It is finally time! For four years now I have wanted to make the Top 100 Greatest Movies of All Time… I waited, I watched, and I plotted. I finally feel like it is time to finally make the definitive list.
Please keep in mind, this list is meant to be more than just a movies quality. I can understand that a lot of the older movies are known for being classics and masterpieces… BUT other movies have impacted the culture of society more and, as such, they will be ranked higher then just for the fact that a movie has been traditionally seen as a classic. Also keep in mind that this list will be a little more skewed towards newer movies. NOW, that doesn’t mean the old movies are still going to be present. As a matter of fact, number one and several of the top ones are still going to be the same. But as time has gone on, movies like Contempt have been overpassed by the cultural power of something like The Rocky Horror Picture Show. So just bare in mind the criteria of the list. The films were each judged by the following:
A film’s quality
The Cultural Impact of the Film
The Mechanics of a Film
A Certain Aspect of the Film that Changed Filmmaking in the Popular Culture
All genres will be treated fairly. Dramas will not, and should not, be held in higher regard to horror, comedy, and so forth simply due to the fact they are telling a heavier story
2017 movies are not in the running for the list. But 2016 movies will be in the running to make the list.
*Disclaimer… I am one guy with a personal opinion so some of it may permeate to the placement of the films, though I tried to be as objective as possible. Just keep in mind, unlike other lists that has a score of people. This is one dude assessing hundreds of movies.*
With that being said, choosing the Top 100 was no small feat. In fact even with the soon to be mentioned 50 honorable mentions, I left out a great number of movies that killed me to take off the list. Whenever I went through every movie released from 1900 to 2016, I had a shortlist of 651 potential movies that I could make a case for being in the Top 100. So bare this in mind, that I had to remove 500 worthy contenders before I got to the definitive list. Movies like Jerry Maguire, Good Will Hunting, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, Rain Man, The Ten Commandments, A League of their Own, Home Alone, Couching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Secret of NIMH, and Grease are all movies that just BARELY missed the cut… So it isn’t something that was particularly easy to do.
The following is the final 50 movies that just missed the Top 100 List… But will get some recognition for their influence on cinema.
The Thing: Arguably the best film from director John Carpenter, the 1980’s horror classic has become the prime example of how the use of practical effects and lighting can make a movie spectacular. A combination of the two plus a brilliantly written script that builds on paranoia and suspense earns The Thing a spot on the honorable mentions.
Ghostbusters: Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters! A phrase that is engrained in our culture, Ghostbusters is one of the most endearing and fun comedies of all time. With the combined star power of Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, & Rick Moranis, the writing of Ramis, and the direction of Ivan Reitman, Ghostbusters has endured the test of time to be a hit for any generation.
The Battle of Algiers: A moving and powerful film about the horrors of war and the ruination of Africa at the hands of colonial powers, Gillo Pontecorvo’s La Battaglia di Algeri stands the test of time as one of the greatest war movies ever made.
Django Unchained: The Quentin Tarantino love letter to blacksploitation cinema and the spaghetti western took a modern spin, with a Tarantino ultra-violence twist, to two classic genres of cinema.
Good Morning, Vietnam!: Good Morning, Vietnam! is the perfect blend of Robin Williams comedic and serious side. Making the character Adrian Cronauer his own, Williams gives one of his all time best performances second only to his part in Good Will Hunting.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari: While arguably the first traditional horror movie, this German film directed by Robert Wiene and starring Werner Krauss is irrefutably instrumental in the shaping of the horror movie genre.
Predator: The quintessential Arnie movie, this is an iconic 80’s horror movie that created a stellar franchise. Using the concept of an intelligent alien species with an honor code that hunts soldiers for gain, Predator is engaging. It uses the hunter hunted concept to perfection and offers a perfect blend carnage and wit to keep you watching until the last frame.
Wuthering Heights: One of the all time classics, Wuthering Heights now approaches its 80 year anniversary. To this day, it still remains one of the best told stories of all time.
Felicity: One of the most important exploitation films of all time, the Australian movie, Felicity, while offering a the sexploitative nature of lesbian affairs, ended up unintentionally becoming one of the prototypical movies for later films with LGBT motifs.
Aliens: For those of you who follow my website regularly, you know Aliens is my all time favorite movie. Even so, the movie is not in the running for the Top 100, it still deserves credit for its popularization of the action horror film and came complete with magnificent one liners and a timeless movie.
Dogma: Arguably the best movie released by Kevin Smith, competing with films like Chasing Amy and Clerks, Dogma is a 90’s to 2000’s way of tackling the concept of religious issues in contemporary Christianity.
Halloween: The original slasher movie, Wes Craven’s Halloween permanently altered the horror movie genre with the use of brilliant audio cues, an unstoppable killer, and the use of an innocent protagonist in Jamie Lee Curtis.
Caberet: Bizarrely sleek, some hints of sexy, a lot of sass, and a touch of historical drama would be the recipe I would use in order to create Caberet. The fascinating music drama set in the final days of the Weimer Republic Germany and starring the irresistible Liza Minnelli, Caberet is one of the best musical movies in existence.
Footloose: Loosely based on a town in Oklahoma, Footloose is truly representative of teenage rebelliousness. Arguably Kevin Bacon in his best role, Footloose is a story that is transcendent to any generation. Telling the stuck up old folks that they simply do not have all the answers.
Dirty Dancing: Working at the hotel and resort where Dirty Dancing was filmed… Believe me… I’m sick of this movie. How many times have I watched it for or with tourists? All I’m going to say is two times too many. However, I cannot deny Dirty Dancing for being one of the most iconic movies of the 80’s. It has some of the best cinematography of its time with the lift and the song, “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” becoming some of the most iconic pieces of artwork.
The Dark Knight: While Memento may be Christopher Nolan’s best work, it certainly isn’t his most iconic. The 2010’s will forever be remembered as the time of the superheroes. But before the brightness of the Marvel Cinematic Universe truly took off, The Dark Knight represented the last of the dark, gritty, and well made releases of the era before it in the superhero movie genre. With combined stellar performances from Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, and the direction of Nolan, The Dark Knight will be remembered as one of the most iconic and beloved movies of its time.
The Breakfast Club: The John Holmes magnum opus, The Breakfast Club is a story that has transcended time. The combination of the basketcase, the jock, the brain, the princess, and the criminal and the mending of different world views.
Avatar: While it has lost some tractions due to overexposure in years after, the James Cameron film will be remembered for creating a new wave of filmmaking with the use of CGI, 3D animation, and vibrant color patterns.
Titanic: A second film in a row from director James Cameron, Titanic became the defining movie of the 1990’s. Winning record breaking Academy Awards and dominating the 1997 film market, Titanic makes it on this list for being one of the most iconic movies of 90’s cinema.
Fargo: This spot is going to be controversial and I fully admit that it may be bias on my part. I am not a fan of Fargo and personally feel that it is an overrated movie. HOWEVER, I cannot deny, no matter my personal opinion, that Fargo is an iconic film. It is a game changing dark comedy… However, my own opinion on the film means I cannot put it in the Top 100. So it lands in the honorable mentions.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a cultural powerhouse. While its significance has waned over the years in lieu of other scientific movies that have pushed harder envelopes, it still remains one of Steven Spielberg’s greatest works and ignited our sense of wonder in the unknown over again.
Caddyshack: If you haven’t seen Caddyshackk, stop what you are doing and go watch Caddyshack. The star-studded movie penned and directed by Harold Ramis is comedy gold. Using a variety of comedic set pieces and brilliantly acted characters, Caddyshack is an absolute classic comedy.
8 1/2: Federico Fellini’s Otto e Mezzo is a fun movie that very much is symbolic, not just of filmmaking, but of Italian cinema in general. A right amount of comedy, drama, and the unique style of Italian directors, Otto e Mezzo is one of the best you can ever see.
Back to the Future: One of the best movies of the 1980’s, Back to the Future is a fun little movie about the advantages and pitfalls of time travel. Marty McFly and Doc Brown remain two of the most iconic characters in cinema history and it was the movie that was able to take the Delorean car and turn it into something that was at least memorable compared to its abysmal car sales.
Hot Fuzz: This may seem an odd selection and one that someone will surely cry foul over. BUT, here me out. The second film in the “Blood & Ice Cream Trilogy,” the Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, & Nick Frost film is one of the best made comedies in modern day and an absolute love letter to buddy cop style action movies.
Complete with a flawlessly written script, Hot Fuzz ensures that every single line, every single joke, every single shot is important. The film builds off of itself with call backs and easter eggs that you will not catch until your fifth or sixth watch. Not only is it one of the greatest movies ever made, it is also one of the most underrated films of all time.
Almost Famous: The magnum opus of Cameron Crowe’s career, just edging out Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous is a powerful movie that finds the perfect blend of comedy and drama as it follows a rock band and the life on the road. It is funny, dramatic, cathartic, and painful all rolled into one phenomenal movie.
Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail: Life of Brian almost made it on the honorable mention list, but ultimately it just barely slipped away… The Quest of the Holy Grail, however, there is no way it wasn’t making it on the honorable mentions. The Quest for the Holy Grail is a movie that is still lauded to this day as a quotable and silly film meant to be enjoyed for all ages.
A Fistful of Dollars: The first in the Dollars franchise, A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly which will make an appearance on the Top 100 are some of the best westerns you can ever watch. One of the “Spaghetti Westerns,” there is something about Italian westerns that just sales it for me a little more over the others.
Amadeus: Never was particularly a fan of Amadeus. It always felt boring in all honesty. However, I cannot deny its cultural impact and the genius of the movie. As such, it makes it onto the honorable mentions.
Easy Rider: The quintessential counter-culture movie, Easy Rider is an absolute classic. Starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern, Easy Rider was one of the movies to spark the New Hollywood era as well as add to the mystique of bike riding through the United States.
A Beautiful Mind: While the careers of Russell Crowe and Akia Goldsman have been… Interesting, shall we say? That doesn’t take away from the excellent movie that is A Beautiful Mind. While it did come during the time of the overly hyped “Academy Drama.” The movie was still an enjoying watch and an emotionally driven one to boot.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Tragically, this is a movie that has seemed to have fallen out of the public consciousness. Which truly is a shame as it is an astounding movie. One of the best choreographed films of all time, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon revolutionized modern action sequences.
LA Confidential: L.A. Confidential is a movie that had the misfortune to come out the same year as James Cameron’s Titanic. As such, it was initially forgotten for the more popular of the two movies. However, time has been kind to it. Being seen as the more artistically merited movie, LA Confidential has received several accolades after the initial Academy Award snuffs.
Strangers on a Train: This one is actually kind of sad for me. Strangers on a Train is one of, if not, my favorite Hitchcock movie and I wanted to put it in the Top 100 so bad. But tragically it was one of the final ones I knew had to get the chop. As such, this incredible story finds its way to the honorable mentions.
American Graffiti: The other movie directed by George Lucas aside from Star Wars to make it onto this list, American Graffiti is a classic coming of age story. Starring a young Ron Howard and Richard Dreyfus, John Holmes isn’t the only guy who can come up with a coming of age masterpiece.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: A couple of years back, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? would have easily made the Top 100. As of now, the erosion of time has dulled it slightly just missing the list. However, that still does not take away its cultural significance or take away the messages of spousal troubles, psychological trauma, and troubled marriages.
Aladdin: This was the first movie I ever saw in theaters and I remember it fondly to this day. It remains one of the best movies in the Disney Renaissance with a classic story and breathtaking animation it is easy one of the all time classics.
Eraserhead: Not only is this a must watch, this David Lynch movie is an absolute mindbender. The 88 minute movie is bizarre from start to finish and represents Lynch’s work at his absolute best.
High Noon: High Noon pained me to take off of the Top 100. It is an amazing western and gave us one of the greatest western heroes of all time in Will Kane, played by the stellar Gary Cooper and Lee Majors. Tragically it was one of the few movies that just got bumped off. However, that shouldn’t take away from the fact that this is one of the best westerns to ever be produced and tells a compelling story about the dangers of political black listing.
Shane: One of the movies to just drop off the list due to its increasing obscurity over the marching of the years, Shane still remains one of the greatest western movies to ever be made. Shane is a masterpiece using the picturesque and gorgeous western back drop, hard action, and unbridled passion to create a perfect western. To this day the closing scenes of Shane riding off into the sunset with Joey crying out “Shane, come back!” remains one of the most iconic pieces of filmmaking that is still present in the popular culture.
Roman Holiday: Arguably the best Audrey Hepburn film and one of the first true romantic comedies, Roman Holiday is classic filmmaking. Using many of the rom-com tropes that we see today, it blazed a trail for an entire genre as well as giving us one of the prototypical versions of the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” trope.
All that Jazz: Boy is All that Jazz a rough watch. The Bob Fosse movie can be classified by many things, musical, drama, with just a small hint of comedy. It isn’t for everyone, but those who enjoy the music and the dark comedy can find some joy in this film.
Dances with Wolves: I’m not a huge fan of Dances with Wolves… Mainly because I’m not a huge Kevin Costner fan. So when I have a Kevin Costner directed, starring, and produced film… I’m not exactly shooting out of my seat to see it. But I can still respect it for its place in cinema history. So it makes the honorable mentions.
Trainspotting: Trainspotting is an engaging movie. I am typically a stickler about protagonists being relatable and interesting characters… Which is hard to pull off when your protagonists are shit heads. This movie is able to walk that fine line between shithead people and keeping them engaging for the viewer. It is what movies like Requiem for a Dream wish it could be.
12 Angry Men: The quintessential court room drama, 12 Angry Men is a movie that you still see referenced to this day. It is a great movie, a great mystery, and a great framing for a compelling story.
Platoon: One of the first movies from director Oliver Stone, Platoon has the ironic distinction of being one of the best war movies of all time by being a movie that is very much anti war. Making a movie that opposes the Vietnam war is somewhat of an easy mark. But Stone finds the perfect balance, making it one of the most poignant movies on the subject to ever be released.
The Exorcist: The Exorcist is often considered to be the greatest horror movie of all time. While the jury is still out on that one, The Exorcist is a terrifying movie and one of the few exorcisms to truly work. Creating the tropes that are used to ad-nausem today, the blend of Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, and some of the best make up effects and practical effects in a movie makes The Exorcist a sight to behold.
Saving Private Ryan: The Spielberg directed World War II made its mark as one of the most iconic movies from the 1990’s. Nominated for eleven Academy Awards, winning five, and arguably cheated out of Best picture in lieu for the movie Shakespeare in Love, Saving Private Ryan was one of the best modern narratives on the subject of war and loss.
Nosferatu: One of the original horror movies, this 1922 film still remains one of the greatest movies of all time. With a combination of the make up, acting of Max Schreck, and the use of lighting, Nosferatu just barely missed the Top 100.
Full Metal Jacket: Making it at the 101 list, just barely missing the cut is a movie that I am slightly harder on than most critics. If it weren’t for the fact that the second half of Full Metal Jacket is forgettable compared to the stellar portion in boot camp, this one would easily crack the Top 100 and into the 80’s or 70’s. But tragically it gets docked to just off the list. That being said though, this is still a phenomenal movie and one of Stanley Kubrick’s best works. As such, it gets the honor of being 101.
Thank you for reading and in a couple of days the Top 100 list will be released! Please like and subscribe for more and check me out on YouTube!