley MacLaine) for a key to the junior executives’ washroom. As MacLaine’s depressive elevator operator sighs, “Some people take and some people get took.” Many critics took offense at the film itself, discomfited that Wilder refused to lecture audiences that Baxter was acting like a louse. That ambiguity gives Wilder’s film its lasting depth — its satire feels more relevant every year — and, in a stroke of irony, proved that great art could be made under corporate Hollywood after all.
Read Variety’s original review of “The Apartment” here . Stream the film on Sling TV .
A stray bullet, a car horn, a thin scream, and Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown” pulls off perhaps the greatest dumb-luck downer ending in American cinema. But the ironic finale derives its tragic heft from a cast (Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston especially) working, alongside every crew department, to career-best form, on a Robert Towne screenplay dripping with malice and bristling with hidden agendas. Drought, incest, orange groves, murder and money, this is the L.A. neo-noir to end all L.A. neo-noirs, so controlled you could clone the entire gloriously grimy affair out of any single detail, from the bandage across Jake Gittes’ nose to the flaw in Evelyn Mulwray’s eye.
Read Variety’s original review of “Chinatown” here . Stream the film on HBO Max or Hulu .
Gone With the Wind (1939)
For a long time, it was simply the quintessential Hollywood movie: the spellbinding definition of how star power and spectacle, soap opera and history, could merge into an experience that swept audiences away. There are two ways that we now see it differently. Embedded in the film’s romantic vision of the South during and after the Civil War is a shameful insensitivity to the lives of Black Americans who were enslaved on plantations. Time has not been kind to “Gone With the Wind’s” blinkered vision of race. Yet it’s been very kind indeed to the thorny majesty of the film’s drama. Once viewed as the province of “women’s pictures,” the saga of Scarlett O’Hara now stands more clearly than ever as an American narrative of transcendent power, with Vivien Leigh delivering the most wrenching performance by a female actor of the studio-system era.
Read Variety’s original review of “Gone With the Wind” here . Stream the film on HBO Max.
Blue Velvet (1986)
In the 1980s, the roots of the independent-film revolution sprouted overnight when David Lynch released his most sensational and talked-about movie. It was a mesmerizing freak-show dream that was equal parts shock theater and film noir, with a performance by Dennis Hopper that seemed to redefine evil, a scene with Dean Stockwell that’s as strange and hypnotic as any scene in history, and an ominous wide-eyed storytelling eagerness that looked back at old movies and forward into how they could be reconfigured as surely as Quentin Tarantino would do in the next decade. Some think Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” upped the ante on “Blue Velvet.” In more ways than not, we think it — brilliantly — rehashed it, and that “Blue Velvet” remains the essential thriller symphony of Lynch’s career.
Read Variety’s original review of “Blue Velvet” here . Stream the film on Prime Video.
The Godfather Part II (1974)
The most masterful sequel ever made, which is one reason that some think it’s superior to “The Godfather.” Yet with the rigid cold stare of Pacino’s Michael Corleone at its center, his soul already in its death throes, this Shakespearean gangster epic shot in shades of pitch-black expands “The Godfather’s” heart of darkness in a way that’s more tragic but not, perhaps, as emotionally devouring. Its most operatically stunning achievement — destroyed by Coppola in his assorted alternate versions — is the cross-cutting between Michael’s descent and the rise to power of the young Vito Corleone, played by Robert De Niro as a family man and close-to-the-vest killer who chooses crime because it’s the only way to join America that has chosen him.
Read Variety’s original review of “The Godfather Part II” here . Rent or purchase the film on HBO Max .
As revered as he is, Ingmar Bergman also gets something of a bad rap as a dour intellectual, isolated from humanity on his windswept island. “Persona” may be his most daunting achievement, an avant-garde two-hander that has confounded and fascinated audiences for more than half a century. (At the time of its release, it was a massive art-house phenomenon.) The formal and philosophical playfulness of this prismatic psychodrama is exhilarating — not to mention bracingly modern — as Bibi Andersson’s obsessive nurse melds with the recovering stage star, played by Liv Ullmann, in her care. Where most directors seek clarity, Bergman embraces a certain blurring of the lines uniquely suited to cinema, deviating from the formal and narrative rulebook in intimate sympathy with his characters’ mental breaks, ruptures and reversals.
Read Variety’s original review of “Persona” here . Stream the film on HBO Max.
In the 1970s, Robert Altman devised a way of making movies that was so intoxicatingly lifelike — the overlapping dialogue, the slow-zoom documentary look, the characters who seemed to drop in and out of the narrative until their dropping in became the narrative — that it’s as if he’d reinvented cinema as an entrancing new form of social vérité mirror. In “Nashville,” his densely packed and ebullient tour de force, Altman follows the seemingly random actions of 24 characters over five days in the country-music capital, and what it all adds up to is an astonishingly moving and forward-looking vision of an America that’s falling apart and coming together at the same time.
Read Variety’s original review of “Nashville” here . Purchase the film on Prime Video.
Studio director Michael Curtiz wasn’t exactly what the French would call an “auteur.” Turns out, that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. “Casablanca” illustrates how well the Hollywood system could work, no matter who was behind the camera — especially when those in front included Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman (and their respective accents). In just 102 minutes, the movie telegraphs a deep personal history between these two ex-lovers, reunited at Rick’s Café Américain in Morocco; a terrific romantic dilemma in the picture’s World War II present (to pick up where they left off or send her packing with her Resistance fighter husband?); and a bittersweet sense of the future without regrets … or each other.
Read Variety’s original review of “Casablanca” here . Stream the film on HBO Max.
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
Released just two weeks before “The Jazz Singer,” F.W. Murnau’s turbulent love-triangle drama marked the pinnacle of silent expressionism, including dramatic lighting (a signature of German directors at the time, imported here to Hollywood), elaborate tracking shots and impressive in-camera effects. While the acting clearly belongs to an earlier time — one that made intertitles nearly unnecessary — “Sunrise” still looks downright avant-garde compared with the relatively conservative direction film language took once sound recording forced production back indoors, making it impossible for talkies to replicate the way Murnau moved the camera through outdoor scenes and custom-built sets (like the busy street scenes). There’s no telling what movies might look like today had cinema continued in this direction.
Read Variety’s original review of “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans” here . Stream the film on Prime Video .
Do the Right Thing (1989)
When Spike Lee’s outspoken portrait of interracial, inner-city tensions was first reviewed, several critics voiced concerns that it might spark riots. The film was plenty provocative at the time (Barack and Michelle Obama famously made this conversation starter their first date), but Lee’s prescience explains how it achieved the status of American cinema’s most potent protest statement. The film’s fight-the-power finale — in which the director’s livid alter ego, Mookie, chucks a trash can through the window of Sal’s Bed-Stuy pizzeria — anticipated the contemporary wave of demonstrations against police brutality. From Rosie Perez’s defiantly hyperkinetic opening-credits dance, Lee plunges audiences into a heat-wave-heightened version of his own Brooklyn neighborhood, where the locals loom larger than life. He shows members of the Black, Latino and white communities trying to coexist. But the divisions become impossible to ignore after what happens to Radio Raheem, still one of the most upsetting fates in screen history. It wasn’t until Spike Lee came along and rocked the status quo that Hollywood seriously started making room for the consciousness of Black voices.
Read Variety ‘s original review of “Do the Right Thing” here . Rent or purchase the film on Prime Video.
The Rules of the Game (1939)
A searing sociopolitical satire of France’s ruling class on the brink of World War II, Jean Renoir’s immersive and studiously choreographed ensemble drama — once destroyed after the furious response it received, later reconstructed — still stuns through graceful camera movements in deep-focus long takes. “‘The Rules of the Game’ taught me the rules of the game,” Robert Altman once said. With an operatic ensemble portraying the two ends of an upstairs-downstairs class divide during a countryside hunting party, Renoir’s cumulatively dizzying comedy of manners indeed came to influence countless filmmakers all the way into the 21st century, if a gleaming New Year’s Eve sequence in Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” is any indication.
Read Variety’s original review of “The Rules of the Game” here . Rent or purchase the film on Prime Video.
“The Godfather” may be the great mob-saga-as-Greek-tragedy, but it was also a work of fiction, adapted from a novel, whereas Martin Scorsese’s slick, no-apologies treatment of Nicholas Pileggi’s “Wiseguy” was rooted in reality. That’s at once the film’s appeal and the thing that makes it so unsettling: These brutal suburban gangsters really existed and seemed relatable enough to be our next-door neighbors … or ourselves. Scorsese overtly encourages such identification, seducing us with the roller-coaster run-up of the first act, while breezing past the moral compromises made by charismatic antihero Henry Hill (Ray Liotta). It looks sexy at first from the perspective of his wife, Karen (Lorraine Bracco): DP Michael Ballhaus’ famous Steadicam shot through the side door of the Copacabana puts us in her position, swept up in Henry’s swanky new world. Then the whackings start and the mood changes, unpredictable as Joe Pesci’s trigger-happy Tommy DeVito, and we realize what an astonishing balancing act this elaborate network of allegiances has been, not just between characters, but also with our sympathies.
Read Variety ‘s original review of “Goodfellas” here . Stream the film on HBO Max.
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
A quarter-century after movies found their voice, Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen teamed up to honor that transition, using song and dance to show what’s so splendid about the medium. In a 2007 interview with Variety, Ray Bradbury described MGM’s glorious homage as a “great science-fiction musical.” In his words, “It is science fiction because it is about the invention of sound and how that invention changed the history of Hollywood.” The rest of the world sees this as a romantic comedy in which Debbie Reynolds’ ingénue gets swept off her feet — and onto the big screen — while Kelly taps his way into her heart. The swoony, seemingly spontaneous lamppost sequence is pure bliss, topping even Fred Astaire’s dancin’-on-the-ceiling number from “Royal Wedding” the year before.
Read Variety’s original review of “Singin’ in the Rain” here . Stream the film on HBO Max.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
No American director has demonstrated a more instinctive sense of how to engage and immerse an audience in someone else’s experience than Steven Spielberg, who (as big-screen memoir “The Fabelmans” reminds) started out making amateur combat films with neighborhood friends. By the time the born entertainer got around to orchestrating this epic World War II rescue, he’d convincingly brought sharks, aliens and dinosaurs to life — all fantasies compared with the brutal Omaha beach landing in this film. The D-Day invasion builds on the achievement of “Schindler’s List,” vividly re-creating history so we feel as if we’re experiencing it firsthand. Nothing in cinema can touch the virtuosity of that opening, but Spielberg keeps us riveted — amid sniper attacks and trial-by-fire bonding — as all-American Tom Hanks and his three-dimensional co-stars carry out their nail-biting suicide mission. The pinnacle of a spectacular but often cynical genre, this sobering call-of-duty drama brings us to the brink of hell while preserving the characters’ humanity in the process, thereby honoring the sacrifice of all who’ve served.
Read Variety ‘s original review of “Saving Private Ryan” here . Stream the film on Paramount+ .
All About Eve (1950)
Bette Davis is the Godzilla of showbiz monsters in this fire-breathing satire of the fragility of stardom. In an industry that didn’t take long to figure out the easy-come-easy-go nature of success, Joseph L. Mankiewicz brilliantly transformed a short story from Cosmopolitan magazine in such a way as to amplify the shrewd insight of the woman who wrote it. The too-true fable sees aging Broadway legend Margo Channing (Davis) seduced by conniving up-and-comer Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), who flatters her with praise, only to insinuate herself into the older woman’s life. Eve and Margo are such strong, universal characters that they’ve since become a kind of shorthand — gender-agnostic archetypes for the vain but vulnerable diva and the viper who serves as that person’s undoing.
Read Variety’s original review of “All About Eve” here . Rent or purchase the film on Prime Video or Apple TV .
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Frank Capra’s heart-wrenching classic failed at the box office in its original release, only to become Hollywood’s ultimate populist Christmas fable. It’s one of the most touching movies ever made — and if you look closely, one of the darkest. (That may be why it didn’t connect in 1946.) Yet it’s also one of the most profound movies ever made. The tale of a small-town family man, George Bailey (James Stewart in his quintessential performance), who can’t seem to realize his big dreams until he realizes that the life around him is the dream he was seeking, it’s the movie that instructs all of us to wake up to the miracle we’re living.
Read Variety ‘s original review of “It’s a Wonderful Life” here . Stream the film on Prime Video.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
The most exquisite line in the history of movie advertising got it just right. Stanley Kubrick directed what is still the ultimate trip — the only sci-fi spectacle that feels, at every moment, like it’s taking you to another world. From the awesome glory of the “Also sprach Zarathustra” planetary-alignment prelude to the ape using a bone to discover human intelligence (and violence), from the “Blue Danube” ballet of orbiting satellites to the mission to Jupiter that becomes an outlandishly suspenseful astronaut-versus-computer showdown, from the still-eyeball-blowing psychedelic wormhole climax to the Star Child who is all of us reborn, Kubrick’s trancelike thriller meditation on the place of man in the universe stands as one of cinema’s monolithic achievements.
Read Variety ‘s original review of “2001: A Space Odyssey” here . Stream the film on HBO Max.
Seven Samurai (1954)
Whereas Western action movies typically pit a lone hero against whatever evil might be threatening his family (“Die Hard”), town (“High Noon”) or planet (every Bond movie ever), Akira Kurosawa’s expansive ensemble drama is all about teamwork. The Japanese virtuoso, who had introduced the notion of competing perspectives with art-house breakthrough “Rashomon,” here worked to unify his cast toward a common goal: protecting a village of defenseless farmers from bandits. Despite its 207-minute running time, the resulting epic is ruthlessly economical in its storytelling. Kurosawa takes care to give each of his characters a distinct personality, some serious (e.g., “Ikiru” star Takashi Shimura as the group’s leader), others comical (like legendary scene-stealer Toshiro Mifune). Practically every rally-the-heroes movie since owes a debt to this OG testament to collective bravery.
Read Variety’ s original review of “Seven Samurai” here . Stream the film on HBO Max.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
We all know what a fertile time the 1970s were for Hollywood, but it’s a truth less commonly acknowledged that the ’90s brought every bit as great a cinematic revolution — this one from the margins — with Quentin Tarantino as its motormouth mascot. Where fellow indie directors Soderbergh, Jarmusch, Haynes, et al. dug into the grittier corners of reality, Tarantino took his louche film-geek obsessions and remixed them into this monumental homage to the junk food that had nourished him as a video store clerk and B-movie addict. Unapologetically profane and infinitely quotable, “Pulp Fiction” transformed movies overnight. It inspired countless knockoffs, liberated movies to come from chronological storytelling and restarted the careers of Bruce Willis and John Travolta, while bringing a kind of hipster credibility to genre cinema that forever changed audience tastes.
Read Variety ‘s original review of “Pulp Fiction” here . Stream the film on HBO Max.
Citizen Kane (1941)
For decades it was commonly thought of as the greatest movie ever made, and there are a lot of reasons why: the visionary excitement of it, the through-a-snow-globe-darkly Gothic majesty of it, the joyous acting, the hypnotic structure, the playfulness, the doomy haunting symbolism of Rosebud, and on and on. Then-25-year-old Orson Welles charged into Hollywood as if it were the world’s greatest toy store, directing his debut feature with such an ebullient, rule-breaking force of virtuosity that it’s as if he’d made the first American independent film. That Welles took on the media tycoon William Randolph Hearst (whom he plays a barely veiled version of), only to see his movie — and, in a way, his career — stomped by Hearst’s power, shows you that there were limits to what even a genius megalomaniac like Welles could bring off. But not many.
Read Variety ‘s original review of “Citizen Kane” here . Stream the film on HBO Max .
The Godfather (1972)
Riding the crest of the New Hollywood, Francis Ford Coppola made what is still the greatest film since the fadeout of the studio system: a classical epic of indelibly dark sweeping grandeur, and a movie that embedded itself so richly in the popular imagination that for 50 years it has spoken to audiences on every level of experience. Watching the saga of the Corleones, we’re plunged, vicariously, into a life of organized crime, in all its power and blood and influence and fear. At the same time, we’re immersed in the drama of an Italian American family who, in their dance of loyalty and rivalry and devotion, connect with us in a way that’s at once personal and primal. Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and the rest of the singular cast embody their roles as if they’d been born to play them. The eternal shattering paradox of “The Godfather” is that the Corleones are at once a cozy clan of Old World romantic role models, ruthless paragons of the American dream and profoundly relatable monsters. Maybe that’s why their story became our story.
Read Variety’s original review of “The Godfather” here . Rent or purchase the film on Prime Video or Apple TV.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Wholesome Hollywood entertainment at its most upbeat and pure, Victor Fleming’s joyous Technicolor classic has stood the test of time, gifting pleasure to multiple generations, while representing the gold standard against which all other cinematic enchantments are judged. That simple device of shifting from black and white to color when Judy Garland’s Dorothy enters the Land of Oz sets up audiences for the magical experience ahead, minting the template for the “Avatar,” “Star Wars” and “Lord of the Rings” franchises. We marvel alongside our wide-eyed heroine as she sets off with her three new friends — and her little dog too — to prove their smarts, hearts and courage. At their most successful, movies feel like waking reveries, which is also how one might describe Dorothy’s fantastical quest. As it happens, this is how we as audiences engage with cinema, bringing every aspect of our life experience to the allegories presented on-screen, thereby making them our own. Meanwhile, in the character of the Wizard, young viewers get an essential warning about how the medium can be used to manipulate us into believing in an alternate reality.
Read Variety’s original review of “The Wizard of Oz” here . Stream the film on HBO Max or Hulu .
There’s hardly a frame of Alfred Hitchcock’s cataclysmic slasher masterpiece that isn’t iconic. If you don’t believe us, consider the following: Eyes. Holes. Birds. Drains. Windshield wipers. A shower. A torso. A knife. “Blood, blood!” A Victorian stairway. Mother in her rocking chair. For decades, “Psycho” enjoyed such a cosmic pop-cultural infamy that, in a funny way, its status as a work of art got overshadowed. Hailing it as Hitchcock’s greatest movie — let alone the greatest movie ever made — wouldn’t have seemed quite respectable. Yet there’s a reason that every moment in “Psycho” is iconic, and that Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh, as Norman Bates and Marion Crane, became fixed in our imaginations like figures out of a dream. The entire movie, while shot on late-’50s TV sets and conceived by Hitchcock as a prank-the-audience Gothic trapdoor thriller, came to exist (and, really, it always had) on the level of riveting mythology. In 45 seconds, the shower scene rips the 20th century in half; what Hitchcock was expressing was profound — that in the modern world, the center would no longer hold. And once the movie kills off its heroine (killing off, in the process, the very idea that God will protect us), it turns into the cinema’s most hypnotic, seductive and prophetic meditation on fear, lust, innocence, violence and identity. More than perhaps any movie ever made, “Psycho” is a film you can watch again and again and again. It’s a movie that speaks to us now more than ever, because it shows us, in every teasingly sinister moment, how life itself came to feel like a fun house poised over an abyss.
Read Variety’s original review of “Psycho” here . Rent or purchase the film on Apple TV or Prime Video .
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96. The Gunfighter (1950) | Director: Henry King - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 85 minutes | The premise of a gunslinger coming out of retirement might be cliché by today’s standards, but it was quite fresh when this Western debuted in 1950, making “The Gunfighter” a trailblazer of sorts. Furthermore, the movie’s reflective and psychological approach helped pave the way for similar and more successful fare like “High Noon.” In the film, a famous desperado (Gregory Peck) straps up the six-shooter for one final showdown, as he squares off against vengeful cowboys. (Twentieth Century Fox)
100 best films of all time, according to critics
Stacker gathered data from Metacritic (as of March 16, 2021), where movies are scored based on their aggregate critical reception. Movies not yet released to the public were not included.
100 best films of all time, according to critics | For more than a century, there have been movies, and there have been people paid to review them. Opinions are everywhere nowadays, but film critics still hold a certain amount of sway over how works are perceived. That might have people wondering: what are the best movies of all time according to critics? For the answer, Stacker gathered data from Metacritic (as of March 16, 2021), where movies are scored based on their aggregate critical reception. Movies not yet released to the public were not included. (British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC))
100. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
100. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003) | Director: Peter Jackson - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 201 minutes | The last film in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy won 11 Academy Awards, the third movie ever to do so, along with “Titanic” and “Ben-Hur.” It is the most Oscar-nominated movie in history to win in every single one of its nomination categories. (New Line Cinema)
99. Chimes at Midnight (1967)
99. Chimes at Midnight (1967) | Director: Orson Welles - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 119 minutes | Orson Welles not only directs but stars as the Shakespearean character Sir John Falstaff, drawing from the plays “Henry IV,” “Henry V,” “Richard II,” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” It was based on a play Welles wrote called “Five Kings,” which flopped on its opening night in New York City in 1939. (Internacional Films)
98. Lady Bird (2017)
98. Lady Bird (2017) | Director: Greta Gerwig - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 94 minutes | nAfter starring in a string of popular indie films, actress Greta Gerwig wrote and directed this comedy-drama about a teenage girl who comes of age in Sacramento, California, in the early 2000s. Featuring powerhouse performances from actresses Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf, the movie immediately distinguished itself as being the best-reviewed film in the history of Rotten Tomatoes. (Scott Rudin Productions)
97. We Were Here (2011)
97. We Were Here (2011) | Directors: Bill Weber, David Weissman - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 90 minutes | In the early 1980s, San Francisco’s flourishing gay community was devastated by the AIDS epidemic, which delivered unfathomable amounts of suffering and loss. Revisiting those early days by way of interviews and footage, this 2011 documentary chronicles the immediate impact of the crisis and shows how the community united while taking on a tragedy of calamitous proportion. (Wiessman Projects)
96. The Gunfighter (1950)
95. Apocalypse Now (1979)
95. Apocalypse Now (1979) | Director: Francis Ford Coppola - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 153 minutes | When making his iconic Vietnam War movie, 1979’s “Apocalypse Now,” director Francis Ford Coppola endured many psychological and physical setbacks. Over two decades passed before he revisited the film, releasing this unabridged, digitally restored version in 2001, which included a host of previously cut scenes. Meanwhile, the original story remained intact. It’s about a soldier (Martin Sheen) who’s sent into the heart of the Cambodian jungle to assassinate a rogue colonel (Marlon Brando). (Zoetrope Studios)
94. The Apartment (1960)
94. The Apartment (1960) | Director: Billy Wilder - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 125 minutes | The comedy stars Jack Lemmon as an insurance company employee who lets the firm’s bigwigs use his Manhattan apartment for their trysts in hopes of getting a promotion. Fred MacMurray plays his boss, who is having an affair with an elevator operator played by Shirley MacLaine. During a break from filming, MacLaine made an uncredited cameo appearance in “Ocean’s 11,” which starred Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and the rest of the Rat Pack. (The Mirisch Corporation)
93. Meet Me in St. Louis (1945)
93. Meet Me in St. Louis (1945) | Director: Vincente Minnelli - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 113 minutes | Judy Garland leads the cast of the popular family musical. Margaret O’Brien, who was 7, plays her little sister and was given a special Academy Award for outstanding child actress. Director Vincente Minnelli and Garland met while making the movie and later were married. (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM))
92. Schindler's List (1993)
92. Schindler's List (1993) | Director: Steven Spielberg - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 195 minutes | In the early 1990s, Steven Spielberg released one of his most personal and sophisticated films to date, about German industrialist Oskar Schindler (played by Liam Neeson) who became an unlikely savior to over 1,000 Jews during the Holocaust. Critics noted how the film represented a major step up for the director in virtually every regard. Proving just how pure Spielberg’s intentions were, he refused a salary when making the movie and donated his profits to a charitable foundation. (Universal Pictures)
91. Sideways (2004)
91. Sideways (2004) | Director: Alexander Payne - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 126 minutes | Despite its understated premise, this 2004 comedy-drama from Alexander Payne was a veritable phenomenon upon its release and had a discernible effect on the wine industry at large. Based on a novel, the film follows two close friends (Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church) as they travel through wine country, encountering romance and excessive amounts of alcohol along the way. Winner of Best Adapted Screenplay at the Academy Awards, the movie earned rave reviews and over $100 million at the box office. (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
90. Inside Out (2015)
90. Inside Out (2015) | Directors: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 94 minutes | This inventive Pixar movie goes where no animated adventure has gone before: inside the mind of a young girl named Riley. That’s where viewers are introduced to Riley’s personified emotions, specifically joy, fear, anger, sadness and disgust. When Riley’s family moves to a new city, her emotions must likewise learn to navigate entirely new terrain. Featured in the film are voices from a range of comedic talents, including Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, and Mindy Kaling, among others. (Pixar Animation Studios)
89. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
89. Shadow of a Doubt (1943) | Director: Alfred Hitchcock - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 108 minutes | In this 1943 thriller, “master of suspense” Alfred Hitchcock tells the story of young Charlotte 'Charlie' Newton (Teresa Wright) who gets a surprise visit from her Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten). When Uncle Charlie starts to exhibit some abnormal behavior, Charlotte begins to wonder if he’s actually a con artist and potential murderer. (Universal Pictures)
88. Amazing Grace (2018)
88. Amazing Grace (2018) | Directors: Alan Elliott, Sydney Pollack - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 87 minutes | The performance of Aretha Franklin recording a gospel album was shot over two days in 1972 at the New Bethel Baptist Church in the Watts section of Los Angeles. Because director Sydney Pollack failed to use clapper boards to synchronize the film’s video and audio, the footage originally could not be used. It was not until many years later that Alan Elliott found a way to sync the film and the sound. Appearing briefly are Rolling Stones’ musicians Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts who stopped by to hear Franklin sing. (40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks)
87. The Wild Child (1970)
87. The Wild Child (1970) | Director: François Truffaut - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 83 minutes | Francois Truffaut directs and appears in the story of a feral boy found living among wolves in a forest. The French director plays a doctor who tries to teach and care for the child. The film is based on the true story of a boy found in 19th-century France who was given the name Victor and known as the “Wild Boy of Aveyron.” The real-life Dr. Jean Itard was chief physician at the National Institution for Deaf-Mutes, and his work was influential in the development of the Montessori teaching method. (Les Artistes Associés)
86. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
86. Grave of the Fireflies (1988) | Director: Isao Takahata - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 89 minutes | The animated film from Japan features a young boy and girl struggling to survive in the last days of World War II. It was based on a novel of the same name by Akiyuki Nosaka. Nosaka’s book was inspired by the lives of the author and his younger sister, who died of malnutrition during the war in Japan. (Shinchosha Company)
85. The Irishman (2019)
85. The Irishman (2019) | Director: Martin Scorsese - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 209 minutes | The 3.5-hour epic stars Robert de Niro, Harvey Keitel, and Joe Pesci, all veterans of Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed mob movies, as well as Al Pacino, who had not worked with Scorsese before. The movie used “digital de-aging” techniques to portray the older characters as several decades younger. Nominated for 10 Oscars, it won none. (56 Ridge Productions)
84. Mr. Turner (2014)
84. Mr. Turner (2014) | Director: Mike Leigh - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 150 minutes | Proving that audiences and critics don’t always see eye to eye, this 2014 biographical drama from Mike Leigh is almost universally heralded by professional reviewers but completely hit or miss among general moviegoers. Chronicled in the film are the life and times of eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner, played by Timothy Spall. Haunted by the death of his father and in possession of great talent, Turner engages in a range of controversial exploits, often to the disapproval of others. (Simon Mein)
83. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
83. The Manchurian Candidate (1962) | Director: John Frankenheimer - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 126 minutes | Frank Sinatra stars in this 1962 thriller about a former POW who’s brainwashed into becoming a political assassin. Released at the height of the Cold War, the film kicked off what’s now known as Frankenheimer’s “paranoia trilogy.” It opened to solid reviews but underperformed at the box office. In the time since, however, “The Manchurian Candidate” has garnered appreciation among a wider audience, and the film was even remade in 2004. (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.)
82. Pulp Fiction (1994)
82. Pulp Fiction (1994) | Director: Quentin Tarantino - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 154 minutes | 1992’s “Reservoir Dogs” might have put director Quentin Tarantino on the cultural map, but it was this 1994 masterpiece that made him a worldwide phenom. Weaving multiple Los Angeles-based storylines together in brilliant fashion, the film brings its viewers into Tarantino’s fully realized world of grit, violence, and wicked comedy. Indeed, between the iconic dialogue, the unconventional narrative, the distinct aesthetic, the killer soundtrack, the memorable characters, and the bevy of classic scenes, “Pulp Fiction” remains as vital now as it was upon its debut. (Miramax)
81. Taxi Driver (1976)
81. Taxi Driver (1976) | Director: Martin Scorsese - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 114 minutes | One of director Martin Scorsese’s earliest feature films is also one of his best. That film is 1976’s “Taxi Driver,” and it stars Robert De Niro as Vietnam War veteran-turned-cabbie Travis Bickle. While cruising New York City at night, Bickle becomes increasingly disgusted with the filth that surrounds him, and he slowly descends into madness. Eventually, he emerges as a gun-toting madman, with multiple targets in sight. (Columbia Pictures)
80. 45 Years (2015)
80. 45 Years (2015) | Director: Andrew Haigh - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 95 minutes | True to its name, this 2015 drama centers on a couple who have been married for 45 years. As they plan to celebrate their upcoming anniversary, the husband (Tom Courtenay) gets word his first love—who disappeared decades ago—has been found dead in a melting glacier. The news has a discernible effect on the husband and causes him to act strangely, which consequently prompts his wife (Charlotte Rampling) to re-examine the man she thought she knew so well. (BFI Film Fund)
79. The Searchers (1956)
79. The Searchers (1956) | Director: John Ford - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 119 minutes | John Wayne is a Confederate Army veteran who spends years obsessively tracking down the Comanches who kidnapped his niece, killed her family, and set their home on fire. The film has come under criticism for its racist views of American Indians. Wayne and director John Ford worked together on more than a dozen movies. (C.V. Whitney Pictures)
78. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
78. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) | Director: John Ford - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 123 minutes | As far as the residents of Shinbone are concerned, the man who shot ruthless outlaw Liberty Valance was Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart), who went on to become a senator. However, when Stoddard comes back into town years later, he reveals he might not have been the shooter after all. As it turns out, Tom Doniphon (John Wayne) is the film’s real hero. (Paramount Pictures)
77. Dunkirk (2017)
77. Dunkirk (2017) | Director: Christopher Nolan - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 106 minutes | Director Christopher Nolan’s gripping World War II drama recounts the Battle of Dunkirk when hundreds of thousands of Allied troops were forced to evacuate a French coastal town as the German enemy closed in. From the first scene to the last, the film delivers a pulse-pounding ride, pitting various soldiers against what seems to be their inevitable demise. Some journalists criticized the film for its supposed inaccuracies, but critics and audiences definitely didn’t mind. (Warner Bros.)
76. Amour (2012)
76. Amour (2012) | Director: Michael Haneke - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 127 minutes | Controversial director Michael Haneke puts a couple’s decades-long marriage to the test in this slow-moving, intricate work. Specifically, the movie centers on a pair of retired school teachers, whose loving marriage is manifested by a series of daily rituals. After the wife suffers a massive stroke, her condition deteriorates to the point that she’s no longer recognizable as the person she once was. Consequently, the husband must struggle with a range of emotions while acting as her loyal caretaker. (Les Films du Losange)
75. Before Midnight (2013)
75. Before Midnight (2013) | Director: Richard Linklater - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 109 minutes | Richard Linklater’s heralded “Before” Trilogy began in 1995 with “Before Sunrise," and culminated with this 2013 effort. After dallying with romance during their previous encounters, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) have finally tied the knot, and by the time “Before Midnight” begins, they’re going on nine years of marriage. As they and their two daughters vacation in Greece, however, cracks begin to show in the relationship, forcing the couple to once again evaluate a range of emotions and ideas. (Sony Pictures Classics)
74. Carol (2015)
74. Carol (2015) | Director: Todd Haynes - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 118 minutes | Based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith, this quiet film from Todd Haynes stars Cate Blanchett as Carol, a gay housewife trapped in a loveless marriage. After sparks fly between her and a young woman (Rooney Mara), the two find themselves breaking free from the conventions of their time. Kyle Chandler and Sarah Paulson co-star. (Wilson Webb)
73. WALL-E (2008)
73. WALL-E (2008) | Director: Andrew Stanton - Metascore: 95 - Runtime: 98 minutes | Set in the distant (or not-so-distant) future—where Earth has become uninhabitable—this 2008 Pixar feature follows the adventures of a lovable, trash-collecting robot. After boarding a massive spaceship, the robot discovers that humanity hasn’t exactly learned from its previous mistakes. Due to its somewhat bleak vision and an extended opening segment that’s virtually absent of dialogue, “WALL-E” is unlike any other film in Pixar’s catalogue. That said, it was still widely praised and financially successful—just like most of the studio’s output. (Sony Pictures Classics)
72. A Separation (2011)
72. A Separation (2011) | Director: Asghar Farhadi - Metascore: 95 - Runtime: 123 minutes | Written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, this 2011 Iranian drama finds a married couple in the midst of a crisis. Specifically, the wife seeks a divorce and a better life abroad for her and her daughter, while the husband insists the family stay together in Iran and take care of his sickly father. As the dispute unfolds, the country’s own societal norms are put under the microscope. In addition to wildly positive reviews, “A Separation” received a slew of major awards, including an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. (Sony Pictures Classics)
71. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
71. Zero Dark Thirty (2012) | Director: Kathryn Bigelow - Metascore: 95 - Runtime: 157 minutes | This taut dramatic thriller depicts the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden in the wake of 9/11, which eventually led to the terrorist’s assassination. At the heart of the investigation is a CIA operative named Maya, played to perfection by Jessica Chastain. Overcoming a range of political obstacles, Maya stays the course throughout the entire film and ultimately makes the final call as to bin Laden’s whereabouts. (Jonathon Olley)
70. Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
70. Anatomy of a Murder (1959) | Director: Otto Preminger - Metascore: 95 - Runtime: 160 minutes | A lawyer played by James Stewart comes out of retirement to defend a U.S. Army lieutenant accused of murdering a man (Ben Gazzara) who allegedly raped his wife (Lee Remick). George C. Scott plays the prosecutor in the story riddled with secrets. Jayne Mansfield turned down Remick’s part, and Gregory Peck was considered for the lead. The role of the judge was offered to Burl Ives and Spencer Tracy but in the end was played by Joseph N. Welch, a real-life lawyer who represented the U.S. Army in the 1954 anti-Communist Army-McCarthy hearings. He never memorized his lines and instead read them off a teleprompter, and it was his only movie role. (Otto Preminger Film)
69. The Hurt Locker (2009)
69. The Hurt Locker (2009) | Director: Kathryn Bigelow - Metascore: 95 - Runtime: 131 minutes | Set during the Iraq War, this taut war drama follows a bomb squad maverick Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) as he dismantles various explosives. Winner of Best Picture at the Academy Awards, the film is sustained by a near-constant sense of dread, as it seems like James’ life could vaporize at any given moment. Many veterans have taken the movie to task over its reported exaggerations but watching it makes for a genuinely gripping experience nevertheless. (Jonathan Olley)
68. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1938)
68. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1938) | Directors: Ben Sharpsteen, David Hand, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Wilfred Jackson, William Cottrell - Metascore: 95 - Runtime: 83 minutes | Walt Disney’s legacy might have started with a mouse named Mickey, but it was this 1938 animated feature that kicked off the studio’s cinematic streak. Based on a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, the movie follows Snow White as she flees from an evil queen and seeks shelter with a group of highly personable dwarfs. At one point during production, Disney mortgaged his own house to secure more financing. Needless to say, the effort paid off handsomely, especially in the long run. )(Disney
67. Collective (2020)
67. Collective (2020) | Director: Alexander Nanau - Metascore: 95 - Runtime: 109 minutes | A determined group of journalists, activists, and victims takes on corruption and fraud in Romania following a devastating nightclub fire that killed 27 people and injured 180. Dozens of burn victims died in the months that followed from infections they acquired while hospitalized. Former President Barack Obama listed the documentary as one of his favorite films in 2020. (Alexander Nanau Production)
66. Double Indemnity (1944)
66. Double Indemnity (1944) | Director: Billy Wilder - Metascore: 95 - Runtime: 107 minutes | In this noirish thriller from Billy Wilder, an insurance agent (Fred MacMurray) gets lured into a murderous scheme by his client’s wife (Barbara Stanwyck). Not only do the pair plot the murder of the woman’s husband, but thanks to a double indemnity clause in the victim’s insurance plan, they hope to walk away with twice the fortune. When adapting James M. Cain’s novel for the big screen, Wilder brought mystery legend Raymond Chandler on board as a co-writer, though the two men reportedly hated working with one another. Nevertheless, the script would go on to receive an Oscar nomination, while the film endures to this day as a genuine classic. (Paramount Pictures)
65. Woodstock (1970)
65. Woodstock (1970) | Director: Michael Wadleigh - Metascore: 95 - Runtime: 184 minutes | The film capturing Woodstock, the three-day musical festival in 1969 that came to define a generation, won an Academy Award for Best Documentary, Features. It has a treasure trove of performances by The Who, Joan Baez, Richie Havens, Joe Cocker, Jimi Hendrix, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Santana, and more, with interviews and footage from the iconic site in Bethel, New York. (Wadleigh-Maurice)
64. I Am Not Your Negro (2016)
64. I Am Not Your Negro (2016) | Director: Raoul Peck - Metascore: 95 - Runtime: 93 minutes | Using an unfinished novel by writer and social critic James Baldwin as its foundation, this award-winning documentary explores the history of race in America. Against a harrowing tapestry of archival footage, actor Samuel L. Jackson reads excerpts from “Remember This House,” Baldwin’s intended tribute to Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers. Interspersed throughout are interviews with Baldwin himself, whose words continue to emanate with poignancy to this day. (Arte France)
63. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
63. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) | Director: Céline Sciamma - Metascore: 95 - Runtime: 122 minutes | Set in 18th-century France, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” tells the story of the relationship that develops between an aristocratic bride-to-be and a young woman commissioned to paint her wedding portrait. The film has only brief lines of dialogue by men, and it has no musical score. (Lilies Films)
62. My Fair Lady (1964)
62. My Fair Lady (1964) | Director: George Cukor - Metascore: 95 - Runtime: 170 minutes | The musical classic stars Sir Rex Harrison as Professor Henry Higgins whose task is to transform a Cockney working-class girl—Eliza Doolittle played by Audrey Hepburn—into a presentable member of high society. Actors James Cagney, Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, Peter O'Toole, and Sir Michael Redgrave all were considered for the male lead before Harrison, who played Higgins on Broadway, was selected. Hepburn took lessons with a vocal coach and expected to do her own singing, but in the end most of her numbers were dubbed. (Warner Bros.)
61. The Social Network (2010)
61. The Social Network (2010) | Director: David Fincher - Metascore: 95 - Runtime: 120 minutes | Inspired by Ben Mezrich’s national bestseller, “The Accidental Billionaires,” this dark 2010 drama recounts the creation of Facebook, with Jesse Eisenberg starring as Mark Zuckerberg. While screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher definitely take some creative liberties, the result is a thoroughly compelling work about a brilliant misfit who ironically establishes the world’s most ubiquitous social network. (Merrick Morton)
60. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
60. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) | Director: James Whale - Metascore: 95 - Runtime: 75 minutes | The sequel to the 1931 film, “Frankenstein,” features Elsa Lanchester as Mary Shelley and as the iconic Bride with stitches on her face and silver streaks in her towering shock of hair, and Boris Karloff as the Monster. Their makeup reportedly took several hours to apply each day, and Lanchester used stilts that made her 7 feet tall. (Universal Pictures)
59. Toy Story (1995)
59. Toy Story (1995) | Director: John Lasseter - Metascore: 95 - Runtime: 81 minutes | The modern era of computer animation arguably begins with this original classic from 1995. In “Toy Story,” a cowboy named Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) gets a little jealous when his owner, Andy, starts playing with a killer new toy named Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen). Eventually, the two learn to get along, paving the way for a string of adventures that are still going to this day. (Pixar Animation Studios)
58. Small Axe: Lovers Rock (2020)
58. Small Axe: Lovers Rock (2020) | Director: Steve McQueen - Metascore: 95 - Runtime: 68 minutes | The film is a segment in the five-part “Small Axe” series that looks at the life of West Indians in London over the course of a decade. It was chosen for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it premiered at the virtual New York Film Festival. (British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC))
57. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
57. Beauty and the Beast (1991) | Directors: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise - Metascore: 95 - Runtime: 84 minutes | Disney was in the midst of a substantial comeback when it released this animated smash hit in 1991, about a cursed prince who’s doomed to exist as a beast, lest he finds true love and breaks the spell. While the movie is an indisputable classic with near-universal acclaim to show for it, some folks feel it conveys a bad message about tolerating unacceptable behavior. Of course, most would agree it’s a movie about learning to love someone for whom they are, and not for whom they appear to be. (Walt Disney Pictures)
56. Spirited Away (2002)
56. Spirited Away (2002) | Director: Hayao Miyazaki - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 125 minutes | In the annals of animated cinema, Japan’s Hayao Miyazaki is an absolute legend, with a bevy of renowned features to his name. Standing out from the pack is this acclaimed effort from 2002, which follows a young girl into a fantasy world run by all sorts of mystical beings, where humans are turned into beasts. Winner of Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards, the movie combines Miyazaki’s distinct visual style with a truly compelling story to downright masterful effect. (Tokuma Shoten)
55. Fantasia (1940)
55. Fantasia (1940) | Directors: Ben Sharpsteen, Bill Roberts, David Hand, Ford Beebe Jr., Hamilton Luske, James Algar, Jim Handley, Norman Ferguson, Paul Satterfield, Samuel Armstrong, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 125 minutes | The animated collection of works of classical music won an honorary Academy Award for its creation of visualized music and for advancing the use of sound in motion pictures. Accompanied by the Philadelphia Orchestra, include “Night on Bald Mountain” and Mickey Mouse in “The Sorcerer's Apprentice.” The film’s creators considered, but abandoned, the idea of spraying scents into theaters such as jasmine for the “Waltz of the Flowers” segment and incense for “Ave Maria.” (Walt Disney Production)
54. Gravity (2013)
54. Gravity (2013) | Director: Alfonso Cuarón - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 91 minutes | Before wowing critics with 2018’s “Roma,” director Alfonso Cuarón unleashed “Gravity” in 2013. The film is about two astronauts (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) who must fight for survival after their shuttle gets destroyed. By capitalizing on the latest 3D technology, the film brought viewers along for the ride, proverbially speaking. Between that and the engaging narrative, the movie earned heaping amounts of critical acclaim and over $700 million at the box office. (Warner Bros.)
53. The Lady Eve (1941)
53. The Lady Eve (1941) | Director: Preston Sturges - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 94 minutes | Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn, and William Demarest, “The Lady Eve” depicts a trio of hustlers who target a wealthy brewery heir on board an ocean liner. The film is a classic example of director Preston Sturges’ use of quick, comical dialogue, a lively supporting cast, and bustling, energetic scenes. (Paramount Pictures)
52. Mean Streets (1973)
52. Mean Streets (1973) | Director: Martin Scorsese - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 112 minutes | This gritty 1973 movie wasn’t director Martin Scorsese’s first film, but it might as well have been. Made on a shoestring budget of just $500,000 (half of which reportedly went toward the soundtrack), “Mean Streets” follows a small-time criminal named Charlie (Harvey Keitel) who struggles to reconcile his moral inclinations with his dangerous lifestyle. This film not only marked the first of many collaborations between Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro, but it furthermore cemented their respective statuses as veritable cinematic forces. (Warner Bros.)
51. Children of Paradise (1945)
51. Children of Paradise (1945) | Director: Marcel Carné - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 190 minutes | The story of a 20th-century courtesan and her admirers was filmed during the Nazi occupation of France. Working on its crew were many members of the French resistance, and the production designer and composer, who were Jewish, had to work in secret and participate through intermediaries. (Société Nouvelle Pathé Cinéma)
50. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
50. The Grapes of Wrath (1940) | Director: John Ford - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 129 minutes | John Steinbeck’s epic novel—about a Midwestern family that migrates to California during the Great Depression—leapt onto the big screen with this 1940 adaptation. The New York Times movie critic Frank Nugent wrote such an expert review of the work that he was subsequently hired by Fox Studios as a script-doctor. The film also won John Ford an Academy Award for Best Director. (Twentieth Century Fox)
49. Don't Look Now (1973)
49. Don't Look Now (1973) | Director: Nicolas Roeg - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 110 minutes | A married couple played by Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland are mourning the death of their daughter when they meet a psychic in Venice who says she can see their lost child. The two leads met initially on the set, and the first scene they shot was the film’s well-known sex scene. The scene was removed by censors when the movie was released in Ireland, and it had to be cut by nine frames, which was less than a half second, to avoid being rated X in the United States. (Casey Productions)
48. Rocks (2021)
48. Rocks (2021) | Director: Sarah Gavron - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 93 minutes | “Rocks” is the story of a teenage girl and her brother struggling to survive on the streets of London after being abandoned by their mother. Written by Nigerian British playwright and screenwriter Theresa Ikoko and film and television writer Claire Wilson, the movie was made with a mostly female crew. (Fable Pictures)
47. Parasite (2019)
47. Parasite (2019) | Director: Bong Joon-ho - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 132 minutes | “Parasite” depicts the intersection of a poor family living in a squalid basement with members of a wealthy family living in a mansion in Seoul. Made with subtitles, it was the first non-English language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It also won Oscars for best director and for best original screenplay. (Barunson E&A)
46. Ratatouille (2007)
46. Ratatouille (2007) | Director: Brad Bird - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 111 minutes | The legendary Brad Bird co-wrote and co-directed this Pixar classic, about an epicurean rat named Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) who puts his cooking skills to the test in the kitchen of a French restaurant. To avoid exposure, Remy hides inside the hat of a bumbling kitchen worker and controls the worker’s movements by pulling on his hair. Not only was this animated flick a huge hit with critics, but it features an elitist food critic in a prominent role. (Pixar Animation Studios)
45. Nashville (1975)
45. Nashville (1975) | Director: Robert Altman - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 160 minutes | The ensemble cast of “Nashville” features Karen Black, Ned Beatty, Lily Tomlin, Keith Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, and Henry Gibson. The songs were written and performed by the actors themselves, and Carradine’s “I’m Easy” won an Oscar and a Golden Globe. The movie was nominated for a record 11 Globe awards, including acting nods to Chaplin, Gibson, Tomlin, Ronee Blakley, and Barbara Harris. (ABC Entertainment)
44. Killer of Sheep (2007)
44. Killer of Sheep (2007) | Director: Charles Burnett - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 80 minutes | Primarily shot by writer/director Charles Burnett in 1972 and 1973, this compelling drama wasn’t released to the public until 2007, since that was how long it took to clear all the music rights. Brimming with both vision and relevancy, the film centers on an African American slaughterhouse worker who experiences dissatisfaction in both his professional and personal life. Told through a series of episodic events, the movie pits its protagonist against a host of obstacles and temptations, with all the action taking place in L.A.’s Watts neighborhood. (Milestone Films)
43. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
43. 12 Years a Slave (2013) | Director: Steve McQueen - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 134 minutes | Author Solomon Northup’s memoir provided the basis for this historical drama from Steve McQueen. In the film, Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is enjoying life as a free man up North, until he’s abducted by criminals and sold into slavery down South. What follows over the course of 12 years is nothing short of tragic, as Northup and his peers suffer a range of abuses at the hands of an alcoholic slave owner (Michael Fassbender). The movie won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. (Jaap Buitendijk)
42. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
42. The Maltese Falcon (1941) | Director: John Huston - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 100 minutes | In this 1941 mystery, Humphrey Bogart plays private detective Sam Spade, one of his most iconic roles. In the film, Spade must navigate through a treacherous maze of murder and betrayal, as he searches high and low for a priceless missing statue, the Maltese Falcon. Along the way, he crosses paths with three dangerous criminals and one devious dame. (Warner Bros.)
41. Rosemary's Baby (1968)
41. Rosemary's Baby (1968) | Director: Roman Polanski - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 137 minutes | Some thoroughly haunting theme music sets the tone for this bone-chilling horror flick from Roman Polanski, in which a woman gets mysteriously impregnated. She soon finds herself in the midst of a terrifying conspiracy. Starring as Rosemary is actress Mia Farrow, who brings the ideal amount of innocence and fear to the role. As a series of ghastly events unfolds, Rosemary begins to wonder if she’s carrying the spawn of Satan himself. (Paramount Pictures)
40. Manchester by the Sea (2016)
40. Manchester by the Sea (2016) | Director: Kenneth Lonergan - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 137 minutes | Modern dramas don’t get much more depressing than this one from 2016. The film is about a traumatized handyman named Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) who’s asked to look after his nephew after his brother dies. Haunted by his past mistakes, Lee struggles to fulfill his parental duties or even forge a connection with his newfound housemate. However, he ends up wallowing in remorse instead. Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler co-star. (Amazon Studios)
39. 12 Angry Men (1957)
39. 12 Angry Men (1957) | Director: Sidney Lumet - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 96 minutes | Writer Reginald Rose adapted his own award-winning teleplay when he penned the script for this taut drama about 12 jurors who argue over the fate of a suspected murderer. Initially, every juror except Juror 8 (Henry Fonda) finds the defendant to be guilty. However, as Juror 8 breaks down the evidence, he slowly steers the verdict toward innocence. In the process, the respective prejudices of his peers come to the surface, vicariously causing all the more tension inside the room. Sidney Lumet directed. (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.)
38. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
38. The Shop Around the Corner (1940) | Director: Ernst Lubitsch - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 99 minutes | Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart play two sparring employees at a gift shop unaware that they are one another’s anonymous pen pals who are falling in love. The movie was the basis for the 1998 film “You’ve Got Mail,” in which the bookstore owned by Meg Ryan’s character is called The Shop Around The Corner. (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM))
37. Quo vadis, Aida? (2021)
37. Quo vadis, Aida? (2021) | Director: Jasmila Žbanić - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 101 minutes | Set in Bosnia in 1995, “Quo vadis, Aida?” tells the story of a United Nations translator whose family seeks refuge when the Serbian army takes over their town of Srebrenica and commits mass slaughter. Director and writer Jasmila Žbanić lived in Sarajevo during the Serbian siege. The film was submitted by Bosnia and Herzegovina in the International Feature Film category of the Academy Awards. (Coop99 Filmproduktion)
36. Ran (1985)
36. Ran (1985) | Director: Akira Kurosawa - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 162 minutes | From influential filmmaker Akira Kurosawa comes this 1985 epic, which sets Shakespeare’s “King Lear” in Medieval Japan. After a warlord decides to leave his fiefdom to his three sons, the sons square off against one another over rights to the land. Kurosawa was 75 years old and in poor health when he made the film. For those reasons and more, critic Roger Ebert wondered if “Ran” was as inspired by the director’s own life as it was Shakespeare’s famous play. (Greenwich Film Productions)
35. Roma (2018)
35. Roma (2018) | Director: Alfonso Cuarón - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 135 minutes | Winner of the Golden Lion Award at the 2018 Venice Film Festival, Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” takes place in the early 1970s and depicts a year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City. Cuarón based the black-and-white film on his own childhood experiences, making this project arguably his most personal one to date. According to critics, it’s also one of his best. (Esperanto Filmaj)
34. Dumbo (1941)
34. Dumbo (1941) | Directors: Ben Sharpsteen, Bill Roberts, Jack Kinney, John Elliotte, Norman Ferguson, Samuel Armstrong, Wilfred Jackson - Metascore: 96 - Runtime: 64 minutes | “Dumbo” is the beloved story of a baby elephant ridiculed for his giant ears. It was Disney’s most financially successful movie at the time, following the costly productions of “Pinocchio” and “Fantasia.” Cels from the movie are extremely rare. Most were fragile and were destroyed. (Walt Disney Productions)
33. American Graffiti (1973)
33. American Graffiti (1973) | Director: George Lucas - Metascore: 97 - Runtime: 110 minutes | George Lucas might be best known today as the man behind “Star Wars,” but in 1973, he released this nostalgic comedy, which couldn’t have been more different from the famous space opera in terms of tone and narrative. Set in the early 1960s, the movie follows a bunch of high school graduates as they cruise around town for one last time before heading off to college. Bringing their adventures to life is a range of comic exchanges and an endlessly listenable soundtrack of classic oldies. Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, and young Harrison Ford star. (Universal Pictures)
32. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
32. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) | Director: Elia Kazan - Metascore: 97 - Runtime: 122 minutes | One of just two films in history to win three Academy Awards for acting, this 1951 adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play centers on the contemptuous relationship between Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) and her brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando). As the two continuously butt heads while living under the same roof, Blanche’s mysterious and troubled past comes back to haunt her. Meanwhile, Stanley’s wife, Stella (Kim Hunter), finds herself stuck in the middle of the ongoing battle. (Warner Bros.)
31. Battleship Potemkin (1926)
31. Battleship Potemkin (1926) | Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein - Metascore: 97 - Runtime: 75 minutes | In honor of the Russian Revolution, “Battleship Potemkin” tells of sailors in the Imperial Russian Navy staging a mutiny. Its famed sequence on the Potemkin Stairs shows a massacre of unarmed civilians. When Joseph Stalin came to power in the Soviet Union, the film’s written introduction by Leon Trotsky was replaced by a Vladimir Lenin quote. The famed glorification of rebellion originally was banned in France, England, and in the United States. (Goskino)
30. Psycho (1960)
30. Psycho (1960) | Director: Alfred Hitchcock - Metascore: 97 - Runtime: 109 minutes | More than just a groundbreaking horror film, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” changed the face of cinema itself. Experimental for its time, the movie opens in a small town, where a dissatisfied bank employee (Janet Leigh) decides to take off with a bag full of money. However, what at first appears to be a compelling thriller turns into something far more sinister when the woman stops for the night at Bates Motel. There, she crosses paths with a lunatic named Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), and the film itself abruptly changes course, to say the least. (Shamley Productions)
29. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2008)
29. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2008) | Director: Cristian Mungiu - Metascore: 97 - Runtime: 113 minutes | Set in 1980s Romania—where a communist regime has ruled birth control illegal and second-term abortion a crime punishable by death—this bleak social drama follows Găbița as she tries to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Given her lack of options, Găbița and a friend visit a male abortionist, who expects sexual favors in return. Thanks to its claustrophobic premise and minimalist style, the film whizzes by at the pace of a white-knuckle thriller. It won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, among numerous other awards. (Mobra Films)
28. Gone with the Wind (1940)
28. Gone with the Wind (1940) | Directors: George Cukor, Sam Wood, Victor Fleming - Metascore: 97 - Runtime: 238 minutes | “Gone with the Wind” chronicles the life of a spoiled Southerner named Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) during the respective Civil War and Reconstruction eras. As Scarlett deals with a range of personal tragedies, she and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) engage in an ill-fated romance. (New Line Cinemas)
27. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
27. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) | Director: Stanley Kubrick - Metascore: 97 - Runtime: 95 minutes | Stanley Kubrick makes his first and only appearance on this list with this 1964 dark comedy. Starring Peter Sellers in three separate roles, the movie brings modernity’s worst nightmare to life, as it builds toward a nuclear showdown between the world’s foremost powers. Of course, “Dr. Strangelove” would be that much funnier were it not so prescient, even decades after its release. (Columbia Pictures)
26. The Third Man (1949)
26. The Third Man (1949) | Director: Carol Reed - Metascore: 97 - Runtime: 104 minutes | Author Graham Greene adapted his own novel when writing the screenplay for this 1949 film noir. It stars Joseph Cotten as pulp novelist Holly Martins who travels to post-war Vienna at the request of his friend, Harry Lime (Orson Welles). By the time Martins arrives, he’s shocked to discover that Harry has been killed in a mysterious traffic accident. Or has he? (London Film Productions)
25. My Left Foot (1990)
25. My Left Foot (1990) | Director: Jim Sheridan - Metascore: 97 - Runtime: 103 minutes | One of legendary actor Daniel Day-Lewis' quality performances is his turn as Christy Brown in this biographical film from Jim Sheridan. Afflicted with cerebral palsy, Brown learns to paint and write using only his left foot, becoming a successful artist in the process. To prepare for the role, Day-Lewis spent eight weeks at a cerebral palsy clinic in Dublin, where he learned how to paint and write using just his left foot. It’s also been reported the actor stayed in character throughout the entire shoot, never once getting up out of his wheelchair. (Ferndale Films)
24. The Wild Bunch (1969)
24. The Wild Bunch (1969) | Director: Sam Peckinpah - Metascore: 97 - Runtime: 135 minutes | Starring William Holden and Ernest Borgnine, “The Wild Bunch” centers on a pack of aging Western outlaws taking on a final job in Mexico. Because it was so violent, it almost was given an X rating by the Motion Picture Association of America, which settled instead on an R rating. The making of the movie used more than 90,000 rounds of blank ammunition. The soldiers in the film’s climactic shootout were members of the Mexican Army hired as film extras. (Warner Bros./Seven Arts)
23. Jules and Jim (1962)
23. Jules and Jim (1962) | Director: François Truffaut - Metascore: 97 - Runtime: 105 minutes | The French New Wave masterpiece stars Jeanne Moreau at the center of a love triangle, and the relationship of the three—Oskar Werner as Jules and Henri Serre as Jim—over 25 years. The French movie actress pitched in to help the financially strapped production, contributing her own money and lending her Rolls Royce for carrying props. (Les Films du Carross)
22. All About Eve (1950)
22. All About Eve (1950) | Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz - Metascore: 98 - Runtime: 138 minutes | Despite being several decades old, this heralded drama simply oozes with perennial primacy, putting show business in its crosshairs and hitting the target with a bulls-eye. In the film, an obsessive actress named Eve (Anne Baxter) finagles her way into a Broadway theater company, where she comes face to face with her supposed idol, Margo (Bette Davis). As it turns out, however, Eve doesn’t plan to worship Margo as much as she plans to replace her. “All About Eve” is among the most Oscar-nominated films in history. (Twentieth Century Fox)
21. Rashomon (1951)
21. Rashomon (1951) | Director: Akira Kurosawa - Metascore: 98 - Runtime: 88 minutes | The highly acclaimed “Rashomon” centers on a rape and murder as recounted by different people—a priest, a bandit, a victim, a woodcutter, and the ghost of a samurai. The title of the film has come to be used to describe different accounts or perspectives of an event. Winning top honors at the Venice Film Festival, it is considered to have been director Akira Kurosawa’s breakthrough onto the international film scene. (Daiei)
20. Hoop Dreams (1994)
20. Hoop Dreams (1994) | Director: Steve James - Metascore: 98 - Runtime: 170 minutes | One of the most acclaimed documentaries of all time, 1994’s “Hoop Dreams” follows two high school basketball players from inner-city Chicago as they come up against various challenges in pursuit of their goals. Were this a Hollywood film, it would probably have a happier ending. Instead, it’s an utterly engaging snapshot of American life in its triumphs and failures alike. (New Line Cinemas)
19. North by Northwest (1959)
19. North by Northwest (1959) | Director: Alfred Hitchcock - Metascore: 98 - Runtime: 136 minutes | The modern-day action genre might have well begun with this 1959 spy thriller from Alfred Hitchcock. It stars Cary Grant as a New York ad exec named Roger Thornhill who gets mistaken for a wanted spy and framed for murder. To clear his name, Thornhill embarks on an adventure of epic proportion, paving the way for a deadly showdown on Mount Rushmore. (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.)
18. Some Like It Hot (1959)
18. Some Like It Hot (1959) | Director: Billy Wilder - Metascore: 98 - Runtime: 121 minutes | This timeless comedy takes place in 1929 and finds two Chicago musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) on the run after they witness the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. To stay hidden, the musicians disguise themselves as women and join an all-female band. Featured in the band is singer and ukulele player Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe), for whom one of the musicians develops an affection. Hilarity of the highest caliber ensues. (Ashton Productions)
17. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
17. Pan's Labyrinth (2006) | Director: Guillermo del Toro - Metascore: 98 - Runtime: 118 minutes | This Mexican/Spanish film finds director Guillermo del Toro in top form. The film represents a formidable blend of fantasy, history, and drama. Set in 1944 Francoist Spain, the movie centers on a bookish young girl named Ofelia who’s forced to move in with her sadistic stepfather, an army captain. Still mourning the loss of her real father, Ofelia escapes into a fantastical labyrinth, where she’s told by a magical faun that she’s of royal descent. However, before Ofelia can fulfill her destiny, she must complete three gruesome tasks. Awash with inventive creatures and stunning set pieces, the film won three Academy Awards, including best makeup and best production design. (New Line Cinemas)
16. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
16. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) | Director: John Huston - Metascore: 98 - Runtime: 126 minutes | A quintessential movie about greed-fueled paranoia, this 1948 film stars Humphrey Bogart as Fred Dobbs, a down-on-his-luck American looking for work in Mexico. After catching word of buried gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains, Dobbs, his friend, and a prospector take off in search of the fortune. By overcoming a string of obstacles, the men finally get their hands on the gold, but they soon start to turn on one another. (Warner Bros.)
15. The Lady Vanishes (1938)
15. The Lady Vanishes (1938) | Director: Alfred Hitchcock - Metascore: 98 - Runtime: 96 minutes | In “The Lady Vanishes,” a young woman searches for an older English governess she is convinced she met on board a European train delayed by an avalanche. The mystery deepens as others on board claim not to have seen her. Director Alfred Hitchcock makes his brief trademark cameo as a man smoking in Victoria Station. (Gainsborough Pictures)
14. Touch of Evil (1958)
14. Touch of Evil (1958) | Director: Orson Welles - Metascore: 99 - Runtime: 95 minutes | Orson Welles’ best film (according to the critics) not called “Citizen Kane” is 1958’s “Touch of Evil,” about murder and corruption in a small Mexican border town. Thanks to its dark and somewhat nightmarish atmosphere, the film deftly retains a sinister vibe from open to close. A domestic box office disappointment upon its initial release, “Touch of Evil” now ranks among the greatest films ever made. It stars Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Marlene Dietrich, and Welles himself. (Universal Pictures)
13. Pinocchio (1940)
13. Pinocchio (1940) | Directors: Ben Sharpsteen, Bill Roberts, Hamilton Luske, Jack Kinney, Norman Ferguson, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson - Metascore: 99 - Runtime: 88 minutes | The childhood favorite tells the tale of the little wooden puppet created by the woodworker Geppetto. It won two Oscars—one for best original song, which was “When You Wish Upon a Star,” and one for best original score. The expected budget for the film was $500,000, but it cost five times that amount to complete, and it was one of the most costly films of its time. (Walt Disney Animation Studios)
12. Intolerance (1916)
12. Intolerance (1916) | Director: D.W. Griffith - Metascore: 99 - Runtime: 197 minutes | The silent classic starring Lillian Gish visits four historical eras—ancient Babylon, Judea, 16th-century France, and early 20th-century America—where characters suffered under stifling social and political beliefs and systems. D.W. Griffith made the movie a year after his epic “The Birth of a Nation” was met with criticism over its racism and its sympathetic attitudes toward the institutions of slavery, white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan. (Triangle Film Corporation)
11. Moonlight (2016)
11. Moonlight (2016) | Director: Barry Jenkins - Metascore: 99 - Runtime: 111 minutes | The debut feature film from writer/director Barry Jenkins, 2016’s “Moonlight” takes place in Miami and chronicles three separate time periods in the life of an African-American gay man named Chiron. Growing up in a broken home, Chiron falls under the wing of a local drug dealer (Mahershala Ali). Later in life, Chiron becomes a drug dealer himself, all while still coming to terms with his sexuality. The film won many awards, including Best Picture at the 2017 Oscars. (A24)
10. City Lights (1931)
10. City Lights (1931) | Director: Charles Chaplin - Metascore: 99 - Runtime: 87 minutes | Director and star Charlie Chaplin thought about making the silent “City Lights” a talkie but opted not to do so. It has music and sound effects but no speaking. It features some of the comic artist’s best scenes as the Little Tramp in a boxing match, dodging a parade of elephants, and, after swallowing a whistle, being followed by a pack of dogs. It was one of Chaplin’s most successful films, financially and with critics, and is said to have been his favorite. (Charles Chaplin Productions)
9. Singin' in the Rain (1952)
9. Singin' in the Rain (1952) | Directors: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen - Metascore: 99 - Runtime: 103 minutes | Hollywood legend Gene Kelly co-directed, choreographed, and starred in this wildly popular musical, which is widely considered the greatest of its kind. Set during the rise of talkies, the film finds the members of a production company struggling to keep pace with the industry changes. Featured in the film is an iconic song-and-dance number, during which Gene Kelly literally sings in the rain. Both critics and audiences love it. (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.)
8. Notorious (1946)
8. Notorious (1946) | Director: Alfred Hitchcock - Metascore: 100 - Runtime: 101 minutes | Alfred Hitchcock is back on the list with this noirish thriller starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. In the film, Bergman plays Alicia Huberman, a German woman who’s sent undercover to spy on the Nazis. But how far will she go to earn their trust? Noted French critic and filmmaker (and major Hitchcock fan) François Truffaut called “Notorious” a personal favorite, referring to it as the “very quintessence of Hitchcock.” (RKO Radio Pictures)
7. Vertigo (1958)
7. Vertigo (1958) | Director: Alfred Hitchcock - Metascore: 100 - Runtime: 128 minutes | Overlooked upon its initial release, Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” has since been reappraised and is now considered one of the greatest films ever made. It stars James Stewart as John “Scottie” Ferguson, a retired police detective who suffers from an irrational fear of heights. After being hired to follow a man’s wife (Kim Novak) around San Francisco, Ferguson becomes ensnared in a murderous plot. As the mystery unravels, he’s forced to confront his innermost desires and fears. (Universal Studios)
6. Three Colors: Red (1994)
6. Three Colors: Red (1994) | Director: Krzysztof Kieślowski - Metascore: 100 - Runtime: 99 minutes | The final installment in Krzysztof Kieślowski’s “Three Colours” trilogy is also the Polish director’s final film. Blending elements of drama, romance, mystery, philosophy and comedy, the movie takes place in Geneva, Switzerland. The film stars actress Irène Jacob as a model named Valentine. After discovering that her neighbor has a keen habit of eavesdropping on other people’s conversations, Valentine grapples with the moral implications and confronts secrets from her own past. (MK2 Productions)
5. Boyhood (2014)
5. Boyhood (2014) | Director: Richard Linklater - Metascore: 100 - Runtime: 165 minutes | While audiences really liked this Richard Linklater film, the critics absolutely adored it. Shot over the course of several years, the movie depicts the exploits of its protagonist, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), as he goes from a young boy to a young college student. Like a number of Linklater’s films, this one gets its message across through a series of naturalistic scenes, which don’t build up as much as they flow together. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke co-star. (IFC Films)
4. Casablanca (1943)
4. Casablanca (1943) | Director: Michael Curtiz - Metascore: 100 - Runtime: 102 minutes | According to legions of critics, this 1943 classic features one of the best screenplays ever written, and that’s just one among its many charms. Giving all that catchy dialogue its due is a cast full of talented actors and actresses, including Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. In the film, Bogart plays Rick Blaine, a club owner in Casablanca, who helps refugees obtain passage to America as they flee from the Nazis. As if Blaine’s life wasn’t complicated enough, his former lover, Ilsa Lund (Bergman), shows up seeking help for her husband. What ensues is the stuff that cinematic legacies are made of. (Warner Bros.)
3. Rear Window (1954)
3. Rear Window (1954) | Director: Alfred Hitchcock - Metascore: 100 - Runtime: 112 minutes | A pure exercise in suspense, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” stars James Stewart as photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies, who gets confined to a wheelchair after breaking his leg in an accident. Armed with a camera and his own insatiable curiosity, Jefferies starts to spy on his neighbors through his apartment window. At first, his habit seems harmless enough, until he thinks he witnessed one of his neighbors (Raymond Burr) committing murder. Grace Kelly co-stars. (Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions)
2. The Godfather (1972)
2. The Godfather (1972) | Director: Francis Ford Coppola - Metascore: 100 - Runtime: 175 minutes | Between its tremendous IMDb rating and flawless Metacritic score, 1972’s “The Godfather” endures as the perfect film among seasoned critics and casual moviegoers alike. It’s no wonder that famous critic Pauline Kael described it as coming “out of a merger of commerce and art." Based on the bestselling novel by Mario Puzo, the movie chronicles the ongoing exploits of the Corleone crime family, one of America’s most powerful underworld organizations. As the family’s esteemed patriarch (Marlon Brando) looks to transfer control, the youngest scion (Al Pacino) steps up to fill the void. (Paramount Pictures)
1. Citizen Kane (1941)
1. Citizen Kane (1941) | Director: Orson Welles - Metascore: 100 - Runtime: 119 minutes | Marking Orson Welles’ auspicious feature debut, “Citizen Kane” tells the story of its title character (played by Welles), a newspaper magnate whose rise to power comes at the cost of his own humanity. In the opinion of Roger Ebert, it’s the greatest movie ever made, though he’s far from the only critic to feel that way. Accordingly, the film hosts a dizzying array of groundbreaking elements, from the creative camerawork to the unconventional narrative to everything in between. More than a mere masterpiece, “Citizen Kane” is a historic work of art, which will continue to impress critics for decades, if not centuries, to come. (RKO Radio Pictures)
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The Best Movie Reviews We’ve Ever Written — IndieWire Critics Survey
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Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of film critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best film in theaters right now?”, can be found at the end of this post.)
While this survey typically asks smart critics to direct readers toward good movies, we hope that the reverse is also true, and that these posts help movies (good or bad) direct readers towards smart critics.
In that spirit, we asked our panel of critics to reflect on their favorite piece of film criticism that they’ve ever written (and we encouraged them to put aside any sort of modesty when doing so).
Their responses provide rich and far-reaching insight into contemporary film criticism, and what those who practice it are hoping to achieve with their work.
Siddhant Adlakha (@SidizenKane), Freelance for The Village Voice and /Film
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Let’s cut right to the chase. Christopher Nolan is probably my favourite working director, and going five thousand words deep on his career after “Dunkirk” was an itch I’d been waiting to scratch for nearly a decade. “The Dark Knight” was my dorm-room poster movie — I’m part of the generation that explored films through the IMDb Top 250 growing up — though as my cinematic horizons expanded and my understanding of storytelling grew, I didn’t leave Nolan’s work behind as I did the likes of “Scarface” and “The Boondock Saints.” What’s more, each new film by Nolan hits me like a tonne of bricks. I’m waiting, almost eagerly, for him to disappoint me. It hasn’t happened yet, and I needed to finally sit down and figure out why.
In “Convergence At ‘Dunkirk,’” by far the longest piece I’ve ever written, I’d like to think I unpacked a decade worth of my awe and admiration, for a filmmaker who uses the studio canvas to explore human beings through our relationship to time. Tarkovsky referred to cinema as “sculpting in time.” Time disorients. Time connects us. Time travels, at different speeds, depending on one’s relationship to it, whether in dreams or in war or in outer space, and time can be captured, explored and dissected on screen.
What’s more, Nolan’s films manipulate truth as much as time, as another force relative to human perception, determining our trajectories and interpersonal dynamics in fundamental ways. All this is something I think I knew, instinctively, as a teenage viewer, but putting words to these explorations, each from a different time yet connected intrinsically, is the written criticism that I most stand by. It felt like something that I was meant to write, as I interrogated my own evolving emotional responses to art as time went on.
Carlos Aguilar (@Carlos_Film), Freelance for Remezcla
At the 2017 Sundance premiere of Miguel Arteta’s “Beatriz at Dinner,” starring Salma Hayek, I found myself in shock at the reactions I heard from the mostly-white audience at the Eccles Theatre. I was watching a different movie, one that spoke to me as an immigrant, a Latino, and someone who’s felt out of place in spaces dominated by people who’ve never been asked, “Where are you really from?” That night I went back to the condo and wrote a mountain of thoughts and personal anecdotes that mirrored what I saw on screen.
This was a much different piece from what I had usually written up to that point: coverage on the Best Foreign Language Oscar race, pieces on animation, interviews with internationally acclaimed directors, and reviews out of festivals. Those are my intellectual passions, this; however, was an examination on the identity that I had to built as an outsider to navigate a society were people like me rarely get the jobs I want.
My editor at Remezcla, Vanessa Erazo, was aware of the piece from the onset and was immediately supportive, but it would take months for me to mull it over and rework it through multiple drafts until it was ready for publication in time for the film’s theatrical release. In the text, I compared my own encounters with casual racism and ignorance with those Hayek’s character faces throughout the fateful gathering at the center of the film. The reception surpassed all my expectations. The article was shared thousands of times, it was praised, it was criticized, and it truly confronted me with the power that my writing could have.
A few months later in September, when Trump rescinded DACA, I wrote a social media post on my experience as an undocumented person working in the film industry, and how difficult it is to share that struggle in a world were most people don’t understand what it means to live a life in the shadows. The post was picked up by The Wrap and republished in the form of an op-ed, which I hope put a new face on the issue for those who didn’t directly knew anyone affected by it before. Once again that piece on “Beatriz at Dinner” regained meaning as I found myself filled with uncertainty.
Ken Bakely (@kbake_99), Freelance for Film Pulse
Like many writers, I tend to subconsciously disown anything I’ve written more than a few months ago, so I read this question, in practice, as what’s my favorite thing I’ve written recently. On that front, I’d say that the review of “Phantom Thread” that I wrote over at my blog comes the closest to what I most desire to do as a critic. I try to think about a movie from every front: how the experience is the result of each aspect, in unique quantities and qualities, working together. It’s not just that the acting is compelling or the score is enveloping, it’s that each aspect is so tightly wound that it’s almost indistinguishable from within itself. A movie is not an algebra problem. You can’t just plug in a single value and have everything fall into place.
“Phantom Thread” is Paul Thomas Anderson’s dreamy cinematography. It is Jonny Greenwood’s impeccably seductive, baroque music. It is Vicky Krieps’s ability to perfectly shatter our preconceptions at every single turn as we realize that Alma is the movie’s actual main character. We often talk about how good films would be worse-off if some part of it were in any way different. In the case of “Phantom Thread,” you flat-out can’t imagine how it would even exist if these things were changed. When so many hot take thinkpieces try to explain away every ending or take a hammer to delicate illusions, it was a pleasure to try and understand how a movie like this one operates on all fronts to maintain an ongoing sense of mystique.
Christian Blauvelt (@Ctblauvelt), BBC Culture
I don’t know if it’s my best work, but a landmark in my life as a critic was surely a review of Chaplin’s “The Circus,” in time for the release of its restoration in 2010. I cherish this piece , written for Slant Magazine, for a number of reasons. For one, I felt deeply honored to shed more light on probably the least known and least respected of Chaplin’s major features, because it’s a film that demonstrates such technical virtuosity it dispels once and for all any notion that his work is uncinematic. (Yes, but what about the rest of his filmography you ask? My response is that any quibbles about the immobility of Chaplin’s camera suggest an ardent belief that the best directing equals the most directing.) For another, I was happy this review appeared in Slant Magazine, a publication that helped me cut my critical teeth and has done the same for a number of other critics who’ve gone on to write or edit elsewhere. That Slant is now struggling to endure in this financially ferocious landscape for criticism is a shame – the reviews I wrote for them around 2009-10 helped me refine my voice even that much more than my concurrent experience at Entertainment Weekly, where I had my day job. And finally, this particular review will always mean a lot to me because it’s the first one I wrote that I saw posted in its entirety on the bulletin board at Film Forum. For me, there was no surer sign that “I’d made it”.
Richard Brody (@tnyfrontrow), The New Yorker
No way would I dare to recommend any pieces of my own, but I don’t mind mentioning a part of my work that I do with special enthusiasm. Criticism, I think, is more than the three A’s (advocacy, analysis, assessment); it’s prophetic, seeing the future of the art from the movies that are on hand. Yet many of the most forward-looking, possibility-expanding new films are in danger of passing unnoticed (or even being largely dismissed) due to their departure from familiar modes or norms, and it’s one of my gravest (though also most joyful) responsibilities to pay attention to movies that may be generally overlooked despite (or because of) their exceptional qualities. (For that matter, I live in fear of missing a movie that needs such attention.)
But another aspect of that same enthusiasm is the discovery of the unrealized future of the past—of great movies made and seen (or hardly seen) in recent decades that weren’t properly discussed and justly acclaimed in their time.”. Since one of the critical weapons used against the best of the new is an ossified and nostalgic classicism, the reëvaluation of what’s canonical, the acknowledgment of unheralded masterworks—and of filmmakers whose careers have been cavalierly truncated by industry indifference—is indispensable to and inseparable from the thrilling recognition of the authentically new.
Deany Hendrick Cheng (@DeandrickLamar), Freelance for Barber’s Chair Digital
It’s a piece on two of my favorite films of 2017, “Lady Bird” and “Call Me By Your Name”, and about how their very different modes of storytelling speak to the different sorts of stories we tell ourselves. Objectively, I don’t know if this is my best work in terms of pure style and craft, but I do think it’s the most emblematic in terms of what I value in cinema. I think every film is, in some way, a treatise on how certain memories are remembered, and I think cinema matters partly because the best examples of it are prisms through which the human experience is refracted.
Above everything else, every movie has to begin with a good story, and the greatest stories are the ones that mirror not just life, but the ways in which life is distorted and restructured through the process of remembering. Every aspect of a film, from its screenplay on down, must add something to the film’s portrayal of remembering, and “Lady Bird” and “Call Me By Your Name” accomplish this organic unity of theme with such charm yet in such distinct ways, that they were the perfect counterpoints to each other, as well as the perfect stand-ins for cinema as a whole, for me.
Liam Conlon (@Flowtaro), Ms En Scene
My favorite piece of my own work is definitely “The Shape of Water’s” Strickland as the “Ur-American.” I’m proud of it because it required me to really take stock of all the things that Americans are taught from birth to take as given. That meant looking at our history of colonialism, imperialism, racism, anticommunism and really diving into how all Americans, whether they’re liberal or conservative, can internalize these things unless they take the time to self-examine. Just as “Pan’s Labyrinth’s” despotic Captain Vidal was a masterful representation of Francisco Franco’s fascism, Richard Strickland represents a distinctly American kind of fascism. Writers Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor took great care in Strickland’s creation, and my piece was my own way of self-examining to make sure I never become or abide by a person like Strickland ever again.
Robert Daniels (@812filmreviews), Freelance
This is tricky, but “Annihilation” is definitely my favorite piece of film criticism that I’ve written. My writing style is a combination of criticism and gifs, and sometimes the words are better than the gifs, and the gifs are better than the words. With “Annihilation,” I thought the balance was perfect . My favorite portion: “Lena is just an idea, part of an equation that’s been erased from a chalkboard and rewritten with a different solution. The shimmer is part of her, even down to the DNA” is up there as one of my best. It was also a struggle to write because that film had more wild theories than the Aliens in Roswell. Also, the amount of research I had to do, combining Plato’s Ideal Forms, Darwin, the Bible, and Nietzsche, was absurd. However, it did make it easier to find matching gifs. The result made for my most studious, yet lighthearted read.
Alonso Duralde (@ADuralde), The Wrap
I’m the worst judge of my own material; there’s almost nothing I’ve ever written that I don’t want to pick at and re-edit, no matter how much time has passed. But since, for me, the hardest part of film criticism is adequately praising a movie you truly love, then by default my best review would probably be of one of my favorite films of all time, Charlie Kaufman’s “Synecdoche, New York.”
David Ehrlich (@davidehrlich), IndieWire
I can’t summon the strength to re-read it, but I remember thinking that my piece on grief and “Personal Shopper” was emblematic of how I hope to thread individual perspective into arts criticism.
Shelley Farmer (@ShelleyBFarmer), Freelance for RogerEbert.com and Publicist at Film Forum
My favorite piece is a very recent one: For this year’s Women Writers Week on Roger Ebert, I wrote about “Phantom Thread”, “Jane Eyre,” and twisted power dynamics in hetero romance . I loved that it allowed me to dig deep into my personal fixations (19th century literature, gender, romance as power struggle), but – more importantly – it was exciting to be part of a series that highlighted the breadth of criticism by women writers.
Chris Feil (@chrisvfeil), Freelance for The Film Experience, This Had Oscar Buzz Podcast
My answer to this would be kind of a cheat, as my favorite work that I do is my weekly column about movie music called Soundtracking that I write over at The Film Experience. Soundtracks and needle drops have been a personal fascination, so the opportunity to explore the deeper meaning and context of a film’s song choices have been a real labor of love. Because of the demands and time constraints of what we do, it can be easy to spend our all of our energy on assignments and chasing freelance opportunities rather than devoting time to a pet project – but I’ve found indulging my own uncommon fascination to be invaluable in developing my point of view. And serve as a constant check-in with my passion. Pushed for a single entry that I would choose as the best, I would choose the piece I wrote on “Young Adult”‘s use of “The Concept” by Teenage Fanclub for how it posits a single song as the key to unlocking both character and narrative.
Candice Frederick (@ReelTalker), Freelance for Shondaland, Harper’s Bazaar
“ Mother ” written for Vice. It’s one of my favorites because it conveys how visceral my experience was watching the movie. It’s truly stifling, uncomfortable, and frantic–and that’s what my review explains in detail. I wanted to have a conversation with the reader about specific aspects of the film that support the thesis, so I did.
Luiz Gustavo (@luizgvt), Cronico de Cinema
Well, I recently wrote a piece for Gazeta do Povo, a major outlet at Paraná state in Brazil, about Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” (it is not on their site, but they were kind enough to let me replicate on my own website ). I don’t know the extent of the powers of Google Translator from Portugese to english, so you have to rely on my own account: is a text in which I was able to articulate de cinematographic references in the work of Mr. Del Toro, as well his thematic obsessions, the genre bending and social critique. All of this topics were analyzed in a fluid prose. On top of that, it was really fun to write!
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7 best Netflix movies with 100% on Rotten Tomatoes
These movies on Netflix have perfect scores on Rotten Tomatoes
It’s not easy to get critics to agree on anything. Even the most revered classic movies usually end up with a handful of dissenting voices on Rotten Tomatoes , the website that aggregates reviews. So it’s rare to find a movie that receives unanimous praise, scoring a perfect 100% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Often those movies are hidden gems that critics have discovered, but that wider audiences don’t necessarily know about. The best Netflix movies with 100% Rotten Tomatoes ratings represent a mix of genres and tones, from low-budget dramas to effects-filled horror. What they all have in common is that the people who evaluate movies for a living agree on their worthiness. That’s more than enough reason to stream these five movies now.
The horrors in His House come from the expected apparitions that plague a couple after moving into their new home, but they really begin before that. Sope Dirisu and Wunmi Mosaku play a husband and wife who flee from the dangers of war in South Sudan. Their journey to the U.K. is just as treacherous, and their young daughter doesn’t survive.
The couple are treated with barely veiled contempt as refugees, and when they’re finally granted a place to live, it’s a dirty, damaged home that seems to be haunted. The nature of the supernatural presence is a bit more complicated, and the filmmakers connect it back to the guilt and trauma of leaving a war-torn homeland behind. His House is effectively creepy, using its paranormal visions to comment on the equally devastating horrors of reality.
Watch on Netflix
It’s not necessary to have seen the first Creep to enjoy this sequel, which once again stars Mark Duplass as the title character, an eccentric recluse who lures in unsuspecting victims to record their own murders. This time, he recruits struggling vlogger Sara (Desiree Akhavan), who initially doesn’t believe him when he admits that he’s a serial killer and says that he will let her live if she documents his life story.
Like the first Creep, which featured director Patrick Brice as the killer’s victim, the sequel is a found-footage movie with essentially only two onscreen characters and Duplass and Akhavan have a playful chemistry that fits with the off-kilter story. Although the plot is largely the same, Creep 2 never feels like a rehash of the first movie, instead finding a new darkly funny central dynamic to explore.
The Pez Outlaw
You wouldn’t expect the niche hobby of collecting plastic candy dispensers to involve international intrigue, but that’s exactly what this clever and amusing documentary delivers. Filmmakers Bryan Storkel and Amy Bandlien Storkel tell the story of Steve Glew, an unassuming collector from Michigan who briefly ran a lucrative business illegally importing foreign Pez dispensers from Europe in the 1990s.
Glew’s battle with the American Pez corporate office makes for an entertaining underdog story, which the Storkels depict via slick re-enactments in the style of various cinematic genres, featuring Glew as himself. He’s a compelling and sympathetic oddball, and his account of exploiting loopholes to undermine the company policies of the greedy “Pezident” is as exciting and satisfying as any actual heist movie.
There have been plenty of movies made about the pioneering men who were the first Americans sent into space by NASA, but this documentary tells a parallel story of 13 equally dedicated and skilled women who underwent the same training but were denied the chances offered to their male peers. Since that training was conducted unofficially, by NASA medical specialist Dr. Randy Lovelace, the women never got the proper recognition until decades later.
Filmmakers David Sington and Heather Walsh make up for that, interviewing the surviving participants and the family members of those who are no longer around, showcasing their formidable abilities and determined personalities. Mercury 13 is a straightforward documentary with interviews and archival footage, but it doesn’t need anything fancier than that with such a compelling true-life story to tell.
Actress Noël Wells never quite got the spotlight she deserved during her brief time on Saturday Night Live, and with this movie, she creates a proper vehicle for her talents. Wells writes, directs and stars as Emily Martin, an aspiring comedian and actress who’s spent two largely unproductive years in Los Angeles hoping for her big break. She returns to her hometown of Austin, Texas, when she learns that her beloved cat (the title character) is dying.
While in Austin, Emily awkwardly reconnects with her ex-boyfriend, who’s now in a new long-term relationship, and she generally reassesses her direction in life. It’s familiar indie-dramedy material, but Wells handles it with charm and style, shooting on earthy 16mm film that recalls the character-driven movies of the 1970s. She makes the most of her creative freedom.
The Battered Bastards of Baseball
A documentary about the Portland Mavericks, an independent minor league baseball team owned by Hollywood actor Bing Russel. The film covers the foundation of the team, the misfits and outcasts who joined, and the trials they faced to be taken seriously in the face of the big dogs of the baseball world.
The movie was made by member's of Russel's family. Two of his grandsons, Chapman and Maclain Way directed, while Russel's son Kurt (yes that Kurt Russel) stars in the movie alongside other big names from the baseball world.
Mixed by Erry
An Italian biographical comedy film based on the real life story of three Neapolitan brother that started their own pirate record label in the 1980s and ended up becoming the best-selling record label in Italy in the process.
All through smuggling self-made mix tapes, if you can believe it, which naturally ended up with them landing on the wrong side of the law. The music business does not mess about when money is concerned.
Mixed by Erry was directed by Sydney Sibillia and start Luigi D'Oriano, Giuseppe Arena and Emanuele Palumbo.
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Josh Bell is a freelance writer and movie/TV critic based in Las Vegas. He's the former film editor of Las Vegas Weekly and has written about movies and TV for Vulture, Inverse, CBR, Crooked Marquee and more. With comedian Jason Harris, he co-hosts the podcast Awesome Movie Year.
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Top 100 Greatest Movies of All Time (The Ultimate List)
The movies on this list are ranked according to their success (awards & nominations), their popularity, and their cinematic greatness from a directing/writing perspective. To me, accuracy when making a Top 10/Top 100 all time list is extremely important. My lists are not based on my own personal favorites; they are based on the true greatness and/or success of the person, place or thing being ranked. In other words, a film's commercial success (Oscars & BAFTA Awards), and greatness in direction, screenwriting and production, is how I ranked the films on this list. If you guys would like to view my other Top 10/Top 100 lists, feel free to check out my YouTube page and/or my IMDb page at *ChrisWalczyk55*. Thanks guys and don't forget to LIKE & comment! :)
- Movies or TV
- IMDb Rating
- In Theaters
- Release Year
1. The Godfather (1972)
R | 175 min | Crime, Drama
Don Vito Corleone, head of a mafia family, decides to hand over his empire to his youngest son Michael. However, his decision unintentionally puts the lives of his loved ones in grave danger.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola | Stars: Marlon Brando , Al Pacino , James Caan , Diane Keaton
Votes: 1,961,796 | Gross: $134.97M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 3 Oscar Nominations: 11 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 4 Golden Globes: 6 Golden Globe Nominations: 8
2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
R | 142 min | Drama
Over the course of several years, two convicts form a friendship, seeking consolation and, eventually, redemption through basic compassion.
Director: Frank Darabont | Stars: Tim Robbins , Morgan Freeman , Bob Gunton , William Sadler
Votes: 2,814,917 | Gross: $28.34M
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 4.9 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 7 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 0 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 2
3. Schindler's List (1993)
R | 195 min | Biography, Drama, History
In German-occupied Poland during World War II, industrialist Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazis.
Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Liam Neeson , Ralph Fiennes , Ben Kingsley , Caroline Goodall
Votes: 1,415,030 | Gross: $96.90M
Actors: 4.9 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 7 Oscar Nominations: 12 BAFTA Awards: 6 BAFTA Nominations: 12 Golden Globes: 3 Golden Globe Nominations: 6
4. Raging Bull (1980)
R | 129 min | Biography, Drama, Sport
The life of boxer Jake LaMotta , whose violence and temper that led him to the top in the ring destroyed his life outside of it.
Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Robert De Niro , Cathy Moriarty , Joe Pesci , Frank Vincent
Votes: 371,355 | Gross: $23.38M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 2 Oscar Nominations: 8 BAFTA Awards: 2 BAFTA Nominations: 4 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 7
5. Casablanca (1942)
PG | 102 min | Drama, Romance, War
A cynical expatriate American cafe owner struggles to decide whether or not to help his former lover and her fugitive husband escape the Nazis in French Morocco.
Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Humphrey Bogart , Ingrid Bergman , Paul Henreid , Claude Rains
Votes: 594,397 | Gross: $1.02M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 3 Oscar Nominations: 8 BAFTA Awards: N/A BAFTA Nominations: N/A Golden Globes: N/A Golden Globe Nominations: N/A
6. Citizen Kane (1941)
PG | 119 min | Drama, Mystery
Following the death of publishing tycoon Charles Foster Kane, reporters scramble to uncover the meaning of his final utterance: 'Rosebud.'
Director: Orson Welles | Stars: Orson Welles , Joseph Cotten , Dorothy Comingore , Agnes Moorehead
Votes: 458,030 | Gross: $1.59M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 1 Oscar Nominations: 9 BAFTA Awards: N/A BAFTA Nominations: N/A Golden Globes: N/A Golden Globe Nominations: N/A
7. Gone with the Wind (1939)
Passed | 238 min | Drama, Romance, War
A sheltered and manipulative Southern belle and a roguish profiteer face off in a turbulent romance as the society around them crumbles with the end of slavery and is rebuilt during the Civil War and Reconstruction periods.
Directors: Victor Fleming , George Cukor , Sam Wood | Stars: Clark Gable , Vivien Leigh , Thomas Mitchell , Barbara O'Neil
Votes: 327,874 | Gross: $198.68M
***** Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 8 Oscar Nominations: 13 BAFTA Awards: N/A BAFTA Nominations: N/A Golden Globes: N/A Golden Globe Nominations: N/A
8. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
PG | 102 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Young Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto are swept away by a tornado from their Kansas farm to the magical Land of Oz, and embark on a quest with three new friends to see the Wizard, who can return her to her home and fulfill the others' wishes.
Directors: Victor Fleming , King Vidor | Stars: Judy Garland , Frank Morgan , Ray Bolger , Bert Lahr
Votes: 418,659 | Gross: $2.08M
***** Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 2 Oscar Nominations: 6 BAFTA Awards: N/A BAFTA Nominations: N/A Golden Globes: N/A Golden Globe Nominations: N/A
9. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
R | 133 min | Drama
In the Fall of 1963, a Korean War veteran and criminal pleads insanity and is admitted to a mental institution, where he rallies up the scared patients against the tyrannical nurse.
Director: Milos Forman | Stars: Jack Nicholson , Louise Fletcher , Michael Berryman , Peter Brocco
Votes: 1,048,528 | Gross: $112.00M
***** Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 5 Oscar Nominations: 9 BAFTA Awards: 6 BAFTA Nominations: 9 Golden Globes: 6 Golden Globe Nominations: 6
10. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Approved | 218 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
The story of T.E. Lawrence , the English officer who successfully united and led the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks.
Director: David Lean | Stars: Peter O'Toole , Alec Guinness , Anthony Quinn , Jack Hawkins
Votes: 307,160 | Gross: $44.82M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 7 Oscar Nominations: 10 BAFTA Awards: 4 BAFTA Nominations: 5 Golden Globes: 4 Golden Globe Nominations: 7
11. Vertigo (1958)
PG | 128 min | Mystery, Romance, Thriller
A former San Francisco police detective juggles wrestling with his personal demons and becoming obsessed with the hauntingly beautiful woman he has been hired to trail, who may be deeply disturbed.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: James Stewart , Kim Novak , Barbara Bel Geddes , Tom Helmore
Votes: 418,526 | Gross: $3.20M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 2 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 0 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 0
12. Psycho (1960)
R | 109 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Anthony Perkins , Janet Leigh , Vera Miles , John Gavin
Votes: 703,361 | Gross: $32.00M
***** Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 4 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 0 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 1
13. The Godfather Part II (1974)
R | 202 min | Crime, Drama
The early life and career of Vito Corleone in 1920s New York City is portrayed, while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on the family crime syndicate.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola | Stars: Al Pacino , Robert De Niro , Robert Duvall , Diane Keaton
Votes: 1,331,959 | Gross: $57.30M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 6 Oscar Nominations: 11 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 3 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 6
14. On the Waterfront (1954)
Approved | 108 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
An ex-prize fighter turned New Jersey longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses, including his older brother, as he starts to connect with the grieving sister of one of the syndicate's victims.
Director: Elia Kazan | Stars: Marlon Brando , Karl Malden , Lee J. Cobb , Rod Steiger
Votes: 161,370 | Gross: $9.60M
***** Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 8 Oscar Nominations: 12 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 3 Golden Globes: 4 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
15. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Passed | 110 min | Drama, Film-Noir
A screenwriter develops a dangerous relationship with a faded film star determined to make a triumphant return.
Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: William Holden , Gloria Swanson , Erich von Stroheim , Nancy Olson
***** Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 3 Oscar Nominations: 11 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 0 Golden Globes: 4 Golden Globe Nominations: 7
16. Forrest Gump (1994)
PG-13 | 142 min | Drama, Romance
The history of the United States from the 1950s to the '70s unfolds from the perspective of an Alabama man with an IQ of 75, who yearns to be reunited with his childhood sweetheart.
Director: Robert Zemeckis | Stars: Tom Hanks , Robin Wright , Gary Sinise , Sally Field
Votes: 2,192,007 | Gross: $330.25M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 6 Oscar Nominations: 13 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 7 Golden Globes: 3 Golden Globe Nominations: 7
17. The Sound of Music (1965)
G | 172 min | Biography, Drama, Family
A young novice is sent by her convent in 1930s Austria to become a governess to the seven children of a widowed naval officer.
Director: Robert Wise | Stars: Julie Andrews , Christopher Plummer , Eleanor Parker , Richard Haydn
Votes: 250,895 | Gross: $163.21M
***** Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 5 Oscar Nominations: 10 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 1 Golden Globes: 2 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
18. 12 Angry Men (1957)
Approved | 96 min | Crime, Drama
The jury in a New York City murder trial is frustrated by a single member whose skeptical caution forces them to more carefully consider the evidence before jumping to a hasty verdict.
Director: Sidney Lumet | Stars: Henry Fonda , Lee J. Cobb , Martin Balsam , John Fiedler
Votes: 838,566 | Gross: $4.36M
***** Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 3 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 2 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
19. West Side Story (1961)
Approved | 153 min | Crime, Drama, Musical
Two youngsters from rival New York City gangs fall in love, but tensions between their respective friends build toward tragedy.
Directors: Jerome Robbins , Robert Wise | Stars: Natalie Wood , George Chakiris , Richard Beymer , Russ Tamblyn
Votes: 119,008 | Gross: $43.66M
***** Actors: 4.9 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 10 Oscar Nominations: 11 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 1 Golden Globes: 3 Golden Globe Nominations: 5
20. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
PG | 121 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a Wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire's world-destroying battle station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the mysterious Darth Vader.
Director: George Lucas | Stars: Mark Hamill , Harrison Ford , Carrie Fisher , Alec Guinness
Votes: 1,420,128 | Gross: $322.74M
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 4.9 Stars Oscars: 6 Oscar Nominations: 10 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 5 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
21. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
G | 149 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi
After uncovering a mysterious artifact buried beneath the Lunar surface, a spacecraft is sent to Jupiter to find its origins: a spacecraft manned by two men and the supercomputer HAL 9000.
Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Keir Dullea , Gary Lockwood , William Sylvester , Daniel Richter
Votes: 702,220 | Gross: $56.95M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 1 Oscar Nominations: 4 BAFTA Awards: 3 BAFTA Nominations: 5 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 0
22. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
PG | 115 min | Adventure, Family, Sci-Fi
A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape from Earth and return to his home planet.
Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Henry Thomas , Drew Barrymore , Peter Coyote , Dee Wallace
Votes: 428,565 | Gross: $435.11M
***** Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.9 Stars Oscars: 4 Oscar Nominations: 9 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 12 Golden Globes: 2 Golden Globe Nominations: 5
23. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
R | 118 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A young F.B.I. cadet must receive the help of an incarcerated and manipulative cannibal killer to help catch another serial killer, a madman who skins his victims.
Director: Jonathan Demme | Stars: Jodie Foster , Anthony Hopkins , Scott Glenn , Ted Levine
Votes: 1,504,626 | Gross: $130.74M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 5 Oscar Nominations: 7 BAFTA Awards: 2 BAFTA Nominations: 9 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 5
24. Chinatown (1974)
R | 130 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller
A private detective hired to expose an adulterer in 1930s Los Angeles finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, corruption, and murder.
Director: Roman Polanski | Stars: Jack Nicholson , Faye Dunaway , John Huston , Perry Lopez
***** Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 1 Oscar Nominations: 11 BAFTA Awards: 3 BAFTA Nominations: 10 Golden Globes: 4 Golden Globe Nominations: 7
25. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
PG | 161 min | Adventure, Drama, War
British POWs are forced to build a railway bridge across the river Kwai for their Japanese captors in occupied Burma, not knowing that the allied forces are planning a daring commando raid through the jungle to destroy it.
Director: David Lean | Stars: William Holden , Alec Guinness , Jack Hawkins , Sessue Hayakawa
Votes: 229,506 | Gross: $44.91M
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.9 Stars Oscars: 7 Oscar Nominations: 8 BAFTA Awards: 4 BAFTA Nominations: 4 Golden Globes: 3 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
26. Singin' in the Rain (1952)
G | 103 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance
A silent film star falls for a chorus girl just as he and his delusionally jealous screen partner are trying to make the difficult transition to talking pictures in 1920s Hollywood.
Directors: Stanley Donen , Gene Kelly | Stars: Gene Kelly , Donald O'Connor , Debbie Reynolds , Jean Hagen
Votes: 254,539 | Gross: $8.82M
***** Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 2 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 1 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 2
27. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
PG | 130 min | Drama, Family, Fantasy
An angel is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed.
Director: Frank Capra | Stars: James Stewart , Donna Reed , Lionel Barrymore , Thomas Mitchell
***** Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.9 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 5 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 0 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 1
28. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
PG | 95 min | Comedy, War
An insane American general orders a bombing attack on the Soviet Union, triggering a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically tries to stop.
Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Peter Sellers , George C. Scott , Sterling Hayden , Keenan Wynn
Votes: 508,686 | Gross: $0.28M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 4 BAFTA Awards: 3 BAFTA Nominations: 6 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 0
29. Some Like It Hot (1959)
Passed | 121 min | Comedy, Music, Romance
After two male musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all-female band disguised as women, but further complications set in.
Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: Marilyn Monroe , Tony Curtis , Jack Lemmon , George Raft
Votes: 278,135 | Gross: $25.00M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 1 Oscar Nominations: 6 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 2 Golden Globes: 3 Golden Globe Nominations: 3
30. Ben-Hur (1959)
G | 212 min | Adventure, Drama
After a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend in 1st-century Jerusalem, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.
Director: William Wyler | Stars: Charlton Heston , Jack Hawkins , Stephen Boyd , Haya Harareet
Votes: 248,962 | Gross: $74.70M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 11 Oscar Nominations: 12 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 1 Golden Globes: 3 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
31. Apocalypse Now (1979)
R | 147 min | Drama, Mystery, War
A U.S. Army officer serving in Vietnam is tasked with assassinating a renegade Special Forces Colonel who sees himself as a god.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola | Stars: Martin Sheen , Marlon Brando , Robert Duvall , Frederic Forrest
Votes: 695,257 | Gross: $83.47M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 2 Oscar Nominations: 8 BAFTA Awards: 2 BAFTA Nominations: 8 Golden Globes: 3 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
32. Amadeus (1984)
R | 160 min | Biography, Drama, Music
The life, success and troubles of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , as told by Antonio Salieri , the contemporaneous composer who was deeply jealous of Mozart's talent and claimed to have murdered him.
Director: Milos Forman | Stars: F. Murray Abraham , Tom Hulce , Elizabeth Berridge , Roy Dotrice
Votes: 419,169 | Gross: $51.97M
***** Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 8 Oscar Nominations: 11 BAFTA Awards: 4 BAFTA Nominations: 9 Golden Globes: 4 Golden Globe Nominations: 6
33. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
PG-13 | 201 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron's army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring.
Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Elijah Wood , Viggo Mortensen , Ian McKellen , Orlando Bloom
Votes: 1,927,501 | Gross: $377.85M
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 4.9 Stars Oscars: 11 Oscar Nominations: 11 BAFTA Awards: 4 BAFTA Nominations: 10 Golden Globes: 4 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
34. Gladiator (2000)
R | 155 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
A former Roman General sets out to exact vengeance against the corrupt emperor who murdered his family and sent him into slavery.
Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Russell Crowe , Joaquin Phoenix , Connie Nielsen , Oliver Reed
Votes: 1,572,527 | Gross: $187.71M
***** Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 4.7 Stars Screenplay: 4.7 Stars Oscars: 5 Oscar Nominations: 12 BAFTA Awards: 4 BAFTA Nominations: 12 Golden Globes: 2 Golden Globe Nominations: 5
35. Titanic (1997)
PG-13 | 194 min | Drama, Romance
A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.
Director: James Cameron | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio , Kate Winslet , Billy Zane , Kathy Bates
Votes: 1,251,774 | Gross: $659.33M
***** Actors: 4.7 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.5 Stars Oscars: 11 Oscar Nominations: 14 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 8 Golden Globes: 4 Golden Globe Nominations: 8
36. From Here to Eternity (1953)
Passed | 118 min | Drama, Romance, War
At a U.S. Army base in 1941 Hawaii, a private is cruelly punished for not boxing on his unit's team, while his commanding officer's wife and top aide begin a tentative affair.
Director: Fred Zinnemann | Stars: Burt Lancaster , Montgomery Clift , Deborah Kerr , Donna Reed
Votes: 49,860 | Gross: $30.50M
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 8 Oscar Nominations: 13 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 1 Golden Globes: 2 Golden Globe Nominations: 2
37. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
R | 169 min | Drama, War
Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.
Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Tom Hanks , Matt Damon , Tom Sizemore , Edward Burns
Votes: 1,458,197 | Gross: $216.54M
Actors: 4.9 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.9 Stars Oscars: 5 Oscar Nominations: 11 BAFTA Awards: 2 BAFTA Nominations: 8 Golden Globes: 2 Golden Globe Nominations: 5
38. Unforgiven (1992)
R | 130 min | Drama, Western
Retired Old West gunslinger William Munny reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner Ned Logan and a young man, The "Schofield Kid."
Director: Clint Eastwood | Stars: Clint Eastwood , Gene Hackman , Morgan Freeman , Richard Harris
Votes: 428,050 | Gross: $101.16M
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.9 Stars Oscars: 4 Oscar Nominations: 9 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 6 Golden Globes: 2 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
39. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
PG | 115 min | Action, Adventure
In 1936, archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis can obtain its awesome powers.
Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Harrison Ford , Karen Allen , Paul Freeman , John Rhys-Davies
Votes: 1,017,260 | Gross: $248.16M
Actors: 4.7 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 4 Oscar Nominations: 8 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 6 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 1
40. Rocky (1976)
PG | 120 min | Drama, Sport
A small-time Philadelphia boxer gets a supremely rare chance to fight the world heavyweight champion in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.
Director: John G. Avildsen | Stars: Sylvester Stallone , Talia Shire , Burt Young , Carl Weathers
Votes: 613,109 | Gross: $117.24M
Actors: 4.6 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.6 Stars Oscars: 3 Oscar Nominations: 10 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 5 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 6
41. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
PG | 122 min | Drama
Disturbed Blanche DuBois moves in with her sister in New Orleans and is tormented by her brutish brother-in-law while her reality crumbles around her.
Director: Elia Kazan | Stars: Vivien Leigh , Marlon Brando , Kim Hunter , Karl Malden
Votes: 112,630 | Gross: $8.00M
Actors: 4.9 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.9 Stars Oscars: 4 Oscar Nominations: 12 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 2 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 3
42. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
Not Rated | 112 min | Comedy, Romance
When a rich woman's ex-husband and a tabloid-type reporter turn up just before her planned remarriage, she begins to learn the truth about herself.
Director: George Cukor | Stars: Cary Grant , Katharine Hepburn , James Stewart , Ruth Hussey
Actors: 4.9 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 2 Oscar Nominations: 6 BAFTA Awards: N/A BAFTA Nominations: N/A Golden Globes: N/A Golden Globe Nominations: N/A
43. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Approved | 129 min | Crime, Drama
Atticus Finch, a widowed lawyer in Depression-era Alabama, defends a Black man against an undeserved rape charge, and tries to educate his young children against prejudice.
Director: Robert Mulligan | Stars: Gregory Peck , John Megna , Frank Overton , Rosemary Murphy
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.7 Stars Oscars: 3 Oscar Nominations: 8 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 2 Golden Globes: 3 Golden Globe Nominations: 5
44. An American in Paris (1951)
Passed | 114 min | Drama, Musical, Romance
Three friends struggle to find work in Paris. Things become more complicated when two of them fall in love with the same woman.
Director: Vincente Minnelli | Stars: Gene Kelly , Leslie Caron , Oscar Levant , Georges Guétary
Votes: 36,017 | Gross: $4.50M
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.9 Stars Oscars: 6 Oscar Nominations: 8 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 1 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 3
45. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Approved | 170 min | Drama, Romance, War
Three World War II veterans, two of them traumatized or disabled, return home to the American midwest to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.
Director: William Wyler | Stars: Myrna Loy , Dana Andrews , Fredric March , Teresa Wright
Votes: 68,730 | Gross: $23.65M
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.9 Stars Oscars: 7 Oscar Nominations: 8 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 1 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 1
46. My Fair Lady (1964)
G | 170 min | Drama, Family, Musical
In 1910s London, snobbish phonetics professor Henry Higgins agrees to a wager that he can make crude flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, presentable in high society.
Director: George Cukor | Stars: Audrey Hepburn , Rex Harrison , Stanley Holloway , Wilfrid Hyde-White
Votes: 99,698 | Gross: $72.00M
Actors: 4.9 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 8 Oscar Nominations: 12 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 2 Golden Globes: 3 Golden Globe Nominations: 5
47. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
R | 136 min | Crime, Sci-Fi
In the future, a sadistic gang leader is imprisoned and volunteers for a conduct-aversion experiment, but it doesn't go as planned.
Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Malcolm McDowell , Patrick Magee , Michael Bates , Warren Clarke
Votes: 863,874 | Gross: $6.21M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 4 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 7 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 3
48. Doctor Zhivago (1965)
PG-13 | 197 min | Drama, Romance, War
The life of a Russian physician and poet who, although married to another, falls in love with a political activist's wife and experiences hardship during World War I and then the October Revolution.
Director: David Lean | Stars: Omar Sharif , Julie Christie , Geraldine Chaplin , Rod Steiger
Votes: 80,558 | Gross: $111.72M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 5 Oscar Nominations: 10 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 3 Golden Globes: 5 Golden Globe Nominations: 6
49. The Searchers (1956)
Passed | 119 min | Adventure, Drama, Western
An American Civil War veteran embarks on a years-long journey to rescue his niece from the Comanches after the rest of his brother's family is massacred in a raid on their Texas farm.
Director: John Ford | Stars: John Wayne , Jeffrey Hunter , Vera Miles , Ward Bond
***** Actors: 4.9 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 0 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Award Nominations: 0 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 0
50. Jaws (1975)
PG | 124 min | Adventure, Mystery, Thriller
When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach community off Cape Cod, it's up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down.
Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Roy Scheider , Robert Shaw , Richard Dreyfuss , Lorraine Gary
Votes: 643,987 | Gross: $260.00M
Actors: 4.7 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.7 Stars Oscars: 3 Oscar Nominations: 4 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 6 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
51. Patton (1970)
GP | 172 min | Biography, Drama, War
The World War II phase of the career of controversial American general George S. Patton .
Director: Franklin J. Schaffner | Stars: George C. Scott , Karl Malden , Stephen Young , Michael Strong
Votes: 106,429 | Gross: $61.70M
***** Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 7 Oscar Nominations: 10 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 2 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 3
52. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
PG | 110 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
In 1890s Wyoming, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid lead a band of outlaws. When a train robbery goes wrong, they find themselves on the run with a posse hard on their heels. After considering their options, they escape to South America.
Director: George Roy Hill | Stars: Paul Newman , Robert Redford , Katharine Ross , Strother Martin
Votes: 223,591 | Gross: $102.31M
***** Actors: 4.6 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.7 Stars Oscars: 4 Oscar Nominations: 7 BAFTA Awards: 8 BAFTA Nominations: 9 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
53. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
Passed | 126 min | Adventure, Drama, Western
Two down-on-their-luck Americans searching for work in 1920s Mexico convince an old prospector to help them mine for gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains.
Director: John Huston | Stars: Humphrey Bogart , Walter Huston , Tim Holt , Bruce Bennett
Votes: 130,233 | Gross: $5.01M
Actors: 4.7 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 3 Oscar Nominations: 4 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 1 Golden Globes: 3 Golden Globe Nominations: 3
54. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Approved | 178 min | Adventure, Western
A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.
Director: Sergio Leone | Stars: Clint Eastwood , Eli Wallach , Lee Van Cleef , Aldo Giuffrè
Votes: 793,287 | Gross: $6.10M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 0 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Award Nominations: 0 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 0
55. The Apartment (1960)
Approved | 125 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
A Manhattan insurance clerk tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.
Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: Jack Lemmon , Shirley MacLaine , Fred MacMurray , Ray Walston
Votes: 191,289 | Gross: $18.60M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 5 Oscar Nominations: 10 BAFTA Awards: 3 BAFTA Nominations: 3 Golden Globes: 3 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
56. Platoon (1986)
R | 120 min | Drama, War
Chris Taylor, a neophyte recruit in Vietnam, finds himself caught in a battle of wills between two sergeants, one good and the other evil. A shrewd examination of the brutality of war and the duality of man in conflict.
Director: Oliver Stone | Stars: Charlie Sheen , Tom Berenger , Willem Dafoe , Keith David
Votes: 430,288 | Gross: $138.53M
***** Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 4 Oscar Nominations: 8 BAFTA Awards: 2 BAFTA Nominations: 3 Golden Globes: 3 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
57. High Noon (1952)
PG | 85 min | Drama, Thriller, Western
A town Marshal, despite the disagreements of his newlywed bride and the townspeople around him, must face a gang of deadly killers alone at "high noon" when the gang leader, an outlaw he "sent up" years ago, arrives on the noon train.
Director: Fred Zinnemann | Stars: Gary Cooper , Grace Kelly , Thomas Mitchell , Lloyd Bridges
Votes: 108,474 | Gross: $9.45M
***** Actors: 4.6 Stars Direction: 4.7 Stars Screenplay: 4.7 Stars Oscars: 4 Oscar Nominations: 7 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 0 Golden Globes: 4 Golden Globe Nominations: 7
58. Braveheart (1995)
R | 178 min | Biography, Drama, History
Scottish warrior William Wallace leads his countrymen in a rebellion to free his homeland from the tyranny of King Edward I of England.
Director: Mel Gibson | Stars: Mel Gibson , Sophie Marceau , Patrick McGoohan , Angus Macfadyen
Votes: 1,072,494 | Gross: $75.60M
Actors: 4.7 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.7 Stars Oscars: 5 Oscar Nominations: 10 BAFTA Awards: 3 BAFTA Nominations: 5 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
59. Dances with Wolves (1990)
PG-13 | 181 min | Adventure, Drama, Western
Lieutenant John Dunbar, assigned to a remote western Civil War outpost, finds himself engaging with a neighbouring Sioux settlement, causing him to question his own purpose.
Director: Kevin Costner | Stars: Kevin Costner , Mary McDonnell , Graham Greene , Rodney A. Grant
Votes: 283,096 | Gross: $184.21M
***** Actors: 4.5 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.6 Stars Oscars: 7 Oscar Nominations: 12 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 9 Golden Globes: 3 Golden Globe Nominations: 6
60. Jurassic Park (1993)
PG-13 | 127 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
A pragmatic paleontologist touring an almost complete theme park on an island in Central America is tasked with protecting a couple of kids after a power failure causes the park's cloned dinosaurs to run loose.
Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Sam Neill , Laura Dern , Jeff Goldblum , Richard Attenborough
Votes: 1,040,226 | Gross: $402.45M
Actors: 4.6 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.7 Stars Oscars: 3 Oscar Nominations: 3 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 2 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 0
61. The Exorcist (1973)
R | 122 min | Horror
When a young girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two Catholic priests to save her life.
Director: William Friedkin | Stars: Ellen Burstyn , Max von Sydow , Linda Blair , Lee J. Cobb
Votes: 442,767 | Gross: $232.91M
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 2 Oscar Nominations: 10 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 1 Golden Globes: 4 Golden Globe Nominations: 7
62. The Pianist (2002)
R | 150 min | Biography, Drama, Music
A Polish Jewish musician struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II.
Director: Roman Polanski | Stars: Adrien Brody , Thomas Kretschmann , Frank Finlay , Emilia Fox
Votes: 884,180 | Gross: $32.57M
***** Actors: 4.9 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.7 Stars Oscars: 3 Oscar Nominations: 7 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 5 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 2
63. Goodfellas (1990)
R | 145 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
The story of Henry Hill and his life in the mafia, covering his relationship with his wife Karen and his mob partners Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVito.
Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Robert De Niro , Ray Liotta , Joe Pesci , Lorraine Bracco
Votes: 1,222,636 | Gross: $46.84M
***** Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 1 Oscar Nominations: 6 BAFTA Awards: 5 BAFTA Nominations: 7 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 5
64. The Deer Hunter (1978)
R | 183 min | Drama, War
An in-depth examination of the ways in which the Vietnam War impacts and disrupts the lives of several friends in a small steel mill town in Pennsylvania.
Director: Michael Cimino | Stars: Robert De Niro , Christopher Walken , John Cazale , John Savage
Votes: 354,243 | Gross: $48.98M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.9 Stars Oscars: 5 Oscar Nominations: 9 BAFTA Awards: 2 BAFTA Nominations: 9 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 6
65. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Passed | 152 min | Drama, War
A German youth eagerly enters World War I, but his enthusiasm wanes as he gets a firsthand view of the horror.
Director: Lewis Milestone | Stars: Lew Ayres , Louis Wolheim , John Wray , Arnold Lucy
Votes: 66,455 | Gross: $3.27M
***** Actors: 4.7 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.7 Stars Oscars: 2 Oscar Nominations: 4 BAFTA Awards: N/A BAFTA Nominations: N/A Golden Globes: N/A Golden Globe Nominations: N/A
66. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
R | 111 min | Action, Biography, Crime
Bored waitress Bonnie Parker falls in love with an ex-con named Clyde Barrow and together they start a violent crime spree through the country, stealing cars and robbing banks.
Director: Arthur Penn | Stars: Warren Beatty , Faye Dunaway , Michael J. Pollard , Gene Hackman
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.7 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 2 Oscar Nominations: 10 BAFTA Awards: 2 BAFTA Nominations: 4 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 7
67. The French Connection (1971)
R | 104 min | Action, Crime, Drama
A pair of NYPD detectives in the Narcotics Bureau stumble onto a heroin smuggling ring based in Marseilles, but stopping them and capturing their leaders proves an elusive goal.
Director: William Friedkin | Stars: Gene Hackman , Roy Scheider , Fernando Rey , Tony Lo Bianco
Votes: 131,846 | Gross: $15.63M
***** Actors: 4.9 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 5 Oscar Nominations: 8 BAFTA Awards: 2 BAFTA Nominations: 5 Golden Globes: 3 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
68. City Lights (1931)
G | 87 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
With the aid of a wealthy erratic tippler, a dewy-eyed tramp who has fallen in love with a sightless flower girl accumulates money to be able to help her medically.
Director: Charles Chaplin | Stars: Charles Chaplin , Virginia Cherrill , Florence Lee , Harry Myers
Votes: 192,237 | Gross: $0.02M
***** Actors: 4.9 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 0 BAFTA Awards: N/A BAFTA Nominations: N/A Golden Globes: N/A Golden Globe Nominations: N/A
69. It Happened One Night (1934)
Passed | 105 min | Comedy, Romance
A renegade reporter trailing a young runaway heiress for a big story joins her on a bus heading from Florida to New York, and they end up stuck with each other when the bus leaves them behind at one of the stops.
Director: Frank Capra | Stars: Clark Gable , Claudette Colbert , Walter Connolly , Roscoe Karns
Votes: 109,555 | Gross: $4.36M
***** Actors: 4.7 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 5 Oscar Nominations: 5 BAFTA Awards: N/A BAFTA Nominations: N/A Golden Globes: N/A Golden Globe Nominations: N/A
70. A Place in the Sun (1951)
Passed | 122 min | Drama, Romance
A poor boy gets a job working for his rich uncle and ends up falling in love with two women.
Director: George Stevens | Stars: Montgomery Clift , Elizabeth Taylor , Shelley Winters , Anne Revere
***** Actors: 4.6 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.7 Stars Oscars: 6 Oscar Nominations: 9 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 0 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
71. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
R | 113 min | Drama
A naive hustler travels from Texas to New York City to seek personal fortune, finding a new friend in the process.
Director: John Schlesinger | Stars: Dustin Hoffman , Jon Voight , Sylvia Miles , John McGiver
Votes: 117,415 | Gross: $44.79M
***** Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.7 Stars Screenplay: 4.9 Stars Oscars: 3 Oscar Nominations: 7 BAFTA Awards: 6 BAFTA Nominations: 6 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 7
72. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Passed | 129 min | Comedy, Drama
A naive youth leader is appointed to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate. His idealistic plans promptly collide with corruption at home and subterfuge from his hero in Washington, but he tries to forge ahead despite attacks on his character.
Director: Frank Capra | Stars: James Stewart , Jean Arthur , Claude Rains , Edward Arnold
Votes: 119,466 | Gross: $9.60M
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 1 Oscar Nominations: 11 BAFTA Awards: N/A BAFTA Nominations: N/A Golden Globes: N/A Golden Globe Nominations: N/A
73. Rain Man (1988)
After a selfish L.A. yuppie learns his estranged father left a fortune to an autistic-savant brother in Ohio that he didn't know existed, he absconds with his brother and sets out across the country, hoping to gain a larger inheritance.
Director: Barry Levinson | Stars: Dustin Hoffman , Tom Cruise , Valeria Golino , Gerald R. Molen
Votes: 535,830 | Gross: $178.80M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 4 Oscar Nominations: 8 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 3 Golden Globes: 2 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
74. Annie Hall (1977)
PG | 93 min | Comedy, Romance
Alvy Singer, a divorced Jewish comedian, reflects on his relationship with ex-lover Annie Hall, an aspiring nightclub singer, which ended abruptly just like his previous marriages.
Director: Woody Allen | Stars: Woody Allen , Diane Keaton , Tony Roberts , Carol Kane
Votes: 273,690 | Gross: $39.20M
***** Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 4.9 Stars Oscars: 4 Oscar Nominations: 5 BAFTA Awards: 5 BAFTA Nominations: 6 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 5
75. Fargo (1996)
R | 98 min | Crime, Thriller
Minnesota car salesman Jerry Lundegaard's inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson.
Directors: Joel Coen , Ethan Coen | Stars: William H. Macy , Frances McDormand , Steve Buscemi , Peter Stormare
Votes: 706,319 | Gross: $24.61M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 2 Oscar Nominations: 7 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 6 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
76. Giant (1956)
G | 201 min | Drama, Western
Sprawling epic covering the life of a Texas cattle rancher and his family and associates.
Director: George Stevens | Stars: Elizabeth Taylor , Rock Hudson , James Dean , Carroll Baker
***** Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.7 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 1 Oscar Nominations: 10 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 0 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 1
77. Shane (1953)
Not Rated | 118 min | Drama, Western
A weary gunfighter in 1880s Wyoming begins to envision a quieter life after befriending a homestead family with a young son who idolizes him, but a smoldering range war forces him to act.
Director: George Stevens | Stars: Alan Ladd , Jean Arthur , Van Heflin , Brandon De Wilde
Votes: 43,234 | Gross: $20.00M
Actors: 4.7 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.7 Stars Oscars: 1 Oscar Nominations: 6 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 2 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 0
78. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Passed | 129 min | Drama
An Oklahoma family, driven off their farm by the poverty and hopelessness of the Dust Bowl, joins the westward migration to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression.
Director: John Ford | Stars: Henry Fonda , Jane Darwell , John Carradine , Charley Grapewin
Votes: 98,088 | Gross: $0.06M
Actors: 4.6 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.7 Stars Oscars: 2 Oscar Nominations: 7 BAFTA Awards: N/A BAFTA Nominations: N/A Golden Globes: N/A Golden Globe Nominations: N/A
79. The Green Mile (1999)
R | 189 min | Crime, Drama, Fantasy
A tale set on death row in a Southern jail, where gentle giant John possesses the mysterious power to heal people's ailments. When the lead guard, Paul, recognizes John's gift, he tries to help stave off the condemned man's execution.
Director: Frank Darabont | Stars: Tom Hanks , Michael Clarke Duncan , David Morse , Bonnie Hunt
Votes: 1,369,078 | Gross: $136.80M
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.9 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 4 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 0 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 1
80. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
PG | 138 min | Drama, Sci-Fi
Roy Neary, an Indiana electric lineman, finds his quiet and ordinary daily life turned upside down after a close encounter with a UFO, spurring him to an obsessed cross-country quest for answers as a momentous event approaches.
Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Richard Dreyfuss , François Truffaut , Teri Garr , Melinda Dillon
Votes: 212,359 | Gross: $132.09M
Actors: 4.6 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.7 Stars Oscars: 1 Oscar Nominations: 8 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 4 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 8
81. Nashville (1975)
R | 160 min | Comedy, Drama, Music
Over the course of a few hectic days, numerous interrelated people prepare for a political convention.
Director: Robert Altman | Stars: Keith Carradine , Karen Black , Ronee Blakley , Shelley Duvall
Votes: 27,929 | Gross: $14.82M
***** Actors: 4.7 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 1 Oscar Nominations: 5 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 5 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 11
82. Network (1976)
R | 121 min | Drama
A television network cynically exploits a deranged former anchor's ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit, but finds that his message may be difficult to control.
Director: Sidney Lumet | Stars: Faye Dunaway , William Holden , Peter Finch , Robert Duvall
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.9 Stars Oscars: 4 Oscar Nominations: 10 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 9 Golden Globes: 4 Golden Globe Nominations: 5
83. The Graduate (1967)
PG | 106 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
A disillusioned college graduate finds himself torn between his older lover and her daughter.
Director: Mike Nichols | Stars: Dustin Hoffman , Anne Bancroft , Katharine Ross , William Daniels
Votes: 284,332 | Gross: $104.95M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 1 Oscar Nominations: 7 BAFTA Awards: 5 BAFTA Nominations: 7 Golden Globes: 5 Golden Globe Nominations: 7
84. American Graffiti (1973)
PG | 110 min | Comedy, Drama
A group of teenagers in California's central valley spend one final night after their 1962 high school graduation cruising the strip with their buddies before they pursue their varying goals.
Director: George Lucas | Stars: Richard Dreyfuss , Ron Howard , Paul Le Mat , Charles Martin Smith
Votes: 96,340 | Gross: $115.00M
***** Actors: 4.7 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 5 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 1 Golden Globes: 2 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
85. Pulp Fiction (1994)
R | 154 min | Crime, Drama
The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster and his wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.
Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: John Travolta , Uma Thurman , Samuel L. Jackson , Bruce Willis
Votes: 2,158,751 | Gross: $107.93M
Actors: 4.7 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 1 Oscar Nominations: 7 BAFTA Awards: 2 BAFTA Nominations: 8 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 6
86. Terms of Endearment (1983)
PG | 132 min | Comedy, Drama
Follows hard-to-please Aurora looking for love and her daughter's family problems.
Director: James L. Brooks | Stars: Shirley MacLaine , Debra Winger , Jack Nicholson , Danny DeVito
Votes: 63,961 | Gross: $108.42M
***** Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.9 Stars Oscars: 5 Oscar Nominations: 11 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 1 Golden Globes: 4 Golden Globe Nominations: 6
87. Good Will Hunting (1997)
R | 126 min | Drama, Romance
Will Hunting, a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life.
Director: Gus Van Sant | Stars: Robin Williams , Matt Damon , Ben Affleck , Stellan Skarsgård
Votes: 1,028,707 | Gross: $138.43M
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 5 Stars Oscars: 2 Oscar Nominations: 9 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 0 Golden Globes: 1 Golden Globe Nominations: 4
88. The African Queen (1951)
PG | 105 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance
In WWI East Africa, a gin-swilling Canadian riverboat captain is persuaded by a strait-laced English missionary to undertake a trip up a treacherous river and use his boat to attack a German gunship.
Director: John Huston | Stars: Humphrey Bogart , Katharine Hepburn , Robert Morley , Peter Bull
Votes: 82,647 | Gross: $0.54M
Actors: 4.7 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 1 Oscar Nominations: 4 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 3 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 0
89. Stagecoach (1939)
Passed | 96 min | Adventure, Drama, Western
A group of people traveling on a stagecoach find their journey complicated by the threat of Geronimo and learn something about each other in the process.
Director: John Ford | Stars: John Wayne , Claire Trevor , Andy Devine , John Carradine
90. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
Passed | 132 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
First mate Fletcher Christian leads a revolt against his sadistic commander, Captain Bligh, in this classic seafaring adventure, based on the real-life 1789 mutiny.
Director: Frank Lloyd | Stars: Charles Laughton , Clark Gable , Franchot Tone , Herbert Mundin
Actors: 4.9 Stars Direction: 4.7 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 1 Oscar Nominations: 8 BAFTA Awards: N/A BAFTA Nominations: N/A Golden Globes: N/A Golden Globe Nominations: N/A
91. The Great Dictator (1940)
G | 125 min | Comedy, Drama, War
Dictator Adenoid Hynkel tries to expand his empire while a poor Jewish barber tries to avoid persecution from Hynkel's regime.
Director: Charles Chaplin | Stars: Charles Chaplin , Paulette Goddard , Jack Oakie , Reginald Gardiner
Votes: 233,092 | Gross: $0.29M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 5 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 0 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 0
92. Double Indemnity (1944)
Passed | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
A Los Angeles insurance representative lets an alluring housewife seduce him into a scheme of insurance fraud and murder that arouses the suspicion of his colleague, an insurance investigator.
Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: Fred MacMurray , Barbara Stanwyck , Edward G. Robinson , Byron Barr
Votes: 164,016 | Gross: $5.72M
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.8 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 7 BAFTA Awards: N/A BAFTA Nominations: N/A Golden Globes: N/A Golden Globe Nominations: N/A
93. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Passed | 100 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery
San Francisco private detective Sam Spade takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar and their quest for a priceless statuette, with the stakes rising after his partner is murdered.
Director: John Huston | Stars: Humphrey Bogart , Mary Astor , Gladys George , Peter Lorre
Votes: 164,234 | Gross: $2.11M
Actors: 4.7 Stars Direction: 4.7 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 3 BAFTA Awards: N/A BAFTA Nominations: N/A Golden Globes: N/A Golden Globe Nominations: N/A
94. Wuthering Heights (1939)
Passed | 104 min | Drama, Romance
A servant in the house of Wuthering Heights tells a traveler the unfortunate tale of lovers Cathy and Heathcliff.
Director: William Wyler | Stars: Merle Oberon , Laurence Olivier , David Niven , Flora Robson
Votes: 19,319 | Gross: $0.76M
***** Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 1 Oscar Nominations: 8 BAFTA Awards: N/A BAFTA Nominations: N/A Golden Globes: N/A Golden Globe Nominations: N/A
95. Taxi Driver (1976)
R | 114 min | Crime, Drama
A mentally unstable veteran works as a nighttime taxi driver in New York City, where the perceived decadence and sleaze fuels his urge for violent action.
Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Robert De Niro , Jodie Foster , Cybill Shepherd , Albert Brooks
Votes: 892,180 | Gross: $28.26M
Actors: 5 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 4 BAFTA Awards: 2 BAFTA Nominations: 6 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 2
96. Rear Window (1954)
PG | 112 min | Mystery, Thriller
A photographer in a wheelchair spies on his neighbors from his Greenwich Village courtyard apartment window, and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder, despite the skepticism of his fashion-model girlfriend.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: James Stewart , Grace Kelly , Wendell Corey , Thelma Ritter
Votes: 511,477 | Gross: $36.76M
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 5 Stars Screenplay: 4.9 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 4 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 1 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 0
97. The Third Man (1949)
Approved | 93 min | Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller
Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime.
Director: Carol Reed | Stars: Orson Welles , Joseph Cotten , Alida Valli , Trevor Howard
Votes: 178,455 | Gross: $0.45M
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 1 Oscar Nominations: 3 BAFTA Awards: 1 BAFTA Nominations: 2 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 0
98. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
PG-13 | 111 min | Drama
A rebellious young man with a troubled past comes to a new town, finding friends and enemies.
Director: Nicholas Ray | Stars: James Dean , Natalie Wood , Sal Mineo , Jim Backus
***** Actors: 4.7 Stars Direction: 4.7 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 3 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 2 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 0
99. North by Northwest (1959)
Approved | 136 min | Action, Adventure, Mystery
A New York City advertising executive goes on the run after being mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and falls for a woman whose loyalties he begins to doubt.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Cary Grant , Eva Marie Saint , James Mason , Jessie Royce Landis
Votes: 339,994 | Gross: $13.28M
Actors: 4.8 Stars Direction: 4.9 Stars Screenplay: 4.8 Stars Oscars: 0 Oscar Nominations: 3 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 0 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 0
100. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
Passed | 126 min | Biography, Drama, Family
The life of the renowned musical composer, playwright, actor, dancer, and singer George M. Cohan .
Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: James Cagney , Joan Leslie , Walter Huston , Richard Whorf
Votes: 16,608 | Gross: $11.80M
Actors: 4.6 Stars Direction: 4.7 Stars Screenplay: 4.6 Stars Oscars: 3 Oscar Nominations: 8 BAFTA Awards: 0 BAFTA Nominations: 0 Golden Globes: 0 Golden Globe Nominations: 0
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Five Nights at Freddy’s (Photo by Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection)
30 Most Popular Movies Right Now: What to Watch In Theaters and Streaming
Discover the top, most popular movies available now! Across theaters, streaming, and on-demand, these are the movies Rotten Tomatoes users are checking out at this very moment, including Killers of the Flower Moon (see Martin Scorsese movies ranked , along with Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro ), Five Nights at Freddy’s (see 2023’s horror movies ranked , and video game movies ranked ) and Pain Hustlers with Chris Evans and Emily Blunt .
Five Nights at Freddy's (2023) 30%
Killers of the Flower Moon (2023) 93%
Pain Hustlers (2023) 24%
Old Dads (2023) 24%
No Hard Feelings (2023) 71%
Talk to Me (2023) 94%
The Exorcist: Believer (2023) 22%
The Holdovers (2023) 96%
Saw X (2023) 79%
The Burial (2023) 91%
Freelance (2023) 0%
The Pigeon Tunnel (2023) 96%
Milli Vanilli (2023) 100%
When Evil Lurks (2023) 99%
The Creator (2023) 67%
The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) 59%
TAYLOR SWIFT | THE ERAS TOUR (2023) 99%
Totally Killer (2023) 87%
Fair Play (2023) 86%
The Nun II (2023) 52%
Reptile (2023) 44%
Nightsiren (2022) 93%
Beyond Utopia (2023) 100%
Suitable Flesh (2023) 84%
The Royal Hotel (2023) 91%
After Death (2023) 36%
Oppenheimer (2023) 93%
Haunted Mansion (2023) 37%
No One Will Save You (2023) 81%
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (2023) 95%
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The 7 Best New Movies on Netflix in November 2023
November has plenty of movies for subscribers to be thankful for.
Netflix subscribers have plenty to be thankful for this November 2023 , as the streaming giant is releasing more than a few big movies this month. The diverse line-up includes everything from adult dramas to family-friendly animated entertainment, so there is something for everyone this Thanksgiving season. This month, Netflix fans can expect to see the return of a cult-classic icon, a gripping aquatic biopic, a new thriller from David Fincher , a nostalgic Christmas comedy, an emotional true story about a civil rights icon, a heartfelt animated feature, and a wacky family feud.
To learn more about just some of the films you can expect to see on Netflix this month, here are seven of the best movies coming to Netflix in November 2023.
'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World' (2010)
Available: November 1 | Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Mark Webber, Jason Schwartzman, Satya Bhabha, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Brie Larson, Mae Whitman, Keita Saitou, and Shôta Saitô
While not a new movie per se, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World could not be coming to Netflix at a better time. That's because later in the month, we're getting the all-new animated series Scott Pilgrim Takes Off - a retelling of the beloved story featuring the entire main cast of the aforementioned feature film. The surreal comic book and video game-inspired movie sees down-on-his-luck guitarist Scott Pilgrim ( Michael Cera ) on a desperate search for love after a bad breakup, all while his band Sex Bobomb are trying to prove themselves as serious artists. Scott finally sees a second chance for love when he meets Ramona Flowers ( Mary Elizabeth Winstead ), but the only way he can date her is by defeating all seven of her evil exes in combat.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World will be available to stream on Netflix starting Wednesday, November 1st.
Watch on Netflix
Available: November 3 | Directors: Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
Cast: Annette Bening, Jodie Foster, Rhys Ifans, Luke Cosgrove, and Erica Cho
Nyad tells the dramatic story of real-life athlete Diana Nyad ( Annette Bening ). However, her story has become somewhat controversial as her claim of swimming 110 miles in the open ocean has been disputed. Regardless, the emotional tale, directed by Free Solo duo Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi , will showcase Nyad's series of events, preparing to do an open swim from Florida to Cuba, all with the help of other friend Bonnie Stoll ( Jodie Foster ) and navigator John Bartlett ( Rhys Ifans ).
Nyad will be available to stream on Netflix starting Friday, November 3rd.
'The Killer' (2023)
Available: November 10 | Director: David Fincher
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton, Charles Parnell, Arliss Howard, and Kerry O'Malley
After getting some Oscar gold for Netflix in 2020's Mank , David Fincher is back in the director's chair to back to his thriller roots with The Killer . Starring Michael Fassbender as the titular assassin, ending a long hiatus for the acclaimed actor , The Killer follows a man on the edge after a hit job gone wrong. As his former friends and employers hunt him down, the Killer soon starts to rethink the dangerous career he has dedicated his life to.
The Killer will be available to stream on Netflix starting Friday, November 10th.
'Best. Christmas. Ever!' (2023)
Available: November 16 | Director: Mary Lambert
Cast: Brandy Norwood, Heather Graham, Jason Biggs, and Matt Cedeño
Brandy Norwood and Heather Graham unite for holiday high jinks in Best. Christmas. Ever! Here, Charlotte Sanders (Heather Graham) and her family find themselves becoming the unexpected guests of the Jennings family. The household's mother, Jackie Jennings (Brandy Norwood), is an old frenemy of Charlotte's. She has always had a bitters sense of jealousy for Jackie, but hopefully Charlotte puts those feeling aside to give her family the Christmas they deserve.
Best. Christmas. Ever! will be available to stream on Netflix starting Thursday, November 16th.
Available: November 17 | Director: George C. Wolfe
Cast: Colman Domingo, Chris Rock, Glynn Turman, Aml Ameen, CCH Pounder, Michael Potts, Audra McDonald, and Jeffrey Wright
Another dramatic biopic from Netflix coming in November, R ustin shines a light on the often-overlooked story of civil rights activist Bayard Rustin ( Colman Domingo ). A close companion of Martin Luther King Jr. ( Aml Ameen ), not only did Rustin challenge the status quo for race relations as a Black man, but he also fought a personal battle against homophobia as a gay man. Coincidentally, the film also star Chris Rock , who was recently announced to be directing a new biopic about Martin Luther King Jr .
Rustin will be available to stream on Netflix starting Friday, November 17th.
Available: November 21 | Directors: Robert Marianetti, Robert Smigel, and David Wachtenheim
Cast: Adam Sandler, Bill Burr, Cecily Strong, Jason Alexander, Rob Schneider, Allison Strong, and Jo Koy
Adam Sandler stars as an aging, kind-hearted iguana in his first animated role since the Hotel Transylvania films with Leo . The titular lizard wants a more exciting life than the one he has now living as a pet in a classroom, and escapes one day against the advice of his turtle roommate Squirtle ( Bill Burr ). Once out of his pen, Leo finally finds the purpose he's looking for by giving advice to the students of his class.
Leo will be available to stream on Netflix starting Tuesday, November 21st.
'Family Switch' (2023)
Available: November 30 | Director: McG
Cast: Jennifer Garner, Emma Myers, Ed Helms, Brady Noon, Rita Moreno, Pete Holmes, Ilia Isorelýs Paulino, Matthias Schweighöfer, Paul Scheer, and Fortune Feimster
What if the magical body swap scenario of Freaky Friday applied to an entire family instead of just the mother and daughter ? That's the question that McG 's Family Switch asks, with the various members of the Walker family waking up in completely different bodies . Now, the family members of Jess ( Jennifer Garner ), Bill ( Ed Helms ), CC ( Emma Myers ), and Wyatt ( Brady Nonn ) must figure out why this happened and how they can get back into their own bodies.
Family Switch will be available to stream on Netflix starting Thursday, November 30th.
10 Best Charlize Theron Movies of All Time
Our favorite performances by one of hollywood's most successful actresses ever.
If things had gone according to plan, Charlize Theron would have become a dancer , having studied ballet at the Joffrey Ballet School until a knee injury permanently sidelined her. Necessarily switching tracks to pursue a career in film, she first started popping up in movies in the mid-90s. Breakout early roles in features such as 2 Days in the Valley and Cider House Rules made her a name to watch out for, and for thirty-plus years, Theron has been delivering on that promise.
Today, we know her as Imperator Furiosa, Lady Lesso, Bombshell’s Megyn Kelly, the evil queen Ravenna, the MCU’s Clea , and many more. Still, looking back, Theron has been enlivening even her most minor supporting roles since the very start. Regardless of what kind of movie she’s appearing in, be it a sci-fi epic or an indie darling, Theron always gives it her all.
Best Charlize Theron Movies
These are our favorites, but honestly, every movie is just a little bit better with Charlize Theron.
Director Ridley’s Scott’s controversial return to the Alien franchise , Prometheus, disappointed many fans on its release, but has been up for reappraisal by some critics in recent years. Regardless of your stance on the film, there’s no denying that its ensemble cast does some great work bringing the space epic to life, even without the presence of the xenomorphs. Charlize Theron’s villainous Meredith Vickers is the primary antagonist of the story, but its the sudden reveal of her true colors that remains one of Prometheus’s most shocking moments.
As an employee of the shady Weyland Corporation, Vickers is an obstacle and threat to the rest of the crew. Theron was initially set to play the lead character , Elizabeth Shaw, a role that ultimately went to Noomi Rapace, (making up the lead women of Prometheus ). Though your mileage may vary, for our money, this turned out to be the better casting outcome. Rapace does great with Shaw, while Theron’s uniquely icy performance as Vickers makes her one of the Alien universe’s more memorable villains.
You may also like: Ridley Scott Says Upcoming Alien Movie Is 'F**king Great' According to Director.
The Devil’s Advocate (1997)
Mixing a John Grisham-style courtroom drama with a Faustian horror story, The Devil’s Advocate is a late 90s hidden gem well worth tracking down. The film’s dubious protagonist is lawyer Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves), who we meet as he’s destroying a victim of sexual assault’s credibility on the stand despite knowing that she’s telling the truth. One moral concession leads to another as Lomax climbs the professional ladder, protecting his “perfect record” of courtroom wins at all costs.
The Devil’s Advocate is mainly about the dynamic between the owner of his firm, John Milton (Al Pacino), and Lomax. However, it’s Theron’s performance as his wife, Mary Ann that shows not just Lomax’s humanity, but his inherent corruptibility. At first, the couple is happy for the improved lifestyle Milton is bestowing upon them; yet, it’s Mary Ann who suffers as she is tormented by visions of demons. When she makes a claim against Milton, Lomax institutionalized her rather than hearing her out, which leads to catastrophic results. Playing a character that starts the film happy, in love, and fulfilled only to rapidly decline, this early Theron role shows her easily holding her own on a stacked cast and then some.
See more of the best Keanu Reeves movies .
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Across the many takes on the fairy tale of Snow White, the actor playing the evil queen always seems to be having the most fun. That goes double for Charlize Theron in her role as Ravenna, the Evil Queen of Snow White and the Huntsman . Though her story is much the same as other versions you’ve seen, Theron elevates the role by delivering anger that feels sincerely rooted in her experiences surviving violence and betrayal.
Snow’s (Kristen Stewart) dad, King Magnus (Noah Huntley), is smitten with Ravenna, marrying her before really knowing anything about her. Ravenna kills him on their wedding night while delivering a top-notch supervillain monologue, and after that, it’s a war on Snow, who eventually rallies with an army of her own. While this is more an action film with fairy tale origins than a by-the-book adaptation of the tale on which it’s based, Charlize Theron seems to truly delight in her role as the over-the-top villain. Granting a level of depth to what might otherwise be a one-note baddie, Theron’s Ravenna is an absolute scene-stealer.
Atomic Blonde (2017)
Antony Johnston and Sam Heart’s graphic novel The Coldest Heart inspired this stylish action movie following the adventures of MI6 spy Lorraine Broughton (Theron). Tasked with retrieving a master list of the world’s double agents during the final years of the cold war, she is warned to especially watch out for the mysterious agent Satchel. Delving into a flurry of violent encounters and dubious alliances, Broughton’s detached demeanor is given weight through Theron’s emotionally complex performance.
Atomic Blonde has been favorably compared to the John Wick and James Bond franchises for its sleek aesthetic, epic fight sequences, and morally ambiguous hero. Yet, much as with those series, Atomic Blonde succeeds on the power of its charismatic star, which is what marks the film as a unique offering to the world of the spy thriller. Dodging tropes with a series of clever twists, the script is great. Yet, it’s above-and-beyond moments that make the film, including a particularly stunning ten-minute, one-take action sequence.
The Old Guard (2020)
Based on Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez’s comic of the same name, The Old Guard introduces us to Andromache of Scythia (Theron), or Andy for short. She is the oldest among a small group of immortal fighters including Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts ) , Joe (Marwan Kenzari), and Nicky (Luca Marinelli). The last time a new member was awakened was Booker in 1812, so when they start having visions of a new member, Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne), they jump into action. They are soon betrayed by a pharmaceutical mogul (Harry Melling) who wishes to tap into the secrets of their immortality, which kicks off a chain of plot points that should last us throughout the slated sequels.
The Old Guard is a superhero yarn in some sense, but the spirit of the franchise is rooted very much in explorations of morality. Is doing the right thing enough to counter humanity’s inhumanity to one another over millennia? The jury’s out, and no one is more conflicted by these questions than our heroes. Theron’s Andy is jaded and exhausted, but still maintains a sense of hope despite the horror she’s witnessed. Informing her fight sequences with pathos and questions about right and wrong, The Old Guard is part action film, part exploration of hope in the face of horror, and Theron’s Andy brings it all together.
Young Adult (2011)
Young Adult is for anyone who has ever questioned the standard rom-com format in which a successful woman gives up on her career to reunite with a high school sweetheart. With Theron’s character Mavis returning to her hometown to find her lost love, she’s criticized by old friends for her immaturity. This doesn’t stop her from pursuing her lost love Buddy, despite the fact that he’s married.
Even when Mavis starts to go off the rails a bit, Young Adult is rooted in the top-notch scripting of Diablo Cody, giving plenty of laughs along the way. Even if we cringe watching Mavis attempt to reclaim her youth, Theron’s expertise in adding sincere inner turmoil behind every misdeed makes this film an unforgettable addition to rom-com canon, even if it doesn’t necessarily end in a love story. Watching Mavis rise above past trauma and her own ego is inspiring even if it takes a lot of failures to get there.
In another team-up between Charlize Theron and writer/director team Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman, Tully is at its heart about the many trials of motherhood and aging. When she discovers she’s pregnant with an unexpected third child, the already exhausted Marlo (Theron) is pushed to bring in a night nanny. Wary but seeking help, she’s surprised when Tully (Makenzie Davis) becomes her confidante and friend.
There is at least one stunning twist that will recontextualize anything we tell you about this film. Bearing that in mind, the burden placed on Marlo as a stay-at-home mom and her attempts to let go of control and trust others is a major threat. Struggling with her many responsibilities, seemingly invisible to the outside world that expects perfection from moms, Theron’s Marlo is both funny and poignant. Following up Young Adult with a totally different vibe, here’s hoping that the creative team is able to reunite for another film in the future, because they make magic happen.
Charlize Theron has always shown a willingness to take on uncomfortable, challenging roles, but it’s hard to imagine a more polarizing character than real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos. This is the kind of film that will always be a little too close to reality for some audiences, even with its various creative liberties. Theron’s turn as Wuronos is both sympathetic and chilling, hitting the exact right note for a famously tortured soul who inflicted horrible violence on her victims before being sentenced to death.
Mercifully, many of the more gruesome aspects of Wuornos’s life are absent from the screen. Instead, we meet her as she falls in love with a woman named Selby (Christina Ricci), allowing us to empathize as she very nearly finds happiness. Soon, she embarks on the murderous rampage that saw seven men dead before she was apprehended. Wuronos’s severe mistreatment from others in life isn’t a justification for anything she did, but Monster wouldn’t work without the window into her personal torment that Theron’s performance gives us.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
One thing about Charlize Theron; she’s going to add layers to every performance she takes on. That’s especially true in Mad Max: Fury Road , in which her role as the rebellious Imperator Furiosa won the hearts of genre fans the world over. Paired with a truly wild performance from Tom Hardy, this blockbuster reinvigorated enthusiasm for a franchise that hadn’t seen a new film in thirty years. On top of that, Furiosa remains popular enough that there is a planned prequel ( Mad Max: Furiosa ) all about the complexities and trauma of her life serving the cult figure Immortan Joe releasing next year. Sadly, however, Charlize Theron will not be returning as Imperator Furiosa as announced back in 2020; Anya Taylor-Joy will be filling the role as a younger Furiosa.
Widely regarded as one of the best action movies ever made, Fury Road is at its surface a nonstop car chase across the post-apocalyptic wasteland of the Mad Max franchise. That Theron’s performance is as vulnerable as it is while she pulls off death-defying feats is a big part of what makes her Furiosa unforgettable. Though she’s silent through much of the film, her expressions communicate volumes, providing an emotional through-line for the film’s more chaotic moments.
North Country (2005)
Taking the horrific historical case of Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co. as its inspiration, North Country introduces us to the fictional Josey Aimes. Leaving an abusive husband, she moves back in with her parents with her two children in tow. Taking on a job at the local iron mine, she makes significantly more money and forges a kinship with many of the women on the job. However, men that feel they are being encroached upon by the new wave of women hires react violently, harassing, stalking, and assaulting the women out of spite.
The real-world case on which this story is based is nothing short of harrowing, and the fight that was undertaken to get even a fraction of justice is heartbreaking. Theron plays the role of the whistleblower, fighting for justice despite overwhelming indifference and aggression from others. It’s hard to deny that Theron does career-defining work here. Josey is defiant even in the face of apparent defeat, showing the ferocity and strength that marks many of Theron’s best roles.
Charlize Theron Interesting Facts
- She was born in South Africa
- She never finished high school or attended college
- She gained 30 pounds for her role in Monster*
- She moved to Hollywood at age 18*
- For years, she had vivid dreams she would die at age 27*
- She has either acted in or produced a movie nearly every single year since 1996.**
- She has two daughters
- She invests in social issues, including in the health of young people in Southern Africa to create a more equitable future for all through Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project
Sources: * O, The Oprah Magazine Interview from Nov 2005 , ** Harper's Bazaar Interview from Oct 2022
Sara is a a freelance entertainment writer of horror stories and pop culture essays alongside being the co-founder of the Decoded Pride queer speculative fiction anthology and the Bitches On Comics pop culture podcast. She's also an artist, filmmaker, and musician, which you can find out about at saracentury.com.
15 Best Horror Movies of All Time, According to Letterboxd
Posted: October 31, 2023 | Last updated: October 31, 2023
Letterboxd is a valuable app/social media site for discovering new movies and seeing what the users there consider worth seeking out. It functions similarly to the more popular IMDb, though overall feels more personal and a little more social. Through spending time on both, it also becomes apparent that the tastes of Letterboxd users overall differ from the tastes of IMDb users.
The selection of highest-rated horror movies, according to Letterboxd users, proves to be particularly eclectic, with a range of great scary movies, both new and old, and a fair share of non-English language ones, too. For any horror fan, the following films - some well-known, and some a little more obscure - are essential viewing and are ranked below according to their average ratings on Letterboxd.
Updated October 24, 2023, by Jeremy Urquhart
A top 10 for all-time great horror movies will always be better than a list of the top 5 horror movies of all time. But what's better than a run-down of the top 10 horror movies of all time? A top 15, of course. That's what the following provides, and it's extra fitting, considering the end of the year tends to be when horror is at its most popular. According to Letterboxd, these are the best horror movies of all time and are worth digging into for any fan of the genre.
'Black Swan' (2010)
Letterboxd rating: 4.1/5.
As much of a psychological thriller as it is a horror film, Black Swan explores - with unrelenting tension - the dangers of dedicating oneself obsessively to their craft. It follows a ballerina who strives for perfection, all the while getting unusually committed to her role in her ballet company's production of Swan Lake .
Darren Aronofsky often makes challenging films , specializing in psychological studies that delve deep into troubled or even tortured minds, and Black Swan 's certainly one of his most confronting efforts . Natalie Portman's lead performance is equally instrumental in making the film as effective as it is, with the role deservedly winning her an Academy Award for Best Actress.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)
Twin Peaks began as a television series, arguably one of the best of all time . But it was abruptly canceled during its second season and had already been negatively impacted by executive and network meddling. David Lynch got the chance to continue the story in his own strange way with Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me , which ended up being part prequel and part sequel to the original show.
It details much of what happened to Laura Palmer before the start of the show, where she's discovered murdered and ends up being a harrowing, tragic, and quite terrifying watch. It's not just a horror movie by any means; Fire Walk with Me hops between genres much like Twin Peaks - perhaps to an even greater extent. Thus, it becomes less predictable and even more nightmarish.
Watch on Max
Letterboxd rating: 4.2/5.
James Cameron took over an iconic horror series with style, making what is one of the greatest sequels of all time when he directed Aliens . Taking things in a more action-focused direction than its 1979 predecessor, it's perhaps less definable as a horror movie. Still, it never forgets to keep the tension high and still manages to provide plenty of terrifying sequences.
Those who want pure horror may feel a little disappointed, but for anyone who likes the action and horror genres colliding, Aliens is an essential piece of filmmaking. From the increasingly tense and chaotic narrative to its all-time great lead performance from Sigourney Weaver , Aliens has everything fans could ever want out of a large-scale horror/thriller/action movie .
Watch on Starz
It's possible to describe Diabolique in many ways. It's a unique and gripping take on gothic horror , one of the best French-language movies of all time, and perhaps one of the best movies from the 1950s . It's mysterious, dark, dripping with atmosphere, and continually exciting, holding up much better than the vast majority of horror films that are around the same age.
With its focus on psychological thrills and frights, perhaps the less said about the plot, the better. Generally, it revolves around a murder and the madness caused in its aftermath when a supposedly dead body mysteriously vanishes. Diabolique is surreal and does a great job of putting the viewer into the increasingly tortured minds of its main characters , cementing it as an uncanny and appropriately eerie viewing experience that's hard to shake once seen.
'Get Out' (2017)
An expertly written horror/thriller film with some great social commentary, Get Out stands as one of the best horror movies of the 21st century so far . It's about a young Black man meeting the parents of his white girlfriend; what begins as a slightly uncomfortable experience eventually reveals itself to be genuinely terrifying and potentially deadly.
Get Out was a surprise hit upon release , considering it was written and directed by Jordan Peele , then mostly well-known for his comedy. Get Out immediately established him as one of the most exciting filmmakers working within the horror genre, and he's since made two more ambitious and exciting horror films, 2019's Us and 2022's Nope .
Watch on Netflix
Of all the horror movies on Letterboxd that hold an average rating of 4.0/5 or higher, the Japanese film Demons is easily one of the most obscure and shouldn't be mixed up with the 1985 Italian possession horror movie of the same name . Demons is an engaging and effectively nightmarish movie that combines horror elements with samurai drama in a storyline that centers on a lone samurai, or ronin, seeking revenge after his money's stolen by a geisha.
A particularly dark and brutal horror movie, Demons is an exercise in brutal and all-consuming revenge, with the ensuing violence impacting the entire cast for the worst. Demons can be a slow, challenging, and grisly viewing experience , but it's undeniably visceral and hard to shake once seen, making it hold up as an expertly made horror film.
Few horror movies run for three hours, but Kwaidan just so happens to be a wholly unique example of the genre . It's an anthology film with a large scope and ambition, telling four different stories across its epic runtime, each approximately 40 to 50 minutes long. These stories are derived from Japanese folktales, making Kwaidan an early example of a great folk horror movie .
As such, those who find the idea of a three-hour horror movie scarier than any of the horror contained within can rest assured - Kwaidan can be easily watched in as many as four different sittings. Kwaidan deservedly stands as one of the greatest Japanese horror movies of all time and puts several folk tales on screen with creative visuals and a bold sense of style.
'Rosemary's Baby' (1968)
There have been plenty of horror movies exploring the terrors of parenthood , but few are as iconic as Rosemary's Baby . This 1960s classic follows the titular Rosemary and her husband, Guy, as they move into a new apartment building and encounter some strange neighbors who appear particularly interested in Rosemary's pregnancy.
It purposefully leaves its protagonist and the audience in the dark for much of the movie. This slow-burn approach ends up working wonders, ensuring the film's final act packs a serious punch. Rosemary's Baby is a timeless horror movie expertly crafted in just about every way, deservedly enduring to this day as a classic of the genre.
Watch on AMC+
'The Cremator' (1969)
The kind of horror film that's probably too distinct and strange to remake , The Cremator is another classic piece of horror cinema that's loved on Letterboxd but fairly obscure outside it. It combines horror with some very dark comedy, following a Czechoslovakian man named Mr. Kopfrkingl who provides for his family by working at a crematorium.
Things get progressively more disturbing and more horror-focused as the film goes on, with The Cremator ultimately revealing itself as a bleak work of satire that shows how people can be influenced and then corrupted by certain ideologies. Some of the imagery in The Cremator can be horrifying , but the troubling idea that people who seem ordinary can harbor some truly dark thoughts is even scarier - especially when those thoughts eventually manifest as violent actions.
Watch on Criterion Channel
Cure is one of those movies whose appreciation increases as the years go on despite being initially well-received. It's a hard-hitting and heavy-going mash-up of horror, drama , crime, and mystery genres, and centers on a string of very strange murders affecting Tokyo and the ways that investigating this case takes a toll on the detectives assigned to it.
Slow and steady but never boring, it builds to a fittingly dramatic and shocking final act. Cure feels straightforward in some ways yet remarkably complex in others , and for those who are fans of Japanese horror wanting to see something a little different from the typical Ring or Grudge film, Cure is undeniably worth checking out.
'The Shining' (1980)
Letterboxd rating: 4.3/5.
What happens when one of the most acclaimed directors of all time tries his hand at making a horror movie, despite not being known for making horror movies, and succeeds? The best-case scenario is something like The Shining , a movie that came out in 1980 and still managed to be one of the year's highlights.
It tells what sounds like it might be a clichéd story: a family goes to stay at a deserted hotel after the father gets a caretaking job during the off-season, only for everyone to become affected by the isolation and ghostly forces. By expertly blending psychological and supernatural horror, The Shining successfully becomes one of the all-time greats of the horror genre and tends to be beloved by everyone - well, except Stephen King.
Its simple title befits its simple premise, but in no way can Alien be called "just" another straightforward horror movie. It takes a direct story about isolation and survival against a terrifying force in space and does all it can with it, making for a suspenseful and effectively nerve-wracking mix of sci-fi and horror.
Since 1979, Alien has become a franchise, and though it has an excellent and action-packed sequel , the rest of the films have proven more divisive. Still, few would argue that the first isn't a classic horror film, and there's a good reason why it's considered one of the genre's definitive titles. Elevated by the stellar work of a brilliant cast, Alien is a thrilling survival horror story that cements space as the ultimate horror setting .
Watch on Hulu
It's not a controversial statement to say that Alfred Hitchcock revolutionized the horror genre in 1960 with the release of Psycho . There were plenty of noteworthy horror movies released before, and some even hold up to this date. However, few come close to Psycho 's impact or its now-infamous ability to shock viewers who don't know what they're in for .
Of course, the plot twists are quite well known nowadays, but it's still easy to appreciate Psycho for its brazenness and the way it tries to keep viewers on their toes as much as possible. It's also entertaining and stylish, and though it has some tough competition, it's easy to understand why it's considered one of Hitchcock's very best .
Watch on Peacock
'The Silence of the Lambs' (1992)
Letterboxd sometimes changes genre tags for certain movies. As of recently, it's now marked The Silence of the Lambs as a horror movie. As such, it's instantly found itself ranking near the top of Letterboxd's highest-rated horror movies. Regardless of whether fans call it a horror movie or a crime/thriller film, one thing's for sure: The Silence of the Lambs is an absolute classic .
It features arguably Anthony Hopkins's best performance and one of Jodie Foster's most celebrated roles. The former plays a dangerous imprisoned serial killer and cannibal who may be able to help the latter find another killer at large. The dynamic between the two makes for some fascinating and intense scenes, as does the slow build toward an unforgettable climax. The horror genre rarely gets as exciting or challenging as The Silence of the Lambs .
'The Thing' (1982)
The Thing is the highest-rated horror movie on Letterboxd, a surprise, considering its initial chilly reception by critics and audiences. It infamously wasn't well received upon release, building up a steady audience in the years since. The Thing is now seen as an essential work of horror and science-fiction and one of John Carpenter's defining masterpieces .
It's a paranoia-filled movie about a shape-shifting alien targeting a team of isolated researchers in Antarctica and what happens when they begin to realize they can no longer trust anyone else. The Thing is expertly crafted, genuinely suspenseful, and has some practical effects that still look incredible, ensuring it's deserving of being the top horror movie on Letterboxd.
NEXT: The Scariest Sci-Fi Movies of All Time, Ranked
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The streaming service already has an iffy track record when it comes to celebrating its anime properties. But “Pluto” ranks among the best it’s ever had. Where’s the promotion?
Deputy Entertainment Editor
Despite Pluto being the first major adaptation of a widely acclaimed manga, you’d be forgiven for having no idea that the anime had premiered. The eight-episode drama is gripping, moving work, no matter the medium. But as an animated series—and an anime at that—with a methodical pace, less mainstream name recognition, and targeting a more mature audience, Netflix has done little to promote it.
Pluto dropped onto Netflix Oct. 26 more quietly than a pin dropping onto the floor. There were few, if any, reviews out on the day of its release; it never appeared in Netflix’s self-reported Top 10 lists. If it showed up on your Netflix homepage, count yourself among the privileged few.
This tepid rollout is a shame for numerous reasons. Perhaps the most obvious one is that Pluto , based on the manga by award-winning creator Naoki Urasawa, is excellent. The series hews closely to the original work, which itself draws on one of the most famous comics and animated series of all time: Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy . Urasawa reimagined one of Astro Boy ’s story arcs, in which a super-strong robot named Pluto goes on a murder spree of both humans and other super-strong robots. Among those robots is Astro Boy, also known as Atom in the original Japanese version of the series; that’s the name Urasawa refers to the character by.
But instead of focusing on how Atom fights back against Pluto’s rageful quest, Urasawa pivots the action story into a science fiction-tinged murder mystery. Pluto follows Gesicht, a high-functioning humanoid robot working with Europol assigned to the Pluto case. As an advanced robot himself, getting tangled up in events targeting friends and familiar faces drudges up surprising emotions for Gesicht, whose artificial intelligence seemingly precluded emotions in the first place. Through his investigation, he crosses paths with the entrancing mundanity of human life; the stunning hatred that lives within much of humanity; and the complicated nature of his own life and memory.
Focusing on deepening the robots—to the point where it can be hard to distinguish between them and the character—renders Pluto a powerful reinterpretation of the Astro Boy storyline, exploring thematic nuances that makes it more appealing to an older audience. Over the course of eight hour-long episodes (in accordance with the eight volumes of manga), the anime luxuriates in the character-building details that populate Urasawa’s work. The quiet moments where robots and humans shed tears together, confront each other’s biases, and mourn for the crumbling darkness of society outnumber those that another animated series would delight in expanding: any actual action or combat between robots.
A scene where Gesicht has lunch with Atom, who presents as a young boy despite possessing a highly superior intellect, is especially stunning in animation, for example; we’re given more time to study Gesicht’s shocked reaction to Atom seemingly eating food, which robots shouldn’t be able to do. Atom’s successful mimicry of human behavior endears us to him in a way that makes his fate hit even harder, taking the show to one of its emotional peaks early on. Through sharp animation and a smartly deployed suspenseful score, Pluto ensures we remember the feelings more than the fights themselves.
Yet even with its critical bona fides and its relationship to Astro Boy , Pluto has landed on Netflix to seemingly little fanfare. This isn’t always the case with anime on Netflix. Exclusive series like Cyberpunk Edgerunners , Kotaro Lives Alone , and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures are a sampling of what the Netflix algorithm regularly serves, and One Piece has gotten a big push following the show’s live-action adaptation . But something about Pluto ’s comparatively slow pacing, hefty runtime, and heavy themes (this is an international political thriller/murder mystery about incredibly lifelike AI’s inner philosophical conflicts in the wake of large-scale war, after all) tells me that the algorithm isn’t fit for this one.
While outlets that typically cover anime have been singing Pluto ’s praises , I haven’t seen much chatter in the so-called mainstream media. Whether that says more about anime’s continued marginalization in the larger content sphere or Netflix’s disappointingly quiet release of the series, I can’t decide.
But for anyone looking for a fresh, thought-provoking drama to watch on the streamer—especially now that Love Is Blind is over (this is a joke)— Pluto is far and away the best bet. It’s not just a great anime; it’s great television. Netflix should be proud of what it has with this one.
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