1. Citizen Kane (1941)
Directed by Orson Welles
One word: Rosebud. It’s still the greatest movie of all time. Telling the story of a newspaper tycoon based on William Randolph Hearst, the 25-year-old genius Orson Welles poured his own swaggering, larger-than-life soul into a tragic and exuberant American saga of journalism, power, celebrity, idealism, betrayal, and lost love. No matter how many times you’ve seen Kane, it always feels like the first time. That’s because Welles’ filmmaking remains spectacularly alive: The thrill of invention is there in every shot, every performance, every breathless narrative surge.
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2. The Godfather (1972)
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Coppola’s tale of crime and family is the most mythic cinematic landmark of the past half century. It heightens Mafia violence into a metaphor for American corporate ruthlessness, presenting Marlon Brando’s Don Corleone as the grandest of movie criminals — a monster we revere for his courtly loyalty.
3. Casablanca (1942)
Directed by Michael Curtiz
WWII movie perfection. Hollywood’s most celebrated love story was made as just an average studio pic but now exemplifies old-movie magic. Story, lighting, music, craftsmanship, and every glance between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman resonate with a magnificence that even the brashest studio mogul couldn’t have predicted.
4. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
5. Psycho (1960)
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
The granddaddy of all slasher films (as well as the most profound horror movie ever made), Hitchcock’s famous thriller takes the revolutionary step of killing off its heroine (Janet Leigh) halfway through, all as a way of placing the audience in the mind of a madman (Anthony Perkins).
6. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Directed by Frank Capra
In Capra’s eternal holiday classic, James Stewart gives one of the best big-screen performances as a small-town good guy who learns what life would have been like without him. The movie is really about how hard it is for us to see the magic of life as we’re living it.
7. Mean Streets (1973)
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Scorsese’s film about low-level New York Mob hoods is still the director’s greatest exploration of crime, rock & roll, Italian-American manhood, and the wages of sin. The ”Be My Baby” opening credits may be the single most electrifying use of pop music in Hollywood history.
8. The Gold Rush (1925)
9. Nashville (1975)
10. Gone with the Wind (1939)
11. King Kong (1933)
12. The Searchers (1956)
13. Annie Hall (1977)
14. Bambi (1942)
Directed by David Hand
It’s gorgeous and touching. When hunters kill Bambi’s mother, it’s a sentimental shock that sends the young deer on a primal journey.
15. Blue Velvet (1986)
16. Singin' in the Rain (1952)
17. Seven Samurai (1954)
18. Jaws (1975)
19. Pulp Fiction (1994)
20. The Sorrow and the Pity (1969)
Directed by Marcel Ophüls
In documenting the history of the Nazi occupation of France with exhaustive patience, Ophüls’ film plumbs vital questions of truth and memory.
21. Some Like It Hot (1959)
Directed by Billy Wilder
One of the most perfect of all farcical comedies, about two musicians who dress in drag to join an all-girl band because…well, nobody’s perfect.
22. Toy Story (1995)
23. Notorious (1946)
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcock’s hypnotically suspenseful saga of love and espionage, starring Cary Grant as a supersuave secret agent and Ingrid Bergman as the woman who engages him in one of the longest kisses in screen history.
24. The Sound of Music (1965)
Directed by Robert Wise
The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical about the von Trapp family singers gets turned into a famously square movie. But it’s remarkably, wholesomely impassioned, with an incandescent Julie Andrews as the would-be nun who finds herself as a choral den mother.
25. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Kubrick’s science-fiction masterpiece is a cosmic jaw-dropper of unearthly beauty, whether we’re watching ships glide through space to ”The Blue Danube” or charting the showdown between two astronauts and a computer that seems to have feelings. The ending can still blow your mind.
26. Bicycle Thieves (1948)
27. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Directed by John Huston
Film-noir perfection and the stuff that dreams are made of: Humphrey Bogart is Sam Spade, a detective entangled with a valuable carved bird, unsavory types who covet it, and a divinely shady dame. It was the amazing directorial debut of Huston, who went on to form a beautiful professional friendship with Bogart.
28. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Directed by Victor Fleming
The most powerfully odd and enchanting fairy tale to come out of Hollywood, the adventure of Dorothy in Oz has the enduring magic of a backlot daydream, with a shivery touch of nightmare in Margaret Hamilton’s performance as the Wicked Witch of the West.
29. North by Northwest (1959)
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcock’s globe-trotting suspense classic, starring Cary Grant as an innocent man mistaken for a spy. It’s the first true contemporary thriller, with an out-of-the-frying-pan existential wildness typified by the famous crop-dusting sequence.
30. Sunrise (1927)
Directed by F.W. Murnau
The most heart-wrenching and lyrical of all silent films, Murnau’s rapturous tale uses breathtakingly advanced cinematographic techniques to tell the story of a couple who must fall apart in order to come together.
31. Chinatown (1974)
32. Duck Soup (1933)
33. The Graduate (1967)
Directed by Mike Nichols
The story of a boy, a girl, and a Mrs. Robinson is one of the most revolutionary movies of the ’60s. As Benjamin Braddock, a lad torn between respectability and dropping out (and as confused about it as Hamlet), Dustin Hoffman redefined movie stardom.
34. Adam's Rib (1949)
35. Apocalypse Now (1979)
36. Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Directed by Roman Polanski
More artful than The Exorcist (and just as disturbing), Polanski’s chiller gives you a magnificent case of the everyday shivers. Mia Farrow is a pregnant New Yorker who never suspects that the quirky old couple down the hall are Satan worshippers.
37. Manhattan (1979)
38. Vertigo (1958)
39. The Rules of the Game (1939)
40. Double Indemnity (1944)
41. The Road Warrior (1981)
42. Taxi Driver (1976)
43. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
44. On the Waterfront (1954)
45. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
46. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
47. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
48. It Happened One Night (1934)
49. Goldfinger (1964)
50. Intolerance (1916)
Directed by D.W. Griffith
The silent master Griffith did more than anyone else to invent the language of movie storytelling, and this four-part parable of intolerance through the ages is his loopiest, most colossal, and most inspired achievement. The Babylonian sequence seems to exemplify the infinite possibilities of movies.
51. A Hard Day's Night (1964)
Directed by Richard Lester
A jukebox rock fable that’s really one of the great screen musicals, with the young Beatles snarking and cavorting like gods at play.
52. Titanic (1997)
Directed by James Cameron
The one disaster movie that’s also a work of art, Cameron’s magnificent epic moves us with a youthful love story made memorable by tragedy. The sinking of the Titanic unfolds in real time, which only heightens the film’s everlasting romantic grandeur.
53. Star Wars — Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Directed by Irvin Kershner
Cloud City! The AT-AT Walkers! The sage of the Dagobah system, Yoda! The deepening relationships among darkening characters! For those reasons and so many more, this centerpiece in the first Star Wars trilogy remains the jewel in the intergalactic crown.
54. Breathless (1960)
55. Frankenstein (1931)
56. Schindler's List (1993)
57. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
58. The Seventh Seal (1957)
59. All the President's Men (1976)
Directed by Alan J. Pakula
The ultimate newspaper film, this dramatization of how Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncovered the Watergate scandal is a true-life testament to the fervor — and obsessive, midnight-oil dedication — that fuels the fourth estate.
60. Top Hat (1935)
61. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
62. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
63. Network (1976)
Directed by Sidney Lumet
In the ’70s, Paddy Chayefsky’s biting vision of where TV and celebrity were headed seemed like an over-the-top satire. It now looks like one of the most prophetic movies ever, as Peter Finch’s mad truth-teller single-handedly invents reality TV. The movie foresaw how even authentic populist anger could turn itself into entertainment.