The 12 Best Movie Critics of All Time, Ranked
Many thumbs up.
Film critics are tasked with honesty, — and they are often seen as responsible for informing moviegoers of whether they should part with their hard-earned money or not. This has been the case from the prime of TV's Siskel & Ebert to the rise of Rotten Tomatoes.
Through the decades, there have been many movie critics who have made a particularly significant impact in the world of film, and each of these are worthy of mention. Each of these critics have left a lasting impression on moviegoers across the world, and an influence on film itself.
12 Joe Morgenstern
Writing as a film critic for almost twenty years at Newsweek, Joe Morgenstern made a name for himself as an authority in film. He went on to write for The Wall Street Journal for almost another thirty years. Morgenstern won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2005 for his work in film and television criticism.
RELATED: 10 Underrated Movies Recommended by Gene Siskel One of his claims to fame during his tenure at Newsweek is that he wrote a negative opinion of the film Bonnie and Clyde , but after careful consideration, published a retraction in a subsequent issue of the magazine. Which served to work as a great marketing opportunity for the film, noting that it caused a renowned film critic to change his opinion on the quality of the film.
11 Mark Kermode
An widely published critic, musician, radio and podcast host, Mark Kermode is a name many film buffs are familiar with. Kermode began his film critic writing career in Manchester's City Life magazine, then moving on to Time Out and NME in London. He has also written for The Independent , Vox , Empire , Flicks among others.
RELATED: 12 of Gene Siskel's Favorite Movies Ever In addition to his truly prolific career in writing, Kermode is also a double bass player and has played in various rockabilly bands. Kermode became chief film critic for The Observer in 2013. In 2014, he named The Babadook the best film of the year. His favorite film is The Exorcist .
10 Andrew Sarris
Andrew Sarris was a lover of film. Writing for the magazine, Film Culture , and then eventually moving to write for The Village Voice . Some regarded his writing as elitist, but was undeniably one of the most impactful and respected in his field. Eventually, he wrote for The New York Observer and then taught as a professor of film at Columbia University until he retired in 2011, a year before his death.
Sarris was married to fellow film critic Molly Haskell . Sarris claimed that for thirty years, if anyone were to ask what his favorite film was, his answer was unvaried: The Earrings of Madame de... , by Max Ophuls . Sarris consistently referred to this film as the most perfect film ever made.
9 James Agee
James Agee was an accomplished novelist, journalist, as well as a poet, screenwriter, and film critic. In the 1940s, he became one of the most widely known film critics as he wrote for Time Magazine . He wrote for Fortune , The Nation , and Life Magazine , as well.
RELATED: Behind the Scenes: 10 Great Films About Filmmaking That Aren't ENTOURAGE In 1958, he was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his autobiographical novel, A Death in the Family . Additionally, he is well-known as the screenwriter for such revered film classics as The African Queen and The Night of the Hunter .
8 André Bazin
In his unseasonably short life, André Bazin was nevertheless a prolific critic and theorist of film. As the co-founder of the film magazine Cahiers du cinema , he regularly would provide criticism and feedback on films of that era.
Bazin's passion for realism often conflicted with other film theorists of his time. The influential voice was silenced to soon, when Bazin died of leukemia at age 40 in 1958.
7 Molly Haskell
Author and feminist film critic, Molly Haskell has been active in the field since the 1960s. Writing for publications such as The New York Times , The Guardian, Esquire, and many others, she has established a legacy as one of the most influential of all critics. Her most famous book is the searing, incisive From Reverance to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies .
On top of reviewing film and stage for decades, she is also an accomplished author with over a half dozen books written on the topic of film and film criticism. In 2019, she was the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow of the Year.
6 François Truffaut
Not only was François Truffaut an esteemed and influential film critic, but he also was, of course, a director, screenwriter, producer and actor. He is regarded as one of the founders of the French New Wave, and remains to this day one of the greatest icons in the French film industry.
RELATED: 'The 400 Blows' and 9 More of the Best French New Wave Movies, According to IMDb His career in film speaks for itself. He served as a director to over twenty films, an actor in over fifteen films, and a producer to at least five. He has over a dozen written books credited to his name ( Hitchcock/Truffaut is an essential read for all fans of film).
5 Vincent Canby
Vincent Canby was an accomplished writer who served as the premier film critic for The New York Times from the late 1960s until the early 1990s, moving only then to be their main theater critic from 1994 until 2000, when he passed away. Before the Times , he wrote briefly for the Chicago Journal of Commerce , then another brief stint at Variety .
Canby was known to be a supporter of filmmakers with a specific style, such as Stanley Kubrick , Spike Lee , and Woody Allen . Additionally, he was known to have a highly negative view of films that were generally well received, such as Blazing Saddles , Rocky , Rain Man , among others. Whether you agree with his opinions or not, Canby was truly a master with words, and will forever remembered in the world of film and theater.
4 Leonard Maltin
Film critic, published author and editor, podcast guest and host, noted television host... and Guinness World Record Holder?! Yes, Leonard Maltin holds the world record for the shortest movie review, which consists of his review of the 1948 film Isn’t It Romantic in which he merely stated: “No”.
RELATED: 9 Movies Roger Ebert Hated, But Audiences Loved
Voicing himself in South Park and The Simpsons (he also played himself in Gremlins 2 ) and writing or editing over 20 books, Maltin is not only accomplished, but he is beloved by all, being honored by the National Board of Review, the Telluride Film Festival, the Los Angeles City Council, and many others.
3 Gene Siskel
Most famous for being half of the duo of Siskel & Ebert , Gene Siskel has a very long history of providing the world with his opinion on film. He began his career writing for the Chicago Tribune in 1969. From there, he hosted a review program with Roger Ebert until his death in 1999.
In 1998, Siskel was diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent immediate surgery to remedy the issue. Despite briefly returning to the show, in February 1999, he decided to take a leave of absence to allow himself to recover, only to pass away from complications 3 days later. His legacy will forever and always get two thumbs way up from friends and fans alike.
2 Pauline Kael
A critic from an earlier era than some of these others, Pauline Kael was one of the most influential film critics of her era. She was known as witty, biting, and being overtly opinionated, but still focused on getting her voice heard. She was known for regularly disagreeing with her contemporaries.
RELATED: Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Movie Critic’ Is Set in 1977, But It’s Not About Pauline Kael
Writing for The New Yorker for over twenty years, Kael created a lasting impression with critics of several generations. Despite a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in the 1980s, she continued to write for New Yorker until 1991, when she announced her retirement.
1 Roger Ebert
When it comes to movie critics, the one name that is recognizable above all else is the truly unforgettable and inspirational Roger Ebert . His career lasted nearly a half-century, and his impact has lasted long after his death in 2013. He paved the way for virtually every critic who's followed.
Whether he was writing for the Chicago Sun-Times or hosting his widely beloved television series sharing his thoughts on film, Ebert was a worldwide treasure. He was the first film critic to ever win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, in 1975. While he may be gone, he will never be forgotten and will always be loved for what he brought to the world of film criticism.
NEXT: 15 Great Underrated Movies Recommended by Roger Ebert
The 10 Most Famous Movie Critics of All Time
Their reviews influenced the minds of moviegoers as well as the box office
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Since the earliest days of cinema, movie critics have played a crucial role in filling seats (or not filling seats) at movie theaters. Countless movie reviews have been published over the decades, but only a select few film critics have become well-known for their work. The following famous movie critics have made a lasting mark on the film industry.
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France's André Bazin was one of the earliest major film critics, having started his career in 1943. He was a co-founder of the renowned film magazine Cahiers du cinéma. More important than Bazin's reviews are his extensive writing on film theory, including essays on the importance of realism in cinema that are still widely read by film students.
Judith Crist was one of the first female film critics to gain widespread recognition from her reviews in the New York Herald Tribune , New York magazine, and TV Guide , as well as her appearances on NBC's The Today Show throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. She was perhaps the first female film critic whose criticism was published widely outside of "female-focused" magazines.
Arguably the most famous U.S. film critic of all time, Roger Ebert reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for nearly fifty years. With former television partner Gene Siskel, Ebert popularized the basic "thumb's up" or "thumb's down" rating system. Because of his popularity in both print and on television, a review from Ebert could often make or break a movie's box office chances. He also started his own annual film festival, Ebertfest, which often highlights overlooked movies.
As famous as he was for thoughtful, in-depth film criticism, Ebert is also remembered for his savage and often hilarious negative reviews. His review of the 1994 movie North became famous for its vicious prose, including the lines, "I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it."
The New Yorker
Pauline Kael began her career as a film critic when the editor of a San Francisco magazine overheard her talking about films with a friend in a coffee shop and offered her a job.
Later as a critic for women's magazine McCall's , Kael became famous for her in-depth analysis, as well as for weaving her personal life and experiences into her reviews. She is also known for giving negative reviews to movies that were otherwise popular favorites, such as her extremely negative assessments of It's a Wonderful Life and The Sound of Music .
In 1968, Kael became a film critic for The New Yorker , where she regularly championed films that other critics ignored or dismissed. She also gained notoriety for her since-discredited 1971 essay Raising Kane that alleged that Orson Welles wrote very little of the Citizen Kane screenplay.
Leonard Maltin began his career as a movie critic before he even graduated high school. Published regularly from 1969 to 2014, Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide was one of the most popular film reference guides, containing Martin's short reviews of hundreds of movies. He was also the film critic for the television show Entertainment Tonight for 28 years.
Maltin has since become one of the go-to critics for projects relating to the history of American cinema. He has hosted a variety of television programs about the history of movies.
Longtime Village Voice film critic Andrew Sarris was a strong proponent of the "auteur theory" of cinema, which gives credit to a film's director as its primary author.
Sarris was also known for his book The American Cinema , which ranked filmmakers by their output and generated endless debate among film fans. Sarris was married to fellow Village Voice film critic Molly Haskell.
Best known for his unique look—bushy hair, mustache, and ever-present bow-tie—Gene Shalit wrote for a variety of publications before becoming the film critic for NBC's The Today Show , a role he held for 40 years (1970–2010).
Shalit was also a comedy writer who integrated puns into many of his reviews ("When it comes to oddball titles, The Men Who Stare at Goats would be hard to bleat!"). Shalit's puns, physical appearance, and overall jovial attitude have made him a popular subject of fond parody, even after he stepped out of the public eye.
Longtime Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers is one of the most popular film critics of all timeespecially to Hollywood's publicity and marketing departments.
Travers has a tendency to lavish high praise on many films, which means his words are very frequently quoted on publicity materials like posters, trailers, and advertisements.
That doesn't mean Travers gives everything he sees a good review. He has written eviscerating reviews about otherwise very popular movies like A River Runs Through It , Barbershop and Jackass: Number Two . But if you do see a few quotes on a movie poster or television commercial, there's a good chance one of them originated from Travers.
Unlike most film critics, France's François Truffaut didn't just review movies—he also made them. After a few years of writing famously tough reviews in the film magazine Cahiers du cinéma in the 1950s, Truffaut put his money where his mouth was and began directing movies, starting with 1959's The 400 Blows . Truffaut proved he knew what he was talking about when The 400 Blows won him the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival. His 1973 film, Day for Night , won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film .
As a critic, Truffaut is best known for developing the "auteur theory" of cinema. He used Alfred Hitchcock, with whom he published a book-long interview, as an example of an auteur.
Armond White has written movie reviews for a variety of publications, including the New York Press and National Review . But rather than famous, many would refer to him as "infamous."
White is best known for giving negative reviews to otherwise nearly universally-acclaimed movies like Incredibles 2 , Get Out , Black Panther , Toy Story 3 , The Shape of Water , and The Florida Project . He is also known for giving positive reviews to otherwise negatively-received films, like The 15:17 to Paris , Justice League , and Transformers: The Last Knight . He has been labeled everything from a "contrarian" to a "troll," with many film fans calling for him to be removed as a Top Critic on Rotten Tomatoes.
Yet White's against-the-grain criticism is often valuable, as it inspires thoughtful consideration of what makes his views so different from his fellow critics and moviegoers.
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The 25 Best Movie Critics of All Time
Everyone else's opinions are optional.
Image via Complex Original
As self-ran blogs and online message boards continue to dominate pop culture conversations, one old adage seems more apt than ever: Everyone's a critic.
The days when new movies were reviewed exclusively by knowledgeable film scholars are gone. Anyone who knows how to navigate Wordpress can publish their written views about the latest art-house film, popcorn flick, or costume drama. And, chances are, somebody's going to read it.
The most frustrating thing about this online renaissance—aside from suffering ignorant comments from trolls—is the way it trivializes the grade-A essays and critiques penned by folks whose entire lives have been dedicated to cinema studies.
In our own humble ways, we operate this Pop Culture channel utilizing the fine examples left by the greatest women and men of film criticism, albeit without losing sight of the modern vibes of 21st century Internet methodologies. And by "the greatest," we're referring to The 25 Best Movie Critics of All Time . Anyone who takes cinema seriously is advised to read their work.
RELATED: The 50 Harshest Roger Ebert Movie Review Quotes RELATED: The 100 Best Movies of the Complex Decade RELATED: 20 Pieces of Hollywood Trivia That Will Blow Your Mind!
Written by Matt Barone ( @MBarone )
25. David Edelstein
Publications: Slate , New York Post , The Village Voice , Boston Phoenix , The New York Times , Rolling Stone , Vanity Fair , Variety , New York Read Reviews Here
As filmgoers, we obviously prefer good movies over bad ones, but when it comes to reviews, it's always more fun to read a tear-down of a truly crappy movie. Few critics are able to eviscerate cinema's dregs quite like New York 's champion of snark, David Edelstein. It's exactly that brand of written scorn that immortalized Edelstein during the heyday of Saw and Hostel , wholly unpleasant horror movies that he famously dubbed "torture porn."
24. Kim Newman
Publications: City Limits , Sight and Sound , Empire Read Reviews Here
Highbrow movie critics have a tendency to downplay horror movies, and unfairly so. Kim Newman, on the other hand, has made a career out of championing the weirdest, most overlooked, and decidedly one-of-a-kind gore flicks, creature features, and every other kind of scare flick.
Hailing from London, Newman also moonlights as a horror fiction writer, but it's his regular Empire column, "Kim Newman's Video Dungeon," that still provides the 28-year veteran's most anticipated writings. Everything from Lucio Fulci pictures to schlock like Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks the Same (yes, that's a real movie) gets the Dungeon treatment.
Those interested in catching up with Newman's pro-genre narratives should start with his massive, brilliantly comprehensive book Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s .
23. Wesley Morris
Publications: The Boston Globe , Grantland Read Reviews Here
Wesley Morris' resume speaks for itself. First, there's the college he attended: Yale University. Second, and most importantly, there's that measly honor he was bestowed with last year: the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.
Just imagine the sobs and head-smacks happening inside The Boston Globe 's office when Morris announced that he was leaving the newspaper to join Bill Simmons' Grantland full-time and become its biggest on-staff movie head.
22. Mike D'Angelo
Publications: Las Vegas Weekly , The Village Voice , Variety , Time Out New York , Nerve (website), Esquire Read Reviews Here
Mike D'Angelo caught onto the power of online film criticism way before anyone else. Back in 1995, he started the blog The Man Who Viewed Too Muc h , a popular cyber hub for D'Angelo's accessible yet brainy reviews. Through the success of that site, he scored a full-time gig with Time Out New York and handled a monthly column in Esquire .
These days, he's back on the World Wide Web via AV Club's recurring "Scenic Routes," where D'Angelo breaks down one key scene from a noteworthy film in extensive detail.
21. Todd McCarthy
Publications: Variety , The Hollywood Reporter Read Reviews Here
Movie junkies who impatiently wait for the first reviews of prestige pictures and pricey blockbusters should know Todd McCarthy's name well. Beginning in the late 1970s, McCarthy spent more than 30 years writing reviews for Variety , meaning his takes were, more often than not, the earliest published reactions to big studios' latest releases. And in that, he became a major authority whose dry, clinical observations helped to either build buzz or deliver a film DOA.
20. Glenn Kenny
Publications: The Village Voice , Premiere , The Auteurs (website), MSN (website) Read Reviews Here
Reading Glenn Kenny's reviews and essays is like being in a film class, but without the dry chafing of academia. As astute as he is witty, the former Premiere critic has a strong knack for connecting current movies to old classics.
On his highly recommended blog, Some Came Running , Kenny regularly posts long, knowledgeable analyses of vintage films that draw insightful connections to today's pictures. In early January, for example, Kenny used the racial debate surrounding Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained to reflect upon D.W. Griffith's 1915 controversy magnet The Birth of a Nation .
19. Dana Stevens
Publication: Slate Read Reviews Here
To best appreciate Slate 's Dana Stevens, and in an effort to show her unpredictability and dedication to her own convictions, let's cite a few of her more recent reviews. As most of her peers were praising Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained , Stevens reacted from a place of inner disgust : "Tarantino’s intent may have been to showcase the horrors of slavery, but there’s something about his directorial delectation in all these acts of racial violence that left me not just physically but morally queasy."
But, at the same time, she's able to embrace the splattery weirdness of genre maverick Don Coscarelli's absurdist delight John Dies at the End , writing, "The story’s rabbit holes got so deep that I can’t actually tell you whether the movie’s title is a spoiler or not, but I loved John Dies at the End for so confidently whisking the viewer to a place where the question 'Well, did he die or didn’t he?' seems hopelessly un-nuanced and square."
18. Vincent Canby
Publications: Variety , The New York Times Read Reviews Here
During his 24-year run as the chief film critic for The New York Times , Vincent Canby's (1924-2000) words wielded the power of mighty swords. If he chastised a foreign or independent movie, which he so often did, said film didn't stand a chance of catching on in the Big Apple. Take British director Terence Davies, for example, who made two pictures that Canby ridiculed in print and inadvertently prevented from receiving healthy American distribution.
His reviews didn't read like scholarly texts; rather, Canby's writing favored whip-smart humor. When covering a young, seriously bulked-up Arnold Schwarzenegger, he described the Austrian bodybuilder as ""something the actor might want to shed in order to slip into something more comfortable."
17. Philip French
Publications: The Times , The Observer , Sight and Sound Read Reviews Here
Over in England, Philip French is a loud voice among film critics. In fact, he's arguably the UK's greatest living movie analyst. And if French has an area of untouchable expertise, it's in the cowboys-and-spurs sect of cinema: Originally published back in 1977, French's definitive book Westerns: Aspects of a Movie Genre is regarded as the greatest book ever written on the subject. And, best of all, you don't need to know Sergio Leone's birthday off the top of your head to appreciate the genre, thanks to French's lively writing.
16. Dilys Powell
Publications: The Sunday Times , Punch
Check those publication names above—far cries from the worldwide notoriety of periodicals like The New York Times , right? That's why the late Elizabeth Dilys Powell (who dropped her first name when writing) isn't frequently referenced when people discuss their favorite movie critics.
She worked in a vacuum of sorts, and her self-aware, pithy style of writing wasn't universally acknowledged until after her death in 1995. The source of her posthumous respect: cinephiles acquainting themselves with her sprawling, though now hard to find, book The Golden Screen: Fifty Years of Films .
15. Lisa Schwarzbaum
Publications: The Boston Globe , Entertainment Weekly Read Reviews Here
Earlier this week, the face of Entertainment Weekly began an unexpected face-change when Lisa Schwarzbaum, one of the magazine's two in-house movie critics (the other being Owen Gleiberman), announced that she's leaving the post after 22 acclaimed, productive years. It's a real blow to the glossy, easily consumed mag, since Schwarzbaum's loose, conversational reviews are, on a weekly basis, one of EW 's strongest components.
14. Manny Farber
Publications: The New Republic , Time , The Nation , New Leader , Cavalier , Artforum Read Reviews Here
Manny Farber (1917-2008) had a low tolerance for high art. Which isn't to say that the Arizona native had bad taste—on the contrary, Farber possessed a brave, against-the-grain fondness for otherwise frowned-upon fringe cinema. Most of his peers couldn't be bothered by the genre trappings of anti-prestige artists like Laurel and Hardy, Don Siegel, and Andy Warhol, but Farber, bless his soul, devoted most of his career to casting their kinds of creative minds in a celebratory, you-need-to-watch-this light.
See his landmark essay "White Elephant Art vs. Termite Art" for a look into this singular mind.
13. Janet Maslin
Publication: The New York Times Read Reviews Here
Those who currently read The New York Times solely to check out film critic Manohla Dargis' latest reviews should salute Janet Maslin, big time. From 1977 through 1999, the NYC-bred Maslin brought her sterling combination of smarts and wiles to the reputable newspaper, specifically riding hard for the independent movie scene.
12. A.O. Scott
Publications: Newsday , Slate , The New York Times Read Reviews Here
One look at Anthony Oliver (or, simply, A.O.) Scott's family background should quickly explain why he's such a poignant writer: Both his parents were college professors. Keeping the Scott brood's educated leanings alive and well, Mr. New York Times Movie Reviewer (working alongside Manohla Dargis) represents a younger breed of critical prestige. He's only 46-years-old, yet Scott's work can be placed next to the also currently active Roger Ebert's output. Don't be surprised if he's held in the same kind of reverential esteem as Mr. Ebert by the time he reaches 70.
11. James Agee
Publications: Time , The Nation Read Reviews Here
A true trailblazer, James Agee gave film criticism a boost of widespread credibility back in the 1940s, when he reviewed countless movies for both Time and The Nation . And he never hid his affinity for silent films, often saving his most positive thoughts for wordless cinema. As for every other kind, Agee is largely remembered as being a tough man to please. He wasn't the type to hand out middling criticisms—his standards were sky-high.
Clearly, he knew what he was talking about: After ending his critic hustle in the early 1950s, Agee went on to work on the screenplays for the greatly revered films The African Queen (1951) and The Night of the Hunter (1955). Plus, following his death in 1945, Agee posthumously won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel A Death in the Family .
10. Anthony Lane
Publications: The Independent , Independent on Sunday , The New Yorker Read Reviews Here
In a different reality, Anthony Lane could be a prolific comedy writer. Through his intelligent reviews, The New Yorker 's free-wheeling critic (he's been on staff there since 1993) always conveys a sharp sense of humor, addressing a film's faults and positive attributes with self-deprecation and jokes.
In his 2003 book, Nobody's Perfect: Writings from The New Yorker , Lane provided a short list of must-do practices for anyone who's interested in following a similar career path, and it's quite indicative of the man's wit. Case in point, this tip: "Try to keep up with documentaries about Swabian transsexuals (or, see everything regardless of budget or hype)."
9. François Truffaut
Publication: Cahiers du cin é ma Read Reviews Here
François Truffaut is remembered best for being a master filmmaker, and with good reason. With undisputed classics like The 400 Blows (1959) and the meta Day for Night (1973) under his belt, the icon of French filmmaking (1932-1984) stands as one of cinema's exemplary directors.
But all of the talk about his behind-the-camera work detracts from his impressive run as a movie critic, during which he earned a stigma as France's harshest voice, writing for Cahiers du cinema, the film magazine from which the Nouvelle Vague movement sprang from. His polarizing negativity reached its apex with the article "A Certain Trend in French Cinema" (1954), a call-to-arms for those who weren't happy with the country's moviegoing trends.
8. Manohla Dargis
Publications: Los Angeles Times , LA Weekly , The Village Voice , Film Comment , Sight and Sound , The New York Times Read Reviews Here
Week in and week out, her learned, gorgeously written work enhances The New York Times Arts section, giving equal attention and excitement to films as diverse as Silver Linings Playbook and divisive as French writer-director Gaspar Noe's dizzying Enter the Void . Unlike most high-end critics, Dargis' name above a review of a genre film doesn't guarantee a wrongly slanted, probably disinterested point-of-view. For her, weirdo cinema has just as much potential as Oscar fare.
7. David Denby
Publications: The Atlantic , New York , The New Yorker Read Reviews Here
Consider David Denby the film critics' circuit's answer to the hip-hop community's Nas. Similar to how Nasir Jones made it his mission to question the existence of his once-prevalent and always cherished art form, The New Yorker 's chief film writer shook up the world of big-screen lovers with his controversial book Do the Movies Have a Future? . Largely avoiding snark, Denby's writing throughout the page-turner is earnest, focusing on the promotion of film's older ideals against the blockbusters and money-first products that major studios rush into theaters nowadays.
If written by a lesser critic, Do the Movies Have a Future? would've came off as a real bitch-fest, one akin to an aged D.I.T.C. fan crying about Chief Keef and Trinidad James for 368 pages. But thanks to Denby's sterling, deserved reputation, it's an important conversation-starter from a master who's at the top of his game.
6. Jonathan Rosenbaum
Publications: Cahiers du cin é ma , Film Comment , Chicago Reader Read Reviews Here
Jonathan Rosenbuam is a true crusader. Born in Alabama, the wide-eyed, then-26-years-old go-getter moved to Paris in 1969, where he routinely contributed film reviews to publications like Sight & Sound and The Village Voice . That time spent overseas filled Rosenbaum with an intense appreciation for non-American movies, and he's since made it his personal mission to promote international filmmaking here in the states.
For his most impassioned defense of non-Hollywood productions, the indispensable 2002 book Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Limit What Movies We Can See is a must.
5. J. Hoberman
Publications: The Village Voice , Film Comment , The New York Times , The Virginia Quarterly Review , ArtInfo (website) Read Reviews Here
Simply put, there's no greater living film essayist than James Lewis Hoberman, better known as J. Hoberman. Starting at The Village Voice in the '70s, the New York City native owned the paper's film reviews section with his beautifully composed, scholarly critiques until he was wrongly removed from his post in 2012.
The thing about Hoberman's reviews, though, is that they don't read like reviews; they're more like heavily researched narratives that relate the movie in question to larger, all-encompassing themes that touch upon society, cinema, and politics.
For incredibly informative and vibrantly penned time capsules, pick up any one of Hoberman's many books. Our recommendations: the cult community manifesto Midnight Movies (co-written with Jonathan Rosenbaum) and his most recent release, Film After Film , a compilation of Hoberman's post-9/11 writings that makes for a dynamic companion to Denby's Do the Movies Have a Future?
4. Pauline Kael
Publications: City Lights , McCall's , The New Republic , The New Yorker Read Reviews Here
It takes a lot of nerve to go against the popular consensus, no matter the contrarian's gender, but a female movie critic who doesn't fear pissing off her (male) contemporaries nor Hollywood's (male) elite? That's one tough person.
Widely regarded as one of the most influential film analysts ever, the late Pauline Kael filled her New Yorker reviews (published from 1968 through 1991) with fearless wit, often writing in the first-person to either attack or praise a motion picture. She thrived during times when jealous ones especially envied, weathering sexist insults and accusations of star-chasing favoritism.
Best of all, Kael championed genre filmmakers like Brian De Palma, Walter Hill, and Sam Peckinpah, artists who are revered now but initially released low-budget, unfairly B-pegged flicks. She was a rebel with a passionate cause.
3. Andrew Sarris
Publications: Film Culture , The Village Voice , NY Film Bulletin , The New York Observer Read Reviews Here
Every cinematic shotcaller working today, whether independent or major, owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Andrew Sarris. Strong-minded and blessed with the gift of fluid prose, the late Brooklyn-born writer is best remembered for his classic 1968 tome The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968 , an exhaustive, opinionated dissection of pre-'68 sound films broken down by the individual filmmakers.
In The American Cinema , Sarris fully developed the influential auteur theory, bringing the daring pro-director beliefs practiced by the many great critics working for France's Cahiers du Cin é ma and popularizing them in the United States.
2. Roger Ebert
Publication: Chicago Sun Times Read reviews here
Like Jay-Z is for rappers, Roger Ebert is the most widely recognized movie critic ever. He's been cranking out entertaining, witty, and often heartfelt reviews for the Chicago Sun Times since 1967, forging a 40-plus-year career that's seen him conquer print media, the online blogosphere, and even television. Of course you remember watching him on his groundbreaking At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert , which he co-hosted with his best confidante, the late Chicago Tribune critic. Together, they made upward and downward thumbs iconic.
Ebert's congratulatory reviews are top-notch, yet it's his negative, gloves-off beatdowns of crappy cinema that have always been his most delightful to read. Read his 50 harshest review quotes for yourselves .
1. André Bazin
Publication: Cahiers du Cin é ma Read Reviews Here
There's arguably no book about movies that's as mandatory as André Bazin's What is Cinema? Still taught in film classes today, it's the definitive explanation of what makes the medium's proverbial heart beat, offering groundbreaking views on visual storytelling, with a special fondness for patience and duration. Bazin was a strong advocate of the long take, after all.
He's also responsible for co-founding the game-changing magazine Cahiers du Cin éma in 1951, through which Bazin and his colleagues introduced the auteur theory that has since helped to contextualize the classic films made by the likes of Fritz Lang, Howard Hawks, and Alfred Hitchcock.
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Top Critic is a designation created to distinguish Tomatometer-approved critics who excel at their craft. Critics selected are well-established, influential, and prolific; they are, in a sense, the cream of the crop. Top Critic status is granted by a set of criteria and a selection panel and cannot be applied for.
Reviews published by Top Critics feature in-depth analysis, supported by a breakdown of formal and thematic elements. Top Critics exhibit a deep knowledge of film/TV history, and their reviews may also provide valuable cultural context. While their reviews incorporate the lens of their own experience, they also exhibit the ability to remove any biases that may prevent them from serving the audience at-large. Overall, reviews from Top Critics are compelling, provide a sense of the viewing experience, exhibit a recognizable voice, and may influence the larger cultural conversation around a film or TV series.
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List of individually-designated Top Critics
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Famous Film Critics from the United States
List of notable or famous film critics from the United States , with bios and photos, including the top film critics born in the United States and even some popular film critics who immigrated to the United States. If you're trying to find out the names of famous American film critics then this list is the perfect resource for you. These film critics are among the most prominent in their field, and information about each well-known film critic from the United States is included when available.
The list you're viewing is made up of people like Roger Ebert and Alonso Duralde.
This historic film critics from the United States list can help answer the questions "Who are some American film critics of note?" and "Who are the most famous film critics from the United States?" These prominent film critics of the United States may or may not be currently alive, but what they all have in common is that they're all respected American film critics.
A. O. Scott
B. ruby rich, bob mondello.
Cecelia ager, christopher null, davey marlin-jones.
Gerald peary, glenn kenny.
Jeffrey lyons, jim holliday, joe morgenstern, jonathan rosenbaum, kenneth turan.
- American People
Greatest Film Critics of All Time
Their words influenced audiences, turned movies upside down, and changed filmmaking and movie watching forever.
As long as there have been films, there have been those who dedicate their lives to writing about them. It takes love, passion, and time to forge criteria and consideration towards the seventh art. Film critics and theorists have, for over a century, played a pivotal role in the cinematic world, as their words have filled movie seats (or not), birthed (or ended) careers, and became eternally bound to the films they refer to.
While some go through film school, or start as actors or in some other role in film production, some of history’s most renowned filmmakers began as critics, and through their studying and countless hours of movie-watching, eventually became creators themselves. No matter what you think about them, film critics and theorists are crucial to the development of film and of society’s consciousness towards them. These 10 critics (listed in alphabetical order) stand apart from the rest, as their influence and work is to this day precious to life and film.
What is Cinema? is still arguably the most important book about movies, and its author, André Bazin , is responsible for film criticism as it is today. The co-founder of Cahiers Du Cinema is one of the most respected names when it comes to filmmaking and film theory.
Bazin's expansive essays on the importance of realism, and what makes films conjure so many emotions, and even influence everyday life, are keystones to film schools throughout the world. Without Bazin, there would be little critical consciousness regarding films, and thus, no film criticism as we know it today.
The dearly-missed Peter Bogdanovich not only was one of the key figures in the New Hollywood movement , but he also was one of the most important film critics and historians of all time. As a kid, he would keep a record of all the films he saw in an index card with a review of each one included, a practice he would continue for nearly 20 years.
In average, he would see nearly four hundred films a year, a passion that drove him to be part of film programming teams at institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, film critic at Cahiers Du Cinema, and writer of many important books on film history, and in-depth interviews with directors such as Alfred Hitchcock. Of course, Bogdanovich's film career was also formidable, in which classics such as The Last Picture Show or Paper Moon stand out.
For over twenty years, The Guardian’s film section has featured the precise writings of Peter Bradshaw . After spending most of the 90s as a columnist for the Evening Standard, in 1999 he began working as chief film critic for The Guardian , and has since established himself as one of the most trusted and respected modern critics.
In an age where reviewers have received backlash by actors just for doing their job, Bradshaw is one of those raising the flag for the continuity and importance of film critics.
This celebrated critic and author is one of the chief film w riters for The New York Times and a five-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. A look at Manohla Dargis ' best film list of each year will give you an idea of what an eclectic and interesting mind is at work here.
Her cultured and beautifully written work, has graced week in and week out the newspaper’s Arts section, taking in from underground art house cinema to mainstream Hollywood blockbusters. As an author, she has written books focusing on the role of women in cinema throughout history.
Loved, feared, and hated, his name is synonymous with film criticism. Roger Ebert is the undisputed best-known movie critic of all time. His work at the Chicago Tribune and on PBS introduced the “thumbs up/thumbs down” ranking that has become a staple of cinema, and his take would become a decisive factor on whether audiences would swarm to a theater, or wouldn’t even care to show up.
Related: 10 Greatest Movies of All Time According to Roger Ebert
In 1975, he became the first film critic to be awarded a Pulitzer prize, and despite the relevance of his opinion, he wasn’t as tough as the mythology that has been built around his work. A staple of his, was the inclusion of witty personal anecdotes in his reviews, which also made him sympathetic to thousands of readers. His death in 2013 left a void in the film world that is felt to this very day.
No one, absolutely no one would have expected for Pauline Kael to be the subject of Quentin Tarantino’s final film , yet it feels so appropriate. Hopefully, Tarantino’s love of film and its history will make Kael a known and beloved figure for more than just the film community, for which Kael is a sacred figure as relevant as all the films she wrote about.
Her nearly autobiographical approach to criticism set her apart from the academic form of prior critics and changed the way film was written about forever. She was famous for being unapologetic, unafraid of arguing, and a champion of films often discarded by most critics, and inversely, a critic of widely beloved movies.
All-time best film critics lists hold a historical debt to female critics, who have been as good and important throughout history as men. Most only include Pauline Kael, leaving behind the legacy of critical icons such as Dilys Powell .
For over 50 years, Powell contributed to The Sunday Times and was one of the 20th century critics who was most open to societal and cultural changes. This can be indebted to her tireless traveling and hunger for understanding foreign cultures, which made her writing elaborate and incredibly knowledgeable.
The love of film is hopefully what drives someone to become engaged more closely with the art form; that love is felt in every bit of writing from Dan Sallitt , which is gorgeously translated in his film work as writer and director.
One of the world’s most underrated critics and filmmakers has been at it for more than four decades, and thankfully in recent years, his work has achieved a higher recognition by the film community. His writing has been featured on MUBI, The Village Voice, Slate, and other famous outlets, while his films, ever since 2012's brilliant The Unspeakable Act, have appeared in several film festivals.
Paul Schrader is mostly known as a great screenwriter and director, but he is also one of the filmmakers that has acknowledged and championed the importance of film studies and criticism in the development of the art form. He became a film critic in the late '60s and early '70s, and published the renowned book Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer before he was even 30.
Related: Exclusive: Gregg Turkington on Useless Film Critics and the Comic Universe of On Cinema
By the mid-'70s, he made the transition to scriptwriting and directing, a career that has lasted half a century (most recently with the mysterious movie Master Gardener ) could have easily left critical assessment of films aside, but he’s always had it so present, to the point that to this day he continually shares his opinions on his Facebook page .
No one bridged the gap between European and American cinema quite like Francois Truffaut . He would make some of the most important films of the 20th century while still being able to understand and appreciate what made someone like Steven Spielberg make the films he did. His dedication for the seventh art was clear right from the beginning of his career through his harsh though passionate reviews for Cahiers Du Cinema in the 50s.
As a writer, he is best remembered for his 1954 call-to-arms article, “A Certain Trend in French Cinema” which is seen today as partly responsible for the ignition of the French New Wave . He is also responsible for the development of “auteur theory,” which sets the director as the major creative force behind films, for which he used Hitchcock as an example, with whom he would develop an endearing friendship. His book, Hitchcock/Truffaut , was turned into a 2015 film, it was so influential.
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100 best films of all time, according to critics
For more than a century, there have been movies, and people paid to review them. The first film critic, W.G. Faulkner, began churning out weekly reviews in January 1912 .
Since then, movie criticism has retained countless core consistencies while evolving to keep pace with the medium itself. During this time, the two respective arenas have developed what some might call a symbiotic relationship. Movies often, but not always, depend on solid reviews to succeed, and movie critics rely on the emergence of new films to keep their jobs.
Furthermore, there have been periods of history during which the exchange of ideas between critics and artists have spawned new conventions or artistic movements. For example, the French film magazine, Cahiers du Cinéma—where both François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard worked as writers—played a vital role in the creation of French New Wave Cinema, which subsequently influenced a legion of auteurs. Meanwhile, there have also emerged a handful of famous critics over the decades, including Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert, whose unique interpretations of classic films have occasionally been heralded as works of art unto themselves.
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.
Counting down from #100, here are the best films of all time, according to the critics.
You may also like: 100 best Western films of all time, according to critics
#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.
#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.
#98. Lady Bird (2017)
- Director: Greta Gerwig - Metascore: 94 - Runtime: 94 minutes
After 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 .
#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.
#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.
#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 ).
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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 .
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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 Scorcese's acclaimed mob movies, as well as Al Pacino, who had not worked with Scorcese before. The movie used "digital de-aging" techniques to portray the older characters as several decades younger. Nominated for 10 Oscars, it won none.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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 .
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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, the stories 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."
#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 .
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
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#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.
#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.
#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.
#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?
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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 .
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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."
#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.
#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.
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#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
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33 greatest actors alive.....
THIS ARE THE GREATEST ACTORS ALIVE.I HOPE I'D WRITTEN WELL SAY YOUR COMMENTS...
1. Al Pacino
Actor | Serpico
Alfredo James "Al" 'Pacino established himself as a film actor during one of cinema's most vibrant decades, the 1970s, and has become an enduring and iconic figure in the world of American movies. He was born April 25, 1940 in Manhattan, New York City, to Italian-American parents, Rose (nee Gerardi)...
2. Clint Eastwood
Actor | Million Dollar Baby
Clint Eastwood was born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, to Clinton Eastwood Sr., a bond salesman and later manufacturing executive for Georgia-Pacific Corporation, and Ruth Wood (née Margret Ruth Runner), a housewife turned IBM clerk. He grew up in nearby Piedmont. At school Clint took interest in ...
3. Daniel Day-Lewis
Actor | There Will Be Blood
Born in London, England, Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is the second child of Cecil Day-Lewis , Poet Laureate of the U.K., and his second wife, actress Jill Balcon . His maternal grandfather was Sir Michael Balcon , an important figure in the history of British cinema and head of the famous Ealing ...
4. Tom Hanks
Producer | Cast Away
Thomas Jeffrey Hanks was born in Concord, California, to Janet Marylyn (Frager), a hospital worker, and Amos Mefford Hanks, an itinerant cook. His mother's family, originally surnamed "Fraga", was entirely Portuguese, while his father was of mostly English ancestry. Tom grew up in what he has ...
5. Jack Nicholson
Actor | Chinatown
Jack Nicholson, an American actor, producer, director and screenwriter, is a three-time Academy Award winner and twelve-time nominee. Nicholson is also notable for being one of two actors - the other being Michael Caine - who have received an Oscar nomination in every decade from the '60s through ...
6. Robert De Niro
Actor | Cape Fear
One of the greatest actors of all time, Robert De Niro was born on August 17, 1943 in Manhattan, New York City, to artists Virginia (Admiral) and Robert De Niro Sr. His paternal grandfather was of Italian descent, and his other ancestry is Irish, English, Dutch, German, and French. He was trained ...
7. Mel Gibson
Actor | Braveheart
Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson was born January 3, 1956 in Peekskill, New York, USA, as the sixth of eleven children of Hutton Gibson , a railroad brakeman, and Anne Patricia (Reilly) Gibson (who died in December of 1990). His mother was Irish, from County Longford, while his American-born father is ...
8. Morgan Freeman
Actor | Driving Miss Daisy
With an authoritative voice and calm demeanor, this ever popular American actor has grown into one of the most respected figures in modern US cinema. Morgan was born on June 1, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee, to Mayme Edna (Revere), a teacher, and Morgan Porterfield Freeman, a barber. The young Freeman...
9. Johnny Depp
Actor | Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
John Christopher "Johnny" Depp II was born on June 9, 1963 in Owensboro, Kentucky, to Betty Sue Palmer (née Wells), a waitress, and John Christopher Depp, a civil engineer. He was raised in Florida. He dropped out of school when he was 15, and fronted a series of music-garage bands, including one ...
10. Leonardo DiCaprio
Actor | Inception
Few actors in the world have had a career quite as diverse as Leonardo DiCaprio's. DiCaprio has gone from relatively humble beginnings, as a supporting cast member of the sitcom Growing Pains (1985) and low budget horror movies, such as Critters 3 (1991), to a major teenage heartthrob in the 1990s,...
11. Denzel Washington
Actor | Fences
Denzel Hayes Washington, Jr. was born on December 28, 1954 in Mount Vernon, New York. He is the middle of three children of a beautician mother, Lennis, from Georgia, and a Pentecostal minister father, Denzel Washington, Sr., from Virginia. After graduating from high school, Denzel enrolled at ...
12. Michael Caine
Actor | The Dark Knight
Michael Caine was born as Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in London, to Ellen (née Burchell), a cook, and Maurice Micklewhite Sr., a fish-market porter. He had a younger brother, Stanley Caine , and an older maternal half-brother named David Burchell. He left school at age 15 and took a series of ...
13. Liam Neeson
Actor | Kinsey
Liam Neeson was born on June 7, 1952 in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, to Katherine (Brown), a cook, and Bernard Neeson, a school caretaker. He was raised in a Catholic household. During his early years, Liam worked as a forklift operator for Guinness, a truck driver, an assistant architect and an ...
14. Jim Carrey
Actor | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Jim Carrey, Canadian-born and a U.S. citizen since 2004, is an actor and producer famous for his rubbery body movements and flexible facial expressions. The two-time Golden Globe-winner rose to fame as a cast member of the Fox sketch comedy In Living Color (1990) but leading roles in Ace Ventura: ...
15. Ian McKellen
Actor | The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Widely regarded as one of greatest stage and screen actors both in his native Great Britain and internationally, twice nominated for the Oscar and recipient of every major theatrical award in the UK and US, Ian Murray McKellen was born on May 25, 1939 in Burnley, Lancashire, England, to Margery ...
16. Dustin Hoffman
Actor | Tootsie
Dustin Lee Hoffman was born in Los Angeles, California, to Lillian (Gold) and Harry Hoffman, who was a furniture salesman and prop supervisor for Columbia Pictures. He was raised in a Jewish family (from Ukraine, Russia-Poland, and Romania). Hoffman graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1955, ...
17. Russell Crowe
Actor | Les Misérables
Russell Ira Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand, to Jocelyn Yvonne (Wemyss) and John Alexander Crowe, both of whom catered movie sets. His maternal grandfather, Stanley Wemyss, was a cinematographer. Crowe's recent ancestry includes Welsh (where his paternal grandfather was born, in Wrexham),...
18. Ben Kingsley
Actor | Sexy Beast
Ben Kingsley was born Krishna Bhanji on December 31, 1943 in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England. His father, Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, was a Kenyan-born medical doctor, of Gujarati Indian descent, and his mother, Anna Lyna Mary (Goodman), was an English actress. Ben began to act in stage plays during ...
19. Robert Downey Jr.
Actor | Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr. has evolved into one of the most respected actors in Hollywood. With an amazing list of credits to his name, he has managed to stay new and fresh even after over four decades in the business. Downey was born April 4, 1965 in Manhattan, New York, the son of writer, director and ...
20. Sean Penn
Actor | Mystic River
Sean Penn is a powerhouse film performer capable of intensely moving work, who has gone from strength to strength during a colourful film career, and who has drawn much media attention for his stormy private life and political viewpoints. Sean Justin Penn was born in Los Angeles, California, the ...
21. Harrison Ford
Actor | Raiders of the Lost Ark
Harrison Ford was born on July 13, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois, to Dorothy (Nidelman), a radio actress, and Christopher Ford (born John William Ford), an actor turned advertising executive. His father was of Irish and German ancestry, while his maternal grandparents were Jewish emigrants from Minsk, ...
22. Nicolas Cage
Actor | Face/Off
Nicolas Cage was born Nicolas Kim Coppola in Long Beach, California, the son of comparative literature professor August Coppola (whose brother is director Francis Ford Coppola ) and dancer/choreographer Joy Vogelsang. He is of Italian (father) and Polish and German (mother) descent. Cage changed his...
23. Christian Bale
Christian Charles Philip Bale was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK on January 30, 1974, to English parents Jennifer "Jenny" (James) and David Bale . His mother was a circus performer and his father, who was born in South Africa, was a commercial pilot. The family lived in different countries ...
24. Christoph Waltz
Actor | Django Unchained
Christoph Waltz is an Austrian-German actor. He is known for his work with American filmmaker Quentin Tarantino , receiving acclaim for portraying SS-Standartenführer Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds (2009) and bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained (2012). For each performance, he won...
25. Brad Pitt
Actor | Fight Club
William Bradley "Brad" Pitt was born on December 18, 1963 in Shawnee, Oklahoma and raised in Springfield, Missouri to Jane Etta Pitt (née Hillhouse), a school counselor & William Alvin "Bill" Pitt, a truck company manager. At Kickapoo High School, Pitt was involved in sports, debating, student ...
26. Jamie Foxx
Actor | Collateral
Jamie Foxx is an American actor, singer and comedian. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor, BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, for his work in the biographical film Ray (2004). The same year, he was nominated for the Academy...
27. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Actor | Terminator 2: Judgment Day
With an almost unpronounceable surname and a thick Austrian accent, who would have ever believed that a brash, quick talking bodybuilder from a small European village would become one of Hollywood's biggest stars, marry into the prestigious Kennedy family, amass a fortune via shrewd investments and...
28. Hugh Jackman
Hugh Michael Jackman is an Australian actor, singer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer and producer. Jackman has won international recognition for his roles in major films, notably as superhero, period, and romance characters. He is best known for his long-running role as Wolverine in the X-Men film ...
29. Sylvester Stallone
Actor | Rocky
Sylvester Stallone is an athletically built, dark-haired American actor/screenwriter/director/producer, the movie fans worldwide have been flocking to see Stallone's films for over 40 years, making "Sly" one of Hollywood's biggest-ever box office draws. Sylvester Stallone was born on July 6, 1946, ...
30. Jake Gyllenhaal
Actor | Nightcrawler
Jake Gyllenhaal was born on December 19, 1980 in Los Angeles, California as Jacob Benjamin Gyllenhaal, the son of producer/screenwriter Naomi Foner and director Stephen Gyllenhaal , and the younger brother of actress Maggie Gyllenhaal . He is of Ashkenazi Jewish (mother) and Swedish, English, and ...
31. Tom Cruise
Actor | Top Gun
In 1976, if you had told fourteen-year-old Franciscan seminary student Thomas Cruise Mapother IV that one day in the not too distant future he would be Tom Cruise, one of the top 100 movie stars of all time, he would have probably grinned and told you that his ambition was to join the priesthood. ...
32. Will Smith
Producer | The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Willard Carroll "Will" Smith II (born September 25, 1968) is an American actor, comedian, producer, rapper, and songwriter. He has enjoyed success in television, film, and music. In April 2007, Newsweek called him "the most powerful actor in Hollywood". Smith has been nominated for five Golden ...
33. Matthew McConaughey
Actor | Interstellar
American actor and producer Matthew David McConaughey was born in Uvalde, Texas. His mother, Mary Kathleen (McCabe), is a substitute school teacher originally from New Jersey. His father, James Donald McConaughey, was a Mississippi-born gas station owner who ran an oil pipe supply business. He is ...
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