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100 best American movies of all time

  • 100 best American movies of all time

    Since the early 20th century, Hollywood has been the epicenter of the American film industry. Though the first film made entirely in Hollywood was a short film entitled “In Old California” in 1910, the first completed Hollywood film, 1908’s “The Count of Monte Cristo,” began production in Chicago. Sunset Boulevard’s first movie studio opened around 1911, and eventually many East Coast studios had relocated to Los Angeles by 1915. Since then, production studios have blossomed outside of the ones in LA, and though it remains the premier location for all things film, Paramount is the only movie studio still located in Hollywood itself.

    Despite branching out beyond Hollywood into places such as New York and Atlanta, American film production still has a very firm hold on the consumption of cinema around the world. This includes countless contributions to film history’s canon, timeless staples that transcend age or accolades, and singular visions considered to be some of the greatest art ever made. And while American films should not be seen as the best or only films an eager cinephile should be consuming—there is an endless wealth of engaging, breathtaking, and thought-provoking cinema from countries spanning the globe—the lasting influence American films have brought to worldwide film culture cannot be overlooked.

    Stacker compiled data on thousands of American movies to come up with a Stacker score—a weighted index split evenly between IMDb and Metacritic ratings—that allowed us to rank the 100 greatest American movies of all time. To qualify as American, the film had to be produced by American production studios, though this doesn’t mean the film is necessarily in English or takes place on American soil. The film also had to have at least 5,000 IMDb user votes. Ties were broken by Metascore, and further ties were broken by IMDb user rating.

    Here are the best 100 American movies of all time, starting at #100 and counting down to #1.

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  • #100. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

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

    Fledgling FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) becomes embroiled in the grisly case of Buffalo Bill, a serial killer who murders young women and skins them. In order to catch him, Starling must enlist the help of convicted murderer and cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), whose insights may be able to provide Starling the help she needs.

  • #99. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

    - Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
    - Stacker score: 89
    - Metascore: 87
    - IMDb user rating: 8.4
    - Runtime: 117 min

    The discovery of multiple Spider-Men (and Women) in multiple universes allows young Miles Morales to join forces with them in order to stop Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk from using his super-collider, a device that can open up portals into other worlds, for his evil deeds. The animated film won the award for Best Animated Feature at the 91st Academy Awards, the first non-Disney film to win the award since 2011’s “Rango.”

  • #98. Raging Bull (1980)

    - Director: Martin Scorsese
    - Stacker score: 89
    - Metascore: 89
    - IMDb user rating: 8.2
    - Runtime: 129 min

    Based on a true story, Martin Scorsese’s biographical sports drama follows boxer Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro, in a legendary, Oscar-winning performance) through his personal highs and lows, as his success takes a hit when his demons enter the ring. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and was the breakout role for actor Joe Pesci.

  • #97. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

    - Director: George Miller
    - Stacker score: 89
    - Metascore: 90
    - IMDb user rating: 8.1
    - Runtime: 120 min

    In a post-apocalyptic world of fire and blood, rogue Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) joins forces with warrior Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and a few stowaway wives of the tyrannical Immorten Joe in order to overthrow him and find a place of peace amid the ravaged wasteland. The film is the fourth installment of the “Mad Max” series and a revisiting of the world which mirrors the original films, though it is not a direct sequel. The film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

  • #96. Days of Heaven (1978)

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

    In the early 20th century, a steel worker (Richard Gere) leaves his job in Chicago when a fight with his boss turns deadly, fleeing for the Texas panhandle with his girlfriend (Brooke Adams) and little sister to work harvesting wheat. Soon, a precarious love triangle forms between the man, his girlfriend, and the wealthy farmer of the wheat fields. The film has been widely praised for its cinematography, some considering it possibly the most beautiful film ever made.

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  • #95. The French Connection (1971)

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

    Hardboiled narcotics detective “Popeye” Doyle (Gene Hackman) and his partner “Cloudy” Russo (Roy Scheider) find themselves in pursuit of a French drug dealer who may just be the key to busting an expansive heroin-smuggling operation. The film is based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Robin Moore, and the lead characters are based on real-life detectives Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso.

  • #94. American Graffiti (1973)

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

    On the last day of summer before they leave for college, a group of friends in 1962 spend one final night together, cruising the streets of their small town in California as they reconcile their impending adult lives with their waning adolescence. The film was made for only $770,000 and has since taken in over $200 million. It was nominated for Best Picture at the 46th Academy Awards.

  • #93. Back to the Future (1985)

    - Director: Robert Zemeckis
    - Stacker score: 90
    - Metascore: 87
    - IMDb user rating: 8.5
    - Runtime: 116 min

    When teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) goes back in time and comes face-to-face with his young parents, he finds himself caught in an unintentional love triangle with the two of them. Now he must help his father win the affections of his mother in order to keep himself from never being born. The immense success of this first film spawned two sequels and earned its place as a pop culture touchstone, with an animated series, stage musical, comic book series, multiple video games, and a theme park ride at Universal Studios theme park.

  • #92. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

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

    A woman coming out of a painful breakup (Kate Winslet) requests the removal of all related memories to ease her recovery. When her ex-boyfriend (Jim Carrey) discovers what she’s done, he elects to do the same—but soon realizes that he still loves her. The film explores themes of love, loss, and memory, and the story is told using a nonlinear narrative.

  • #91. L.A. Confidential (1997)

    - Director: Curtis Hanson
    - Stacker score: 90
    - Metascore: 90
    - IMDb user rating: 8.2
    - Runtime: 138 min

    In 1950s Los Angeles, the corrupt police force tasks three of its unpredictable detectives with an unsolved murder at a downtown LA coffee shop years prior, each man armed with his own obsessions and motives in relation to the case. Lead actors Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce were still relatively unknown at the time, and the film acted as the jumping-off point for their careers.

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