Choosing the greatest movies of all time is not an easy task. Most often discussed are directing, acting, plot, and cinematography. More general criteria include depth of thinking, emotional impact, authenticity in relation to what is being depicted, wit or cleverness of the writing, and originality.
IMDb (Internet Movie Database), an online database of information related to films, television series, home videos, video games, and streaming content online, compiled a list of the ten greatest movies as rated by its more than 83 million registered users.
The 10 greatest movies of all time
10. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
An Italian epic spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood as “the Good,” Lee Van Cleef as “the Bad,” and Eli Wallach as “the Ugly.”
The film is known for Leone’s use of long shots and close-up cinematography, as well as his distinctive use of violence, tension, and highly stylized gunfights.
The plot revolves around three gunslingers competing to find a fortune in a buried cache of Confederate gold amid the violent chaos of the American Civil War (specifically the Battle of Glorieta Pass of the New Mexico Campaign in 1862) while participating in many battles, confrontations, and duels along the way.
The film was a financial success, grossing over $38 million at the worldwide box office, and is credited with having catapulted Eastwood into stardom.
9. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
This is a 2001 epic fantasy adventure film directed by Peter Jackson based on the 1954 The Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume of the novel The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien.
The film is the first installment in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It features an ensemble cast including Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Sean Bean, Ian Holm, and Andy Serkis
It premiered on December 10, 2001 at the Odeon Leicester Square in London and was then released on December 19th of that year in the United States and on December 20th in New Zealand. The film was acclaimed by critics and fans alike, who considered it to be a landmark in filmmaking and an achievement in the fantasy film genre.
It grossed over $880 million worldwide in its initial release, making it the second-highest-grossing film of 2001 and the fifth-highest-grossing film of all time at the time of its release.
The film received numerous accolades. At the 74th Academy Awards, it was nominated for thirteen awards, including Best Picture, winning for Best Cinematography, Best Makeup, Best Original Score, and Best Visual Effects.
8. Pulp Fiction (1994)
Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Tim Roth, Ving Rhames, and Uma Thurman, it tells several stories of crime in Los Angeles, California.
The title refers to the pulp magazines and hardboiled crime novels popular during the mid-20th century, known for their graphic violence and punchy dialogue.
Pulp Fiction won the Palme d’Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival and was a major critical and commercial success. It was nominated for seven awards at the 67th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won Best Original Screenplay.
Pulp Fiction is widely regarded as Tarantino’s masterpiece, with particular praise for its screenwriting. It is often considered a cultural watershed, influencing films and other media that adopted elements of its style. The cast was also widely praised, with Travolta, Thurman, and Jackson earning particular acclaim.
7. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
This is an epic fantasy adventure film directed by Peter Jackson based on 1955’s The Return of the King, the third volume of the novel The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien. It is the sequel to 2002’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and the final installment in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
It grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of 2003 and the second-highest-grossing film of all time at the time of its release, as well as the highest-grossing film released by New Line Cinema.
Like the other films in the trilogy, The Return of the King is widely recognized as one of the greatest and most influential films ever made. The film received numerous accolades. At the 76th Academy Awards, it won all eleven awards for which it was nominated, including Best Picture, tying with 1959’s Ben-Hur and 1997’s Titanic as the movie with the most Academy Award wins.
6. Schindler’s List (1993)
Directed and produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Steven Zaillian, it is based on the 1982 novel Schindler’s Ark, by Australian novelist Thomas Keneally.
The film follows Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who saved more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories during World War II. It stars Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as SS officer Amon Göth, and Ben Kingsley as Schindler’s Jewish accountant, Itzhak Stern.
Often listed among the greatest films ever made, the film received universal acclaim for its tone, acting (particularly by Neeson, Fiennes, and Kingsley), atmosphere, and Spielberg’s direction. It was also a box office success, earning $322 million worldwide on a $22 million budget.
was nominated for twelve Academy Awards, and won seven, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score. The film won numerous other awards, including seven BAFTAs and three Golden Globe Awards.
5. 12 Angry Men (1957)
This is an American courtroom drama film directed by Sidney Lumet which tells the story of a jury of twelve men as they deliberate the conviction or acquittal of a teenager charged with murder.
It stars Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, E. G. Marshall, and Jack Warden and explores many techniques of consensus-building and the difficulties encountered in the process among this group of men, whose range of personalities adds to the intensity and conflict.
The film was selected as the second-best courtroom drama ever after 1962’s To Kill a Mockingbird by the American Film Institute for their AFI’s 10 Top 10 list.
4. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
The Godfather: Part II is American epic crime film produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The film is partially based on the 1969 novel The Godfather, by Mario Puzo, who co-wrote the screenplay with Coppola. Part II serves as both a sequel and a prequel to the 1972 film The Godfather, presenting parallel dramas.
The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and became the first sequel to win Best Picture. Its six Oscar wins also included Best Director for Coppola, Best Supporting Actor for De Niro, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Coppola and Puzo. Pacino won Best Actor at the BAFTAs and was nominated at the Oscars.
Like its predecessor, Part II remains a highly influential film, especially in the gangster genre. It is considered to be one of the greatest films of all time, as well as a rare example of a sequel that may be superior to its predecessor.
3. The Dark Knight (2008)
A 2008 superhero film directed by Christopher Nolan from a screenplay he co-wrote with his brother Jonathan, this is based on the DC Comics superhero, Batman and is the sequel to Batman Begins (2005). It is the second installment in The Dark Knight Trilogy.
The plot follows the vigilante Batman, police lieutenant James Gordon, and district attorney Harvey Dent, who form an alliance to dismantle organized crime in Gotham City.
The Dark Knight received acclaim for its mature tone and themes, visual style, and performances—particularly that of Ledger, who received many posthumous awards including Academy, BAFTA, and Golden Globe awards for Best Supporting Actor, making The Dark Knight the first comic-book film to receive major industry awards.
It broke several box-office records and became the highest-grossing 2008 film, the fourth-highest-grossing film of its time, and the highest-grossing superhero film.
It is considered the “blueprint” for modern superhero films, particularly for its rejection of a typical comic-book film style in favor of a crime film that features comic-book characters.
2. The Godfather (1972)
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the film stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte, and Diane Keaton.
It is the first installment in The Godfather trilogy, chronicling the Corleone family under patriarch Vito Corleone (Brando) from 1945 to 1955. It focuses on the transformation of his youngest son, Michael Corleone (Pacino), from reluctant family outsider to ruthless mafia boss.
The Godfather premiered at the Loew’s State Theatre on March 14, 1972 and was widely released in the United States on March 24, 1972. It was the highest-grossing film of 1972 and was for a time the highest-grossing film ever made, earning between $250 and $291 million at the box office.
The film received universal acclaim from critics and audiences with praise for the performances, particularly those of Brando and Pacino, direction, screenplay, cinematography, editing, score, and portrayal of the mafia.
At the 45th Academy Awards, The Godfather won Best Picture, Best Actor (Brando), and Best Adapted Screenplay (for Puzo and Coppola). In addition, the seven other Oscar nominations included Pacino, Caan, and Duvall all for Best Supporting Actor, and Coppola for Best Director.
1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
American drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont and based on the 1982 Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, it tells the story of banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins). Dufresne is sentenced to life in Shawshank State Penitentiary for the murders of his wife and her lover despite his claims of innocence.
Over the following two decades, he befriends a fellow prisoner, contraband smuggler Ellis “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman), and becomes instrumental in a money-laundering operation led by prison warden Samuel Norton (Bob Gunton).
While The Shawshank Redemption received critical acclaim on its release, particularly for its story and the performances of Robbins and Freeman, it was a box-office disappointment, earning only $16 million during its initial theatrical run. It went on to receive multiple award nominations, including seven Academy Award nominations, and a theatrical re-release that, combined with international takings, increased the film’s box-office gross to $73.3 million.
Decades after its release, the film was still broadcast regularly and continues to be popular in several countries, with audience members and celebrities citing it as a source of inspiration or naming it a favorite in various surveys. This has led to its recognition as one of the most “beloved” films ever made.