10 Most Important Movies

  • 1. Birth of a Nation (1915)
  • 2. Citizen Kane (1941)
  • 3. The Jazz Singer (1927)
  • 4. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)
  • 5. Sunrise (1927)
  • 6. The Man With a Movie Camera (1929)
  • 7. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • 8. Metropolis (1927)
  • 9. Double Indemnity (1944)
  • 10. King Kong (1933)
Author Comments: 

Quality is not factored in here - just the most important movies ever made. These movies had significant effects on the history of film and on the world. They were all innovative and daring. And yes, they are ranked, so I do think "Birth of a Nation" was the most important film ever, etc.

I only included feature films in this list because I have a very limited knowledge of early short films. I excluded all films made within the last 25 years because we still don't know if those films will stand the test of time.

Ah, good idea excluding recent films. I would like to see some input as to why you think each of those films deserve the spot you gave them, but I understand if you don't want to take that time. I think in the list was extended and/or in the future, The Godfather and Pulp Fiction will find thier way on there.

I feel bad even suggesting those when I have little knowlage of older films in general. I am really impressed by the people on this board who know thier really old films....

You know what? This isn't a great list. I made it kinda off the top of my head. Some of these films might not really belong.

But let's see what I can come up with...

Birth of a Nation was the first feature film (or, if I'm mistaken, at least the first well-known feature film) of D.W. Griffith, who revolutionized filmmaking as we know it. It started off as mainly just a filmed version of the medium of theater. Studios thought that audiences would feel cheated if they didn't get to see all of people's bodies, so no close-ups. The actors' movements were exaggerated. The story structure was very linear. Griffith changed all that, and made film into the medium we know it today.

Citizen Kane invented new techniques, new innovations, new shots, new styles, new ideas, and it felt incredibly modern.

The Jazz Singer was the first movie to help talkies really catch on. It was not the first talkie, but it was the most famous talkie while talkies were still in their infancy. Without this film, we might still be watching silent films.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was the first animated feature-length film, if I'm not mistaken. It was very influential on the animated world. That said, I'm not sure if that's a broad enough scope to push it onto this list.

Sunrise used sophisticated camera movements, lighting, sets, and acting. A little more and it could've been "Citizen Kane."

The Man With a Movie Camera was an artsy film in which the director experimented with really awesome camera angles.

The Wizard of Oz was certainly not the first color film, but I think the spectacular wash of Technicolor and the musical numbers inspired some to truly explore the spectacle of cinema.

Metropolis influenced pretty much every scifi and horror film ever made.

Double Indemnity influenced tons of film-noir movies and plenty of other more modern dark films.

King Kong used some pretty crude special effects, and I think that was the predecessor to the big-budget special effects we see in so many Hollywood movies today.

That said, these merits might not be enough to get some of these films on here. I don't feel incredibly strongly about most of them. But it's a decent list. If you wanted to see the most innovative films of all-time, starting here would not be a bad start (especially the top 2).

You are right, Pulp Fiction has influenced a surprising amount of movies in the past 10 years. The Godfather as well.

Im new here and just read this list. I do have to correct you on one point: Snow White was not the first animated film; The Adventures of Prince Achmed was. I know you said "iinm" so as such, Im not trying to be rude or anything, but I thought youd at least want to check that one out and see what you think.

I'd only disagree with Sunrise and Man with a Movie Camera. They both did things with camera angles and movement and other facets of cinematography, but so did a hundred other films before them, in lesser and greater ways. I can't imagine crediting the development of camera movements to either of those more than, say, Intolerance (or SEVERAL others).

But, you made the list off the top of your head anyway :-)

You're probably right, and some of the more genre-specific films might not belong here either. If you or someone else would like to attempt this list, I'd love to see it.

well, I did a Most Influential Films list, which is very similar.

The significance of Man with a Movie Camera goes far beyond technique. It's the embodiment of a cinematic manifesto that opposed virtually everything that was held dear regarding narrative in moviemaking to that point. It represents a pivotal (and for many, a starting) point in the ongoing discourse over what connects (or does not connect) cinema to other forms of artistic expression. That is to say, it was perhaps the first film to wholeheartedly attempt a deconstruction of the cinematic form; and if not the first, it's certainly the most blatant. Whether this is a good thing or not can be debated (as can the results), but it is impossible to ignore its influence on any academic discussion of cinema and narrativity, and in particular, of the blurred lines between fiction and documentary.

That said, it's also a nifty little film that must have been thoroughly worshipped by Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass.

Well said, better than I could have.