At some point in our lives, we’ve all watched a movie. Some make us cry with laughter, while others just make us cry. Then there are films that touch our hearts and others that have us singing along. No matter what feelings a movie stirred in you, there is no doubt that all of them have whisked us off into their world and have taken us on adventures both big and small. Even though everyone has an opinion about which film is the greatest, there are some which consistently top the lists. These are movies which have stood the test of time and have ingrained themselves in our culture. Now here are ten of the most famous films of all time, in no particular order, spanning all genres and eras.
1. Singin’ in the Rain
Even if you’ve never actually seen Singin’ in the Rain, chances are you’d be able to sing along, or at least hum along, to the title song of the movie. The 1952 American musical comedy is often deemed the best musical of all time and tops the American Film Institute’s 100 Years of Musicals list. The film was directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen with Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds starring in the lead roles. The lighthearted film follows the story of three actors as they make the transition from silent films to talking movies or ‘talkies’.
2. Citizen Kane
Citizen Kane constantly tops list as the greatest film ever made. The movie is an American drama filmed in 1941, directed by and starring Orson Welles. It follows the rise of Charles Foster Kane, a wealthy media mogul based on the real life William Randolph, Samuel Insull, and Harold McCormick, until his death, where with his last dying breath he utters the word ‘Rosebud’. Kane’s ascent from his humble beginnings to the top is revealed through flashbacks as news reporter Jerry Thompson tries to solve the mystery of Kane’s last words. The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won for Best Writing (Original Screenplay).
The next film on the list, Casablanca, is often touted as the greatest romantic film of all time. The 1942 American romantic drama was directed by Michael Curtiz and starred some of the biggest film stars of the era. Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid held the lead roles with Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Dooley Wilson playing in feature roles. Set during World War II, the film tells the story of a man forced to choose between the woman he loves and his duty to help her Czech Resistance leader husband escape the Moroccan city of Casablanca. The movie won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
4. The Godfather
Often topping greatest films list, The Godfather, is a movie that defined the whole gangster genre. The 1972 American crime film, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, stars Al Pacino and Marlon Brando in the titular role. The film chronicles the lives of the Corleones, a very powerful New York crime family. The story spans from 1945-1955 and focuses on the rise of Michael Corleone (Pacino) under the guidance of Vito Corleone (Brando). At the time of its release, The Godfather was the highest grossing film ever made. The movie won three Academy Awards and spawned two successful sequels.
5. The Wizard of Oz
The Wizard of Oz stands the test of time as one of the most beloved classic films ever made. The 1939 American fantasy adventure is based on the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and stars Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, and Frank Morgan, with Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charley Grapewin, Clara Blandick and the Singer Midgets as the Munchkins. The movie follows Dorothy (Garland) on her adventure through the Land of Oz as she battles the Wicked Witch of the West (Hamilton), to ask The Wizard (Morgan) to send her back home. Along the way she meets up with the Tin Man (Haley), a Cowardly Lion (Lahr), and a Scarecrow (Bolger) and together they triumph over the witch and make it to the Emerald City. The film remains a favorite amongst fans and critics alike and has ingrained itself into popular culture.
6. Raging Bull
Raging Bull is a 1980 American biographical sports drama directed by Martin Scorsese. It is adapted from Jake LaMotta’s, an Italian American middleweight boxer, memoir Raging Bull: My Story. The film stars Robert De Niro as LaMotta and explores LaMotta’s rage and jealousy and the negative impact they have on his wife and family. Although receiving criticism for its violent content at the time of its release, Raging Bull often shows up near the top of greatest film lists.
7. It’s a Wonderful Life
Most of us know the next film on the list as the quintessential Christmas movie. It’s a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas drama, directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart. The film tells the story of George Bailey (Stewart), a man on the verge of suicide, and his salvation by his guardian angel, Clarence OdBody (Henry Travers). Clarence shows George how different people’s lives would be without him and by the end George realizes that his life is worthwhile. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards and is a constant staple of Christmas television.
8. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
This 1937 American animated classic film was essential in defining not only a whole genre, but also an entire legacy. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was Walt Disney’s first full length animated feature film. The film is based on the German fairy tale of the same name by the Brothers Grim. It is the classic story of how love and goodness triumph over evil. The movie chronicles the wicked queen’s unyielding hunger to vanquish the innocent princess Snow White just for being more beautiful. Snow White’s pure heart enables her to be saved by the dwarves and ultimately find love with Prince Charming, who breaks the queen’s curse. The film was nominated for Best Musical Score at the 11th Academy Awards and continues to be regarded as a beloved classic.
9. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (commonly known as E.T.) is perhaps one of the most loved family film. The movie is a 1982 science fiction classic directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore, and Peter Coyote. It tells the story of a young boy, Elliot (Thomas), and his discovery of and subsequent friendship with a stranded alien dubbed ‘E.T.’. Elliot and his brother and sister struggle to keep E.T. hidden from their mother and the government and ultimately help him to find his way home. E.T. was an instant blockbuster and held the title of highest grossing film of all time for ten years until 1993.
10. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
The final entry on the list is undoubtedly a huge part of American pop culture. The 1977 American epic space opera, written and directed by George Lucas, was so successful it spawned an entire franchise encompassing six films and numerous other works. The film stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Alec Guinness. The first installment of the epic saga follows the story of simple farmboy Luke Skywalker (Hamil), the revelation of his true power and destiny by Obi-Wan Kenobi (Guinness, and Luke’s journey to become a great Jedi Knight. Along their adventure they meet up with a group of freedom fighters, the Rebel Alliance, and aid in their plot to destroy the evil Galactic Empire.
Whether or not some of these movies have a spot on your personal list of favorites, there is no denying how famous all of them are. All the films on the list have been ingrained into pop culture and consistently show up near the top of lists compiling the greatest films of all time. Maybe this list will inspire you to watch the ones you’ve never seen or to revisit old favorites.