Top 256 Greatest Movies of All Time

These are the top 256 movies from a combined list of over a thousand titles. Based on sixteen different acclaimed film awards and rankings. The ultimate watchlist of movies considered greatest ever.

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Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Epic rumination on a flamboyant and controversial British military figure and his conflicted loyalties during wartime service.

Directed by: David Lean

Country: UK

Main cast: Peter O'Toole, Alec Guiness, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif

Written by: T.E. Lawrence, Robert Bolt

Genre: adventure, biography, drama, war


The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.

Directed by: David Lean

Country: UK

Main cast: William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Alec Guinness, Sessue Hayakawa, James Donald

Written by: Pierre Boulle

Genre: adventure, drama, war


Schindler's List (1993)

Oskar Schindler uses Jews to start a factory in Poland during the war. He witnesses the horrors endured by the Jews, and starts to save them.

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Country: USA

Main cast: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall, Jonathan Sagall

Written by: Thomas Keneally, Steven Zaillian

Genre: biography, drama, history, war


The Godfather (1972)

Mario Puzo's The Godfather

The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

Country: USA

Main cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard S. Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden

Written by: Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola

Genre: crime, drama


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

Upon arrival at a mental institution, a brash rebel rallies the patients together to take on the oppressive Nurse Ratched, a woman more a dictator than a nurse.

Directed by: Milos Forman

Country: USA

Main cast: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, William Redfield, Michael Berryman, Peter Brocco, Dean R. Brooks, Alonzo Brown

Written by: Ken Kesey, Bo Goldman

Genre: drama


On the Waterfront (1954)

An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.

Directed by: Elia Kazan

Country: USA

Main cast: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Pat Henning, Eva Marie Saint

Written by: Malcolm Johnson, Budd Schulberg

Genre: crime, drama, romance


Gandhi (1982)

Biography of Mahatma Gandhi, the lawyer who became the famed leader of the Indian revolts against the British through his philosophy of non-violent protest.

Directed by: Richard Attenborough

Country: UK

Main cast: Ben Kingsley, Candice Bergen, Edward Fox, John Gielgud, Trevor Howard, John Mills, Martin Sheen

Written by: John Briley

Genre: biography, drama, history


Ben-Hur (1959)

When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.

Directed by: William Wyler

Country: USA

Main cast: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd, Hugh Griffith, Martha Scott, Cathy O'Donnell

Written by: Lew Wallace, Karl Tunberg

Genre: action, adventure, drama, romance


Casablanca (1942)

Classic film set in occupied Africa during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.

Directed by: Michael Curtiz

Country: USA

Main cast: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre

Written by: Julius Epstein, Philip Epstein, Murray Burnett, Joan Alison

Genre: drama, romance


City Lights (1931)

The Tramp struggles to help a blind flower girl he has fallen in love with.

Directed by: Charles Chaplin

Country: USA

Main cast: Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee, Harry Myers, Al Ernest Garcia, Hank Mann

Written by: Charles Chaplin

Genre: comedy, drama, romance


The Godfather: Part II (1974)

The early life & career of Vito Corleone in 1920's New York is portrayed while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on his crime syndicate stretching from Lake Tahoe, Nevada to pre-Revolution 1958 Cuba.

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

Country: USA

Main cast: Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, John Cazale

Written by: Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola

Genre: crime, drama


Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny, eludes him.

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Country: USA

Main cast: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright Penn, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, Sally Field, Rebecca Williams

Written by: Winston Groom, Eric Roth

Genre: drama, romance


Taxi Driver (1976)

A mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran works as nighttime taxi driver in a city whose perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge to violently lash out.

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Country: USA

Main cast: Robert De Niro, Cybill Shepherd, Peter Boyle, Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, Leonard Harris, Albert Brooks

Written by: Paul Schrader

Genre: crime, drama, thriller


Some Like It Hot (1959)

When two musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all female band disguised as women, but further complications set in.

Directed by: Billy Wilder

Country: USA

Main cast: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, George Raft, Pat O'Brien, Joe E. Brown

Written by: Robert Thoeren and Michael Logan

Genre: comedy, crime, music, romance, thriller


Rocky (1976)

A small time boxer gets a once in a lifetime chance to fight the heavyweight champ in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

Directed by: John G. Avildsen

Country: USA

Main cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, Thayer David

Written by: Sylvester Stallone

Genre: action, drama, romance, sport


In the Heat of the Night (1967)

An African American detective is asked to investigate a murder in a racist southern town.

Directed by: Norman Jewison

Country: USA

Main cast: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates, Lee Grant, Larry Gates, James Patterson, William Schallert

Written by: John Ball, Stirling Silliphant

Genre: drama, mystery, crime


The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

The former Fellowship of the Ring prepare for the final battle for Middle Earth, while Frodo & Sam approach Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring.

Directed by: Peter Jackson

Country: USA

Main cast: Viggo Mortensen, Elijah Wood, Miranda Otto, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom, Ian Holm, Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving

Written by: J.R.R. Tolkien, Fran Walsh

Genre: action, adventure, fantasy


2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Mankind finds a mysterious, obviously artificial, artifact buried on the moon and, with the intelligent computer HAL, sets off on a quest.

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Country: UK

Main cast: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter, Leonard Rossiter, Margaret Tyzack

Written by: Stanley Kubrick & Arthur C. Clarke

Genre: adventure, sci-fi


The Apartment (1960)

A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.

Directed by: Billy Wilder

Country: USA

Main cast: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston, Jack Kruschen, David Lewis, Hope Holiday

Written by: Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond

Genre: romance, comedy, drama


Chariots of Fire (1981)

The story of two British track athletes, one a determined Jew, and the other a devout Christian who compete in the 1924 Olympics.

Directed by: Hugh Hudson

Country: UK

Main cast: Nicholas Farrell, Nigel Havers, Ian Charleson, Ben Cross, Daniel Gerroll, Ian Holm, John Gielgud

Written by: Colin Welland

Genre: drama, history, sport


Citizen Kane (1941)

Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance.

Directed by: Orson Welles

Country: USA

Main cast: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, Everett Sloane, Dorothy Comingore

Written by: Herman J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles

Genre: drama, mystery


It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would had been like if he never existed.

Directed by: Frank Capra

Country: USA

Main cast: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers, Beulah Bondi

Written by: Philip Van Doren Stern, Frances Goodrich

Genre: drama, fantasy, romance


Rain Man (1988)

Selfish yuppie Charlie Babbitt's father left a fortune to his savant brother Raymond and a pittance to Charlie; they travel cross-country.

Directed by: Barry Levinson

Country: USA

Main cast: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino, Gerald R. Molen, Jack Murdock, Michael D. Roberts

Written by: Barry Morrow, Ronald Bass

Genre: adventure, comedy, drama


Star Wars (1977)

Star Wars IV: A New Hope

Luke Skywalker leaves his home planet, teams up with other rebels, and tries to save Princess Leia from the evil clutches of Darth Vader.

Directed by: George Lucas

Country: USA

Main cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker

Written by: George Lucas

Genre: action, adventure, fantasy, sci-fi


Apocalypse Now (1979)

Based on Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness, this is a controversial addition to the multitude of Vietnam war movies in existence. We follow Captain Willard on his mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade Green Beret who has set himself up as a God

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

Country: USA

Main cast: Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Frederic Forrest, Sam Bottoms, Laurence Fishburne, Albert Hall, Harrison Ford, Dennis Hopper

Written by: John Milius and Francis Ford Coppola

Genre: action, adventure, drama, war


Singin' in the Rain (1952)

A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound.

Directed by: Stanley Donen

Country: USA

Main cast: Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell, Cyd Charisse, Douglas Fowley

Written by: Adolph Green and Betty Comden

Genre: comedy, musical, romance


Psycho (1960)

A young woman steals $40,000 from her employer's client, and subsequently encounters a young motel proprietor too long under the domination of his mother.

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Country: USA

Main cast: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntire

Written by: Robert Bloch, Joseph Stefano

Genre: horror, thriller


Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Based on a World War II drama. US soldiers try to save their comrade, paratrooper Private Ryan, who's stationed behind enemy lines.

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Country: USA

Main cast: Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Matt Damon

Written by: Robert Rodat

Genre: action, drama, war


Gone with the Wind (1939)

American classic in which a manipulative woman and a roguish man carry on a turbulent love affair in the American south during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Directed by: Victor Fleming

Country: USA

Main cast: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, Thomas Mitchell, Barbara O'Neil, Evelyn Keyes

Written by: Margaret Mitchell, Sidney Howard

Genre: drama, romance, war


E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

A group of Earth children help a stranded alien botanist return home.

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Country: USA

Main cast: Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace-Stone, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote, K.C. Martel

Written by: Melissa Mathison

Genre: drama, family, fantasy, sci-fi


The Third Man (1949)

Arriving in Vienna, Holly Martins learns that his friend Harry Lime, who has invited him, recently died in a car accident.

Directed by: Carol Reed

Country: UK

Main cast: Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Bernard Lee, Paul Hörbiger, Ernst Deutsch

Written by: Graham Greene

Genre: film-noir, mystery, thriller


12 Angry Men (1957)

A dissenting juror in a murder trial slowly manages to convince the others that the case is not as obviously clear as it seemed in court.

Directed by: Sidney Lumet

Country: USA

Main cast: Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Ed Binns, Jack Warden

Written by: Reginald Rose

Genre: drama, crime


The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Three WWII veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.

Directed by: William Wyler

Country: USA

Main cast: Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, Cathy O'Donnell, Hoagy Carmichael

Written by: MacKinlay Kantor, Robert E. Sherwood

Genre: drama, romance


Chinatown (1974)

A private detective investigating an adultery case stumbles on to a scheme of murder that has something to do with water.

Directed by: Roman Polanski

Country: USA

Main cast: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez, John Hillerman, Darrell Zwerling

Written by: Robert Towne

Genre: crime, drama, mystery, thriller


Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Dr. Strangelove

An insane general starts a process to nuclear holocaust that a war room of politicians and generals frantically try to stop.

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Country: UK

Main cast: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens, Peter Bull, James Earl Jones

Written by: Peter George, Stanley Kubrick

Genre: comedy, drama, thriller


The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

In a small village in the Shire a young Hobbit named Frodo has been entrusted with an ancient Ring. Now he must embark on an Epic quest to the Cracks of Doom in order to destroy it.

Directed by: Peter Jackson

Country: New Zealand

Main cast: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee

Written by: J.R.R. Tolkien, Fran Walsh

Genre: action, adventure, fantasy


All About Eve (1950)

An ingenue insinuates herself in to the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends.

Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Country: USA

Main cast: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, Gregory Ratoff, Marilyn Monroe

Written by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Genre: drama


The Sound of Music (1965)

A woman leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to a Naval officer widower.

Directed by: Robert Wise

Country: USA

Main cast: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Richard Haydn, Peggy Wood, Anna Lee, Portia Nelson, Ben Wright

Written by: Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse

Genre: biography, drama, family, musical


Rashômon (1950)


A heinous crime and its aftermath are recalled from differing points of view.

Directed by: Akira Kurosawa

Country: Japan

Main cast: Toshirō Mifune, Machiko Kyō, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki

Written by: Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Akira Kurosawa

Genre: crime, drama, mystery, thriller


The Graduate (1967)

Recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock is trapped into an affair with Mrs. Robinson, who happens to be the wife of his father's business partner and then finds himself falling in love with her teenage daughter, Elaine.

Directed by: Mike Nichols

Country: USA

Main cast: Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, Katharine Ross, William Daniels, Murray Hamilton, Elizabeth Wilson

Written by: Charles Webb, Calder Willingham

Genre: drama, romance, comedy


Pulp Fiction (1994)

The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Country: USA

Main cast: Tim Roth, John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Amanda Plummer, Eric Stoltz, Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, Uma Thurman

Written by: Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary

Genre: crime, drama



Otto e mezzo, Eight and a Half

A harried movie director retreats into his memories and fantasies.

Directed by: Federico Fellini

Country: Italy

Main cast: Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimée, Sandra Milo, Rossella Falk, Barbara Steele

Written by: Federico Fellini & Ennio Flaiano

Genre: drama


Annie Hall (1977)

Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditsy Annie Hall.

Directed by: Woody Allen

Country: USA

Main cast: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts, Carol Kane, Paul Simon, Shelley Duvall, Janet Margolin

Written by: Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman

Genre: comedy, romance


Goodfellas (1990)

Henry Hill and his friends work their way up through the mob hierarchy.

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Country: USA

Main cast: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino, Chuck Low, Frank DiLeo

Written by: Nicholas Pileggi

Genre: biography, crime, drama


Bicycle Thieves (1948)

Ladri di biciclette, The Bicycle Thief

A man and his son search for a stolen bicycle vital for his job.

Directed by: Vittorio De Sica

Country: Italy

Main cast: Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell, Gino Saltamerenda, Vittorio Antonucci

Written by: Luigi Bartolini, Cesare Zavattini

Genre: drama


Unforgiven (1992)

Retired Old West gunslinger William Munny reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner and a young man.

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Country: USA

Main cast: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Richard Harris, Jaimz Woolvett, Saul Rubinek, Frances Fisher

Written by: David Webb Peoples

Genre: western, drama


American Beauty (1999)

Lester Burnham, a depressed suburban father in a mid-life crisis, decides to turn his hectic life around after developing an infatuation for his daughter's attractive friend.

Directed by: Sam Mendes

Country: USA

Main cast: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari, Chris Cooper

Written by: Alan Ball

Genre: drama


Gladiator (2000)

When a Roman general is betrayed and his family murdered by a corrupt prince, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge.

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Country: UK

Main cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou

Written by: David Franzoni

Genre: action, adventure, drama


Vertigo (1958)

Complex story about a San Francisco detective and his psychological troubles with fear of heights and obsession over a woman.

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Country: USA

Main cast: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore, Henry Jones, Raymond Bailey, Ellen Corby

Written by: Pierre Boileau & Thomas Narcejac

Genre: drama, mystery, thriller, romance


Cinema Paradiso (1989)

Nuovo cinema Paradiso

A filmmaker recalls his childhood, when he fell in love with the movies at his village's theater and formed a deep friendship with the theater's projectionist.

Directed by: Giuseppe Tornatore

Country: Italy

Main cast: Antonella Attili, Enzo Cannavale, Isa Danieli, Leo Gullotta, Marco Leonardi, Pupella Maggio, Agnese Nano

Written by: Vanna Paoli, Giuseppe Tornatore

Genre: drama

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