Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
List of movies that have been considered the greatest ever
This is a partial list of films that have been regarded as the greatest ever. The objective is not to resolve the question of the greatest-ever movie — the one thing that film commentators do agree on is that it is impossible to have a single answer to that question. The important criteria for inclusion in this list is that the film is the "greatest" by some specific measure — be it a critics poll, popular poll, box office receipts or awards.
5.1 Animation (North American)
Films acclaimed by critics and filmmakers
- Citizen Kane: voted number one in the Sight and Sound poll of film critics in each of the last five polls over the last 40 years (the survey is carried once every ten years). A separate poll of established film directors in the same magazine held for the first time in 2002 also had Citizen Kane at the top. Influential critic Roger Ebert says that "The Sight and Sound poll is generally considered the most authoritative of all 'best film' lists". Perhaps not coincidentally he considers Citizen Kane the best film ever. The film was also selected as number one in a Village Voice critics' poll, number one in a Time Out critics poll in 1995 and listed as the greatest film ever by the American Film Institute in 1998.
- La Règle du Jeu (The Rules of the Game): French masterpiece by Jean Renoir. Named best film by the French film magazine Positif in 1991. Number two in the Village Voice poll. Along with Battleship Potemkin, one of only two films to have appeared in every one of Sight and Sound's 10-yearly polls (six occurrences).
- Броненосец Потёмкин (Battleship Potemkin): for many years generally considered the greatest film ever; voted as such by a panel of experts at the 1958 World's Fair.
- Ladri di Biciclette (The Bicycle Thief): voted top film in a Sight & Sound magazine poll in 1952.
- The Searchers: Most often mentioned favorite film in a poll of directors by German language steadycam magazine.
Films acclaimed in audience polls
- The Godfather: has long stood atop IMDb's list of the top 250 films. Also voted number one by Entertainment Weekly readers. Number one in a Time Out Readers' poll in 1995.
- The Godfather Part II: often considered better than the original; voted best film ever by TV Guide readers in 1998.
- Casablanca (1942): widely cited as the greatest film of all time and voted as such by readers of the Los Angeles Daily News in 1997; also regarded the "best Hollywood movie of all time" by the influential Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide.
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977): By readers of Empire magazine in November 2001. Also by voters in a Channel 4/FilmFour poll .
- Dirty Dancing - In a poll organised by The Coca-Cola Company and Vue Cinemas 200,000 British respondants chose Dirty Dancing as their "best film ever" from a choice of 100 films weighted towards modern commercial films .
Films that have received the most Academy Awards
Ever since their inception in 1928, the Academy Awards (the "Oscars") have been seen as the most significant of the film award ceremonies. The first film film to dominate an Oscars ceremony was Frank Capra's It Happened One Night at the 1935 ceremony. It was the first film to win five awards. Moreover it won the "Oscar grand slam" by winning Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Screenplay - a feat that has been repeated twice more - by One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1976 and Silence of the Lambs in 1992.
In the year that greatestfilm.org describes as "undoubtedly the most celebrated year in American film history" (1939), Gone With the Wind was nominated for thirteen awards and two special citations. It won eight of the Awards to beat It Happened One Night's record. All About Eve (1950) broke the nominations record with 14, and won in six categories.
Gigi was the film to break Gone With The Wind's record - winning in all nine of its nominated categories at the ceremony for films made in 1958. However its moment at the top was short-lived as the epic Ben-Hur went on to win 11 Oscars from 12 nominations the following year. Eleven Oscars remains the record. However this achievement has been equalled twice - by Titanic in 1997 with eleven awards from fourteen nominations. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won in all eleven of its nominated categories in 2003 in a piece of recognition that many interpreted as applying to the whole of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Biggest box office successes
Worldwide highest grossing films
- Titanic (1997): Currently the highest grossing film ever. It has taken $1,835,300,000 in box office receipts.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) $1,129,219,252
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) $968,600,000
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) $922,379,000
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers(2002) $921,600,000
- Jurassic Park (1993) $919,700,000
- Shrek 2 (2004) $880,871,036
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) $866,300,000
- Finding Nemo (2003) $865,000,000
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) $860,700,000
Prior highest-grossing films
- The Birth of a Nation (1915): Highest-grossing film until 1925. Director D.W. Griffith said in 1929 that the film had taken $10m worldwide. This has been reported as both an under-estimate and an over-estimate, and its true takings may never be known. In the 1920s the New York Mail described the movie as "the supreme picture of all time".
- The Big Parade (1925). The highest grossing silent film of all time, taking $22m world wide.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937): Highest grossing until 1939. Total gross $185m.
- Gone With the Wind (1939): Highest grossing until 1966, when it was overtaken by the Sound of Music. Following a re-release in 1971, Gone With The Wind retook the lead for a further year. Current total gross $309.5m.
- The Sound of Music (1965): Highest gross from August 1966 until the re-issue of Gone With The Wind in 1971. Current total gross £163m.
- The Godfather (1972): Highest grossing until 1975. Current total gross £245m.
- Jaws (1975): Highest grossing until 1977. Current total gross $470m.
- Star Wars (1977): Highest grossing until January 1983. Current total gross $798m
- E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982): Highest grossing until 1993. Current total gross $757m. (Star Wars did not re-overtake ET until its re-release in 1997, by which time Jurassic Park had landed the top slot.)
- Jurassic Park (1993): Highest grossing until 1997. Current total gross $920m.
Highest USA grossing film adjusted for inflation
By adjusting for inflated ticket prices, the popularity of films released at different times can be compared. This list estimates the number of admissions for each film by using the average ticket price at the time of each release .
- Gone With the Wind (1939): nine Academy Awards, National Film Registry, when adjusted for inflation is still the highest grossing film ever. The film has had at least four substantial releases worldwide (in 1939, 1954, 1961 and 1971). The adjusted for inflation value of these releases is $3.8bn worldwide, $1.3bn in the United States (2004 dollars).
- Star Wars (1977)
- The Sound of Music (1965)
- E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
- The Ten Commandments (1956)
- Titanic (1997)
- Jaws (1975)
- Doctor Zhivago (1965)
- The Exorcist (1973)
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Films that are considered among the greatest in their particular genre
Animation (North American)
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) is the highest-grossing animated film of all time when adjusted for inflation. Without the effects of inflation, The Lion King (1994) is the highest-grossing "traditional" (hand drawn) animated film.
- Beauty and the Beast (1991) is the only animated film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, a decade prior to the Academy establishing a separate Best Animated Feature category.
Anime (Japanese animation)
- アキラ - Akira: 1988 Katsuhiro Otomo film, long considered the pinnacle of Japanese animation by many anime and non-anime fans alike, is one of the most well-known anime films and was chosen as the top anime ever by Anime Insider in fall 2001.
- 千と千尋の神隠し (Spirited Away): 2001 Hayao Miyazaki film, the highest grossing movie in Japanese history, and the only movie to earn $250M before its US release. Voted best animated movie by IMDb users and the first anime film to win an Academy Award.
- Some Like It Hot was listed Best Comedy by the American Film Institute in June 2000.
- Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is listed as Best Comedy by the IMDb's list of Top Rated "Comedy" Titles.
- Shrek 2, the highest grossing comedy of all time (unadjusted).
- Shrek (2001) was the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, a category introduced in 2002.
- Shrek 2 (2004) is the highest grossing animated film of all time, computerized or not.
- Finding Nemo (2003) was the first computer-generated motion picture to outgross The Lion King as the highest-grossing animated film of all time, until it was surpassed the next year by Shrek 2.
- The Poseidon Adventure was voted best disaster movie in a consumer poll commissioned by UCI cinemas in May 2004.
- Bowling for Columbine: Documentary by Michael Moore, relating gun control and the fear culture in the United States. This was the highest grossing documentary film in history, until Moore's next documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 outgrossed it in its three day opening weekend in June 2004. Bowling for Columbine heads the list of 20 all-time favorite non-fiction films selected by members of the International Documentary Association (IDA). 
- Fahrenheit 9/11: Documentary by Michael Moore, highest grossing documentary of all time (2004 - Current), earning over $100 million. Only documentary to top the US weekend box office. First documentary in 48 years to win the Palme D'or at Cannes.
- The Thin Blue Line (documentary): Errol Morris' 1985 film has long been considered one of the greatest documentaries ever made. It is actually credited with not only solving a murder case, but also as the major factor in freeing an innocent man from death row in Texas. It was voted number 2 in the International Documentary Associations' Top Twenty Documentaries of All Time. Morris' film Fast, Cheap and Out of Control comes in at number 14, making him the only film-maker, other than the now-popular Michael Moore, to have two films on the list. Additionally, The Thin Blue Line was admitted into the US National Film Registry in 2001.
- Gates of Heaven: Errol Morris' first film (1978). Following the lives of various pet owners in California as a pet cemetary closes down, forcing some 200 pets to be relocated, Gates of Heaven was called one of the ten greatest films of all time by Roger Ebert.
- Psycho: Alfred Hitchcock classic is considered the most important thriller of all time. Voted the best horror film by IMDb users. Tops AFI’s list of the 100 most thrilling American films.
- Halloween: The original slasher was voted best horror film of all time by readers of SFX magazine in June 2004. Also was the most "profitable" film of all time (lowest production cost vs. highest box office gross) until surpassed in 1990 by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Before Halloween, the most profitable film was Easy Rider.
- The Wizard of Oz The highest ranked musical on AFI's list of the 100 best American films and the Village Voice list of the 100 best films of the 20th century .
- Singin' in the Rain The highest rated movie musical at the IMDb.
- West Side Story Winner of the most Academy Awards of any movie musical (10).
- Casablanca - Voted best American-based film in which there is "a romantic bond between two or more characters, whose actions and/or intentions provide the heart of the film’s narrative" by the AFI.
- 2001: A Space Odyssey, a popular and influential film directed by Stanley Kubrick. The highest ranked science fiction film (#11) on the Village Voice 100 Best films of the 20th century list; selected by the late Gene Siskel as his choice of the best film ever.
- Blade Runner - Initially avoided by audiences it has become a cult classic. Voted the best science fiction film by a panel of scientists assembled by the British newspaper The Guardian in 2004. 
- Jeux Interdits (Forbidden Games) - Critic Leonard Maltin said: "Jeux interdits is almost unquestionably the most compelling and intensely poignant drama featuring young children ever filmed."
- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is listed as Best Western by the IMDb's list of Top Rated "Western" Titles.
- The Searchers was voted the greatest Western of all time by Entertainment Weekly. See also: films acclaimed by critics and filmmakers.
In particular countries
- Mon oncle Antoine: A poll of critics at the 1984 Toronto International Film Festival and again at the 1993 and 2004 festivals named this the greatest Canadian film of all time.
- Un Zoo la Nuit : Winner of the most Genie Awards with 13.
- Spring in a Small Town (小城之春): This 1948 film was voted the best Chinese film ever by Hong Kong Film Awards Association in 2005.
- Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise): Voted "Best French Film of the Century" in a poll of 600 French critics and professionals in the late 1990s.
- La Règle du Jeu (The Rules of the Game): see films acclaimed by critics and filmmakers.
- 羅生門 - Rashōmon: This 1950 film by Akira Kurosawa was the first Japanese film to gain world-wide acclaim. The highest ranked Japanese film (#10) on the Village Voice list of 100 Best Films of the 20th Century.
- 七人の侍 - Shichinin no samurai (The Seven Samurai), 1954: Also by Kurosawa, this adventure film is frequently cited as the greatest Japanese film ever; consistently the highest-rated foreign-made (outside of the United States) film on the IMDb Top 250 (ranked #5 as of August 2004).
- Lawrence of Arabia Voted "best British film of all time" in August of 2004 by a London Sunday Telegraph poll of Britain's leading filmmakers. See also: Epic.
- The Third Man: Voted best British film ever by members of the British Film Institute in 1999.
- List of highest-grossing films
- List of movie-related topics
- List of movies that have been considered among the worst ever
- List of films preserved in the United States National Film Registry
- AFI List of top 100 American movies
- BFI List of top 100 British movies
- IMDb Top 250
- Channel 4 poll: 100 Greatest Films
- Sight and Sound magazine best films of all time polls
- Village Voice 100 Best films of the 20th century list
- Links to more lists from filmsite.org
- Links to more lists from bestonly.com
- Links to more lists from listsofbests.com
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