Special Report

America's Favorite Movies of All Time

Movies are an American art form, and one of the most popular types of entertainment. People have turned to movies — albeit usually on small screens at home — to help them get through some tough times in the past year, binge-watching their favorite franchises and the work of their favorite actors and directors. With COVID-19 restrictions now being eased, many are looking forward to visiting theatres again and seeing much-anticipated movies whose releases have been delayed.

24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of America’s favorite movies of all time, ranging from the 1940s to the present day, using ratings and audience scores from IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes. Almost everyone will be able to find their personal favorites here. These are the 55 best movies ever made.

Perhaps surprisingly, the top five movies are all serious fare. They all have weighty subject matter, not many laughs, and no superheroes. The No. 1 movie is “The Shawshank Redemption.” Based on a Stephen King novella, it’s the story of Andy Dufresne, a banker sentenced to life in prison for murders he didn’t commit, who befriends a fellow prisoner and outwits a corrupt system. It was a box-office disappointment when it was released in 1994, but was liked by the critics and has become a cult classic since. 

Click here to see America’s favorite movies of all time

To determine America’s favorite movies of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed information from IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, calculating an index based on the movies’ IMDb rating and Rotten Tomatoes audience score, weighted by the number of IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes votes. Only films with at least 400,000 reviews on either site were considered. Data on domestic box office came from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by consulting firm Nash Information Services. Data was collected March 2021 to May 2021, and is not adjusted for inflation. Cast information comes from IMDb.

Also in the top five are two “Godfather” movies, “12 Angry Men,” and “Schindler’s List,” which are about organized crime, racial justice, and the Holocaust, respectively. Surprisingly, “Jaws” only ranked No. 99. It’s one of the movies, along with “Star Wars,” that launched the tradition of the summer blockbuster back in the 1970s. Three movies from the latter franchise did place in the top 40, however — including the original, subsequently marketed as “Episode IV – A New Hope.” Here is every Star Wars movie ranked from worst to best.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

40. Interstellar (2014)
> IMDb rating: 8.6
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 86
> Domestic box office: $210.8 million
> Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Mackenzie Foy

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

39. Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
> IMDb rating: 8.3
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94
> Domestic box office: $899.1 million
> Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

38. Léon: The Professional (1994)
> IMDb rating: 8.5
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95
> Domestic box office: $43.8 million
> Starring: Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello

Source: Courtesy of Cinema 5 Distributing

37. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
> IMDb rating: 8.2
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95
> Domestic box office: $15.5 million
> Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam

Source: Courtesy of CJ Entertainment

36. Parasite (2019)
> IMDb rating: 8.6
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 90
> Domestic box office: $53.4 million
> Starring: Kang-ho Song, Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Cho, Woo-sik Choi

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

35. Psycho (1960)
> IMDb rating: 8.5
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95
> Domestic box office: $352.3 million
> Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

34. The Departed (2006)
> IMDb rating: 8.5
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94
> Domestic box office: $185.1 million
> Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg

Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

33. The Pianist (2002)
> IMDb rating: 8.5
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 96
> Domestic box office: $51.4 million
> Starring: Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finlay, Emilia Fox

Source: Courtesy of TriStar Pictures

32. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
> IMDb rating: 8.5
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94
> Domestic box office: $442.7 million
> Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

31. The Lion King (1994)
> IMDb rating: 8.5
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 93
> Domestic box office: $946.9 million
> Starring: Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Whoopi Goldberg

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Source: Courtesy of Gramercy Pictures

30. The Usual Suspects (1995)
> IMDb rating: 8.5
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 96
> Domestic box office: $49.2 million
> Starring: Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri, Stephen Baldwin

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

29. American History X (1998)
> IMDb rating: 8.5
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 96
> Domestic box office: $13.1 million
> Starring: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly D’Angelo, Jennifer Lien

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

28. Casablanca (1942)
> IMDb rating: 8.5
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95
> Domestic box office: $392.8 million
> Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

27. Back to the Future (1985)
> IMDb rating: 8.5
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94
> Domestic box office: $547.7 million
> Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

26. Se7en (1995)
> IMDb rating: 8.6
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95
> Domestic box office: $210.8 million
> Starring: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Andrew Kevin Walker

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

25. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
> IMDb rating: 8.4
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 96
> Domestic box office: $743.6 million
> Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, John Rhys-Davies

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

24. The Green Mile (1999)
> IMDb rating: 8.6
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94
> Domestic box office: $247.6 million
> Starring: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse, Bonnie Hunt

Source: Courtesy of RKO Radio Pictures

23. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
> IMDb rating: 8.6
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95
> Domestic box office: $208.7 million
> Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell

Source: Courtesy of Miramax

22. Life Is Beautiful (1997)
> IMDb rating: 8.6
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 96
> Domestic box office: $114.9 million
> Starring: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini, Giustino Durano

Source: Courtesy of Orion Pictures

21. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
> IMDb rating: 8.6
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95
> Domestic box office: $284.4 million
> Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney, Kasi Lemmons

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Source: Courtesy of Miramax

20. City of God (2002)
> IMDb rating: 8.6
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 97
> Domestic box office: $11.9 million
> Starring: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino, Matheus Nachtergaele, Phellipe Haagensen

Source: Courtesy of Fathom Events

19. Spirited Away (2001)
> IMDb rating: 8.6
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 96
> Domestic box office: $16.3 million
> Starring: Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, Miyu Irino, Rumi Hiiragi

Source: Courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures

18. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
> IMDb rating: 8.6
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95
> Domestic box office: $422.5 million
> Starring: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

17. Inception (2010)
> IMDb rating: 8.8
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 91
> Domestic box office: $339.7 million
> Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elliot Page, Ken Watanabe

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

16. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
> IMDb rating: 8.6
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 96
> Domestic box office: $1.9 billion
> Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

15. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
> IMDb rating: 8.7
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 96
> Domestic box office: $491.8 million
> Starring: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Michael Berryman, Peter Brocco

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Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

14. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
> IMDb rating: 8.7
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95
> Domestic box office: $541.0 million
> Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

13. Goodfellas (1990)
> IMDb rating: 8.7
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 97
> Domestic box office: $101.5 million
> Starring: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

12. Forrest Gump (1994)
> IMDb rating: 8.8
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95
> Domestic box office: $741.2 million
> Starring: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Sally Field

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

11. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
> IMDb rating: 8.8
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95
> Domestic box office: $511.6 million
> Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean

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Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

10. Fight Club (1999)
> IMDb rating: 8.8
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 96
> Domestic box office: $67.0 million
> Starring: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Meat Loaf, Zach Grenier

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

9. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
> IMDb rating: 8.8
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 97
> Domestic box office: $45.8 million
> Starring: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef, Aldo Giuffrè

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

8. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
> IMDb rating: 8.7
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 97
> Domestic box office: $993.4 million
> Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

7. The Dark Knight (2008)
> IMDb rating: 9.0
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94
> Domestic box office: $680.9 million
> Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine

Source: Courtesy of Miramax

6. Pulp Fiction (1994)
> IMDb rating: 8.9
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 96
> Domestic box office: $242.3 million
> Starring: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

5. Schindler’s List (1993)
> IMDb rating: 8.9
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 97
> Domestic box office: $214.4 million
> Starring: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Caroline Goodall

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Source: Courtesy of United Artists

4. 12 Angry Men (1957)
> IMDb rating: 9.0
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 97
> Domestic box office: $60.4 million
> Starring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

3. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
> IMDb rating: 9.0
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 97
> Domestic box office: $277.7 million
> Starring: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

2. The Godfather (1972)
> IMDb rating: 9.2
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 98
> Domestic box office: $770.7 million
> Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
> IMDb rating: 9.3
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 98
> Domestic box office: $63.4 million
> Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler

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