The greatest film ever made began with the meeting of two brilliant minds: Stanley Kubrick and sci-fi seer Arthur C Clarke. ‘I understand he’s a nut who lives in a tree in India somewhere,’ noted Kubrick when Clarke’s name came up – along with those of Isaac Asimov, Robert A Heinlein and Ray Bradbury – as a possible writer for his planned sci-fi epic. Clarke was actually living in Ceylon (not in India, or a tree), but the pair met, hit it off, and forged a story of technological progress and disaster (hello, HAL) that’s steeped in humanity, in all its brilliance, weakness, courage and mad ambition. An audience of stoners, wowed by its eye-candy Star Gate sequence and pioneering visuals, adopted it as a pet movie. Were it not for them, 2001 might have faded into obscurity, but it’s hard to imagine it would have stayed there. Kubrick’s frighteningly clinical vision of the future – AI and all – still feels prophetic, more than 50 years on.—Phil de Semlyen
Warning: the list you’re about to read is guaranteed to raise your blood pressure, make your veins bulge and possibly rupture your larynx screaming, ‘What the hell are these idiots thinking?!’ That’s the nature of publishing an article about the greatest movies of all-time. Any discussion about movies inevitably gets heated, and that’s a good thing. Few artistic mediums generate the same kind of passion among its most strident fans as cinema. Sure, music, literature and television can get folks riled up, too. But something about film is different. Movies live with us in a way great songs and books don’t. They shape who we are and how we see the world. Watch a favourite movie enough, and gradually it doesn’t just become a creature comfort or a nostalgic trigger – it almost becomes a lived-in experience.
And so, yes, if you read a list of the greatest movies ever made, and your fave isn’t on there, well, people can get a bit annoyed. Mad, even. We welcome it, though, because as you’ll read, we’re passionate, too. (Although if you must yell at us, please remain civil.) We cannot guarantee this list lines up perfectly with your own personal canon. But when it comes to genres, eras, countries and content, you’ll find a little bit of everything, from blockbusters to art films, cult classics to slapstick comedies, bloody actioners to even bloodier horror flicks. Even while trying to cover all our bases, there’s surely something that’ll set you off for one reason or another. And that’s okay – because when it comes to movies, raging is caring. Just be careful not to throw your laptop through a window.
Written by Abbey Bender, Dave Calhoun, Phil de Semlyen, Bilge Ebiri, Ian Freer, Stephen Garrett, Tomris Laffly, Joshua Rothkopf, Anna Smith and Matthew Singer