100 Must-See Films

This list is separated into two parts – a top half and a lower half. The top portion (items 1-60) is a non-sequential list of films which I deem to be “the best” of the medium based on their excellence in the following four areas:

  • Direction
  • Acting
  • Cinematography
  • Story (Screenplay)

Furthermore, the film has to be one in which I can accurately recall the general plot AND have seen the film in one sitting (i.e. watched it from beginning to end, no interruptions).

The second half, or lower portion of the list (items 61-100) are films that may very well meet the criteria as stated above but I have yet to see them. Some may surprise you, others, not so much.

This list is a bit more dynamic that the upper portion and I will try my best to constantly update it as I knock films off the list. I will then replace the watched title with another film I have in reserve.

For purposes of clarity, both lists will not feature documentaries and will focus only on narrative films.

So without further ado (and in no particular order), here is my list (UPDATED 03.06.2014):

    1. The Sting (George Roy Hill, 1973)
    2. The Empire Strikes Back (Irving Kirshner, 1980)
    3. Aliens (James Cameron, 1986)
    4. The Usual Suspects (Bryan Singer, 1995)
    5. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
    6. Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010)
    7. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2006)
    8. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
    9. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)
    10. The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont, 1994)
    11. The Great Dictator (Charles Chaplin, 1940)
    12. East of Eden (Elia Kazan, 1955)
    13. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)
    14. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (George Roy Hill, 1969)
    15. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
    16. The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949)
    17. Days of Heaven (Terrence Mallick, 1978)
    18. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
    19. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (Robert Enrico, 1962)
    20. Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg, 1998)
    21. The Snake Pit (Anatole Litvak, 1948)
    22. Lord of the Rings, the Two Towers (Peter Jackson, 2002)
    23. Glory (Edward Zwick, 1989)
    24. A Room With a View (James Ivory, 1985)
    25. Se7en (David Fincher, 1995)
    26. Sense and Sensibility (Ang Lee, 1995)
    27. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
    28. The Color Purple (Steven Spielberg, 1985)
    29. Tell No One (Guillaume Canet, 2006)
    30. Giant (George Stevens, 1956)
    31. A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan, 1951)
    32. The Bourne Ultimatum (Paul Greengrass, 2007)
    33. Citizen Kane (Orson Wells, 1941)
    34. One False Move (Carl Franklin, 1992)
    35. Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992)
    36. The Ox-Bow Incident (William A. Wellman, 1943)
    37. A Place in the Sun (George Stevens 1950)
    38. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
    39. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
    40. Goodfellas (Martin Scorcese, 1990)
    41. When Harry Met Sally (Rob Reiner, 1989)
    42. A Face in the Crowd (Elia Kazan, 1957)
    43. Sleeping Beauty (Walt Disney, 1959)
    44. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)
    45. The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)
    46. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
    47. Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)
    48. The Godfather, Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
    49. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)
    50. On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954)
    51. Rope (Alfred Hitchcock, 1948)
    52. Black Narcissus (Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger, 1947)
    53. Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1983)
    54. Black Orpheus (Marcel Camus, 1959)
    55. Pickup on South Street (Samuel Fuller, 1953)
    56. The Naked City (Jules Dassin, 1948)
    57. All That Heaven Allows (Douglas Sirk, 1955)
    58. Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945)
    59. Gone With the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939)
    60. 12 Angry Men (Sidney Lumet, 1957)
    61. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
    62. Shame (Steve McQueen, 2012) 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)
    63. The Red Shoes (Michael Powell and Emerich Pressburger, 1948)
    64. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg/Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964)
    65. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)

  1. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  2. Raging Bull
  3. Wall-E
  4. The Last Picture Show
  5. Greed
  6. Toy Story Trilogy
  7. Kes
  8. Rashomon
  9. Peeping Tom A Separation
  10. Diabolique
  11. Requiem of a Dream
  12. Silent Running
  13. Oldboy
  14. An American in Paris Dodsworth  Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
  15. Manhattan
  16. Birth of a Nation
  17. Bullitt Chico and Rita
  18. Rocky
  19. Cabaret
  20. Daughters of the Dust
  21. Don’t Look Now
  22. Fargo Frenzy
  23. The French Connection
  24. The Gold Rush
  25. Intolerance
  26. City Lights Design for Living
  27. Wings of Desire
  28. The Passion of Joan of Arc
  29. Modern Times
  30. Network
  31. Dr. Stangelove
  32. Let the Right One In
  33. The Illusionist (Animation)
  34. Million Dollar Baby
  35. Schindler’s List