It’s the beginning of January, which means the beginning of a new year. And you know what that means - a time for making resolutions that will probably not be kept! Well, let’s see how far this one goes…

Instead of wasting away my time playing video games, I’ve decided to take a bit more seriously another passion: watching movies. I’m going to try to make this constructive by reviewing each of the top 100 movies, many of which I’ll be sitting down and watching for the very first time, and many of which are old favorites that I’ll be rewatching, unfortunately not with fresh eyes.

This should be completely doable, as this comes out to watching roughly 2 movies a week. The part I expect to be time-consuming are the reviews for each film, which I want to be worthwhile to read, with screenshots and such, to keep the readers’ eyes stimulated between the walls of text I’m sure to write.

Selecting the 100

My method for selecting the top 100 movies is to take the unweighted highest rated films on IMDB and filter out anything from the last 15 years, meaning that all of these films will be pre-2000.

This may seem pretty arbitrary to some folks, but if you’ve watched the IMDB rankings for any period of time you’ll notice new movies have a tendency to show up high in the rankings for a brief period before falling lower over time. My guess here is that time is a sort of sieve, and as such it takes time for the sieve to filter these newer movies. But I can sort of speed up that process by jumping back 15 years (because 2000 is a nice round number), to movies that the sieve has had time to work on.

The more recent films are also in our more recent collective conscious - you can see this reflected in the distribution of films by decade below.

Also, this somewhat avoids the type of film rankings where Citizen Kane always shows up as #1, and most of the pre-1980 classics seem to have strong preference over anything recent.

Some Quick Statistics

  • only 27 films not previously watched before
  • only one film not on Blu Ray: Sholay (1975)
  • average running time: 130 minutes (2 hours 10 minutes)
Films by Decade Count
1920s 5
1930s 4
1940s 8
1950s 15
1960s 12
1970s 12
1980s 18
1990s 26

The List

So let’s get started! Here’s the current list of the top IMDB movies, with newer movies filtered out as explained above.

I’ll be linking each title to my full review as I work my way through.

Position AFI Position Title Year Previously Watched?
1 - The Shawshank Redemption 1994 yes
2 3 The Godfather 1972 yes
3 32 The Godfather: Part II 1974 yes
4 - 12 Angry Men 1957 yes
5 9 Schindler’s List 1993 no
6 95 Pulp Fiction 1994 yes
7 Ineligible - Italian The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 1966 yes
8 - Fight Club 1999 yes
9 - Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back 1980 yes
10 71 Forrest Gump 1994 yes
11 20 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 1975 yes
12 Ineligible - Japanese Seven Samurai 1954 yes
13 - The Matrix 1999 yes
14 94 Goodfellas 1990 yes
15 15 Star Wars 1977 yes
16 - Se7en 1995 no
17 11 It’s a Wonderful Life 1946 yes
18 - The Usual Suspects 1995 yes
19 Ineligible - Italian Life Is Beautiful 1997 no
20 65 The Silence of the Lambs 1991 yes
21 Ineligible - French Léon: The Professional 1994 no
22 Ineligible - Indian Sholay 1975 no
23 Ineligible - Italian Once Upon a Time in the West 1968 yes
24 76 City Lights 1931 no
25 - Saving Private Ryan 1998 yes
26 2 Casablanca 1942 yes
27 - American History X 1998 yes
28 81 Modern Times 1936 yes
29 60 Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981 yes
30 18 Psycho 1960 yes
31 42 Rear Window 1954 yes
32 - The Green Mile 1999 yes
33 - Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991 yes
34 12 Sunset Blvd. 1950 yes
35 - Back to the Future 1985 yes
36 26 Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb 1964 yes
37 28 Apocalypse Now 1979 yes
38 Ineligible - Italian Cinema Paradiso 1988 yes
39 - The Great Dictator 1940 no
40 - The Lion King 1994 yes
41 - Alien 1979 no
42 - Paths of Glory 1957 yes
43 Ineligible - Japanese Grave of the Fireflies 1988 no
44 - The Shining 1980 yes
45 - Witness for the Prosecution 1957 no
46 Ineligible - Japanese Princess Mononoke 1997 no
47 Ineligible - German Das Boot 1981 yes
48 Ineligible - German M 1931 yes
49 - American Beauty 1999 yes
50 - Once Upon a Time in America 1984 no
51 1 Citizen Kane 1941 yes
52 - Aliens 1986 no
53 40 North by Northwest 1959 yes
54 61 Vertigo 1958 yes
55 - Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi 1983 yes
56 38 Double Indemnity 1944 yes
57 - Braveheart 1995 yes
58 - Sunrise 1927 no
59 34 To Kill a Mockingbird 1962 yes
60 5 Lawrence of Arabia 1962 yes
61 46 Clockwork Orange 1971 yes
62 - Reservoir Dogs 1992 no
63 - The Kid 1921 no
64 Ineligible - Italian Bicycle Thieves 1948 no
65 47 Taxi Driver 1976 yes
66 10 Singin’ in the Rain 1952 yes
67 16 All About Eve 1950 no
68 - The Sting 1973 yes
69 53 Amadeus 1984 yes
70 Ineligible - Japanese Yojimbo 1961 yes
71 Ineligible - Japanese Rashomon 1950 yes
72 - Full Metal Jacket 1987 yes
73 30 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 1948 yes
74 Ineligible - British Monty Python and the Holy Grail 1975 yes
75 93 The Apartment 1960 yes
76 22 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 yes
77 Ineligible - Japanese Ikiru 1952 yes
78 Ineligible - German Metropolis 1927 yes
79 Ineligible - Italian For a Few Dollars More 1965 no
80 57 The Third Man 1949 yes
81 - Scarface 1983 yes
82 - Toy Story 1995 yes
83 14 Some Like It Hot 1959 yes
84 - L.A. Confidential 1997 no
85 - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 1989 yes
86 98 Unforgiven 1992 no
87 29 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington 1939 yes
88 Ineligible - British The Great Escape 1963 yes
89 8 On the Waterfront 1954 yes
90 24 Raging Bull 1980 no
91 Ineligible - Japanese Ran 1985 yes
92 - The General 1926 yes
93 - Good Will Hunting 1997 yes
94 74 The Gold Rush 1925 yes
95 Ineligible - Japanese My Neighbor Totoro 1988 yes
96 Ineligible - Swedish Wild Strawberries 1957 no
97 19 Chinatown 1974 yes
98 - Judgment at Nuremberg 1961 no
99 - Heat 1995 no
100 - Die Hard 1988 no