60. Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)
> Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama
> Directed by: Charles Reisner, Buster Keaton
> Starring: Buster Keaton, Tom McGuire, Ernest Torrence
The deadpan comic actor and director Buster Keaton was considered one of the giants of silent-film comedy (along with Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd). Playing the hapless son of a tough-guy steamboat captain, Keaton packs the stunts in his final film with energy and inventiveness. (There are two other Keaton films on this list — “The General,” No. 36, and “Sherlock Jr.,” No. 3.)
59. A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
> Genre: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
> Directed by: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
> Starring: David Niven, Kim Hunter, Robert Coote
Also released under the title “Stairway to Heaven,” this “ravishing, creative, and exciting fantasy,” to quote critics consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, is by the creative team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. The duo other films include “Black Narcissus,” No. 97, and “The Red Shoes,” No. 37. “A Matter of Life and Death” stars the ever-suave David Niven as a British wartime pilot who has to argue for his life before a heavenly tribunal. Roger Ebert praised the film for “the sheer energy of its invention.”
58. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
> Genre: Biography, Drama, History
> Directed by: Steve McQueen
> Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michael Fassbender
“12 Years a Slave” was named best picture at the 2014 Academy Awards (the Academy also honored Lupita Nyong’o as best actress in a supporting role and John Ridley for best adapted screenplay). This powerful story of a New York state black man who is kidnapped and sent south as a slave in the 1800s was hailed as “beautifully tragic” by critic Jennifer Heaton and “absorbing and comprehensively thought-provoking,” by critic Frank Ochieng.
57. Alien (1979)
> Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
> Directed by: Ridley Scott
> Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt
The tagline for sci-fi horror film “Alien” states: “In space, no one can hear you scream.” Plenty of people could be heard screaming in theaters when the movie was released in 1979, however. Movie-watchers continue to enjoy the tense creeper, with 94% of users giving it a positive score on Rotten Tomatoes.
56. Vertigo (1958)
> Genre: Mystery, Romance, Thriller
> Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
> Starring: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes
Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” takes viewers on a wild psychological ride. James Stewart plays a cop who’s recently retired from police work because he suffers from vertigo. He agrees to follow the wife of a college friend and becomes obsessed with her. “Vertigo” was not considered one of Hitchcock’s greatest films when it was released, but it has grown in stature and is now in the pantheon of the director’s works. Critics gave “Vertigo” a Freshness rating of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 93% of filmgoers liked it.
55. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
> Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi
> Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
> Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester
More than 50 years after its release, “2001: A Space Odyssey” is still one of the most thought-provoking science fiction films of all time. The film is Stanley Kubrick’s look at the arc of mankind’s existence, from the earliest humans to space travelers, with the implied question of what does it all mean? As perplexing as the movie remains, critics gave it a Freshness rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 89% of filmgoers liked it, if not understood it.
54. The Wages of Fear (1953)
> Genre: Adventure, Drama, Thriller
> Directed by: Henri-Georges Clouzot
> Starring: Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Peter van Eyck
A nail-biting tale of four men transporting highly volatile explosives across rocky terrain in Central America, this French-made thriller was given 100% Freshness rating by critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Together with his later film “Diabolique,” this movie earned director Clouzot a reputation as the “French Hitchcock.”
53. Raging Bull (1980)
> Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport
> Directed by: Martin Scorsese
> Starring: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci
“Raging Bull” was one of the best movies of the 1980s, a brilliant and disturbing look at the life of self-destructive middleweight boxing champion Jake LaMotta. Martin Scorsese shot the film in black and white, which adds to the grimness of LaMotta’s life. Critics gave “Raging Bull” a Freshness rating of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 93% of audiences liked it.
52. It Happened One Night (1934)
> Genre: Comedy, Romance
> Directed by: Frank Capra
> Starring: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly
One of the greatest screwball comedies of the 1930s, “It Happened One Night” is one of only three movies ever to have won all five of the major Academy Awards (best picture, best director, best actor, best actress, and best screenplay). Clark Gable plays a reporter who falls in love with spoiled heiress Claudette Colbert. Critics gave the Capra classic a 98% Freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and 93% of audiences liked the movie.
51. The Gold Rush (1925)
> Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama
> Directed by: Charles Chaplin
> Starring: Charles Chaplin, Mack Swain, Tom Murray
One of five Chaplin films on this list, “The Gold Rush” blends slapstick and sentimentality into a hilarious whole accented with moments of social commentary. Some critics consider it to be quintessential Chaplin.
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