The 10 Best Movies Of All Time

Aug 17, 2005 (Updated Jan 17, 2008)

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The Bottom Line The top 10 movies of all time are not easy to compile, but here is my attempt.

I hesitated for a long time to compile a list of what I felt were the 10 best movies of all time. The main reason behind this, was that I felt I had not seen enough of the classics, or enough of the award winning films of our time to give what I would deem a fair opinion of the industry. Making my way through my list of must-sees, I came across films that I enjoyed, but also many classics that simply didn't hold a candle to the opinions that critics had placed upon them. I then went to my personal list of favorites, and gave a fair critique of what I liked, and what was truly a great film. Now I love Armageddon, and I could watch it over and over again, but even if it is one of my favorite guilty pleasures, I don't find it to be one of the best films. Likewise with a film like Ray, which I found had many merits of a great film, but I simply did not like it in the end. Going over and over my selections I tried and tried again to come up with a list.

The dust has finally settled, and these are what I feel to be the 10 best films of all time. Remember, this is my list, and therefore I reserve the right to edit, update, or change selections at anytime. But, here are what I feel to be the current 10 best films of all time, in no particular order.

Searching For Bobby Fisher (1993) -- Starring Max Pomeranc, Joe Mantegna, Joan Allen, Laurence Fishburne, and Ben Kingsley

Now this is a film that has escaped viewing from a lot of people, simply because it wasn't a major release that made it on to the "viewing list" of movie fans. It does have a few A-List actors in it though, and they end up carrying a film that becomes more about a father-son relationship than what the title would lead you to believe. Searching For Bobby Fisher is about a boy who seems to possess an uncanny ability to do well at chess. He is a normal kid in every aspect, except when he sits down in front of the board. His mind is able to see many moves in advance, and he can figure out what his opponent is going to do even before they do. Taking place a majority of the time in New York City, we are introduced to chess playing in the parks, and shown the "street" side of chess, before being taken into the quiet laid-back world of chess playing. Laurence Fishburne plays the role of friend/mentor to the young boy, and Ben Kinsley is the teacher that he eventually starts working with. Both are extraordinary in their roles, but to find the real story you have to look beyond what is right in front of you, and see how the relationship between this kid and his father is able to grow through this simple board game. The film is great in its depiction of innocence, and it presents itself in such a subtle way, that you don't fully know what you have seen until the movie has ended. It is a great film with great performances, and is well-deserving of its spot on my list.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) -- Starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman

Tim Robbins stars as Andy Dufesen, who has his life turned upside down when he is accused of killing his wife and her lover. Thrown into prison for consecutive life terms, he befriend 'Red', who is played by Morgan Freeman. Not only are they both at their acting best, but when they are in scenes together the chemistry between the two of them is mind-blowing. Stephen King, who wrote this, is flawless in his story-telling, and even though the movie is just basically about the lives of several inmates, we are enthralled with the story from beginning to end. Over the years, Andy retains hope and eventually gains the respect of his fellow inmates. He never loses hope of what the outside world can offer, and he makes it his goal, though a simple one, to one day rebuild a boat with his friend in Mexico. The movie is a testament to the human spirit, and show just how deep a man can dig when faced with obstacles that would make a grown man cry. Robbins should have been nominated for a Best Actor award for the realistic portrayal that he gives of an innocent man incarcerated for the rest of his life. The ending of the film etches in stone why it is on my list.

Once Upon A Time in The West (1968) -- Starring Claudia Cardinale, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, and Charles Bronson

This is what I consider to be the best film of all-time. In any list I would create, I would put this one at the top, simply because of how well it is written, acted, and directed on screen. "Once Upon A Time In The West", stars Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson, as the two main characters. The story revolves around these two men, and a short interaction that they have in the beginning of the movie. Then throughout the movie, they set out on a quest to find each other, not fully knowing why. It all takes place in a town that is trying to spring up around where the railroad is starting to come through. The railroads have not yet spanned across the entire country, and the people involved in this story are attempting to take full advantage of the profits that can come from being involved in the whole process. Fonda plays an outlaw who has no positive qualities, but rather resembles the most disliked qualities that any villain can assume. He has many tendencies throughout the movie that show just how he has become so twisted, and what made him that way. Bronson, in his first real starring role, is a long-ways from his present-day action flick. In this one, he is a quiet out-of-towner, who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now the two of them must face off to decide the fate of a town, the fate of the woman that they both admire, and their own destinies at the same time. A great Western, Sergio Leone filmed this in 1968, and yet it still stands up as one of the greatest films of all time in my opinion. If you haven't seen this one yet, then you must take the time to do it.

The Lord Of The Rings (2001-2003) -- Starring Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin, Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, and Sean Bean

This is somewhat of a cheating entry into my list, but I have to pay homage to the way that these films were made, and how great the presentation of the stories was. Basically, I count it as one long film that was split up into 3 parts to make it into theaters. Standing alone, the films are pretty good, but combining all 3, and you can see the greatness of the story telling. Peter Jackson gets a ton of the credit for bringing this story to cinematic light, but we also have to give J.R.R. Tolkien the credit for writing the characters so well. Beautifully shot, full of action, and acted superbly by the entire cast, The Lord Of The Rings really shows what an epic film is supposed to look like. Crossing the entire span of its own world, the story evolves through its characters, and is driven by each of their quests. As it was said, they must all work together, and the story is the same way, where the actors all had to work together to put on screen the best possible product. What they came away with was a great set of 3 films that people will be watching for years to come.

Gone With The Wind (1939) -- Starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable

The first epic movie, and the first one that decided to blast movie-goers with color. It was the winner of 8 Oscars, and the highest grossing movie of all time (adjusted for inflation). This was a true movie of the South, depicting a time period centered on the Civil War, and following the lives of several people who are intertwined with the main plot. Recently its closing line was actually names the best movie quote of all time by the AFI, and this movie really has stood up well even though it was made almost 70 years ago. The basis of the movie is a Southern belle who is quite manipulative, seeking out the roughest man she has come across, and somewhere along the way she falls in love with the premise of being with him. In a look at love, and what can happen if love is used "against" people, this movie was both grand in scale, and in its presentation. Gone With The Wind has been, and always will be a great film loved by many.

To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) -- Starring Gregory Peck and Robert Duvall

When a black man is falsely charged with a rape in the South, Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) risks everything to defend him against what could be certain death. The movie is a quiet one, in the fashion that it involve internal emotion rather than imagery, but it shows a microcosm of the deep South in the 1930's. Facing scorn from his friends, and the town itself, Finch risks everything to defend what he knows to be right and true. Playing a large part in the story is his daughter, who has her own story as the courtroom drama begins to unfold. This is a deep film that stays true to the novel by Harper Lee, and shows what the perceptions of children can be if they aren't influenced by the people around them. I have loved this story, and the movie fashioned after it for quite some time, and find it to be one of the best adaptations of a novel I have ever seen.

Casablanca (1942) -- Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman

One of the most quoted movies of all time, Casablanca is one of those films, that no matter how many times you watch it, you can sit down and watch it at least once more. It is the type of film that moves quickly, has very likeable characters at its center, and it revolves around a story that we all want to work out in the end. Even though the creators of the film didn't find it to be the masterpiece that a lot of today's critics find it to be, I still think that it ranks as one of the best films ever made. It tells the story of a city in Africa during the early part of World War II. It seems all of the shady characters from around the world have found themselves pushed into this city, and into Rick's cafe. Rick is played by Humphrey Bogart in a role that basically set him in stone as one of our great actors, and we are shown a turbulent romance between him and Bergman's character that is interrupted by the out-break of war. With distance between them, and having had years passed, they lead very different lives that crash into each other in a fashion only intended for the big screen. With intrigue and drama throughout, Casablanca races from beginning to end, seeking its own date with destiny.

Moulin Rouge! (2001) -- Starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor

Baz Luhrmann directs this film about a poet who falls for a beautiful courtesan, whom a jealous duke covets. The poet is played by McGregor, and the courtesan is played by Kidman in roles that both of them seem destined to play. Not only are they able to show off their acting talents as Satine and Christian, but they have to sing as well in this musical. Set at the turn-of-the-century in France, the Moulin Rouge is a lively, sometimes dark, nightclub that caters to all walks of life. Christian goes there with the hopes of scoring he and his fellow Bohemian actors a sponsor for the play that he wants to put on, but instead finds more than he had ever hoped. He quickly falls for Satine, who will not be loved if she can help it. Moulin Rouge is one of those films that I am able to watch over and over again. The music in the film, especially the remake of the song Roxanne, soars the entire time, and the story is one that can hook any audience into watching it. At times fun, and at other times very serious, Moulin Rouge was the best film of 2001.

The Natural (1984) -- Starring Robert Redford, Glenn Close, and Robert Duvall

Robert Redford plays Roy Hobbs, a player with no past, who suddenly appears and starts hitting home-runs for the New York Knights. The mystery that surrounds him is something that proves too much for a sports reporter played by Robert Duvall, and he seeks out to destroy the myth that Hobbs is becoming. Having come up as a pitcher in baseball years before, he now has a swing that seems handed down by the Gods. With the help of a bat created from a tree hit by lightning, it seems that nobody can stop him. Seemingly a man possessing super-human talents at baseball, he is surrounded by people that want to see him fail. The movie stands alone as the greatest baseball movie of all time, because it does not give you clear-cut answers to the story being told. There are questions that go unanswered, and mysteries that are never solved when it comes to the characters, and the audience is left in awe of the story being told. This is a must-see for any fan of cinema, and what I have found to be a movie that I can watch over and over again, and never tire of seeing it.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) -- Starring Harrison Ford and Karen Allen

Fresh out of becoming a household name as Han Solo in Star Wars, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas cast Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. This was all despite the fact that everyone involved wanted Tom Selleck to take on the part of the hero. Jones is an archeologist who doesn't do everything necessarily by the book. He is a rough cut man, who knows that with every excavation and discovery that danger can lurk behind every corner, and he is ready for it. Rather than falling into the role of the normal book-smart archeologist, Jones instead has fun with everything he does, and puts himself into dangerous situations that make his searches just as thrilling as they are exciting to watch. In this first film, of what would turn into a 3 part series, we learn a lot about our central character, and find out that he is definitely a break from the norm. From the very first scene of the film, we see that we are in for a movie that is much more than a simple archeological film. The main character of Indiana Jones will stop at nothing to complete a task assigned to him, and it is hammered home as he makes his way through a series of booby-traps to retrieve an archival statue. One of the most famous scenes in film takes place as, at one point, Jones is forced to escape an onrushing boulder that would surely crush a weaker man. This sequence of events, and his escape from the island following it, sets the tone for what we soon find to be a great action film. Some would even say that the first few scenes of the movie are enough to pay for the admission in the first place, and that the rest of the film is just the bonus. The film redefined what could be an action film, and helped to usher in a new facet: putting a deep story behind the explosions and gun-fights. Indiana Jones is one of those characters that will be around forever, and Raiders is the film that got it all started.

Well there you have it! What I feel are the 10 best movies of all time. Always up for interpretation, I stand behind my choices, and will debate anyone of these films and their merits. This is my opinion, and I am sticking to it.... for now ;)

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