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The 100 best movies of all time

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

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 of all time

11

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Director: Sidney Lumet
Cast: Al Pacino, John Cazale, Penelope Allen

A desperate, likable schmo (Pacino) tries to pull off a Brooklyn bank robbery in broad daylight and bites off more than he can chew.

“Brilliant and unexpected. Al Pacino and John Cazale give two beautiful performances in the kind of movie I always wanted to be in. Also, the late Sidney Lumet is a director I would have loved to work with.”—Freddie Fox

Time Out says: “A richly detailed, meandering portrait of an incompetent, anxiety-ridden, homosexual bank robber played with ferocious and self-destructive energy by Pacino.”

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12

Goodfellas (1990)

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci

In the 25 years since Scorsese’s rapturously entertaining gangster classic debuted, we’ve seen the release of The Sopranos, Pulp Fiction and Breaking Bad—all of which owe a debt to arguably the most influential film of the director’s career.

“If it is on, I have to watch it. The sheer epic scope of the passage of time noted by voiceover, music and stellar production design makes it a masterpiece in my eyes. There isn’t a false note to be found among the many sprawling performances by an utterly perfect ensemble.”—John Gallagher Jr.

Time Out says: “The movie places an unusual emphasis on verbiage: beautiful arias of profanity, neurotic scheming, paranoid delusions. It’s impossible to imagine a gab-happy filmmaker like Quentin Tarantino rising without Goodfellas.”

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13

Withnail & I (1987)

Director: Bruce Robinson
Cast: Richard E. Grant, Paul McGann, Richard Griffiths

A huge cult film in its native England, this acerbic comedy stars Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann as two unemployed actors in the late ’60s who embark on a disastrous holiday.

“Every line of dialogue is quotable gold. The first time I saw it I wanted to write down each word but was far too mesmerized. It’s as hilarious as it’s heartbreaking. I heard Bruce Robinson originally imagined the film as a novel, which makes sense given its sweeping literary tone. It plays out like a grand old classic.”—John Gallagher Jr

Time Out says:Withnail only gets better with time. Yes, it’s funny, but it’s also tender and sad, from the arresting sound of Procol Harum’s ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’ in the opening scene to its final, rainy farewell.”

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14

Kes (1969)

Director: Ken Loach
Cast: David Bradley, Brian Glover, Freddie Fletcher

British filmmaker Loach is consistently named as a major influence by directors from around the world; this film is proof that all that praise is more than warranted. Loach’s unsentimental, affecting tale of the relationship between an impoverished boy and his pet falcon set the mold for every examination of working-class strife that would follow.

“You might have to watch this one with subtitles, the Yorkshire accents are so thick. But it’s worth it. A scene where a young boy explains to his class how he trains a kestrel is one of the truly transcendent moments in film. It’s beautiful.”—Bill Hader

Time Out says: “Kes is one of the most astute, engaged films about education and what it takes for kids to be excited about learning—or passionate about anything, whether in the classroom or roaming the fields with a feathered friend.”

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15

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Director: Victor Fleming
Cast: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger

The look on Judy Garland’s face when she first sees Oz. The cackle of the Wicked Witch of the West. The melody to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Ray Bolger’s wonderfully loose-limbed dance. Flying monkeys. You can’t improve on this one.

“This movie changed my life forever. I saw it for the first time when I was five years old, and even then I remember worshipping the Wicked Witch of the West. Margaret Hamilton just looked like she was having the most fun of anyone. And that’s the exact moment I knew what I wanted to do with my life.”—Kristen Johnson

Time Out says: “Like Chaplin’s The Kid or E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Wizard of Oz simply lays bare primal emotions. It exposes our childhood anxieties about abandonment and powerlessness and brings to light the tension between the repressive comforts of home and the liberating terrors of the unknown marking all our adult lives.”

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16

On the Waterfront (1954)

Director: Elia Kazan
Cast: Marlon Brando, Karl Madden. Lee J. Cobb

Marlon Brando’s softheaded utterances, his angelic frown and darkening stare as Terry Malloy, dockworker and washed-up boxer, still burn out of the actor’s deep conviction 60 years on. A beautiful and important film.

“I know, I know, I'm biased. But what an amazing film that absolutely captures what was a sea change in American acting. Iconic for a reason.”—Zoe Kazan

Time Out says: “Superb performances (none more so than Brando as Terry Malloy, the ex-boxer unwittingly entangled in corrupt union politics), a memorably colorful script by Budd Schulberg, and a sure control of atmosphere make this account of Brando’s struggles against a gangster’s hold over the union powerful stuff.”

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17

The Shining (1980)

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd

Stanley Kubrick presents horror at its most artful, as Jack Nicholson takes an off-season job as a caretaker at a snowed-in Colorado hotel, and brings his family along for the ride.

“Contemplating the sheer mastery that went into this film—from its Steadicam tracking shots to its overall glacial freeze—is almost too frightening to bear. I don’t need the movie to be some kind of hidden apology for faking the Apollo moon landing (as some conspirators have suggested) for it to work for me. Perfect to watch on a snowy day as the light slants sideways.”—Joshua Rothkopf, New York film editor

Time Out says: “All of Stanley Kubrick’s films demand to be seen on a big screen. They’re about people trapped in huge, indifferent machines gone wrong, from a heist plot to a spaceship.”

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18

Breaking the Waves (1996)

Director: Lars von Trier
Cast: Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgård, Katrin Cartlidge

Lars Von Trier’s earthy, Scotland-set melodrama, both strange and tragic, tells of a woman (Watson) whose dying oil-worker husband urges her to sleep with other men.

“The first time I saw this film, I thought my heart was going to burst. There was an immediacy to the filmmaking that I had never experienced before. I loved the chapter cards and the ’70s rock songs, and I was so completely swept up in that mad, sick, romantic, tragic story. Everyone in the film is fantastic, especially my all-time favorite actress Katrin Cartlidge, but Emily Watson is totally devastating. The performance has a transcendence to it, like she's channeling spirits. It is so intense and so real, and the camera is totally merged with her, and you're just feeling, almost physically, every second of this performance which swings from childlike naïveté to violent and complicated sexuality to absolute grief and despair. It's unbelievable.”—Melanie Lynskey

Time Out says: “It’s a remarkable achievement for all concerned, with Katrin Cartlidge, as Bess’s widowed sister-in-law, sharing the acting laurels with the radiant Emily Watson, and writer-director Lars von Trier building the emotional and dramatic intensity with consummate skill.”

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19

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson

Remember when the term Tarantino-esque hadn’t quite cracked the lexicon yet? Then this triptych of tales happened. Surprisingly, the video-store-geek-turned-auteur’s criminal opus still feels fresh, despite the legion of god-awful clones it’s spawned. Accept no substitutes, and relive ’90s cinema glory daze one more time.

“I am drawn to filmmakers who are blessed enough to take the rules, respect them and flip them on their head—all the while maintaining an entertaining piece. Tarantino personifies that here.”—David Gyasi

Time Out says: “There’s plenty of sharp, sassy, profane dialogue, and there are plenty of acute, funny references to pop culture, though the talk sometimes delays the action, and the references sometimes seem self-consciously arch.”

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20

Gladiator (2000)

Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen

A Roman general fallen into slavery (Crowe) seeks to avenge the death of his family at the hands of an emperor’s corrupt son.

“I remember being so awed when I watched this. I was completely thrilled by the scale of the battle and the gladiator scenes, and I was lost in the darkness of Joaquin Phoenix's performance as Commodus.”—George MacKay

Time Out says: “The cast is strong (notably Connie Nielsen as Commodus's vacillating sister, and the late Oliver Reed, unusually endearing as a gladiator owner), the pacing lively and the sets, swordplay and catapults impressive.”

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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
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Comments

71 comments
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?

dm10003

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? 


GUMP (

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"

Malena

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

12 Monkeys

Battle Royale

Lord of War

Nightcrawler

American Beauty

Tigerland

Born on the 4th of July

The Departed (Hollywood remake)

Castaway

Enigma

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.

A R

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. 

Veinytriumphant b

I think this list is generated by an algorithm which cross-references the 1-10 lists of each voter and produces a logocentric outcome. Also, you should probably take a look at who's voting for these films, whether or not they've actually seen the films they're voting for, and the likelihood that none of them have seen enough films (from the 2500 or so that would probably be considered for such a list) to give a sound judgement. Some of these votes are insulting i.e. 'Due Date' (2010) at No.5 on a voter's list... 

artvandelay1967 .

Tootsie? maybe if this was only comedies it would make the top 100. but far from the greatest film of all time. Boogie Nights is a headscratcher as well. Saving Private Ryan, Three days of the Condor, In Bruges, Sexy Beast, Ronin, Lawrence of Arabia, Our man in Havana, North by Northwest.....so many great movies just off the top of my head, its a shame top film was a let down.