Top 100 Movies of All Time

My 100 favorite movies – not necessarily ones I would pick as the “best” of all time. This was precipitated by a group vote on the Forum. I will underline the titles that make the top 100 on when the results are posted in September October.

UPDATE OCT. 15: Results, about 10 a day, are trickling in! I will place a mark, at the end of qualifying entries, with the result in superscript.e.g. 50

(Image courtesy of Esteban2)

  1. Cloud Atlas (2012) – Connects the human experience across the entire globe in six different eras (from 1849 to 2321). The use of yellowface is a problem for some viewers, but otherwise, I consider this to be the Wachowskis’ masterpiece.
  2. Rain Man (1988) – One of those movies I grew up watching repeatedly on VHS. This made autism relatable to the world with Dustin Hoffman in the titular role and Tom Cruise as his brother. This was Hans Zimmer’s first Oscar-nominated score. Directed by Barry Levinson (Good Morning, Vietnam; Sleepers; The Natural).
  3. The Princess Bride (1987) – Written by William Goldman and adapted from his hilarious and bizarre book. Rob Reiner made it even more popular on the big screen. Every element of this film is fantastic – it remains my family’s favorite.100
  4. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – The second film in George Lucas’s epic, this one directed by Irvin Kershner. It’s hard to pick a favorite in the Star Wars saga, but I’ll go with this, the fan favorite. Look for the “Despecialized Edition.”
  5. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – Stanley Kubrick’s outer space special effects still hold up. Check out the 1996 version of the soundtrack, too, with the proper versions of both Strauss’s (unrelated) Also Sprach Zarathustra and The Blue Danube.
  6. Rocky IV (1985) – At the top of my guilty pleasure list, this was the most financially successful entry in Sylvester Stallone’s series. Features Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago, the steroid-pumping, undefeated Soviet boxer.
  7. There Will Be Blood (2007) – Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, music by Jonny Greenwood (of Radiohead). Need I say more?
  8. A Trip to the Moon (1902) – The most well known movie from the innovative French film-maker Georges Méliès. There is no official score for the film, but I recommend the version recorded by Air in the 2011 restored release.
  9. Alien (1979) – Ridley Scott makes consistently top-knotch films, like Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, and Blade Runner to name a few, but none match the frightening saga of Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) vs. the H.R. Giger-designed alien world.
  10. The Babadook (2014) – All the pieces fit together to make this creepy children’s book character come to life. From Australian first-time director, Jennifer Kent.

  1. Back to the Future (1985) – I don’t need to say much about this, except looking at this list of movies, I see how many Robert Zemeckis films I love. This was one of the first blockbusters scored by Alan Silvestri, one of my favorite film composers.
  2. The Wizard of Oz (1939) – A true multi-generational classic.78
  3. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) – One of the most unforgettable performances in film history: Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, and singing “Pure Imagination.” One of the few musicals that I really enjoy, possibly due to my childhood love of Roald Dahl books – this is based off of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
  4. M (1931) – Fritz Lang’s first sound film, with an amazing performance from Peter Lorre as the “M”urderer and tortured soul.
  5. The Matrix (1999) – Groundbreaking special effects from the symbiotic Wachowski siblings.
  6. All About My Mother (1999) – An emotional rollercoaster from Spanish directory Pedro Almodóvar, covering themes such as AIDS, homosexuality, transsexualism, faith, and existentialism.
  7. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) – One of the many James Cameron – Arnold Schwarzenegger blockbuster duo films, this improves upon the first film in every department.
  8. 12 Years a Slave (2013) – Director Steve McQueen’s breakout film based on the 1853 narrative of Solomon Northup. Not just another painful slave story – this is a universally-acclaimed and incredibly inspiring movie.
  9. Groundhog Day (1993) – Ghostbusters stars Harold Ramis (director) and Bill Murray (as Phil Connors) team up again in this hilarious and philosophical “time loop” film.
  10. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – I was expecting this classic epic to be long and boring, so I was surprised at how breathtaking not only the scenery and music was when I first saw it, but also the critical analysis of the title character (played by Peter O’Toole).
  11. Forrest Gump (1994) – Another Zemeckis film, with Tom Hanks in the lead role as he journeys through american history (1944 to 1982) and keeps returning to the love of his life, Jenny (Robin Wright).
  12. Mad Max (1979) – No one can match the the dystopian feel and practical effects of a George Miller Mad Max movie, particularly the first two and the new Fury Road. This is Mel Gibson’s breakout role.
  13. Lost in Translation (2003) – Most of Sofia Coppola’s movies (she writes, directs, and produces almost all of them) explore the cult of celebrity, and this is her best – showing Bill Murray’s character as an aging movie star and his chance encounters in Tokyo with Charlotte, played by the young Scarlett Johansson.
  14. Seven Samurai (1954) – Kurosawa’s masterpiece, a 3hr+ epic set in the 16th century but part of the American Western tradition.
  15. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966) – The pinnacle of Spaghetti Westerns as the last in the trilogy of films by director Sergio Leone, composer Ennio Morricone, and actor Clint Eastwood.
  16. The Arrival of a Train (1895) – While not their very first film, this was probably the most popular of the Lumière brothers’ movies. They made “cinema” practical and opened theaters around the world in 1896.
  17. 13th (2016) – Ava DuVernay’s documentary, named after the 13th Amendment (prohibition of slavery), explores the “intersection of race, justice and mass incarceration in the United States.” This is one of the few films Netflix has on their community screening program which allows users to stream the film in an educational setting.
  18. Beetlejuice (1988) – One of Tim Burton’s most original films, with an all star cast to boot.
  19. Gaav [The Cow] (1969) – The Iranian government financed Dariush Mehrjui’s film, but banned its release perhaps because it did not place village life in a favorable light. Among other scenes, I loved watching how happy the main character was washing his cow in a pond.
  20. Dog Day Afternoon (1975) – One of those films I figured would be a typical violent Al Pacino movie, but this true story about a bank robbery had a lot more depth to it than that. Directed by Sidney Lumet.
  21. Winter Light (1963) – Swedish master filmmaker, Ingmar Bergman, was able to capture a character’s feelings like none other. I was entranced by the Christian pastor’s struggle of faith in this one.
  22. Paris is Burning (1990) – Jennie Livingston’s documentary of mid-80s drag ball (the origin of modern drag shows) culture in New York City.
  23. For the Bible Tells Me So (2007) – Daniel G. Karslake interviews religious parents of gay children to see how families interpret the Christian Bible and sexual orientation. A 2017 follow-up is in the works.
  24. The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) – The oldest surviving animated feature film. German director Lotte Reininger uses her amazing silhouette animation invention to portray one of the classic Arabian Nights tales.
  25. The World Before Her (2012) – A Canadian production by Indian-born director Nisha Pahuja, this documentary contrasts the story of a beauty contestant with a trainee for the right-wing Durga Vahini.
  26. Samsara (2011) – From Koyaanisqatsi cinematographer, Ron Fricke, comes a less politicized and more beautiful collage of the world, further exploring what he calls “humanity’s relationship to the eternal.”
  27. The Innocents (1961) – A “horror” film with no gore, from director Jack Clayton.
  28. My Neighbor Totoro (1988) – It’s hard to pick a favorite Miyazaki (renowned Japanese animator and storyteller) film, but this is one I’d recommend to people of all ages. It’s an original tale of two sisters (voiced by sisters Elle and Dakota Fanning in the 2005 Disney voiceover) and a journey of imagination.
  29. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – I was terrified of horror films when I was young, so it’s taken some time to catch up on the classic slasher movies, this being my favorite from Wes Craven. I just realized I don’t have any John Carpenter movies on my list. For shame. Listen to the Escape from New York theme, for example.
  30. The Way of the Dragon aka Return of the Dragon (1972) – Martial arts legend Bruce Lee’s only completed film with him as writer and director. I also highly recommend the 2000 documentary, Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey, included in the 2004 Anniversary Edition of Enter the Dragon.
  31. Hiroshima mon amour (1959) – A 36-hour love affair and discussion between a French actress and a Japanese architect, comparing their relationship with the Hiroshima bomb. Poetic dialogue and cinematography. Directed by Alain Resnais of the French New Wave.
  32. The Holy Mountain (1973) – Visionary director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s mind-bending and totally bizarre film about the spiritual journey of “the thief” and eventually nine others.
  33. WALL·E (2008) – The relatable tale of a robot stranded on Earth. From writer/director/actor Andrew Stanton, who has been involved in almost every Pixar film.
  34. The General (1926) – I’ve always been more impressed with Buster Keaton’s stunt work than Charlie Chaplin’s, and this true story puts his skills on full display as he navigates a moving train. Co-directed by frequent collaborator Clyde Bruckman.
  35. Spaceballs (1987) – The comedy of Mel Brooks takes on Star Wars.
  36. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994) – I’ve always loved Jim Carrey’s physical comedy. Despite the transphobia in this film, this one is my favorite. Directed by Tom Shadyac.
  37. Sausage Party (2016) – The first American CGI-animated film to be rated R. It’s raunchy (I usually don’t like Seth Rogen movies for this reason), but creative and hilarious throughout. The afterlife theme is particularly fascinating. Directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan.
  38. Blancanieves (2012) – This was obscured by the other silent film that came out that year, The Artist, but in my opinion is much more entertaining. Pablo Berger wrote and directed this masterpiece of a Snow White tale, told with bullfighting dwarves instead of miners.
  39. Metropolis (1927) – The original sci-fi epic from Fritz Lang, with an amazing Art Deco design and the iconic fembot, played by Brigitte Helm. I recommend The New Pollutants’ electronic rescore (YouTube 1080p!).
  40. Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916) – D. W. Griffith followed the infamously racist The Birth of a Nation with this historical epic, by far the most expensive film made at the time. It interweaves four storylines from ancient Babylon, Biblical Judea, the French Renaissance, and modern America – with Lillian Gish as “Eternal Motherhood” rocking the symbolic cradle inbetween segments from each story.
  41. Woodstock (1970) – I recently posted a detailed spreadsheet of official video and audio releases of this film.
  42. Jurassic Park (1993)
  43. The Dark Knight (2008)
  44. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
  45. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
  46. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  47. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
  48. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
  49. Ugetsu Monogatari (1953)
  50. Marnie (1964)
  51. Cabaret (1972)
  52. The Big Lebowski (1998)
  53. Network (1976)90
  54. Fight Club (1999)
  55. Broadcast News (1987)
  56. Big (1988)
  57. Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
  58. The Punk Singer (2013)
  59. Before Midnight (2013)
  60. Silent Movie (1976)
  61. Nostalgia for the Light (2010)
  62. Charles Bradley: Soul of America (2012)
  63. The House is Black (1963)
  64. Ghostbusters (1984)
  65. Top Gun (1986)
  66. Moonlight (2016) – The most recent film on my list
  67. Philomena (2013)
  68. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
  69. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009 Swedish)
  70. Willow (1988)
  71. Ed Wood (1994)
  72. The Godfather (1972)
  73. Die Hard (1988)
  74. Drive (2011)
  75. Pulp Fiction (1994)
  76. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)84
  77. The Shining (1980)
  78. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  79. The Goonies (1985)
  80. Gremlins (1984)
  81. A Man Escaped (1956)
  82. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
  83. Dances with Wolves (1990)
  84. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  85. Run Lola Run (1998)
  86. A Song of Love (1950)
  87. Breaking the Waves (1996)
  88. Selma (2014)
  89. Dumb & Dumber (1994)
  90. City Lights (1931)99

Honorable Mention

  • Roundhay Garden Scene (1888)
  • The Dickson Experimental Sound Film (1894)
  • A Trip Down Market Street (1906)
  • Léon: The Professional (1994)
  • Office Space (1999)
  • Gladiator (2000)70
  • City of God (2002)
  • The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
  • Warrior (2011)
  • Boyhood (2014)
  • I Am Not Your Negro (2016)