These are the 100 best films of all time, according to critics

For more than a century, there have been movies, and people paid to review them. The first film critic, W.G. Faulkner, began churning out weekly reviews in January 1912.

Since then, movie criticism has retained countless core consistencies while 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.

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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 Cinéma—where both François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard worked as writers—played 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 gathered data from Metacritic (as of March 16, 2021), where movies are scored based on their aggregate critical reception. Movies not yet released to the public were not included.

Counting down from No. 100, here are the best films of all time, according to the critics.

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 Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen
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100. ‘Lord of the Rings: Return of the King’ (2003)

– Director: Peter Jackson
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 201 minutes

The last film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy won 11 Academy Awards, the third movie ever to do so, along with Titanic and Ben-Hur. It is the most Oscar-nominated movie in history to win in every single one of its nomination categories.

99. ‘Chimes at Midnight’ (1967)

– Director: Orson Welles
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 119 minutes

Orson Welles not only directs but stars as the Shakespearean character Sir John Falstaff, drawing from the plays Henry IV, Henry V, Richard II, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. It was based on a play Welles wrote called Five Kings, which flopped on its opening night in New York City in 1939.

98. ‘Lady Bird’ (2017)

– Director: Greta Gerwig
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 94 minutes

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.

97. ‘We Were Here’ (2011)

– Directors: Bill Weber, David Weissman
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 90 minutes

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.

96. ‘The Gunfighter’ (1950)

– Director: Henry King
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 85 minutes

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.

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95. ‘Apocalypse Now’ (1979)

– Director: Francis Ford Coppola
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 153 minutes

When making his iconic Vietnam War movie, 1979’s Apocalypse Now, director Francis Ford Coppola endured many psychological and physical setbacks. 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).

94. ‘The Apartment’ (1960)

– Director: Billy Wilder
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 125 minutes

The comedy stars Jack Lemmon as an insurance company employee who lets the firm’s bigwigs use his Manhattan apartment for their trysts in hopes of getting a promotion. Fred MacMurray plays his boss, who is having an affair with an elevator operator played by Shirley MacLaine. During a break from filming, MacLaine made an uncredited cameo appearance in Ocean’s 11, which starred Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and the rest of the Rat Pack.

93. ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’ (1945)

– Director: Vincente Minnelli
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 113 minutes

Judy Garland leads the cast of the popular family musical. Margaret O’Brien, who was 7, plays her little sister and was given a special Academy Award for outstanding child actress. Director Vincente Minnelli and Garland met while making the movie and later were married.

92. ‘Schindler’s List’ (1993)

– Director: Steven Spielberg
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 195 minutes

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.

91. ‘Sideways’ (2004)

– Director: Alexander Payne
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 126 minutes

Despite its understated premise, this 2004 comedy-drama from Alexander Payne was a veritable phenomenon upon its release and 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.

90. ‘Inside Out’ (2015)

– Directors: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 94 minutes

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 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.

Shadow of a Doubt
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89. ‘Shadow of a Doubt’ (1943)

– Director: Alfred Hitchcock
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 108 minutes

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.

88. ‘Amazing Grace’ (2018)

– Directors: Alan Elliott, Sydney Pollack
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 87 minutes

The performance of Aretha Franklin recording a gospel album was shot over two days in 1972 at the New Bethel Baptist Church in the Watts section of Los Angeles. Because director Sydney Pollack failed to use clapper boards to synchronize the film’s video and audio, the footage originally could not be used. It was not until many years later that Alan Elliott found a way to sync the film and the sound. Appearing briefly are Rolling Stones’ musicians Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts who stopped by to hear Franklin sing.

87. ‘The Wild Child’ (1970)

– Director: François Truffaut
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 83 minutes

Francois Truffaut directs and appears in the story of a feral boy found living among wolves in a forest. The French director plays a doctor who tries to teach and care for the child. The film is based on the true story of a boy found in 19th-century France who was given the name Victor and known as the “Wild Boy of Aveyron.” The real-life Dr. Jean Itard was chief physician at the National Institution for Deaf-Mutes, and his work was influential in the development of the Montessori teaching method.

86. ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ (1988)

– Director: Isao Takahata
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 89 minutes

The animated film from Japan features a young boy and girl struggling to survive in the last days of World War II. It was based on a novel of the same name by Akiyuki Nosaka. Nosaka’s book was inspired by the lives of the author and his younger sister, who died of malnutrition during the war in Japan.

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85. ‘The Irishman’ (2019)

– Director: Martin Scorsese
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 209 minutes

The 3.5-hour epic stars Robert de Niro, Harvey Keitel, and Joe Pesci, all veterans of Martin Scorcese’s acclaimed mob movies, as well as Al Pacino, who had not worked with Scorcese before. The movie used “digital de-aging” techniques to portray the older characters as several decades younger. Nominated for 10 Oscars, it won none.

84. ‘Mr. Turner’ (2014)

– Director: Mike Leigh
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 150 minutes

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.

83. ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ (1962)

– Director: John Frankenheimer
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 126 minutes

Frank Sinatra stars in this 1962 thriller 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.

82. ‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994)

– Director: Quentin Tarantino
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 154 minutes

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.

81. ‘Taxi Driver’ (1976)

– Director: Martin Scorsese
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 114 minutes

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.

80. ’45 Years’ (2015)

– Director: Andrew Haigh
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 95 minutes

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.

The searchers wayne
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79. ‘The Searchers’ (1956)

– Director: John Ford
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 119 minutes

John Wayne is a Confederate Army veteran who spends years obsessively tracking down the Comanches who kidnapped his niece, killed her family, and set their home on fire. The film has come under criticism for its racist views of American Indians. Wayne and director John Ford worked together on more than a dozen movies.

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

– Director: John Ford
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 123 minutes

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.

77. ‘Dunkirk’ (2017)

– Director: Christopher Nolan
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 106 minutes

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.

76. ‘Amour’ (2012)

– Director: Michael Haneke
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 127 minutes

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.

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75. ‘Before Midnight’ (2013)

– Director: Richard Linklater
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 109 minutes

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.

74. ‘Carol’ (2015)

– Director: Todd Haynes
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 118 minutes

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.

73. ‘WALL-E’ (2008)

– Director: Andrew Stanton
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 98 minutes

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.

72. ‘A Separation’ (2011)

– Director: Asghar Farhadi
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 123 minutes

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.

71. ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ (2012)

– Director: Kathryn Bigelow
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 157 minutes

This taut dramatic thriller 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.

Anatomy of a Murder
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70. ‘Anatomy of a Murder’ (1959)

– Director: Otto Preminger
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 160 minutes

A lawyer played by James Stewart comes out of retirement to defend a U.S. Army lieutenant accused of murdering a man (Ben Gazzara) who allegedly raped his wife (Lee Remick). George C. Scott plays the prosecutor in the story riddled with secrets. Jayne Mansfield turned down Remick’s part, and Gregory Peck was considered for the lead. The role of the judge was offered to Burl Ives and Spencer Tracy but in the end was played by Joseph N. Welch, a real-life lawyer who represented the U.S. Army in the 1954 anti-Communist Army-McCarthy hearings. He never memorized his lines and instead read them off a teleprompter, and it was his only movie role.

69. ‘The Hurt Locker’ (2009)

– Director: Kathryn Bigelow
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 131 minutes

Set during the Iraq War, this taut war drama 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.

68. ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ (1938)

– Directors: Ben Sharpsteen, David Hand, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Wilfred Jackson, William Cottrell
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 83 minutes

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.

67. ‘Collective’ (2020)

– Director: Alexander Nanau
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 109 minutes

A determined group of journalists, activists, and victims takes on corruption and fraud in Romania following a devastating nightclub fire that killed 27 people and injured 180. Dozens of burn victims died in the months that followed from infections they acquired while hospitalized. Former President Barack Obama listed the documentary as one of his favorite films in 2020.

66. ‘Double Indemnity’ (1944)

– Director: Billy Wilder
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 107 minutes

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.

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65. ‘Woodstock’ (1970)

– Director: Michael Wadleigh
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 184 minutes

The film capturing Woodstock, the three-day musical festival in 1969 that came to define a generation, won an Academy Award for Best Documentary, Features. It has a treasure trove of performances by The Who, Joan Baez, Richie Havens, Joe Cocker, Jimi Hendrix, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Santana, and more, with interviews and footage from the iconic site in Bethel, New York.

64. ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ (2016)

– Director: Raoul Peck
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 93 minutes

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.

63. ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ (2019)

– Director: Céline Sciamma
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 122 minutes

Set in 18th-century France, Portrait of a Lady on Fire tells the story of the relationship that develops between an aristocratic bride-to-be and a young woman commissioned to paint her wedding portrait. The film has only brief lines of dialogue by men, and it has no musical score.

62. ‘My Fair Lady’ (1964)

– Director: George Cukor
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 170 minutes

The musical classic stars Sir Rex Harrison as Professor Henry Higgins whose task is to transform a Cockney working-class girl—Eliza Doolittle played by Audrey Hepburn—into a presentable member of high society. Actors James Cagney, Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, Peter O’Toole, and Sir Michael Redgrave all were considered for the male lead before Harrison, who played Higgins on Broadway, was selected. Hepburn took lessons with a vocal coach and expected to do her own singing, but in the end most of her numbers were dubbed.

61. ‘The Social Network’ (2010)

– Director: David Fincher
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 120 minutes

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.

Bride of Frankenstein
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60. ‘The Bride of Frankenstein’ (1935)

– Director: James Whale
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 75 minutes

The sequel to the 1931 film, Frankenstein, features Elsa Lanchester as Mary Shelley and as the iconic Bride with stitches on her face and silver streaks in her towering shock of hair, and Boris Karloff as the Monster. Their makeup reportedly took several hours to apply each day, and Lanchester used stilts that made her 7 feet tall.

59. ‘Toy Story’ (1995)

– Director: John Lasseter
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 81 minutes

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.

58. ‘Small Axe: Lovers Rock’ (2020)

– Director: Steve McQueen
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 68 minutes

The film is a segment in the five-part Small Axe series that looks at the life of West Indians in London over the course of a decade. It was chosen for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it premiered at the virtual New York Film Festival.

57. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (1991)

– Directors: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 84 minutes

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 finds true love and breaks 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.

56. ‘Spirited Away’ (2002)

– Director: Hayao Miyazaki
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 125 minutes

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.

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55. ‘Fantasia’ (1940)

– Directors: Ben Sharpsteen, Bill Roberts, David Hand, Ford Beebe Jr., Hamilton Luske, James Algar, Jim Handley, Norman Ferguson, Paul Satterfield, Samuel Armstrong, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 125 minutes

The animated collection of works of classical music won an honorary Academy Award for its creation of visualized music and for advancing the use of sound in motion pictures. Accompanied by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the stories include “Night on Bald Mountain” and Mickey Mouse in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” The film’s creators considered, but abandoned, the idea of spraying scents into theaters such as jasmine for the “Waltz of the Flowers” segment and incense for “Ave Maria.”

54. ‘Gravity’ (2013)

– Director: Alfonso Cuarón
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 91 minutes

Before wowing critics with 2018’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.

53. ‘The Lady Eve’ (1941)

– Director: Preston Sturges
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 94 minutes

Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn, and William Demarest, The Lady Eve depicts a trio of hustlers who target a wealthy brewery heir on board an ocean liner. The film is a classic example of director Preston Sturges’ use of quick, comical dialogue, a lively supporting cast, and bustling, energetic scenes.

52. ‘Mean Streets’ (1973)

– Director: Martin Scorsese
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 112 minutes

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.

51. ‘Children of Paradise’ (1945)

– Director: Marcel Carné
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 190 minutes

The story of a 20th-century courtesan and her admirers was filmed during the Nazi occupation of France. Working on its crew were many members of the French resistance, and the production designerand composer, who were Jewish, had to work in secret and participate through intermediaries.

Grapes of Wrath
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50. ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ (1940)

– Director: John Ford
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 129 minutes

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.

49. ‘Don’t Look Now’ (1973)

– Director: Nicolas Roeg
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 110 minutes

A married couple played by Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland are mourning the death of their daughter when they meet a psychic in Venice who says she can see their lost child. The two leads met initially on the set, and the first scene they shot was the film’s well-known sex scene. The scene was removed by censors when the movie was released in Ireland, and it had to be cut by nine frames, which was less than a half second, to avoid being rated X in the United States.

48. ‘Rocks’ (2021)

– Director: Sarah Gavron
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 93 minutes

Rocks is the story of a teenage girl and her brother struggling to survive on the streets of London after being abandoned by their mother. Written by Nigerian British playwright and screenwriter Theresa Ikoko and film and television writer Claire Wilson, the movie was made with a mostly female crew.

47. ‘Parasite’ (2019)

– Director: Bong Joon-ho
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 132 minutes

Parasite depicts the intersection of a poor family living in a squalid basement with members of a wealthy family living in a mansion in Seoul. Made with subtitles, it was the first non-English language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It also won Oscars for best director and for best original screenplay.

46. ‘Ratatouille’ (2007)

– Director: Brad Bird
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 111 minutes

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.

45. ‘Nashville’ (1975)

– Director: Robert Altman
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 160 minutes

The ensemble cast of Nashville features Karen Black, Ned Beatty, Lily Tomlin, Keith Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, and Henry Gibson. The songs were written and performed by the actors themselves, and Carradine’s “I’m Easy” won an Oscar and a Golden Globe. The movie was nominated for a record 11 Globe awards, including acting nods to Chaplin, Gibson, Tomlin, Ronee Blakley, and Barbara Harris.

44. ‘Killer of Sheep’ (2007)

– Director: Charles Burnett
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 80 minutes

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.

43. ’12 Years a Slave’ (2013)

– Director: Steve McQueen
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 134 minutes

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

42. ‘The Maltese Falcon’ (1941)

– Director: John Huston
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 100 minutes

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.

41. ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ (1968)

– Director: Roman Polanski
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 137 minutes

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.

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40. ‘Manchester by the Sea’ (2016)

– Director: Kenneth Lonergan
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 137 minutes

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.

12 Angry Men
Silver Screen Collection

39. ’12 Angry Men’ (1957)

– Director: Sidney Lumet
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 96 minutes

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

38. ‘The Shop Around the Corner’ (1940)

– Director: Ernst Lubitsch
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 99 minutes

Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart play two sparring employees at a gift shop unaware that they are one another’s anonymous pen pals who are falling in love. The movie was the basis for the 1998 film You’ve Got Mail, in which the bookstore owned by Meg Ryan’s character is called The Shop Around The Corner.

37. ‘Quo vadis, Aida?’ (2021)

– Director: Jasmila Žbanić
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 101 minutes

Set in Bosnia in 1995, Quo vadis, Aida? tells the story of a United Nations translator whose family seeks refuge when the Serbian army takes over their town of Srebrenica and commits mass slaughter. Director and writer Jasmila Žbanić lived in Sarajevo during the Serbian siege. The film was submitted by Bosnia and Herzegovina in the International Feature Film category of the Academy Awards.

36. ‘Ran’ (1985)

– Director: Akira Kurosawa
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 162 minutes

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.

35. ‘Roma’ (2018)

– Director: Alfonso Cuarón
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 135 minutes

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

34. ‘Dumbo’ (1941)

– Directors: Ben Sharpsteen, Bill Roberts, Jack Kinney, John Elliotte, Norman Ferguson, Samuel Armstrong, Wilfred Jackson
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 64 minutes

Dumbo is the beloved story of a baby elephant ridiculed for his giant ears. It was Disney’s most financially successful movie at the time, following the costly productions of Pinocchio and Fantasia. Cels from the movie are extremely rare. Most were fragile and were destroyed.

33. ‘American Graffiti’ (1973)

– Director: George Lucas
– Metascore: 97
– Runtime: 110 minutes

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

32. ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ (1951)

– Director: Elia Kazan
– Metascore: 97
– Runtime: 122 minutes

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.

31. ‘Battleship Potemkin’ (1926)

– Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein
– Metascore: 97
– Runtime: 75 minutes

In honor of the Russian Revolution, Battleship Potemkin tells of sailors in the Imperial Russian Navy staging a mutiny. Its famed sequence on the Potemkin Stairs shows a massacre of unarmed civilians. When Joseph Stalin came to power in the Soviet Union, the film’s written introduction by Leon Trotsky was replaced by a Vladimir Lenin quote. The famed glorification of rebellion originally was banned in France, England, and in the United States.

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Psycho Hitchcock
Archive Photos/Getty Images

30. ‘Psycho’ (1960)

– Director: Alfred Hitchcock
– Metascore: 97
– Runtime: 109 minutes

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.

29. ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days’ (2008)

– Director: Cristian Mungiu
– Metascore: 97
– Runtime: 113 minutes

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

28. ‘Gone with the Wind’ (1940)

– Directors: George Cukor, Sam Wood, Victor Fleming
– Metascore: 97
– Runtime: 238 minutes

Gone with the Wind 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.

27. ‘Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’ (1964)

– Director: Stanley Kubrick
– Metascore: 97
– Runtime: 95 minutes

Stanley Kubrick makes his first and only appearance on this list 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.

26. ‘The Third Man’ (1949)

– Director: Carol Reed
– Metascore: 97
– Runtime: 104 minutes

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?

25. ‘My Left Foot’ (1990)

– Director: Jim Sheridan
– Metascore: 97
– Runtime: 103 minutes

One of legendary actor Daniel Day-Lewis’ quality performances is his turn as Christy Brown in this biographical film from Jim Sheridan. Living 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.

24. ‘The Wild Bunch’ (1969)

– Director: Sam Peckinpah
– Metascore: 97
– Runtime: 135 minutes

Starring William Holden and Ernest Borgnine, The Wild Bunch centers on a pack of aging Western outlaws taking on a final job in Mexico. Because it was so violent, it almost was given an X rating by the Motion Picture Association of America, which settled instead on an R rating. The making of the movie used more than 90,000 rounds of blank ammunition. The soldiers in the film’s climactic shootout were members of the Mexican Army hired as film extras.

23. ‘Jules and Jim’ (1962)

– Director: François Truffaut
– Metascore: 97
– Runtime: 105 minutes

The French New Wave masterpiece stars Jeanne Moreau at the center of a love triangle, and the relationship of the three—Oskar Werner as Jules and Henri Serre as Jim—over 25 years. The French movie actress pitched in to help the financially strapped production, contributing her own money and lending her Rolls Royce for carrying props.

22. ‘All About Eve’ (1950)

– Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
– Metascore: 98
– Runtime: 138 minutes

Despite being several 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. All About Eve is among the most Oscar-nominated films in history.

21. ‘Rashomon’ (1951)

– Director: Akira Kurosawa
– Metascore: 98
– Runtime: 88 minutes

The highly acclaimed “Rashomon” centers on a rape and murder as recounted by different people—a priest, a bandit, a victim, a woodcutter, and the ghost of a samurai. The title of the film has come to be used to describe different accounts or perspectives of an event. Winning top honors at the Venice Film Festival, it is considered to have been director Akira Kurosawa’s breakthrough onto the international film scene.

Hoop Dreams
(L-R) Producer Frederick Marx, cinematographer Peter Gilbert, basketball player Arthur Agee and director Steve James attend the 50 Years of NYFF screening of “Hoop Dreams” at The Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theatre on June 5, 2012 in New York City.
Rob Kim/Getty Images

20. ‘Hoop Dreams’ (1994)

– Director: Steve James
– Metascore: 98
– Runtime: 170 minutes

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.

19. ‘North by Northwest’ (1959)

– Director: Alfred Hitchcock
– Metascore: 98
– Runtime: 136 minutes

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.

18. ‘Some Like It Hot’ (1959)

– Director: Billy Wilder
– Metascore: 98
– Runtime: 121 minutes

This timeless comedy 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.

17. ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ (2006)

– Director: Guillermo del Toro
– Metascore: 98
– Runtime: 118 minutes

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.

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

– Director: John Huston
– Metascore: 98
– Runtime: 126 minutes

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.

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15. ‘The Lady Vanishes’ (1938)

– Director: Alfred Hitchcock
– Metascore: 98
– Runtime: 96 minutes

In The Lady Vanishes, a young woman searches for an older English governess she is convinced she met on board a European train delayed by an avalanche. The mystery deepens as others on board claim not to have seen her. Director Alfred Hitchcock makes his brief trademark cameo as a man smoking in Victoria Station.

14. ‘Touch of Evil’ (1958)

– Director: Orson Welles
– Metascore: 99
– Runtime: 95 minutes

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.

13. ‘Pinocchio’ (1940)

– Directors: Ben Sharpsteen, Bill Roberts, Hamilton Luske, Jack Kinney, Norman Ferguson, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson
– Metascore: 99
– Runtime: 88 minutes

The childhood favorite tells the tale of the little wooden puppet created by the woodworker Geppetto. It won two Oscars—one for best original song, which was “When You Wish Upon a Star,” and one for best original score. The expected budget for the film was $500,000, but it cost five times that amount to complete, and it was one of the most costly films of its time.

12. ‘Intolerance’ (1916)

– Director: D.W. Griffith
– Metascore: 99
– Runtime: 197 minutes

The silent classic starring Lillian Gish visits four historical eras—ancient Babylon, Judea, 16th-century France, and early 20th-century America—where characters suffered under stifling social and political beliefs and systems. D.W. Griffith made the movie a year after his epic The Birth of a Nation was met with criticism over its racism and its sympathetic attitudes toward the institutions of slavery, white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan.

11. ‘Moonlight’ (2016)

– Director: Barry Jenkins
– Metascore: 99
– Runtime: 111 minutes

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.

City Lights
Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images

10. ‘City Lights’ (1931)

– Director: Charles Chaplin
– Metascore: 99
– Runtime: 87 minutes

Director and star Charlie Chaplin thought about making the silent City Lights a talkie but opted not to do so. It has music and sound effects but no speaking. It features some of the comic artist’s best scenes as the Little Tramp in a boxing match, dodging a parade of elephants, and, after swallowing a whistle, being followed by a pack of dogs. It was one of Chaplin’s most successful films, financially and with critics, and is said to have been his favorite.

9. ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ (1952)

– Directors: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
– Metascore: 99
– Runtime: 103 minutes

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.

8. ‘Notorious’ (1946)

– Director: Alfred Hitchcock
– Metascore: 100
– Runtime: 101 minutes

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.”

7. ‘Vertigo’ (1958)

– Director: Alfred Hitchcock
– Metascore: 100
– Runtime: 128 minutes

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.

6. ‘Three Colors: Red’ (1994)

– Director: Krzysztof Kieślowski
– Metascore: 100
– Runtime: 99 minutes

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.

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5. ‘Boyhood’ (2014)

– Director: Richard Linklater
– Metascore: 100
– Runtime: 165 minutes

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 a young boy to a 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.

4. ‘Casablanca’ (1943)

– Director: Michael Curtiz
– Metascore: 100
– Runtime: 102 minutes

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.

3. ‘Rear Window’ (1954)

– Director: Alfred Hitchcock
– Metascore: 100
– Runtime: 112 minutes

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.

2. ‘The Godfather’ (1972)

– Director: Francis Ford Coppola
– Metascore: 100
– Runtime: 175 minutes

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 no wonder that famous critic Pauline Kael described it as coming “out of a merger of commerce and art.” Based on the bestselling 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.

Orsen Welles
Apic/Getty Images

1. ‘Citizen Kane’ (1941)

– Director: Orson Welles
– Metascore: 100
– Runtime: 119 minutes

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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