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
What you’re about to read is going to annoy you. We didn’t set out to ruin your day, but we know that any article ranking the greatest anything is bound to raise the audience’s blood pressure and get them screaming at their computer screens – especially a list of the greatest movies of all time. It’s the nature of the list, and the nature of film fanatics, too. There’s something about cinema that really fires people up – and rightly so.
Perhaps it’s because the movies that mean the most to us never really leave us. Maybe it becomes the thing that gets you through hard times, or makes you appreciate life’s better moments. Maybe it’s the way a beloved movie begins to blend into your own memories, like an actual lived experience. Whatever the case, movies really matter. That’s why, in putting together this list, we’ve tried to cover as much ground as possible. It spans a hundred years and multiple countries. We’ve included everything from era-defining blockbusters to little-seen cult classics, silly comedies to brutal horror, pulse-pounding thrillers to loud-and-proud action flicks.
Even so, we probably left something out that’s going to set you off. Don’t worry – we’re cool with it. Because being a true movie lover sometimes means hating other people’s movie opinions. So go ahead and yell. We can take it. Just keep it civil, 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
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