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98 Best Drama Movies Of All Time Ranked

Of all the movie genres in existence, drama is definitely one of the broadest. Whether they're set in a courtroom, tinged with romance, or take us back to a bygone period, however, cinematic dramas are united by their deep and stirring emotion. The best examples of the genre also showcase powerful performances and attract the highest caliber of directors. It's no coincidence that drama movies tend to do well during award season.

With so many excellent dramatic films created throughout cinema's glittering history, the genre truly offers something for everyone. This is a blessing, but it can also make the genre daunting to dive into. If you don't know where to start, we're here to help you out. From stark war stories to epic romances, these are the 98 best drama movies of all time, ranked.

Updated on August 24, 2022: As new drama movies hit silver screens around the world, we'll be keeping this list updated to reflect the very best the genre has to offer. Be sure to check back often to stay current on the greatest works of cinematic drama ever created.

98. The Green Mile

Adapted from Stephen King's 1996 novel of the same name, "The Green Mile" combines fantasy and drama to emotional effect. Paul Edgecomb is the warden supervisor of death row at Cold Mountain Penitentiary, which has earned the titular nickname due to the color of the floor the prisoners walk to meet their fate. Joining the inmates is John Coffey, a man of considerable size and stature. His gentle heart endears him to Edgecomb and some of the other correctional officers — with the exception of the sadistic Percy Wetmore, who abuses his power. When Coffey exhibits unexplainable healing abilities and touches the lives of those around him, they begin to question whether he is guilty of the crimes he supposedly committed.

97. A Beautiful Mind

Partially based on Sylvia Nasar's biography of mathematician John Nash, this award-winning drama charts the life of a genius, from the early discovery that would earn him a Nobel Prize to his involvement in a Soviet conspiracy that sends him spiraling into paranoid schizophrenia. Nash is an enigmatic figure who often struggles to interact with the real world beyond numbers and equations. "A Beautiful Mind" effectively examines the negative side effects of being labeled a genius, the ups and downs of Nash's career, and the effects of his successes and struggles on his personal life.

  • Starring: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly

  • Director: Ron Howard

  • Year: 2001

  • Runtime: 135 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%

96. Cinderella Man

"Cinderella Man" is a sporting fairytale based on the life of world heavyweight boxing champion James J. Braddock. Deep within the Great Depression, Braddock, a retired boxer, toils as a dockworker. Still battling injuries from his boxing career and motivated by the chance to improve life for his family, Braddock is encouraged back into the ring by his former manager, Joe Gould. He earns the titular nickname following a shock upset that sees him go from underdog to genuine contender for the title. "Cinderella Man" is a powerful, hard-hitting, and inspiring rags-to-riches story.

  • Starring: Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti

  • Director: Ron Howard

  • Year: 2005

  • Runtime: 144 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

95. Road to Perdition

Michael Sullivan is a mob enforcer and hitman working for the formidable John Rooney, who raised him as his own son. Sullivan's own two boys are unaware of their father's profession. However, when eldest son Mike follows him to work, he witnesses the shocking and violent truth firsthand. Sworn to secrecy, Mike joins Sullivan on the run when the mob appears to turn on the family. As Sullivan reluctantly initiates his son into his career, they try to reach the safety of a relative's house in Perdition. Depicting a cutthroat Depression-era America where it's kill or be killed, this powerful drama tells a compelling story of vengeance and violence.

  • Starring: Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law

  • Director: Sam Mendes

  • Year: 2002

  • Runtime: 116 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

94. Erin Brockovich

After losing a lawsuit following a traffic accident that wasn't her fault, struggling single mom Erin Brockovich talks her way into a job with the very firm that failed her. Doggedly determined to make a better life for her three children, Brockovich rubs her colleagues the wrong way. However, her tenacity endears her to the local community, who appreciate her affably no-nonsense approach. When she uncovers a case pertaining to potential water contamination and long-term health effects on the locals, Brockovich fights for justice. Based on the true story of the real-life mom and activist, "Erin Brockovich" is a classic underdog tale with genuine heart and a feisty central performance from Julia Roberts.

  • Starring: Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, Aaron Eckhart

  • Director: Steven Soderbergh

  • Year: 2000

  • Runtime: 131 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

93. The Hours

Based on Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "The Hours" explores the lives of three women connected by Virginia Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway": Woolf herself, 1950s housewife Laura Brown, and modern day literary agent Clarissa Vaughan. They're all seeking more meaning in their lives, and exhibit a yearning either for their past or the life they wish they could've had, if things were different. An emotional and somber film, "The Hours" features an outstanding performance from an unrecognizable Nicole Kidman, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of the legendary author. As the three stories converge, the years between them seem to fade away; the emotional conclusion has a resonance that lingers long after the credits roll.

92. Rain Man

Following the death of his father, car dealer Charlie Babbitt returns home and is shocked to learn he has an older brother, Raymond, who lives in an institution — and that his father left his $3 million fortune to Raymond instead of him. Used to particular routines and rituals, Raymond's world gets turned upside down when Charlie takes him on a cross-country road trip. While initially motivated by money, the immature Charlie gradually learns to accept his brother. Their journey not only helps them learn about each other, but about themselves as well.

91. Into the Wild

Based on the incredible true story of Christopher McCandless, a top student and promising athlete who left behind his comfortable life to live in the wilderness, "Into the Wild" is a moving meditation on purpose and community. Upon discovering his parents lied to him about being born outside of marriage, Christopher cuts all ties with his life and family. As he travels across the United States, the young wanderer encounters people who have a long-lasting impact on his life. But the wild isn't an entirely forgiving place, despite its beauty and bounty. Christopher finds this out the hard way — yet the lessons he learns in the process are indelible.

  • Starring: Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt

  • Director: Sean Penn

  • Year: 2007

  • Runtime: 148 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

90. The Aviator

This epic biopic charts the life of Howard Hughes, from his work in movies to his career in aviation. To the public, Hughes' trajectory seems to reach for the sky. But behind closed doors, this genius is tormented by his personal demons, which threaten his future success. Focusing on his early years, "The Aviator" is both a love letter to a bygone age of Hollywood filmmaking and a complex character study of a unique man whose eccentricities are now understood as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Scorsese's obvious love of the subject matter and DiCaprio's layered performance make this biographical drama soar.

  • Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale

  • Director: Martin Scorsese

  • Year: 2004

  • Runtime: 170 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

89. Magnolia

Featuring a diverse group of characters including a child genius, a dying television producer, and a game show host, "Magnolia" is a hard film to describe and an occasionally tricky one to decipher. At its core, it's about tangentially related characters living in the San Fernando Valley who are each in search of some kind of meaning or happiness. "Magnolia" is undeniably ambitious, but its meticulous plotting manages to balance its huge ensemble cast and allow ample opportunities for human drama amidst the magical realism. A towering and complex achievement, "Magnolia" is one of a kind.

  • Starring: Jason Robards, Julianne Moore, Tom Cruise

  • Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

  • Year: 1999

  • Runtime: 188 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

88. Cast Away

Featuring an unlikely friendship between a stranded FedEx worker and a volleyball, survival drama "Cast Away" is anchored by a transformative, Oscar-nominated performance from Tom Hanks. After his plane crashes over the Pacific Ocean, systems analyst Chuck Noland must overcome the challenges of being stranded on an uninhabited island. He battles the elements and loneliness, utilizing the washed-up FedEx packages from the plane wreck to his advantage. While he initially hopes to be rescued, Noland's attention soon turns to long-term survival and coping mechanisms — but are they enough to sustain him through years of utter isolation?

  • Starring: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Nick Searcy

  • Director: Robert Zemeckis

  • Year: 2000

  • Runtime: 143 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

87. Titanic

A monumental romantic drama, "Titanic" depicts both the sinking of the titular ship and a doomed romance that blossoms onboard between upper-class Rose and poor artist Jack. Rose is engaged to the wealthy Cal, who is poised to pull Rose's family out of debt following the death of her father. However, Rose isn't in love with Cal, and intends to throw herself over the side of the ship — until she's coaxed back by Jack. They soon fall in love, and struggle to keep their passion a secret. As familial threats to their newfound romance emerge, a collision with an iceberg leads to disaster and a race against time.

  • Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane

  • Director: James Cameron

  • Year: 1997

  • Runtime: 195 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

86. Daughters of the Dust

Set at the dawn of the 20th century, "Daughters of the Dust" focuses on the women of the Peazant family, descendants of former slaves living on n island off the coast of South Carolina. As they prepare to move to the mainland, the women face change and uncertainty. The film explores the generational divide between the older community members who want to stay on the island and strive to preserve their language and culture, and the younger women who want to escape from the traditions that bind them. Notable for being the first film from a Black female director to be given nationwide theatrical distribution (via NPR), "Daughters of the Dust" is an exquisite drama that balances heavy themes with dreamlike visuals.

  • Starring: Cora Lee Day, Alva Rogers, Adisa Anderson

  • Director: Julie Dash

  • Year: 1991

  • Runtime: 112 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

85. I, Tonya

The competitive world of figure-skating is rife for drama in this film about the divisive Tonya Harding. Told in mockumentary style, she gives her version of the events that led to the assault on rival skater Nancy Kerrigan, as do many other people in her orbit. Their stories do not match up. Abused by her violent husband and mother, Harding battles to become the best in her field and overcome the narrow-minded views of those who don't believe she can succeed. With a striking central performance from Margot Robbie, "I, Tonya" succeeds in putting a fresh spin on an infamous scandal, balancing the tragedy and humor of the story perfectly.

84. Dead Poets Society

At prestigious all-boys boarding school Welton Academy, a new English teacher changes the lives of his young students. John Keating has a unique way of approaching poetry and literature, which unlocks his students' creative potential. Adopting his mantra to "seize the day," the boys learn to express themselves as individuals and see things from different perspectives. This leads them to explore new opportunities beyond their strict upbringings and the high expectations of the school. Simultaneously tragic and uplifting, "Dead Poets Society" is a powerful drama with pitch-perfect performances from Robin Williams and a young Ethan Hawke.

  • Starring: Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke

  • Director: Peter Weir

  • Year: 1989

  • Runtime: 128 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

83. Fences

Set in 1950s Pittsburgh, "Fences" introduces the Maxson family, consisting of patriarch Troy, his wife Rose, and their son, Cory. Troy is a sanitation worker who once dreamed of making it as a professional baseball player. But by the time the major leagues admitted Black athletes, he was too old. Troy takes his bitterness out on his family, stopping his talented son from pursuing his dream of becoming a college footballer. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, "Fences" transfers easily from stage to screen thanks to powerful performances from Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. This is a compelling exploration of family dynamics, legacy, and redemption.

82. Hidden Figures

Inspired by incredible true stories, "Hidden Figures" is a celebration of the crucial — and previously overlooked — work of the Black women who played a key part in the Space Race. Katherine, Dorothy, and Mary are incredibly skilled in their fields, but during a time of segregation based on both race and sex, they face an uphill struggle. Buoyed by their brilliance, they pursue different careers at NASA, using their talents in engineering and computing at a key turning point in history. "Hidden Figures" does an excellent job of highlighting how momentous their achievements are, even before you consider the societal challenges they face.

  • Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe

  • Director: Theodore Melfi

  • Year: 2016

  • Runtime: 127 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

81. Pig

Truffle forager Rob Feld lives a stripped-back existence with limited luxuries in the Oregon wilderness. His only companion is his prized foraging pig. After selling high-value truffles to a restaurant supplier, Rob is assaulted, and his beloved pig is stolen. This leads the reclusive former chef to return to Portland to try and find her. Slow, reflective, and melancholic, "Pig" is a poignant, soul-searching odyssey that frequently subverts the audience's expectations in beautiful and unexpected ways. The inspired casting choice of Nicolas Cage in the lead role creates an affectingly raw emotional center.

80. In the Heat of the Night

When police detective Virgil Tibbs arrives in a small Mississippi town, he is mistakenly arrested on suspicion of murder by the racist police force. After he manages to convince them of his innocence and clear his name, Tibbs faces another fight: He must work with these cops to find the real murderer. Starring the legendary Sidney Poitier, "In the Heat of the Night" is a thought-provoking and compelling drama that balances its suspense and social commentary, effectively portraying the personal and professional struggles Tibbs has to manage in his quest for the truth.

  • Starring: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates

  • Director: Norman Jewison

  • Year: 1967

  • Runtime: 109 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

79. Boys Don't Cry

Based on a true story, "Boys Don't Cry" follows trans man Brandon Teena as he attempts to find his place in the world. When Brandon's secret is discovered, he leaves to set up a new life in the small town of Falls City, Nebraska. After getting settled, Brandon falls in love with aspiring singer Lana, and begins to dream of a future in which they will move to Memphis and he will be her manager. While the subject matter can be harrowing and hard to watch at times, "Boys Don't Cry" is a powerful film with strong performances across the board, particularly from Hilary Swank, who won an Oscar for her work.

  • Starring: Hilary Swank, Chloë Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard

  • Director: Kimberly Peirce

  • Year: 1999

  • Runtime: 119 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

78. Hotel Rwanda

"Hotel Rwanda" examines the Rwandan genocide of 1994 through the experience of a hotel manager and his wife. Paul and Tatiana Rusesabagina struggle to protect the refugees under their roof as the violence escalates. Things are further complicated by the fact that Paul is Hutu while Tatiana is Tutsi, which is the division at the center of the ongoing massacre. While this real-life story is certainly dramatized for the purposes of the cinema, it captures deep truths about a terrible chapter in Rwanda's history. An exceptional performance from Don Cheadle takes things to especially dazzling heights.

77. Good Will Hunting

Will Hunting is a young man who works as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. When he solves an incredibly difficult math problem, his true potential is revealed. Helping him to unlock his natural talents are Professor Gerald Lambeau and therapist Sean Maguire, who try to steer him away from his trouble-making past. While there are emotional moments — particularly when Will opens up about his childhood — there is also a lightness to this crowd-pleasing drama. Known for his comedic performances, this remains one of the best examples of Robin Williams' dramatic acting: The honest conversations he has with Matt Damon's Will are the beating heart of this film.

  • Starring: Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck

  • Director: Gus Van Sant

  • Year: 1997

  • Runtime: 126 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

76. One Night in Miami

This adaptation of Kemp Powers' stage play (which also happens to be Regina King's feature-length directorial debut) brings together Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Malcolm X, and Sam Cooke in a fictionalized retelling of a real-life meeting that occurred in 1964. Following Ali's victory against Sonny Liston, the men gather in Malcolm X's motel room and discuss their experiences, careers, and aspirations. Given that the film is largely set in one location, the performances are central, and every single actor is at the top of their game. While it plays fast and loose with history, "One Night in Miami" presents an honest portrait of the Black experience seen through the eyes of four very different men.

  • Starring: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom Jr.

  • Director: Regina King

  • Year: 2020

  • Runtime: 114 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

75. If Beale Street Could Talk

Adapted from James Baldwin's 1974 novel, "If Beale Street Could Talk" is a bittersweet love story set in 1970s Harlem. Tish and Fonny — friends since childhood and now romantic partners — are struggling to find an apartment, as many landlords refuse to rent to Black couples. When they eventually settle in a predominantly white neighborhood, Fonny becomes the target of a bigoted police officer and is arrested for a crime he didn't commit. This film is very honest about the struggles Tish and Fonny face simply for existing and trying to build a life together, but there is also a genuine warmth to their relationship that radiates through the darkness.

  • Starring: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King

  • Director: Barry Jenkins

  • Year: 2018

  • Runtime: 117 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

74. Creed

A continuation of the "Rocky" franchise, "Creed" places the aging former champ into the role of mentor and puts Adonis — son of Rocky's rival, Apollo Creed — into the ring. While Adonis grew up without his father, he forever lives in his shadow, carrying the weight of his legacy and fame on his shoulders. Trying to honor this history and carve out his own path, Adonis seeks out retired Rocky Balboa to train him up to face a formidable opponent. Adonis' journey is very much mirrored by the film itself, as "Creed" is intrinsically linked to the series, yet has a fresh, youthful vibrancy. This brings the familiar story up to date for a new generation of fans.

73. Glengarry Glen Ross

It isn't uncommon for a stage play to make the leap to film; their emphasis on compelling performances provides the perfect foundation for an engaging drama. "Glengarry Glen Ross" is a great example. This film is centered around the salesmen of a highly competitive real estate agency, who are informed all but the top two salesmen will be fired in a week's time. They'll stop at nothing to get the best leads and keep their jobs, with little regard to who they have to step on in the process. With energetic performances and a blistering, expletive-heavy script, "Glengarry Glen Ross" is an entertaining and scathing look at the cutthroat world of big business deals.

72. BlacKkKlansman

Based on the almost unbelievable true story of Ron Stallworth, "BlacKkKlansman" is a biting social commentary from the legendary Spike Lee. Stallworth is a pioneering Black detective working in 1970s Colorado Springs who infiltrates the local Ku Klux Klan chapter by posing as a prospective member over the phone. Working alongside Flip Zimmerman, a Jewish officer who acts as Stallworth's physical alter-ego, they take the extremist organization down. While "BlacKkKlansman" is firmly rooted in its 1970s setting, it's incredibly relevant to the modern day — a fact demonstrated by its gut-punch ending. Funny and shocking in equal measure with incredible performances from John David Washington and Adam Driver, this film is a must-watch.

  • Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier

  • Director: Spike Lee

  • Year: 2018

  • Runtime: 135 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

71. Selma

Throughout the 1960s, civil rights campaigners fought tirelessly to end racist discrimination in America. One of the most famous figureheads of this movement was Martin Luther King Jr. "Selma" focuses on the march he and his fellow activists undertook from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, the state capital. In the face of aggression, violence, and brutal threats, King demonstrates a stoicism and determination to achieve equality, particularly regarding the right to vote. Tasked with playing a historical figure who is familiar to so many, David Oyelowo gives a stirring performance as King, showing both the public and private side of the titanic figure and the toll the struggle took on him.

  • Starring: David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Carmen Ejogo

  • Director: Ava DuVernay

  • Year: 2014

  • Runtime: 128 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

70. A Star is Born

Musician Jackson Maine has been on the scene a long time, and the heavy drinking and drugs are taking their toll. Things change when he stumbles upon aspiring singer Ally. As they fall deeply in love, they perform and tour together, and soon, Ally's solo career takes off. This story might have been told more than once before, but this version of "A Star is Born" still manages to breathe new life into the tale, largely due to its magnetic performances. Accomplished direction from Bradley Cooper — making his directorial debut — brings vibrancy to the musical numbers, which helps make this generation's "A Star is Born" one to remember.

  • Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott

  • Director: Bradley Cooper

  • Year: 2018

  • Runtime: 135 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

69. Network

Veteran anchorman Howard Beale is unceremoniously sacked by his station. Deciding against leaving quietly, Beale launches into an angry on-air rant about the dire state of affairs, shaking his fist at those who are trying to get rid of him and the world in general. After he becomes a surprise ratings hit due to his ramblings, ambitious producer Diana Christensen seeks to take advantage of Beale's infamy. With a relevance that feels even more potent today than it did in 1976, "Network" remains a bold statement about the nature of fame, exploitation, and controversy.

  • Starring: Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch, William Holden

  • Director: Sidney Lumet

  • Year: 1976

  • Runtime: 121 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

68. Judas and the Black Messiah

A dramatized retelling of historical events, "Judas and the Black Messiah" examines the betrayal and assassination of Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton. Tasked with infiltrating Hampton's Illinois chapter, FBI informant William O'Neal is instructed to keep a close eye on their activities and report back. As Hampton's work takes off, the authorities become ever more determined to take him out — and O'Neal becomes more and more conflicted about what he's doing. With assured lead performances from Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield, "Judas and the Black Messiah" is a potent, compelling, and shocking drama.

67. Million Dollar Baby

Though he's initially reluctant, veteran boxing trainer Frankie Dunn agrees to train waitress and aspiring pugilist Maggie. Frankie's years as a trainer have left him isolated from most of his family, including his daughter. Training Maggie softens Frankie, and the two form a surrogate family. But this bond is soon tested by the realities of the ring. "Million Dollar Baby" may appear to be a typical boxing movie, but the heartfelt central relationship elevates it beyond the clichés of the genre, resulting in a deeply moving drama.

66. The Wrestler

A celebrity wrestler in the 1980s, Randy "The Ram" Robinson is now a washed-up former pro, working at a grocery store and appearing in independent exhibition matches. Following a local victory, Randy plans an anniversary match that would see him face the Ayatollah, a formidable former opponent. Randy also strikes up a relationship with Cassidy, a strip club dancer, and tries to reconnect with his daughter — but the lure of the ring proves to be difficult to ignore. A more straightforward story than most Darren Aronofsky films, "The Wrestler" delivers a fresh take on the sports genre, choosing to focus more on the psychological side rather than the physical. Mickey Rourke gives a career-best performance as the benighted Randy.

  • Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood

  • Director: Darren Aronofsky

  • Year: 2008

  • Runtime: 109 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

65. Pain and Glory

Salvador Mallo is an aging Spanish film director at a creative crossroads. Debilitated by health issues and lacking inspiration for his next project, a re-release of one of his old films sees Salvador reconnect with former leading man Alberto Crespo, whom he hasn't seen in more than 30 years. Forced to confront his past by this meeting, Salvador looks back at his childhood to try and reignite his creative spark. A deeply poignant film, "Pain and Glory" pays tribute to the art of filmmaking and the people who push it forward

  • Starring: Antonio Banderas, Asier Etxeandia, Penélope Cruz

  • Director: Pedro Almodóvar

  • Year: 2019

  • Runtime: 114 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

64. Before Sunrise

Taking place over the course of one day, "Before Sunrise" introduces us to Jesse and Celine, who make an instant connection on a European train. While Celine is destined to return to Paris, Jesse persuades her to alight with him in Vienna. Together, they walk around the city and get to know each other. The concept of this exquisite film is straightforward enough; it is the believability of Jesse and Celine's romantic spark that makes it feel so special. We have the privilege of watching them fall for each other in real time. "Before Sunrise" is a film that celebrates the art of conversation, and the simple beauty of two souls connecting as they discuss love, life, and everything in between.

  • Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Erni Mangold

  • Director: Richard Linklater

  • Year: 1995

  • Runtime: 101 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

63. Nomadland

After losing her job and her husband, Fern decides to pack up her life and live in a van, picking up work wherever she can. Along the way, she connects with other nomads, and soon learns some basic survival skills and the joy and freedom that exists when you're not tied down to one place. "Nomadland" is a poignant character study capturing the neglected victims of the Great Recession. A deliberately slow-moving movie, it invites you to ruminate on your own life and what it might mean to truly live it to the fullest. The rich tapestry of characters — many of whom are played by real-life nomads — creates a sense of authenticity and warmth amidst Fern's hardships.

62. Leave No Trace

Based on Peter Rock's 2009 novel "My Abandonment," "Leave No Trace" follows Will and Tom, a father and daughter who live in isolation in a nature reserve near Portland, Oregon. Will suffers from severe PTSD, having served in the Iraq War, and the pair rarely makes contact with the outside world, aside from getting supplies. When they're detained by park rangers, they struggle to resettle themselves. Although Will is keen to return to the woods, Tom finds herself considering a different path. "Leave No Trace" is a simple and beautifully told story that explores the long-lasting effects of trauma. Exceptional performances take it to stunning heights of storytelling, particularly from Thomasin McKenzie.

  • Starring: Ben Foster, Thomasin McKenzie, Jeff Kober

  • Director: Debra Granik

  • Year: 2018

  • Runtime: 108 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

61. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Mildred Hayes is a desperate mother who presses local law enforcement to find whoever murdered her daughter. Eventually, she pays for three large billboards on the outskirts of town that directly challenge Police Chief Willoughby. This action has enormous ripple effects that change the town forever. With a powerhouse performance from Frances McDormand, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" is a blistering piece of cinema that never shies away from examining police brutality, inconsistency, and ineptitude. While it is laced with black comedy, there are also shocking outbursts of violence, and the deliberately open ending leaves a powerful impression.

60. A Woman Under the Influence

A stark drama with a pair of unforgettable performances from Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk, "A Woman Under the Influence" explores the toll mental illness can have on a relationship. When Mabel begins to display strange behavior, her husband Nick becomes increasingly concerned for her well-being. Her declining state sees her placed in an institution, leaving Nick to raise their three children. This film is incredibly honest, exposing both the depths of illness Mabel sinks to and Nick's most questionable responses to her struggles. It remains one of the most searing portraits of marriage ever put to the screen.

  • Starring: Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Katherine Cassavetes

  • Director: John Cassavetes

  • Year: 1974

  • Runtime: 155 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

59. Brooklyn

As the 1950s dawn, Irish immigrant Eilis Lace sets sail for a new life in America. She settles in New York City, where she falls head-over-heels in love with handsome Italian-American plumber Tony Fiorello. But when a family tragedy calls her home, Eilis must face her past and choose the path she wants to take, knowing that either option will be a painful decision in its own way. A dependable actress in any period drama, Saoirse Ronan is the stand-out in this beautifully designed, picture-perfect drama. She beautifully conveys the desire to be anywhere else but home, but also the struggle to leave it all behind.

  • Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen

  • Director: John Crowley

  • Year: 2015

  • Runtime: 112 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

58. Room

A young woman named Joy is held captive for years in a tiny room with her son Jack, who has never seen the outside world. Subjected to relentless abuse and determined to make a better life for her son, Joy plots to get them both out. But her captor is tricky, and the world beyond the room offers its own challenges. "Room" is undeniably harrowing, and the first part of the film does make for difficult viewing. However, it evolves into a story about hope and seeing things through a child's eyes. Brie Larson gives a committed, haunting performance, but it is young Jacob Tremblay that steals the spotlight.

  • Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen

  • Director: Lenny Abrahamson

  • Year: 2015

  • Runtime: 118 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

57. Lost in Translation

Bob, a lonely, aging movie star, and Charlotte, a troubled newlywed, meet by chance under the bright lights of Tokyo. Their connection is unlikely, especially since they're at opposite ends of life, yet their bond alleviates their feelings of alienation and languor. How long can this connection last? Finding out is a stirring delight. Sofia Coppola's drama is full of melancholy and joy, with an intentional ambiguity to the central relationship that becomes particularly evident and powerful in the tender closing moments.

56. The Farewell

Chinese-American writer Billi may be based in New York, but she's very close to her grandmother (referred to as Nai Nai), who lives in China. When the family finds out Nai Nai has been diagnosed with terminal cancer — a fact that is kept from the matriarch herself — they travel to China to say their goodbyes under the guise of a fake family wedding. Billi must wrestle with whether keeping this secret from Nai Nai is right or wrong — and what right and wrong even mean in this context. Awkwafina gives the best performance of her career so far as Billi, whose heartfelt struggle is both hilarious, tear-jerking, and absolutely riveting.

  • Starring: Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin

  • Director: Lulu Wang

  • Year: 2019

  • Runtime: 100 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

55. The King's Speech

As a member of the royal family, being able to communicate effectively is a key part of Prince Albert's duties — even more so following the abdication of his brother, which places him on the British throne. After seeing her husband struggle due to his pronounced stammer, Queen Elizabeth (mother to Elizabeth II) hires actor and speech therapist Lionel Logue, whose expertise proves invaluable. While "The King's Speech" employs many of the crowd-pleasing elements you'd expect from a film like this, it really shines in capturing the unlikely friendship that grows between Lionel and "Bertie." What results is a classic story of overcoming adversity elevated by excellent performances and lavish production design.

  • Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter

  • Director: Tom Hooper

  • Year: 2010

  • Runtime: 118 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

54. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Randle McMurphy is a criminal transferred from prison to a mental institution after he pleads insanity. While McMurphy's rebellious spirit whips up the fellow inmates, he meets his match in the formidable Nurse Ratched, a cold-blooded "caregiver" who subjects patients to horrific psychological and physical torture. Based on the novel of the same name by Ken Kesey, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is tragic and unsettling, but also full of liberating comedy. Bleakness and light coexist here, somehow melding into offbeat harmony.

53. Quiz Show

Based on a real-life scandal of the 1950s, "Quiz Show" follows Herb Stempel, unlikely star of the popular NBC quiz show "Twenty-One." When the network realizes that Stempel's dominance isn't helping their ratings, they bring in a new challenger, Charles Van Doren. As Van Doren's winning streak captivates the nation and confers celebrity status on the man himself, a furious Stempel seeks the help of an investigator and accuses the show of being fixed. Entertaining and exceptionally well-acted, "Quiz Show" is a perfectly-pitched drama examining morality, corruption, and the cult of celebrity.

  • Starring: John Turturro, Rob Morrow, Ralph Fiennes

  • Director: Robert Redford

  • Year: 1994

  • Runtime: 130 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

52. The Shawshank Redemption

Adapted from Stephen King's novella, "The Shawshank Redemption" follows the decades-long friendship between two inmates at Shawshank State Penitentiary. Falsely sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife and her lover, Andy Dufresne befriends contraband smuggler Ellis "Red" Redding. After enduring horrific assaults, Andy protects himself by laundering the guards' money, and forges close relationships with other prisoners along the way. Eventually, he sets his sights on getting out for good. While hard-hitting, "The Shawshank Redemption" is a story full of hope, friendship, and atonement, with the trials endured making the poignant ending even more powerful.

  • Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton

  • Director: Frank Darabont

  • Year: 1994

  • Runtime: 142 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

51. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Clementine and Joel's relationship has been full of ups and downs, which leads them to erase their memories of each other through a controversial procedure. But as Joel recollects his time with Clementine, he realizes he's made a mistake. He doesn't want to lose these precious reminders of the past — and he doesn't want to let go of Clementine. With Charlie Kaufman's imaginative writing and Michel Gondry's direction, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is a touchingly bleak romantic drama. Its twists and turns perfectly encapsulate the film's complex themes of memory and unreliable points of view.

50. Her

Sensitive Theodore earns a living writing heartfelt letters on other people's behalf. Seeking comfort for his loneliness in technology, Theodore downloads a new operating system and befriends the sweet, playful artificial intelligence that comes with it, who's named Samantha. He soon develops feelings for her, despite the fact that she's a piece of software, and eventually plummets into honest-to-goodness love. The beauty of "Her" is in the tender way it treats its subject matter. Theodore is never the laughingstock of the film, and the relationship he has with Samantha is portrayed with respect. "Her" vividly comments on modern relationships and our over-reliance on technology in a satirical yet sweet manner.

49. The Florida Project

Living in the shadow of Walt Disney World, 6-year-old Moonee and her best friends embark on adventures around the colorful motel they call home. Moonee's mom, Halley, adores her daughter, but struggles to protect her from the harsh reality of poverty. She finds herself having to beg, borrow, and steal, just to keep a roof over their heads. With a saturated color palette providing glorious contrast to the characters' grim circumstances, "The Florida Project" offers an absorbing depiction of childhood joy blossoming in the unlikeliest places. Naturalistic performances from the cast help create that feeling of authenticity.

48. The Lives of Others

Set in East Berlin in 1984, "The Lives of Others" focuses on Gerd Wiesler, a seemingly loyal Stasi officer hired to spy on gregarious playwright Georg Dreyman and his lover Christa-Maria. Wiesler's superior — having fallen for Christa-Maria himself — wants Dreyman out of the picture, and believes Wiesler can find evidence that could put him in prison. As Wiesler becomes absorbed in observing the couple, he grows to like them, and even intervenes to protect them. An accomplished work from first-time director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, "The Lives of Others" tells a deeply personal story against a backdrop of terrifying political power.

  • Starring: Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Mühe, Sebastian Koch

  • Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

  • Year: 2006

  • Runtime: 137 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

47. Amadeus

"Amadeus" presents Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart like never before. The brilliant composer has remarkable talent far beyond his young age, but his ostentatious and obscene behavior riles the devoutly Catholic Antonio Salieri, a rival composer. Consumed by jealousy over Mozart's success, Salieri concocts a dastardly scheme to take the genius down. While it takes creative liberties with the real history of one of the world's most famous composers, "Amadeus" is nonetheless a lavish and satisfying adaptation of Peter Shaffer's 1979 stage play, brimming with music, mania, and melodrama.

  • Starring: F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Jeffrey Jones

  • Director: Milos Forman

  • Year: 1984

  • Runtime: 161 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

46. Call Me By Your Name

Precocious 17-year-old Elio lives an idyllic life in his family's beautiful Italian home, spending the long and lazy summer days reading books and transcribing music. When handsome Oliver, who is working as an intern for Elio's father, arrives, Elio offers to show him around. Soon, a romance begins to blossom. An exquisite and tender film, "Call Me By Your Name" takes a slow-burn approach, establishing the friendship between Elio and Oliver before developing it into something more. There is a bittersweet feeling throughout — summer never lasts quite long enough — which "Call Me By Your Name" builds to devastating effect.

  • Starring: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg

  • Director: Luca Guadagnino

  • Year: 2017

  • Runtime: 132 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

45. Never Rarely Sometimes Always

17-year-old Autumn's life is turned upside down when she discovers she's pregnant. Desperate for an abortion and increasingly out of options, she decides to travel from Pennsylvania to New York City with her cousin Skylar to get help. What ensues is a tender, profound exploration of the hostile world that faces young women, and the bonds that help them survive it. Sidney Flanigan's performance as Autumn is especially engrossing, and forms the film's honest heart.

  • Starring: Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Theodore Pellerin

  • Director: Eliza Hittman

  • Year: 2020

  • Runtime: 101 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

44. There Will Be Blood

Partly based on the 1927 novel "Oil!" by Upton Sinclair, Paul Thomas Anderson's epic American tale explores ideas of greed, faith, and obsession. Daniel Plainview is a hardworking silver miner who lives with his adopted son, H.W. Upon hearing that oil has been found nearby, father and son set out to make their fortune. But as Daniel's power and influence grows, he becomes increasingly corrupt. With incredible performances from Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano, "There Will Be Blood" is a dark, thematically rich, and visually arresting drama that maintains the power to shock and surprise right up to the end.

43. Sideways

Friends Miles and Jack head to wine country for Jack's last male-bonding experience as a single guy before he gets married. A struggling writer and wine enthusiast, Miles is keen to relax and enjoy the drinks. However, Jack wants some female company for a final fling. Thus, the pair ends up connecting with friends Stephanie and Maya. While frequently funny, "Sideways" is also surprisingly tender and thoughtful, offering wry observations on life, love, and friendship. The charm of this film lies in its willingness to honestly present its characters' flaws and foibles, and its refreshing interest in older characters and their relationships.

  • Starring: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen

  • Director: Alexander Payne

  • Year: 2004

  • Runtime: 126 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

42. Marriage Story

Charlie and Nicole are united by their passionate, loving marriage — at first. When things start to fall apart and their paths begin going in different directions, they make the decision to divorce. The process pushes them to their limits as old wounds are reopened, despite their intent to decouple with grace. This isn't the cheeriest subject for a film, but both Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson expertly convey the tensions and heartache that arise when a marriage breaks down. "Marriage Story" is unflinching, but crucially, it presents a balanced point of view that focuses on the complexities of divorce as opposed to who is right or wrong.

  • Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Azhy Robertson

  • Director: Noah Baumbach

  • Year: 2019

  • Runtime: 136 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

41. Whiplash

Andrew is a promising student with big aspirations of being a jazz drummer. However, he faces a terrifying hurdle in the form of the volatile Fletcher, who wields the power to make or break his students, and seems to relish doing the latter. With electrifying performances from Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, "Whiplash" demonstrates the blood, sweat, and tears that go into proving yourself under immensely stressful circumstances. The fraught power struggle between master and apprentice creates a palpable sense of dread.

  • Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist

  • Director: Damien Chazelle

  • Year: 2014

  • Runtime: 106 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

40. The Truman Show

Unbeknownst to him, Truman Burbank's entire life is a TV show, carefully orchestrated by a team of producers. With his every move broadcast live, Truman is at the mercy of others in every aspect of his existence, including his romantic relationships. Little by little, however, the real world creeps in — and once Truman realizes the truth, nothing will ever be the same. Predating the rise of reality TV, "The Truman Show" is oddly prophetic in the way it depicts our desire to watch people living their everyday lives. While this film still has plenty of classically Carrey comedic moments, there's a tenderness to it as well, which demonstrates his range as an actor.

  • Starring: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich

  • Director: Peter Weir

  • Year: 1998

  • Runtime: 102 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

39. The Irishman

A sprawling gangster epic, "The Irishman" finds elderly Frank Sheeran looking back on his life of crime. We return to the 1950s, where he gets involved with a Pennsylvania crime family as a hired hitman, and later goes to work for Jimmy Hoffa, a labor union leader with ties to the mafia. Grand in scale with a runtime to match, "The Irishman" is a hugely ambitious film that employs aging and de-aging technology to keep the cast consistent. There's a deeply nostalgic feeling to this film, as though Scorsese himself is looking back on characters from his earlier work, exploring the long-term implications of a life of crime, and reconciling with the past.

38. Gone with the Wind

Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, this grandiose epic follows the tumultuous love life of spoiled Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara. Torn between her love for the handsome Ashley Wilkes — who is engaged to her cousin — and Rhett Butler, Scarlett's life becomes all the more complicated by the onset of war. Perfectly cast, ambitiously told, and with arguably the greatest parting words in cinema history, "Gone with the Wind" earns its massive reputation. Some elements have not aged well, and will be uncomfortable for modern audiences. But it's hard not to be swept away by the sheer scale of this classic drama.

  • Starring: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Hattie McDaniel

  • Director: Victor Fleming

  • Year: 1939

  • Runtime: 222 minutes

  • Rating: G

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

37. The Social Network

"The Social Network" tells the story of college student Mark Zuckerberg and how he created the phenomenon that became Facebook in his dorm room. It's framed around two lawsuits: One from the Winklevoss brothers, who claim to have come up with the idea, the other from Eduardo Saverin, the Facebook co-founder whom Zuckerberg tries to force out of the business. Mainly focusing on Zuckerberg as a person and the tumultuous beginnings of the social media revolution, "The Social Network" is a fascinating biopic, giving insight into one of the most powerful and divisive figures of the 21st century.

  • Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake

  • Director: David Fincher

  • Year: 2010

  • Runtime: 120 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

36. Roma

Set in Mexico during the early 1970s, this deeply personal film about the life of an indigenous housekeeper is a love letter to Alfonso Cuarón's childhood. Cleo works as a live-in maid for wealthy couple Antonio and Sofia and their four children. When problems arise in Antonio and Sofia's marriage, Cleo grows even closer to the children, and also learns she'll be having a baby of her own. Shot in crisp black and white, "Roma" is one of those rare films where little happens, yet everything is essential. Yalitza Aparicio is a revelation as Cleo, effortlessly demonstrating the breadth of her emotions, from heartache to dramatically selfless displays of love and devotion.

  • Starring: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Marco Graf

  • Director: Alfonso Cuarón

  • Year: 2018

  • Runtime: 135 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

35. Saving Private Ryan

Set during the latter part of World War II, "Saving Private Ryan" tells the story of a brave group of soldiers led by Captain John Miller who embark on a dangerous journey behind enemy lines to find missing Private James Ryan. With three of Ryan's brothers already dead, the army is even more anxious to bring him home safely, despite how dangerous the mission will be. As well as a physical journey, the soldiers must also go on a personal one, learning their strengths and the value of working together as one unit to emerge victorious. Steven Spielberg delivers an unflinching and brutally realistic war film that retains the director's trademark technical prowess and well-placed emotional intensity.

34. Manchester by the Sea

Following the death of his older brother, janitor Lee Chandler reluctantly packs up his life in Boston to return to Manchester-by-the-Sea, the small fishing village where he grew up. Then he finds out he's been made the guardian of his nephew, Patrick. As well as dealing with this frequently challenging teenager, Lee also has to face his past, including his ex-wife Randi and the tragedy that caused their relationship to break down. "Manchester by the Sea" is a deeply affecting depiction of grief and how difficult it can be to close the wounds of the past. While bleak at times, it is also affirming, with the relationship between Lee and Patrick helping them both to heal from their respective losses.

  • Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler

  • Director: Kenneth Lonergan

  • Year: 2016

  • Runtime: 137 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

33. The Best Years of Our Lives

Bearing battle scars — both physical and mental –  World War II veterans Fred, Al, and Homer return to civilian life. They soon face new struggles, whether it's having to return to the menial jobs they had before or finding their loved ones have moved on while they were away. Honest, sincere, and with relevance that surpasses its time period, "The Best Years of Our Lives" is a testament to human strength and resilience that offers an engrossing look at the internal conflicts that can arise when the war is over.

  • Starring: Fredric March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews

  • Director: William Wyler

  • Year: 1946

  • Runtime: 172 minutes 

  • Rating: G

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

32. Spotlight

Based on a shocking true story, "Spotlight" focuses on a team of investigative journalists working for The Boston Globe as they uncover accusations of sexual misconduct by Catholic priests. Editor Walter "Robby" Robinson heads up the team, which works tirelessly to find the evidence they need — not just to prove that these crimes happened, but that the church knew they were happening and sought to cover them up. The subject matter is undeniably difficult, but "Spotlight" handles it exceptionally well, sensitively choosing to focus on the grit and determination of the journalists rather than sensationalizing the allegations. "Spotlight" is a pared-back film that demonstrates how a story can speak for itself.

  • Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams

  • Director: Tom McCarthy

  • Year: 2015

  • Runtime: 129 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

31. Moonlight

Spanning three crucial periods of one person's life, "Moonlight" introduces us to Chiron, a young Black man growing up in Miami. As a child, Chiron bonds with Juan, a drug dealer whose kindness offers respite from Chiron's abusive mother. Later, Chiron deals with bullies at school, his mother's worsening drug addiction, a complicated relationship with a childhood friend, and his own sexuality. "Moonlight" is a transcendent coming-of-age story, painting an atmospheric and emotional portrait of a young gay man trying to discover who he is.

  • Starring: Mahershala Ali, Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders

  • Director: Barry Jenkins

  • Year: 2016

  • Runtime: 111 minutes 

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

30. Shoplifters

Living on the outskirts of Tokyo, a group of misfits, thieves, and liars are brought together by their shoplifting prowess. Dysfunctional feels like an understatement, but despite their criminal ways, there is deep love and respect between them, and a desire to care for other outcasts. Few directors are able to depict the rich tapestry of human life quite like Hirokazu Koreeda, and "Shoplifters" is a great example of why. While the characters are not always likable, they are very real, and it's hard not to be charmed by their bittersweet family drama.

  • Starring: Lily Franky, Sakura Andô, Mayu Matsuoka

  • Director: Hirokazu Koreeda

  • Year: 2018

  • Runtime: 121 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

29. On the Waterfront

Dockworker and ex-boxer Terry Malloy finds himself embroiled in a complex web of corruption and deceit after he witnesses a murder carried out by his union near the New Jersey waterfront. When he connects with Edie, the victim's sister, and prudent priest Father Barry, he decides to testify against his bosses. Winner of eight Oscars – including best picture, best director, and best actor — "On the Waterfront" is a perfectly executed and impactful melodrama about standing up for what's right despite deep personal costs. Marlon Brando gives arguably his most compelling performance, showing tremendous range in portraying the different facets of Malloy's personality.

  • Starring: Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden

  • Director: Elia Kazan

  • Year: 1954

  • Runtime: 108 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

28. 12 Years a Slave

Just before the outbreak of the Civil War, free Black man Solomon Northup is kidnapped from his home in New York and sold as a slave in the South. Initially sold to a plantation owner, he is later bought by the cruel and malevolent Edwin Epps. Working on Epps' cotton farm, Solomon meets Patsey, an enslaved woman who is regularly abused by the owner and his wife. "12 Years a Slave" is uncomfortable but essential viewing, offering an unflinching look at the horrific injustice of American slavery.

  • Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong'o, Benedict Cumberbatch

  • Director: Steve McQueen

  • Year: 2013

  • Runtime: 134 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

27. Taxi Driver

Travis Bickle is an insomniac cab driver, working the late-night shift on the streets of New York. Driven by a chilling desire to clean up the streets, Travis spirals down a path of violence and destruction. A twisted portrait of a man pushed to the very edge, "Taxi Driver" is anchored by an electric performance from Robert De Niro and an uneasy score from frequent Alfred Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Herrmann. Scorsese's film not only places us in uncomfortably close proximity to Travis' fractured psyche, it holds up a mirror to ourselves and the world around us. The result is completely gripping.

  • Starring: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd

  • Director: Martin Scorsese

  • Year: 1976

  • Runtime: 114 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

26. Bicycle Thieves

Unemployed Antonio Ricci sees the potential to turn his family's fortunes around when he finally finds some work. But after he buys back his bicycle from a pawnshop so that he can commute, the bicycle is stolen. Thus, Antonio sets out on a desperate search with his son, Bruno. The beauty of "Bicycle Thieves" is in what it doesn't say, rather than what it does. The bicycle isn't just a method of transport, but hope itself for the struggling family. There is an overwhelming sense of realism to this film, and a palpable, genuine pathos permeating throughout. 

  • Starring: Lamberto Maggiorani, Lianella Carell, Enzo Staiola

  • Director: Vittorio De Sica

  • Year: 1948

  • Runtime: 90 minutes

  • Rating: G

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

25. Goodfellas

Henry Hill is a young man brought up by the mob, who manages to climb the ranks alongside ruthless Jimmy Conway and hot-headed Tommy DeVito. Henry enjoys the luxurious life this affords him, but it isn't long before he realizes the true cost of the path he has chosen. Based on the true-crime bestseller "Wiseguy" by Nicholas Pileggi, "Goodfellas" manages to strike a perfect balance of brutality and comedy, making the weighty runtime breeze by. Effortlessly cool and boasting a razor-sharp script and flawless performances from its talented cast, "Goodfellas" quite rightly cemented Martin Scorsese as the undisputed king of gangster films.

  • Starring: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci

  • Director: Martin Scorsese

  • Year: 1990

  • Runtime: 146 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

24. Sunset Boulevard

Screenwriter Joe Gillis has a dangerous liaison with former silent film star Norma Desmond, who is determined to make her show business comeback. The faded actress lives in a lavish Hollywood home, which she fills with people willing to orchestrate the fantasy that she is still as beloved as she once was. Gloria Swanson's gloriously unhinged performance is the highlight of the film, especially as she lures Joe — and the audience — into Norma's increasingly demented world. A parable about fame and its fading, "Sunset Boulevard" is deliciously dark. If you love movies about movies, they rarely get better than this.

  • Starring: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim

  • Director: Billy Wilder

  • Year: 1950

  • Runtime: 110 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

23. Chinatown

Private eye Jake Gittes is hired by socialite Evelyn Mulwray to investigate her husband's extramarital activities. What unfolds is a murky tale of double-crossing, deceit, and murder that combines the best of classic film noir with the grittiness and cynicism of the 1970s. "Chinatown" is a film that constantly surprises: Just as you think it's going in one direction, a new path is uncovered. The more complicated things get, the more the suspense builds, and as the film spirals, a crushing feeling that the corruption is too great and too vast to resolve sets in.

  • Starring: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston

  • Director: Roman Polanski

  • Year: 1974

  • Runtime: 131 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

22. Tokyo Story

Elderly couple Shukichi and Tomi make the journey from their rural seaside village to their children in Tokyo. Now grown up and with families of their own, these children are separated from their parents by emotional distance that is difficult to overcome. Encompassing the highs and lows of life, "Tokyo Story" explores the difficulties that emerge when familial relationships change. Shukichi and Tomi's children now see them as a burden, and the couple struggles to accept how they have moved on.  An achingly poignant and impressively minimalist film, "Tokyo Story" examines family disintegration in a way that speaks to all audiences.

  • Starring: Chishu Ryu, Chieko Higashiyama, Setsuko Hara

  • Director: Yasujiro Ozu

  • Year: 1953

  • Runtime: 136 minutes

  • Rating: G

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

21. To Kill a Mockingbird

Atticus Finch, a 1930s lawyer in a small Alabama town, faces one of his most challenging cases yet when he defends Tom Robinson, a Black man wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. With prejudice still running deep, the case divides the town, and Finch's involvement in the trial sees his children Jem and Scout forced to face the hard truths of racism and injustice. Based on Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird" is a gripping courtroom drama that conveys its important message effectively and dynamically by looking through a child's eyes.

  • Starring: Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Phillip Alford

  • Director: Robert Mulligan

  • Year: 1962

  • Runtime: 129 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

20. Touch of Evil

"Touch of Evil" is a film rife with murder, kidnapping, and corruption, where you should always expect the unexpected. Following a car bomb detonation close to the Mexico border, an American police captain and a Mexican drug enforcement agent start to investigate. However, it isn't long before suspicions arise about possible corruption and foul play. Welles directs and stars in this film, alongside an A-list cast that includes Charlton Heston, Marlene Dietrich, and Janet Leigh.

  • Starring: Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, Janet Leigh

  • Director: Orson Welles

  • Year: 1958

  • Runtime: 111 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

19. A Streetcar Named Desire

Based on the play by Tennessee Williams, "A Streetcar Named Desire" tells the story of fragile ex-schoolteacher Blanche DuBois, who moves in with her sister Stella and Stella's husband Stanley in New Orleans. While a new romance blossoms between Blanche and Stanley's friend, Mitch, a rift grows in the family, with Stanley's volatility putting both sisters in the firing line. Little by little, Blanche is pushed closer to the edge of insanity. With the intensity of the performances lending themselves to the theatricality of the story, this film is a blistering drama that wears its raw emotions on its sleeve.

  • Starring: Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Kim Hunter

  • Director: Elia Kazan

  • Year: 1951

  • Runtime: 125 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

18. Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Set in 18th century France, "Portrait of a Lady on Fire" follows painter Marianne as she travels to a small island. She's been commissioned to paint a portrait of the aristocratic Héloïse, who is soon to be married to a wealthy Italian man. Unhappy about the impending marriage, Héloïse is reluctant to pose. Marianne is instructed to simply spend time with her and paint the portrait in secret. However, the more time they spend together, the deeper their relationship becomes. With a sparse all-female cast, "Portrait of a Lady on Fire" is a simultaneously minimalistic and lavish romance that is positively brimming with atmosphere.

  • Starring: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami

  • Director: Céline Sciamma

  • Year: 2019

  • Runtime: 120 minutes 

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

17. Double Indemnity

In this classic film noir, Phyllis Dietrichson — one of the all-time great femme fatales — uses her powers of persuasion to seduce insurance agent Walter Neff into murdering her husband. Beginning with Neff's confession to the audience, the rest of the story is told in flashback. A slowly unraveling mystery, it piles on the layers of intrigue and suspicion. While quick wit runs through the film — epitomized in Phyllis and Walter's illicit relationship — there is also an undeniably cold and ruthless streak, and a palpable tension that proves to be completely captivating.

  • Starring: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson

  • Director: Billy Wilder

  • Year: 1944

  • Runtime: 106 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

16. M

Four years after delivering his landmark science fiction masterpiece "Metropolis," Fritz Lang debuted the harrowing psychological thriller "M." Hans Beckert is a despicable serial killer who preys on young children. When the locals become aware of his heinous crimes, it sparks a manhunt. The race is on between the angry criminal gangs and the law enforcement officers looking to bring him to justice — but who will get to him first? Peter Lorre's incredible performance as Beckert is equal parts unhinged and devious. The terrifying thing is, he's clearly very good at what he does — and perhaps even more disturbingly, he's unable to stop doing it.

  • Starring: Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann, Inge Landgut

  • Director: Fritz Lang

  • Year: 1931

  • Runtime: 111 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

15. The Godfather Part II

This continuation of the Corleone crime family's story shifts the focus onto Michael Corleone as he takes over from his father. A parallel prequel story also unfolds, following young Vito Corleone as he moves from Sicily to the United States and establishes his family empire. In these two timelines, there is the tangible feeling of familial legacy, as well as many opportunities to examine the similarities and differences in how the business is run under the two figureheads. Building on the foundations that "The Godfather" lays down, Francis Ford Coppola's sequel manages to live up to the first film and deliver a thrilling new chapter.

  • Starring: Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton

  • Director: Francis Ford Coppola

  • Year: 1974

  • Runtime: 202 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

14. Boyhood

This unique coming-of-age film follows a boy named Mason and his family through more than a decade of highs, lows, vacations, arguments, birthdays, first loves, and broken relationships. The film is split into several vignettes, with an almost documentary-like quality to it, favoring a meandering narrative over a traditional arc. This reflects the journey of life and adds a feeling of authenticity. Shot over a course of 12 years — allowing us to see the cast grow up before our very eyes — "Boyhood" is an audacious, moving, and monumental achievement in film.

13. Apocalypse Now

This Francis Ford Coppola film hones in on the harrowing psychological impacts of the Vietnam War. When a group of soldiers learns that a colonel has gone mad in the jungle, Captain Willard leads a group to find and kill him before he becomes a danger to himself and others. "Apocalypse Now" has a commendable warts-and-all approach, which creates a frank depiction of the horrors of war. Frequently hallucinatory imagery makes for an even more riveting experience.

  • Starring: Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall

  • Director: Francis Ford Coppola

  • Year: 1979

  • Runtime: 153 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

12. The Battle of Algiers

Told with documentary-esque realism, "The Battle of Algiers" recounts the violent conflict that erupted in 1950s Algeria as rebel groups fought for independence from French rule. The film predominantly focuses on French fighter Colonel Mathieu and Algerian revolutionary leader Ali la Pointe. This multifaceted approach means there isn't a clear protagonist or antagonist, which effectively places the audience right in the heart of the fighting. "The Battle of Algiers" is a stark, bleak example of neorealism that remains one of the greatest war films ever made. It's still just as powerful and effective, more than 50 years after it debuted.

  • Starring: Jean Martin, Saadi Yacef, Brahim Haggiag

  • Director: Gillo Pontecorvo

  • Year: 1966

  • Runtime: 120 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

11. Vertigo

Crippled by an extreme fear of heights, former detective John "Scottie" Ferguson is hired to trail Madeleine, the wife of a friend, when she begins acting strangely. Appearing to be suffering from paranoid delusions, Madeleine quickly becomes the subject of Scottie's obsession. As he becomes closer to her, his fixation grows deeper and darker. In many respects, "Vertigo" is incredibly ahead of its time, using the pretense of a suspense thriller plot to explore the power of the mind and how it can be used to warp our perception of reality. Rich in thematic texture, incredibly inventive in its execution, and with the power to stay with you long after the credits roll, "Vertigo" is one of Hitchcock's most ambitious films.

  • Starring: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes

  • Director: Alfred Hitchcock

  • Year: 1958

  • Runtime: 128 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

10. Lawrence of Arabia

Told in flashbacks, "Lawrence of Arabia" recounts the story of British lieutenant T.E. Lawrence as he embarks on a journey to the Middle East during World War I. He finds Prince Faisal, gains his support, and acts as a go-between for the Arab and British parties in their fight against the Turks. This classic film is full of enduring images — Lawrence astride a camel is particularly memorable — but there's so much more to this sweeping epic than gorgeous aesthetics. This is a grand portrait of a region undergoing massive change, and one man at the intersection of multiple histories.

  • Starring: Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn

  • Director: David Lean

  • Year: 1962

  • Runtime: 227 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

9. The Third Man

Author Holly Martins arrives in Vienna to see his old friend, Harry Lime. But Lime is dead, and soon enough, Martins becomes involved in a murder investigation. Upon hearing of a mysterious third man who was present when Lime was killed, Martins tries to uncover what happened. Soon, he learns some unsettling truths about his old friend. With perfect utilization of light and shade and plenty of dynamic camera angles that mimic the twisting streets of war-ravaged Vienna, "The Third Man" is a tight, masterfully directed suspense drama with a thrilling climax that is guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seat.

  • Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Trevor Howard

  • Director: Carol Reed

  • Year: 1949

  • Runtime: 108 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

8. Battleship Potemkin

The oldest film on this list and one that remains a blueprint for modern filmmakers, "Battleship Potemkin" is rightly hailed as a masterpiece. Fed up with the poor conditions on board the Potemkin, a group of sailors — galvanized by the outspoken Vakulinchuk — lead a revolt against their commanding officers. In the chaos, Vakulinchuk is killed. When his body is returned to Odessa, he becomes a symbol of the revolution, which sees the townspeople rise up against their Tsarist oppressors. Told in five chapters, "Battleship Potemkin" is a fascinating piece of propaganda that's so effective, it was banned in several countries on the grounds that it would encourage mutiny (via The Guardian).

  • Starring: Aleksandr Antonov, Vladimir Barskiy, Grigoriy Aleksandrov

  • Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein

  • Year: 1925

  • Runtime: 75 minutes

  • Rating: G

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

7. Rashomon

"Rashomon" recounts four different versions of one harrowing story: The assault of a woman and the murder of her samurai husband. These tales are told by a notorious outlaw who appears to be the prime suspect, the victimized woman, the dead samurai (communicating through a medium), and a woodcutter who claims to have witnessed what happened. They seem to contradict each other, and the film doesn't seek to provide definite answers — instead, it prompts viewers to consider the eternal subjectivity of truth. This inventive storytelling technique and thematic richness make "Rashomon" a fascinating drama that proves the way a story is told is just as important as the story itself.

  • Starring: Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyō, Takashi Shimura

  • Director: Akira Kurosawa

  • Year: 1950

  • Runtime: 88 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

6. All About Eve

Backstage after a performance of her latest Broadway play, Margo Channing meets adoring fan and aspiring actress Eve Harrington. Moved by Eve's stories about her poor upbringing, Margo takes her under her wing and hires her as her assistant. However, it isn't long before Eve's true intentions reveal themselves: She's conniving her way into taking Margo's place on the stage. With an assured performance from the incomparable Bette Davis, "All About Eve" is a scathing, witty takedown of the cyclical nature of stardom.

  • Starring: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, Celeste Holm

  • Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

  • Year: 1950

  • Runtime: 138 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

5. Schindler's List

At the beginning of World War II, Oskar Schindler arrives in Kraków and purchases an enamelware factory mainly staffed by Jewish workers. When the Nazis begin murdering the Jews living in the ghettos and sending the remaining people to concentration camps, Schindler has a change of heart. He turns his attention to protecting his workers, while maintaining a front with the Nazis to avoid capture. Based on a remarkable true story, "Schindler's List" is a harrowing yet deeply human film about the flickers of hope that existed amidst the abject horror of one of history's darkest chapters. 

  • Starring: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes

  • Director: Steven Spielberg

  • Year: 1993

  • Runtime: 195 minutes 

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

4. Citizen Kane

"Citizen Kane" begins with the death of wealthy media tycoon Charles Foster Kane, who utters a single, mysterious word before he expires: "Rosebud." Curious as to what this could mean, reporter Jerry Thompson sets out for answers. As he interviews Kane's friends and associates, he discovers there was far more to this larger-than-life character than was reported in his newspapers. Considered by many to be the greatest film ever made, "Citizen Kane" is a landmark achievement in storytelling, retaining the mystery of the enigmatic man's final words up until the very end.

  • Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Ruth Warrick

  • Director: Orson Welles

  • Year: 1941

  • Runtime: 119 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

3. Casablanca

After a fleeting yet passionate romance in Paris, Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund drift apart, only to fortuitously meet again in Rick's Casablanca gin joint during the early years of World War II. Travelling with her husband, Victor Laszlo — a fugitive resistance leader who is being tailed by the Germans — Ilsa, desperate to secure their safety, turns to her former flame for help. One of the quintessential films of Hollywood's golden era, "Casablanca" is a stunning, bittersweet, and romantic masterpiece rightfully renowned for its enduring quotes, defining performances, and one of the most heartbreaking movie endings of all time.

  • Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid

  • Director: Michael Curtiz

  • Year: 1942

  • Runtime: 102 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

2. 12 Angry Men

After hearing the closing remarks of a murder trial involving an 18-year-old accused of killing his father, the 12 men of the jury must reach a unanimous verdict. If the defendant is found guilty, he'll be sentenced to death. With such high stakes, conflict quickly arises among the men, whose personalities might clash on a good day. Superbly performed by a talented ensemble cast, "12 Angry Men" is undeniably one of the greatest courtroom dramas ever made, and a thrilling debut feature from director Sidney Lumet. Notable for being set almost exclusively in one place, there is a palpable feeling of tension and claustrophobia throughout, resulting in an impactful and unforgettable experience.

  • Starring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley

  • Director: Sidney Lumet

  • Year: 1957

  • Runtime: 96 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

1. The Godfather

"The Godfather" focuses on the head of the Corleone crime family, Don Vito Corleone, and his reluctant son, Michael. Don Vito is tasked with introducing Michael to the complex web of deceit, violence, and betrayal that defines his life, so he can one day take over the family business. With perfect casting, a purposeful script, masterful direction, an exquisite score, stellar production design, and careful editing, "The Godfather" more than earns its reputation as one of the greatest films ever made.