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50 Best PG-13 Movies Of All Time Ranked

The PG-13 rating dominates the modern movie landscape: eight of the 10 movies that topped the domestic box office each year from 2010 to 2019 were rated PG-13. However, it's a relatively new invention in the domain of cinema, only dating back to August 1984 with the release of "Red Dawn." The existence of this rating, spurred on by PG-rated titles like "Gremlins" that went too far for many parents, has certainly been a dominant force in Hollywood in the 21st century. Its prominence has been reflected by how several pre-1984 titles have been given the PG-13 rating when they've been resubmitted to the Motion Picture Association. Straddling a line between being strictly for kids but also not being so grotesque as to become disturbing, PG-13 movies can be a perfect zone for many moviegoers.

While the PG-13 rating may be largely associated with summer blockbuster fare or adaptations of young adult novels, the 50 best-reviewed PG-13 movies in history reflect just how many different kinds of films have been assigned this rating. Some are vintage classics of the early 20th century, while others are documentaries that manage to cover harrowing material without lapsing into R-rated territory, among many other avenues for storytelling. The PG-13 rating hasn't been around forever, but it's still managed to become associated with some truly incredible pieces of cinema. 

50. The Fugitive

Many of the best-reviewed PG-13 movies of all time are challenging documentaries or obscure gems from various overseas countries. And then there's "The Fugitive," a mainstream Harrison Ford action thriller based on a TV show from the 1960s. Sometimes all you need to make a movie work is just some great chase scenes and a good suspenseful plot that keeps you guessing. Having Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones on hand to provide the kinds of performances that they deliver best is just further icing on a cinematic cake delectable enough to warrant a place on this list.

49. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

"The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" may be the weakest-reviewed entry in the original "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, relatively speaking, but that doesn't mean the film is some sort of stain on the legacy of this saga. On the contrary, the general critical reception to this installment was by and large extremely positive

Generating an extra special amount of praise was Andy Serkis, who got to show up in a substantial role as Gollum for the very first time. His motion-capture performance was heralded far and wide, as were the expectedly extraordinary visual effects and costumes of "The Two Towers." Though not quite as good as its predecessor or successor, "The Two Towers" still stands heads-and-shoulders above most other PG-13 movies.

48. Nobody Knows

While the 2018 Palme d'Or-winning feature "Shoplifters" rocketed filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda to new levels of notoriety, this director has been helming feature-length projects since the early 1990s. Many of these films have garnered significant critical acclaim, including the 2004 feature "Nobody Knows." 

The extremely positive reception to this drama was primarily based on how well it explored the individual psyches of a trio of adolescents abandoned by their mom and forced to make it on their own. The way this brutal story resonated with audiences around the world was reflected in its groundbreaking award wins, including Yuya Yagira making history as the first Japanese performer to win Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival.

47. Brooklyn

Saoirse Ronan has a knack for showing up in incredible movies. Case in point: "Brooklyn," a 2015 movie that she headlined as an Irish woman who moves to Brooklyn in the hopes of securing steady employment. Financial conditions force her to come to New York City, but an eventual romance with a kindly plumber (Emory Cohen) may just make her stay. 

The charming performances and amiable aesthetic of the entire production, all overseen by director John Crowley, make this the kind of low-key treat that's, much like most other movies Ronan's appeared in, impossible to resist.

46. Black Panther

Many Marvel Cinematic Universe titles have scored positive marks from critics. But "Black Panther" was in another ballpark altogether in terms of the acclaim it received. Part of this came down to the screenplay and direction from Ryan Coogler, which wrung such compelling humanity out of both the hero and villain. Then there was the film's resplendent visuals, particularly those unforgettable costumes by Ruth E. Carter. 

It's through these qualities and so many others that "Black Panther" emerged not as just another well-liked Marvel Cinematic Universe entry, but as a profound pop culture event that more than earned its status as a milestone.

45. Inside Job

The 2008 economic crash wiped out the financial livelihood of countless Americans, but those responsible for instigating the devastation largely walked away unscathed. The understandable pent-up frustrations with America's economic system define the documentary "Inside Job," which guides viewers through the finer details of how decades of complacency and relaxed regulation led to the horrors of 2008. Informative without being a slog, "Inside Job" excels with expert visual aids and insightful interview subjects, as well as an expansive scope that extends to emphasizing how this could all happen again.

44. The Father

Countless mainstream horror movies could take a cue from "The Father" in terms of how to chill audiences to the bone. This Florian Zeller directorial effort, a film adaptation of his play of the same name, chronicles an elderly man (Anthony Hopkins) who is struggling with dementia. Zeller ingeniously places the viewer into the mindset of this character through slight changes in the production design or pieces of disorienting editing that can make a man's home seem suddenly unfamiliar. Consistently eerie and uncertain, "The Father" is also laced with empathy for its protagonist, a trait punctuated by a towering performance from Hopkins.

43. Away from Her

The feature directorial debut of actor Sarah Polley, "Away from Her" follows the emotionally brutal story of an elderly husband and wife who have their entire relationship upended when the latter gets stricken with Alzheimer's. From there, the two characters begin to navigate an uncertain future and an unbearable present while clinging onto a past that brought them together. 

Polley's work was praised across the board, with critics commenting that the performances and screenplay were especially strong while warning viewers that this was a difficult movie to watch. Sometimes, though, the best films are the ones — like "Away from Her" — that can be too much to bear.

42. Time Out

Our jobs take up so much of our lives that it can sometimes be difficult to ascertain where one ends and the other begins. Director Laurent Cantet has often been intrigued by this topic and explored it to especially fascinating effect with "Time Out," a 2001 movie about a man who is set adrift once he's fired from the job he's worked at for 11 years. 

"Time Out" is unsparing in its depiction of a distinctly modern problem concerning how people need to work to live, but how our lives are adversely defined by that same work. Exploring this concept through such quietly insightful means led to "Time Out" becoming a critical darling, all but guaranteed to make viewers question how much of a presence work has in their own lives.

41. Dick Johnson is Dead

How do you confront something as heavy and inevitable as death? If you're director Kirsten Johnson, and you're grappling with the demise of your father (the titular Dick Johnson), you try to get used to the idea. This entails various staged deaths of Dick Johnson as the result of everything from tumbling down the stairs to getting hit by large falling objects. These fictitious scenes are what may lure viewers into "Dick Johnson is Dead," but what will keep this movie lodged into their minds is the way it grapples with mortality and the prospect of saying goodbye to your loved ones. Kirsten Johnson's camera captures so much vulnerability and authentic humanity that a movie about death manages to still feel so alive.

40. The Artist

The winner of the Best Picture Oscar at the 84th Academy Awards, "The Artist" seems like the definition of a gimmick movie. Filmed entirely in black-and-white with no sound, "The Artist" is dedicated to emulating classic silent cinema to a tee. The result is an old-fashioned project that manages to demonstrate why you don't need sound effects or conventional dialogue to make an engaging story. Vividly-detailed performances that are full of life and intricately detailed direction make "The Artist" an utter joy to watch even if you're unfamiliar with the vintage era of film it's paying homage to.

39. Phoenix

What defines a person you love? Could you recognize them through any circumstances, including if they had an entirely different face? This is the question "Phoenix," a 2015 drama from director Christian Petzold, poses in depicting a woman who has to have facial reconstructive surgery after a bullet wound. 

Having already endured the horrors of being in a concentration camp, she now returns to Berlin, Germany and a husband who doesn't recognize her. What follows is an emotional rollercoaster of a movie that constantly surprises the viewer with the harrowing places it goes to. Holding it all together is an incredible lead performance from Nina Hoss, who conveys so much unspoken sorrow as Nelly, the lead character.

38. The Madness of King George

Kings are usually depicted as regal figures devoid of any mortal foibles, the sort of perfect figure destined to be realized as marble statues and enormous paintings. "The Madness of King George" runs directly opposite this convention with its depiction of King George III (here played by Nigel Hawthorne) and the mental illnesses that plagued the final years of his life. 

The exploration of this results in a tonally complex piece that especially soars in terms of its performances. Not only does Hawthorne deliver remarkable work in the lead role, but the likes of Helen Mirren and Ian Holm deliver just as important supporting turns. In short, this is one movie that's fit for a king.

37. First Cow

A masterwork from director Kelly Reichardt, in a career packed with titles that could have claimed that phrase, "First Cow" is all about a cow and a friendship between two men in the settler days of the Old West. 

Reichardt's trademark quiet filmmaking style allows the friendship between the two protagonists to blossom in organic ways. Their dynamic, as well as the kindly attitude towards the cow they milk in secret, will touch your heart. Meanwhile, the inevitable bleak circumstances that doom this friendship will also torment your soul. Reichardt's visually immaculate project dares to ask if genuine friendships can ever survive in a capitalistic society dictated by money rather than empathy.

36. Two Days, One Night

"Two Days, One Night" doesn't have an expansive scope or a massive scale to its storytelling, but it manages to draw you in all the same with its central conceit of a woman (Marion Cotillard) having to spend an entire weekend coaxing her co-workers to eschew their bonuses so that she can keep her job. 

It's a storyline that already sounds like a fantastic vessel to explore how economic restrictions of modern-day life turn working-class people on one another. In the hands of Belgian filmmaking duo Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, it becomes even more enriching than that, especially since Cotillard is transfixing from start to finish in the lead role. The clock is always ticking in "Two Days, One Night," and there's never enough time. By contrast, though, there's always time to watch something as critically-acclaimed as this motion picture.

35. Minari

The family at the heart of "Minari" is not extraordinary. They aren't major figures from history, nor do they have some special trait that makes them utterly idiosyncratic. But that's one of many ingenious underlying ideas in writer/director Lee Isaac Chung's "Minari." Emphasizing the everyday qualities of this clan simultaneously reinforces the inherent value of any immigrant family. 

Everyone has got a story to tell and the quietly powerful filmmaking of "Minari" conveys this truth magnificently. That's not the only place Chung's directorial vision impresses, though, as subtly detailed instances of filming things through the points-of-view of other characters — as well as the specific details of each central family member — reflect what a masterfully conceived project this is.

34. Man on Wire

In 1974, Philippe Petit did something preposterous: he put a tightrope up between the two towers of the World Trade Center and walked across it for several minutes. This death-defying stunt staggered the minds and imaginations of people around the world. In director James Marsh's 2008 documentary "Man on Wire," Petit offers insight into what compelled him to do this feat and how he pulled off the impossible.

Happily, Petit and his psyche remain appropriately enigmatic throughout the film. This man is like someone from another dimension, which is part of his appeal, and undercutting that with total 100% logic to all of his behavior would be a tragedy. Instead, "Man on Wire" allows viewers to live inside the headspace of an idiosyncratic individual and hear interviews with countless people who recount the tale of how this improbable stunt got executed. If you only know Petit's story through secondhand accounts or the Robert Zemeckis film "The Walk," it's time to change that by absorbing everything "Man on Wire" has to offer.

33. House of Flying Daggers

The works of auteur Yimou Zhang can have captivating performances and thought-provoking themes, but many of them, like "House of Flying Daggers," function at their very best as visual exercises. In Yimou's projects, the screen is alive with color and sumptuous staging. "House of Flying Daggers" continues this tradition with flair, with even the most trivial objects, like a minuscule bean, getting captured with glorious grandeur. A film bursting with visual imagination, "House of Flying Daggers" is akin to a crash course in the qualities that define Yimou's radiant vision as a filmmaker.

32. The Overnighters

What will people do for money? The North Dakota oil boom that began in 2006 and ended in 2012 was yet another instance of American history bringing this question up, as it inspired flocks of people to drop everything and pursue hopes of scoring big in this domain. "The Overnighters" chronicles many of these individuals yearning for a chance at financial glory and the pastor who gave them a home within his church. 

Critics far and wide praised the project for its deft exploration of what happens when we sacrifice who we are in the name of monetary gain. The sociopolitical relevance to today's United States also garnered appreciation, as did director Jesse Moss's nuanced approach to capturing each of his onscreen subjects.

31. Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America

Racism is not a thing of the past in America. It's the past, present, and, if action isn't taken, the future of this country. The documentary "Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America" is anchored by ACLU deputy legal director Jeffery Robinson, with the film cutting between Robinson giving a talk to a packed house over how systemic racism has molded America to segments featuring this same man interacting with various everyday Americans. 

The subject matter contained within this film's runtime is heavy, but it's also essential material that uses a dual structure to vividly depict how America's past seeps into its present. As informative as it is well-edited, "Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America" is a worthy addition to the canon of superb documentaries about American inequality. 

30. Persepolis

Adapting a graphic novel into a feature film can be a bittersweet experience, as often these properties are translated into live-action films that erase the distinctive hand-drawn artwork of their source material. Thankfully, author Marjane Satrapi adapts her work "Persepolis" into a film of the same name through hand-drawn animation, which maintains the wonderfully idiosyncratic imagery of her original work. It's a fittingly unique look for an equally distinctive coming-of-age yarn that balances moments of grimness and levity with deft grace. Rather than being a hollow echo of the text it's adapting, the film "Persepolis" is a triumphant companion piece that works incredibly well on its own terms.

29. Hannah and Her Sisters

Winner of three Oscars, Woody Allen's 1986 film "Hannah and Her Sisters" is noteworthy for so much more than being a contender for the title of best Thanksgiving movie ever made. Most notably, it's a masterclass demonstration in acting from its principal players, with Dianne Wiest and Mia Farrow both making a meal out of the dialogue Allen's script hands them. Consistently funny and well-made, "Hannah and Her Sisters" has managed to endure as one of the best-regarded films ever created by Allen.

28. The Birds

Before watching this Alfred Hitchcock horror film from the 1960s, one might get puzzled over the prospect of birds being portrayed as something terrifying. But the master of suspense pulls off the impossible in cinematic terms yet again with "The Birds." Committing to quiet scenes depicting avian-based tension provided an opportunity for Hitchcock to demonstrate once again his gift for slow-burn thrillers. Even better, nobody on-screen treated this scenario like a self-referential comedy, which would have undercut the filmmaking. Audiences were instead treated to committed performances from the principal cast, allowing "The Birds" to go from a punchline to something inescapably chilling.

27. Hamilton

In 2016, a camera crew filmed a performance of "Hamilton" featuring the show's original cast. Released in 2020, "Hamilton" is already enjoyable just for the chance to see these performers inhabiting those roles once again. However, it isn't just nostalgia that makes "Hamilton" so extraordinary. The show just works like gangbusters in any context and capturing it on film has only added new wonderful traits to praise. Most notably, the precise nature of the camerawork allows people to appreciate tinier details of the blocking and set work that they could have missed if they were watching this from a balcony seat in New York City. 

26. My Voyage to Italy

Martin Scorsese is known for his narrative films and for very good reason. However, this director has also helmed several acclaimed documentaries in his lifetime, including the 1999 project "My Voyage to Italy." Running over four hours in length, the whole project is a love letter to Italian cinema and explores the finer nuances of how filmmakers like Federico Fellini impacted the films Scorsese would eventually create. 

The documentary serves as a bridge between the past and the present, and per the critics, it's a bridge that isn't to be missed by cinema devotees. Primarily drawing praise here was the apparent passion Scorsese had for the central subject matter of "My Voyage to Italy," an element that helped to justify the project's expansive runtime. 

25. The Gatekeepers

Who better to talk about the Israeli internal security service Shin Bet than six people who used to run it? These individuals and their testimonies are the focus of the documentary "The Gatekeepers," with director Dror Moreh guiding viewers through the techniques of this service that include, but are not exclusively limited to, torture and assassination. 

A rare instance of these former Shin Bet heads speaking openly about the actions they oversaw, "The Gatekeepers" is a frequently disturbing watch, but also one that's chillingly enlightening. Critics hailed "The Gatekeepers" as something utterly remarkable, with Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club being especially taken aback by the "extreme pessimism of the future" shared by the film's subjects. This unflinchingly bleak quality speaks to the power of "The Gatekeepers," which offers a peek behind the curtain that viewers will not soon forget.

24. Ida

Immediately standing out to anyone who watches "Ida" is its use of a 1.37:1 aspect ratio. Director Pawel Pawlikowski's trademark affinity for movies that feature precise staging and blocking is more apparent than ever in a movie that's confined to such a restrictive space. A narrower frame only inspires the visual imagination of Pawlikowski, who delivers countless striking images throughout "Ida" that wouldn't be half as impactful if they were framed in a wider aspect ratio. 

The constricted framing and the black-and-white color scheme both serve as perfect visual extensions of the lead character's mindset as she's trapped between her past (where she was orphaned during World War II) and her search for any surviving relatives in the present. This is a haunting story that grabs you with its unique visual flourishes before keeping you with its emotionally unnerving atmosphere.

23. Stories We Tell

The past is not a concretely-defined entity that we all know in the same way. It's something that fluctuates greatly from one person to another. Director Sarah Polley constantly finds fascinating ways to reflect this in her documentary "Stories We Tell" and in her various interviews with her siblings and father. 

Starting with Polley chatting with her closest loved ones over their varying perceptions of her late mother, things take a complicated and unbelievable turn when secrets of the past become relevant to the proceedings. Here is where the disparate views and interpretations of the past become even more apparent and important than ever. Polley ingeniously emphasizes this dichotomy by juxtaposing sunny home videos with more nuanced anecdotes about the past from the interview subjects. Throughout "Stories We Tell," Polley delivers a bittersweet rumination on just how complicated both the past and our loved ones can be.

22. Flee

"Flee" is far from the first animated documentary, but animation proves so integral to and marvelously incorporated within "Flee" that it's hard to imagine any other documentary using this medium quite as effectively. The testimony from Amin Nawabi (a real man using a pseudonym) escaping his home country as a child with his family is gripping, especially since the film uses various flourishes in the animation to accentuate the narrator's emotions and his perspective on the world. Rather than detracting from reality, "Flee" uses the medium of animation to bring viewers closer to one man's life and reaffirm his humanity and complexities.

21. The Queen

Dealing with the death of a loved one is already a momentous undertaking for any family. But when you're the Royal Family, with so many eyeballs pointed at you as you grapple with how to proceed with the funeral for Diana, Princess of Wales, things get extra complicated. This process, told largely through the eyes of Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren), was the blueprint for "The Queen," a 2006 drama directed by Stephen Frears. Featuring an all-star line-up of acting talent that included Michael Sheen and James Cromwell, "The Queen" was hailed as cinematic royalty by critics, who especially appreciated the way the movie wrung moments of tasteful comedy out of this story rather than opting for a stagnant, somber mood.

20. The Triplets of Belleville

There's lots to be praised within the confines of the hand-drawn animated comedy "The Triplets of Belleville." However, what's especially wonderful here is director Sylvain Chomet's embracing of stylized character designs. The human and animal figures in this feature are not meant to emulate reality, but rather resemble organisms that could only exist within their world. 

The henchmen to the movie's main villain, for example, are gigantic intimidating squares that look more like Wilson Fisk from "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" than individuals you'd run into on the street. The human designs and backgrounds are stylized in a manner that any given shot in "The Triplets of Belleville" is a feast for the eyes. In an era where computer-animated realism has dominated feature-length animation, "The Triplets of Belleville" tipped its hat to the wacky past.

19. Time

Sibil Fox Richardson never intended for her home movies to become a part of a feature-length documentary. These snapshots of everyday life in the household featuring herself, her kids, and husband Rob have become more important than ever now that Rob is serving a lengthy prison sentence. Within "Time," these home movies are used as reminders of Rob's humanity, which the American penal system is now intent on stripping away. 

Footage captured in the modern world by director Garrett Bradley follows Sibil Fox as she crusades for her husband's release and increased awareness for the race-based inequality defining American incarceration. Bradley's approach to "Time" subverts expectations for a traditional documentary, including its exclusive use of black-and-white film while perfectly reflecting its on-camera subjects as multi-faceted people. Committing to these qualities results in a movie that functions as a chronicling of endurance and the hardships experienced due to shortcomings in American institutions.

18. The Look of Silence

With his 2012 film "The Act of Killing," director Joshua Oppenheimer took viewers into the mindset and everyday lives of men who carried out the Indonesian killings of 1965-1966. His companion piece to that project emerged in 2014 with "The Look of Silence," another documentary about this Indonesian massacre, but now focused on the perspective decades later of a middle-aged man whose brother was a casualty of these killings. Oppenheimer's camera follows this individual as he comes face to face with those responsible for slaughtering his sibling. 

Rather than coming off as a retread of "The Act of Killing," critics championed "The Look of Silence" as nearly as essential as its predecessor, with Oppenheimer praised for once again confronting such harrowing territory with an unflinching eye.

17. Quiz Show

An innocuous game show from the 1950s would seemingly be the last place high drama would be hiding out. But the program "Twenty-One" was full of scandals related to the show's game being fixed and champion contestant Charles van Doren not being what he seemed. All this and more was dramatized under the stewardship of director Robert Redford in the movie "Quiz Show." 

Rather than just being a stale retelling of history, "Quiz Show" uses these events to ruminate on heavy subjects like what people will do for money, as well as all the deceit hiding under the veneer of seemingly squeaky-clean 1950s America. The whole affair was so well put-together that "Quiz Show" scored consistently exceptional marks from critics. 

16. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Every trilogy has a beginning. For the "Lord of the Rings" saga, this came in the form of "The Fellowship of the Ring." Any doubts moviegoers may have had about adapting J.R.R. Tolkien's landmark fantasy work into a film were wiped out by the craftsmanship on display in the first of Peter Jackson's three-film epic. Plus actors like Ian McKellen and Elijah Wood gave performances that lent tangible humanity to the story's fantastical characters. Occasionally digressing from the source material while staying true to its spirit, "The Fellowship of the Ring" kicked off the "Rings" trilogy in impressive fashion.

15. Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Eliza Hittman applied her trademark intimate gaze as a filmmaker to "Never Rarely Sometimes Always," a captivating story of a teenage girl traveling to New York City to get an abortion. The procedure is just one part of the film, though, as Hittman's camera observes how the protagonist and her companion attempt to find shelter, score money, and obtain other necessities. The thoughtful camerawork lends insight to the quiet, complicated world of the film's lead character, with the emotionally immersive nature of the piece managing to make something as simple as hands touching into something that tugs at your soul.

14. The Class

Teaching is not the most glamorous or highly-paid job in the world, but people in this occupation can leave an indelible impact on the children they interact with. The best teachers are the ones who coax us to look at the world a little bit differently and see the potential in ourselves that we never even realized was there. The 2008 French film "The Class" underscores the importance of teaching by adapting François Bégaudeau's novel of the same name, with the author also on hand to play a protagonist who's a parallel to himself.

Directed by Laurent Cantet, "The Class" is about how one teacher bonds with and helps kids at his school who have been tossed aside by everyone else. What could have been one-note schmaltz ended up being one of the best-reviewed foreign-language titles of 2008, thanks to the film's dedication to rendering its lead character as a complicated and flawed human while also delivering optimally-conceived feel-good moments. 

13. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Jean-Dominique Bauby was an ordinary journalist until a sudden seizure at the age of 43 left him almost entirely paralyzed. He eventually used the tactic of blinking to signal which letters to use from the alphabet to the ghostwriter who helped pen his memoir, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." This text was adapted into a 2007 film of the same name, which managed to do justice to Bauby's life and then some.

The restrictive nature of Bauby's condition could have daunted other filmmakers, but director Julian Schnabel managed to figure out the tiniest ways to convey this man's interior world. Though Bauby may have thought his life was over once he was paralyzed, the critically-praised film of "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" shows how truly alive this man's spirit was in the face of adversity.

12. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

It's rare for a movie to conjure up the word "sweeping," but that's just what "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" does. Whether it's the sight of human beings flying through the sky or the absorbing human drama that drives the plot, Ang Lee's 2000 wuxia feature is a remarkable movie that makes one's jaw drop as often as it makes your heart soar. As if that weren't enough, it also delivers a bevy of fight scenes featuring masterful choreography as well as old-fashioned romantic subplots devoid of any snark that would undercut their effectiveness. Still one of the greatest works ever helmed by Lee, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is a quintessential example of sweeping, epic cinema. 

11. La La Land

Today may be "another day of sun," but it's hard to find another modern musical quite like "La La Land." Combining the color scheme and musical numbers of a 1950s MGM musical with the recognition of brutal reality from "All That Jazz," "La La Land" is utterly gorgeous to look at. However, it's also a deeply affecting feature thanks to a pair of great performances from Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Any movie like "La La Land" that gets toes tapping and tears flowing with such grace is worth remembering.

10. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Concluding an epic saga is no easy task. One could stand around all day listing the big blockbusters that came up short in delivering a proper resolution to an expansive story. Such an outcome was avoided by "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." This incredible achievement concluded the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy with an avalanche of unforgettable spectacle. However, what really made this finale sing was its commitment to thoughtful moments of poignancy, especially those concerning Sean Astin's Samwise Gamgee. "The Return of the King" was a powerful example of how expansive genre filmmaking can deeply move you in addition to dazzling your eyeballs.

9. Dunkirk

Leave it to Christopher Nolan to make a war movie like "Dunkirk" that can leave you on the edge of your seat without resorting to graphic violence. The PG-13 rating may limit the amount of blood on screen, but Nolan's filmmaking still makes this cinematic representation of an incredible historical event extra harrowing. As a cherry on top, the unorthodox narrative structure of the piece manages to work without undermining the characters. Consider "Dunkirk" to be one of the most unique takes in memory on the war movie genre.

8. Amour

Good luck watching "Amour" without having to reach for handfuls of tissues. This French film from director Michael Haneke follows an elderly couple who are plagued by health problems that reaffirm their mortality and put a strain on their relationship. 

This meditation on the fragile nature of existence itself is far from an easy watch, but its gut-wrenching qualities are made especially palpable thanks to a pair of extraordinary lead performances from Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, as well as remarkable cinematography from Darius Khondji. "Amour" shatters your heart while reminding one of the kind of love that makes it possible to not lose all hope in the middle of life's miseries. This is one film that's as certain to impress on an emotional level as a technical one.

7. A Separation

The outstanding films of director Asghar Farhadi do not adhere to a binary sense of morality. Characters have good, bad, and every other quality in between all swirling around them, just like real people. That's just as apparent as ever in what's arguably his greatest directorial effort, "A Separation," especially regarding protagonist Nadir (Peyman Moaadi). One scene can have you passionately hating this man while the next moment flips that effortlessly and has you sympathizing with his plight. 

The varied emotions that "A Separation" conjures up are made all the more palpable by the camerawork, which subtly immerses viewers into the point-of-view of its characters. While you can't go wrong with any Farhadi movie, "A Separation" is an especially strong and thoughtful achievement from this artist. 

6. I Am Not Your Negro

James Baldwin's works as a writer are still one-of-a-kind decades after they were first published. The words and views of this man are put front-and-center in the documentary "I Am Not Your Negro," as are the ideas that would have filled up a book he never finished. Baldwin may no longer be with us, but "I Am Not Your Negro" allows him to live on in a compelling form, with the man's insightful perspective on the world and how Black people are treated in America being just as urgently essential as ever. 

Director Raoul Peck masterfully utilizes structural elements associated with literature (like dividing the film into chapters) to evoke the art form Baldwin leaned on so heavily in his life, while also making use of details and flourishes that could only be accomplished in the medium of cinema. In short, "I Am Not Your Negro" is an exceptional documentary focused on an equally exceptional human being. 

5. The Social Network

It would be understandable if the 2010 David Fincher drama "The Social Network," which chronicled the rise of then-hot social media platform Facebook, would eventually feel outdated only a few years after its release. But more than a decade later, "The Social Network" continues to resonate as an incredible movie. Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin's examination of Facebook's ascension in power and how that came at the cost of so many people's well-being and relationships has only gotten more prescient as the years have passed by. Plus performances as good as the ones delivered here by Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield never go out of style.

4. Gravity

Alfonso Cuaron has always had a passion for unorthodox visual details, but he takes that proclivity to a whole new realm with "Gravity." Freed from the title force and telling a story set high above the Earth, Cuaron delivers a survival thriller that's unlike any other entry in the subgenre. All the unique possibilities of telling a story in this environment are embraced by the screenplay, while Cuaron's immersive camerawork puts viewers right in the middle of all the zero-g terror. Brought to life through state-of-the-art special effects and a gripping Sandra Bullock performance, "Gravity" soars.

3. Summer of Soul

The 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival was a milestone event that featured countless Black artists performing music from all genres, but for decades, it faded into obscurity. Director Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson's documentary, "Summer of Soul," reaffirms the existence, presence, and joy of this seemingly forgotten moment with restored archival footage of the performances that comprised this event. 

Adding extra poignancy to the proceedings is modern-day interviews with some of the performers reacting to their vintage singing and dancing. These moments will touch your heart, but what really leaves an impact here is the infectious joy emanating from the crowd. How can you not tap your toes or walk away impressed by a documentary bursting with this much vibrant life?

2. Hoop Dreams

Don't be intimidated by the 170-minute runtime of "Hoop Dreams." Though a lengthy commitment, this project from director Steve James is undeniably rewarding as a cinematic experience. The story of high schoolers William Gates and Arthur Agee and their aspirations to become basketball players is used as a springboard to explore larger issues that specifically and profoundly impact Black Americans. 

The expansive but emotionally resonant project has managed to become the best-reviewed PG-13 documentary of all time and was hailed by the likes of Roger Ebert as an astonishing achievement of filmmaking, documentary or otherwise. A movie as great as "Hoop Dreams" more than earns every minute of its extensive runtime.

1. Touch of Evil

Retroactively given a PG-13 release during a post-1984 re-release, the 1958 Orson Welles film noir "Touch of Evil" saw this director returning to a genre he'd visited multiple times before both as a filmmaker and a performer. However, "Touch of Evil" has become regarded as the pinnacle of Welles's history with film noirs, particularly on a visual level. 

Though this director's works have been renowned for their impressive camerawork and staging, the cinematography by Russell Metty in "Touch of Evil" has become downright legendary. Throw in an intoxicatingly grim tone, even by the standards of vintage film noirs, and it's no wonder "Touch of Evil" is considered by critics to be head and shoulders above all other PG-13 movies in history.