Best Movies of All Time

Mary Gormandy White
Empty movie theater

Choosing the best movies of all time is a very difficult task, as there are so many great movies to choose from. This list contains some of the greatest movies from many genres. Make some snacks, settle in comfortably, and get ready to be inspired!

1. His Girl Friday

1940, Directed by Howard Hawks
Cast: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy

His Girl Friday is one of the best, if not the best, romantic movies of all time. Cary Grant is a newspaper editor trying to woo back his star-reporter, ex-wife Rosalind Russell. Hoping to knock her good-natured fiancé out of the way, he dangles the one thing that no hard-nosed journalist can resist: the scoop on the murder trial of the century. These two fine actors trade barbs and witticisms at breakneck speed throughout the movie for a winning romantic comedy. This film holds the number 13 spot on the list of all-time best comedy films published by The Guardian.

2. Lord of the Rings

2001, Peter Jackson
Cast: Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Liv Tyler

An adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy work, The Lord of the Rings is actually a trilogy made up of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Unlike most movies and their sequels, these three films combine to tell one sweeping fantasy tale rather than three separate stories. The series was included in Rolling Stone's list of the ten best movies of the decade. All three films also rank well amongst IMDb reviewers.

3. It’s a Wonderful Life

1946, Directed by Frank Capra
Cast: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore

It's a Wonderful Life is as synonymous with Christmas as trimming the tree or caroling. While it's been done a million times, nothing restores the faith in humanity quite the way this classic movie does. This film is at the top of the American Film Institute's list of the most inspiring movies of all time.

Entertainment Pictures/ZUMAPRESS.com

4. Psycho

1960, Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin

Alfred Hitchcock brought Psycho to the theatre in 1960, and fans have been peeping through the shower curtain ever since. Anthony Perkins is exemplary in the role of Norman Bates and Janet Leigh strikes just the right balance between working girl and sex siren. Psycho introduced psychological terms like "unresolved Oedipus complex" that have since become part of the American dialogue. This movie holds the number four spot on the IMDB best psycho movies list.

5. The Great Escape

1963, Directed by John Sturges
Cast: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, James Coburn

What an action-packed movie! An all-star cast led by Steve McQueen and Richard Attenborough devises a risky scheme to escape the prisoner-of-war camp Stalag Luft III. Crowds cheer when they escape, cringe when they get caught, and cry as some of their favorite characters are killed. Still need a reason to watch? It's based on a true story. This film holds the number two spot on the American Movie Classic (AMC) top 20 greatest escapes list.

6. 12 Angry Men

1957, Directed by Sidney Lumet
Cast: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall

Sidney Lumet's 12 Angry Men does for the American justice system what Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life did for Christmas; it restores humanity. With the exception of the opening and closing scenes, the movie takes place in the jury room. There's a bird's eye view as the jurors contentiously decide whether or not a young Hispanic boy stabbed his father. Viewers watch as the jurors confront the issue of racism, deal with anger, and agonize over keeping the status quo. This movie is so good it may actually make you want to enroll in law school. The film is on the list of 52 perfect movies published on the Cinema Geek blog and is included among the best films featured on Filmsite.org.

7. The Wizard of Oz

1939, Victor Fleming
Cast: Judy Garland, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, Bert Lahr, Ray Bolger

With its colorful cast of characters, Dorothy's adventures over the rainbow in the magical land of Oz continue to enchant viewers of all ages, even decades after its release. This popular classic holds the number one spot on the American Film Institute (AFI) top 10 fantasy movies of all time list.

8. Lawrence of Arabia

1962, Directed by David Lean
Cast: Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Anthony Quinn, Alec Guinness

Lawrence of Arabia is a fictionalized account of the life of T.E. Lawrence as he struggles with questions of violence and belonging in World War I-era Africa and the Middle East. The movie holds spots on many "best of" movie lists and was named as the best fim epic by The Daily Mail.

Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS

9. The Graduate

1967, Directed by Mike Nichols
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katherine Ross

This coming-of age-tale about a recent college graduate, Dustin Hoffman, and his affair with the sultry and stunning Anne Bancroft forever changed popular culture. The Graduate is an iconic piece of American film and is described by The Huffington Post as one of the top 10 movies made by Dustin Hoffman. It is also included in The Guardian's list of the 25 best arthouse movies of all time.

10. Casablanca

Directed by Michael Curiz
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Itenreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Peter Lorre

Humphrey Bogart is torn between the love of his life and his need to do the right thing in this 1942 romantic movie classic. See this movie not only for its stellar performances and musical score, but also to note its influence on today's entertainment industry. Casablanca appears on numerous critical lists, including Time magazine's All-Time 100 Movies, The American Film Institute's 100 Years, 100 Passions list and the New York Times film critics list of the 1,000 best movies.

11. Citizen Kane

1941, Directed by Orson Welles
Cast: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, George Coulouris, Harry Shannon

This is the movie that put the word "Rosebud" on everyone's lips while highlighting the acting and directing prowess of Orson Welles. Citizen Kane is the top movie on the American Film Institute's (AFI's) 100 Years...100 Movies list. It also appears on numerous others, including Time magazine's All-Time 100 Movies.

12. The Godfather

1972, Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James, Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Abe Vigoda

Much more than a mafia movie, The Godfather touches on timeless themes while showcasing the work of powerhouse actors. The movie always holds a prime spot on The Internet Movie Database's Top 250, earning a rating of 9.2 from IMDb users and is on the American Film Institute (AFI) list of the Top Ten Movies of All Time.

13. Gone with the Wind

1939 , Directed by Victor Fleming
Cast: Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, Richard Farnsworth

The struggles of the Civil War and the end of a way of life form the basis of this long-time favorite. Lavish sets and costumes, a compelling historical setting, life-and-death struggles, and a memorable romance combine for a classic film. The movie holds the number four spot on the AFI 100 Years...100 Movies list. It is also featured among the greatest films on Filmsite.org.

14. Schindler's List

1993, Directed by Steven Spielberg
Cast: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall

Famed director Steven Spielberg takes on a somber and touching subject, dramatizing a glimpse of humanity and hope during a terrible era. Oskar Schindler uses his wits and connections to save thousands of Jews from Hitler's concentration camps. The predominantly black-and-white cinematography gives the movie a documentary feel and an added weight. It is rated seventh among IMDb users, was ninth on the 100 Years...100 Movies list, and is third on AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers list. It is also described on FilmCritic.com as the best of all of Spielberg's movies and the second best movie about the Holocaust.

15. To Kill a Mockingbird

1962, Directed by Robert Mulligan
Cast: Gregory Peck, Robert Duvall, Mary Badham, Richard Hale

The novel by Harper Lee about a southern lawyer fighting small-town racism as his children grow from the experience is a staple in high school English classrooms, and the movie is recognized in its own right amongst the best ever made. Gregory Peck turns in a memorable performance as the noble Atticus Finch, the top hero on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes & Villains list. The movie is also ranked second on AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers list.

Best Movies of All Time