100 best dramas of all time, according to critics

Published 9:30 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Charles K. Feldman Group

100 best dramas of all time, according to critics

This compilation of the 100 best movie dramas of all time shows the deep richness of films made since the beginning of the last century, from countries across the globe.

Stacker compiled data on all feature-length dramas with at least seven critic reviews through Metacritic and ranked them according to Metascore, with ties broken internally by Metacritic, where the data goes further than what’s presented online. Data is from November 2022.

The top picks come from the United States, Europe, and Asia, and run the gamut from silent Soviet movies to animated features such as “Dumbo.” The collection continues with crime-heavy films ranging from “Reversal of Fortune,” covering the murder trial of Claus von Bülow, to dramas tackling war, such as “The Hurt Locker.”

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Charlie Chaplin’s genius shines through without dialogue even as talkies were beginning to make their appearance in such releases as “City Lights” and “Modern Times,” which considered the social and economic effects of the then-new assembly lines. Among the more current films, 2020’s “Nomadland” takes an updated look at some of those same issues—in this case, the uncertainty of today’s economy, which leaves older Americans scrambling for work. The character played by Frances McDormand is left rudderless after the gypsum plant in her hometown closes.

A group of Chinese and Japanese releases made the list, some by the noted director Akira Kurosawa. He described his “Rashomon” as a reflection of life, where meanings are sometimes unclear. His “Seven Samurai” merged the characteristics of American Westerns with Japanese traditions such as the swordplay drama.

Westerns made in the United States looked at some fundamental questions of the country, including the meaning of law and democracy and the still-open question of the place of guns in our society. Other movies on the list focus on love, greed, and fear—emotions that know no boundaries and are common to all of our lives.

Read on to find out which of the films you’ve seen and whether you agree with critics.

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Actors Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, Richard Bennett, Ray Collins, Dolores Costello, and Don Dillaway in a scene from ‘The Magnificent Ambersons.’

Mercury Productions

#100. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

– Director: Orson Welles
– Metascore: 93
– Runtime: 88 minutes

In this movie about the dwindling fortune of a wealthy Midwestern family, a woman is kept from the man she loves by her heir. RKO executives decided they needed to cut the film and redo the ending, and chopped 43 minutes while director Orson Welles was in Brazil. Welles later lamented, “They destroyed ‘Ambersons’ and they destroyed me.” The search is still on for the missing footage, as fans have long clamored for a look at the original print, with Welles’ more downbeat ending.

Actors Christine Baranski and Jeremy Irons in a scene from ‘Reversal of Fortune.'

Sovereign Pictures

#99. Reversal of Fortune (1990)

– Director: Barbet Schroeder
– Metascore: 93
– Runtime: 111 minutes

This film tells the story of the urbane, Danish-born Claus von Bülow, who was accused of trying to kill his wealthy socialite wife, Sunny von Bülow, in their Newport mansion by giving her an overdose of insulin. He is found guilty but his conviction is overturned on appeal. He is represented by Alan Dershowitz, who has frequently been in the news during the last few years as an ardent defender of former President Donald Trump. Jeremy Irons won an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of von Bülow. Sunny von Bülow lived until 2008, never awakening from her coma.

Actor Timothée Chalamet in a scene from 'Call Me by Your Name.'

Sony Pictures Classics

#98. Call Me by Your Name (2017)

– Director: Luca Guadagnino
– Metascore: 93
– Runtime: 132 minutes

This film tells the story of a romance between a teenager and an older man working for the boy’s father in Italy in the 1980s. Before the movie was shot, there was only one rehearsal, of a scene in which the men roll on the grass making out. During a scene in which the men hike to a waterfall, they shout with excitement, but in truth they were walking through stinging nettle that covered the mountainside.

Actors Nina Meurisse, Joséphine Sanz, and Gabrielle Sanz in a scene from ‘Petite Maman.’

France 3 Cinema

#97. Petite Maman (2021)

– Director: Céline Sciamma
– Metascore: 93
– Runtime: 72 minutes

“Petite Maman” is a French fantasy drama written and directed by Céline Sciamma. The film follows 8-year-old Nelly (played by Joséphine Sanz) as she comes to terms with the death of her maternal grandmother by bonding with her mother. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg: How the two connect is what makes this movie fall into the fantasy category.

Actors Stéphane Audran, Bulle Ogier, and Delphine Seyrig in a scene from ‘The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.'

Greenwich Film Productions

#96. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)

– Director: Luis Buñuel
– Metascore: 93
– Runtime: 102 minutes

“The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” can be described as a plotless series of dreams of six middle-class people trying to have a meal together. It includes a few of what director Luis Buñuel said were his recurring dreams, such as preparing to take the stage to act in a role he doesn’t know, and following his dead cousin into a house full of cobwebs after meeting him on the street.

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Actor Ziyi Zhang in a scene from ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.'

Asia Union Film & Entertainment Ltd.

#95. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

– Director: Ang Lee
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 120 minutes

Ang Lee’s epic tells the story of a young Chinese warrior who steals a sword, complete with martial arts battles and stunning scenery. He described the movie as “a dream of China…that probably never existed.” The actor Ziyi Zhang did not have any martial arts training, but drew on her dance experience to help learn the moves.

Actors Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling dancing in a scene from ‘La La Land.'

Summit Entertainment

#94. La La Land (2016)

– Director: Damien Chazelle
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 128 minutes

An actor, Mia, played by Emma Stone, and a pianist, Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling, fall in love in Los Angeles. Gosling took piano lessons two hours a day, five days a week for three months to learn to play the music by heart. One of his own auditions sparked the scene where a casting director interrupts Mia’s performance to take a phone call.

Actor Jeanne Moreau in ‘Elevator to the Gallows.'

Globe Films International

#93. Elevator to the Gallows (1961)

– Director: Louis Malle
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 91 minutes

A businessman murders his employer, who is also the husband of his mistress. The score was improvised by Miles Davis, who varied his tunes even between takes.

Actor Setsuko Hara in a scene from ‘Early Summer.'

Toho Company

#92. Early Summer (1951)

– Director: Yasujirō Ozu
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 125 minutes

Japanese director Yasujirō Ozu began making movies in the 1920s, dabbling in genres from comedy to drama. But it was after World War II that his films began to share similar concepts, grappling with post-war Japan and loss, multi-generational relationships, and women’s rights. “Early Summer” is considered one of Ozu’s most ambitious projects and ties the themes he explored throughout his career into one story.

Gene Hackman in a scene from ‘The French Connection.'

Twentieth Century Fox

#91. The French Connection (1971)

– Director: William Friedkin
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 104 minutes

The movie is based on a heroin-smuggling case that actually took place in New York City in the 1960s, and the lead characters were inspired by two real-life detectives, Eddie Egan and Sonny Grasso. “I went around for three months with Egan and Grasso, the two ‘French Connection’ cops, and the film is mostly made up of stuff that I saw them do, as well as what they told me happened in the real case,” star Gene Hackman told Yahoo! in 2021.

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Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson in a scene from ‘Marriage Story.'


#90. Marriage Story (2019)

– Director: Noah Baumbach
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 137 minutes

This drama tells the story of a difficult divorce involving a theater couple, which critics called tender, funny, and sad, all at once. New Yorker critic Richard Brody described “Marriage Story” as a movie of “[dueling] monologues, spoken and unspoken: two hours of sharp, painful, witty, and elegant talk that is nonetheless rooted in the impossibility of communication.”

Actors Edgar Ramírez and Martha Higareda in a scene from ‘Carlos.'

Films en Stock

#89. Carlos (2010)

– Director: Olivier Assayas
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 334 minutes

This movie—which originally aired as a TV miniseries—features Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, also known as Carlos the Jackal, a Venezuelan revolutionary who founded a global terrorist network and raided the 1975 Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting. He was a Marxist dedicated to the Palestinian cause. Roger Ebert wrote that for Carlos, “his religion and his cause were the same, and they were himself. This is a terrifying portrait of an egomaniac who demands absolute obedience, and craves it even more when his power and relevance are drained away.”

Actors Orson Welles and Keith Baxter in a scene from ‘Chimes at Midnight.'

Internacional Films

#88. Chimes at Midnight (1967)

– Director: Orson Welles
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 115 minutes

This comedy drama was directed by Orson Welles, who also stars as William Shakespeare’s Sir John Falstaff. The movie was based on a play written by Welles that compressed both parts of Shakespeare’s “Henry IV” play, as well as “Henry V,” “Henry VI,” “Richard III,” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” into one show.

Actor Shohreh Aghdashloo in a scene from ‘Chess of the Wind.’

Bahmann Farmanara

#87. Chess of the Wind (1976)

– Director: Mohammad Reza Aslani
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 93 minutes

The story behind “Chess of the Wind” may be just as exceptional as the film itself. Originally released in 1976, the Iranian movie was banned by the Islamic Republic following the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Upon its release, the Qajar Dynasty period piece was met with negative reception. It was considered lost until director Mohammad Reza Aslani’s son found a print of the film at a junk shop in 2014. In 2020, it was resurrected and released in several countries to glowing reviews.

Actor Martin Sheen in a scene from ‘Apocalypse Now.'

American Zoetrope

#86. Apocalypse Now (1979)

– Director: Francis Ford Coppola
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 147 minutes

A secret mission plunges its soldiers into madness in this movie based loosely on Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” with Vietnam in 1970 substituted for the Congo. Rotten Tomatoes called it a “haunting, hallucinatory Vietnam War epic” that is “cinema at its most audacious and visionary.” For the movie’s 40th anniversary in 2019, Francis Ford Coppola re-edited it for what he called his final cut.

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Actors Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon in a scene from ‘The Apartment.'

The Mirisch Corporation

#85. The Apartment (1960)

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

Inspired by the British romantic drama “Brief Encounter,” written by Noël Coward, “The Apartment” centers on C.C. Baxter, an insurance accountant and bachelor played by Jack Lemmon, who lets his bosses use his apartment for their affairs. When director and co-writer Billy Wilder saw “Brief Encounter,” he wondered about the unknown character who had lent the apartment for the extramarital affair.

Actor Judy Garland in a scene from ‘Meet Me in St. Louis.'


#84. Meet Me in St. Louis (1945)

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

A musical comedy about young love, “Meet Me in St. Louis” stars Judy Garland as one of the Smith sisters, trying to date the shy boy next door. Garland and director Vincente Minnelli met on the set and were soon married. The movie premiered in St. Louis on Nov. 22, 1944.

Actor Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler in a scene from ‘Schindler's List.'

Universal Pictures

#83. Schindler’s List (1993)

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

The movie introduced the world to Oskar Schindler, a factory owner who saved 1,200 Jews from the Nazi concentration camps of World War II. He and his wife, Emilie, protected Jewish workers even as he made munitions for the Nazis. Schindler’s original list was found in 1999 in a suitcase hidden in the attic of a home in Hildesheim, Germany.

Actors Sandra Oh, Paul Giamatti, Virginia Madsen, and Thomas Haden Church in a scene from ‘Sideways.’

Fox Searchlight Pictures

#82. Sideways (2004)

– Director: Alexander Payne
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 127 minutes

Two college friends, one of whom is about to marry, visit California’s wine country in this comedy that Roger Ebert called “surprisingly moving.” The unexpected star was pinot noir, the production of which had increased 170% by 2017, according to an NPR article. Winemakers called its newfound popularity the “Sideways” effect.

Characters Sadness, Joy, and Bing Bong in a scene from ‘Inside Out.'

Pixar Animation Studios

#81. Inside Out (2015)

– Directors: Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 95 minutes

Riley moves from the Midwest to San Francisco to a new house and new school in this Pixar release that looks inside her mind, where Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger reside as cartoon characters. “At one point, we fooled around with having 27 different emotions,” director Pete Docter told The Hollywood Reporter. Which emotions didn’t make the cut? Hope, Envy, Ennui, and Pride were among them. The movie ultimately won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.

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Actors François Truffaut and Jean-Pierre Cargol in a scene from ‘The Wild Child.'

Les Artistes Associés

#80. The Wild Child (1970)

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

This movie is based on a true story: A child who cannot speak, walk, read, or write is found in a forest outside Aveyron, France, in 1798. A doctor who observes him at an asylum realizes he is not deaf nor intellectually impaired, but has been deprived of human contact. Just as “The Wild Child” premiered, a girl was found in Los Angeles who had also been raised without human interaction. The doctors treating her attended a private viewing of the film.

Characters in a scene from ‘Grave of the Fireflies.'

Shinchosha Company

#79. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

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

A Japanese anime, “Grave of the Fireflies” was based on Akiyuki Nosaka’s 1967 short story of the same name. It tells the story of two orphans trying to get through the final months of World War II. Roger Ebert wrote that it belonged on any list of the greatest war films ever made. Director Isao Takahata himself lived through a terrible air attack on his hometown of Okayama.

Actors Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro in a scene from ‘The Irishman.'

Tribeca Productions

#78. The Irishman (2019)

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

In “The Irishman”—starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci—alleged Mafia hitman Frank Sheeran confesses to his crimes. The movie is based on the Sheeran biography “I Heard You Paint Houses,” whose title contains a double meaning. “The paint is the blood that supposedly gets on the floor when you shoot somebody,” Sheeran explains in the book.

Actor Timothy Spall paints in a scene from ‘Mr. Turner.'

Amusement Park Films

#77. Mr. Turner (2014)

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

The movie recounts the last 25 years of the life of painter J.M.W. Turner, who died in 1851. Among his achievements? He once had himself tied to the mast of a ship before he painted a snow storm. He also turned down 100,000 pounds for his work to instead donate it to Great Britain, even though Queen Victoria detested his work. The actor who played Turner, Timothy Spall, took private art lessons from a British artist for about two years to prepare for the role.

Actors John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in a scene from ‘Pulp Fiction.'


#76. Pulp Fiction (1994)

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

Two hitmen look for a suitcase stolen from their boss in this movie with a roster of stars: Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, and others. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Seven years earlier, Tarantino had been a broke 23-year-old high-school dropout who acted part-time, according to Vanity Fair.

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Actor Frank Sinatra in a scene from the 1962 movie ‘The Manchurian Candidate.'

John Springer Collection // Corbis via Getty Images

#75. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

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

Frank Sinatra and Janet Leigh star in this political thriller about a former prisoner of war who is brainwashed into becoming an assassin for communists. The movie was not released in many of the former “Iron Curtain” countries until after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1993, because of the political nature of the plot.

Actors Dirk Bogarde and James Fox in a scene from ‘The Servant.'


#74. The Servant (1964)

– Director: Joseph Losey
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 116 minutes

When a British aristocrat hires a valet, the result is a tense psychological battle. The director, Joseph Losey, was at one time blacklisted in Hollywood, and moved abroad to keep working.

Actor Robert De Niro in a scene from ‘Taxi Driver.'

Columbia Pictures

#73. Taxi Driver (1976)

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

Robert De Niro plays a disturbed Vietnam veteran who drives a taxi cab overnight in New York City, alongside Jodie Foster as an underage prostitute. Vietnam Veterans of America called De Niro’s character “perhaps Hollywood’s most psychotic Vietnam veteran (and that’s saying something).” Screenwriter Paul Schrader told The Hollywood Reporter that he thought of the cab as a “metal coffin that moved through the city with this kid who seems to be in the middle of society but is in fact all alone.” Scorsese and others squatted in the back of the cab to film, while the sound man was in the trunk.

Actors Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling in a scene from ‘45 Years.'

BFI Film Fund

#72. 45 Years (2015)

– Director: Andrew Haigh
– Metascore: 94
– Runtime: 91 minutes

A couple is about to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary when the husband receives some disturbing news about an old love that sends their marriage into a tailspin. It is based on David Constantine’s short story,”In Another Country,” in which the body of a man’s former girlfriend is found perfectly preserved in the Alps from 50 years earlier.

John Wayne in a scene from ‘The Searchers’

Warner Bros.

#71. The Searchers (1956)

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

A veteran of the Civil War, played by John Wayne, sets off to rescue his niece, who has been abducted by Comanches. Buddy Holly and drummer J.J. Allison saw the movie and used Wayne’s trademark line, “That’ll be the day,” for their 1957 album.

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Actors in a scene from ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’

John Ford Productions

#70. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

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

A senator, famous for shooting the man who terrorized a town, returns for his friend’s funeral in this Western that features two men in love with the same woman. The New Yorker called it the “greatest American political movie,” and it delves into many of America’s fundamental principles around democracy, a free press, and the ongoing debate over guns.

Actors playing Allied soldiers march on the beach in a scene from ‘Dunkirk.'


#69. Dunkirk (2017)

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

During a desperate World War II battle, Allied soldiers from Great Britain, Belgium, and France are surrounded by Germans and forced to evacuate from the beach in Dunkirk, where they are trapped. The movie won three Oscars for film editing, sound editing, and sound mixing. Approximately 30 survivors attended the opening in London and found the soundtrack to be louder than the battle.

Actors Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in a scene from ‘Before Midnight.'

Sony Pictures Classics

#68. Before Midnight (2013)

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

This is the third in a series starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, a couple who meet in their 20s and now are at the end of a family vacation in Greece. The romantic drama began with “Before Sunrise” in 1995, and was followed by “Before Sunset” in 2004. The movie is dedicated to Amy Lehrhaupt, who inspired the first film. She and Richard Linklater had lost touch and he learned in 2010 that she had died only a few weeks before he started shooting “Before Sunrise.”

Actor Cate Blanchett in a scene from ‘Carol.'

The Weinstein Company

#67. Carol (2015)

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

Based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, “Carol” is the story of a young aspiring photographer who has a love affair with an older woman in New York City in the 1950s. As the older woman, Carol Aird, leaves her marriage, her husband questions her fitness as a mother. Carol was inspired by Virginia Kent Catherwood, a Philadelphia socialite with whom Highsmith had a romance in the 1940s.

Actors Frankie Corio and Paul Mescal in a scene from ‘Aftersun.'

BBC Films

#66. Aftersun (2022)

– Director: Charlotte Wells
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 102 minutes

“Aftersun” is Charlotte Wells’ directorial debut, and it’s a gem. The movie shares the story of 11-year-old Sophie (Frankie Corio) and her father Calum (Paul Mescal) taking a trip to Turkey, and her reflection on the moment and her relationship with her dad 20 years later. When speaking about the story’s inspiration, Wells, who lost her father as a teenager, said: “It’s not autobiographical, per se, but I think of it as being emotionally autobiographical. And, over the course of writing, I got more and more of myself into both characters.”

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Actors Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in a scene from ‘La Dolce Vita.'

Riama Film

#65. La Dolce Vita (1961)

– Director: Federico Fellini
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 174 minutes

“La Dolce Vita” portrays a week in the life of an engaged tabloid journalist (played by Marcello Mastroianni) living in Rome, and the beautiful women he pursues, an heiress and a superstar actor. The scene at the Trevi Fountain was shot in January—Mastroianni was drunk because he had downed an entire bottle of vodka to try to stay warm.

Actors Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in a scene from ‘Double Indemnity.'

Paramount Pictures

#64. Double Indemnity (1944)

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

This film noir features murder and insurance fraud, and an insurance representative seduced into the scheme. The plot was based on the 1920s murder trial of Ruth Snyder, which author James M. Cain turned into a novel. She was later executed in the electric chair in Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York and was photographed by the New York Daily News as she died. It was the first photograph of an execution in an electric chair.

Actors Leila Hatami and Payman Maadi in a scene from ‘A Separation.'

Asghar Farhadi Productions

#63. A Separation (2011)

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

Set in Tehran, “A Separation” is the first Iranian film to win an Oscar, for Best Foreign Language Film. It follows a bank employee named Nader, whose wife leaves him when he refuses to move abroad to make a better life for their daughter. Nader hires a woman named Razieh to care for his father who has Alzheimer’s disease. When he finds his father tied to the bed, Nader shoves Razieh, who is pregnant and loses her baby when she falls outside the apartment. Her unstable husband takes Nader to court, though there are many doubts about what caused her miscarriage.

Actors playing soldiers in a scene from ‘Zero Dark Thirty.'

Columbia Pictures

#62. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

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

“Zero Dark Thirty” tells the story of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The movie was controversial because of its treatment of the CIA’s torture of terrorism suspects during the Bush administration. In an article titled “Zero Conscience in ‘Zero Dark Thirty,'” The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer accused director Kathryn Bigelow of milking “the U.S. torture program for drama while sidestepping the political and ethical debate that it provoked.”

Actor James Stewart stands in front of the courtroom in a scene from ‘Anatomy of a Murder.'

Otto Preminger Films

#61. Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

– Director: Otto Preminger
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 161 minutes

When an Army lieutenant is accused of murdering a bartender, his defense is temporary insanity. Then more problems arise. The police surgeon finds no evidence and a lawyer discovers the lieutenant is exceedingly jealous and his wife is a flirt.

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Actor Jeremy Renner in a scene from ‘The Hurt Locker.'

Voltage Pictures

#60. The Hurt Locker (2009)

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

Set in Iraq, this film looks at an elite squad that disarms bombs. It earned director Kathryn Bigelow an Oscar, making her the first woman to achieve the honor. The movie’s title comes from Vietnam War era military slang meaning a serious injury, whether physical or emotional. Soldiers in Iraq talked of explosions sending one to the hurt locker.

Actor Emmanuelle Riva in a scene from ‘Amour.'

Les Films du Losange

#59. Amour (2012)

– Director: Michael Haneke
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 127 minutes

George and Anne Laurent are retired music teachers whose love is challenged when Anne has a stroke. At 84, Emmanuelle Riva became the oldest person ever nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars, besting Jessica Tandy, who received the nomination at age 80 for “Driving Miss Daisy.”

Actors Bukky Bakray and Kosar Ali in a scene from ‘Rocks.'

British Film Institute (BRI)

#58. Rocks (2021)

– Director: Sarah Gavron
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 93 minutes

This coming-of-age movie is set in London, where a teenager takes care of her younger brother after their mother leaves. Critic Carlos Aguilar wrote in the Los Angeles Times that it “differentiates itself from other recent explorations of modern girlhood set amid immigrant communities.” It won awards from the British Independent Film Awards and at the Brussels and Dublin film festivals.

Actors Adèle Haenel and Nome Merlant in a scene from 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire.'

Lilies Films

#57. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

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

A painter is commissioned to create a wedding portrait of a young woman at the end of the 18th century in Brittany. The portrait is meant to be completed in secret, but a romance develops between the painter and her subject. In real life, director Céline Sciamma and Adèle Haenel, who plays the bride-to-be Heloise, are former lovers who parted on good terms.

Actors Audrey Hepburn and Gladys Cooper in a scene from ‘My Fair Lady.'

Warner Bros.

#56. My Fair Lady (1964)

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

Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn star in the musical inspired by George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” in which Professor Henry Higgins bets that he can teach Cockney flower seller Eliza Doolittle to speak properly. Hepburn had expected to sing her own numbers, and was disappointed when the filmmakers insisted on dubbing her. Marni Nixon sang most of her songs.

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Actors Justin Timberlake and Jesse Eisenberg in a scene from ‘The Social Network.'

Columbia Pictures

#55. The Social Network (2010)

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

Mark Zuckerberg creates what will become Facebook as a Harvard University student, but is sued by the Winklevoss twins and Divya Narendra, who claim he stole their idea. Zuckerberg later said that the movie got his clothes right, even if there were other inaccuracies.

Actors Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland in a scene from ‘Don’t Look Now.'

Paramount Pictures

#54. Don’t Look Now (1973)

– Director: Nicolas Roeg
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 110 minutes

“Don’t Look Now” is as much a thriller as it is a drama. The movie follows the story of a couple mourning the accidental death of their daughter. While on a trip to Venice, they meet a clairvoyant who says their daughter is trying to contact them and warn them of danger. 

Actor Christian Patey in a scene from ‘L'Argent.'

Eôs Films

#53. L’Argent (1984)

– Director: Robert Bresson
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 85 minutes

A fake 500-franc note is passed person to person until the situation turns tragic and ends in murder in “L’Argent.” The movie is the last film directed by Robert Bresson, a French director known for his minimalist style that was more popular with critics than theatergoers. He retired after failing to complete an adaptation of the Book of Genesis.

Actors Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester in a scene from ‘The Bride of Frankenstein.'

Universal Pictures

#52. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

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

Dr. Frankenstein and his monster are not dead but have survived, and Dr. Frankenstein is forced by the mad Dr. Pretorius to create a woman to be the monster’s companion. She is played by Elsa Lanchester, pulling double duty as Mary Shelley in the movie’s opening.

Actors Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn and Michael Ward in a scene from 'Lovers Rock.'

BBC Programs

#51. Lovers Rock (2020)

– Director: Steve McQueen
– Metascore: 95
– Runtime: 70 minutes

“Lovers Rock” looks at Black life in Britain in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, following a woman named Martha attending a party. The name refers to a music genre, a romantic version of reggae created by British-born children of Caribbean immigrants. The house parties drew young people who were not welcome at the white clubs, and the Janet Kay song “Silly Games” is at its center. The movie is the second in Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe” series.

Actor Charlie Chaplin in a scene from ‘Modern Times.'

Charles Chaplin Productions

#50. Modern Times (1936)

– Director: Charles Chaplin
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 87 minutes

Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp character takes a job as a factory worker, trying to live in modern industrial society, but failing to keep up on the assembly line. He is mistaken for a communist when he waves a red flag he picks up, is arrested, and meets The Gamine in the police van.

Actors Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in a scene from ‘Gravity.'

Warner Bros.

#49. Gravity (2013)

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

In “Gravity,” astronauts are working on the Hubble Space Telescope when disaster strikes: A Russian satellite explodes and sends debris ripping into the telescope and the space shuttle. The astronauts, played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, are marooned and struggling to survive.

Actors prepare for battle in a scene from ‘The Battle of Algiers.'

Igor Film

#48. The Battle of Algiers (1966)

– Director: Gillo Pontecorvo
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 121 minutes

The people of Algiers are fighting for independence from France, with the National Liberation Front or FLN leading the resistance. The violence increases with torture and bombings. The story is mostly told through two figures, Ali La Pointe, a real Algerian revolutionary, on one side, and on the other, Colonel Mathieu, a composite character of multiple French counterinsurgency officers.

Actors tie up a man in a scene from 'Sansho the Bailiff.'

Daiei Studios

#47. Sansho the Bailiff (1955)

– Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 124 minutes

Kenji Mizoguchi made nearly 90 films throughout his prolific career, and one of his most critically acclaimed is “Sansho Dayu” (known as “Sansho the Bailiff” in the U.S.). The 1955 Japanese period piece is an adaptation of a 1915 short story where two aristocratic children are sold into slavery.

Actors Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel in a scene from ‘Mean Streets.'

Warner Bros.

#46. Mean Streets (1973)

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

The streets of New York City’s Little Italy are the setting for this crime film featuring a small-time gangster who works for his uncle making collections. This Scorsese classic stars Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro.

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Actors Arletty and Jean-Louis Barrault in a scene from ‘Children of Paradise.'

Société Nouvelle Pathé Cinéma

#45. Children of Paradise (1945)

– Director: Marcel Carné
– Metascore: 96
– Runtime: 163 minutes

“Children of Paradise” tells the story of an actor and the men who love her, including a mime who comes to her aid when she is unfairly accused of pickpocketing a watch. It was shot during the Nazi occupation in Paris and Nice, with the designer and the composer both in hiding because they were Jewish. The Nazis had banned all movies over 90 minutes, so Marcel Carné made two movies and showed them together after France was liberated.

Actors look out on the mountains in a scene from ‘The Grapes of Wrath.'

Twentieth Century Fox

#44. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

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

Based on John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “Grapes of Wrath” follows a poor family forced off their land in the Midwest, who travel to California during the Great Depression.

Actor Henry Gibson in a scene from ‘Nashville.'

ABC Entertainment

#43. Nashville (1975)

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

This drama follows a number of people preparing for a political convention for an independent candidate who wants to ban lawyers from Congress. The result is five days of Nashville country and gospel music. The film was largely improvised, and many of the actors wrote and performed their own songs.

The movie poster for the film ‘Killer of Sheep.'

Charles Burnett Productions

#42. Killer of Sheep (2007)

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

“Killer of Sheep” captures Los Angeles’ Watts neighborhood in the mid-1970s. Life in Watts is seen through Stan, who is worn down by working in a slaughterhouse. Discouraged by money problems, he takes joy in small moments. “The film offers no solutions; it merely presents life—sometimes hauntingly bleak, sometimes filled with transcendent joy and gentle humor,” according to its website. It was shot on location in Watts on a budget of less than $10,000, most of it grant money.

Actors Casey Affleck and Kyle Chandler in a scene from ‘Manchester by the Sea.'

Amazon Studios

#41. Manchester by the Sea (2016)

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

A loner returns to his hometown from Boston after his brother dies to take care of his 16-year-old nephew, but is haunted by an unspeakable tragedy from his past. The movie takes place along the Massachusetts coast.

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Actors Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, and Lupita Nyong'o in a scene from ’12 Years a Slave.'

Regency Enterprises

#40. 12 Years a Slave (2013)

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

Solomon Northup is a free man from upstate New York, but he is abducted and sold into slavery before the Civil War. The movie marked the feature film debut for Lupita Nyong’o, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

Actor Mia Farrow in a scene from ‘Rosemary's Baby.'

William Castle Productions

#39. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

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

Young couple Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and Guy (John Cassavetes) want to have a child but Rosemary is convinced she is the victim of a satanic plot by her elderly neighbors and her husband. The movie was Roman Polanski’s Hollywood debut. Its star, Farrow, was served divorce papers by Frank Sinatra while on the set.

Actors Henry Fonda, Jack Klugman, Lee J. Cobb, Edward Binns, John Fiedler, E.G. Marshall, Joseph Sweeney, and George Voskovec in a scene from ’12 Angry Men.'

Orion-Nova Productions

#38. 12 Angry Men (1957)

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

The foreman of a jury holds out on a verdict, trying to force his fellow jurors to reconsider the case. The movie, which examines group dynamics as the jury deliberates and jurors change their view, is used by professors in MBA programs.

Actors Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart in a scene from 'The Shop Around the Corner.'

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

#37. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

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

This romantic comedy features a love story between two gift shop employees in Budapest who dislike each other but are actually falling for each other as anonymous pen pals. “The Shop Around the Corner” later inspired the 1998 rom-com “You’ve Got Mail,” starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

Actor Jinpachi Nezu in a scene from ‘Ran.'

Greenwich Film Productions

#36. Ran (1985)

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

The setting is medieval Japan and an elderly warlord turns over his empire to his three sons, only to have them turn on each other. The story is loosely based on Shakespeare’s “King Lear.”

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Actor Choi Woo-shik in a scene from the film ‘Parasite.'

Barunson E&A

#35. Parasite (2019)

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

In this film about class in Korea, the destitute Kim family moves in on the wealthy Park family after the son begins to tutor the Park daughter. Soon all of the Kims have been hired, but when the Parks go camping for a weekend, the story takes a strange turn. “Parasite” won four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film. In an interview with The Atlantic, Bong Joon-ho described tutoring for a rich family while he was in college, thinking it would be fun if his friends could infiltrate the house one at a time.

Actors Marina de Tavira, Marco Graf, Yalitza Aparicio, Daniela Demesa, Diego Cortina Autrey, and Carlos Peralta in a promotional photo for the movie of ‘Roma.'

Esperanto Filmoj

#34. Roma (2018)

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

“Roma” explores the life of a maid in the 1970s, working for a middle-class family in Mexico. When the husband runs off with his mistress, the wife asks the maid, Cleo, to join the family on a vacation. Meanwhile, Cleo has learned she is pregnant. “Roma” was based on Liboria “Libo” Rodríguez, the nanny who cared for director Alfonso Cuarón’s family when he was growing up.

Dumbo flies with crows in a film still from ‘Dumbo.'

Walt Disney Productions

#33. Dumbo (1941)

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

Dumbo is a young elephant who is made fun of because of his oversized ears, but all of that ends when his friend shows him he can fly. Dumbo was so popular that Time magazine planned to put him on its cover as the “Mammal of the Year” in a play on “Man of the Year,” but when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, those plans were scrapped. Dumbo was replaced by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, but he still appeared inside in the cinema section.

Cars are parked outside Mel's Diner in a scene from ‘American Graffiti.'

Universal Pictures

#32. American Graffiti (1973)

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

“American Graffiti” salutes the early 1960s, featuring rock ‘n’ roll, hot rods, and four teenage friends contemplating their futures. Inspired by George Lucas’ upbringing in Modesto, California, this coming-of-age movie was his second feature film.

Actors Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando in a scene from 'A Streetcar Named Desire.'

Charles K. Feldman Group

#31. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

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

Based on Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, “A Streetcar Named Desire” stars Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois, a high school teacher who moves in with her sister when she loses her home to creditors, and clashes with her brother-in-law. The Catholic Legion of Decency threatened the film with a condemned rating, forcing cuts, and Kazan’s full version wasn’t seen until 1993.

Actors in scene from ‘Battleship Potemkin.'


#30. Battleship Potemkin (1926)

– Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein
– Metascore: 97
– Runtime: 66 minutes

The setting is the Russian Revolution, and the crew of the Battleship Potemkin revolts against the officers. Demonstrations break out in Odessa, resulting in a massacre. Some countries, including the United Kingdom and France, banned the movie not because of indecency, but because of fears that it would encourage sympathy for communism. The New Yorker called director Sergei M. Eisenstein cinema’s first modernist.

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Actors Anamaria Marinca and Laura Vasiliu in a scene from ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.'

Mobra Films

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

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

A woman helps a friend get an abortion in Romania in the 1980s, when abortions were illegal. Contraception was also illegal in the country under the regime of dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, who tried to build his country through population growth, resulting in orphanages filled with unwanted children. The movie, despite widespread praise, failed to get an Oscar nomination and some critics suspected that was because of the subject.

Actors Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in a scene from ‘Gone with the Wind’

Selznick International Pictures

#28. Gone with the Wind (1940)

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

This Southern classic of a romance between the manipulative Scarlett (Vivien Leigh) and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) was set against the Civil War and Reconstruction. The film was based on the book by Margaret Mitchell about an antebellum South of plantations, including the movie’s beloved Tara. In 2020, HBO Max restored the movie, noting that it denied “the horrors of slavery” on which that world rested.

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Actor Jasna Djuricic in ‘Quo Vadis, Aida?’

Deblokada Produkcija

#27. Quo Vadis, Aida? (2021)

– Director: Jasmila Žbanić
– Metascore: 97
– Runtime: 101 minutes

“Quo Vadis, Aida?” is a Bosnian film that dramatizes the heartbreaking events of the Srebrenica massacre, which saw the death of 7,000 Bosniak boys and men, through the eyes of a mother named Aida. “Quo Vadis, Aida?” was nominated for Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards.

Actors Anna Karina and Michel Subor in a scene from ‘Le Petit Soldat.'

Les Productions Georges de Beauregard

#26. Le Petit Soldat (1963)

– Director: Jean-Luc Godard
– Metascore: 97
– Runtime: 88 minutes

“Le Petit Soldat” looks at love across the political divide of Algeria, as a man and woman on opposite sides of the war for independence from France fall for one another. The movie, Jean-Luc Godard’s second after “Breathless,” was actually completed in 1960, but French censors delayed its release. They banned it for scenes of brutal methods.

Actor Daniel Day-Lewis in a scene from ‘My Left Foot.'

Ferndale Films

#25. My Left Foot (1989)

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

Christy Brown, an Irish man with cerebral palsy, learns to write and paint with his left foot, the only limb he can control. Despite a diagnosis after his birth that he is mentally impaired and should be placed in an institution, his mother sees his intelligence and talent. When he died in 1981, he had produced hundreds of paintings and had written four books of poetry, four novels, and a memoir.

Actors Henri Serre, Oskar Werner, and Jeanne Moreau in a scene from ‘Jules and Jim.'

Les Films du Carrosse

#24. Jules and Jim (1962)

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

A woman named Catherine chooses between two friends, Jules and Jim, both of whom fall in love with her before World War II in Paris. But after the war, in Germany, Catherine begins to love the other man. The novel that inspired the movie was based on the experiences of author Henri-Pierre Roche.

Actors Bette Davis, Celeste Holm, Hugh Marlowe, and Thelma Ritter in a scene from ‘All About Eve.'

20th Century Fox

#23. All About Eve (1950)

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

An aging Broadway star takes a fan into her circle, unaware that the younger actor wants her career and her fiancé. Bette Davis and Gary Merrill, co-stars in the movie, fell in love during its filming and married a few weeks after it was finished. In a 1983 interview, Davis said being chosen for the film saved her career after a series of failures: “He resurrected me from the dead,” she said of director Joseph Mankiewicz.

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Actor Masayuki Mori in a scene from ‘Rashomon.'


#22. Rashomon (1951)

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

A wife’s assault and the murder of her husband, a samurai, are described by three people at the trial: the woman herself, the samurai’s ghost, and a bandit who allegedly committed the crimes. Later, a priest, the woodcutter who found the body, and another man find shelter in what remains of a gatehouse called Rashomon and the story unfolds with twists.

Actor Ivana Baquero in a scene from ‘Pan's Labyrinth.'

Estudios Picasso

#21. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

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

The stepdaughter of a ruthless Spanish army officer embraces a fantasy world in Spain in 1944. The faun in the movie was inspired by a dream director Guillermo del Toro had as a child: A faun would step out from behind his grandmother’s armoire at midnight. The ruined town seen when the film opens is Belchite, in Zaragoza, Spain, destroyed during the Spanish Civil War.

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Actor Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt, and Walter Huston in a scene from ‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.'

Warner Bros.

#20. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

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

Two Americans join with a prospector to search for gold in the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico. They find treasure but their good luck is threatened by greed and bandits. The movie won three Oscars—Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Director, and Best Screenplay—and was nominated for Best Picture.

Actors Mireille Balin, Jean Gabin, and Lucas Gridoux in a scene from ‘Pépé le Moko.'

Paris Film

#19. Pépé le Moko (1937)

– Director: Julien Duvivier
– Metascore: 98
– Runtime: 94 minutes

In “Pépé le Moko,” the title character takes refuge in the casbah of Algiers—from the police, from rivals hoping to vanquish him, and from women who want him. Homesick and trapped, he is lured out by a Parisian beauty. The film was an inspiration for Graham Greene’s “The Third Man.

Actor Anne Wiazemsky in a scene from ‘Au Hazard Balthazar.'

Argos Films

#18. Au hasard Balthazar (1966)

– Director: Robert Bresson
– Metascore: 98
– Runtime: 95 minutes

This film tells the story of a donkey, Balthazar, as he moves from one owner to another—some of whom are kind and some of whom mistreat him—and of his first owner, Marie. The farm girl also finds cruelty and beauty in her life. Director Robert Bresson said in an interview that he was moved to make the movie after reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel “The Idiot,” in which the main character talks of his fondness for donkeys.

Actors Toshirô Mifune, Minoru Chiaki, Yoshio Inaba, Daisuke Katô, Isao Kimura, Seiji Miyaguchi, and Takashi Shimura in a film still from ‘Seven Samurai.'

Toho Company

#17. Seven Samurai (2002)

– Director: Akira Kurosawa
– Metascore: 98
– Runtime: 207 minutes

Another classic from Akira Kurosawa, “Seven Samurai” recounts the tale of a 16th-century village that hires warriors to protect the residents against bandits. BBC writer Anne Billson said that Kurosawa combined the conventions of the traditional Western with a melding of two Japanese genres, the swordplay film and the period drama.

Actors Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh in a scene from ‘Touch of Evil.'

Universal Pictures

#16. Touch of Evil (1958)

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

This film noir set on the Mexican border includes kidnapping, murder, and corruption. Star Charlton Heston later wrote that he regretted not giving the Mexican drug enforcement officer whom he played an accent. “I took the easy answer: ‘He’s very well educated, mostly in the U.S., he comes from a bilingual family; he speaks perfect English,'” he wrote in his autobiography. “That was lazy of me, and wrong. No one speaks perfect English, and no one not raised speaking it is totally without an accent.”

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Actors Alex R. Hibbert and Jaden Piner in a scene from ‘Moonlight.'


#15. Moonlight (2016)

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

The story tracks three periods of Chiron’s life: his adolescence, his mid-teenage years, and finally young adulthood. The three actors who played Chiron barely even met during production, according to The Associated Press. The movie is based on a play by MacArthur Fellow Tarell Alvin McCraney, “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” which had not been produced.

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Actors Charlie Chaplin and Virginia Cherril in a scene from ‘City Lights.'

Charles Chaplin Productions

#14. City Lights (1931)

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

This is another Charlie Chaplin classic, in which his signature character the Little Tramp falls in love with a blind flower girl and helps her get money for an operation that could restore her sight.

Actor Robert Mitchum in a scene from ‘The Night of the Hunter.'

Paul Gregory Productions

#13. The Night of the Hunter (1955)

– Director: Charles Laughton
– Metascore: 99
– Runtime: 92 minutes

A widow’s children resist telling their mother’s new husband, a preacher, where their father hid the $10,000 he stole. The preacher character was inspired by Dutch-born serial killer Harry Powers.

Actors Pernilla Allwin, Ewa Fröling, and Bertil Guve in a scene from ‘Fanny and Alexander.'

Svenska Filminstitutet (SFI)

#12. Fanny and Alexander (1982)

– Director: Ingmar Bergman
– Metascore: 100
– Runtime: 188 minutes

Viewers meet the Ekdahl family through the eyes of 10-year-old Alexander in a movie that has been described as Ingmar Bergman’s most autobiographical, and his goodbye to cinema. The children grow up in a wealthy and loving family, but after their father’s death, their mother marries a bishop with whom Alexander has a strained relationship.

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Actor Burt Lancaster in a scene from ‘Sweet Smell of Success’

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

#11. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

– Director: Alexander Mackendrick
– Metascore: 100
– Runtime: 96 minutes

A Broadway columnist, J.J. Hunsecker, convinces a press agent to break up his sister’s romance in “Sweet Smell of Success.” The movie was initially poorly received, but appreciation for it has increased over time. In fact, “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan named two episodes in the first season of the series “Cat’s in the Bag …” and “…And the Bag’s in the River,” direct quotes from “Sweet Smell of Success,” which is one of Gilligan’s favorite movies.


Actors Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant in a scene from ‘Notorious.'

RKO Radio Pictures

#10. Notorious (1946)

– Director: Alfred Hitchcock
– Metascore: 100
– Runtime: 102 minutes

In this post-wartime drama, a woman is asked to spy on Nazis in South Africa. To clarify a plot point, writer Ben Hecht and director Alfred Hitchcock approached Nobel Prize-winning physicist Robert Millikan about how to make an atomic bomb. Millikan would not say but agreed that the uranium could fit in a wine bottle.

Actor Irène Jacob in a scene from ‘Three Colors: Red.'


#9. Three Colors: Red (1994)

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

In this romantic drama, a retired judge is found to be invading people’s privacy and listening in on their phone calls. The movie is part of the Three Colors trilogy, with the others titled “Blue” and “White.”

Actors Dominique Sanda and Stefania Sandrelli dance in a scene from ‘The Conformist.'

Mars Film

#8. The Conformist (1970)

– Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
– Metascore: 100
– Runtime: 113 minutes

This political drama involves an Italian fascist sympathizer who is trying to order the assassination of his former teacher. The script is based on Alberto Moravia’s 1951 novel of the same name and it earned writer-director Bernardo Bertolucci an Oscar nomination for his adapted screenplay.

Actor Ellar Coltrane in a scene from ‘Boyhood.'

IFC Films

#7. Boyhood (2014)

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

The film looks at the life of a boy named Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane, from childhood until he begins college, including scenes of family dinners, graduations, and other milestones. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette play his parents. The movie was 12 years in the making and in an interview with The Guardian, Linklater described Coltrane as “the kind who was going to be his own guy, he had not come out of a cookie cutter.”

Actors Humphrey Bogart, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, and Ingrid Bergman pose for a publicity still for the movie ‘Casablanca'.

Warner Bros.

#6. Casablanca (1943)

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

This classic features Rick Blaine, an expatriate cafe owner played by Humphrey Bogart, and his former lover, Ingrid Bergman, who is trying to flee Casablanca with her husband at the beginning of World War II. The movie includes Rick’s memorable line, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” and the song, “As Time Goes By,” played by Dooley Wilson as Sam. “Casablanca” won three Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.

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Actor Burt Lancaster with his co-stars in a scene from ‘The Leopard.'

20th Century Fox

#5. The Leopard (1963)

– Director: Luchino Visconti
– Metascore: 100
– Runtime: 186 minutes

In the midst of social disruption in Sicily in the 1860s, the Prince of Salina, or the Leopard, tries to hold on to his position. As his fortunes decline, a former peasant, Don Calogero Sedara, becomes wealthy.

Actor and director Orson Welles in a scene from ‘Citizen Kane.'

RKO Radio Pictures

#4. Citizen Kane (1941)

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

The final word from newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane is one the best-known in film history: rosebud. A reporter works to decipher its meaning and to illuminate Kane’s life.

Actors Marlon Brando and Salvatore Corsitto in ‘The Godfather.'

Paramount Pictures

#3. The Godfather (1972)

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

“The Godfather” is the first of Francis Ford Coppola’s three films about the Corleone crime family in New York. As the series begins, Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is still the godfather of the operation and a generational dispute erupts over whether to traffick drugs. Meanwhile his youngest son, Michael, a decorated World War II veteran, tries to steer clear of the family’s criminal operations. To create Vito’s signature jowls, Brando wore a mouthpiece called a plumper, which is showcased at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York.

Actors George Sanders and Ingrid Bergman in a scene from ‘Voyage to Italy.'

Italia Film

#2. Voyage to Italy (1954)

– Director: Roberto Rossellini
– Metascore: 100
– Runtime: 97 minutes

This drama starring Ingrid Bergman features an unhappily married couple on vacation in Naples, with her husband being played by George Sanders. Though the concept may seem simple, “Voyage to Italy”—which is also known as “Journey to Italy”—is considered groundbreaking in its portrayal of complex emotions and spirituality. It’s been hailed one of the “most influential films of the postwar era.”

Anthony Quinn, Peter O’Toole, and Omar Sharif in a scene from ‘Lawrence of Arabia’

Horizon Pictures (II)

#1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

– Director: David Lean
– Metascore: 100
– Runtime: 228 minutes

“Lawrence of Arabia” is based on the life of T.E. Lawrence, who has been described by biographer Scott Anderson as a “young, bashful Oxford scholar who rode into battle at the head of an Arab army and changed history.” He united troops during World War I to fight the Turks. The movie won seven of the 10 Academy Awards it was nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Art Direction—Color, Best Cinematography—Color, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Sound.

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