Movienewz.com proudly reveals a definitive list of the 100 Best Films of All Time or 100 Films You Should See Before You Die.
I’m often asked “What is your favorite film?” you’ll discover the answer to that inquiry later on. With that question in mind, I decided to compile a definitive list of the “100 Best Films of All Time” or alternatively “100 Films You Should See Before You Die” but that was too morbid.
These exceptional films span cinematic history and include all genres and countries. I’ve combed through my mental inventory and narrowed down about 200 of my favorite films to an all-encompassing list of 100 timeless and influential classics that either add something refreshing to the genre or invent an entirely new sub-genre. So without further ado, lets count down the 100 Best Films of All Time.
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
“Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.”The second film in George Lucas’ first epic “Star Wars” trilogy finds young Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance plotting new strategies as they prepare to battle the evil Darth Vader and the forces of the Dark Side. Luke learns the ways of a Jedi knight from master Yoda, while Han and Leia find time for romance and a few adventures of their own. Introduces the charismatic Lando Calrissian and a mind-numbing secret from Vadar. Offers the same superb special effects and hearty plot as set by 1977’s excellent “Star Wars.” Followed by “Return of the Jedi” in 1983. Directed by: Irvin Kershner Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, David Prowse, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Alec Guinness, Frank Oz (voice), James Earl Jones (voice).
24. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg’s classic ’30s-style adventure is reminiscent of early serials. The film spawned numerous rip-offs and made Harrison Ford a household name as dashing hero and intrepid archaeologist Indiana Jones. Set in 1936, Indy battles mean Nazis, decodes hieroglyphics, fights his fear of snakes, and even has time for a little romance in his quest for the biblical Ark of the Covenant. Followed by three sequels ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’, ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ and ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’.
23. The English Patient (1996) – Based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje, this adult romance is a complicated WWII saga that finds fragile French-Canadian nurse Hana (Juliette Binoche) caring for Almasy (Ralph Fiennes), an enigmatic, dying burn patient, in an abandoned monastery in Tuscany. Hana’s joined by thief-turned-spy Caravaggio (Willem Dafoe), who has a private score to settle with Almasy, and two British bomb disposal experts, Kip (Naveen Andrews), a Sikh who falls in love with Hana, and Sgt. Hardy (Kevin Whately). Almasy spends his days recalling his illicit love affair with Katharine Clifton (Kristin Scott Thomas), the wife of fellow cartographer, Geoffrey (Colin Firth), as they map the North African desert. Exquisitely directed by Anthony Minghella with wonderful performances by the entire cast.
22. The Godfather (1972) – Francis Ford Coppola’s award-winning adaptation of Mario Puzo’s novel about a fictional Mafia family in the late 1940s. Revenge, envy, and parent-child conflict mix with the rituals of Italian mob life in America. Minutely detailed, with excellent performances by Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, and James Caan as the violence-prone Sonny. Indisputably an instant piece of American culture. Followed by two sequels The Godfather: Part II and III.
21. Apocalypse Now (1979) – Francis Ford Coppola’s epic vision of the Vietnam War was inspired by Joseph Conrad’s novella “Heart of Darkness.” Disillusioned Army captain Martin Sheen travels upriver into Cambodia to assassinate overweight renegade colonel Marlon Brando. His trip is punctuated by surrealistic battles and a terrifying descent into a land where human rationality seems to have slipped away.
“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky’s scathing indictment of the TV industry and its propensity towards self-prostitution. Howard Beale (Peter Finch), the senior newscaster at the Union Broadcasting System (UBS), is fired due to his age and declining ratings. Network executive Max Schumacher (William Holden), Howard’s best friend, is forced to deliver the bad news. The following night, Beale announces to the viewers that he’s going to commit suicide on his final program. What he doesn’t count on is a media blitz surrounding his mental breakdown. Directed by: Sidney Lumet Starring: Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch, William Holden, Robert Duvall, Wesley Addy, Ned Beatty, Beatrice Straight.
19. GoodFellas (1990) – Adapted from the book by Nicholas Pileggi, Martin Scorsese’s ‘GoodFellas’ is the quintessential picture about “wiseguys.” A young man grows up in the mob, works hard to advance himself through the ranks, and enjoys the life of the rich and violent, oblivious to the horror of which he is a part. Cocaine addiction and many wiseguy missteps ultimately unravel his climb to the top. Excellent performances by Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro, with visionary cinematography and careful pacing. Based on the life of Henry Hill, ex-mobster now in the Witness Protection Program.
18. Vertigo (1958) – Alfred Hitchcock’s romantic story of obsession, manipulation and fear. James Stewart plays a detective forced to retire after his fear of heights causes the death of a fellow policeman and, perhaps, the death of a woman he’d been hired to follow. The appearance of her double (Kim Novak), whom he compulsively transforms into the dead girl’s image, leads to a mesmerizing cycle of madness and lies.
17. The Ten Commandments (1956) – Director Cecil B. DeMille’s remake of his 1923 silent classic is a lavish Biblical epic that tells the life story of Moses (Charlton Heston), who is adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter. When his Hebrew heritage is revealed, Moses is cast out of Egypt, and makes his way across the desert where God commands him to return to Egypt to free the Hebrews from slavery. An exceptional cast, with Yul Brynner as the Pharaoh Rameses.
16. Spellbound (1945) – Based on Francis Beeding’s novel “The House of Dr. Edwardes,”
Gregory Peck plays an amnesia victim accused of murder. Ingrid Bergman plays the psychiatrist who uncovers his past through Freudian analysis and ends up falling in love with him. One of Alfred Hitchcock’s finest films of the 1940s, with a riveting dream sequence designed by Salvador Dali. Full of classic Hitchcock plot twists and Freudian imagery.
Rain Man (1988)
“He’s capable of a lot more than you know!”Director Barry Levinson’s instant classic written by Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass. When his father dies, ambitious and self-centered Los Angeles car dealer Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) discovers he has an older autistic savant brother Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) who’s been institutionalized for years. Needing him to claim an inheritance, he liberates him from the institution and takes to the road. Raymond’s acts and nagging, including repeated talks of “Abbott & Costello”, “Four minutes till Wapner” and refusal to fly on an airline except Quantas, drives Charlie insane. Cruise’s best performance to date as Charlie goes from cad to recognizing something wonderfully human in his brother and himself. Hoffman is exceptional. Directed by: Barry Levinson Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino, Barry Levinson.
14. The Color Purple (1985) – Directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, ‘The Color Purple’ is a richly-textured, powerful film set in America’s rural south. Whoopi Goldberg makes a triumphant screen debut as the radiant, indomitable Celie, a poor black girl who fights for her self-esteem when she is separated from her sister and forced into a brutal marriage. Spanning 1909 to 1947 in a small Georgia town, the movie chronicles the joys, pains, and people in her life. Goldberg’s impressive portrayal is complimented by a distinguished cast that includes Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey and Rae Dawn Chong.
13. Psycho (1960) – Based on Robert Bloch’s novelization of an actual murder. Alfred Hitchcock’s chilling story of a fleeing thief (Janet Leigh) who stops at the secluded Bates Motel where she meets her death in Hitchcock’s classic “shower scene” by one of cinema’s most notorious psychopaths – Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). A private detective (Martin Balsam) hired to recover the money investigates the disappearance. The film was followed by two sequels Psycho II, III, the made-for-cable prequel Psycho IV – The Beginning and the unnecessary 1998 remake ‘Psycho’ by Gus Van Sant.
12. Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964) – Stanley Kubrick’s cold-war black comedy classic is the ultimate satire of the nuclear age. General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) mounts his singular campaign against Communism by ordering a squadron of B-52 bombers to attack the Soviet Union. The Soviets counter the threat with a so-called “Doomsday Device,” and the world hangs in the balance while the U.S. president (Peter Sellers) engages in hilarious hot-line negotiations with his Soviet counterpart. Sellers also plays a British military attaché and the mad bomb-maker Dr. Strangelove. Loosely based on Peter George’s Cold War thriller novel ‘Red Alert’.
11. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) – Director Steven Spielberg’s heartwarming masterpiece follows the moving story of a lost alien who befriends 10-year-old, Elliot (Henry Thomas). Thomas gives a strong, emotional performance. Robert MacNaughton and Drew Barrymore make a solid impression as his siblings, and Dee Wallace is lively as the kids’ mother.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
“We should have shotguns for this kind of deal.”Writer/director Quentin Tarantino moves into the cinematic mainstream with his trademark violence and ’70s pop culture mindset intact in three stylish non-chronologically interwoven short stories (co-written by Roger Avary). A day in the life of a criminal community unexpectedly shifts from outrageous, esoteric dialogue to violent mayhem with solid scripting that takes familiar stories to unexplored territory. Offbeat cast offers superb performances, led by Travolta in his best role to date as a hit man whose adventures with partner Jackson tie the seemingly unrelated stories together. Clever, almost surreal look at everyday life on the fringes of mainstream society. Directed by: Quentin Tarantino Starring: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Ving Rhames, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Maria De Medeiros, Christopher Walken, Bruce Willis.
9. Jaws (1975) – Steven Spielberg suspenseful blockbuster surrounds the police chief (Roy Scheider) of Amity Island, a fictional summer resort town, tries to protect beachgoers from a giant great white shark by closing the beach, only to be overruled by the town council, which wants the beach to remain open to draw a profit from tourists during the summer season. After several attacks, the police chief enlists the help of a marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a professional shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw). Based on Peter Benchley’s novel. The film spawned three sequels Jaws 2, 3 and Jaws: The Revenge.
8. Gone With The Wind (1939) – Producer David O. Selznick’s epic Civil War drama focuses on the life of petulant southern belle Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh). Starting with her idyllic lifestyle on a sprawling plantation, the film traces her survival through the tragic history of the South during the Civil War and Reconstruction, and her tangled love affairs with aristocratic Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard) and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable). Directed by Victor Fleming and based on Margaret Mitchell’s novel, screenwriter Sidney Howard was assisted by Selznick and novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald. Hattie McDaniel’s part as “Mammy” won her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, the first African American to win an Academy Award.
7. The Wizard of Oz (1939) – In this charming film directed by Victor Fleming and based on the popular L.Frank Baum novel, Dorothy and her dog Toto are caught in a tornado’s path and somehow end up in the land of Oz. Here she encounters some memorable friends and foes in her journey to meet the Wizard of Oz who everyone says can help her return home and possibly grant her new friends their goals of a brain, heart and courage.
6. Casablanca (1942) – Directed by Michael Curtiz and based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison’s then-unproduced stage play ‘Everybody Comes to Rick’s’. Casablanca is one of the most quotable films of all time. Resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), whose only hope is Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), a cynical American who sticks his neck out for no one – especially Victor’s wife Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), the ex-lover who broke his heart. Ilsa offers herself in exchange for Laszlo’s transport out of the country and bitter Rick must decide what counts more – personal happiness or countless lives hanging in the balance.
Cinema Paradiso (1988, Italy)
“Life isn’t like in the movies. Life… is much harder.”A sweeping memoir written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. A famous Italian filmmaker Salvatore (Jacques Perrin) returns home to a Sicilian village for the first time after almost 30 years. Salvatore reminisces about his childhood at the Cinema Paradiso where he developed a friendship with Alfredo (Philippe Noiret), a projectionist who took pride in his film presentations post World War II. He’s also reminded of his lost teenage love, Elena (Agnese Nano), daughter of a disapproving wealthy banker. Directed by: Giuseppe Tornatore Starring: Philippe Noiret, Jacques Perrin, Salvatore Cascio, Marco Leonardi, Agnes Nano, Leopoldo Trieste.
4. Schindler’s List (1993) – Adapted from the best-selling book by Thomas Keneally, Steven Spielberg’s black and white cinematic masterpiece tells the indelible true story of the enigmatic Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a member of the Nazi party, womanizer, and war profiteer who saved the lives of more than 1,100 Polish Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. Noteworthy performances by Ralph Fiennes as SS Captain Amon Göth and Ben Kingsley as collaborator Itzhak Stern.
3. The Godfather Part II (1974) – Both a sequel and a prequel to the first film, ‘The Godfather Part II’ presents two parallel storylines. One involves Mafia chief Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) following the events of the first film from 1958 to 1959; the other is a series of flashbacks following his father, Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro), from his childhood in Sicily (1901) to his founding of the criminal Corleone Family in New York City while still a young man (1917–1925). Directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a script co-written with Mario Puzo.
2. Citizen Kane (1941) – Director Orson Welles’ masterpiece traces the life and career of Charles Foster Kane (Welles substituting for William Randolph Hearst), a man whose career in the publishing world is born of idealistic social service, but gradually evolves into a ruthless pursuit of power. Narrated principally through flashbacks, the story is revealed through the research of a newspaper reporter seeking to solve the mystery of the newspaper magnate’s dying word: “Rosebud.”
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
“The Force will be with you, always.”
What makes ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’ “The Best Film of All Time?” The first entry in the original trilogy seamlessly employs all film genres in one motion picture, has arguably the most quotable movie dialog, and recognizable score of all time. The film set a new standard for realistic visual effects, inspiring countless other filmmakers worldwide and delivered convincing performances by Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Alec Guinness that rival any terrestrial equivalent. Written and directed by George Lucas ‘Episode IV’ begins as Lord Darth Vader, an evil Jedi (Sith) who has mastered the dark side of the Force, captures Princess Leia Organa, who has stolen the plans to the Death Star and hidden them in the droid R2-D2. Droids C-3PO and R2-D2 escape to the nearby planet Tatooine. There they are purchased by Luke Skywalker’s step-uncle and aunt. After Luke accidentally triggers Leia’s message, he departs Tatooine assisted by an old Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi, hot-shot pilot Han Solo and his Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca. Luke embarks on an adventure to learn the ways of the Force, save the Princess and ultimately destroy the Death Star, but this is only the beginning of the Empire’s offensive. Directed by: George Lucas Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, David Prowse, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, James Earl Jones (voice).
Additional Sources: VideoHound, Amazon.com, Wikipedia