100. It Happened One Night (1934)
> Genre: Comedy, romance
> Directed by: Frank Capra
> Starring: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly
One of the greatest screwball comedies of the 1930s, “It Happened One Night” is one of only three movies ever to have won all five of the major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay). Clark Gable plays a reporter who falls in love with spoiled heiress Claudette Colbert. Critics gave the Capra classic a 98% Freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and 93% of audiences liked the movie.
99. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
> Genre: Action, Mystery, Thriller
> Directed by: Paul Greengrass
> Starring: Matt Damon, Edgar Ramírez, Joan Allen
The third entry of the spy series based on Robert Ludlum books continued to keep audiences at the edge of their seat. The movie is about a rogue CIA agent (Matt Damon) who searches for his past while avoiding assassins from the government agency he used to work for. The Critics Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes says “The Bourne Ultimatum” is “is an intelligent, finely tuned non-stop thrill ride.” Critics gave the movie a Freshness rating of 92%, and 91% of audiences liked it.
98. The Pianist (2002)
> Genre: Biography, Drama, Music
> Directed by: Roman Polanski
> Starring: Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finlay
Based on the life of Polish-Jewish pianist and Holocaust survivor Władysław Szpilman, this saga follows the man’s experiences during the Nazi occupation. The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Adrien Brody and Best Director for Roman Polanski, himself a Holocaust survivor. Polanski did not attend the ceremony as he fled the U.S. in 1978 after pleading guilty to statutory rape.
97. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
> Genre: Adventure, Drama, War
> Directed by: David Lean
> Starring: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins
A British colonel in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Burma in 1943 is ordered to build a bridge to carry munitions. He refuses at first, but eventually agrees, and the project becomes an obsession. Time Magazine called it “a whale of a story,” and Variety described it as “a gripping drama, expertly put together and handled with skill in all departments.” The movie won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor (Guinness).
96. Do the Right Thing (1989)
> Genre: Comedy, Drama
> Directed by: Spike Lee
> Starring: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee
This Spike Lee film boasts an A-list actor cast of Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, and John Turturro. The film is about a Brooklyn neighborhood simmering with racial tension that finally explodes into violence on a hot summer day. “Do the Right Thing” received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for Aiello and a Best Writing, Screenplay nomination for Lee. Critics Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes calls the movie “one of the most important films of the 1980s.”
95. Whiplash (2014)
> Genre: Drama, Music
> Directed by: Damien Chazelle
> Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist
This “intense, inspiring, and well-acted” music-fueled drama (according to critics consensus on Rotten Tomatoes) tells the story of an ambitious young would-be jazz drummer and his taskmaster teacher. The Detroit News called it “electric from beginning to end.” The film won three Oscars, including a Best Actor statue for J.K. Simmons.
94. Die Hard (1988)
> Genre: Action, Thriller
> Directed by: John McTiernan
> Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia
This film launched the successful action series starring Bruce Willis. In this first installment Willis, as a New York cop John McClane, tries to save the lives of his wife (Bonnie Bedelia) and other people taken hostage by terrorists in Los Angeles. The film catapulted Willis into the action film pantheon, and fans continue to quote his character’s defiant “Yippee-ki-yay” line.
93. La Dolce Vita (1960)
> Genre: Comedy, Drama
> Directed by: Federico Fellini
> Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimée
This Federico Fellini film follows a week in the life of a womanizing paparazzo living in Rome. The movie is famous for its scene of Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg gambolling in the Trevi Fountain. The movie, condemned by the Catholic Church at the time, was a hit with critics and audiences and was nominated for four Academy Awards. It won for Best Costume Design. For trivia fans, the term paparazzi is derived from a character’s name in the movie.
92. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
> Genre: Crime, Drama
> Directed by: Sergio Leone
> Starring: Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern
This final film by Sergio Leone was a change of pace for the quintessential “spaghetti Western” director, who helmed “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” The epic saga follows the career of a Manhattan-born Jewish gangster (De Niro) over a 40-year span. Time Out called it “languid, lovely and lengthy.”
91. Vertigo (1958)
> Genre: Mystery, Romance, Thriller
> Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
> Starring: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes
Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” takes viewers on a wild psychological ride. James Stewart plays a cop who’s recently retired from police work because he suffers from vertigo. He agrees to follow the wife of a college friend and becomes obsessed with her. “Vertigo” was not considered one of Hitchcock’s greatest films when it was released, but it has grown in stature and is now in the pantheon of the director’s works. Critics gave “Vertigo” a Freshness rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 93% of filmgoers liked it.
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