The 10 Greatest Movies of All Time (According to the Internet)

By  · Published on May 8th, 2012

This post is probably not what you think. There are no LOLCats, no Rage Comic stick men bellowing about the superiority of The Dark Knight and Inception. It’s not really a love letter to modernity.

But it’s also not Sight & Sound’s decennial Top Ten List. That prestigious publication has done great work since even before polling critics in 1952 to name the best movies of all time. They’ve recreated the experiment every ten years since (with filmmakers included in 1992), and their 2012 list is due out soon.

However, there is certainly overlap. The FSR poll includes only 37 critics (and 4 filmmakers), but we’re young and have moxy, and none of us were even asked by Sight & Sound for our considerable opinion.

That’s what’s fascinating here. The films nominated by those invited by S&S have the air of critical and social importance to them. They are, almost all, serious works done by serious filmmakers attempting to make serious statements. This list, by contrast, is the temperature of the online movie community in regards to what movies are the “greatest.” The results might be what you expect.

But probably not.

It’s important to note two things. One, there’s a stigma attached to writing online that will exist for quite some time. Print has had centuries to establish itself with a sense of professionalism and gravitas. That sense is false (as anyone who’s spent any time with 96% of print critics can attest to), but it’s still very real. On the other hand, the online world might be made up of the same writer ratio, but it’s still the new kid on the block – having yet to prove itself worthy of the kind of lofty notions that ink-covered hands effortlessly provide.

Two, in setting up the parameters, I’ve done nothing to avoid that conflict. I didn’t instruct the movie writers to come up with “the most important” or “the most enduring” movies. The question of giving the ten best was left intentionally vague so that they could all decide on their own factors.

In the end, they all submitted a list that they were confident putting their names next to, and that’s what matters. After all, even a list of “The Most Influential Films” is based on subjectivity. All lists are. That’s part of the fun. As an aggregate list, this belongs to everyone who voted and to no one. The final master doesn’t reflect anyone’s singular choices, but all contributed to build it. As such, it’s a kind of groping toward quality movies that at least demand to be part of the conversation.

A Quick Note on Methodology

I’ve asked for a full top ten from everyone in an attempt to make things statistically significant. The point system is a simple one. If a film is #10 on the list, it gets 1 point; if it’s #1 on the list, it gets 10. Lather, rinse repeat all the way up and down the list.

As for my own list, I locked it in before any others came in to avoid any ability to sway the tally later on in the process.

The main point system results in some interesting situations. For example, some films that were mentioned the most, weren’t mentioned high enough on lists to get enough points to break into the top ten. Still, breaking into that tier was difficult considering there were 214 movies nominated, and … all of this is boring, right? We should just get to:

The List

  1. Citizen Kane (73 points)
  2. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (61)
  3. The Godfather (57)
  4. Raiders of the Lost Ark (53)
  5. Casablanca (48)
  6. 8 1/2 (44)
  7. Back to the Future (44)
  8. 2001: A Space Odyssey (43)
  9. Bicycle Thieves (41)
  10. Vertigo (40)

All the links go to IMDB entries in case you want to or need to learn more about them.

So what does this list say? For some – I know of at least one voter who thought it reflected poorly on the online community’s seriousness – it confirms all the fears of the old guard. As the person who watched the voting come in (which is more exciting than I feel comfortable admitting), this list is a bit heavy on the late 70s and 80s, but it’s also an interesting mixture of classically lauded time-beaters and newer movies that earn consideration for a spot at the adult’s table. At any rate, by not placing a specific label on it, a lot of voters provided movies that were personally connective.

The other interesting thing about this process was that many of the voters complained about top ten lists, agonized over their creation and offered them up with the grains of salt that we all recognize. This process isn’t objective, no matter what any class of movie analyzers may claim. Like all human constructs, the bizarre beast of the arbitrary is at work in some degree. After all, The Wizard of Oz wouldn’t be the revered, influential movie it is today without yearly plays on television, starting 17 years after its theatrical release thanks to CBS and the Ford Star Jubilee. It might have languished in obscurity, which makes you wonder what other incredible works are out there in the shadows.

For some context, the S&S list from 2002 includes (in descending order): Citizen Kane, Vertigo, The Rules of the Game, The Godfather I and II, Tokyo Story, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Battleship Potempkin, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, 8 1/2, and Singin’ In the Rain. (It wasn’t until this year that they disallowed voting for trilogies as a single entry, a practice this list didn’t allow either.) That’s 5 movies that make both lists.

And since this is the internet – a place that argues constantly about lists – here are the movies that almost made our cut:

What does all this mean? Who the hell knows. What does the S&S list mean? It’s been hailed as an important arbiter of significance, and it’s a popular gauge of definitive yet flexible superiority, but it’s also a giant statistic created by a massive list of names that most people have never heard of. That’s not meant as a dig, because the S&S list should be applauded (and because this list is similar). It’s a reality check.

A list of “The Best Movies” from anyone is little more than trivia. At best, it’s a solid tool for filling your rental queue, and perhaps it’s a reasonable standard for what movies are remembered as vital, but it can never be more than that. If you hate Citizen Kane, no list can convince you that it’s the best. It might be able to argue effectively that it was important and influential to other filmmakers, but the ghost of personal choice will always haunt processes like this – even if they wear a monocle and have a fist permanently lodged on the chin.

Continue to Meet the Voters, See What They Voted For and Find Out Why…

Cole Abaius

Managing Editor, Film School Rejects

  1. Vertigo
  2. The General
  3. Bicycle Thieves
  4. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  5. Network
  6. Rashomon
  7. The Wizard of Oz
  8. Modern Times
  9. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  10. A Trip to the Moon

On My List: I love all of these movies. Some enough to get their imagery tattooed on me. Deep down, my subconscious is probably thrilled by the prospect that some of these names are lauded by critical groups and by fans, and maybe there’s some need to “appear smart” in creating a list like this, if there’s any way to create a list that can’t be argued with. But at the end of the rope, none of that noise really matters because all of these films – while wildly different – share a core component of storytelling that moves beyond the norm. They are where the mastery of craftsmanship meet the mastery of humanity/art. Plus, some of them have incredibly catchy soundtracks.

Nathan Adams

Columnist, Over/Under, Film School Rejects

  1. The Big Lebowski
  2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  3. Casablanca
  4. Rushmore
  5. The Godfather
  6. Apocalypse Now
  7. Bleu
  8. The Apartment
  9. Die Hard
  10. The ‘Burbs

On His Top Choice: The greatest comedy of all time, which sometimes leads to people overlooking how masterfully crafted it is from top to bottom. Maybe the best script ever written.

Monika Bartyzel

Film Writer and Mind Behind Girls on Film,

  1. Melancholia
  2. Citizen Kane
  3. Lawrence of Arabia
  4. Limbo
  5. Rear Window
  6. Playtime
  7. The Passion of Joan of Arc
  8. Rashomon
  9. The Godfather
  10. Heathers

On Her List: Ask me next week, and this list would probably change. Like any Top Ten, this is whimsy and love – stunning films currently burning brightest in the memory banks (plus a few mainstays that always impress). These selections move me – whether by skill, ingenuity, or cinematic manipulation. Why Heathers? It feels disingenuous not to include the only film that has consistently felt fresh and dynamic to me, over 20+ years and hundreds of viewings. At the very least, it’s better than Singing in the Rain.

David Bax

Co-host, Battleship Pretension

  1. Vertigo
  2. The Rules of the Game
  3. Black Narcissus
  4. The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie
  5. The Young Girls of Rochefort
  6. There Will Be Blood
  7. Lawrence of Arabia
  8. In the Mood For Love
  9. Picnic at Hanging Rock
  10. Battleship Potemkin

On His List: In choosing the titles for my list, I tried to find the overlap between the films that I objectively think are the best ever made and the ones that have the most personal resonance for me. As a result, favorites of mine such as Barton Fink didn’t make the cut for not having a wide enough impact. And great films such as Citizen Kane got left just outside the boundaries for the simple reason that I don’t get the urge to revisit them often. I was left with a list of movies that engage me on all levels and have done so at many different stages of my life.

Now I need to spend some time contemplating my apparent fixation on stories of sexual obsession/repression.

Josh Brunsting

Critic, Criterion Cast

  1. Breathless
  2. The Passion of Joan of Arc
  3. Modern Times
  4. The Virgin Spring
  5. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
  6. The Grave of the Fireflies
  7. L’Atalante
  8. Tokyo Story
  9. A Married Couple
  10. Brief Encounter

On His Top Choice: Throughout the history of film, various films have caused a tonal shift that ripples throughout the entirety of cinema. However, very few films sparked as much a cinematic revolution as Jean Luc Godard’s greatest film of all time, Breathless. Featuring a neo-realistic sense of style, and two of the greatest performances of the era, Godard’s film is not only the greatest and most influential piece of cinema ever made, but is also the whole reason I stand here before you. It’s just the greatest film ever made.

Chris Bumbray

Critic, JoBlo

  1. A Clockwork Orange
  2. Goodfellas
  3. Boogie Nights
  4. Casablanca
  5. Fight Club
  6. Sullivan’s Travels
  7. Sorcerer
  8. The Exorcist
  9. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  10. Scarface (1983)

On His List: It’s an eclectic list to be sure. The most modern film on the list is Fight Club from ’99, but the reason for this is not that there haven’t been good films lately- but rather that in order for something to truly be considered great, we need time to allow it to simmer. I also think it takes at least a decade to judge whether or not something truly holds up as art. It’s also worth noting that- for me anyways, my top 10 keeps changing. Ask me again in a few years and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were completely different. When I was 12, you could never have convinced me that Rambo: First Blood Part 2 wasn’t the greatest film ever made.

Keith Calder

Film Producer, You’re Next, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Thunder Soul

  1. The Graduate
  2. Casablanca
  3. Lawrence of Arabia
  4. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  5. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
  6. Chinatown
  7. The Sound of Music
  8. Oldboy
  9. The Fly (1986)
  10. Toy Story

On the List: At first I thought this would be fun, but then it just become incredibly stressful. I’m upset at myself for not finding a way to put 100 movies on my top 10 list.

I am following a few simple rules for my list.

a) Only one film per director.
b) Only films I have seen.
c) Only films I love personally.
d) Only films that I consider to be of exceptionally high quality.
e) Only films that I think have had an impact on the overall path of filmmaking.

Christopher Campbell

Managing Editor, Documentary Channel’s DocBlog

  1. Citizen Kane
  2. The General
  3. 8 1/2
  4. Rashomon
  5. Wild Strawberries
  6. Bicycle Thieves
  7. The Man With the Movie Camera
  8. Duck Soup
  9. The Apartment
  10. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Campbell also included a list of personal favorites (which were not tallied in the final vote):

  1. Un Chien Andalou
  2. The Fisher King
  3. Duck Soup
  4. Steamboat Bill, Jr.
  5. Sherman’s March
  6. Badlands
  7. Blade Runner
  8. The Thin Blue Line
  9. 8 1/2
  10. Heathers

On His List of Favorites: I don’t consider these the best films of all time, only my favorite. And even then, they’re simply my favorite today. Titles that have been on that list and fall just below include at least 20–30 others, all of which I could watch again tomorrow and switch out for one of those ten. I always need a mix of movies that make me laugh and make me think deeply about life, the universe and everything. Un Chien Andalou will always be at the top though for being the most life altering film I ever saw at a pivotal moment in time.

Daniel Carlson

Managing Editor, Pajiba

  1. The Godfather
  2. Singin’ In the Rain
  3. Sullivan’s Travels
  4. Sunset Blvd
  5. Citizen Kane
  6. Casablanca
  7. Do the Right Thing
  8. Rashomon
  9. The Apartment
  10. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

On His #1 Pick: Film’s great power is to reflect the difference between who we want to be and who we actually are. No film better captures that emotional schism than The Godfather, a gorgeous, sweeping story of ruin and damnation that charts a family’s very American rise and fall. The crime story, thrilling though it is, takes second place to the heartbreaking tale of power, greed, and self-destruction. You always want Michael to make it out, but you know he never will.

Kevin Carr

Critic/Columnist, Film School Rejects

  1. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
  2. The Thing
  3. It’s a Wonderful Life
  4. Psycho
  5. The Wizard of Oz
  6. The Incredibles
  7. The Exorcist
  8. Boogie Nights
  9. Heathers
  10. American Movie

On His Top Pick: I am a child of the 70s and 80s, and the entire Star Wars saga helped define my generation. It changed the face of movies and has had more impact on my appreciation of popular culture than any other thing ever created.

Adam Charles

Contributor, Film School Rejects

  1. The Passion of Joan of Arc
  2. Ikiru
  3. M
  4. The Wages of Fear
  5. Network
  6. Dr. Strangelove
  7. Harakiri
  8. Children of Men
  9. The Phantom Carriage
  10. Grave of the Fireflies

On His List: When I finally carved the list down to an already painful 20, each omission afterward felt like pulling really big nose hairs. I was shocked I didn’t have a film from Hitchcock, Welles, Scorsese, Spielberg, Bergman, Fellini, Wilder, Keaton, Chaplin or other major filmmakers in Cinema history – and yes I realize I just compared them all to my very untalented nose hairs. In their place I put a newer film that probably hasn’t had enough time to resonate, nor is even maybe thought of as the best picture of its own year and an animated picture that’s probably not even thought of as the best picture from its own studio.

Each of these films though, I believe represent story timelessness, transcend their respective genres in some capacity and have an identity all their own.

Nathan Chase

Co-Founder, Flickchart

  1. The Empire Strikes Back
  2. The Matrix
  3. Aliens
  4. Star Wars
  5. Back to the Future
  6. Ghostbusters
  7. Fight Club
  8. Return of the Jedi
  9. The Abyss
  10. Jurassic Park

On the List: My Top 10 is certainly a product of my age (32) & my particular cinematic taste. I value escapist, high-concept films, groundbreaking special effects in film, and that perfect blend of art, craftsmanship, & entertainment – which I think are all represented well within my list. These are also, of course, well-refined choices by my current 13,582 rankings of 1,147 total movies ranked on my personal Flickchart.

Jorge Del Pinal

Contributor, Film School Rejects

  1. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
  2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  3. Back to the Future
  4. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  5. Die Hard
  6. Jurassic Park
  7. The Shining
  8. Silence of the Lambs
  9. The Lion King
  10. King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters

Kate Erbland

Associate Editor, Film School Rejects

  1. It Happened One Night
  2. North By Northwest
  3. The Graduate
  4. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  5. Back to the Future
  6. Annie Hall
  7. Fight Club
  8. The Breakfast Club
  9. The Searchers
  10. Rear Window

Lauren Flanagan

Freelance Writer, Contributor, Film School Rejects

  1. Goodfellas
  2. The Shawshank Redemption
  3. Best in Show
  4. Psycho
  5. Stand By Me
  6. Rear Window
  7. Citizen Kane
  8. Singin’ In the Rain
  9. The Shining
  10. The Best Years of Our Lives

On Her List: My list is based purely on watchability. If I can watch something over and over again and still be as impressed and/or entertained as I was the first time – for whatever reason – it’s a winner.

Robert Fure

Editor-at-Large, Film School Rejects

  1. North By Northwest
  2. Jaws
  3. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
  4. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
  5. The Thing
  6. The Wages of Fear
  7. Alien
  8. Se7en
  9. Unforgiven
  10. American History X

On His List: For me, a great movie must be entertaining, engaging, and well made. Genre and story are secondary – a great tale can be told about anything. Few people might place The Thing on their list, but it is super engaging, super entertaining, and impeccably made. The films that dominate my list are primarily entertaining, which is how I value movies. Certainly, a film like Schindler’s List is great, but my favorite films, generally, offer more fun. Except, ya know, American History X.

Ryan Gallagher

Editor-In-Chief Criterion

  1. Metropolis
  2. King Kong (1933)
  3. 8 1/2
  4. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  5. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
  6. Akira
  7. Seven Samurai
  8. The Wizard of Oz
  9. Princess Mononoke
  10. The Planet of the Apes (1968)

On His List: These ten films have shaped who I am now as a film enthusiast. I’m terrible at ranking movies this close to my heart, and so my list is in the order that I’d most want to re-watch the film(s) right this second, if someone asked what I wanted to watch.

Simon Gallagher

Columnist/Merch Hunter, Film School Rejects

  1. The Artist
  2. When Harry Met Sally
  3. The Shawshank Redemption
  4. Sleepless in Seattle
  5. It’s a Wonderful Life
  6. Leon
  7. Ghostbusters
  8. Annie Hall
  9. A Nightmare Before Christmas
  10. Rear Window

On His List: I am probably the lowest-brow film-lover in the entire world judging by my choices (Clueless and Varsity Blues both almost made this list), but the greatest stories ever told invariably deal with love or loss, or giant marshmallow men. It really is as simple as that.

Todd Gilchrist

Contributing Editor, The Hollywood Reporter

  1. Boogie Nights
  2. Rushmore
  3. Almost Famous
  4. Empire of the Sun
  5. Out of Sight
  6. Saturday Night Fever
  7. Eat Drink Man Woman
  8. Reservoir Dogs
  9. Mo’ Better Blues
  10. To Live

On His List: I don’t know what it says about me that four out of my top five movies are coming of age stories, but the thing all of these films have in common, to me anyway, is that they’re beautifully-shot, deeply-felt and fully earnest depictions of people growing, evolving, and learning – both about themselves and the world around them. In almost all cases, there’s a real opportunity cost for this knowledge, and the film’s depiction of this discovery is bittersweet (which makes it that much more believable and authentic). And most of all, they give you what you want, but not in the way you want it, which in my opinion is the hallmark of all great entertainment – a certain kind of unpredictability, shrouded in something vaguely recognizable.

Sebastian Gutierrez

Filmmaker (Women in Trouble, Elektra Luxx, Girl Walks Into a Bar)

  1. 8 1/2
  2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  3. Vertigo
  4. All That Jazz
  5. Citizen Kane
  6. Blue Velvet
  7. The Godfather
  8. Sweet Smell of Success
  9. His Girl Friday
  10. Fanny & Alexander

On His Top Choice: The best movie about the artistic process. Fellini didn’t make movies about stories but about the place where dreams and memories meet. Meta before the word was an obscene crutch, the film can be revisited at any time.

Vic Holtreman

Owner/Editor-In-Chief, Screen Rant

  1. Aliens
  2. It’s a Wonderful Life
  3. Casablanca
  4. The Godfather Part 2
  5. Goodfellas
  6. The Princess Bride
  7. Die Hard
  8. The Matrix
  9. The Incredibles
  10. Rocky

On His List: Call me a populist, I don’t care – for me, movies that make my overall top 10 list are those that I can watch over and over again and never tire of them – mostly movies that entertain me, not movies with some deep, meaningful message (if I want that, I’d rather read a novel). Really, I could add another 10–15 films to the list above and just jumble them in no particular order as favorites, but as of the moment when I assembled the list, this is where I stand.


Film Critic and Smasher, Badass Digest




Emily Hagins

Filmmaker, (Pathogen, My Sucky Teen Romance)

  1. E.T.
  2. The Muppet Movie
  3. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  4. There Will Be Blood
  5. The Shining
  6. Bunny Lake is Missing
  7. Hot Fuzz
  8. The Apartment
  9. Zathura
  10. The Red Shoes

On Her List: These are the movies that made me think: “I wish I could one day make a movie that makes someone feel the way I did after watching this.” Some were inspirational to a specific project, others are just masterful examples of storytelling.

Dustin Hucks

Contributor, Film School Rejects

  1. Rear Window
  2. Aliens
  3. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  4. Scanners
  5. The Thin Red Line
  6. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
  7. The Young Lions
  8. Paper Moon
  9. Jurassic Park
  10. Jaws

On His List: I very likely lack the film pedigree many of my colleagues posses – I’ve read more screenplays of great films than I’ve seen said great films. I’d read Platoon four years before I actually sat down and watched it. My dent in the AFI 100 is prospectively gasp-worthy…but that doesn’t minimize the impact of film on my life. My cinematic experiences are what drove me to head to Southern California a decade ago for a film-centric career in writing. Thus, I honor that driving force with my list of the ten best films of all time.

Ben Kendrick

Screen Rant Editor and Host of the Screen Rant Underground Podcast

  1. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
  2. The Dark Knight
  3. Pulp Fiction
  4. Up
  5. The Godfather
  6. Inception
  7. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  8. The Sixth Sense
  9. Se7en
  10. The Avengers

On His List: While other contributors will no-doubt have a list of superiorly-crafted dramas chock-full of Academy Award winners (and for good reason), I tend to think about the “Top 10 Movies of All Time” in terms of the lasting effect they had on moviegoers and the industry alike. Plenty of my picks could be picked-apart for cheesy dialogue and awkward directing choices, among other technical shortcomings. However, these films either set the standard for future entries in their respective genres, offered some genuinely interesting core story ideas, and/or provided flat-out fun moviegoing experiences worthy of repeat viewings – all while remaining grounded in memorable and intriguing character moments.

Geoff LaTulippe

Filmmaker (Going the Distance, Forthcoming Paramount project)

  1. The Shawshank Redemption
  2. Top Gun
  3. The Princess Bride
  4. Fight Club
  5. Planes, Trains and Automobiles
  6. A Clockwork Orange
  7. Cinema Paradiso
  8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  9. Boogie Nights
  10. Love, Actually

On His Top Pick: If there’s one piece of writing/filmmaking that I put above all others (and likely always will), it’s this. It’s everything – beautifully shot, brilliantly acted, written without a single discordant note, and somehow full of life and spirit even though its encased in the four walls of a gray, dark, ominous prison. It’s able to channel its message into one simple line – “Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’.” – and, just when it’s knocked you down, it picks you up and carries you home.

It is, in no uncertain terms, the movie that unquestionably made me fall in love with movies. It’s why I’m here and it’s why I do what I do. What else is there?

Allison Loring

Columnist/Aural Fixation, Film School Rejects

  1. Fight Club
  2. Empire Records
  3. Top Gun
  4. Jerry Maguire
  5. Back to the Future
  6. Drive
  7. Inception
  8. Cruel Intentions
  9. Father of the Bride (1991)
  10. Romeo + Juliet

On Her Top Pick: “We are the middle children of history” – a statement that still rings true today. This brutal film did not shy away from voicing harsh statements any more than it ducked taking a punch to the face. Depending on your mood when watching, Fight Club can speak to you in different ways with each viewing (and it definitely can, and has, stood up to multiple viewings), but if you are currently craving rebellion against our Ikea consuming society, this film especially hits home.

Drew McWeeny

Critic, Hitfix

  1. Lawrence of Arabia
  2. The General
  3. Seven Samurai
  4. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  5. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  6. Manhattan
  7. Cinema Paradiso
  8. Brazil
  9. Apocalypse Now
  10. Blue Velvet

On the List: In the end, the way I defined this is simple: these are the twenty films that I would most willingly sit down and re-watch, anytime and anywhere. These are the twenty films that speak most directly to the way I view the world, either challenging or confirming my beliefs. And these twenty films are here because of my passion for them, not because I hope they impress anyone, and not because other polls or lists tell me that they “have” to be here.

Click here to continue reading Drew’s incredibly insightful List of 20 with a detailed explanation of the agonizing philosophy that went into it.

Neil Miller

Publisher, Film School Rejects

  1. Seven Samurai
  2. Dr. No
  3. Jurassic Park
  4. The Battleship Potemkin
  5. Chinatown
  6. Vertigo
  7. The Great Escape
  8. The Big Lebowski
  9. Dr. Strangelove
  10. Blazing Saddles

On the List: Sometimes it’s best to just write it and be done. Of course, I shall agonize over this long after I’ve hit send… Anyway, here’s my list. A popu-list, if I may.

Luke Mullen

Writer, Film School Rejects

  1. Casablanca
  2. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
  3. Pulp Fiction
  4. Goodfellas
  5. The Thing (1982)
  6. Peeping Tom
  7. The Sting
  8. Good Will Hunting
  9. Blow Out
  10. A Serbian Film

Jim Napier

Editor-In-Chief, Geek Tyrant

  1. Rear Window
  2. The Big Lebowski
  3. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  4. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
  5. North By Northwest
  6. Back to the Future
  7. Die Hard
  8. Aliens
  9. The Magnificent Seven
  10. The ‘Burbs

On His List: I remember seeing each of these movies for the firs time (in theaters or at home), so they all have a special place in my heart. New films will come and go as being one of my favorites, but the films above have each seared their way into my mind permanently. I have always viewed movies as a form of escapism (not that I have a horrible life I am escaping), and the above movies I can jump into at any time and always be entertained.

Landon Palmer

Columnist, Culture Warrior, Film School Rejects

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  2. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
  3. La Dolce Vita
  4. Notorious
  5. The Graduate
  6. La Jetee
  7. Grand Illusion
  8. The Awful Truth
  9. Memories of Underdevelopment
  10. The Passion of Joan of Arc

On His List: I first went about this list by thinking about my favorite films by my favorite filmmakers, but my favorite directors are my favorite precisely because I enjoy their body of work; so no individual work could stand out as representative of the whole. So, in addition to picking out movies I flat-out love, I thought specifically about which singular films have impacted me most as a moviegoer. My central driving question in formulating this list was, “What movies most expanded, challenged or made me rethink the possibilities of cinema?” And the answer was clearly at least two Cary Grant movies.

Jordan Raup

Editor-In-Chief, The Film Stage

  1. The Godfather Part II
  2. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  3. 8 1/2
  4. The Tree of Life
  5. Jaws
  6. Lawrence of Arabia
  7. Bicycle Thieves
  8. Taxi Driver
  9. Blade Runner
  10. Children of Men

On His Top Choice: Perfectly orchestrated and timeless, with some of the best performances put to film, there is no better drama than this Francis Ford Coppola masterpiece. I prefer the second film, if only for the exquisite structure, but the first is right alongside.

Gwen Reyes

Columnist/Reel Sex, Film School Rejects

  1. Disney’s Sleeping Beauty
  2. Splendor in the Grass
  3. Citizen Kane
  4. The Godfather
  5. Scream
  6. Love, Actually
  7. His Girl Friday
  8. Back to the Future
  9. Empire Records
  10. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

On Her List: A little ridiculous and way lowbrow, I know…

Katey Rich

Editor-In-Chief, Cinema Blend

  1. Back to the Future
  2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  3. In the Mood For Love
  4. The Apartment
  5. The Best Years of Our Lives
  6. Singin’ In the Rain
  7. WALL-E
  8. Raising Arizona
  9. Dr. Strangelove
  10. It Happened One Night

On Her List: I’m surprised to see my list come out so heavy on comedies, but I like how different they all are, and how I enjoy them and keep coming back to them for totally different reasons. I also am clearly a sucker for romances, but I find that those are the ones that grab hold of me and stick with me, as opposed to epics (Lawrence of Arabia came really close to this list) or dramas with heavy moral consequences (sorry, Godfather movies).

And all hail cinematographer Gregg Toland, whose work on Citizen Kane is more famous, but whose photography of Best Years of Our Lives is less dramatic, but more important to the film as a whole. Yeah, I said it!

Robin Ruinsky

Writer, Film School Rejects

  1. Citizen Kane
  2. Lawrence of Arabia
  3. All About Eve
  4. Sunset Blvd
  5. The Godfather
  6. To Kill A Mockingbird
  7. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
  8. Duck Soup
  9. All the President’s Men
  10. Schindler’s List

On Her Top Choice: A fabulous film from cinematography, acting, directing and the story that got under William Randolph Hurst’s skin. The idealistic Kane descends into isolation and paranoia. And we can’t forget Rosebud, the sled that is the symbol of all his longing and regrets.

Brian Salisbury


  1. The Godfather
  2. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
  3. Jaws
  4. Goldfinger
  5. Blow Out
  6. Casablanca
  7. Halloween
  8. Pulp Fiction
  9. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  10. Memento

On His List: This process was absolutely grueling. Like many of my professional geek brethren, designating my ten favorite films means striking a balance between nostalgia and a more discerning acknowledgement of the craft of cinema. I feel my list delicately walks the line between grownup kid and supposedly credible film critic.

Tyler Smith

Co-Host, Battleship Pretension

  1. Citizen Kane
  2. Bicycle Thieves
  3. The General
  4. Vertigo
  5. The Night of the Hunter
  6. Metropolis
  7. Apocalypse Now
  8. Lawrence of Arabia
  9. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  10. The Wizard of Oz

On His List: Truly, the best films are those that connect with us on every level. There is a visceral quality that can be invigorating, an emotional element that can fill us with joy (even in the midst of heartbreak), and a thematic level, whereby the director communicates his unique view of the world to the audience, challenging them to question their own philosophies and choices. My choices feature not only some of the most remarkable technical achievements in film, but also some of the most memorable characters, as well as explorations of humanity that help us feel a little more connected to our fellow man.

Jorge Sosa

Film School Rejects Contributor, Journalist

  1. Hugo
  2. The Exorcist
  3. Blade Runner
  4. Rosemary’s Baby
  5. Goodfellas
  6. Aliens
  7. Blue Velvet
  8. Gimme Shelter
  9. Rope
  10. Bad Lieutenant

On His Top Pick: Hugo simultaneously enriches the soul and thrills the senses. It lovingly reveres all the reasons why we go to the movies, while representing the pinnacle of a century of evolution in cinema as an immersive experience. And it proves that, 40 years into his career, Scorsese is still at the top of the game.

Kris Tapley

Editor, In Contention

  1. Citizen Kane
  2. Once Upon a Time in the West
  3. Metropolis
  4. Network
  5. The Godfather
  6. Apocalypse Now
  7. Dr. Strangelove
  8. 12 Angry Men (1957)
  9. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  10. The Thin Red Line

On His List: An impossible task, but this has always boiled down to the same handful of films for me. I respond to pushing the boundaries of the medium here, telling tight, thematically rich stories there. Two filmmakers take up four spots on the list but I’ve always found them rather inarguable. Nothing in the last decade, though, has really made a strong case for inclusion (though Andrew Dominik came mighty close in 2007).

Daniel Walber

Contributing Writer,

  1. 8 1/2
  2. Gone With the Wind
  3. Sunset Blvd
  4. Bicycle Thieves
  5. Citizen Kane
  6. Daisies
  7. Network
  8. War and Peace (1965)
  9. Blazing Saddles
  10. The Big Lebowski

On His List: What exactly makes a movie one of the best ever made? Frankly, I’ve got no idea. These ten films have always always struck me as stunningly original works of art, and continue to feel groundbreaking today.

What Makes Your List?

Editor’s Note: In the previous posting, I mistakenly included The Lord of the Rings on Ryan Gallagher’s list where it should have been The Wizard of Oz. As it was a typo, the math wasn’t affected. It’s been corrected.

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Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.