The 100 best movies of all time as chosen by actors

We asked actors for the best movies of all time, from comedies and classic romances to blockbusters and foreign gems

The Godfather: Part II

What are the best movies of all time? Depends on who you ask, of course. We’ve got our own ideas, ranging from the best movies out right now, to all-time Academy Award-winning classics. But in a fascinating experiment, we’ve decided to ask only actors—including such luminaries as Juliette Binoche, Andy Serkis, Bill Hader and Nick Kroll—for their favorites. After receiving dozens of ballots from working professionals and compiling their votes, we present a distinctly performance-centric top-100 list, filled with great picks. Dive in and let us know where you differ.

Edited by Joshua Rothkopf, produced by Vivienne van Vliet. Written by Dave Calhoun, Cath Clarke, David Ehrlich, Tom Huddleston and Joshua Rothkopf.

100 best movies as chosen by actors


Tootsie (1982)

Director: Sydney Pollack
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Bill Murray

A struggling actor (Hoffman) secretly cross-dresses as a woman to land a role in a daytime soap opera—and gets too good at the deception.

“Who doesn't want to see Dustin Hoffman in a dress talking with a southern accent?”—Nick Kroll

“The game-changing cinematic cross-dressing performance—and a more important movie, from both a craft and sensibility perspective, than most people make it.”—BD Wong

Time Out says: “The tone is quick-witted and appealing, with some of the smartest dialogue this side of Billy Wilder, and a wonderfully sure-footed performance from Jessica Lange.”

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The Godfather (1972)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan

The stately, Oscar-winning Mafia epic revived Marlon Brando's career and made a star of Al Pacino.

“The richness of the world that Francis Ford Coppola creates, and the stillness of Al Pacino’s performance—I almost luxuriate in these things because the feeling is so intense.”—George MacKay

Time Out says: “An everyday story of Mafia folk, incorporating a severed horse's head in the bed and a number of heartwarming family occasions, as well as pointers on how not to behave in your local trattoria (i.e., blasting the brains of your co-diners all over their fettuccini).”

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A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

Director: John Cassavetes
Cast: Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Fred Draper

Gena Rowlands gives one of the most emotionally charged performances in the history of cinema as a housewife experiencing a nervous breakdown. Peter Falk costars as the husband driving her around the fabled bend.

“Gena Rowlands made such an impact on me. She is one my great influences.”—Betty Buckley

“This is one of the most incredible performances I have ever seen. Gena Rowlands makes me physically tense while watching her downward spiral but not in a way that she blocks you out. You can see every fleeting thought and feeling flicker across her face and body. Unbelievable.”—Kyle Soller

Time Out says: “Rowlands unfortunately overdoes the manic psychosis at times, but Falk is persuasively insane as the husband, and the result is an astonishing, compulsive film, directed with a crackling energy.”

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Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
Cast: Philippe Noiret, Enzo Cannavale, Antonella Attili

A warm, romantic story about an elderly Italian projectionist’s friendship with a young boy.

“I seriously wonder if the people who dismiss this film have ears. Cinema Paradiso is mainly a delivery device for Ennio Morricone’s most profoundly emotional score—and there’s a lot of competition for that title. Overall, it’s a pure an expression of movie love as I have ever seen.”—Joshua Rothkopf, New York film editor

Time Out says: “The film retains its wide-eyed charm, pitched halfway between unrestrained romanticism and unknowing kitsch. It’s never exactly been fashionable to like Cinema Paradiso, and time won’t have done much to soften the sneers of dissenters. But the advantage of brazen sentimentality is that it gives the film very little to lose.”

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To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Director: Robert Mulligan
Cast: Gregory Peck, John Megna, Frank Overton

This adaptation of Harper Lee’s landmark novel features Gregory Peck as an Alabama lawyer who defies prejudice by defending a young black man accused of rape.

“It’s my favorite book, and they didn’t fuck it up. ‘Stand up, your father is passing’—the line still makes me weep. It’s a masterclass in how it is always better to do what is right than what is popular.”—Emma Kennedy

Time Out says: “It looks like a storybook of the Old South, with dappled sunlight and woodwormy porches, and Peck is everyone’s favorite uncle.”

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The Godfather: Part II (1974)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall

With this grand, sweeping sequel, Coppola cuts between Mafia don Vito Corleone’s youth in Sicily (and later, New York City) and the fallout from his death decades later.

“There’s the taut, simmering intensity of Al Pacino; there’s the warm, swaggering charisma of Robert De Niro; and there’s Robert Duvall’s masterfully understated performance. I mean, it’s The Godfather—what can I say?”—Riz Ahmed

Time Out says: “This is quite simply one of the saddest movies ever made, a tale of loss, grief and absolute loneliness, an unflinching stare into the darkest moral abyss.”

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Annie Hall (1977)

Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton

Woody Allen is Alvy Singer, a New York comic trying to understand what went wrong during his bumpy love affair with the complex, winning Annie (Keaton).

"When I think of this film, I think of two scenes: first, Diane Keaton and Woody Allen's characters struggling to cook lobsters; second, Woody's Alvy going for Easter lunch with Annie's relatives and us seeing how they all see him as a rabbi. The rapport between Woody and Diane is electric. The film now feels like a blueprint for so many that came later on—and not just Woody's own."—Dave Calhoun, Global film editor, Time Out

Time Out says: “This is the link between Woody Allen’s ‘earlier, funnier’ stuff and more probing works like Interiors and Manhattan. Would that we all could build such masterful bridges.”

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Boogie Nights (1997)

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds

Anderson’s sprawling tale about a genuinely “gifted” porn star (Mark Wahlberg) is where the director’s talent for big-picture storytelling first made itself apparent. It also wins the contest for the best prosthetic-cock cameo of the past few decades, hands down.

“Punch Drunk Love is probably my favorite of Paul Thomas Anderson’s movies, but this is the one I think best marries his ambition, technical perfection and sheer verve. One of America’s all-time greatest filmmakers hit it out of the park at essentially his first at-bat.”—Zoe Kazan

“His films are where you dream of being as an actor.”—Patrick Kennedy

Time Out says: “What stiffens this unashamedly exhibitionist movie’s muscles are its beautifully judged performances, from Burt Reynolds’ stand-out as porn-king auteur/father figure, to Julianne Moore’s superb cokehead survivor-star and William H. Macy’s humiliated cuckold, right down to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s gut-wrenching gay crew member.”

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The Red Shoes (1948)

Director: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Cast: Anton Walbrook, Marius Goring, Moira Shearer

A heady, dazzling tale of a dancer (Shearer) caught between the demands of love and work.

“Pretty much perfect in every way. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger were masters, and this film about the heights and depths of creativity makes full use of their talents.”—Zoe Kazan

“Completely unique and compelling.”—Anne-Marie Duff

Time Out says: “Blending impressionist art and expressionist film; blurring the barriers between theater and cinema, body and camera, reality and dream; drawing equally on the avant-garde and the classical; the centerpiece ballet is a sequence of sheer, reckless transcendence.”

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Taxi Driver (1976)

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd

Yes, as a matter of fact, we are talkin’ to you. Robert De Niro stars as a psychotic cabbie alongside Jodie Foster, who plays a pubescent prostitute, in this classic set in seedy ’70s Gotham.

“I first saw this when I was in fifth grade at a sleepover and it completely changed my life. For me it’s the best directed and acted film of all time. If you want to learn how to act on film, all you have to do is watch Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver.”—Bill Hader

Time Out says: “Right from the opening credits, as we spy a cab emerging from steam and the eyes of Travis Bickle (De Niro) reflected in his rear-view mirror, we know we’re in someone’s personal hell.”

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More on the 100 best movies of all time

How many have you seen?

Actors from around the world helped us come up with the top 100 films in the history of cinema—have you seen a majority?

Read more
By: Time Out Film

Who voted?

The world’s leading actors pick the best movies of all time, including comedies, thrillers, blockbusters and classics

Read more
By: Time Out Film


Troy S

What no "Bring It On" with the wonderful Kirsten Dunst?

Johnny J

Hey buddy I think you forgot a movie on this list. #1 should be Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Thanks, tell me when you update the list!

Johnny J

Hey, yeah I agree! This list is so wrong >:(

Johnny J

Totes, my dude!!! Love that movie so much :)

Carlos S

No Lawrence of Arabia???

Rhys D

Just goes to show, being one of the worlds "leading actors" doesn't necessarily qualify you to know anything about what actually makes a great movie. Almost exclusively "Oscar bait" movies that appeal to the old rich white guys behind the academy of motion pictures, moving story, triumph against the odds, cliché cliché cliché, formulaic plot device, happy ending. Nothing outside of the mainstream is even considered as having merit.

Leslie Ann D

@Rhys D Not just old white guys affect Oscar bait movies don't forget how much women, young and old, and their tastes affect Hollywood  - in a bad way. Example: Over emotionalized tear jerkers for starters.

Rene B

Schindler's List at 100? What about Lady Sings The Blues in this count?

Dean M

This list is so upside down and inside out that it's actually entertaining. 

Miki L

Best film all time  is for me "Was upon a time in America¨ 

Fred S

So nice to see Tootsie #1 as it's one of the most under rated movies of all time.  It just came out in the wrong year, with ET and Ghandi completely overshadowing it.  It would have won the Academy award for best movie in many other years.

People complaining about the list, it's a list of 70 actors in the industry.

ebutuoy k

Where is The Last of Us? I swear it's a freakin movie.

Alfredo M

Silence of the lambs? Forest Gump? 12 angry men? The sound of music?

Evan L

The Silence of the Lambs?

Also...One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest seems a little low. But hey like you depends on who you ask. Thanks for the list!

Cj D

Where is Die Hard? The best action movie of all time.

Akshay K

Where is titanic movie .it must be at 1st position.

Em P

How the hell did LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy not make this list lol

Andre E

@Em P this list based on 70 actors who gave their 10 favorite movies. I don't know why Time out editor giving "best" to this article

Jackson S

I'm surprised to see Tootsie on here! I'll check it out!

Also, no animation? Was that excluded? 

And no seven samurai? 


Why did I waste my time.  The Shawshank Redemption is a top 5 all time movie for almost every person I know and it's not even mentioned?  Platoon? Apollo 13? The Silence of the Lambs? The Matrix? Back to the Future?  Uh, hello? 

buenasvidas .

The Master, Birdman, The Fisher King, The Shawshank Redemption, The English Patient,  Good Will Hunting, Rain Man???

Evan L

I don't see Birdman being in the top 100.

Carlos S

None of them are that good

José G

Hello, any Lord of the Rings movies in there?...This list is a complete bullshit!

sumit m

this list is a shit..shawshank redemption is not even in the list 

Carter F

Are you shitting me? Tootsie is #1? And Lawrence of Arabia wasn't even ON the list? I was sure it would be #1 when I hadn't seen it through the first 99 entries.

Also, I absolutely adore Boogie Nights, but it doesn't belong in the top 10. Especially not with Casablanca and Citizen Kane like 30 spots below it.

Brian R

Definitely THE strangest list,even to a phillistine like me,as someone already mentioned,very much a performance driven list

Mike M

Wow. A horrible list in many respects. Dog Day Afternoon #11??? And then, I nearly killed myself....looking for, expecting to see The Seven Samurai as number one....and almost went comatose....when...TOOTSIE came up!!!!!!

The Best Actors and Actresses selected this number ONE!!!! 

Absolute insanity: better than Clockwork Orange, Raging Bull, etc.???!!!!

Quite a number of these movies I haven't seen but many of them should not even be on the list: Star Wars? Seriously? Goodfellas (entertaining as hell but surely no in the top 100 of all time....although I can see someone giving it something in the 90s.

2001 is not even on the list along with The Seven Samurai? But Harold and Maude is on the list?? 

Caberet was NOT on the list??? 

My respect for these so-called actors and actresses has GONE WAY DOWN. More than half of them must be clowns and morons.

Robert J

This is the most nonsensical list I've ever seen.  You know what this reminds me of?  Imagine taking 500 top movie picks from the last 100 years, culled by any and all groups you can think of until you have a list of 500.  Write the movie title of each one on a piece of paper, and put them in a jar.  Then, starting at a 100 pick one out of the jar.  That's 100.  Do the same thing another 99 times until you get to 1.  400 won't make the "Top 100" and the 100 that do make it just mean they were 1 of the top 500.

That's about how much sense this list makes.

Ivan f

Foreign films are - as usual, in any of the lists available in the Internet - almost excluded.

It can not be a list of the " best films ever" without Fellini. 8 1/2. Amacord. La Strada. Can it be?

Really? Without Pasolini. Salo. The most controversial film ever. With a script by none other than 

Roland Barthes. A list that doesn't includes Visconti? Buñuel? That does not include Griffith? That 

does not include the Marx Brothers? Chaplin?Buster Keaton? That does not include Abel Gance, with

"Napoleon"? That does not includes John Waters (see how flexible am I) with " Pink Flamingo? I could go on, and on, and on, for hours on end. Please, do not, ever, ever, ever, make a list of the best films ever, which does not includes foreign films. Such as " O dragão da maldade contra o santo guerreiro", by Glauber Rocha, a brazilian filmmaker. Don't do it. America, for sure, is the most important country in terms of film production. But America, the United States, is what it is. A country. Not the world. Agreed?

Adam P

Where is forrest Gump or shawshank redemption

Carlos S

Forrest ok. Shawshank shouldn't be here.

Tom P

I love that it is more weighted toward the last 30 years than usual lists.  And I love that many foreign films are included. But "Tootsie" as #1???  What are you smoking? "Tootsie" is likeable enough, but I can think of a dozen better movies for the top ten (or top 100) that were overlooked:  

- Miller's Crossing

- Magnolia

- Master and Commander

- Shawshank Redemption 

- Monty Python and the Holy Grail

- Amelie

- In the Mood for Love (Dir: Wong Kar Wai) 

- Bullitt

- The Wild Bunch 

- L.A. Confidential 

- Chungking Express

- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (original)

- Network 

- All the President's Men 

- Dangerous Liaisons

- The Dark Knight 

- Lawrence of Arabia

- Seven Samurai 

And so forth.... Try again, boys and girls. 

Julius C

In no particular order:

28 Days Later

Black Sea

Das Boot

Waltz with Bashir

Hitlerjunge Salomon

"A Very Long Engagement"


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

12 Monkeys

Battle Royale

Lord of War


American Beauty


Born on the 4th of July

The Departed (Hollywood remake)



Interview with the Vampire

The Thin Red Line

And in no way exhaustive...and this might be heresay but I don't understand the hard on for Shawshank. You can go to a skinhead and he'll cry tears of love when you say Shawshank. It's good, maybe even really good, but the best of all time on every list? Most of these titles will be familiar to you but please do not miss even one of them. It could be the missing piece that will complete and change you life, unless you're a golden age snob.

Bob J

@Julius C Okay maybe you don't like Shawshank but list movies like Lord of War, Tigerland and Enigma? Those three movies probably dont make a top 1000 list.

Barnabas A

what about 

The book thief

shawshank redemption

Green mile

Apocalypto 2005

Larry B

The Professional?  You've got to be kidding.  The theme of an old curmudgeon reluctantly caring for an adorable child was done far better in "Kolya," which also had a political significance completely lacking from "The Professional."  The plot holes big enough to sail the U.S.S. Enterprise through are enough by themselves to disqualify this piece of dreck.

Evan L

I disagree. The acting was phenomenal. Definitely deserves to be somewhere in the top 100 even if towards the bottom of the list.


Holy crappppp.    It is as if the people creating the list were playing an inside joke attempting to make the reader angry.

This is nearly a pure crap list.  Many filmmakers like the Coens and Tarantino film's listed are not even their best films.    

The Professional?????   Tootsie???   Star Wars???    To Kill a Mocking Bird ( a crap film that is nearly slapped pages on the screen instead of cinema).

Come on?????

Bizarre list

Veinytriumphant b

I went through the 1-10 voting lists and executed a quick ctrl+F sweep. No Vertov... How can we trust any of these people? Actor's know very little about Cinema.