Movie Lists

The 50 Finest Films of All Time, Ranked

These are 50 of the perfect motion pictures ever made. You’ll disagree, and you’ll not like this in any respect.

It is inconceivable, proper? Itemizing the best movies ever made is a recipe for failure that topics us to hostile feedback, rolling eyes, and a complete lot of missed alternatives. A ‘Finest Of’ checklist is a limiting and exclusionary enterprise by definition, fencing off an typically arbitrary number of titles on the expense of actually hundreds of others. What’s the level of this? Why topic ourselves to the abuse? Nicely, that is simply what we do. Anybody who loves artwork of any type, who offers with it professionally, who chooses methods to navigate it, or who makes opinions about it — all these folks have a ‘Finest Of’ checklist of some type. What else do you name museum curation? What do you name your Blu-ray assortment? What’s a music playlist if not a ‘Finest Of?’



We’re all creating miniature ‘Finest Of’ lists day by day, whether or not it is the particular number of web sites you go to or apps you employ, the distinct manufacturers you buy, the identical meals you hunt down at grocery shops, or the eating places you go to. We’re curators of style, all of us, and we acquire and keep in mind what we take pleasure in. A cinematic ‘Finest Of’ checklist just isn’t very completely different. It is a assortment of ‘nice’ movies which can be simply gratifying, endlessly enlightening, aesthetically beautiful, or emotionally vital.

The critic’s job, nonetheless, is to bridge the target and the subjective, in order that others can stroll this bridge and entry issues they in any other case might by no means have. After all, the whole lot is subjective with artwork, so there aren’t any proper solutions right here (and many of the ludicrous feedback beneath will complain about how these aren’t “the perfect” movies of all time). That is all nicely and good. It is by definition.

Nevertheless, there’s something goal concerned right here. What makes one thing one in every of “the perfect” in its discipline, particularly when there is not laborious knowledge to qualify it, as in sports activities? Nicely, in cinema, as in most artwork, it depends upon a wide range of components. How vital is the movie to the tradition at giant? How a lot did it innovate and advance the medium? How influential has it been? Did it seize and mirror historical past in an entirely distinctive method? Does it specific one thing concerning the human situation that virtually nothing else has in the identical method? Is it completely good from all technical views? Is it extra entertaining and entrancing than another two hours you possibly can spend? Does it change the precise method wherein you understand the world? And nonetheless, we are going to miss a lot, and you’ll not be glad. It is simply an excessive amount of. However, as Samuel Beckett wrote, “I can not go on. I will go on.”

Word: To permit for extra selection, this checklist will solely embrace one movie from any director. As an example, many of the movies right here come from administrators who’ve a number of masterpieces, however these administrators will solely be represented as soon as. In any other case, the checklist would simply characterize seven or eight administrators.

50 All That Jazz (1979)

All That Jazz
twentieth Century Fox

Whereas the Nineteen Fifties was possible the greatest decade for the move musical (and a number of other of them, akin to The Band Wagon, Singin’ within the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Bothers, and Gents Want Blondes, might simply be included right here or in a high 100), it was Bob Fosse’s pair of Nineteen Seventies movies, Cabaret and All That Jazz, that are arguably the 2 best film musicals of all time. The latter is without doubt one of the extra suave, provocative, and haunting movies of the ’70s, and simply occurs to have a few of the greatest musical numbers in cinema historical past.

All That Jazz was the one movie that Fosse wrote, choreographed, and directed, and it’s extremely purposeful — that is his damning, intimate autobiography instructed by hazy flashbacks, sudden leap cuts, allegorical figures, and bursts of sensible music. The movie focuses on the legendary choreographer and director behind Chicago, Pal Joey, and plenty of different classics, as he struggles along with his well being, his addictions, and his artistry. That includes Roy Scheider’s best efficiency because the suave however broken Fosse together with an unimaginable Jessica Lange because the Angel of Loss of life, All That Jazz will get to the obsessive core of choreography and the reckless ardour of an auteur.

49 Misplaced in Translation (2003)

The Stars of Lost in Translation
Focus Options

Sofia Coppola’s second function is one more trendy, lonesome success, taking the hazy, quietly humorous, however emotionally penetrating qualities of Virgin Suicides and condensing them right into a smaller, extra profitable story of two unhappy strangers in an enormous neon city. Invoice Murray provides one in every of his greatest performances (and definitely one that will outline every subsequent efficiency of his this century) as an ageing minor star who will get a candy deal to do a whiskey advert in Tokyo. In the meantime, Scarlett Johansson performs the brand new spouse of a hotshot photographer who’s caught traipsing concerning the swanky lodge with nothing to do.

In Lost in Translation, the 2 meet and develop a bit of spark of friendship over the course of some days, discovering a little bit of solace within the midst of their existential ennui. Coppola captures fashionable Tokyo with an alien perspective, depicting its fairly hi-tech glow as if it is a completely different planet, and the completely ethereal soundtrack and rating from Brian Reitzell and My Bloody Valentine’s genius architect, Kevin Shields, mix to make a classy however minimalist buddy comedy. The important thing to its greatness is simply that, although — that is platonic and never sexual; if it was the latter, the movie would nonetheless be an ideal aesthetic accomplishment, however a bit of creepy.

48 The Factor (1982)

The Thing movie poster from 1982
Common Footage

Whereas most individuals might think about Halloween (and even the sensible They Dwell) to be John Carpenter’s greatest movie, there’s something unforgettably unsettling and boundary-pushing about The Factor which retains us coming again to it. Possibly it is the astoundingly imaginative sensible results that comply with a shapeshifting alien entity because it transforms from individual to canine to individual. Possibly it is the ominous rating from Carpenter and the nice Ennio Morricone, or the right supporting solid of character actors like David Clennon and Wilford Brimley. Possibly it is the faceoff between Kurt Russell and Keith David.

Or perhaps it is the truth that this one movie has three of probably the most iconic scenes in horror historical past (the blood check, the transformation of canines, and the severed head). Truly, nearly each scene feels iconic in The Factor, due to the distinctive Antarctic setting, the right claustrophobic location for a body-snatching monster. Merely the whole lot works right here in a movie that pushes physique horror and stress to its mainstream excessive, and it is hardly been matched greater than 40 years later. It is also arguably the best remake of all time, loosely taken from the 1951 movie written by Charles Lederer, Howard Hawks, and Ben Hecht from the John Campbell story “Who Goes There?”

47 The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs
Orion Footage

The Silence of the Lambs is extremely horrifying if just for its realism. Nothing within the movie (or the novel that impressed it) is simply too far-fetched in comparison with what occurs in actuality if far-fetched in any respect. Jonathan Demme’s course is suffocatingly tight, and the tense script has each good line of dialogue dropped at life by comparably stable performances from Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Ted Levine, Anthony Heald, and Scott Glenn. The Silence of the Lambs could be an insufferable viewing expertise…proper when it desires to be.

Demme has put extra of his character into different, nearly equally sensible movies (One thing Wild, Cease Making Sense, Rachel Getting Married), however it’s secure to say that no different Demme movie has had the whole lot and everybody working in tandem at their highest capability. Foster and Hopkins are good, Howard Shore creates his most underrated rating, Tak Fujimoto creates majesty and terror in even probably the most banal issues, and Ted Tally’s script is a good, environment friendly machine. It is not probably the most unique alternative, however it’s laborious to disclaim simply how good and well-designed The Silence of the Lambs actually is.

46 His Woman Friday (1940)

His Girl Friday
Columbia Footage

Did we simply point out Charles Lederer, Howard Hawks, and Ben Hecht? Weirdly sufficient, these people chargeable for 1951’s The Factor from One other World had teamed up a number of instances for unimaginable movies, with maybe their most vital and pleasant being His Woman Friday. The free adaptation of The Entrance Web page reinvented the comedy due to its daring gender politics and intensely fast-talking wit. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell throw dialogue backwards and forwards like they’re enjoying catch.

The story of a divorced couple working on the similar newspaper, with the ex-husband scheming to get again along with his ex-wife, is a pleasant, relentless, and timeless riot, and stays one of many first really fashionable comedies. Hawks was among the finest administrators to seize glowing dialogue, whether or not in comedies or nice movie noir (his The Large Sleep might simply be swapped out right here), and this movie may be the best proof of that.

45 Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962)

Corinne Marchand in Cleo from 5 to 7

The endlessly endearing and compassionate filmmaker Agnès Varda had one of many best careers in movie historical past (gorgeously packaged in a current Criterion Assortment field set), however it’s in all probability her second function movie, Cléo from 5 to 7, that is her greatest. Granted, she spent six a long time making unimaginable movies, from masterpieces like Le Bonheur and Vagabond to iconoclastic and excellent little documentaries like The Gleaners and I and The Seashores of Agnès. So it appears a bit of reductive to decide on solely her second movie right here, however think about it an invite to a broader filmography. It is also simply that good.

Within the French New Wave basic, Varda movies the whole lot in actual time as a well-known younger singer waits for the outcomes of a medical examination which might affirm that she has a severe sort of most cancers. She spends her time reflecting on the previous, going to a fortune-teller, listening and enjoying music, and considering the that means and performance of her existence on this tight, good little film that has impressed filmmakers and ladies for 60 years.

44 Exhausting Boiled (1992)

Guns at everyones head in John Woo film Hard Boiled 1992
Golden Princess Movie Manufacturing

The motion style is not typically celebrated in lists of absolutely the best movies ever made, however a few of them need to, actually if John Woo’s title is connected. If anybody has introduced pure balletic grace and visible poetry to motion cinema, it is Woo. Whereas some might say the apotheosis of his model is on full show in The Killer (and even the eccentric and great Face/Off), we wish to assume that there isn’t a higher motion movie than Exhausting Boiled. All the things about it’s good, from the charming performances courtesy of two greats (Chow Yun-fat and Tony Leung), to the difficult plot, visible motifs, and gorgeous set piece that concludes the movie.

Woo follows his typical theme of doubles and redemption on this story of a police sergeant and a cop who’s been undercover for method too lengthy who cross paths and take down a prison empire. These two are great characters with nice chemistry, two anti-social males sure by an invisible morality, and Exhausting Boiled additionally has probably Woo’s best villains, Johnny Wong and Mad Canine. Every shootout and motion set piece is downright genius, resulting in the large conclusion set inside a hospital as gunfire ricochets from ground to ground. It is probably the perfect concluding half-hour to any motion film in historical past.

43 Earlier than Dawn (1995)

Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise
Columbia Footage

Richard Linklater has created what one might name a profession of mental curiosity. From his early days (and one of many best indie movies ever made, Slacker), Linklater has targeted on the intelligence of outsiders, the philosophizers on the margins, those that see the mind because the sexiest human organ. His movies are extra dialogue-heavy than most nice administrators, however by no means boring or equivalent in consequence. Maybe the best instance of that is the trailblazing romance movie, Earlier than Dawn, which spawned one of the beloved (and doubtless the neatest) film trilogy ever made.

Earlier than Dawn follows Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as the previous convinces the latter to get off their prepare at Vienna and spend the day with him. They’re each entrancing and endlessly watchable right here, co-writing the movie with Linklater as they’d on the 2 sequels. Probably the most romantic and easy of the three, Earlier than Dawn merely follows them all through the European metropolis as night time falls, and lets us in on their dialog and burgeoning attraction. It is extraordinarily romantic, but in addition reflective of the easiest of Gen X, and introduces us to 2 of the best characters in movie historical past.

42 The Purple Footwear (1948)

The Red Shoes close-up of ballerina face
Normal Movie Distribution

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger had been titans of British cinema, two names that outlined a era of movie in England. The Powell and Pressburger movies of the ’40s and ’50s are a few of the best ever made, and once more, we might simply point out different movies, such because the quaint and quiet gem I Know The place I am Going!, the masterful thriller Peeping Tom, or the attractive non secular basic, Black Narcissus. What a run of movies! It is The Purple Footwear although that stuns and haunts in equal measure greater than probably another.

The movie, which mixes fantasy, romance, and drama in typical Powell and Pressburger style, focuses on the extremely demanding world of ballet, and one explicit ballerina who’s compelled to decide on between her skilled and her private life, her artwork and her lover. Loosely tailored from the Hans Christian Andersen story, The Purple Footwear is bursting with Technicolor glory, utilizing each cinematic approach at Powell and Pressburger’s disposal to color one of the attractive movies ever made. The nice cinematographer Jack Cardiff might go down in historical past for this one image alone; even Martin Scorsese has known as it probably the most stunning colour movie ever made, alongside Jean Renoir’s The River. Together with its visible magnificence, the movie hits laborious with its themes of obsession, the insanity of creation, and the loneliness of perfection.

41 Daybreak of the Useless (1978)

Dawn of the Dead zombies enter in elevator in the George Romero film
United Movie Distribution Firm

It is actually a toss-up between Night time of the Dwelling Useless and George Romero’s good sequel, Daybreak of the Useless. The previous redefined horror motion pictures and principally invented the fashionable zombie; its ending is a haunting reminder of the civil rights period, and its black and white pictures is infinitely disturbing. However there’s something extra depraved in Daybreak of the Useless. It is nastier in its bright-red gore and bitter misanthropy; it is funnier in its social commentary; it is really particular in its setting and downright Marxist critique of bourgeois consumerism. It is also, weirdly, a bit of extra hopeful.

The movie, after all, largely takes place in a shopping center the place characters from two key segments of the American system (the mainstream media and the militarized police) barricade themselves from the zombie apocalypse happening outside. Daybreak of the Useless is downright enjoyable in its apparent bashing of senseless materialism and its exploration of pure post-apocalyptic hedonism, all throughout the vivid pastels of Nineteen Seventies mall tradition. The conclusion is completely harrowing, however few movies benefit the real fist-pumping pleasure and reduction of its ending.

40 Umberto D (1952)

Umberto D
Janus Movies

Some of the heartbreaking and highly effective movies ever made, Vittorio De Sica’s Neo-Realist masterpiece, Umberto D, is a painful indictment in opposition to society and the best way we have come to deal with the poor, the aged, and the lonely. On the similar time, its De Sica’s excessive compassion and inimitable humanity which makes the movie greater than only a masterpiece of distress.

It is a easy story — an outdated retired authorities employee with well being points is kicked out of his house and searches for his canine, the one actual good friend he has on this planet. A movie that can make you wish to burn the earth down for humanity’s cruelty one minute, and hug strangers on the street the following, Umberto D is a devastating masterclass in empathy. Sure, Bicycle Thieves is usually thought of De Sica’s best achievement, and that is a must-watch as nicely, however there is a particular place in cinephiles’ hearts for Umberto D.

39 Out of the Previous (1947)

Robert Mitchum drives in Out of the Past
RKO Radio Footage

“Is there a option to win?” she asks. “There is a option to lose extra slowly,” he responds (in an trade that will be echoed by David Simon in The Wire). There aren’t any winners in Out of the Previous, maybe the best movie noir ever made. It is a tragic romance and crime drama that perfects each component of the style — the cynical sucker of a gumshoe protagonist, the femme fatale, the cocky millionaire, the double cross. All of it combines to perfection due to a few of the most simmering and bitter dialogue to ever erupt from a movie. Jacques Tourneur was a studio director who managed to show most B-movies into timeless classics, and that is his best work.

Robert Mitchum, by no means higher, performs a conflicted personal investigator employed to search out a kingpin’s outdated flame, who stole a small fortune from him and escaped. They fall in love in Acapulco and scheme to trick and evade the kingpin, and you understand it is going to finish in tears. That does not cease this fast, scorching, depraved little movie from being endlessly watchable and infinitely quotable.

38 The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist 1973 movie with priest arriving at Regan's house
Warner Bros.

William Friedkin’s masterpiece The Exorcist is so sublimely made that not even 50 years can detract from its influence. So far as the movie’s technical features go, it is flawless, with even Regan’s head flip having aged nicely. However what helps the movie work so a lot better than its many, many up to date and present imitators is the solid.

Ellen Burstyn is phenomenal as Chris MacNeil, a mom struggling in a seemingly unwinnable struggle for her daughter’s soul. And, talking of her daughter, Linda Blair’s efficiency as Regan earned simply as many accolades as Burstyn. And for good cause, it is due to them, in addition to Jason Miller’s Father Karras and Max von Sydow’s transient efficiency as Father Merrin that the film feels so natural, and timeless.

37 Barton Fink (1991)

John Turturro making a humorous facial expression as Barton Fink in the 1991 film. 
twentieth Century Fox

A number of movies from the Coen brothers might understandably be positioned right here, and it comes down to non-public choice (a recurring theme right here). The Large Lebowski, Fargo, No Nation for Outdated Males, Miller’s Crossing, and even A Easy Man might all feasibly be known as a few of the greatest motion pictures of all time. It is Barton Fink, although, which appears to be probably the most private, daring, and greatest film the Coens have made.

It is also arguably probably the most mysterious, a darkish allegory concerning the inventive course of, intellectualism, Marxism, Judaism, and bigotry that is as humorous as it’s disturbing. John Turturro provides his best efficiency as a playwright obsessive about the proverbial proletariat, wanting to write down a play ‘for the folks.’ Holed up in a creepy lodge, the author slowly loses his thoughts, thanks in no small half to probably the most menacing John Goodman efficiency you will ever see. Barton Fink is a masterful anxiousness dream, a comic book nightmare, and an ideal American story.

36 Dawn: A Music of Two People (1927)

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
Fox Movie Company

Whereas he is most identified for the horror basic Nosferatu, the nice F.W. Murnau made his greatest movie in 1927 with Dawn: A Music of Two People. Utilizing his immense talent at expressionistic ambiance and emotional close-ups, Murnau introduced on cinematographers Charles Rosher and Karl Struss to innovate movie language in a method that set it aside from literature and the theater (as Eisenstein tried one thing related within the Soviet Union).

The result’s a strong romantic drama with little or no textual content and titles, counting on a purely cinematic medium to have interaction feelings and inform a narrative of marriage, adultery, guilt, and redemption. Suspenseful, unhappy, and stylish, Dawn gained the one ever Oscar for “Distinctive and Inventive Image” on the very first Academy Awards.

35 Jaws (1975)

Roy Scheider as Martin Brody in Jaws
Common Footage

Some of the entertaining, horrifying, tense, well-paced, and vital movies of the Nineteen Seventies (or another, actually), Steven Spielberg’s Jaws gave rise to the Summer Movie Season. Studios began to view the summer season months as gold mines for a selected sort of movie: The Crowd Pleaser.

Just like the director’s later Jurassic Park, Jaws performs like a perfectly-constructed rollercoaster. The gradual build-up of the tracks leads to some large drops, e.g. Alex Kintner and the invention of Ben Gardner’s mostly-sunk boat earlier than it finally throws the viewers for a loop and forgoes Amity for top seas crusing Orca. All the things about Jaws works, and not using a single uninteresting second. And, contemplating Spielberg’s younger age when directing it, it is one of the spectacular movies ever made as nicely.

34 The Cook dinner, the Thief, His Spouse & Her Lover (1989)

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover
Palace Footage

Peter Greenaway is without doubt one of the most underrated administrators of all time, but when there may be any gateway movie to convey audiences into his perverse, darkly humorous, and operatic world, it is undeniably The Cook dinner, the Thief, His Spouse & Her Lover. Accompanied by Michael Nyman’s emotionally astounding rating, and with color-coded cinematography from Sacha Vierny that ranks among the many absolute better of all time, Greenaway’s disturbing however stunning film is pure aesthetic perfection.

The Cook dinner, the Thief, His Spouse & Her Lover follows a merciless gangster (a towering Michael Gambon) whose spouse (Helen Mirren at her greatest) falls for a quiet lover of books, placing them in nice hazard. The movie is finally an ideal metaphor for sophistication warfare, however the primary attraction is its mesmerizing model, which is not like another movie in historical past (give or take different Greenaway productions).

33 8½ (1963)

Marcello floating in 8 1/2 movie from Fellini

Federico Fellini is one more grasp filmmaker who might feasibly be included a number of instances right here. Juliet of the Spirits, La Strada, and naturally La Dolce Vita might all be featured, however we expect that isn’t just his most vital movie, however among the finest motion pictures ever made. The movie hit on the good time, when arthouse and worldwide cinema had been getting their due within the mainstream, and has turn into the Rosetta Stone for any filmmaker who desires to make a film about motion pictures, or depict the narcissistic struggling of an artist or auteur.

The movie is basically a surreal story of author’s block, following a director (performed by the stainless Marcello Mastroianni) who’s making an attempt to determine his newest manufacturing. He typically withdraws into reveries, which drifts the movie into the surreal and typically disturbing, as attractive black and white cinematography manifests the director’s deepest wishes and fears.

32 Final 12 months at Marienbad (1962)

Last Year at Marienbad (1961)

Final 12 months at Marienbad rocked the movie world in 1962 when it premiered to divisive takes. Some labeled it a groundbreaking feat of pure cinema, whereas others mocked it as pretentious and incomprehensible drivel. Whereas Alain Resnais’ masterpiece is actually nonetheless polarizing (and has been the inspiration for a lot of parodies), it is also one of many poster kids for arthouse cinema, and rightfully so.

In contrast to Resnais’ earlier movies, Night time and Fog (the best quick movie ever made) and Hiroshima Mon Amour, Final 12 months at Marienbad is not explicitly political (although the title could also be a cryptic clue that it’s). In reality, it is not explicitly something. As a substitute, it is a sort of semiotic sport courtesy of the Nouveau Roman creator Alain Robbe-Grillet, who wrote a virtually impenetrable script that operates like clockwork. A person and a lady meet at a lavish occasion hosted at a geographically harsh palace; they might know one another, or they might be pretending to. She might have a husband, and he could also be harmful. Nothing is for sure right here, and even should you do not interact in ebullient dialogue decoding the movie, it may well merely be skilled as an aesthetically mysterious, exact, and mathematically good movie that is nonetheless not like the rest.

31 The Good, the Dangerous and the Ugly (1966)

Angel Eyes prepares to kill baker in The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
United Artists

Sergio Leone mastered a extra worldwide sort of Western, sardonically dubbed ‘Spaghetti Westerns,’ and whereas he made a number of nice movies (together with the masterpiece As soon as Upon a Time within the West), it is The Good, the Dangerous and the Ugly which might be his most well-known movie, and rightfully so. The gunslinging epic appears to transcend its place and time and its particular narrative to turn into a sort of archetypal paradigm for the fashionable, stylized Western.

Three sly males (the impeccable Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach) search hidden Accomplice gold within the West. Leone’s movie is pure mythology and masculinity, stylized to perfection due to the legendary close-ups of cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli and the timeless rating from Ennio Morricone. The movie defines ‘cool’ in a method that also hasn’t diminished.

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