America’s Favorite Movies of All Time

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

Movies are an American art form, and one of the most popular types of entertainment. People have turned to movies — albeit usually on small screens at home — to help them get through some tough times in the past year, binge-watching their favorite franchises and the work of their favorite actors and directors. With COVID-19 restrictions now being eased, many are looking forward to visiting theatres again and seeing much-anticipated movies whose releases have been delayed.

24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of America’s favorite movies of all time, ranging from the 1940s to the present day, using ratings and audience scores from IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes. Almost everyone will be able to find their personal favorites here. These are the 55 best movies ever made.

Perhaps surprisingly, the top five movies are all serious fare. They all have weighty subject matter, not many laughs, and no superheroes. The No. 1 movie is “The Shawshank Redemption.” Based on a Stephen King novella, it’s the story of Andy Dufresne, a banker sentenced to life in prison for murders he didn’t commit, who befriends a fellow prisoner and outwits a corrupt system. It was a box-office disappointment when it was released in 1994, but was liked by the critics and has become a cult classic since. 

To determine America’s favorite movies of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed information from IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, calculating an index based on the movies’ IMDb rating and Rotten Tomatoes audience score, weighted by the number of IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes votes. Only films with at least 400,000 reviews on either site were considered. Data on domestic box office came from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by consulting firm Nash Information Services. Data was collected March 2021 to May 2021, and is not adjusted for inflation. Cast information comes from IMDb.

Also in the top five are two “Godfather” movies, “12 Angry Men,” and “Schindler’s List,” which are about organized crime, racial justice, and the Holocaust, respectively. Surprisingly, “Jaws” only ranked No. 99. It’s one of the movies, along with “Star Wars,” that launched the tradition of the summer blockbuster back in the 1970s. Three movies from the latter franchise did place in the top 40, however — including the original, subsequently marketed as “Episode IV – A New Hope.” Here is every Star Wars movie ranked from worst to best.