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100 best films of all time, according to critics

Warner Bros. // IMDB

100 best films of all time, according to critics

For over 100 years, there have been movies and paid movie reviewers, better known as film critics. In fact, the first film critic, W.G. Faulkner, began churning out weekly reviews as early as January 1912. Since then, movie criticism has retained countless core consistencies while simultaneously 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 Cinémawhere both François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard worked as writersplayed 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 went to Metacritic, where movies are given a score based on its critical reception. Counting down from #100, here are the best films of all time, according to the critics.

ALSO: Best comedy movies of all time

Zoetrope Studios // IMDB

#100. Apocalypse Now Redux

Metascore: 92

Release date: Aug. 3, 2001

When making his iconic Vietnam War movie, 1979’s “Apocalypse Now," director Francis Ford Coppola endured many psychological and physical setbacks. It’s then no surprise that 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).  


Les Films du Worso // IMDB

#99. Timbuktu

Metascore: 92

Release date: Jan. 28, 2015

This French-Mauritanian drama from Abderrahmane Sissako takes place in the dunes outside the West African city of Timbuktu and centers on a cattle herder and his family. As Jihadists reign terror just miles away, the family lives a life of peace and solitude. However, after the cattle herder accidentally kills a fisherman, he gets arrested by the new regime and thrown into a world of violence and chaos.  


Marc Schmidt // IMDB

#98. The Florida Project

Metascore: 92

Release date: Oct. 6, 2017

Set in the shadows of Walt Disney World, this 2017 Sean Baker film takes place at a rundown Orlando motel, where 6-year-old Moonee and her mom, Halley, live on a month-to-month basis. As Halley struggles to make ends meet, Moonee and her friends make do with their impoverished surroundings, conjuring up a fantasy world of their own. Like Baker’s previous works, the movie takes an unglorified approach toward its subject matter, but retains a discernible sense of humanity. For the most part, critics and audiences alike took warmly to the film, proving that a modern movie doesn’t necessarily have to be formula-driven or candy-coated to succeed.


Paramount Pictures // IMDB

#97. Chinatown

Metascore: 92

Release date: June 20, 1974

This award-winning classic takes place in 1937 Los Angeles. It follows private investigator J.J. Gittes (Jack Nicholson) as he takes on a supposed adultery case. Gittes is later embroiled in a murderous scheme that involves the city’s water supply. Often pointed to as an absolute masterclass in filmmaking, “Chinatown” accordingly features top-shelf writing, directing, and acting alike. Actress Faye Dunaway and Hollywood icon John Huston co-star.


Directors of the documentary Bruce Sinofsky and Joe Berlinger in 2005. // Carlo Allegri // Getty Images

#96. Brother's Keeper

Metascore: 92

Release date: Sept. 9, 1992

Exploring a range of prescient themes, this 1992 documentary centers on the trial of Delbert Ward, who’s been accused of murdering his own brother. As the story unfolds, Ward’s competence and motives are called into question. Meanwhile, the town of Munnsville, New York—which previously considered Ward and his family to be outcasts—rallies to support him. It all makes for taut, acclaimed viewing, to say the least.


Element Pictures // IMDB

#95. The Favourite

Metascore: 92

Release date: Nov. 23, 2018

Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos brings his twisted surrealist style to this historical drama, which takes place in 18th-century England and stars Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. In the film, a surrogate stateswoman (Weisz) takes a servant (Stone) under her wing, who soon begins to demonstrate political ambitions of her own. Critics have been raving about the work since it opened the New York Film Festival in the last week of September. Come November, audiences nationwide will get to see what all the fuss is about.   


Sudaine Compagnie // IMDB

#94. 35 Shots of Rum

Metascore: 92

Release date: Sept. 16, 2009

This acclaimed French film made its North American premiere at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, where it cemented director Claire Denis’ status as a modern master, according to the critics. Driven by powerful performances and a contemplative atmosphere, the film details the tight bond between a father and his daughter, which gets complicated by the arrival of a handsome young bachelor. However, to the rave reviews, audience reactions were mixed.



#93. Platoon

Metascore: 92

Release date: Feb. 6, 1987

Filmmaker Oliver Stone took his career to the next level with this award-winning movie from 1987, which was loosely inspired by his own experiences during the Vietnam War. It centers on a young soldier named Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen), who finds himself facing conflict on all conceivable fronts during his first tour of duty. In addition to earning $135 million at the box office, “Platoon” won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.


Haut en Court // IMDB

#92. The Class

Metascore: 92

Release date: Dec. 19, 2008

Based on a riveting book by François Bégaudeau, this 2008 French film finds the author playing a semi-fictionalized version of himself. Specifically, the movie recounts Bégaudeau’s experiences as an inner city school teacher in Paris, who seeks a middle ground between himself and his racially mixed, underprivileged classroom. The fact that “The Class” was such a big hit with the critics must have been extra rewarding for Bégaudeau, as he himself has been a professional film critic during various points in his life.  


Miramax // IMDB

#91. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Metascore: 92

Release date: Nov. 30, 2007

Artist Julian Schnabel rose to fame as a painter before achieving success as a filmmaker in the 1990s and beyond. Among his best cinematic works is this French biographical drama from 2007, which tells the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, a magazine editor who undergoes a stroke and subsequently suffers from “locked-in syndrome." While Bauby’s cognitive abilities are fully operational, he’s unable to move virtually any part of his body except for his left eye. In addition to chronicling Bauby’s condition, the movie takes viewers inside his mind, where a lifetime of memories await.


Iconoclast // IMDB

#90. One More Time with Feeling

Metascore: 92

Release date: Sept. 8, 2016

This heralded documentary follows multi-talented artist Nick Cave as he records a new album, “Skeleton Tree," while simultaneously grappling with the sudden death of his 15-year-old son. Shot over the course of 10 days, the film weaves interviews, voice-over narration, and concert footage to brilliant effect, and furthermore employs a variety of stylistic techniques, including 3D. As such, Cave’s personal crisis and creative identity become inextricably linked to the point that the movie itself becomes a window into his soul.  


Superior Pictures // IMDB

#89. Crumb

Metascore: 93

Release date: April 28, 1995

Controversial cartoonist Robert Crumb takes center stage in this award-winning documentary from director Terry Zwigoff. A pioneer of the underground scene, Crumb is the man behind “Fritz the Cat” and the iconic “Keep on Truckin’” comic, among a slew of other creations. True to its subject matter, the documentary flows by in a stream-of-consciousness style, bouncing from insightful interviews to graphic images with dexterous panache.


Paramount Pictures // IMDB

#88. Days of Heaven

Metascore: 93

Release date: Sept. 13, 1978

Bolstered by Terrence Malick’s breathtaking, naturalist style, 1978’s “Days of Heaven” endures as one of the director’s finest achievements. Set in 1916, the movie depicts the struggles of a young couple named Bill and Abby who flee from Chicago to a farm in the Texas panhandle, where they try to get their hands on the property owner’s wealth. Featuring lush cinematography, a haunting score, and sparse dialogue, the film unravels at its own pace and retains a completely distinctive atmosphere from the first scene to the last. Richard Gere stars.



#87. Minding the Gap

Metascore: 93

Release date: Aug. 17, 2018

Currently streaming on Hulu, this 2018 documentary follows a group of avid skaters (and best friends) as they come of age in their Rust Belt hometown. Director Bing Liu doesn’t just document the events over the course of several years; Liu also plays an active role as one of the film’s main protagonists, even confronting his own mother over the abuses he suffered as a child. Hence, “Minding the Gap” delivers a thoroughly emotional and authentic viewing experience with no easy answers.


Spheeris Films // IMDB

#86. The Decline of Western Civilization

Metascore: 93

Release date: July 5, 1981

By 1981, the punk rock scene was still moving full steam ahead, and this brilliant documentary from Penelope Spheeris captures that scene with stark and uncompromising poignancy. Featured in the film are bands like Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Fear, Germs, and X, whose respective members share their stories and sounds alike. Representing a portentous turn of events, the original poster art showed Germs singer Darby Crash—who died from a heroin overdose before the film was released—lying motionless on the ground with his eyes closed.


Nina Paley // Wikimedia Commons

#85. Sita Sings the Blues

Metascore: 93

Release date: Dec. 25, 2009

By interspersing portions from the Indian tale of Ramayana with her own personal experiences, Nina Paley combines the personal and the universal in this animated musical from 2009. Specifically, the film parallels the story of Sita, a Hindu Goddess featured in the original tale, with her own break-up in modern day New York City. It all comes to life by way of Paley’s brilliant animation style, which culls from various influences while simultaneously forging its own aesthetic.


Columbia Pictures // IMDB

#84. The Last Picture Show

Metascore: 93

Release date: Oct. 22, 1971

One of the most acclaimed coming of age dramas of all time, this black and white film from Peter Bogdanovich takes place in a destitute and desolate West Texas town, circa 1951. As a group of high school students engage in various adolescent antics, they must decide as individuals whether to stick around or leave their squalid town behind. Famous critic Roger Ebert was a huge fan of the work, claiming it was “above all an evocation of mood," albeit a mood of the somber variety. Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd star.  


Warner Bros. // IMDB

#83. Badlands

Metascore: 93

Release date: Oct. 15, 1973

Before enrapturing critics with 1978’s “Days of Heaven," director Terrence Malick delivered “Badlands," his debut film. Set in the 1950s, the movie stars Sissy Spacek as an impressionable teenage girl, and Martin Sheen her older boyfriend. Together, the two embark on a killing spree through the South Dakota badlands. Malick based the film on the real life story of teenage lovers Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate, who similarly committed a series of murders in the late 1950s.


Paramount HE // IMDB

#82. There Will Be Blood

Metascore: 93

Release date: Dec. 26, 2007

Loosely inspired by an Upton Sinclair novel, this Paul Thomas Anderson drama stars Daniel Day-Lewis as oilman Daniel Plainview. Set primarily during the early 20th century, the film follows Plainview and his adopted son as they journey to a small California town, where a fortune in oil awaits. Once there, he squares off against a local pastor (Paul Dano), who has his own means of exploitation.


Arrow Media

#81. Sherpa

Metascore: 93

Release date: Oct. 2, 2015

What begins as a documentary about the life of a Sherpa becomes something far more tragic in this 2015 film. Intrigued by reports of Sherpas fighting on Mount Everest, a team of filmmakers thought they would follow a Sherpa named Phurba Tashi—who’d successfully climbed the famous mountain 21 times—during his next ascent. However, the narrative takes an unexpected and deadly turn, when the documentarians end up capturing the most fatal avalanche in the history of Mount Everest.  


CBS Films // IMDB

#80. Inside Llewyn Davis

Metascore: 93

Release date: Dec. 6, 2013

Filmmaking duo Joel and Ethan Coen are perennial favorites among critics and audiences alike, and they enter the list with this subdued effort, which takes place in 1961. Presented in black and white, “Inside Llewyn Davis” chronicles a week in the life of its title character, an aspiring folk singer played by Oscar Isaac. As the singer tries to break through in Greenwich Village, his acerbic wit and uncompromising personality continues to be his own worst enemy. Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake co-star.


Dale Robinette // IMDB

#79. La La Land

Metascore: 93

Release date: Dec. 9, 2016

The classic Hollywood musical gets a modern day upgrade in this box office smash from Damien Chazelle. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star as an aspiring jazz musician and actress, who become romantically entangled as they pursue their respective dreams. Opening on a supremely ambitious song-and-dance number, the film endures as a love letter to both Los Angeles and its proud cinematic traditions.


1+2 Seisaku Iinkai //IMDB

#78. Yi Yi

Metascore: 93

Release date: Oct. 6, 2000

Written and directed by Edward Yang, this Taiwanese-Japanese comedy-drama centers on the individual members of a middle-class Taipei family, as they deal with various everyday conflicts. Throughout its near three-hour runtime, the movie explores themes of both psychological and spiritual distress, all while interweaving multiple storylines. It won a slew of awards, including Best Director at Cannes.  


Frenesy Film Company // IMDB

#77. Call Me by Your Name

Metascore: 93

Release date: Nov. 24, 2017

Based on a novel by André Aciman, this beautifully shot drama from Luca Guadagnino takes place in 1980s Italy and depicts the budding romance between a teenage boy (Timothée Chalamet) and the older man (Armie Hammer) living on his property. Critics heaped praise upon the film for its emotional poignancy, languid pacing, authentic writing, and nostalgic glow.


Universal Pictures // IMDB

#76. Schindler's List

Metascore: 93

Release date: Dec. 15, 1993

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.  


AOI Promotions // IMDB

#75. Shoplifters

Metascore: 93

Release date: Nov. 23, 2018

A big hit at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, this Japanese drama depicts a family of small-time crooks who take in a young girl off the streets. Along with the shift in dynamic, there comes some newfound introspection, as each family member re-evaluates his or her thieving ways. According to some critics, “Shoplifters” is a small film that packs a big emotional punch.


Participant Media // IMDB

#74. Spotlight

Metascore: 93

Release date: Nov. 6, 2015

Filmmaker Tom McCarthy was best known for quirky indie comedies before he helmed this 2015 drama, which is based on a true story. In the film, a team of Boston Globe reporters uncover a massive scandal involving the local Catholic Archdiocese and its attempt to cover up widespread abuses. Striving for authenticity, cast members Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton consulted with their real-life counterparts before tackling their respective roles. Rachel McAdams also stars.


Komoplizen Films // IMDB

#73. Toni Erdmann

Metascore: 93

Release date: Dec. 25, 2016

Portraying the rocky relationship between an ill-mannered father and his straitlaced daughter, this German-Austrian film delivers top-notch acting, gripping drama, and no shortage of raunchy jokes. It was such a hit with critics and audiences alike that an American remake is currently in development, with Lisa Cholodenko directing.


Asia Union Film and Entertainment // IMDB

#72. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Metascore: 93

Release date: Dec. 8, 2000

In the tradition of classic Kung Fu cinema comes this thrilling adventure flick from director Ang Lee. Set in 19th century Qing Dynasty China, the movie follows two skilled warriors as they track down a stolen sword, which eventually leads them to an arrogant young prodigy. By combining deft drama with brilliant cinematography and stunning fight sequences, the film manages to transcend virtually every genre convention. Consequently, it was warmly received by critics and audiences alike, with the Academy Awards and healthy box office performance to show for it.   


Sovereign Pictures // IMDB

#71. Reversal of Fortune

Metascore: 93

Release date: Oct. 17, 1990

Based on a world-famous case, this 1990 drama stars Ron Silver as hotshot attorney Alan Dershowitz—yes, that Alan Dershowitz—who’s tasked with defending a man named Claus von Bülow (Jeremy Irons) in the appellate court. According to the previous verdict, Bülow is guilty of trying to murder his wife, all to get his hands on her substantial fortune. However, he swears he’s innocent and hopes Dershowitz can prove as much in a court of law.


Elstree Distributors // IMDB

#70. The Servant

Metascore: 93

Release date: March 16, 1964

Thematically ahead of its time, this black and white British film from 1964 stars James Fox as an aristocrat named Tony, who hires Hugo Barrett (Dirk Bogarde) as his seemingly humble servant. After a series of sexual and psychological games goes down within the household, the two men reverse roles in a manner of speaking, and before long, it’s Barrett calling all the shots. Not only is the film based on an acclaimed novella by Robin Maugham, but Nobel Prize-winning British playwright Harold Pinter wrote the screenplay.


Les Films du Losange // IMDB

#69. Amour

Metascore: 94

Release date: Dec. 19, 2012

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.


Cine Tamaris // IMDB

#68. Faces Places

Metascore: 94

Release date: Oct. 6, 2017

In this celebrated documentary, seasoned filmmaker Agnès Varda and professional photographer JR take a journey through rural France, encountering various people along the way. Unified by their overlapping passions , the artists form a palpable bond, which unfolds before the camera’s eye. Vicariously, a range of cultures, worldviews, and artistic mediums are explored, each being generational in some regards and timeless in others.   


TV Man Union

#67. Maborosi

Metascore: 94

Release date: March 21, 1997

In this 1997 Japanese film, a woman named Yumiko has her existence uprooted after her husband abruptly commits suicide by stepping in front of a train. In an attempt to get her and her infant’s life back together, Yumiko moves to a small fishing village and remarries. However, the death of Yumiko’s first husband still weighs heavily on her mind. She decides to investigate and uncovers some disturbing truths about the man she thought she once knew. Shot using only natural light, the film garnered heaps of praise for its masterful storytelling and meditative style.  


Films en Stock // IMDB

#66. Carlos

Metascore: 94

Release date: Oct. 15, 2010

His name was Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, but the history books know him best as Carlos the Jackal, one of the world’s most notorious terrorists. In this biographical epic—which was released as both a theatrical film and a three-part mini-series—director Olivier Assayas chronicles Carlos’ legendary rise and fall. Featured in the movie are his early days as a political revolutionary, his most daring attacks, and his subsequent attempts to evade capture.   


New Line Cinema // IMDB

#65. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Metascore: 94

Release date: Dec. 17, 2003

Peter Jackson’s massively popular “Lord of the Rings” trilogy came to a close with this 2003 installment, which famously swept at the Academy Awards and raked in over a billion dollars at the box office. In the film, hobbits Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) reach the last leg of their journey to destroy an all-powerful ring. Meanwhile, the forces of good and evil do epic battle for one last time. More than a critical darling, the movie endures as a fan favorite as well.


Scott Rudin Productions // IMDB

#64. Lady Bird

Metascore: 94

Release date: Nov. 3, 2017

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. Its appearance on this list is thereby a no-brainer.


Wiessman Projects // IMDB

#63. We Were Here

Metascore: 94

Release date: Sept. 9, 2011

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.


Twentieth Century Fox // IMDB

#62. The Gunfighter

Metascore: 94

Release date: June 23, 1950

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.  


United Artists // IMDB

#61. Apocalypse Now

Metascore: 94

Release date: Aug. 15, 1979

The 2001 release of “Apocalypse Now: Redux” was a big hit with the critics, but not to the point of overshadowing the original cut. Indeed, most critics still consider 1979’s “Apocalypse Now” to be the superior version, partly because it meanders less and thereby retains a tighter sense of atmosphere. For some, it’s even considered the best war movie ever made.


Fox Searchlight Pictures // IMDB

#60. Sideways

Metascore: 94

Release date: Oct. 22, 2004

Despite its understated premise, this 2004 comedy-drama from Alexander Payne was a veritable phenomenon upon its release, which 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. To this day, it continues to lure in new audiences by way of its subtle charms.


Pixar Animation Studios // IMDB

#59. Inside Out

Metascore: 94

Release date: June 19, 2015

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 an 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.


Universal Pictures // IMDB

#58. Shadow of a Doubt

Metascore: 94

Release date: Jan. 15, 1943

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.


Jonathan Olley // IMDB

#57. The Hurt Locker

Metascore: 94

Release date: June 26, 2009

Set during the Iraq War, this taut war drama from Kathryn Bigelow 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.  


Simon Mein // IMDB

#56. Mr. Turner

Metascore: 94

Release date: Dec. 19, 2014

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.


Milestone Films // IMDB

#55. Killer of Sheep

Metascore: 94

Release date: March 30, 2007

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.   


Miramax // IMDB

#54. Pulp Fiction

Metascore: 94

Release date: Oct. 14, 1994

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 over 20 years ago.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. // IMDB

#53. The Manchurian Candidate

Metascore: 94

Release date: Oct. 24, 1962

Frank Sinatra stars in this 1962 thriller from director John Frankenheimer, 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.

Columbia Pictures // IMDB

#52. Taxi Driver

Metascore: 94

Release date: Feb. 7, 1976

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.

BFI Film Fund // IMDB

#51. 45 Years

Metascore: 94

Release date: Dec. 23, 2015

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.  


Paramount Pictures // IMDB

#50. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Metascore: 94

Release date: April 22, 1962

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.

Warner Bros. // IMDB

#49. Dunkirk

Metascore: 94

Release date: July 21, 2017

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.


Sony Pictures Classics // IMDB

#48. Before Midnight

Metascore: 94

Release date: May 24, 2013

Richard Linklater’s heralded “Before” Trilogy began in 1995 with “Before Sunrise," and culminated with this 2013 effort. After dallying with romance during their previous encounters, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) have finally tied the knot, and by the time “Before Midnight” begins, they’re going on nine years of marriage. As they and their two daughters vacation in Greece, however, cracks begin to show in the relationship, forcing the couple to once again evaluate a range of emotions and ideas.  

Sony Pictures Classics // IMDB

#47. WALL-E

Metascore: 95

Release date: June 27, 2008

Set in the distant (or not-so-distant) future—where Earth has become uninhabitable—this 2008 Pixar feature follows the adventures of a lovable, trash-collecting robot. After boarding a massive spaceship, the robot discovers that humanity hasn’t exactly learned from its previous mistakes. Due to its somewhat bleak vision and an extended opening segment that’s virtually absent of dialogue, “WALL-E” is unlike any other film in Pixar’s catalogue. That said, it was still widely praised and financially successful—just like most of the studio’s output.


Sony Pictures Classics // IMDB

#46. A Separation

Metascore: 95

Release date: Dec. 30, 2011

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.

Jonathon Olley // IMDB

#45. Zero Dark Thirty

Metascore: 95

Release date: Dec. 19, 2012

This taut dramatic thriller from Kathryn Bigelow 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.   


Disney // IMDB

#44. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Metascore: 95

Release date: Feb. 4, 1938

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.

Paramount Pictures // IMDB

#43. Double Indemnity

Metascore: 95

Release date: Jul. 6, 1944

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.

Arte France // IMDB

#42. I Am Not Your Negro

Metascore: 95

Release date: Dec. 9, 2016

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.


Merrick Morton // IMDB

#41. The Social Network

Metascore: 95

Release date: Oct. 1, 2010

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.

Twentieth Century Fox // IMDB

#40. The Grapes of Wrath

Metascore: 95

Release date: Mar. 15, 1940

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.

Pixar Animation Studios // IMDB

#39. Toy Story

Metascore: 95

Release date: Nov. 22, 1995

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.

Wilson Webb // IMDB

#38. Carol

Metascore: 95

Release date: Nov. 20, 2015

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.


Walt Disney Pictures // IMDB

#37. Beauty and the Beast

Metascore: 95

Release date: Nov. 22, 1991

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 find true love and break 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.


Tokuma Shoten // IMDB

#36. Spirited Away

Metascore: 96

Release date: Sept. 20, 2002

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.


Esperanto Filmaj // IMDB

#35. Roma

Metascore: 96

Release date: Dec. 14, 2018

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, meaning this project is arguably his most personal one to date. According to the critics, it’s also one of his best.

Warner Bros. // IMDB

#34. Gravity

Metascore: 96

Release date: Oct. 4, 2013

Before wowing critics with this year’s “Roma," director Alfonso Cuarón unleashed “Gravity” in 2013. The film is about two astronauts (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) who must fight for survival after their shuttle gets destroyed. By capitalizing on the latest 3D technology, the film brought viewers along for the ride, proverbially speaking. Between that and the engaging narrative, the movie earned heaping amounts of critical acclaim and over $700 million at the box office.

Warner Bros. // IMDB

#33. Mean Streets

Metascore: 96

Release date: Oct. 14, 1973

This gritty 1973 movie wasn’t director Martin Scorsese’s first film, but it might as well have been. Made on a shoestring budget of just $500,000 (half of which reportedly went toward the soundtrack), “Mean Streets” follows a small-time criminal named Charlie (Harvey Keitel) who struggles to reconcile his moral inclinations with his dangerous lifestyle. This film not only marked the first of many collaborations between Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro, but it furthermore cemented their respective statuses as veritable cinematic forces.

Warner Bros. // IMDB

#32. A Streetcar Named Desire

Metascore: 96

Release date: Sept. 19, 1951

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.

Pixar Animation Studios // IMDB

#31. Ratatouille

Metascore: 96

Release date: June 29, 2007

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.

Columbia Pictures // IMDB

#30. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Metascore: 96

Release date: Jan. 29, 1964

No list of best films is complete without the name Stanley Kubrick, and he makes his first and only appearance 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.

Warner Bros. // IMDB

#29. The Maltese Falcon

Metascore: 96

Release date: Oct. 18, 1941

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.


Paramount Pictures // IMDB

#28. Rosemary's Baby

Metascore: 96

Release date: June 12, 1968

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.  


Amazon Studios // IMDB

#27. Manchester by the Sea

Metascore: 96

Release date: Nov. 18, 2016

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.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. // IMDB

#26. 12 Angry Men

Metascore: 96

Release date: April 1, 1957

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 surface, vicariously causing all the more tension inside the room. Sidney Lumet directed.


Jaap Buitendijk // IMDB

#25. 12 Years a Slave

Metascore: 96

Release date: Oct. 18, 2013

Author Solomon Northup’s memoir provided the basis for this brutal 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.


Greenwich Film Productions // IMDB

#24. Ran

Metascore: 96

Release date: Dec. 20, 1985

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.


Universal Pictures // IMDB

#23. American Graffiti

Metascore: 97

Release date: Aug. 11, 1973

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 are a range of comic exchanges and an endlessly listenable soundtrack of classic oldies. Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, and young Harrison Ford star.


Shamley Productions // IMDB

#22. Psycho

Metascore: 97

Release date: Sept. 8, 1960

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.


Ashton Productions // IMDB

#21. Some Like It Hot

Metascore: 97

Release date: March 29, 1959

This timeless comedy from Billy Wilder 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.


Mobra Films // IMDB

#20. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

Metascore: 97

Release date: Jan. 23, 2008

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-knuckled thriller. It won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, among numerous other awards.    


New Line Cinemas // IMDB

#19. Gone with the Wind

Metascore: 97

Release date: Jan. 17, 1940

The highest-grossing movie of all time (when adjusted for inflation) is also one of the most highly regarded. That movie is “Gone with the Wind," and it 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.


London Film Productions // IMDB

#18. The Third Man

Metascore: 97

Release date: Sept. 3, 1949

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?


Ferndale Films // IMDB

#17. My Left Foot

Metascore: 97

Release date: March 30, 1990

Legendary actor Daniel Day-Lewis might have announced his retirement late last year, but thankfully, he’s left an astounding number of quality performances in his wake. Among them 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.  


New Line Cinemas // IMDB

#16. Hoop Dreams

Metascore: 98

Release date: Oct. 14, 1994

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.    


Twentieth Century Fox // IMDB

#15. All About Eve

Metascore: 98

Release date: Oct. 27, 1950

Despite being nearly seven 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. Not only is “All About Eve” among the most Oscar-nominated films in history, it also holds the title for the most female acting nominations in a single work.


Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. // IMDB

#14. North by Northwest

Metascore: 98

Release date: Aug. 6, 1959

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.    


New Line Cinemas // IMDB

#13. Pan's Labyrinth

Metascore: 98

Release date: Dec. 29, 2006

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.


Universal Pictures // IMDB

#12. Touch of Evil

Metascore: 99

Release date: Feb. 1, 1958

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.  


A24 // IMDB

#11. Moonlight

Metascore: 99

Release date: Oct. 21, 2016

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.


Warner Bros. // IMDB

#10. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Metascore: 99

Release date: Jan. 24, 1948

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.


Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. // IMDB

#9. Singin' in the Rain

Metascore: 99

Release date: April 11, 1952

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.

RKO Radio Pictures // IMDB

#8. Notorious

Metascore: 100

Release date: Sept. 6, 1946

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.”


Universal Studios // IMDB

#7. Vertigo

Metascore: 100

Release date: May 28, 1958

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.   


MK2 Productions // IMDB

#6. Three Colors: Red

Metascore: 100

Release date: Nov. 23, 1994

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.


IFC Films // IMDB

#5. Boyhood

Metascore: 100

Release date: July 11, 2014

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 young boy to 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.


Warner Bros. // IMDB

#4. Casablanca

Metascore: 100

Release date: Jan. 23, 1943

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.   


Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions // IMDB

#3. Rear Window

Metascore: 100

Release date: Sept. 1, 1954

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.


Paramount Pictures // IMDB

#2. The Godfather

Metascore: 100

Release date: March 11, 1972

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 then no wonder that famous critic Pauline Kael described it as coming “out of a merger of commerce and art." Based on the best-selling 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.


RKO Radio Pictures // IMDB

#1. Citizen Kane

Metascore: 100

Release date: Sept. 4, 1941

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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