The 300 Best Films since 1950by smay-stjohn | created - 11 Feb 2017 | updated - 6 days ago | Public
*This list is still in process* - I am a junkie. A film junkie that is. Most human beings have one or more kinds of vices, habits or passions. Mine is film. It is my alcohol, drug, exercise, food, simply anything a person can get addicted to. I believe we are currently (2019) in a new cinematic "golden age." In my meaningless opinion, this is the most phenomenal time in cinema thus far. I believe that film currently serves a powerful and important function in the 21st century, such as books did for centuries prior. In other words, the power, beauty and creativity that humanity found in literature and poetry in the centuries leading up to present day, has gradually morphed into what film serves for humanity today. I have watched many films from the 30's and 40's, but for the sake of my personal tastes, my age (I was born in 1976), and the evolution of film techniques, CGI, directing and acting methods, this list will really only include films that were released between 1950 and the present time (with two exceptions - "Citizen Kane" and "My Darling Clementine"). I love receiving feedback (positive or negative), and I also love when people recommend a movie I haven't seen. This is simply an ongoing list of this junkie's passion. It will adapt as I watch films I haven't seen, new films are released, and of course, how films age. I believe movies are like a fine wine or whiskey. One of the fundamental components of how good a movie is, is to see how it ages over time. I need to watch a film at least two, three or four times before I can truly form an authentic opinion about it, and that takes time, often times years. If you review this list, you will clearly see I am partial to Westerns, Epic Historic Tales, and Crime/Gangster films. That said, I will watch anything decent, including romances, foreign films, horror and totally bizarre independent films. If it's well made, I can get into pretty much any genre. That said, there are no animated films on this list. I love animated films, and you can find some of my favorites on my Best Animated Films list, but they deserve their own, seperate list. Lastly, one genre I've never found intriguing is musicals. Yes, I've watched West Side Story and Grease, but I personally feel there should be a separate category for the Academy voters for best musical. No "La La Land" or "Chicago" on this list. To each his own, but musicals just don't do it for me.
- Instant Watch Options
- Movies or TV
- IMDb Rating
- In Theaters
- On TV
- Release Year
1. Goodfellas (1990)
R | 146 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
The story of Henry Hill and his life in the mob, covering his relationship with his wife Karen Hill and his mob partners Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVito in the Italian-American crime syndicate.
Votes: 912,310 | Gross: $46.84M
Hands down, without question or hesitation the best gangster film of all time. Hands down, without question the best film of all time in my opinion, but I am partial to crime stories. It would take someone like Ridley Scott, Stephen Spielberg, Christopher Nolan or Clint Eastwood to talk me out of why this isn't the best film of all time. I believe Scorsese should have won the Best Director Oscar in 1990, and Goodfellas should have won Best Picture over Dances With Wolves. I thought Dances was a great film, but I bet if The Academy had a time machine, they would go back and change their votes.
2. Gladiator (2000)
R | 155 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
A former Roman General sets out to exact vengeance against the corrupt emperor who murdered his family and sent him into slavery.
Votes: 1,219,900 | Gross: $187.71M
In a 2015 interview on NPR, famed Rome Historian Mary Beard stated she "loved" Gladiator, and "thought its depiction of gladiatorial combat was cleverly and expertly done." It was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won 5 including Best Picture. To all you haters, no, the academy did not get this wrong like they did with Goodfellas. The Academy nailed it. This film is the real deal. Ridley Scott's masterpiece if you ask me. I was 25 years old when I saw in in the theater with my father and brother. Funny to see 3 grown men weep uncontrollably at the end. You know a movie is phenomenal when 6 years later someone makes an entirely different movie (300), and "borrows" or "reinterprets" the music, dialogue, cinematography, costumes and battles and the movie pulls in $450 Million but was still garbage compared to Gladiator. An absolute legendary cinematic experience, and I admit for the past several years I have debated back and forth which is better between Gladiator and Goodfellas.
3. Unforgiven (1992)
R | 130 min | Drama, Western
Retired Old West gunslinger William Munny reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner and a young man.
Votes: 343,664 | Gross: $101.16M
Clint Eastwood's masterpiece. Nominated for 10 Oscars, and won 4 including Best Picture. This film is so good, you can hate Westerns and still be blown away. In 2004, Unforgiven was added to the United States National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". I think Clint gets overlooked sometimes in the film world, and doesn't always get quite the level of respect he deserves. My guess is that its probably due to a combination of his political views and the macho style of his films from the 70's and 80's, but in my book this guy can flat out create beauty. This film is a testament to that, as well as several other films you will find on this list.
4. The Revenant (2015)
R | 156 min | Action, Adventure, Biography
A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.
Votes: 625,947 | Gross: $183.64M
I fully admit that I have a strong fascination with the occupation of the American West throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. I call it an occupation, because it was not a “settlement” or “development.” It was downright theft from Native Americans. Putting my historical opinions aside and regardless of how history unfolded, since I was a child, I have been riveted with the stories of the occupation of a wild, vast, beautiful and untamed land. I fully admit I have a bias to the Western Film genre, and that is surely one of the reasons I have The Revenant ranked so high on this list. I believe it is one of the most impressive films in history. The acting performances by both Leo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy were extraordinary, which was confirmed by the Academy with DiCaprio’s long overdue Oscar for Best Actor, and Hardy’s Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Alejandro G. Inarritu also deservedly won the Best Director Oscar, and the film won the Oscar for Best Cinematography behind the amazing talents of Emmanuel Lubezki. In addition to these, the Revenant was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing and Best Visual Effects. In total, that is 12 Oscar Nominations and 3 wins. I, personally felt that The Revenant should have won Best Picture over Spotlight. I thought Spotlight was a fantastic film that told a very important story. It certainly deserved it’s nomination, but at the end of the day, I disagree with the Academy on this one, and feel that the subject matter of Spotlight swayed the Academy voters. In my mind, The Revenant was the stronger film. But, as everyone knows, the Academy can’t get it right every time (I’m looking at you “Crash”).
This film has it all, exceptional cinematography, beautiful directing, phenomenal acting, an unbelievable (and mostly true) story, a poignant soundtrack, highly realistic costumes, and some of the most gripping action and battle sequences ever orchestrated on film. During the battle scenes, I felt like I was actually there and about to be hit in the leg with an arrow at any moment. My hands were gripping the seat cushion during the battles sequences, and that is VERY rare for me, as since I was 6 years old and my father signed our family up for HBO, I have diligently practiced and developed the ability to separate reality from fiction while experiencing film. In my opinion, this movie kicks ass on all levels. An amazing story, amazing action (the Bear attack is epic), grief, revenge, the will to survive, gorgeous outdoor scenery and cinematography and accurate costumes and weapons for that time period. Also, I believe the film was shot entirely with natural light. Wow. The Revenant is simply a masterpiece.
PG-13 | 201 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron's army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring.
Votes: 1,503,576 | Gross: $377.85M
6. The Godfather (1972)
R | 175 min | Crime, Drama
The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.
Votes: 1,450,444 | Gross: $134.97M
I'm sure I'll catch hell for The Godfather being ranked only #6 on this list. I fully understand that it is ranked by many critics and even filmmakers as the greatest movie of all time. I can only say that I agree that this surely is one of the best films ever made, and it was responsible for inspiring many directors, screenwriters and actors/actresses in the coming years to create other beautiful works of art in the cinematic world. So why isn't The Godfather #1 on my list? The short answer is that it comes down to acting and believability. I know, I know, what kind of knucklehead am I to critique arguably the best film ever made? I just feel I owe some kind of explanation of why it's #6 on my list. Some examples include when Sonny beats up Carlo for hitting Connie. I realize it was 1972, but even for that time, that was a pretty poorly choreographed fight scene. It was clear that one of Sonny's punches caught nothing but air (but there was still the punch sound effect), and when Sonny was kicking him while he was on the pavement, it was obvious that he held back the full strength of his kicks. Connie's (Talia Shire) over-dramatic, over-acting in the fight scene with Carlo where she breaks all the plates is another example. Lastly, when they got to Vito as he was buying fruit, and Tom Haden when he was Christmas shopping, are you telling me that the Don and the Consigliere don't pack revolvers? I mean, they are supposed to be the most powerful family in the 5 boroughs, and they're not packing heat 24/7? Its not like they couldn't get handguns. I get it that Vito was supposed to be "protected" by Fredo, but come on, Vito was smart enough to know that Fredo didn't have the nerves to keep it together if/when something went down. I find it very hard to believe that Tom, Vito and Sonny weren't packing at least a revolver 24/7. However, even with my nit-picking, the many phenomenal acting scenes easily make up for the bad ones. Notice, I still give this film a "10." Francis Ford Coppola truly made a masterpiece, the story is so rich, the music so enchanting, the background so authentic, from the 1940's streets of NYC to the hills of Sicily. So many amazing quotes. As you watch the opening scene, it communicates quite abundantly that you are in for something very special. Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, James Caan and the legendary Marlon Brando all genuinely become their characters and they deserved every award they won. I am so grateful this film was made and it is just exactly what it is, slight flaws and all, as it changed filmmaking for the better for years to come. There are some other nit-picky reasons why 5 other films are ranked higher in my opinion, but those are reasons for another time. I celebrate The Godfather for the masterpiece it is, and the inspiration it created for so many artists in the cinematic world. "Leave the gun...take the cannolis."
7. Pulp Fiction (1994)
R | 154 min | Crime, Drama
The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster & his wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.
Votes: 1,652,251 | Gross: $107.93M
8. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
R | 133 min | Drama
A criminal pleads insanity after getting into trouble again and once in the mental institution rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients.
Votes: 836,690 | Gross: $112.00M
9. No Country for Old Men (2007)
R | 122 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and more than two million dollars in cash near the Rio Grande.
Votes: 771,384 | Gross: $74.28M
11. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
R | 178 min | Western
A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.
Votes: 627,641 | Gross: $6.10M
12. Rocky (1976)
PG | 120 min | Drama, Sport
A small-time boxer gets a supremely rare chance to fight a heavy-weight champion in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.
Votes: 475,192 | Gross: $117.24M
13. The Dark Knight (2008)
PG-13 | 152 min | Action, Crime, Drama
When the menace known as The Joker emerges from his mysterious past, he wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham. The Dark Knight must accept one of the greatest psychological and physical tests of his ability to fight injustice.
Votes: 2,078,498 | Gross: $534.86M
14. Arrival (II) (2016)
PG-13 | 116 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
A linguist works with the military to communicate with alien lifeforms after twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world.
Votes: 520,040 | Gross: $100.55M
15. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
PG | 110 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
Wyoming, early 1900s. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid are the leaders of a band of outlaws. After a train robbery goes wrong they find themselves on the run with a posse hard on their heels. Their solution - escape to Bolivia.
Votes: 188,163 | Gross: $102.31M
16. High Plains Drifter (1973)
R | 105 min | Drama, Mystery, Western
A gunfighting stranger comes to the small settlement of Lago and is hired to bring the townsfolk together in an attempt to hold off three outlaws who are on their way.
Votes: 45,460 | Gross: $15.70M
19. There Will Be Blood (2007)
R | 158 min | Drama
A story of family, religion, hatred, oil and madness, focusing on a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business.
Votes: 466,051 | Gross: $40.22M
20. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
R | 202 min | Crime, Drama
The early life and career of Vito Corleone in 1920s New York City is portrayed, while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on the family crime syndicate.
Votes: 1,008,575 | Gross: $57.30M
21. Braveheart (1995)
R | 178 min | Biography, Drama, History
When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, William Wallace begins a revolt against King Edward I of England.
Votes: 895,708 | Gross: $75.60M
22. The Deer Hunter (1978)
R | 183 min | Drama, War
An in-depth examination of the ways in which the U.S. Vietnam War impacts and disrupts the lives of people in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania.
Votes: 285,633 | Gross: $48.98M
23. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
PG | 115 min | Action, Adventure
In 1936, archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before Adolf Hitler's Nazis can obtain its awesome powers.
Votes: 817,473 | Gross: $248.16M
24. Pale Rider (1985)
R | 115 min | Drama, Western
A mysterious preacher protects a humble prospector village from a greedy mining company trying to encroach on their land.
Votes: 48,082 | Gross: $41.41M
25. Interstellar (2014)
PG-13 | 169 min | Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity's survival.
Votes: 1,309,771 | Gross: $188.02M
27. Almost Famous (2000)
R | 122 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama
A high-school boy is given the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone Magazine about an up-and-coming rock band as he accompanies them on their concert tour.
Votes: 235,645 | Gross: $32.53M
Hands down, without a doubt, the best fictional film about Rock & Roll. I strongly recommend watching the "extended version" which is available via DVD or your favorite torrent site. The only films I've seen that more accurately convey the raw power, freedom and spirit of Rock & Roll are documentary films such as The Last Waltz, Stop Making Sense and Long Strange Trip. Don't believe me? Well it was nominated for 103 major motion picture awards, and won 53 of those, including The Oscar for Best Screenplay in 2000. It was also nominated for 3 additional oscars, including Film Editing and Supporting Actress noms for both Kate Hudson and Frances McDormand. Kate Hudson did win the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and it was also nominated for Best Motion Picture/Musical or Comedy at the Globes. In addition to a film addict, I am also a lifetime Rock/Live Music Addict, and it's easy for me to say that Cameron Crowe knocks it out of the park with this film. It is his masterpiece. Yes, even better than Jerry McGuire.
29. The Book of Eli (2010)
R | 118 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
A post-apocalyptic tale, in which a lone man fights his way across America in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind.
Votes: 272,821 | Gross: $94.84M
30. The Color Purple (1985)
PG-13 | 154 min | Drama
A black Southern woman struggles to find her identity after suffering abuse from her father and others over four decades.
Votes: 71,824 | Gross: $98.47M
31. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
Not Rated | 123 min | Drama, Western
A senator, who became famous for killing a notorious outlaw, returns for the funeral of an old friend and tells the truth about his deed.
32. Fargo (1996)
R | 98 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
Jerry Lundegaard's inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson.
Votes: 564,496 | Gross: $24.61M
33. Into the Wild (2007)
R | 148 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life.
Votes: 526,377 | Gross: $18.35M
34. Whiplash (2014)
R | 106 min | Drama, Music
A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student's potential.
Votes: 622,406 | Gross: $13.09M
35. Casino (1995)
R | 178 min | Crime, Drama
A tale of greed, deception, money, power, and murder occur between two best friends: a mafia enforcer and a casino executive, compete against each other over a gambling empire, and over a fast living and fast loving socialite.
Votes: 416,361 | Gross: $42.44M
36. Raising Arizona (1987)
PG-13 | 94 min | Comedy, Crime
When a childless couple of an ex-con and an ex-cop decide to help themselves to one of another family's quintuplets, their lives become more complicated than they anticipated.
Votes: 117,095 | Gross: $22.85M
37. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
R | 153 min | Adventure, Drama, War
In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers coincides with a theatre owner's vengeful plans for the same.
Votes: 1,126,674 | Gross: $120.54M
39. American Hustle (2013)
R | 138 min | Crime, Drama
A con man, Irving Rosenfeld, along with his seductive partner Sydney Prosser, is forced to work for a wild F.B.I. Agent, Richie DiMaso, who pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and the Mafia.
Votes: 419,725 | Gross: $150.12M
40. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
R | 117 min | Biography, Drama
In 1985 Dallas, electrician and hustler Ron Woodroof works around the system to help AIDS patients get the medication they need after he is diagnosed with the disease.
Votes: 404,319 | Gross: $27.30M
41. Man on Fire (2004)
R | 146 min | Action, Crime, Drama
In Mexico City, a former assassin swears vengeance on those who committed an unspeakable act against the family he was hired to protect.
Votes: 308,833 | Gross: $77.91M
42. Shane (1953)
Not Rated | 118 min | Drama, Western
A weary gunfighter attempts to settle down with a homestead family, but a smoldering settler/rancher conflict forces him to act.
Votes: 33,708 | Gross: $20.00M
43. The Usual Suspects (1995)
R | 106 min | Crime, Mystery, Thriller
A sole survivor tells of the twisty events leading up to a horrific gun battle on a boat, which began when five criminals met at a seemingly random police lineup.
Votes: 912,545 | Gross: $23.34M
44. American Gangster (2007)
R | 157 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
An outcast New York City cop is charged with bringing down Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas, whose real life inspired this partly biographical film.
Votes: 368,407 | Gross: $130.16M
45. The Fighter (I) (2010)
R | 116 min | Biography, Drama, Sport
Based on the story of Micky Ward, a fledgling boxer who tries to escape the shadow of his more famous but troubled older boxing brother and get his own shot at greatness.
Votes: 317,637 | Gross: $93.62M
46. Blow (2001)
R | 124 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
The story of how George Jung, along with the Medellín Cartel headed by Pablo Escobar, established the American cocaine market in the 1970s in the United States.
Votes: 224,666 | Gross: $52.99M
47. Hell or High Water (II) (2016)
R | 102 min | Action, Crime, Drama