Films That Made Our Top 40 List Because They Were Just That Good

By: Lilli Keeve | Published: Aug 19, 2022

Film buffs want to know anything and everything about upcoming movies or classic movies that were iconic to past generations. We also love keeping an eye on “movies of the year” or anything that critics tell us not to miss this summer. Whatever genre it is, people love a good movie that allows them to spend quality time with their family and friends.

Everyone who goes to the movies, from film critics to regular moviegoers, can probably agree that their favorite movie is the finest of all time… but will those movies make our list? From the action movies of Buster Keaton in the 1920s to the animated movies of Pixar in the 2010s, the history of cinema is filled with remarkable artists. There’s a lot of territory to cover, so let’s dive in!

It’s an Airplane!

Airplane! is still widely regarded as one of the best movies of all time, despite the fact that it was released in 1980 and many people haven’t even heard of it. Since it was first made available to the public, it has brought in close to $250 million. 

 

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This funny parody takes humorous shots at the most famous movies ever made with catastrophe themes. Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Leslie Nielsen, Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack, Lorna Patterson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were among the well-known actors that participated in the production.

Solving the Labyrinth

There is a good reason why Guillermo del Toro has received such widespread recognition from the media. The movie Pan’s Labyrinth is one of a few rare films with a Spanish-speaking cast that was successful enough to become a global phenomenon.

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The movie, which came out in 2006, has amassed more than $40 million in revenue since it was released. There is love, there is conflict, and of course, there are magical creatures and fantastical realms woven throughout the plot.

How Close Can We Get?

The protagonists of this science fiction adventure are a bunch of space nerds who are striving to make contact with extraterrestrial species. The film, directed by Steven Spielberg, was shown to the public for the first time in 1977. Since then, it has accumulated close to $400 million. Spielberg had been looking forward to creating Close Encounters for a very long time.

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In the latter part of 1973, he reached an agreement with Columbia Pictures to produce a science-fiction movie. Though Steven Spielberg is the only one who is credited with writing the script, he had a lot of help from people like Paul Schrader, John Hill, David Giler, Hal Barwood, Matthew Robbins, and Jerry Belson. Each of these people contributed to the screenplay in their own unique way.

Remember This Film?

Memento, a Christopher Nolan film directed in 2001, wowed people all over the world. Over the course of the last two decades, the neo-noir psychological thriller has brought in close to $35 million. This was pretty impressive back in those days.

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Critics remarked on how amazing it was that the film’s convoluted narrative included relatively few plotholes, given that it featured a man with significant memory loss who was seeking to discover who had murdered his wife. This interesting plot is not the only thing that works in this film.  If you haven’t seen it, we suggest checking it out.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Slumdog Millionaire is Dev Patel’s masterpiece, and he knocked it out of the park. The movie was released in 2006, and it came dangerously close to being released only on home video. Thankfully, it was able to make it to theaters.

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Since then, it has made more than $150 million in revenue. Slumdog Millionaire was commended for its narrative, music, cinematography, editing, directing, and performances (particularly Patel’s). It won eight Oscars in 2009, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

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Chasing Fame

A coming-of-age narrative set in the world of rock and roll is what you get with Almost Famous. A young man with dreams of becoming a music journalist uproots his life and goes on the road with a rock band before he has even mastered the skill of driving.

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Editorial use only. No book cover usage. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Neal Preston/Dreamworks Llc/Kobal/Shutterstock (5881079l) Kate Hudson Almost Famous - 2000 Director: Cameron Crowe Dreamworks Llc USA Scene Still Comedy/Drama Presque célèbre

Since it was first released in 2000, the film has amassed close to $50 million in revenue because of its captivating narrative. The movie was met with accolades from cinema reviewers of all stripes and was nominated for four Academy Awards, taking home one of those awards for Best Original Screenplay.

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Braveheart Will Live on!

Braveheart came out in 1995. Can you believe it’s that old already? The film was directed by Mel Gibson, and he also starred in it. He believed that he was too old to play the main part, but Paramount would not embark on the film unless it was guaranteed that he would be the star.

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This was a bold decision on the side of the studio, and Gibson turned in an unforgettable performance that brought in close to $140 million in revenue since the film’s debut. There has been a cult following for the classic movie ever since.

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Feeling Kind of Wheezy

The vast majority of Alfred Hitchcock and Jimmy Stewart’s films together are classics, but Vertigo is the one that really stands out above the others. Hitchcock’s personal fears and erroneous preconceptions had a significant role in the development of this movie. It is without a doubt one of his best compositions, and it was released in 1958.

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The majority of the film was shot on location in the city of San Francisco. However, they also went to Mission San Juan Bautista, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Cypress Point on 17-Mile Drive, and Paramount Studios in Hollywood to get all the scenes.

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“Are You Not Entertained?”

Gladiator was the film that launched Russell Crowe’s Hollywood career, while Oliver Reed’s was cut short by a heart attack while he was working on it. The movie, which has earned more than $275 million worldwide since its premiere in 2000, was dedicated to his memory.

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This box office smash was directed by Ridley Scott. Maximus, who was sold into slavery, eventually became a gladiator and worked his way up through the ranks of the arena in order to get revenge for the deaths of his family and the emperor he served.

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Finding the Holy Grail

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a British comedy that was released in 1975 and was inspired by the Arthurian legend. The film was written and performed by the Monty Python comedy group, which consisted of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin.

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Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones made their feature directorial debuts with the film. It was devised during the break between the third and fourth series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which was shown on BBC Television. If you’re into British comedy, then this film is sure to tickle your funny bone.

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Blazing Into Theaters

Blazing Saddles is consistently voted as one of the people’s top picks for their all-time favorite classic film. The film has raked in more than $500 million from domestic ticket sales alone throughout its lifespan. This film is a great one to watch on the weekend with friends. 

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Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks, and Cleavon Little are the three main protagonists in this satirical spaghetti-western film. The topic of racism, which was seldom broached in Hollywood movies of the 1970s, was one of the primary driving forces behind the storyline of this movie.

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All the President’s Men

The film All the President’s Men tells the tale of two young reporters working for The Washington Post named Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who were responsible for uncovering the infamous Watergate affair. History buffs might want to check this one out.

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Four years after the crisis that led to Richard Nixon’s resignation, the movie was released. The narrative was so true to history that it continues to attract audiences and is often used as a teaching tool in journalism programs at colleges and universities.

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That Film About Blue Aliens

This movie helped make James Cameron a household name all over the world. Since it was first released in 2009, it has amassed a staggering total of $763 million, making it a record-holder that hasn’t even been beaten by any of the hugely popular MCU films. There are three sequels scheduled to be released in 2022, 2024, and 2025 respectively.

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When James Cameron first conceived the idea for Avatar, he penned an 80-page treatment outlining his vision for the movie. Filming was meant to take place following the conclusion of Cameron’s film Titanic in 1997, with a release in 1999 being planned; however, Cameron has said that the requisite technology was not yet ready to realize his vision for the picture. We’re sure fans are glad he waited!

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A Musical Film to Remember

The Sherman Brothers wrote and composed the songs for the 1964 American musical fantasy Mary Poppins, which was directed by Robert Stevenson and produced by Walt Disney. The screenplay was written by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi, and it is based on the Mary Poppins books by P. L. Travers. The movie is a mix of live-action and animation. 

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Julie Andrews plays Mary Poppins, who goes to London to help a family that isn’t getting along. She uses her own unique way of living to make the family work better. In supporting roles are Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson, and Glynis Johns. The whole movie was shot at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, with painted London scenes in the background.

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The King Returns

Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy to the big screen will always overshadow the rest of his career. It would seem that this particular adaptation of the series is the one that has garnered the greatest fan support. In addition, Elijah Wood made his first appearance for the part.

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Return of the King has made more than $400 million since it was released. It has since been a favorite among the fans who continue to make a whole bunch of memes and fan art devoted to the franchise. Many people still cosplay as their favorite LOTR characters.

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A Film Within a Film

Inception is a science-fiction action film that was released in 2010 and was written and directed by Christopher Nolan, who also produced the picture together with his wife, Emma Thomas. In the movie, Leonardo DiCaprio plays a thief who makes a living by breaking into the minds of his victims in order to steal information from them.

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In exchange for the introduction of another person’s thoughts into a target’s mind, he is given the opportunity to have his criminal record expunged. In addition to Ken Watanabe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the ensemble cast also features Marion Cotillard, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, T

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Wild Wild West

William Holden, Robert Ryan, and Ernest Borgnine are the three actors that feature in The Wild Bunch, an American western that was released in 1969. Although the “graphic” violence shown in the film is nothing out of the ordinary for modern films, it was nonetheless one of the most divisive movies ever made during its era.

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Examples of this kind of brutality had not yet begun to appear in movies. In 1969, the complicated, multi-angle, quick-cut editing style used in The Wild Bunch was a breakthrough cinematic method. The film is known for utilizing both regular and slow-motion footage.

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Search No More

Another classic western, The Searchers, was released in the 1950s and starred the legendary John Wayne. The movie received positive reviews from the vast majority of the websites it has been featured on. Wayne portrays a soldier of the American Civil War who is on the hunt for his missing niece. 

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The unexpected turn of events is, of course, that he is not really attempting to save her. The movie received positive reviews and did well at the box office. Since it was first shown to the public, it has gone down in history as one of the best and most influential films ever produced.

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How Hard Are We Talking?

Is the movie Die Hard appropriate to watch around the holidays? We vote yes! The events of the narrative take place on Christmas Eve when John McClane is spending the holiday visiting his family. However, the evening takes an unexpected and dangerous turn.

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What started off as a joyous Christmas gathering turns into a terrorist assault with hostages who need to be rescued. Many families watch this movie together in the spirit of the Christmas season. Christmas movie or not, this certainly is an entertaining film.

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The Story of Mozart

The 1984 biographical drama film Amadeus was directed by Milo Forman and written by Peter Shaffer, who adapted it from his 1979 stage play. Set in Vienna, Austria, in the second part of the 18th century, the film is a dramatized account of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s life after he left Salzburg.

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Its creator called it a “fantasia on the topic of Mozart and Salieri.” Mozart’s music is featured heavily. The film depicts Mozart and Salieri’s feud in the court of Emperor Joseph II. F. Murray Abraham plays Salieri, and Tom Hulce plays Mozart. Abraham won the Oscar for Best Actor; Hulce was nominated.

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Who Else Do We Call?

“Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!” Every time Halloween comes around, the song and those guys in ghost-busting outfits start popping up again. Since it was first released in 1984, the classic supernatural comedy film Ghostbusters has earned more than half a billion dollars worldwide.

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A fun fact about the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is that he was originally intended to be part of a larger group of other monsters. Since it would have been too expensive to make all of them, he ended up being the primary antagonist.

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Truly Notorious

Another of Alfred Hitchcock’s most well-known masterpieces, Notorious, is considered a classic example of the genre known as “spy noir.” It is notable for starring Carey Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains. Because of the movie’s widespread appeal, the original print has been kept safe at the United States Library of Congress.

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The plot of the movie centers on an American government agent named T.R. Devlin (Grant), who enlists the assistance of Alicia Huberman (Bergman), the daughter of a German war criminal, in order to join a circle of IG Farben executives hiding out in Rio de Janeiro after World War II.

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Black Narcissus

The film is an adaptation of Rumer Godden’s novel of the same name, which was published in 1939. It tells the story of a small convent of Anglican nuns who are trying to establish a school and hospital in the old palace of an Indian Raja on the top of an isolated mountain above a fertile valley in the Himalayas.

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Within the convent, tensions begin to rise as the nuns struggle to fulfill their mission. The palace is managed by an agent of the Indian general who owns it, an attractive middle-aged Englishman who serves as a source of sexual desire for the nuns due to the presence of old erotic images that are painted on the walls of the palace.

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Another Classic Hitchcock Film

It should come as no surprise that another Hitchcock picture has earned a place on this list. Strangers on a Train tells the story of two guys who, after meeting for the first time on a train, get right into the mundane details of their lives.

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The guys then come to an understanding over a scheme to kill someone who is known to both of them. The plot itself is amazing, but what really stands out is the cinematography and how well it was filmed. Robert Burks, the film’s cinematographer, received an Oscar nomination for his work.

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A Classic Crime Drama

The crime drama Badlands was released in the 1970s and starred Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen. After witnessing a murder, the two are forced to flee, and the only people they can rely on for support are each another. It seems as if quite a few individuals were moved by this movie.

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Even Spacek said that working on the picture altered the way that she thought about the filmmaking process. Terrence Malick made his debut as a filmmaker with Badlands, an American neo-noir period crime drama film that was released in 1973 and written, produced, and directed by Malick.

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Unforgettable Unforgiven

This great film from 1992 starred Clint Eastwood, who also directed and produced the film. Unforgiven earned him an Academy Award for Best Director, and he was also nominated in the Best Actor category.

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Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman, two of the most famous performers in the world, both had roles in the movie. It was the third western film in the history of the Academy Awards to receive the award for Best Picture. Eastwood truly created a masterpiece with this movie.

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All Alone with Humphrey Bogart

This timeless classic portrays Humphrey Bogart in the role of a screenwriter who is under investigation for murder. Over the years, Time magazine has included In a Lonely Place in its lists of the “All-Time 100s” and the “100 Essential Films.”

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The first ever copy of the movie was archived at the United States Library of Congress in the year 2007. Bogart plays the role of Dixon “Dix” Steele, an unstable and violent screenwriter who is accused of having committed murder. Gloria Grahame appears alongside Bogart in the role of Laurel Gray, a lonely neighbor who is enchanted by him.

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Film Noir at Its Best

Otto Preminger is the director and producer of the American film noir classic Laura, which was released in 1944. Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, and Judith Anderson are among the actors who appeared in it.

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The book Laura, written by Vera Caspary in 1943, served as the inspiration for the script that was written by Jay Dratler, Samuel Hoffenstein, and Betty Reinhardt. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized Laura with five nominations, including one for Best Director. It ultimately took home the award for Best Black and White Cinematography.

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The Ring Returns

Another Lord of the Rings film, The Two Towers still resonates with many fans. In addition to being one of the finest fantasy films of all time, it has been voted the fourth highest-grossing picture of all time. It was also nominated for six Academy Awards.

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Three stories are intercut in this sequel to the preceding film’s narrative. Gollum, the ring’s previous custodian, joins Frodo and Sam on their quest to Mordor to destroy the One Ring. To face Saruman’s treacherous armies, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli go to war-torn Rohan to join with the revived Gandalf. Then, they battle at Helm’s Deep.

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A Classic Dramedy

Even though it’s classified as a comedy, devotees of The Apartment prefer the term “dramedy.” As a favor to his top advisers, an insurance clerk invites them to stay in his apartment so they may cheat on their spouses. If this plan goes awry (and spoiler alert, it does), it’s sure to bring you many laughs.

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To advance in his career, Bud the insurance clerk (Jack Lemmon) lets senior employees use his Upper West Side apartment for adulterous relationships, and the film tracks their exploits. Unaware of her relationship with his immediate supervisor (Fred MacMurray), Bud develops feelings for an elevator operator (Shirley MacLaine) at the building where he works.

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Our Favorite Futuristic Robot

The animated film Wall-E won the affection of millions of film lovers. When being rescued from a planet that was inhospitable, the garbage robot embarked on the journey of a lifetime after he was given a second chance at finding purpose in his lonely existence.

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Even though Wall-E didn’t utter a single word, the movie nonetheless found a way to reach people emotionally. Since its release in 2008, the movie has earned more than $533 million worldwide. People love this futuristic robot and how he falls in love with another robot (if that is even possible) along the way.

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Remember Coco?

A little child called Miguel is the protagonist of the touching coming-of-age narrative that is Coco. He aspires to be a musician and models his playing after that of a legendary guitarist who was revered in his community while he was growing up there.

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Miguel finds himself in a precarious situation and eventually makes his way to the land of the dead. The plot, in keeping with the majority of Pixar films, is both hilarious, endearing, and emotionally taxing. This film is family-friendly and has some catchy tunes too.

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A Story From Philadelphia

Who could forget the likes of Carey Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart? What could possibly be more perfect than that combo? In The Philadelphia Story, our protagonists are a married couple who are having trouble maintaining their relationship.

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Due to the film’s hyper-realistic depiction of love and marriage, which at the time was very rare to see in Hollywood films, it is often recognized as one of the greatest movies ever made. In 1940, the Academy Awards recognized it with an award for “Best Writing in an Adapted Screenplay.”

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Luke Is Too Cool for School

Cool Hand Luke was filmed at a time when there was growing public resistance to the Vietnam War. Roger Ebert labeled it an anti-establishment picture. Upon its first release, the film was met with positive critical reception and was a financial success at the box office.

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The setting was designed to resemble a prison farm in the American South. It was filmed in the San Joaquin River Delta region of California, and the set was based on photographs and measurements taken by a crew that the filmmakers sent to a Road Prison in Gainesville, Florida. The movie starred a young Paul Newman and made interesting use of Christian symbolism.

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Oh My Rebecca

Alfred Hitchcock directed the 1940 American romantic psychological thriller Rebecca. Judith Anderson, George Sanders, and Gladys Cooper had supporting parts in the drama, which starred Laurence Olivier as the brooding, aristocratic widower Maxim de Winter. Joan Fontaine played the young woman who became his second wife. 

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The film is a black-and-white gothic story. Rebecca de Winter, Maxim de Winter’s first wife who died before the events of the film, is never seen. However, her reputation and the memories each character has of her remain. In many ways, she is a permanent presence in their lives.

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A Man’s Film

Curtis Hanson is responsible for the direction, production, and co-writing of the American neo-noir crime film L.A. Confidential, which was released in 1997. James Ellroy‘s novel of the same name, published in 1990, was the inspiration for the screenplay that was written by Hanson and Brian Helgeland. 

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The novel is the third book in Ellroy’s L.A. Quartet series. The narrative of the film focuses on a squad of LAPD officers working in 1953 and examines the connection between police corruption and Hollywood celebrity culture. The magazine Confidential, which was published in the 1950s and is referred to as Hush-Hush in the film, is the inspiration for the film’s title.

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A Must-See Chaplin Classic

In 1921, The Kid was made available to the public. Charlie Chaplin, who was famous for his work as an actor, director, and stuntman, appeared in it. This was Chaplin’s very first attempt at writing and directing a feature-length picture, and it was a long one at that.

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It was hailed as a “film classic” by reviewers of the time, and many critics of today would still agree with that assessment. Though he led a troubled life and had a turbulent career, Chaplin was credited with being the pioneer of the cinema industry.

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They Don’t Make Rom-Coms Like This Nowadays

This classic romantic comedy featured two of the industry’s most iconic stars, Carey Grant and Rosalind Russell. An editor of a newspaper and one of the reporters had been at odds with one another, but they find themselves forced to collaborate on the investigation of a murder.

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It only makes sense for them to end up in a romantic relationship. The Library of Congress has chosen to keep this film in its collection because of its “cultural, historical, and artistic value.” They certainly do not make films like this nowadays.

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Hitchcock Strikes Again

Shadow of a Doubt is a 1943 psychological thriller and film noir classic that was produced in the United States and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright appear in the film. The screenplay for the movie was written by Thornton Wilder, Sally Benson, Alma Reville, and Gordon McDonell who were up for an Academy Award for their work. 

 

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Because it was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important,” the picture was chosen by the Library of Congress to be preserved in the United States National Film Registry. This decision was made in 1991. Alfred Hitchcock once revealed that this was his favorite of all of the films he directed.

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40. Who Could Forget that Alien

Apart from being a sci-fi fanatic’s fantasy come true, Alien is one of the most memorable films of its period. It still has a cult following and is considered to be one of the finest horror-science-fiction pictures ever made.

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Sigourney Weaver is widely regarded as one of the most well-known actors in the science fiction genre. She is famous for her role in the Alien film franchise. Though the original movie was released in the 1980s, there have been and will continue to be remakes and sequels created in its honor.

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