Everyone has different taste in movies, and the amount of enjoyment a movie gives varies from person to person. However, there are certain films that stand out as the top movies or best movies of all time — either thanks to sheer popularity, critical opinion, or number of awards won. From classic to contemporary, comedy to drama, here’s a list of 10 of the best movies of all time. While by no means exhaustive, this list should at least give you a place to start if you’re looking for something to watch on movie night.
#10: Jaws (1975) – Buy DVD
Logline: A formidable shark terrorizes the beach-going residents of Amity Island, leading to a shark hunt of frightening proportions.
Why people love it: An example of the summer blockbuster at its best, “Jaws” has remained perennially popular since its release in 1975. The movie isn’t so much about in-your-face gore or exciting special effects; rather, director Steven Spielberg creates a chilling atmosphere through suggestion and music, one that viewers have returned to time and again.
Memorable quote: Richard Dreyfuss as Hooper — “I’m not going to waste my time arguing with a man who’s lining up to be a hot lunch.”
#9: Inception (2010) – Buy DVD
Logline: Dom Cobb, a thief forced to sever all ties with his old life, has the opportunity to gain it all back by performing a feat many consider outside the realm of possibility.
Why people love it: Through a stunning mix of dark visual effects and singular storyline, “Inception” is a thriller that reaches beyond mindless entertainment into a realm of the frightening abilities of the mind. As of July 2013, “Inception” ranked as the 36th highest-grossing film (of all time).
Memorable quote: Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb — “Dreams feel real while we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange.”
#8: Blazing Saddles (1974) – Buy DVD
Logline: Comedy ensues when the powers that be appoint a black sheriff in the hopes of driving away the residents of a Western town.
Why people love it: Mel Brooks brings his typical brand of satire and silliness to this 1974 work, touching on topics that are sometimes seen as verboten in humor — namely racism, sexuality, and corruption. Far from shying away from these issues, Brooks runs at them head on in a way that is both funny and thoughtful.
Memorable quote: Madeline Kahn as Lili Von Shtupp — “Hello, handsome, is that a ten-gallon hat, or are you just enjoying the show?”
#7: Barton Fink (1991) – Buy DVD
Logline: After landing a job writing scripts, a well-known New York poet finds out that Hollywood might be more than he bargained for.
Why people love it: Favorites with awards academies and critics alike, the Coen Brothers deliver dark comedy in “Barton Fink,” one of their earlier works (the film was released in 1991). The film lambastes both the world of Hollywood and serious writers, managing to be both thoughtful and hilarious.
Memorable quote: John Goodman as Charlie — “The doctor, what’s he gonna tell me? Can’t trade my head in for a new one.”
#6: Casablanca (1942) – Buy DVD
Logline: During the time of World War II, one man is placed in a complicated position by a former lover.
Why people love it: “Casablanca” is consistently included in top movie lists, and for good reason. Both romance and drama drive the story, which is superbly acted by legends Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
Memorable quote: Humphrey Bogart as Rick — “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.”
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#5: Pulp Fiction (1994) – Buy DVD
Logline: A disparate band of characters become entwined as robberies, violence, and personal stories unfold.
Why people love it: The success of “Pulp Fiction” is often attributed to the many cinematic and writing techniques that director Quentin Tarantino employs. Told nonlinearly, the film attains classic status for everything from its dialogue to its pop culture references to its famous dance scene with John Travolta and Uma Thurman.
Memorable quote: Samuel L. Jackson as Jules — “If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions.”
#4: Schindler’s List (1993) – Buy DVD
Logline: Oskar Schindler decides not to sit idly by after watching Nazi persecution of the Jews in World War II-era Poland.
Why people love it: “Schindler’s List” is terrifying and touching, thanks not only to the grim subject matter of the Holocaust, but also to the directorial prowess of Steven Spielberg. The film is also well casted, including such heavy hitters as Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and Ben Kingsley.
Memorable quote: Ralph Fiennes as Goeth — “This is very cruel, Oskar. You’re giving them hope. You shouldn’t do that. That’s cruel!”
#3: The Shining (1980) – Buy DVD
Logline: After taking the position of winter caretaker of an old hotel, writer Jack Torrance finds himself in the grip of an evil presence — one which wants him to do unspeakable things.
Why people love it: Few Stephen King novels have been adapted so well for the screen, and part of this film’s success is surely owed to the capabilities of director Stanley Kubrick. “The Shining” is about the supernatural, but its creepiness lies in its treatment of how horror can impact a family dynamic — a dynamic which is superbly displayed by Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, and Danny Lloyd.
Memorable quote: Jack Nicholson as Torrance [chasing his son with an ax] — “Danny, I’m coming!”
#2: Requiem for a Dream (2000) – Buy DVD
Logline: Life spirals out of control for four related characters as they struggle to cope with their worsening addictions.
Why people like it: Addiction is an uncomfortable subject, but director Darren Aronofsky unabashedly catalogues the horrible consequences of various addictions in this dark drama. Although disturbing at times, the film is also enjoyable thanks to its unique use of montage and music.
Memorable quote: Jennifer Connelly as Marion — “Anybody wanna waste some time?”
#1 (Tie): The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather: Part II (1974) – Buy DVD
Logline: Crime, betrayal, violence, and passion rule the lives of New York crime syndicate members in the 1920s to 1950s.
Why people like them: Both films capture the essence of crime-family problems and triumphs, and while the characters perform many horrific acts, viewers can’t help but feel for their struggles. Although both “The Godfather” and “The Godfather: Part II” receive respect from critics and movie buffs, there is some debate as to which film comes out on top, with many people considering the sequel to be superior to the original.
Memorable quote: Franco Citti as Carlo (“The Godfather”) — “In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns.”
Unlike so many films, these 10 have stood the test of time, whether thanks to the actors involved, their directors, innovative cinematography, or fascinating story lines. They stand as monuments to the art of filmmaking, so if you’ve yet to see one or two of them, grab a bowl of popcorn and enjoy.
Have a favorite best movie that you feel should be on the list of best movies of all time? Let us know in the comments below!