While it is impossible to objectively determine the greatest film of all time, it is possible to discuss the films that have been regarded as the greatest ever. The important criterion for inclusion in this article is that the film is the "greatest" by some specific measure — be it a critics' poll, popular poll, world wide consideration and world wide favour and box office receipts or awards.
- 1 Films acclaimed by critics and filmmakers
- 2 Films acclaimed in audience polls
- 3 Biggest box office successes
- 4 Films that have received the most Academy Awards
- 5 Films considered the greatest in their particular genre
- 6 In particular countries
- 7 See also
- 8 References
Films acclaimed by critics and filmmakers[edit | edit source]
- Orson Welles' Citizen Kane has been voted number one in the Sight and Sound poll of film critics in each of the last five polls over the last 40 years (the survey is carried out once every ten years). A separate poll of established film directors in the same magazine held for the first time in 2002 also had Citizen Kane at the top. Influential critic Roger Ebert says that "The Sight and Sound poll is generally considered the most authoritative of all 'best film' lists". Perhaps not coincidentally he considers Citizen Kane the best film ever. The film was also selected as number one in a Village Voice critics' poll, number one in a Time Out critics' poll in 1995 and listed as the greatest film ever by the American Film Institute in 1998.
- The Rules of the Game by director Jean Renoir was named best film by the French film magazine Positif in 1991. It also holds the number two spot in the Village Voice poll. Along with Battleship Potemkin, it is one of only two films to have appeared in every one of Sight and Sound's 10-yearly polls (six occurrences).
- Battleship Potemkin was for many years generally considered the greatest film ever and was voted as such by a panel of experts at the 1958 World's Fair.
- The Bicycle Thief was voted top film in a Sight & Sound magazine poll in 1952.
- The Searchers is the film most often mentioned in a poll of the favorite films of directors by German language steadycam magazine.
Films acclaimed in audience polls[edit | edit source]
- The Godfather has long stood atop IMDb's list of the top 250 films. It was also voted number one by Entertainment Weekly readers and number one in a Time Out Readers' poll in 1995.
- The Shawshank Redemption, the #2 entry on the IMDb list, was voted the best film never to have won "Best Picture" in a 2005 BBC poll. 
- The Godfather Part II, often considered better than the first one, was voted best film ever by TV Guide readers in 1998.
- Casablanca (1942) is widely cited as the greatest film of all time and was voted as such by readers of the Los Angeles Daily News in 1997. It is also regarded the "best Hollywood movie of all time" by the influential Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide.
- Star Wars (1977) was chosen by readers of Empire magazine in November 2001 and by voters in a Channel 4/FilmFour poll .
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) was the pick of readers in a poll by Empire magazine in November 2004.
- The Dark Knight (2008) is widely considered one of the greatest superhero movies of all time and one of the greatest movies of all time.
- Dirty Dancing was chosen by 200,000 British respondents as their "best film ever" from a choice of 100 films weighted towards modern commercial films. The poll was organised by The Coca-Cola Company and Vue Cinemas .
Biggest box office successes[edit | edit source]
The Highest Grossing Films of All Time[edit | edit source]
Main article: Box office All-Time
Prior highest-grossing films[edit | edit source]
- The Birth of a Nation (1915): Highest-grossing film until 1925. Director D.W. Griffith said in 1929 that the film had taken $10m worldwide. This has been reported as both an under-estimate and an over-estimate, and its true takings may never be known. In the 1920s the New York Mail described the movie as "the supreme picture of all time".
- The Big Parade (1925). The highest grossing silent film of all time, taking $22m world wide.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937): Highest grossing until 1939. Total gross $185m.
- Gone With the Wind (1939): Highest grossing until 1966, when it was overtaken by the Sound of Music. Following a re-release in 1971, Gone With The Wind retook the lead for a further year. Current total gross $309.5m.
- The Sound of Music (1965): Highest gross from August 1966 until the re-issue of Gone With The Wind in 1971. Current total gross £163m.
- The Godfather (1972): Highest grossing until 1975. Current total gross £245m.
- Jaws (1975): Highest grossing until 1977. Current total gross $470m.
- Star Wars (1977): Highest grossing until January 1983. Current total gross $798m
- E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982): Highest grossing until 1993. Current total gross $757m. (Star Wars did not re-overtake ET until its re-release in 1997, by which time Jurassic Park had landed the top slot.)
- Jurassic Park (1993): Highest grossing until 1997. Current total gross $920m.
- Titanic (1997): Highest grossing until 2010 (2009).
- Avatar (2009): Currently the second highest grossing film of all time.
Films that have received the most Academy Awards[edit | edit source]
Ever since their inception in 1928, the Academy Awards (the "Oscars") have been seen as the most significant of the film award ceremonies. The first film to dominate an Oscars ceremony was Frank Capra's It Happened One Night at the 1935 ceremony. It was the first film to win five awards. Moreover it won the "Oscar grand slam" by winning Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Screenplay—a feat that has been repeated only twice more, by One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1976 and The Silence of the Lambs in 1992.
In 1939, Gone With the Wind was nominated for thirteen awards and two special citations. It won eight of the Awards to beat It Happened One Night's record. All About Eve (1950) broke the nominations record with 14, and won in six categories.
Gigi was the film to break Gone With The Wind's record - winning in all nine of its nominated categories at the ceremony for films made in 1958. However its moment at the top was short-lived as the epic Ben-Hur went on to win 11 Oscars from 12 nominations the following year. Eleven Oscars remains the record. However this achievement has been equalled twice—by Titanic in 1997 with eleven awards from fourteen nominations, and by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which won in all eleven of its nominated categories in 2003 (an honor that many interpreted as applying to the whole of Sir Peter Jackson's Middle-earth trilogy).
Films considered the greatest in their particular genre[edit | edit source]
Action[edit | edit source]
- Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and its sequel Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
- The Terminator (1984) and its sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
- The Matrix (1999)
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
Animation[edit | edit source]
- Сказка сказок - Tale of Tales (1979) - Yuri Norstein's (short biography) short film was voted by critics to be the greatest animated film of all time at a 1984 Los Angeles arts festival.  
- Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し) 2001 was voted best animated movie by IMDb users. It was the first anime (Japanese animation) film to win an Academy Award. It is the only movie to earn $250M before its US release.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) is the highest-grossing animated film of all time when adjusted for inflation. Without the effects of inflation, Shrek 2 (2004) is the highest grossing animated film of all time.
- The Lion King (1994) is the highest-grossing "traditional" (hand drawn) animated film and Finding Nemo (2003) was the first computer-generated motion picture to outgross The Lion King as the highest-grossing animated film of all time, until it was surpassed the next year by Shrek 2.
- Akira (アキラ) 1988 was chosen as the top anime ever by Anime Insider in fall 2001.
- Beauty and the Beast (1991) is the only fully-animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
- Tale Spin: To The Rescue (1991) is the Disney animated cartoon half-hour show as part of The Disney Afternoon, Incudles 10 pilot episodes.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) is regarded as the best live-action/animated hybrid film, with an almost perfect score of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. It was nominated for, and won a few awards, including Best Cinematography. It is particularly well known for the revolutionary task of creating the film without computers.
- The Prince of Egypt (1998) is considered by several critics as the best Exodus retelling and as one of the best of the animation genre.
- The Lego Movie (2014) is regarded the best animated film to have not been nominated for the Oscar of Best Animated Feature.
- Big Hero 6 (2014) is known as one of the best movies of 2014.
- How to Train Your Dragon (2010) and the sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014) are both regarded as some of the best of the genre.
- Rio (2011) and Ice Age (2002) are considered the best of Blue Sky Studios' animated movie productions.
- The Incredibles (2004)
- Toy Story franchise (1995-2010) is an animated franchise with three grand entries and not one of them received bad reputation. Toy Story (1995) and Toy Story 2 (1999) both hold a rating of 100% and Toy Story 3 (2010) is rated 99% on Rotten Tomatoes.
- Up (2009)
- WALL-E (2008)
Biography[edit | edit source]
- The Social Network (2010) is known as one of the best films of 2010 and of ever.
Comedy[edit | edit source]
- Some Like It Hot was listed Best Comedy by the American Film Institute in June 2000.
- Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is listed as the highest rated "Comedy" title by the IMDb and was #3 on AFI's "100 Years...100 Laughs".
- Shrek 2, the highest grossing comedy of all time (unadjusted).
Crime/gangster[edit | edit source]
- Chinatown (1974) was named the best crime film of all time by The Guardian.
- Pulp Fiction (1994) was ranked the greatest film of the past 25 years (1983-2008) by Entertainment Weekly.
- The Godfather (1972) and its sequel, The Godfather Part II (1974)
Drama[edit | edit source]
- Whiplash, Boyhood, Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Nightcrawler, The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game are each widely regarded as one of the best movies of 2014.
Disaster[edit | edit source]
- The Poseidon Adventure was voted best disaster movie in a consumer poll commissioned by UCI cinemas in May 2004.
- Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore's documentary relating gun control and the fear culture in the United States, heads the list of 20 all-time favorite non-fiction films selected by members of the International Documentary Association (IDA). 
- The Thin Blue Line, Errol Morris' 1985 film, has long been considered one of the greatest documentaries ever made. It is actually credited not only with solving a murder case, but also as the major factor in freeing an innocent man from death row in Texas. It was voted number 2 by the IDA.
- Fahrenheit 9/11, also by Michael Moore, won the Palme d'Or at Cannes. It then became "the highest-grossing documentary in its opening weekend"  by breaking the old record held by Bowling for Columbine. It went on to become the "first ever documentary to cross the $100 million mark in the United States."
- Gates of Heaven, Errol Morris' first film which follows the lives of various pet owners as a pet cemetery closes down, was called one of the ten greatest films of all time by Roger Ebert.
- Hoop Dreams, Changed the way the documentary was made in the 90s. Roger Ebert claimed it was the greatest film of the 90s. It was the highest grossing documentary until Bowling for Columbine was released.
Epic[edit | edit source]
Fantasy[edit | edit source]
- Sir Peter Jackson's Middle-earth franchise (2001-2014). The two acclaimed trilogies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) is the best reviewed entry on Rotten Tomatoes holding a rating of 96%. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) is #1 on the list of the top rated fantasy titles at the Internet movie database (IDMB). It is the only film in the genre to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It also won 11 Academy Awards, the highest number of any film ever made (tying with Ben-Hur and Titanic). It is also the only film in history having won Best Film awards from the Academy, BAFTA, Empire, Golden Globe, Hugo, MTV, and Saturn Awards and is the highest grossing entry of the franchise. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) is the second highest-grossing film of the saga. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) won 4 Academy Awards and is widely considered the best film in fantasy history.
- Harry Potter franchise (2001-2011) is also acclaimed and is considered one of the best movie franchises of all time.
- The WIzard of Oz (1937) is ranked #1 on Rotten Tomatoes' List of the Best Fantasy Movies of all Time.
Horror/Thriller[edit | edit source]
- Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922) was ranked #1 in Rotten Tomatoes' list of the Top 100 Horror Movies in 2014. Until it was eventually surpassed by The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) during that same year.
- Halloween (1978) was voted best horror film of all time by readers of SFX magazine in June 2004.
- Psycho (1960) Alfred Hitchcock's classic is considered the most important thrillers of all time. Voted the best horror film by IMDb users. Tops AFI’s list of the 100 most thrilling American films.
- Alien (1979) and its sequel Aliens (1986)
- Jaws (1975) was #1 in the Bravo network's five-hour miniseries The 100 Scariest Movie Moments in 2004. It was also ranked second on AFI's list for thrillers, 100 Years... 100 Thrills.
- Misery (1990)
- The Shining (1980) ranks #1 on The Moving Arts Film Journal's list of the 25 greatest horror films.
- The Thing (1982) ranks #1 on The Boston Globe's list of the 50 scariest movies of all time.
- The Exorcist (1973) was voted scariest movie of all time by Entertainment Weekly and Movies.com, and by viewers of AMC in 2006. It was also chosen as the best horror film for Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time.
- The Silence of the Lambs (1991) was chosen as the best suspense/thriller for Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time.
- The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) ranks #1 on Total Film's list of the greatest horror films.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
- Carrie (1976)
Monster[edit | edit source]
- Gojira (1954) and the 2014 remake by Gareth Edwards.
- King Kong (1933) and the 2005 remake by Sir Peter Jackson.
- Dracula (1931)
- Frankenstein (1931)
- The Wolf Man (1941)
- The Mummy (1932) and its 1999 remake.
Musical[edit | edit source]
- The Wizard of Oz (1939) is the highest ranked musical on AFI's list of the 100 best American films and the Village Voice list of the 100 best films of the 20th century.
- Singin' in the Rain (1952) is the highest rated movie musical at the IMDb.
- West Side Story (1961) is a winner of 10 Academy Awards, making it the only musical movie to win the most Oscars.
Romance[edit | edit source]
- Casablanca - Voted best American-based film in which there is "a romantic bond between two or more characters, whose actions and/or intentions provide the heart of the film’s narrative" by the AFI.
Science fiction[edit | edit source]
- Star Wars Original Trilogy (1977-1983). Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) is the highest-rated sci-fi film (#8) on the IMDb, and also the highest-grossing entry in the original trilogy. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) is considered by many the best film of the Star Wars saga. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) is also considered a satisfying finale to the franchise. The sequel trilogy has opened fresh with J. J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh episode in the franchise and with Episodes VIII and IX on the way, Gareth Edwards' Rogue One is awaited in 2016 with much anticipation.
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), a popular and influential film directed by Stanley Kubrick. The highest ranked science fiction film (#11) on the Village Voice 100 Best films of the 20th century list and is selected by the late Gene Siskel as his choice of the best film ever.
- Blade Runner (1982) - Initially avoided by North American audiences it was popular internationally and has become a cult classic. Voted the best science fiction film by a panel of scientists assembled by the British newspaper The Guardian in 2004. 
- E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) topped a Rotten Tomatoes poll of the 100 best Science Fiction movies ever made.
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) is considered by many the best film of the Star Trek series, and Star Trek: First Contact (1996) is also considered the best Star Trek: The Next Generation film. J.J. Abrams' trilogy also took the series to a higher level with 2009's Star Trek and the sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). The third instalment, Star Trek Beyond is now awaited with high anticipation.
- Akira (1988) is considered by some to be the best animated science fiction film.
- Inception (2010) and Interstellar (2014) are considered Christopher Nolan's best sci-fi films of all time.
Superhero/comic book[edit | edit source]
- X2: X-Men United (2003) was voted #1 in Empire Magazine's list of the 20 Greatest Comic Book Movies in 2006. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) is considered the best of the X-Men franchise since X2.
- The Dark Knight trilogy (2005-2012) was collectively ranked as #1 on Newsarama's top ten comic book movies list. The Dark Knight (2008) is the most critically acclaimed installment of the trilogy: the film is the highest rated comic book/superhero movie on IMDB's Top 250, voted the greatest superhero movie in a reader's poll conducted by Rolling Stone magazine, and #1 on lists published by Rotten Tomatoes, Movie Review Query Engine, AskMen, IGN The Guardian, Total Film, and TheStreet.com. The Dark Knight Rises (2012), the final installment, is considered the best comic book superhero movie in a list published by Forbes in 2012.
- The Avengers (2012) was ranked #1 in the 2012 edition of SFX's Top 50 Superhero Movies Of All Time list, and the best comic book movie of all time in a list published by Film4 in order of critical approval. The sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) received similar acclaim, despite being flawed.
- Iron Man (2008), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Ant-Man (2015) are considered some of the best of the genre.
- Spider-Man (2002) and its sequel, Spider-Man 2 (2004), which was #1 on Rotten Tomatoes' Comix Worst to Best list in 2007.
- Superman (1978), whose legacy presaged the mainstream popularity of Hollywood's superhero film franchises, and its sequel, Superman II (1980).
- The Incredibles (2004) was ranked #1 in Time magazine's list of top ten greatest superhero films in 2011. It is also the highest ranking animated superhero film in a reader's poll conducted by Rolling Stone magazine, and on countdown lists published by media outlets such as IGN in 2010, SFX in 2012, The Guardian in 2013, and the Houston Chronicle in 2014.
- Deadpool (2016) has already received rave reception as "quite possibly the greatest comic book movie ever" from numerous fans and as one of the most successful movies of the year at the box office.
Silent[edit | edit source]
- Battleship Potemkin (see Films acclaimed by critics and filmmakers above.)
- Modern Times, the last major American film to make use of silent film conventions such as title cards for dialogue, is the highest rated silent film on the IMDb. There is a recorded soundtrack, a scene with dialogue spoken over an intercom and Charlie Chaplin sings nonsense lyrics to a song at the end. City Lights, another of Chaplin's films, is the highest rated movie without any dialogue, spoken or sung. It too has a recorded soundtrack. Metropolis is the highest rated movie that was totally silent when released. However, IMDb viewers most likely watched the restored version which has a recorded soundtrack.
- The Big Parade is the highest grossing silent film of all time, taking $22m world wide.
War[edit | edit source]
- Battleship Potemkin (see Films acclaimed by critics and filmmakers above.)
- Schindler's List (1993) is the number one film on IMDb's list of top rated war titles.
- In 2005 Saving Private Ryan was voted as the greatest ever war film in a Channel 4 poll of the 100 Greatest ever war films.
- Forbidden Games (Jeux interdits) - Critic Leonard Maltin said: "Jeux Interdits is almost unquestionably the most compelling and intensely poignant drama featuring young children ever filmed."
- Grave of the Fireflies - an anime Roger Ebert said "belongs on any list of the greatest war films ever made."
- Fury (2014)
- Kajaki (2014). Jeremy Clarkson called it "quite possibly the best war film ever".
Western[edit | edit source]
- The Searchers was voted the greatest Western of all time by Entertainment Weekly. See also: films acclaimed by critics and filmmakers.
- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is listed as Best Western by the IMDb's list of Top Rated "Western" Titles.
- Dances with Wolves is the highest grossing Western of all time, taking in nearly $184 million in US box office sales. 
- Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight and Alejandro G. Iñárritu's The Revenant were two of the most acclaimed movies of 2015, with The Revenant being the leader of the 88th Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture, and receiving three wins for Best Director (for Iñárritu) and Best Actor (for Leonardo DiCaprio).
In particular countries[edit | edit source]
- Mon oncle Antoine: A poll of critics at the 1984 Toronto International Film Festival and again at the 1993 and 2004 festivals named this the greatest Canadian film of all time.
- Un Zoo la Nuit: Winner of the most Genie Awards with 13.
China[edit | edit source]
- Spring in a Small Town (小城之春): This 1948 film was voted the best Chinese film ever by Hong Kong Film Awards Association in 2005.
- Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise): Voted "Best French Film of the Century" in a poll of 600 French critics and professionals in the late 1990s.
- The Rules of the Game: see films acclaimed by critics and filmmakers.
India[edit | edit source]
- Pather Panchali is the only Indian film to appear on Sight and Sound Critics's Top Ten Poll (ranked #9 in 1992). It was ranked the top Indian film in a 2002 popularity poll by the British Film Institute (BFI) conducted on the web, and number two in the BFI critics' poll in which critics were asked to compile a list of 50 best Indian as well as South Asian films . It is also a favorite of many directors, including Martin Scorsese.
- Sholay is the highest grossing movie of all time in India. It was also the top film selected in the 2002 BFI critics' poll.
- Pushpak from 1988 is the highest rated Indian film on IMDb.
Japan[edit | edit source]
- Rashōmon: This 1950 film by Akira Kurosawa was the first Japanese film to gain world-wide acclaim. The highest-ranked Japanese film (#10) on the Village Voice list of 100 Best Films of the 20th Century.
- 七人の侍 - Shichinin no samurai (The Seven Samurai), 1954: Also by Kurosawa, this period adventure film is frequently cited as the greatest Japanese film ever; consistently the highest-rated foreign-made (outside of the United States) film on the IMDb Top 250 (ranked #5 as of August 2004).
- Howl's Moving Castle (2004): The highest-grossing movie in Japanese history. It was released in American theatres in June 2005. It surpassed the previous record holder 千と千尋の神隠し (Spirited Away) from 2001 (see the Animation section above).
- Lawrence of Arabia: Voted "best British film of all time" in August 2004 by a London Sunday Telegraph poll of Britain's leading filmmakers. See also: Epic.
- The Third Man: Voted best British film ever by members of the British Film Institute in 1999.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- BFI List of top 100 British movies
- IMDb Top 250
- Channel 4 poll: 100 Greatest Films
- Sight and Sound magazine best films of all time polls
- Village Voice 100 Best films of the 20th century list
- Links to more lists from filmsite.org
- Links to more lists from bestonly.com
- Links to more lists from listsofbests.com
- The Top 200 at everyonesacritic.net
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