The first motion picture was shot in 1878 and was only a few frames long. What started out as novelty has risen to one of the most important art forms in the modern world. The best films are as much a part of our culture as classic works of art, literature, and music. They capture some of the highest and lowest human experiences, create marvelous imaginary universes, and resonate deeply with audiences. Many are imbued with powerful messages and ideas and have gone on to be extremely influential not just in the world of cinema but far beyond.
To determine the 55 best movies of all time, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, current as of mid-March 2022. All ratings were weighted equally. Only films with at least 25,000 reviews on IMDb, 5,000 audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and 10 Tomatometer critics reviews were considered. Information on casts, directors, and plots came from IMDb. Supplemental data on domestic ticket sales and production budgets by movie came from industry data site The Numbers, an online movie database owned by Nash Information Services.
The films on our list cut across cultural gulfs and language barriers, leaving audiences deeply moved while allowing them to see into different worlds and time periods. Silent films and films in black-and-white have a place here. So do mid-20th-century classics like “Sunset Boulevard,” “Bicycle Thieves,” and “Casablanca.” Other films on the list engross us with dazzling animation or thrill us with cutting-edge special effects, or tell poignant love stories or tales of crime. Many of these films are famous, but a few may be new to you. (These are the 50 best movies you’ve never seen.)
Not surprisingly, many of the best and most famous directors of the past century are represented here, among them Charlie Chaplin, Billy Wilder, Akira Kurosawa, Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, and Steven Spielberg. Even those helmed by lesser-known figures, though, have earned a place on this list by pleasing audiences and critics alike. (Of course, audiences and critics don’t always agree. These are the 100 best movies of the last 100 years according to critics.)
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