What makes a great movie? As with any art, greatness is subject to debate. There are the movies you can watch over and over again without ever getting bored — ones that leave you disappointed that the cinematic adventures have ended when the credits roll. There are also movies that are more demanding, that may seem slow at first but that ultimately engage and possibly inspire you. (These are the 30 most inspirational movies of the last 100 years.)
That said, most great movies share a number of key factors, including an interesting and engaging storyline, a solid script with believable dialogue, superior production values, cinematography that enhances the story, expert direction, and above all, great acting that makes you believe and invest in the characters on screen. When all those elements come together, movie magic is made.
To identify the 100 greatest movies of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the 22,407 movies in our database for which ratings were available from both IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator. We created an index using average IMDb ratings and Rotten Tomatoes audience scores and Tomatometer scores. Ties were broken based on the number of IMDb votes. Documentaries were removed from consideration. (Casting information also comes from IMDb.)
What’s most notable among the titles that made it onto the list is their sheer diversity. Many countries are represented, from the U.S. to Italy and France to India and Japan, proving that many nations have contributed to film history, and many kinds of movies are here — among them gritty film noirs like “Double Indemnity” and “Chinatown;” Charlie Chaplin’s poignant “City Lights;” the gloriously silly “Monty Python and the Holy Grail;” austere (and non-commercial) cinematic masterpieces like Robert Bresson’s “A Man Escaped” and several films by Japan’s Yasujirō Ozu; and enduring favorites like “Casablanca” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
And yes, sci-fi fans, “Star Wars” is on the list — in two incarnations. The ultimate fright film, “Psycho” also gets a nod. First on the list is “The Godfather,” which elevated what could have been a standard mob picture to high cinematic art and spawned a noteworthy sequel — “Godfather Part II,” number three on the list. (For another view of movie greatness, see the 100 best movies of the last 100 years according to the critics.)
Although you may have your personal favorites, it’s hard to argue that any of the films aren’t worthy of praise.