Top Movies (in tiers)

Tags: 
  • Top Tier (masterpieces)

  • Metropolis (Lang, 1927)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1969)
  • The Wild Bunch - (Peckinpah, 1969)
  • Barry Lyndon (Kubrick, 1975)
  • Come and See (Klimov, 1985)
  • Mulholland Dr. (Lynch, 2001)


  • Second Tier (great)

  • The Birth of a Nation (Griffith, 1915)
  • The General (Bruckman/Keaton, 1926)
  • The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1928)
  • City Lights (Chaplin, 1931)
  • King Kong (Cooper/Schoedsack, 1933)
  • Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
  • Bicycle Thieves (De Sica, 1948)
  • Seven Samurai (Kurosawa, 1954)
  • The Seventh Seal (Bergman, 1957)
  • Touch of Evil (Welles, 1958)
  • Jigoku (Nakagawa, 1960)
  • La Dolce Vita (Fellini, 1960)
  • A Fistful of Dollars (Leone, 1964)
  • El Topo (Jodorowsky, 1970)
  • The Godfather (Coppola, 1972)
  • Solaris (Tarkovsky, 1972)
  • The Godfather Part II (Coppola, 1974)
  • Mirror (Tarkovsky, 1975)
  • Stalker (Tarkovsky, 1979)
  • The Shining (Kubrick, 1980)
  • The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (Greenaway, 1989)
  • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (Lynch, 1992)
  • The Shawshank Redemption (Darabont, 1994)
  • Lost Highway (Lynch, 1997)
  • Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick, 1999)
  • The Straight Story (Lynch, 1999)
  • Dancer in the Dark (von Triers, 2000)
  • Dogville (von Triers, 2003)
  • Inland Empire (Lynch, 2006)


  • Third Tier (extremely good)

  • Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, 1925)
  • The Gold Rush (Chaplin, 1925)
  • Les Enfants du Paradis (CarnĂ©, 1945)
  • The Third Man (Reed, 1949)
  • The Night of the Hunter (Laughton, 1955)
  • The Searchers (Ford, 1956)
  • North by Northwest (Hitchcock, 1959)
  • Some Like It Hot (Wilder, 1959)
  • The Apartment (Wilder, 1960)
  • Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960)
  • Dr Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Kubrick, 1964)
  • Africa Addio (Jacopetti/Prosperi, 1966)
  • Andrei Rublev (Tarkovsky, 1966)
  • Persona (Bergman, 1966)
  • Once Upon a Time in The West (Leone, 1968)
  • Dirty Harry (Siegel, 1971)
  • Goodbye Uncle Tom (Jacopetti/Prosperi, 1971)
  • Serpico (Lumet, 1973)
  • Chinatown (Polanski, 1974)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Hooper, 1974)
  • Apocalypse Now Redux (Coppola, 1979)
  • Possession (Zulawski, 1980)
  • Raging Bull (Scorsese, 1980)
  • Fanny and Alexander (Bergman, 1982)
  • Scarface (de Palma, 1983)
  • Brazil (Gilliam, 1985)
  • Blue Velvet (Lynch, 1986)
  • Goodfellas (Scorsese, 1990)
  • Jacob's Ladder (Lyne, 1990)
  • Braindead (Jackson, 1992)
  • Natural Born Killers (Stone, 1994)
  • Se7en (Fincher, 1995)
  • Breaking the Waves (von Trier, 1996)
  • Funny Games (Haneke, 1997)
  • Festen (Vinterberg, 1998)
  • Pi (Aronofksy, 1998)
  • The War Zone (Roth, 1999)
  • Requiem for a Dream (Aronofsky, 2000)
  • Donnie Darko (Kelly, 2001)
  • There Will Be Blood (Anderson, 2007)
  • Zodiac (Fincher, 2007)
  • Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino, 2009)
  • Lincoln (Spielberg, 2012)

Re: Shawshank Redemption

To me, it seems like there are probably at least 20 or more films equal or greater every single year going back to at least post-Citizen Kane, and a handful every year going back to the 20's. Do you mind relaying your opinion on why it is such a stand out near-masterpiece, and perhaps shedding light on what makes it the "greatest film ever" (IMDB)?

I mean, is it really any greater a film than the likes of, say, Good Will Hunting, or Cider House Rules, or any other of the usual well-made seasonal Oscar-bait type movies?

Don't worry, I've only seen Citizen Kane twice, and can't wait to see it again, where I am almost positive it will shoot up to the top tier. I just don't want to put anything up there before seeing it at least a few times, or enough to completely gauge how good it is. Touch of Evil is definitely another option for that as well, likewise Stalker/Mirror. But then again, I've only seen Barry Lyndon once, thinking about it, pretty much every movie in the top tier, but they immediately struck me, whereas Kane did not.

Shawshank Redemption was just an extremely good movie, it's only fault was a little too much blatant tugging-at-heartstrings at times. I guess at least for now, we have different judging criteria; you like finding emotion, but I like to incorporate several elements including emotion, but it comes down to whether I come out of it thinking 'wow, that was extremely good'. I don't have the background or pedigree you do in picking out emotion, but I know what movies I enjoy.

End of the day, Shawshank = no room to move up, almost everything else = a chance at moving up. I like my tiers system because I can point to it, and say 'those are the best movies I've ever seen, and these ones are very very great but not quite to that level'. As for comparing 2001 and Metropolis or Come and See, I can't, so I won't. All that anyone needs to know is that Metropolis is better than Shawshank.

Makes sense, thanks for the explanation. I'm not opposed to you putting it on there - you could put Glitter on there and it would be just fine by me, but if I "don't understand" my curiosity can come into play as it did here. I think Shawshank is a fine film.

As regards my criteria: I consider everything in the film. There is nothing in any film, whether viewing a single moment or scene or taking the entire film into account as a whole (or any work of art, or life for that matter) that does not elicit some degree of emotion whether very minor, somewhere in between, or very powerfully/overwhelmingly. Editing is either insignificant, somewhere in between, or very emotionally resonant (as in, the film is edited/structured in such a way as to make the film more emotionally resonant). Visuals are either insignificant, somewhere in between, or very emotionally resonant (as in, looking at the film is an emotionally resonating experience). Acting is either...etc, etc, etc, Themes, etc, etc, Sound & Score, etc, etc...

Isn't that a bit monotheist? To me it always comes back to that old Classicist vs. Romanticist argument. Granted I think I'm a bit Classicist leaning, but I don't discount emotion/expressiveness entirely. Also I think when you look at art from one single perspective you tend to call things "emotional" that aren't particularly. Like North By Northwest. Great film, but it's also a Hitchcock film for crying out loud!

@AsColdAsIce - nice list! I'm especially glad to see Barry Lyndon get such a high spot. I've come to think of it as his finest film along with The Shining. Also nice to see Griffith on here. I'm a big fan of Birth of a Nation. Have you ever seen Intolerance? I sometimes wonder if it isn't his greatest film. Anyways, if you're coming to the Klan meeting don't forget to bring a bed sheet (I know that liking BoaN is merely a code, haha, can't fool me).

@AfterHours, we may have different ways of looking at film, but a lot of our tastes match. I just can't sit down and listen to Litanies of Satan and enjoy it quite yet :P

@Elston, I guess I straddle the line between the two, I love 2001 for the technical aspects (the special effects/cinematography) and the emotive (Stargate). Most of the time it's not a conscious thing, I won't randomly point out what a great shot or great piece of acting during the movie.

Barrly Lyndon was the last of the post Dr Strangelove Kubrick's I saw, and considering how no one ever mentions it, it was amazing. Even though it was long, it seemed to be built for someone of my attention span (aka very little) and I love just how much was crammed in.

I'm slowly working my way through They Shoot Pictures, Don't They? top 1000 list, with the occasional input from AfterHour's list, and Intolerance is coming up soon. I'm excited, but at the same time I have no idea why BoaN sat so well with me. And just quietly, even though no one in Australia knows it or it's connotations, the song Dixie Land has been stuck in my head recently...

Re: our tastes matching - I've noticed! It's awesome to see some more love for The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover! Re: Litanies of Satan...good luck...may want to warm up to Meredith Monk's Dolmen Music first. It's probably just as challenging and actually even more unique/alien in it's own way, but it's also more melodic/angelic/warm and may be a better place to start.

Re: our tastes matching - I've noticed! It's awesome to see some more love for The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover! Re: Litanies of Satan...good luck...may want to warm up to Meredith Monk's Dolmen Music first. It's probably just as challenging and actually even more unique/alien in it's own way, but it's also more melodic/angelic/human/warm (though also quite haunting) and may be a better place to start.

Speaking of Galas, you can now listen to the entirety of her hitherto unavailable self-titled album, aka the Metalanguage album. The first half, Panoptikon has been uploaded finally: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5fUfkIKnkw. The second half, Tragouthia Apo To Aima Exoun Fonos has been available for some time.

Yes, it's good. Scary good.

I'm telling you: North By Northwest is an effing monstrosity of emotion - there are so many thematic/psychological undercurrents/layers of ideas/expressions/visual motifs combined with the relentlessness of its course/plot, that it becomes so vital and invigorating and incredible that it's hard to believe... it's inclusion on my list is far from a mistake...

I've had North By Northwest floating around for a while, I might get to it next. Rear Window and Vertigo were reasonable and enjoyable, but not mind-shattering. Psycho was closer, but I'm still yet to encounter a Hitchcock that has grabbed me.

If I'm still thinking about how good a movie is a week later, it will usually go on the list. The Cook did this, as did Touch of Evil. Speaking of The Cook, have you seen Les Enfants du Paradis? One of the plot lines from it seems similar to The Cook...

Yea I have seen it (rated 7.3/10 on my Extended List). Children of Paradise very well could have inspired Greenaway - I wouldn't be surprised at all.

The main trick with Hitchcock is in experiencing his (1) heavily psychological themes/ideas/undercurrents/motifs & (2) his extreme technical "perfection" (a major [probably common] mistake is to watch his shots/sequences "passively" because they don't usually jump out at you like a Welles film, etc) - however, if one looks closer at his best films, the shots/sequences are not just "perfect, rigid technical exercises", they are also highly emotional: each shot/sequence is so obsessively precise and perfectly placed/angled it is like they are actively developing from the mind of the most controlling control freak and so attain a state of continuous paranoia; therefore, not just the characters playing within the film, but the actual shots themselves take on the state of mind of the "control freak/paranoid" director (while simultaneously showing/commenting on the character(s)/scene being portrayed), and the film takes on a whole new level of emotional/psychological depth. See Psycho again with that in mind and it will probably attain a whole new level of jaw-dropping emotional force. See North By Northwest with that in mind and it may be the greatest film you've ever seen.

Speaking of Galas, you can now listen to the entirety of her hitherto unavailable self-titled album, aka the Metalanguage album. The first half, Panoptikon has been uploaded finally: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5fUfkIKnkw

Yes, it's good. Scary good.

Also on grooveshark. Indeed one of the greatest, least recommendable albums of all time.

Cool to see the progression of this list. Many of my own favorites abound :-)

Yeah, I decided to expand the list, I'm sure a few more of your favourites will appear at some point, when I re-watch them.

I'm pretty fickle when it comes to watching movies, and my short attention span and mood can both affect how I feel about a movie, regardless of how good it really is. I'll go through phases of smashing through a movie a day (and as you would know, good movies tend to be a little longer than the usual fluff mainstream types), but then I won't watch anything for a week. But hey, I'm slowly getting better.

Yep, know how that goes. Keep 'em coming :)