Special Report

100 Best Movies of the Last 100 Years, According to Critics

Courtesy of United Artists

During the early weeks of the pandemic lockdown, restless Americans turned to streaming services as a lifeline and haven’t looked back. Netflix, Hulu, and Disney Plus have all gained millions of subscribers in the U.S. and worldwide since the first quarter of 2020. 

It’s no surprise that when faced with stressful circumstances and perhaps a plethora of free time, people have chosen to consume art in the forms of TV and film. Cinema has always had the ability to move people to anger, tears, compassion, and action. A great movie can shed light on another’s experience despite any cultural or demographic differences with the viewer. The movies with the broadest appeal highlight the most universal human emotions and trials.

Using information generated by the American Film Institute, 24/7 Tempo has compiled the 100 best American movies of the last 100 years, according to top directors, producers, film critics, and more. 

The director with the most movies in the mix is none other than Stephen Spielberg, with Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder also boasting several movies on the list. Spanning the years 1915 to 1996, from Charlie Chaplin’s silent films to modern classics like “Pulp Fiction” and “Fargo,” these movies are loved by critics and viewers alike.

Perhaps it’s time to pick up another pandemic hobby: watching all 100 of the greatest American movies. What better time to tap into the universality of human experience than during a global pandemic? Here are another 25 activities to make staying at home easier during the pandemic.

Click here to see 100 best movies of the last 100 years, according to critics

100. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
> Gross: $11.8 million
> Lead: James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston
> Director: Michael Curtiz

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99. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (1967)
> Gross: $56.7 million
> Lead: Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn
> Director: Stanley Kramer

98. Unforgiven (1992)
> Gross: $101.2 million
> Lead: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman
> Director: Clint Eastwood

97. Bringing Up Baby (1938)
> Gross: Not available
> Lead: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Charles Ruggles
> Director: Howard Hawks

96. The Searchers (1956)
> Gross: Not available
> Lead: John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles
> Director: John Ford

95. Pulp Fiction (1994)
> Gross: $107.9 million
> Lead: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson
> Director: Quentin Tarantino

94. Goodfellas (1990)
> Gross: $46.8 million
> Lead: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci
> Director: Martin Scorsese

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93. The Apartment (1960)
> Gross: $18.6 million
> Lead: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray
> Director: Billy Wilder

92. A Place In The Sun (1951)
> Gross: $3.5 million
> Lead: Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters
> Director: George Stevens

91. My Fair Lady (1964)
> Gross: $72.0 million
> Lead: Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway
> Director: George Cukor

90. The Jazz Singer (1928)
> Gross: $2.1 million
> Lead: Al Jolson, May McAvoy, Warner Oland
> Director: Alan Crosland

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89. Patton (1970)
> Gross: $61.7 million
> Lead: George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Stephen Young
> Director: Franklin J. Schaffner

88. Easy Rider (1969)
> Gross: $41.7 million
> Lead: Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson
> Director: Dennis Hopper

87. Frankenstein (1931)
> Gross: Not available
> Lead: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff
> Director: James Whale

86. Mutiny On The Bounty (1935)
> Gross: $4.5 million
> Lead: Charles Laughton, Clark Gable, Franchot Tone
> Director: Frank Lloyd

85. Duck Soup (1933)
> Gross: Not available
> Lead: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx
> Director: Leo McCarey

84. Fargo (1996)
> Gross: $24.6 million
> Lead: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi
> Director: Joel Coen

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83. Platoon (1986)
> Gross: $138.5 million
> Lead: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe
> Director: Oliver Stone

82. Giant (1956)
> Gross: Not available
> Lead: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean
> Director: George Stevens

81. Modern Times (1936)
> Gross: $0.2 million
> Lead: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman
> Director: Charles Chaplin

80. The Wild Bunch (1969)
> Gross: $12.1 million
> Lead: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan
> Director: Sam Peckinpah

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79. The Deer Hunter (1978)
> Gross: $49.0 million
> Lead: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale
> Director: Michael Cimino

78. Rocky (1976)
> Gross: $117.2 million
> Lead: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young
> Director: John G. Avildsen

77. American Graffiti (1973)
> Gross: $115.0 million
> Lead: Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat
> Director: George Lucas

76. City Lights (1931)
> Gross: $460,000
> Lead: Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee
> Director: Charles Chaplin

75. Dances With Wolves (1990)
> Gross: $184.2 million
> Lead: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene
> Director: Kevin Costner

74. The Gold Rush (1925)
> Gross: $5.5 million
> Lead: Charles Chaplin, Mack Swain, Tom Murray
> Director: Charles Chaplin

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73. Wuthering Heights (1939)
> Gross: $624,600
> Lead: Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier, David Niven
> Director: William Wyler

72. Ben-Hur (1959)
> Gross: $74.7 million
> Lead: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd
> Director: William Wyler

71. Forrest Gump (1994)
> Gross: $330.3 million
> Lead: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise
> Director: Robert Zemeckis

70. The French Connection (1971)
> Gross: $15.6 million
> Lead: Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey
> Director: William Friedkin

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69. Shane (1953)
> Gross: $20.0 million
> Lead: Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin
> Director: George Stevens

68. An American In Paris (1951)
> Gross: $4.5 million
> Lead: Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant
> Director: Vincente Minnelli

67. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
> Gross: Not available
> Lead: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh
> Director: John Frankenheimer

66. Network (1976)
> Gross: Not available
> Lead: Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch
> Director: Sidney Lumet

65. The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)
> Gross: $130.7 million
> Lead: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney
> Director: Jonathan Demme

64. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977)
> Gross: $132.1 million
> Lead: Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr
> Director: Steven Spielberg

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63. Stagecoach (1939)
> Gross: Not available
> Lead: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine
> Director: John Ford

62. Tootsie (1982)
> Gross: $177.2 million
> Lead: Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr
> Director: Sydney Pollack

61. Vertigo (1958)
> Gross: $3.2 million
> Lead: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes
> Director: Alfred Hitchcock

60. Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)
> Gross: $248.2 million
> Lead: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman
> Director: Steven Spielberg

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59. Rebel Without A Cause (1955)
> Gross: Not available
> Lead: James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo
> Director: Nicholas Ray

58. Fantasia (1942)
> Gross: $76.4 million
> Lead: Leopold Stokowski, Deems Taylor, The Philadelphia Orchestra
> Director: James Algar

57. The Third Man (1950)
> Gross: $0.5 million
> Lead: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli
> Director: Carol Reed

56. M*A*S*H (1970)
> Gross: $81.6 million
> Lead: Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, Tom Skerritt
> Director: Robert Altman

55. The Sound Of Music (1965)
> Gross: $163.2 million
> Lead: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker
> Director: Robert Wise

54. All Quiet On The Western Front (1930)
> Gross: $3.3 million
> Lead: Lew Ayres, Louis Wolheim, John Wray
> Director: Lewis Milestone

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53. Amadeus (1984)
> Gross: $52.0 million
> Lead: F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge
> Director: Milos Forman

52. From Here To Eternity (1953)
> Gross: $30.5 million
> Lead: Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr
> Director: Fred Zinnemann

51. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
> Gross: Not available
> Lead: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart
> Director: George Cukor

50. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (1969)
> Gross: $102.3 million
> Lead: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross
> Director: George Roy Hill

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49. Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937)
> Gross: $184.9 million
> Lead: Adriana Caselotti, Harry Stockwell, Lucille La Verne
> Director: William Cottrell

48. Jaws (1975)
> Gross: $260.0 million
> Lead: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss
> Director: Steven Spielberg

47. Taxi Driver (1976)
> Gross: $28.3 million
> Lead: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd
> Director: Martin Scorsese

46. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
> Gross: $6.2 million
> Lead: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates
> Director: Stanley Kubrick

45. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
> Gross: $8.0 million
> Lead: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter
> Director: Elia Kazan

44. The Birth Of A Nation (1915)
> Gross: $10.0 million
> Lead: Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall
> Director: D.W. Griffith

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43. King Kong (1933)
> Gross: $10.0 million
> Lead: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot
> Director: Merian C. Cooper

42. Rear Window (1954)
> Gross: $36.8 million
> Lead: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey
> Director: Alfred Hitchcock

41. West Side Story (1961)
> Gross: $43.7 million
> Lead: Natalie Wood, George Chakiris, Richard Beymer
> Director: Jerome Robbins

40. North By Northwest (1959)
> Gross: $13.3 million
> Lead: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason
> Director: Alfred Hitchcock

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39. Doctor Zhivago (1965)
> Gross: $111.7 million
> Lead: Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin
> Director: David Lean

38. Double Indemnity (1944)
> Gross: $5.7 million
> Lead: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson
> Director: Billy Wilder

37. The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946)
> Gross: $23.7 million
> Lead: Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Fredric March
> Director: William Wyler

36. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
> Gross: $44.8 million
> Lead: Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Sylvia Miles
> Director: John Schlesinger

35. It Happened One Night (1934)
> Gross: $4.4 million
> Lead: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly
> Director: Frank Capra

34. To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)
> Gross: Not available
> Lead: Gregory Peck, John Megna, Frank Overton
> Director: Robert Mulligan

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33. High Noon (1952)
> Gross: $9.5 million
> Lead: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Thomas Mitchell
> Director: Fred Zinnemann

32. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
> Gross: $57.3 million
> Lead: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall
> Director: Francis Ford Coppola

31. Annie Hall (1977)
> Gross: $39.2 million
> Lead: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts
> Director: Woody Allen

30. The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (1948)
> Gross: $5.0 million
> Lead: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt
> Director: John Huston

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29. Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939)
> Gross: $9.6 million
> Lead: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains
> Director: Frank Capra

28. Apocalypse Now (1979)
> Gross: $83.5 million
> Lead: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall
> Director: Francis Ford Coppola

27. Bonnie And Clyde (1967)
> Gross: Not available
> Lead: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard
> Director: Arthur Penn

26. Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)
> Gross: $9.2 million
> Lead: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden
> Director: Stanley Kubrick

25. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
> Gross: $435.1 million
> Lead: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote
> Director: Steven Spielberg

24. Raging Bull (1980)
> Gross: $23.4 million
> Lead: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci
> Director: Martin Scorsese

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23. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
> Gross: $2.1 million
> Lead: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George
> Director: John Huston

22. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
> Gross: $57.0 million
> Lead: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester
> Director: Stanley Kubrick

21. The Grapes Of Wrath (1940)
> Gross: $60,000
> Lead: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine
> Director: John Ford

20. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
> Gross: $112.0 million
> Lead: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Michael Berryman
> Director: Milos Forman

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19. Chinatown (1974)
> Gross: $8.5 million
> Lead: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston
> Director: Roman Polanski

18. Psycho (1960)
> Gross: $32.0 million
> Lead: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
> Director: Alfred Hitchcock

17. The African Queen (1951)
> Gross: $540,000
> Lead: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Morley
> Director: John Huston

16. All About Eve (1950)
> Gross: $10,000
> Lead: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders
> Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

15. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
> Gross: $322.7 million
> Lead: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
> Director: George Lucas

14. Some Like It Hot (1959)
> Gross: $25.0 million
> Lead: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon
> Director: Billy Wilder

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13. The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957)
> Gross: $44.9 million
> Lead: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins
> Director: David Lean

12. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
> Gross: Not available
> Lead: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim
> Director: Billy Wilder

11. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
> Gross: Not available
> Lead: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
> Director: Frank Capra

10. Singin’ In The Rain (1952)
> Gross: $8.8 million
> Lead: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds
> Director: Stanley Donen

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9. Schindler’S List (1993)
> Gross: $96.9 million
> Lead: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley
> Director: Steven Spielberg

8. On The Waterfront (1954)
> Gross: $9.6 million
> Lead: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb
> Director: Elia Kazan

7. The Graduate (1967)
> Gross: $105.0 million
> Lead: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross
> Director: Mike Nichols

6. The Wizard Of Oz (1939)
> Gross: $2.1 million
> Lead: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger
> Director: Victor Fleming

5. Lawrence Of Arabia (1962)
> Gross: $44.8 million
> Lead: Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn
> Director: David Lean

4. Gone With The Wind (1939)
> Gross: $198.7 million
> Lead: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell
> Director: Victor Fleming

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3. The Godfather (1972)
> Gross: $135.0 million
> Lead: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan
> Director: Francis Ford Coppola

2. Casablanca (1942)
> Gross: $1.0 million
> Lead: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid
> Director: Michael Curtiz

1. Citizen Kane (1941)
> Gross: $1.6 million
> Lead: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore
> Director: Orson Welles

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