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100 best dramas of all time

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Charles Chaplin Productions

100 best dramas of all time

Dramatic elements elicit strong emotions and pull you into the intimate core of human relationships. Drama spans a range of genres including horror, thrillers, noirs, and comedy. Stacker recognizes that genre is meant to help describe and communicate the vibe of a film, not to serve as a limiting factor on what films can and cannot be. Dramas can center on heartwarming subjects—they’re often viewed with a tissue in hand, but they also take deep dives into serious subjects. They force audiences to grapple with issues of morality and the hard choices that govern what’s right and wrong.

The term melodrama has a bad rap as a description for films that are overwrought or sentimental. However, consider how the term “melos,” a Greek word for “music,” links with drama and becomes a word that captures the way sweeping scores and evocative musical soundtracks work in films that spark deep emotions. It’s a drama if it evokes powerful emotions across subjects such as law and order in Westerns, courtroom plots, or gangster narratives. Dramatic themes also show up in animated children’s films, classic romances, and dark histories.

If it puts knots in the belly, makes skin crawl, sets off fireworks, or gets the waterworks flowing, it’s a movie that’s indulging in drama in the most pleasurable sense. Drama undergirds suspense and fear, and it’s the element that makes the audience identify with characters. Dramas inspire empathy as well as critical thinking.

In March 2020, Stacker examined data from 5,000 top drama movies to come up with a Stacker score—a weighted index compiled from looking at ranked films on IMDb and Metacritic data. Ties were broken by whichever had the higher Metascore, and further ties were broken by whichever had more IMDb votes. If a movie did not have a Metascore, it was not considered. Every film on the list has been considered according to the cinematic history and development of drama. Here are the top 100 films that are guaranteed to move you.

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The Ladd Company

#100. ‘The Right Stuff’ (1983)

- Director: Philip Kaufman
- Stacker score: 88
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Run time: 193 min.

“The Right Stuff” offers a NASA space program origin story filled with rousing, emotional melodrama about the brave men who were there at the beginning. Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Dennis Quaid, and Ed Harris make up the ensemble cast of heroic renegades with the guts to face danger. With a three-hour running time, it was a box office flop, despite strong critical acclaim and a best picture Oscar nomination in recognition of the stirring flight sequences that merge with an art house vibe.

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Universal Pictures

#99. ‘Frankenstein’ (1931)

- Director: James Whale
- Stacker score: 88
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Run time: 70 min.

James Whale directs this classic horror film that introduced two of cinema’s most influential monsters—both the reanimated creature and the mad scientist who creates him. Despite its dark horror style, “Frankenstein” dramatizes human experience through its tragic story of anguish and revenge. Boris Karloff as The Monster inspires both terror and empathy in audiences.

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Walter Wanger Productions

#98. ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ (1956)

- Director: Don Siegel
- Stacker score: 88
- Metascore: 92
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Run time: 80 min.

This is a searing drama on social paranoia under the atomic era. Don Siegel directs what’s widely seen as a treatise about Cold War fears through a story about alien pods that morph into human replicas. Spawning several remakes, the original pod people are still a metaphor for anxieties about who can and can’t be trusted.

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Fox Searchlight Pictures

#97. ‘Sideways’ (2004)

- Director: Alexander Payne
- Stacker score: 88
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Run time: 127 min.

Paul Giamatti plays a dejected, middle-aged writer who embarks on a wine-tasting road trip with his womanizing buddy (Thomas Haden Church), who longs for a last hurrah before his upcoming marriage. Director Alexander Payne captures both the hilarity and tragedy of the pair’s adventures that make for lovelorn disasters. Wine culture and the snobbery of connoisseurs provide a backdrop for a film about finally facing reality.

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Columbia Pictures

#96. ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ (2012)

- Director: Kathryn Bigelow
- Stacker score: 88
- Metascore: 95
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Run time: 157 min.

Kathryn Bigelow infuses the takedown story of Osama bin Laden with slow-burning suspense and stylish visuals. Thriller intrigue and various international danger zones provide the setting for Jessica Chastain, who portrays CIA agent Maya as she relentlessly pursues her target over a decade. “Zero Dark Thirty” presents torture, murder, and mayhem with cool detachment within its true-account realism.

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Warner Bros.

#95. ‘Mean Streets’ (1973)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Stacker score: 88
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Run time: 112 min.

With “Mean Streets,” Martin Scorsese emerged as a vibrant new director in American cinema. Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel, as young mobsters, became recurring subjects in Scorsese’s oeuvre of gritty crime dramas where emotions erupt amid stylized crime and violence.

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Paramount Pictures

#94. ‘Forrest Gump’ (1994)

- Director: Robert Zemeckis
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Run time: 142 min.

Tom Hanks won the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Forrest Gump, a cultural and political catalyst. Gump stole audiences’ hearts with his innocent adage about life being "like a box of chocolates,” as he influenced everything from Elvis Presley’s signature dance moves to Vietnam War heroics. The film was known for its computer-generated imagery (CGI) editing that merged real historical footage with Gump in action.

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Fantasy Films

#93. ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest’ (1975)

- Director: Milos Forman
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Run time: 133 min.

Jack Nicholson starred as a counterculture rebel in this adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel set in a mental hospital. The film is about questioning authority and rebelling against convention. The harsh regime is epitomized by an evil nurse who doesn’t nurture, played by Louise Fletcher. The bittersweet ending merges uplift with tragedy because breaking free isn’t an option for everyone.

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Warner Bros.

#92. ‘The Departed’ (2006)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Run time: 151 min.

The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” plays over the opening sequence, showing director Martin Scorsese’s knack for combining images with a soundtrack to create mood and a sense of time and place. “The Departed” follows two new police recruits in a game of cat and mouse as each works for opposing sides. Leonardo DiCaprio’s cop aims to root out corruption, while Matt Damon’s works for a brutal mobster played with gusto by Jack Nicholson.

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Faces

#91. ‘A Woman Under the Influence’ (1974)

- Director: John Cassavetes
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Run time: 155 min.

John Cassavetes wrote and directed his wife Gena Rowlands in this examination of mental illness and how it affects families. The film was released independently, but gained acclaim for its gritty realism, as it explores domestic turbulence within a family in crisis. Rowlands’ performance of a woman with depression and anxiety is considered one of the great screen performances by an actress.

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Pakula-Mulligan

#90. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (1962)

- Director: Robert Mulligan
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Run time: 129 min.

Atticus Finch stands as one of the most influential characters in cinema. Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of the most popular of all-time, and the film adaptation continues to inspire, with Finch as the moral center of an unjust trial in a racist town. The film is beloved despite its white savior plot that raises a white hero above a Black victim.

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Blueprint Pictures

#89. ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ (2017)

- Director: Martin McDonagh
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Run time: 115 min.

Frances McDormand’s Oscar-winning performance carries this drama about a grieving mother longing for justice. The billboards in the title become a source of black humor. They shame a police chief who’s failed to solve a rape and murder, even as they display the complexities of a woman’s unrelenting rage.

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Peregrine

#88. ‘Barry Lyndon’ (1975)

- Director: Stanley Kubrick
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Run time: 185 min.

Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel presents staid 1770s European culture in sumptuous period detail. The slow pace and meticulous production offer a critique of social mores that crush the individual spirit. Ryan O’Neal plays the title role in what’s regarded as one of Kubrick’s lesser-known masterpieces.

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Rossen Films

#87. ‘The Hustler’ (1961)

- Director: Robert Rossen
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Run time: 134 min.

Paul Newman plays the iconic pool shark “Fast Eddie” in this film about the grim side of the drive to win. Newman won his first and only Best Actor Oscar for reprising the role in the 1986 sequel “The Color of Money.” “The Hustler” delves into the thrills and risks of gambling, showing a perverted world where love won’t survive.

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2.4.7. Films

#86. ‘Persepolis’ (2007)

- Directors: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Run time: 96 min.

Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud co-wrote and co-directed this animated film adapted from Satrapi’s autobiography about growing up during the Iranian Revolution. The film follows the graphic novel style of her book, bringing it to life with layered compositions and striking imagery that capture the experience of coming-of-age in an oppressive regime.

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WIP

#85. ‘Before Sunset’ (2004)

- Director: Richard Linklater
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Run time: 80 min.

This second chapter to “Before Sunrise” returns to Jesse and Céline, played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, as they meet up nine years after their time in Vienna in 1994. This innovative sequel aligns with their real-time separation and follows the two through more conversations as an impending plane departure adds to the tension. Director Richard Linklater co-wrote the screenplay with the lead actors in a drama that explores idealized love confronted with reality.

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Annapurna Pictures

#84. ‘Her’ (2013)

- Director: Spike Jonze
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Run time: 126 min.

Spike Jonze wrote and directed this futuristic drama about a man who falls in love with a machine. The film examines human relationships in the digital age through questions of what counts as love and relationships. Scarlett Johansson voices the artificial intelligence assistant, and Joaquin Phoenix plays the awkward introvert who falls in love with“her.”

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Twentieth Century Fox

#83. ‘Patton’ (1970)

- Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Run time: 172 min.

George C. Scott famously refused to accept his Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of the famous general in this acclaimed biopic. In the iconic opening sequence, the larger-than-life Patton stands before a giant American flag. It’s a war film lauded for defying easy platitudes and presenting the general with human contradiction that’s captured in Scott’s much-praised performance.

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Mercury Productions

#82. ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’ (1942)

- Director: Orson Welles
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Run time: 88 min.

Orson Welles’ follow-up to “Citizen Kane” is considered just as innovative, though it lives in the shadow of the earlier masterpiece. Post-production was marred by a studio recut, but critics still find this film—about a turn-of-the-century Midwestern family—imbued with the young director’s signature stylistic genius, as evident in riveting performances and often dazzling cinematography.

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Strong Heart/Demme Production

#81. ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ (1991)

- Director: Jonathan Demme
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Run time: 118 min.

“The Silence of the Lambs” is the rare horror film to gain widespread critical acclaim including the Best Picture Oscar. Anthony Hopkins, cast against type, gives a chilling performance as Hannibal Lector, a methodical serial killer. Jodie Foster, as the agent who consults him to catch an equally deviant murderer, acts as a stand-in for viewers who are both horrified and fascinated.

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AMLF

#80. ‘Amadeus’ (1984)

- Director: Milos Forman
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Run time: 160 min.

“Amadeus” is a film about the allure of genius and the agonies suffered by those who recognize it but fall short of recreating it. Tom Hulce gives a bravado performance as the madcap virtuoso Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar along with his co-star F. Murray Abraham, as the back-stabbing rival who is consumed with envy. Abraham won.

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Chartoff-Winkler Productions

#79. ‘Raging Bull’ (1980)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Run time: 129 min.

In his award-winning performance, Robert De Niro transformed into real life boxer Jake LaMotta in Martin Scorsese’s melodrama about rage. The boxing ring can’t contain LaMotta’s explosive nature, and it spills into the fighter’s most intimate relationships. The film is also lauded for its striking black-and-white cinematography and vivid film style.

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MGM

#78. ‘Ben-Hur’ (1959)

- Director: William Wyler
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Run time: 212 min.

“Ben-Hur” is the quintessential sword-and-sandal Hollywood epic, filmed in wide-screen Technicolor and known for its impressive action sequences, including the iconic chariot race. It still holds the record—in a three-way tie—for most Oscar wins with a total of 11. Charlton Heston plays the heroic title character whose human conflicts play out against the spectacular backdrop.

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Paramount Pictures

#77. ‘The Truman Show’ (1998)

- Director: Peter Weir
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Run time: 103 min.

The premise of Peter Weir’s enthralling drama—that one’s life could be a television show without their knowledge—premiered just before the reality TV boom, and before the digital age made cameras ubiquitous. Jim Carrey stars, in one of his first dramatic roles, as a man who discovers his entire universe is a partially scripted production filled with actors and extras.

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Universal Pictures

#76. ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ (1930)

- Director: Lewis Milestone
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Run time: 136 min.

“All Quiet on the Western Front” was a technical feat in the early sound era, but it's better known for its scathing anti-war themes. Combat action scenes present shocking violence and the film’s emotional heart tethers to the soldier Paul, portrayed by Lew Ayres, as he becomes disillusioned by the grueling realities of war and the patriotism that obscures the truth. The final sequence is one of the most heartbreaking of all time.

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Columbia Pictures

#75. ‘Little Women’ (2019)

- Director: Greta Gerwig
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Run time: 135 min.

Greta Gerwig wrote and directed the latest cinematic adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel, set in Civil War era Massachusetts and focused on the March sisters. Gerwig’s visually lavish update uses a nonlinear structure as it examines the women’s roles, and the ways each sister negotiates and upends the demands of courtship and career in a culture that confines them.

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40 Acres & a Mule Filmworks

#74. ‘Do the Right Thing’ (1989)

- Director: Spike Lee
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 92
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Run time: 120 min.

“Do the Right Thing” premiered in 1989 as a cultural catalyst, inciting conversations on race and power that remain relevant today. Spike Lee uses a vibrant visual style that merges realistic cityscapes with expressionistic color and framing. Use of direct address—when characters spoke directly to the camera—created an intensity that shook audiences and made the drama immediate and inescapable.

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Warner Bros.

#73. ‘Badlands’ (1973)

- Director: Terrence Malick
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Run time: 94 min.

Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen played teenagers on a crime spree—a nouveau Bonnie and Clyde and precursors to other outlaw couples in road trip movies. Director Terrence Malick’s debut gives the true life story a stark beauty that mixes with unsettling violence. “Badlands” is still considered a visual masterpiece that disrupts notions of the pure American heartland.

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Philip D'Antoni Productions

#72. ‘The French Connection’ (1971)

- Director: William Friedkin
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Run time: 104 min.

“The French Connection” ushered in a more realistic, gritty, and cynical film style around drug narrative police films. Gene Hackman, as Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, plays an overtly racist, brutish detective who partners with Buddy Russo, played by Roy Scheider. The iconic car chase scene displays technical bravado in its presentation of scary, but exciting kinetic action interspersed with random human casualty.

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Voltage Pictures

#71. ‘The Hurt Locker’ (2008)

- Director: Kathryn Bigelow
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 95
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Run time: 131 min.

Kathryn Bigelow is still the first and only woman to win the Best Director Oscar—and “The Hurt Locker” also won Best Picture. Set in Iraq, Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie star as soldiers tasked with deactivating improvised explosive devices. Bomb disposal scenes capture the suspense of a ticking countdown, and a similar threat lingers even in the quieter moments of the men who must face such danger.

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Universal Pictures

#70. ‘American Graffiti’ (1973)

- Director: George Lucas
- Stacker score: 89
- Metascore: 97
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Run time: 110 min.

Before “Star Wars,” George Lucas wrote and directed “American Graffiti,” a dramatic deep dive into the baby boomer generation as teenagers during a summer night in 1962. The film delves into nostalgia for 1950s car culture, rock music, and the peace period before a much more riotous late 1960s. Many in the ensemble cast would go on to major celebrity, notably Harrison Ford, Ron Howard, and Richard Dreyfuss.

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Focus Features

#69. ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ (2004)

- Director: Michel Gondry
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Run time: 108 min.

Charlie Kaufman wrote the screenplay for this oddly moving, surrealist romance based on the sci-fi premise of memory erasure. Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey play a couple who erase harsh memories after their break-up. Dreamlike scenes explore the madcap psychology of love and loss and ultimately endorse romance despite cynicism and chaos.

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Regency Enterprises

#68. ‘L.A. Confidential’ (1997)

- Director: Curtis Hanson
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Run time: 138 min.

This stylish police procedural updates the film noir—a genre that expose the dark underbelly of glitz and the corruption beneath law and order. The ensemble cast of Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger, James Cromwell, and Danny DeVito perform in this classic noir plotline where darkness seduces and no one’s morals make it out unscathed.

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Horizon Pictures

#67. ‘On the Waterfront’ (1954)

- Director: Elia Kazan
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Run time: 108 min.

Marlon Brando’s famous “I coulda been a contender” speech displayed the technique of method acting, which was naturalistic and seemed unrehearsed. In “On the Waterfront,” Brando gives an iconic, Oscar-winning performance as a dock worker and boxer who throws a match, then blames his own corruption on the culture of mob crime no one can escape.

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Jalem Productions

#66. ‘Cool Hand Luke’ (1967)

- Director: Stuart Rosenberg
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Run time: 127 min.

“Cool Hand Luke” is one of the most influential prison dramas—films that often present ideas around the caging of the human spirit as a thematic conflict. Paul Newman portrays a charismatic hero, a prisoner infused with an unshakeable rebellion in the face of relentlessly oppressive authority.

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Paramount Vantage

#65. ‘No Country for Old Men’ (2007)

- Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Run time: 122 min.

The Coen brothers’ icy meditation on pervasive evil is adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s novel. This acclaimed film returns to the Coen’s frequent themes around greed, crime, and absurdity. Tommy Lee Jones plays a neo-Western sheriff, and Javier Bardem is the enigmatic villain Chigurh.

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The Samuel Goldwyn Company

#64. ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’ (1946)

- Director: William Wyler
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 92
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Run time: 170 min.

William Wyler directed this definitive post-World War II drama about soldiers who return home to small-town life. One of the men was played by real-life veteran Harold Russell, a non-professional actor who lost both hands in the war. He won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, in addition to an honorary award, for his realistic performance of a man in crisis.

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Pathé Renn Productions

#63. ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ (2007)

- Director: Julian Schnabel
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 92
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Run time: 112 min.

Based on a best-selling autobiography, the film tells the story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, whose movement was severely limited after a stroke. Like the book, the film captures Bauby’s experience of paralysis as it exists alongside his newly limited, but expansive sensory world. The film evokes memory and imagination through its focus on details that move toward hope and beauty.

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Walter Wanger Productions

#62. ‘Stagecoach’ (1939)

- Director: John Ford
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Run time: 96 min.

John Wayne shot to stardom as Ringo Kid, an escaped convict bent on vengeance, who’s one of the passengers in a stagecoach journey across dangerous land. John Ford’s classic Western sets up stark binaries between good and bad and then forces the audience to face the flaws in each. The film employs the standard racist tropes of the time that present Native Americans as hapless savages who the white men of the cavalry easily defeat.

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Paramount Pictures

#61. ‘Days of Heaven’ (1978)

- Director: Terrence Malick
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Run time: 94 min.

Terrence Malick’s second film is regarded as a masterpiece, continuing his interest in affective, somber cinematography that revels in the natural environment and intimate human moments. Malick’s auteurist tendencies belie narrative convention in favor of a poetic visual style that seems to meander as it draws viewers into a love triangle on a 1916 farm.

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Columbia Pictures

#60. ‘The Social Network’ (2010)

- Director: David Fincher
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 95
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Run time: 120 min.

Jesse Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerberg in this drama about the invention of Facebook. Aaron Sorkin won an Oscar for adapting the book “The Accidental Billionaires” into a screenplay filled with his signature dialogue—snappy comebacks and long diatribes that prove which characters are the smartest in the room. Director David Fincher centers the story on broken relationships and the social pain that fuels ruthless ambition.

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Castle Rock Entertainment

#59. ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ (1994)

- Director: Frank Darabont
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 80
- IMDb user rating: 9.3
- Run time: 142 min.

The drama in Shawshank prison moves between moments of horrific violence and heartwarming boosts. Morgan Freeman plays Red, the inmate who befriends Andy (Tim Robbins) and their bond grows across harrowing decades, each pulled by the hope of freedom and the promise of a life uncaged.

44/
Bold Films

#58. ‘Whiplash’ (2014)

- Director: Damien Chazelle
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Run time: 106 min.

J.K. Simmons won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of a relentlessly brutal music teacher with a standard of perfection that can’t be reached. Miles Teller plays a new drum student with an ambition and drive that can’t be tamped down. The two clash. Set in the world of jazz bands, “Whiplash” offers a drama about the abusive tactics that can nonetheless drive virtuoso achievement.

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Walt Disney Pictures

#57. ‘The Lion King’ (1994)

- Directors: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Run time: 88 min.

“The Lion King” may be the definitive film of millennial childhood, as a hugely popular theatrical release that also made the rounds on video. The animated film redoes a universal hero’s journey about losing a father and forging an identity in harsh terrain. Though animated, it’s known for being an emotional tear-jerker.

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Bitter Films

#56. ‘It's Such a Beautiful Day’ (2012)

- Director: Don Hertzfeldt
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Run time: 62 min.

Don Hertzfeldt combines three short animated vignettes into one hourlong film to create a feature that’s hilarious and oddly affecting, though it’s centered on a stick figure named Bill. Hertzfeldt captures the existential dread within contemporary existence and the ironic grandeur of the everyday.

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Hemdale

#55. ‘Platoon’ (1986)

- Director: Oliver Stone
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 92
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Run time: 120 min.

Oliver Stone’s “Platoon” presented an open critique of the Vietnam War as irrational and corrupt. Charlie Sheen plays a privileged enlistee driven by a sense of patriotic duty that soon tests his own humanity as he becomes as violent and brutal as the world around him.

48/
Columbia Pictures

#54. ‘The Last Picture Show’ (1971)

- Director: Peter Bogdanovich
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Run time: 118 min.

Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd star in Peter Bogdanovich’s acclaimed black-and-white ode to small town life known for its evocative compositions and classical film style. The "last picture show" in the title is the Western “Red River,” dramatizing the end of the classic movie era with restrained nostalgia about fleeting youth and a bygone times.

49/
Heyday Films

#53. ‘Marriage Story’ (2019)

- Director: Noah Baumbach
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Run time: 137 min.

The intensity of the lead performances adds an all too relatable anguish to this divorce drama. Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver play creatives—she’s an actress and he’s a playwright—who embark on a blistering split. Laura Dern won Best Supporting Actress for her role as a stealthy attorney who goes for the jugular with ease.

50/
Summit Entertainment

#52. ‘La La Land’ (2016)

- Director: Damien Chazelle
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Run time: 128 min.

Damien Chazelle revamped the classic Hollywood musical with this hit set in modern Tinseltown. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling brought star power to this romantic tale that casts a nostalgic eye at bittersweet love. “La La Land” transforms iconic Los Angeles landmarks into set pieces that make this film a love letter to the city and the industry.

51/
M.C. Productions

#51. ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ (1962)

- Director: John Frankenheimer
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Run time: 126 min.

Angela Lansbury plays the ultimate femme fatale as a mother bent on control in this biting film noir. “The Manchurian Candidate” plays into fears around the Cold War by making threats intimate and familial. It’s a chilling thriller with a much darker emotional punch than the usual spy intrigue.

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52/
C.V. Whitney Pictures

#50. ‘The Searchers’ (1956)

- Director: John Ford
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Run time: 119 min.

John Ford and John Wayne team up again in this film known for its influential visual style, one that defines both the Western landscape and the hero within it. Filmed in Monument Valley, the sweeping story captures iconic American terrain and dramatizes fears around miscegenation after a young white girl, played by Natalie Wood, is taken by Native Americans.

53/
Faliro House Productions

#49. ‘Before Midnight’ (2013)

- Director: Richard Linklater
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Run time: 109 min.

Actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy co-wrote the third installment of Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy, which focuses on an American man and French woman and their love story across the years. “Before Midnight” comes nine years after the previous sequel, and uses techniques like long takes and naturalistic dialogue to present the nuances of love and relationship throughout time.

54/
Tribeca Productions

#48. ‘The Irishman’ (2019)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Run time: 209 min.

Martin Scorsese’s epic mob drama was released on Netflix after its smaller awards circuit theatrical run. Scorsese returns to gangster terrain, offering a take on what happened to Jimmy Hoffa, played by Al Pacino. Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci are in fine form as lifetime criminals, with De Niro as an aging hit man reviewing his actions at the end of life.

55/
Syncopy

#47. ‘Dunkirk’ (2017)

- Director: Christopher Nolan
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Run time: 106 min.

“Dunkirk” braids three timelines across the same day to dramatize the catastrophic events during the battle of Dunkirk. Tom Hardy is in the air as a fighter pilot, with former boy band star Harry Styles in his acting debut as an infantryman on the ground. The large ensemble cast recreates the harrowing events and impossible odds of getting away.

56/
Warner Bros.

#46. ‘My Fair Lady’ (1964)

- Director: George Cukor
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 95
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Run time: 170 min.

Audrey Hepburn’s singing voice was dubbed in the cinematic adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. Rex Harrison plays the man who trains Eliza Doolittle to speak well in order to hide her true station. The film examines class status and the emotional bond between the woman and her tormenting teacher, which dances around romance.

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57/
ABC Entertainment

#45. ‘Nashville’ (1975)

- Director: Robert Altman
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Run time: 160 min.

Director Robert Altman was a major player in the New Hollywood cinema of the early 1970s, and his ensemble drama “Nashville” is regarded as his masterpiece. Altman weaves multiple storylines set in the world of country music that build to a violent climax. He uses a faux-documentary style to create a satirical look at American culture filled with an underlying bite.

58/
Esperanto Filmoj

#44. ‘Roma’ (2018)

- Director: Alfonso Cuarón
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Run time: 135 min.

Alfonso Cuarón wrote and directed this loosely autobiographical drama based on his own childhood. He cast Yalitza Aparicio in her first acting role as Cleo, a housekeeper, pregnant and unwed in 1970 Mexico City. Cuarón’s style merges intimate scenes of emotional havoc within the larger context of political unrest.

59/
Warner Bros.

#43. ‘Gravity’ (2013)

- Director: Alfonso Cuarón
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Run time: 91 min.

Sandra Bullock carries the suspense-driven “Gravity,” as the single surviving astronaut caught in a harrowing disaster in space. Though co-star George Clooney makes appearances, the film centers on the isolation of a woman forced to face her tragic past and either succumb or work to survive. “Gravity” offers a meditation on the limits of technology and universal fears about being totally alone.

60/
A24

#42. ‘Moonlight’ (2016)

- Director: Barry Jenkins
- Stacker score: 90
- Metascore: 99
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Run time: 111 min.

Barry Jenkins creates a distinct and original visual poetry in his intimate coming-of-age drama about a boy growing up in Miami. The narrative follows Chiron as a child, teenager, and young adult as he grapples with his identity amid the harshest of circumstances. Jenkins offers a complex portrait of Black, gay masculinity within a culture bent on betrayal and injustice.

61/
Warner Bros.

#41. ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008)

- Director: Christopher Nolan
- Stacker score: 91
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 9.0
- Run time: 152 min.

“The Dark Knight” features a shadow-filled and stylish production design, which captures its bleak and fatalistic themes, linking comic book subjects with philosophical brooding. Critics found Heath Ledger’s performance as Joker a work of genius. The late actor received a posthumous Best Supporting Actor Oscar for an influential, scene-stealing role that captured the cultural longing for angst-driven mayhem.

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62/
New Line Cinema

#40. ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ (2002)

- Director: Peter Jackson
- Stacker score: 91
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Run time: 179 min.

Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy brings large scale, spellbinding spectacle intercut with characters pushed to extremes. The second installment is known for showcasing the CGI creature Gollum, played by Andy Serkis, who epitomizes the dangers of obsession. Battle sequences are widescreen wonders with sweeping movement that put the audience in the middle of the action.

63/
Paramount Pictures

#39. ‘Chinatown’ (1974)

- Director: Roman Polanski
- Stacker score: 91
- Metascore: 92
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Run time: 130 min.

Roman Polanski directed this neo-noir, influenced by the style of thrillers from the 1940s and 1950s. Jack Nicholson plays a private investigator pulled further into the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles. The ending revelation shocks by making the overarching corruption an intimate terror with no escape hatch.

64/
Participant

#38. ‘Spotlight’ (2015)

- Director: Tom McCarthy
- Stacker score: 91
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Run time: 129 min.

“Spotlight” was a surprise Best Picture Oscar winner after Alejandro G. Iñárritu won Best Director for “The Revenant.” An ensemble cast, including Best Supporting Actor and Actress nominees Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams, stars as part of the team of journalists who broke the true story of child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in Boston. The drama unfolds by taking the audience on an investigation fueled by emotional shocks.

65/
Amazon Studios

#37. ‘Manchester by the Sea’ (2016)

- Director: Kenneth Lonergan
- Stacker score: 91
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Run time: 137 min.

Casey Affleck won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance as a working class father who loses everything and must return to the seaside town he’d prefer to leave behind. Critics praised the film for its everyday realism and naturalistic performances. Michelle Williams also stars in the film that mixes hard-won moments of peace with heartbreaking anguish.

66/
Liberty Films (II)

#36. ‘It's a Wonderful Life’ (1946)

- Director: Frank Capra
- Stacker score: 91
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Run time: 130 min.

Frank Capra’s sentimental take on alternate realities wasn’t a hit when it premiered in theaters in 1946. Once released on television, it became a traditional family re-watch every holiday season. Jimmy Stewart, as an everyman who’s given a second chance to appreciate the good things in life, gives a performance that captures fears of losing that’s precious and then offers a sweet relief happy ending.

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67/
Paramount Vantage

#35. ‘There Will Be Blood’ (2007)

- Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
- Stacker score: 91
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Run time: 158 min.

Paul Thomas Anderson depicts American economic conquest and cynical capitalist values in this film set within the turn-of-the-century oil industry. Daniel Day-Lewis infuses his oil tycoon with a ruthless intensity in this drama about the ways those with power prey upon the weak.

68/
John Ford Productions

#34. ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ (1962)

- Director: John Ford
- Stacker score: 91
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Run time: 123 min.

John Ford’s late-career Western pairs Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne, each actor bringing the weight of their star power to their roles. The film critiques the power that comes with heroism by questioning the ways masculine myths are made. The drama centers on a legend that’s far from fact, but politically powerful just the same.

69/
Otto Preminger Films

#33. ‘Anatomy of a Murder’ (1959)

- Director: Otto Preminger
- Stacker score: 91
- Metascore: 95
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Run time: 161 min.

The courtroom melodrama is a staple of American cinema, and director Otto Preminger’s nearly three-hour trial film gives a rapt audience the vicarious thrills of acting as judge and jury. During its release in 1959, the film had a scandalous subject—murder as revenge for rape—presented in what seemed graphic detail. Jimmy Stewart goes against type as defense attorney who will do what it takes to win.

70/
Pixar Animation Studios

#32. ‘Inside Out’ (2015)

- Directors: Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
- Stacker score: 92
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Run time: 95 min.

Stunning visuals turn inner psychology into colorful dreamscapes in this original and poetic animated film that appeals to children and adults. “Inside Out” personifies emotions, making Anger, Disgust, Fear, Sadness and Joy relatable characters. The uplifting animated film also tackles deep loss as shown when memories inevitably fade.

71/
Twentieth Century Fox

#31. ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ (1940)

- Director: John Ford
- Stacker score: 92
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Run time: 129 min.

This adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic novel offers a searing look at a family caught in the turmoil of the Great Depression. Director John Ford is better known for his rousing Westerns, but “The Grapes of Wrath” is a quiet masterpiece that uses melodrama and stark black-and-white compositions to depict extremes of poverty and injustice in migrant communities. Henry Fonda plays Tom, a man caught in a desperate system who vows to fight the power, giving the film’s social justice themes contemporary resonance.

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72/
William Castle Productions

#30. ‘Rosemary's Baby’ (1968)

- Director: Roman Polanski
- Stacker score: 92
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Run time: 137 min.

Roman Polanski’s horror film centers on domestic, maternal fears about parenthood, presenting existential dread surrounding women’s roles. Mia Farrow plays the woman who is unwittingly embroiled in a nefarious cult after befriending her neighbors.

73/
Walt Disney Pictures

#29. ‘Ratatouille’ (2007)

- Director: Brad Bird
- Stacker score: 92
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Run time: 111 min.

Patton Oswalt gives voice to Remy, a rat who dreams of being a famous chef in this delightful animated Pixar film that shows the power of working together. Kids love “Ratatouille,” but the grown-ups in the audience are swept up in a story about artists. Remy and his partner face criticism and find the passion to keep going.

74/
Warner Bros.

#28. ‘Goodfellas’ (1990)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Stacker score: 92
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Run time: 146 min.

Virtuoso cinematography and dazzling film techniques give Martin Scorsese’s epic about gangster life jolts of beauty and humor despite the seamy criminality it depicts. Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci join Scorsese regular Robert De Niro as wise guy mafiosos in this true story about the limits of loyalty.

75/
DreamWorks

#27. ‘Saving Private Ryan’ (1998)

- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Stacker score: 92
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Run time: 169 min.

“Saving Private Ryan” redefined the war film with its harrowing opening battle sequence of troops storming the beach on D-Day in 1944. Director Steven Spielberg and cinematographer Janusz Kamiński captured the visceral elements of combat with desaturated film stock and a hand-held camera indifferent to the chaos of death and suffering. Matt Damon starred as Private Ryan, a soldier who needs to go home, with Tom Hanks as the sensitive English teacher turned army captain.

76/
The Mirisch Corporation

#26. ‘The Apartment’ (1960)

- Director: Billy Wilder
- Stacker score: 92
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Run time: 125 min.

Billy Wilder directed this classic romance that sizzles with an undercurrent of heartache and dread. There’s spark for the lovebirds played by Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon, but they’re both caught in a seedy city where love seems impossible. Lemmon plays a junior exec who rents out his apartment as a love nest to higher-ups, and MacLaine plays an elevator operator caught in the fray.

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77/
Columbia Pictures

#25. ‘Taxi Driver’ (1976)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Stacker score: 92
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Run time: 114 min.

“Taxi Driver” centers on the psychotic vigilante Travis Bickle. Robert De Niro captures the character’s unpredictable insanity as he descends into violence. Martin Scorsese’s thriller also stars Jodie Foster as a child prostitute and presents New York City as the gritty backdrop for Bickle’s schemes of revenge that enact the very brutality he rails against.

78/
Regency Enterprises

#24. ‘12 Years a Slave’ (2013)

- Director: Steve McQueen
- Stacker score: 92
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Run time: 134 min.

Steve McQueen’s Best Picture Oscar winner adapts the true story of Solomon Northrup, a free Black man kidnapped and sold into slavery during the 1800s. The film depicts unbearable violence and irrational injustice that make up the horrors of slavery. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Northrup, who, though free by the film’s conclusion, endures tortures that belie a happy ending or offer the audience relief over the true history of which they’ve witnessed a mere glimpse.

79/
Charles K. Feldman Group

#23. ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ (1951)

- Director: Elia Kazan
- Stacker score: 92
- Metascore: 97
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Run time: 122 min.

Elia Kazan’s adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ Southern Gothic play offered a coda to romantic notions of femininity. Vivien Leigh plays another Southern belle, but this time, as Blanche DuBois, she’s vulnerable and her feminine wiles seem less a source of power than a cruel charade. Marlon Brando’s famous “Stella” wail became an iconic expression of masculine anguish.

80/
Triangle Film Corporation

#22. ‘Intolerance’ (1916)

- Director: D.W. Griffith
- Stacker score: 92
- Metascore: 99
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Run time: 197 min.

Premiering the year after his openly racist “The Birth of a Nation,” D.W. Griffith’s “Intolerance” was an ambitious epic featuring enormous set pieces and four separate storylines. The silent film’s editing techniques became hugely influential for later uses of jump cuts and montage. “Intolerance” displays Griffith’s interest in sentimental, universalized themes about humanity.

81/
Zoetrope

#21. ‘Apocalypse Now’ (1979)

- Director: Francis Ford Coppola
- Stacker score: 93
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Run time: 147 min.

Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” takes the adage “war is hell” to hallucinatory and brutal extremes. This Vietnam War film is widely considered a masterpiece despite numerous versions and documented chaos during production. “Apocalypse Now” offers a cinematic rendition of the insanity of the era and events it depicts.

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82/
Paramount Pictures

#20. ‘Double Indemnity’ (1944)

- Director: Billy Wilder
- Stacker score: 93
- Metascore: 95
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Run time: 107 min.

Billy Wilder’s sinister film noir dramatizes insurance fraud and murder, but the real story is drivien by the seduction of crime itself. Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray star as a married woman and insurance salesman who team up in this cynical thriller that revels in criminality and roots for the couple to get away with it.

83/
Selznick International Pictures

#19. ‘Gone with the Wind’ (1939)

- Director: Victor Fleming
- Stacker score: 93
- Metascore: 97
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Run time: 238 min.

One of the most popular movies of all time takes place during the Civil War and Reconstruction, focusing on white Southerners whose plantations and way of life are gone with the wind. Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable have fiery charisma as Scarlett and Rhett. Hattie McDaniel, as Mammy, became the first Black actor to win an Academy Award, though she was forced to sit in the back of the award venue, echoing the institutional racism romanticized in the film and undergirding the film industry at the time.

84/
Paul Gregory Productions

#18. ‘The Night of the Hunter’ (1955)

- Director: Charles Laughton
- Stacker score: 93
- Metascore: 99
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Run time: 92 min.

Robert Mitchum plays a murderous psychopath posing as a preacher who preys on a widow, played by Shelley Winters, and her children in this slow-burning thriller. In one iconic scene, given homage in Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” the preacher tells the tale of good and evil with the love and hate tattoos on his fingers that signal the dark side in everyone.

85/
UI

#17. ‘Touch of Evil’ (1958)

- Director: Orson Welles
- Stacker score: 93
- Metascore: 99
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Run time: 95 min.

The white movie star Charlton Heston plays a Mexican man in the classic noir “Touch of Evil,” his hair and face makeup effectively “brownface,” while Latino actors in smaller roles conform to racial stereotypes. “Touch of Evil” is considered one of Orson Welles’ masterpieces, known for its inventive opening extended take, more than three minutes of a roving crane shot following a car with a bomb in the trunk through city streets crowded with pedestrians.

86/
RKO Radio Pictures

#16. ‘Notorious’ (1946)

- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- Stacker score: 93
- Metascore: 100
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Run time: 102 min.

Alfred Hitchcock’s mastery of suspense goes full tilt in the spy drama “Notorious.” Cary Grant plays an agent who falls for his mole, played by Ingrid Bergman. Their thwarted love story overlays the plot about uncovering Nazis, but romance itself seems just as dark and twisted by the end.

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87/
IFC Productions

#15. ‘Boyhood’ (2014)

- Director: Richard Linklater
- Stacker score: 93
- Metascore: 100
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Run time: 165 min.

Richard Linklater filmed “Boyhood” across 12 years, using the same actors to capture the experience of growing up. Ellar Coltrone plays the boy at the center of the film—he was six when filming began—with Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as his parents. Linklater wrote the script across the years as well, producing an experiment that allows audiences to see actors’ shifts in time without CGI or casting different actors for different stages of life.

88/
Paramount Pictures

#14. ‘The Godfather: Part II’ (1974)

- Director: Francis Ford Coppola
- Stacker score: 94
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 9.0
- Run time: 202 min.

“The Godfather: Part II” is that rare sequel considered on par with the original. Francis Ford Coppola returns to the Corleone family, this time in the Godfather’s youth, to explore how a man becomes a criminal titan. Robert De Niro plays young Vito who confronts and accepts the price of being a mobster.

89/
New Line Cinema

#13. ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ (2001)

- Director: Peter Jackson
- Stacker score: 94
- Metascore: 92
- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Run time: 178 min.

The first chapter of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy wowed audiences with technical bravado. Special effects merged with intensive location set pieces on a spectacular scale. J.R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth comes to life with vivid detail and sweeping shots of the fantasy world.

90/
Warner Bros.

#12. ‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre’ (1948)

- Director: John Huston
- Stacker score: 94
- Metascore: 98
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Run time: 126 min.

In John Huston’s “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” Humphrey Bogart and Tim Holt play down-and-out Americans looking for work in Mexico during the 1920s. It’s an adventure classic that teaches a somber lesson about get-rich-quick schemes that’s filled with bitter irony around lost gold.

91/
Twentieth Century Fox

#11. ‘All About Eve’ (1950)

- Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
- Stacker score: 94
- Metascore: 98
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Run time: 138 min.

Bette Davis steals scenes in this slick melodrama about competition between women. “All About Eve” still holds the record for most Academy Award nominations, in a tie with 14 total. The film is famous for its acerbic dialogue, including Davis’ iconic line, “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

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92/
Charles Chaplin Productions

#10. ‘Modern Times’ (1936)

- Director: Charlie Chaplin
- Stacker score: 94
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Run time: 87 min.

“Modern Times” emblematizes the Great Depression through the Tramp character (Charlie Chaplin), caught in the bureaucracies and factories of an unfair, industrialized world. In one iconic scene, the Tramp gets swallowed by a production line machine and ends up as a literal cog rolling through machinery that dwarfs his vulnerable body.

93/
Norma Productions

#9. ‘Sweet Smell of Success’ (1957)

- Director: Alexander Mackendrick
- Stacker score: 94
- Metascore: 100
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Run time: 96 min.

The title to this scathing drama belies the darkness under the surface. In late 1950s Manhattan, publicist Sidney Falco, played by Tony Curtis, will do whatever it takes to get to the top. Strikingly bleak black-and-white cinematography adds to the cynicism.

94/
Universal Pictures

#8. ‘Schindler's List’ (1993)

- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Stacker score: 95
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Run time: 195 min.

Steven Spielberg directed two of the most influential films of 1993, both “Jurassic Park” and “Schindler’s List.” To tell the story of the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust, Spielberg focuses on the relationship between businessman Oskar Schindler, portrayed by Liam Neeson, and his nemesis, the brutal Nazi commander Amon Goeth, played by Ralph Fiennes. Black-and-white cinematography gives the film a documentary vibe, but it still has the emotional jolts that made Spielberg famous.

95/
New Line Cinema

#7. ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ (2003)

- Director: Peter Jackson
- Stacker score: 95
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Run time: 201 min.

The third installment of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Ring’s” trilogy is the singular film to sweep the Academy Awards, winning every category in which it was nominated, including Best Picture. The film brought a new entry to the classic Hollywood spectacle, this time with CGI and special effects grandeur aimed at building Middle-earth and its epic wars in remarkable detail. At the center, the movie focuses on friendship, especially between hobbits Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin).

96/
Miramax

#6. ‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994)

- Director: Quentin Tarantino
- Stacker score: 95
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Run time: 154 min.

“Pulp Fiction” became one of the most influential films of contemporary cinema due to its innovative use of soundtrack, dialogue, and structure—where characters who die reappear in later scenes that buck traditional chronology. Director Quentin Tarantino fused art house aesthetics with “pulp” styles to create a film that was rousing and original, filled with humor and ideas, amid the shock and horror.

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97/
RKO Radio Pictures

#5. ‘Citizen Kane’ (1941)

- Director: Orson Welles
- Stacker score: 95
- Metascore: 100
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Run time: 119 min.

“Citizen Kane” usually sits near or at the top of best movie lists. Why? Director Orson Welles produced a film where every shot composition expresses emotion and theme, and does so beautifully. “Citizen Kane” makes expressive use of deep focus, and background and foreground planes, in shots that depict the enlarging and then shrinking of Kane, played by Welles, that align with the character’s rise and fall.

98/
Charles Chaplin Productions

#4. ‘City Lights’ (1931)

- Director: Charlie Chaplin
- Stacker score: 96
- Metascore: 99
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Run time: 87 min.

Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp character epitomizes the humanity of the poor within the Great Depression, drawing empathy in the audience through charm and humor. As the film industry transitioned to sound talkies, Chaplin, who starred, wrote, and directed, had mastered the evocative drama of silent cinema. In “City Lights,” the Tramp woos a blind woman in a story about recognizing love and sympathy beyond social strictures.

99/
Orion-Nova Productions

#3. ‘12 Angry Men’ (1957)

- Director: Sidney Lumet
- Stacker score: 96
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Run time: 96 min.

“12 Angry Men” condenses courtroom drama into a claustrophobic jury deliberation room where a defendant’s life hangs in the balance. Director Sidney Lumet uses tight close-ups and framing to create tension as the jurors showcase their own moral foibles and prejudices as they decide the fate of the 18-year-old boy on trial. Henry Fonda plays the critical thinker who manages to persuade the rest to take a closer look at the evidence and their own assumptions.

100/
Warner Bros.

#2. ‘Casablanca’ (1942)

- Director: Michael Curtiz
- Stacker score: 96
- Metascore: 100
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Run time: 102 min.

“Casablanca” features one of the most famous break-up scenes of all time, and it takes place on a foggy tarmac before Rick and Ilsa say goodbye forever. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman play the star-crossed lovers who exchange quips and looks of longing. “Casablanca” lures audiences with the drama of nostalgia and the bittersweet notion that love doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, so enjoy it while it lasts.

101/
Paramount Pictures

#1. ‘The Godfather’ (1972)

- Director: Francis Ford Coppola
- Stacker score: 100
- Metascore: 100
- IMDb user rating: 9.2
- Run time: 175 min.

The first entry in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Godfather” trilogy gave the gangster genre a new poetic brutality. Iconic assassination scenes became unforgettable for audiences shocked by a haunting musical score atop staid compositions interrupted by violence. The famous line about making offers that can’t be refused shows that no one, regardless of wealth and power, is safe from the mob.

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