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
All lists are made to start arguments, but a list of the greatest movies of all time is particularly loaded. No other art form has evolved so drastically over the last century and a half. Sure, kids these days may prefer Harry Styles to The Beatles, but a good song is always going to be a good song – a great melody never ages, and a hot beat stays hot forever. But is it possible for modern audiences to see Citizen Kane the same way audiences in the 1940s did? Can Hitchcock still be considered the master of suspense after decades of directors stealing his tricks? It’s barely been 14 years since The Dark Knight and there’s a whole generation that likely considers Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman old hat.
Ranking the best films ever made clearly isn’t easy. But that wasn’t going to stop us from trying. On this ever-evolving list, you’ll find box-office blockbusters to cult classics; comedies, both romantic and ridiculous; horror flicks to crime capers. It spans over a hundred years and multiple countries. And even with all that ground covered, it’s sure not to please every reader. You might get angry. But hey, that’s what lists are for, right? Just don’t yell too loudly, please.
Written by Abbey Bender, Dave Calhoun, Phil de Semlyen, Bilge Ebiri, Ian Freer, Stephen Garrett, Tomris Laffly, Joshua Rothkopf, Anna Smith and Matthew Singer