Whether we watch them at drive-in theatres (yes, they do still exist) or multiplexes, or on our TV sets, laptops, or smartphones, movies are a part of our life. They divert and entertain us, make us laugh or cry (or both), get us thinking, inspire us, and sometimes are so powerful that they leave us simply drained.
What makes a good movie? It’s largely a matter of personal taste, of course. The history of cinema is full of examples of critically acclaimed films that do little at the box office (“Brazil,” “The King of Comedy”) and, conversely, smash hits that the critics mostly disliked (“The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” “The Da Vinci Code”).
Movies that score well with both audiences and reviewers — and there are many — tend to have a few basic characteristics in common: a strong, coherent storyline; richly drawn — and well-acted — characters; well-done cinematography and (if applicable) special effects; and a satisfying ending.
The movies on this list share those virtues to a greater or lesser extent. They cover a wide range, spanning cinema history from 1921 to 2018. They include silent films and technologically dazzling blockbusters. Many feature famous performers of the past and present, as well as some of the film world’s most acclaimed directors — Charlie Chaplin, Frank Capra, George Cukor, Alfred Hitchcock, John Huston, Stanley Kubrick, Sam Peckinpah, and Francis Ford Coppola.
Some of these movies will be familiar to almost anyone — “Citizen Kane,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Star Wars” (now retitled “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope”). Others are more obscure, but well worth discovering.
Taken as a whole, this list provides a vivid illustration of why movies are so important to us.
To determine the best movies of all time, 24/7 Wall St. created an index based on each film’s Rotten Tomatoes average critic rating, Rotten Tomatoes average audience rating, and Internet Movie Database average user rating. To be considered, each film needed to have at least 5,000 Rotten Tomatoes user ratings, 10 approved Tomatometer critic reviews, and 10,000 IMDb user ratings.
We averaged the user ratings from Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb and weighted by the number of votes for each. The combined user rating was then averaged with the Rotten Tomatoes critic rating.