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The best movies evoke tears, laughter, terror, reminiscence, and/or mystery in a truly personal way. Anything less (AKA, around 98% of all movies) serves no purpose other than to shove mindless, forgettable fodder in our face and line Hollywood’s pockets (Be afraid Michael Bay, be VERY afraid). This is that other, sacred 2%—the Holy Grail of cinema
Note: “Memorable Moments” may contain spoilers.
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100. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Logline: An eccentric pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), and a savvy blacksmith, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), embark on a quest to save Elizabeth Swann (and a treasure) from the clutches of cursed Captain Barbossa.
Memorable Moments: Jack almost reaches Port Royal, but his ship springs a leak. In a moment of hilarity, the only part of the ship that remains un-submerged by the time he reaches the harbor is the mast, which he sails in on.
Why People Love It: For many, Depp clearly steals the show. For those who actually enjoy—oh, say plot or fine acting—PoTC is a fun-filled, action-packed adventure on the high seas.
Best Quote: Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp): “Me, I’m dishonest. And a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It’s the honest ones you want to watch out for. Because you can never predict when they’re going to do something incredibly…..stupid.”
99. Cinderella Man (2005)
Logline: In the 30’s, James Braddock (Russel Crowe) is remembered as a rising boxer. Having fell from grace, though, and—facing near-destitution and threat of becoming a has-been—Braddock gets a rare second chance, rising to legendary proportions in the ring.
Memorable Moments: Braddock must watch on video one of the most feared boxers (Baer) doing the almost unthinkable (even for the violent world of boxing): hitting his opponent so forcefully that his brain comes loose and he dies.
Why People Love It: Cinderella Man is one of the highest acclaimed, most inspirational movies ever that chronicles a near has-been and how he receives the very rare opportunity to redeem himself.
Best Quote: Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti): “Jesus H. Christ! Jesus Mary and Joseph! All the saints and martyrs and Jesus! Did I mention Jesus?!”
98. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Logline: Years after Indy captured the Ark of the Covenant and survived the Temple of Doom, he’s at again. His father Henry in tow, the Joneses traverse Europe to find the Holy Grail, but won’t attain it without fending off evil Nazis—who want it for their own nefarious reasons.
Memorable Moments: The scene where Indy and his father, Henry (Sean Connery), find themselves tied together, with Nazi Colonel Vogel punches Indy in the face before departing. Not long after, the room is engulfed in fire.
Why People Love It: Because it’s Indiana Jones, and few people have grown older not loving the adventurous, witty-humor-filled Indy flicks (save for, perhaps, the last one).
Best Quote: Indiana Jones (Ford): “I’m like a bad penny, I always turn up.”
97. The Lion King (1994)
Logline: Young Simba, a lion cub that’s tricked into thinking he caused his father’s (King Mufasa) death, retreats into the wilderness–enabling the evil Scar, the King’s brother, to assume the throne. Years later, grown Simba is convinced to return to his land and reclaim his rightful seat on the throne.
Memorable Moments: In an early scene—cue Elton John’s Circle of Life theme—where Simba, King Mufasa’s newborn son, is taken to a rocky ledge and is proudly displayed to the creatures of the Circle of Life.
Why People Love It: Most adults love it because it’s loved by children—and keeping them quietly occupied is no doubt a benefit, either. However, both love it because it takes all-too-familiar human dilemmas and personifies them with the help of lions, birds, hyenas and more.
Best Quote: Scar (Jeremy Irons): “Oh, Zazu, do lighten up. Sing something with a little—‘bounce’ in it!”
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96. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Logline: Young Cole Sear (Osment) has a problem: He sees dead people. And apparently they’re in denial about being that way. Now, it’s up to child psychologist Malcom Crowe (Willis) to help the boy and to determine what’s troubling him so.
Memorable Moments: Undoubtedly, it’s the scene where Cole and mother (Toni Collette) are stuck in traffic. Cole frightens his mother when he begins to speak about the dead people he sees.
Why People Love It: Let’s be honest here: This is likely one of the best films, out of the (clears throat) many lemons, that’s come from M. Night Shyamalan.
Best Quote: Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment):”I see dead people.”
95. The Big Lebowski (1998)
Logline: In a case of mistaken identity, two thugs piss on a man’s rug (“The Dude” Lebowsky)—thinking it belongs to the millionaire Lebowski. While attempting compensation from the rich Lebowski, The Dude accepts a one-time job that promises great pay. After enlisting Walter (Goodman), an angry bowling friend and angry, Jewish convert, to help, manipulation leads to even bigger trouble and soon, everyone wants a piece of The Dude.
Memorable Moments: Lunatic war veteran, Walter, informs another bowler (Smokey) of “fouling over the line.” When Smokey hesitates to admit fault, Walter pulls his gun, points it, and shouts “you think I’m f***ing around…mark it zero!”
Why People Love It: The Big Lebowski, with help from The Coen brothers no doubt, has a cult following due to its raunchy, quirky, for-adults-only hilarity.
Best Quote: Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski (Jeff Bridges)(repeated among others): “That rug really tied the room together.”
94. Jaws (1975)
Logline: Three daring men, in response to a huge, killer shark that’s terrorizing the Amity’s beach, embark on a deep sea mission to find and kill it. Little do they know, though, that this giant shark proves every bit as smart as it is lethal.
Memorable Moments: The scene in the last 15 minutes where Quint—trying to fend off the gargantuan, toothy shark (while the boat is’a sinkin’, nonetheless!)—slides into the shark’s massive jaws and is mercilessly eaten alive.
Why People Love It: Jaws tapped into one of peoples’ most primal fears: That of the unknown. And the unknown here is a man-eating, marine beast which lurks in the deep abyss, waiting for his next victim (meal). Oh, and it’s just downright terrifying the first time it’s watched.
Best Quote: Martin Brody (Roy Scheider): “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
93. Casino (1995)
Logline: Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) and Ace Rothstein (Robert De Niro) portray two 70’s Las Vegas gangsters: Ace, the Tangiers casino’s boss and Nicky, his ‘strong arm’. Affairs begin to rapidly deteriorate, though, Ace’s marriage to Ginger crumbles and Nicky’s obsession with vices will ultimately destroy him.
Memorable Moments: Out of the too-many-to-list great scenes, the scene in the bar where Nicky, in order to “remedy” a situation where Ace is insulted by a patron, brutally, repeatedly bludgeons the jerk (in the neck, nonetheless) with his own pen.
Why People Love It: Specifically, Casino is loved by those who love mafia/gangster genre. And just as the duo did in Goodfellas, Casino, and Raging Bull—De Niro and Pesci give powerful, unrelenting performances.
Best Quote: Sam “Ace” Rothstein: “No matter how big a guy might be, Nicky would take him on. You beat Nicky with fists, he comes back with a bat. You beat him with a knife, he comes back with a gun. And if you beat him with a gun, you better kill him, because he’ll keep comin’ back and back until one of you is dead.”
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88. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Logline: John Conner must be protected by the very cyborg that tried to kill his mother, Sarah. But now, the Terminator faces an opponent (whose sole mission is to find and kill John Conner) who’s more far more advanced than he is.
Memorable Moments: The Terminator propels a police cruiser backwards—Sarah (Linda Hamilton) and John Conner in tow—in an attempt to escape the extremely resilient T-1000 cyborg.
Why People Love It: Much like other sci-fi action movies such as the Alien and Predator franchises, Terminator 2 has proven nothing less than epic to the genre’s fans.
Best Quote: The Terminator (Schwarzenegger): “Hasta la vista, baby.”
87. Training Day (2001)
Logline: A rookie cop, Officer Hoyt (Ethan Hawke), becomes a detective under the supervision of Det. Alonzo Harris (Washington). As his ‘training day’ progresses—and through a series of very questionable (perhaps even illegal) tactics used by Harris to “fight” crime—it becomes obvious to Hoyt that his mentor is anything but a good cop.
Memorable Moments: One defining moment occurs when Detective Alonzo kills his “friend” Roger (Scott Glenn) in the presence of nervous Jake and the rest of Alonzo’s corrupt team.
Why People Love It: For one, it stars Denzel Washington: Hard to go wrong there. Second, Training Day is irresistibly good fun in its portrayal of a “respected”, veteran detective—with his ‘to catch a wolf you gotta be a wolf’ philosophy—that’s, in reality, actually more criminal than he is cop.
Best Quote: Detective Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington): “To protect the sheep you gotta catch the wolf, and it takes a wolf to catch a wolf.”
86. The Gold Rush (1925)
Logline: The Lone Prospector (Charlie Chaplin) travels to Alaska in a quest for gold, but gets more than he bargained for when he becomes involved with some hardy characters and falls head-over-heels for the gorgeous Georgia.
Memorable Moments: In the scene (shown above) entitled “Thanksgiving Dinner”, the Tramp boils his boot and shares it with a large, burly dude.
Why People Love It: Movie critics widely dub The Gold Rush, much like the invention of film itself, to be one of the greatest films of the early twentieth-century—and the one that Chaplin remarked that he wanted to be remembered by.
Best Quote: The film is a characteristically-of-the-era silent one.
85. Batman Begins (2005)
Logline: The prequel to the original, Batman Begins reminisces about Batman’s parents’ murder and ‘pre’-Batman days. After failing to accept guidance from trainer Henri Ducard, Bruce returns home to a crime-ridden Gotham City. He finally gets fed-up, though. Now, the gloves come off and beware the Bat!
Memorable Moments: Undoubtedly it’s the icy, mountainous scene that sees Bruce Wayne and Henri Ducard duke it out with swords.
Why People Love It: Common, it’s Batman! What would we ever do without the Batmans, Spidermans, and Supermans (and maybe Ironmans?) of the world?
Best Quote: Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson): “Men fear most what they cannot see.”
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84.The Searchers (1956)
Logline: When a veteran returns home to Texas, an Indian posse wrecks havoc and kidnaps his niece, Debbie. Searching for her for years with nephew Martin, the plot thickens when the nephew suspects that Ethan (John Wayne) is beginning to hate Debbie as much as the Indians themselves.
Memorable Moments: Indisputably the final scene where Edwards, after years of searching and enduring countless tribulations, places his niece back in the hands of her parents on their front porch.
Why People Love It: A gem especially among Baby Boomers, The Searchers essentially laid the foundation for myriad other classics, such Unforgiven, Dances With Wolves, and Jeremiah Johnson.
Best Quote: Ethan Edwards (Wayne) amp; Reverend Clayton (Ward Bond): Wayne: “Well Reverend, looks like you’ve got yourself surrounded.” Rev: “Yeah, and I figure on getting myself unsurrounded.”
83. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
Logline: In this silent film, a manipulative, inner-city woman (the ‘Evil Temptress’) emotionally enslaves a rural farmer, ‘The Man’ (George O’Brien), and attempts the unthinkable: To persuade The Man to murder his downtrodden wife.
Memorable Moments: The turning point of the movie when—whilst The Man and Wife are out on the lake at night—The Man jumps up and almost follows through with the plan that the ‘Woman From the City’ planted in his head.
Why People Love It: Like The Gold Rush, A Song of Two Humans has also been heralded as one of the greatest silent pictures of all time by many.
82. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Logline: Astronauts discover a very peculiar monolith on the moon. Using the supercomputer HAL and some of the smartest scientists around, the race to find out where these extraterrestrial beings (and the ultimately intriguing artifacts that they’re leaving behind) are begins.
Memorable Moments: An astronaut is sucked up by a “star gate”, and the ensuing trip can only be summed up as an acid-induced-like, psychedelic trip of vivid colors and sounds through a space/time-vacuum.
Why People Love It: Because it’s just as relevant today, if not more (especially considering the modern-day Creationism vs. Evolution spectacle) than it was upon release. And let’s not forget being treated to some trippy visuals!
Best Quote: Dr. Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea): “Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”
81. Wild Strawberries (1957)
Logline: Isak Borg, an old, miserly professor, must travel to Lund University. Along the way, however, he experiences strong feelings of hollowness and remorse as he reflects on his past 50 years of teaching—surmising that his life as a grouchy hermit has brought about painful feelings of insufficiency and worthlessness.
Memorable Moments: The scene where Dr. Borg, deep in a dream, stands sullenly on an empty, isolated city street and encounters ghastly reminders of his life up until that point.
Why People Love It: Wild Strawberries illustrates how vital it will prove, especially in our golden years, that we live the most fulfilling, sociable lives possible. Without doing that, we risk becoming old, alienated, lonely souls in the end.
Best Quote: Gunnar Sjoberg (Sten Alman): “Me and my wife are dependent on each other. It is out of selfish reasons we haven’t beaten each other to death a long time ago.”
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80. Die Hard (1988)
Logline: German Terrorists (who would have ever thought?) storm an L.A. high-rise on Christmas Eve, holding dozens of partiers hostage. Now, it’s up to John McClane (Bruce Willis) and his cop friends on the outside to save the day.
Memorable Moments: The exploding elevator scene was pretty phenomenal.
Why People Love It: It’s really pretty simple: It was one of Bruce Willis’s first action blockbusters, and boy did he kick some terrorist a**!
Best Quote: Officer John McClane (Bruce Willis): “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf***er.”
79. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
Logline: Approaching the endgame for the Potter adventures, Harry, Ron, and Hermione must recover the rest of the Horcruxes and destroy His Dark Lordness, Lord Voldemort.
Why People Love It: It’s the last installment of a decades-long franchise. How could people (specifically, the fans) not love the magical chronicles of Harry Potter?
Best Quote: Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe): “How dare you stand where he stood! Tell them how it happened that night. How you looked him in the eye, a man who trusted you, and killed him.”
78. No Country for Old Men (2007)
Logline: After Llewelyn (Josh Brolin) discovers dead bodies and $2 million near Middle-of-Nowhere, Texas, he soon realizes that his big payday comes with a life-or-death tradeoff, in the form of a psychopathic serial killer on his tail. And Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, well, he’s obviously out-muscled and overwhelmed.
Memorable Moments: One of the most moving, powerful scenes in No Country for Old Men is when Anton (Javier Bardem), who portrays a psychopath brilliantly, holds Llewelyn’s wife, Carla Jean (Kelly MacDonald), captive in her small home.
Why People Love It: For one, Tommy Lee Jones plays the role of small-town sheriff flawlessly. Additionally, Chigurh (Bardem) is wickedly convincing as a total psychopath/sociopath, killing folks (as well as sparing some the wrath of his most unusual weapons) at random.
Best Quote: Anxious accountant (Trent Moore) to Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem): Accountant: “Are you going to shoot me?” Anton: “That Depends. Do you see me?”
77. The Green Mile (1999)
Logline: In the 1930’s, Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) and fellow prison guards notice that a prisoner—a burly black man accused of the rape and murder—possesses an extraordinary gift. And along the way, they’re increasingly convinced (at odds with the townsfolk) of the gentle giant’s innocence.
Memorable Moments: When John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) is brought from jail to the warden’s (Hal Moore/James Cromwell) home to (hopefully) ‘cure’ his bedridden wife, nothing short of a miracle is performed…much to the surprise of the angry, skeptical warden.
Why People Love It: For one, it’s based on a best-selling Stephen King novel. Two, the actors/and performances (namely that of Clarke) prove their abilities with flying colors.
Best Quote: John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan): “You can’t hide what’s in your heart.”
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68. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Logline: World War II: The Basterds (spearheaded by Lt. Aldo Raines) comprised of a ragtag team of Jewish Americans in Nazi-occupied France who had only one mission: Find Nazis and kill ’em.
Memorable Moments: Lieutenant Aldo orders one of his sergeants (the ‘Bear Jew’, played by Eli Roth) to kill a captured Nazi official after he refuses to divulge information on his unit’s whereabouts.
Why People Love It: Simple: It A. boasts a stellar cast, including Brad Pitt at the forefront and B. is a based-on-a-true story of French vigilantes (The Basterds) that were notorious for killing Nazis one by one, in fantastical style and succession.
Best Quote: Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt): “You probably heard we ain’t in the prisoner-takin’ business; we in the killin’ Nazi business. And cousin, business is a-boomin’.”
67. Gone with the Wind (1939)
Logline: A contriving woman and rebellious gentleman (oxymoron?) have a tumultuous, even contentious relationship during the Civil War and throughout the Reconstruction era.
Memorable Moments: Melanie (Olivia de Havilland) is in labor and Scarlett (Vivien Leigh) discovers that Prissy, a midwife, lied about her midwifing skills—forcing Scarlett to get her hands messy and help deliver the baby.
Why People Love It: Besides being one of the longest feature films ever (at four hours strong), Gone With the Wind is a love story far better than many of its contemporaries, like Mr. Spark’s The Notebook.
Best Quote: Rhett Butler (Clark Gable): “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
66. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Logline: The time and place is during The Great Depression in a small, racially-segregated Alabama town. Atticus Finch is an attorney that must defend (at the dismay of nearly all the white folk) a black man accused of rape, while teaching his kids to forgo racism.
Memorable Moments: Atticus’s closing arguments where commands the jury to “In the name of God…do your duty!”, while young Scout and the accused Tom Robinson eagerly observe is one of the finest scenes of this timeless classic.
Why People Love It: If you were born pre-1990, chances are good that To Kill a Mockingbird (which evokes many fond memories of many of our own childhoods) was on your required-reading itinerary.
Best Quote: Atticus Finch (Peck): “As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it-whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.”
65. American Beauty (1999)
Logline: Lester Burnham, a midlife crisis-stricken suburban dad, whose marriage is slowly but surely falling apart, acknowledges that he must reverse course of his life after lusting for his daughter’s schoolmate.
Memorable Moments: In a scene that epitomizes Lester’s lackluster marriage: The would-be sex scene where wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) utters the unforgettably naive turn-off, “This is a $4000 sofa upholstered in Italian silk. It is NOT just a couch.”
Why People Love It: Because it’s about a middle-aged married man and father that lusts over and commits adultery with a high school cheerleader. It is, simply, political incorrectness at its finest and most genuinely entertaining.
Best Quote: Lester Burnham (Spacey): “It’s a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself. Makes you wonder what else you can do that you’ve forgotten about.”
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64. Raging Bull (1980)
Logline: Jake LaMotta’s a force to be reckoned with in the ring, showing opponents zero mercy. However, as he treats his family in a similarly brutal manner–he discovers that he’s going to end up a lonely has-been.
Memorable Moments: Such rage, such on-the-verge of destroying everything he has: Jake finally discovers from his wife, Vickie, that she did indeed ‘f***’ [sic] his brother and practically the whole neighborhood. He unleashes a brutal beating on both his wife and his brother, Joey.
Why People Love It: With Robert De Niro already-then an established star, it wasn’t hard for moviegoers to instantly identify with some character (or another) in Raging Bull.
Best Quote: Joey LaMotta (Joe Pesci): “If you win, you win. If you lose, you still win.”
63. Back to the Future (1985)
Logline: Marty McFly An ordinary, American teenager–Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox)–gets tele-transported back to 1955 in a DeLorean time machine, built by eccentric scientist Dr. Emmett Brown (Chris Lloyd). During Marty’s stay, he must ensure that his then-teen parents fall for one another–otherwise, he’ll never even exist.
Memorable Moments: Marty rocks out his young parents’ high school prom with “Johnny Be Good”, bringing the young couple one step closer to fulfilling their destiny and ensuring that Marty will be born.
Why People Love It: BTF is easily one of the most recognizable sci-fiction movies of the 80’s (and perhaps of a generation!).
Best Quote: Emmett Brown (Lloyd) in his last line: “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”
62. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Logline: Reservoir Dogs narrates the before-and-after story of a gang who seriously botches a jewelry store heist; and the oddball Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) highly suspects that there’s an informant within their ranks.
Memorable Moments: The unforgettable scene where Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) uses a razor blade to cut a rookie cop’s ear off is particularly cringe-worthy.
Why People Love It: Reservoir Dogs was, essentially, Tarantino’s first big success and the ignition of his directing career.
Best Quote: Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen): “Eddie, you keep talking like a bitch, I’m gonna slap you like a bitch.”
61. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Logline: Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) is devastated when he learns that his girlfriend, Clementine (Kate Winslet), had him physically erased from her mind. To even the score, Joel signs up for the same procedure, but soon regrets it.
Memorable Moments: The collective scenes—actually memories of Joel and Clementine’s life together in reverse order—in which memory after memory is erased from Joel’s mind.
Why People Love It: Because it’s a supremely bizarre, stylish and original take on an often-cliched genre. If you’ve seen (and liked) Being John Malkovich, this film will simply engross you.
Best Quote: Mary (Kirsten Dunst): “Adults are..like..this mess of sadness and phobias.”
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60. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
Logline: Circa the mid-15th century, Jeanne d’Arc (Maria Falconetti)—who claims of divine visions—is charged by a powerful, ecclesiastical court with the crime of heresy and burned at the stake.
Memorable Moments: Perhaps most ostensibly, the scene that sees Joan—fearless and steadfast—being consumed at the stake by fire. Or, the “standoff” between Joan and the English judges, uttering meek, staccato answers to scolding questions.
Why People Love It: Besides the surreal, majestically-captured atmosphere, Maria Falconetti (Joan, ‘Maid of Orleans’) lends the most flawless, unbeatable performance in this silent-era gem. Period.
Best Quote: Jeanne d’Arc: [Speaking to God] “Will I be with You tonight in Paradise?”
59. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Logline: Cosmo and Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) build a silent-movie business, where lovers—on-screen and off—seem to come and go. However, one of the biggest challenges will be transitioning to movies with sound, while Don begins to fall for newly-hired actress Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds).
Memorable Moments: The rain is pouring, Don—umbrella at hand— steps outside and shoos his ride away, breaking into a song and dance routine that captures not only the essence of the film, but the epitome of what pure giddiness resembles.
Why People Love It: Are you kiddin’? Singing in the Rain is only one of best classic movies ever—recognizable in over 65 countries—and a total homage to the early days of television.
Best Quote: Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor): “What’s the first thing an actor learns? “The show must go on!’ Come rain, come shine, come snow, come sleet, the show MUST go on!”
58. Stand By Me (1986)
Logline: In Castle Rock, Oregon, four boys—Gordie, Teddy, Vern, and Chris—depart to find the rumored corpse of another kid. Along the way, though, many life lessons are learned and the boys are thrust into the adult world seemingly overnight.
Memorable Moments: By far, the scene where the four boys, haven chosen to trek across a long train bridge, must outrun the train or face certain death.
Why People Love It: In the same nostalgic way that E.T. does, Stand By Me almost forcefully evokes memories of youthfulness and our once-inseparable childhood friends (for those growing up in the 80’s, anyhow), through bad and good times and the mounting pressures of becoming adults.
Best Quote: The Writer/Narrator (Richard Dreyfuss): “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”
57. Toy Story 3 (2010)
Logline: This go-round, the toys’ owner (Andy) is college-bound, leaving his toys to a daycare full obnoxious children. After meeting a few new characters—a thespian hedgehog named Mr. Pricklepants, for one—the toys begin planning their big escape.
Memorable Moments: When the Toy Story gang, in perhaps one of the most heart-felt moments of the entire franchise, faces death inside an incinerator, they firmly grasp each others’ hands and await either a last-second rescue, or certain, fiery death.
Why People Love It: Many moviegoers, including the lot of professional movie critics, agree that Toy Story 3 is probably the best one of all—combining hilarity, adventure, and even poignancy.
Best Quote: Andy (Voice by John Morris): “Now Woody, he’s been my pal for as long as I can remember. He’s brave, like a cowboy should be. And kind, and smart. But the thing that makes Woody special, is he’ll never give up on you… ever. He’ll be there for you, no matter what.”
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56. The Pianist (2002)
Logline: A devout Jewish musician and pianist, living in Nazi-occupied Poland, must witness his family being systematically kidnapped and forced into labor (death) camps. He escapes capture and is forced to hide by living amongst the the ruins of destroyed Warsaw.
Memorable Moments: Fast Forward to the scene when Wladyslaw (Adrien Brody), scraggly and sporting a full beard, brilliantly plays Chopin’s Ballade No.1 in G Minor “for” a German officer. Perhaps no other scene from the movie is more powerful.
Why People Love It: Well-acted and very poignant, The Pianist is one of Roman Polanski’s crowning achievements. The Pianist captures more of the individual human element of the war instead of attempting to cover the larger picture.
Best Quote: Obscure Radio Announcer: “Poland is no longer alone.”
55. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Logline: During World War I, a suave (yet very questionable) military official, Thomas Edward Lawrence, forms a militia-style army in the Arabian desert to destroy the Turks and the Ottoman Empire.
Memorable Moments: Soon after the prologue when Sherif Ali Ben Kharish (Omar Sharif) meets with Lawrence in, maybe, one of the most epic ‘I-arrive-fashionably-late’ entrances in ever.
Sherif Ali Ben El Kharish (Omar Sharif, making one of the most spectacular entrances in movie history) and draws up plans to aid the Arabs in their rebellion against the Turks.
Why People Love It: Boasting seven Academy Award wins, Lawrence of Arabia is a four-hour long picture whose performances, gorgeous cinematography, and majestic scope possibly equal that of the modern day LOTR trilogy.
Best Quote: T.E. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole): “There may be honor among thieves, but there’s none in politicians.”
54. Up (2009)
Logline: Carl Fredrickson (Ed Asner), an elderly man that hits a construction worker, is sentenced to live in a retirement home. Before he’s taken to it, though, his house floats away with him and a young boy (Russell) in tow on a wild adventure.
Memorable Moments: Either the during-and-after scenes when Carl and Ellie marry, or, of course, when Carl’s house soars into the air (young Russell in tow) with the help of dozens of balloons.
Why People Love It: Funny, thought-provoking, and even tear-inducing: Up is a once-in-a-lifetime animated film that comes packed-full of meaning and substance that kids and adults alike can appreciate.
Best Quote: Russell (Voice by Jordan Nagai): “The wilderness must be explored. CA CA! RRAAWRRRRR!”
53. Wall-E (2008)
Logline: In a far-off time, a waste collecting robot (WALL-E) is inadvertently thrust on a cosmic journey that will ultimately determine man’s fate. With the “help” of a ‘reconnaissance’ robot named EVE, WALL-E and others rush to save planet Earth from the devastation caused by an evil corporation.
Memorable Moments: WALL-E has a small Igloo-style cooler filled with, among other items of Earth’s past, a spork and a Rubik’s Cube and appears to be watching Hello, Dolly! on an improvised TV.
Why People Love It: Together with phenomenal visuals, this gem—one that ultimately seeks to moralize people to the dangers of polluting—is hugely popular to many because it portrays that which could become a reality one day.
Best Quote: Captain (Jeff Garlin): “Wait, that doesn’t look like Earth. Where’s the blue sky? Where’s the-the grass?”
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52. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Logline: In a futuristic U.K., a suave, yet very criminal Alex DeLarge (convicted of rape and homicide) is imprisoned. Alex volunteers for an experimental rehabilitation program in which he is ‘reprogrammed’ to condemn violence in exchange for a commuted sentence. Once out, however, he discovers that his legacy of wonton violence and depravity is now almost insurmountable.
Memorable Moments: Claiming that “there’s just been an accident, I need to use the phone”, Alex forces his way, along with fellow ‘droogs’, into a wealthy couple’s house and commit unspeakable crimes against them.
Why People Love It: Because it seems like, dare I say it, a Tarantino flick of the early 70’s. It’s a story that deals with a dark, dystopian place, that’s just as mentally visceral as it is physical, with wicked hilarity and chaos.
Best Quote: Alex (Malcom McDowell): “It’s funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen.”
51. The Departed (2006)
Logline: Something’s rotten in the Ma State Police Department; it reeks of a double agent from mob-boss Costello’s (Nicholson) gang. Two men of the law, an undercover in Costello’s unit and a mole (loyal to Costello) working as a State detective, will stop at nothing to discover each others’ identity.
Memorable Moments: In The Departed, the most memorable moments are every time a major character gets whacked—and boy do folks get whacked!
Why People Love It: How can you not love a Scorsese (who also brought us the gems Casino and Goodfellas) gangster flick?
Best Quote: Frank Costello (Nicholson): “When you decide to be something, you can be it…When I was your age they would say we can become cops, or criminals. Today, what I’m saying to you is this: When you’re facing a loaded gun, what’s the difference?”
50. Paths of Glory (1957)
Logline: During World War I, in the formidable trenches, a French military unit is barricaded and far outgunned by enemy forces. To add to the debacle, a field commander is forced to deal with both a war-mongering general and his subordinates who threaten mutiny.
Memorable Moments: In sum of several scenes, the utter and abominable disregard for the lives of their (General Broulard and Gen. Mireau) own soldiers–plus Colonel Dax’s (Kirk Douglas) vehement, yet ultimately in vain, defense of the innocent soldiers.
Why People Love It: Paths of glory, one of the first greats of Stanley Kubrick’s career, makes a powerful, enduring anti-war statement.
Best Quote: General Broulard (Adolphe Menjou): “There are few things more fundamentally encouraging and stimulating than seeing someone else die.”
49. The Shining (1980)
Logline: Shortly after writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) and family assume their roles as caretakers of an old, snowed-in lodge, Jack is instructed by a ghost to “correct” his family. Jack descends into shear lunacy.
Memorable Moments: Who could ever forget the scene where Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duvall) could do nothing but watch in complete horror as her husband-turned-lunatic (Jack) chops down the door—the only thing standing in between him and her—with an ax?
Why People Love It: Number one: Deranged lunatic who terrorizes family, Jack Nicholson. Two: Creepy, blood-soaked girls and Damien-like little Danny. Three: Deranged lunatic who terrorizes family, Jack Nicholson.
Best Quote: Danny Torrance (Danny Lloyd): “Redrum, Redrum, Redrum”
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48. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Logline: After the Allied nations storm Normandy beach, a pack of U.S. soldiers (commanded by Captain John Miller (Hanks)) are informed that their new, sole mission is to find and retrieve an American soldier that lost all three of his brothers to the war.
Memorable Moments: The movie would have never been half as great if it weren’t for the opening scene, when Allied forces stormed Normandy beach. No one could ever forget the extremely gratuitous, graphic violence that served as an actual portrayal of the real event.
Why People Love It: Partly because it captures the nightmare that was Normandy Beach, and partly because so many veterans and their posterity can so closely relate to the film.
Best Quote: Capt. John Miller (Hanks): “He [Pvt. Ryan] better be worth it. He better go home and cure a disease, or invent a longer-lasting light bulb.”
47. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Logline: Frodo Baggins and Sam draw nearer to Mount Doom, while the former Fellowship of the Ring, Rohan, and Gondor prepare to save Middle Earth–for all-out war is waged against the evil overlord Sauron and his minions.
Memorable Moments: One of the too-many-to-list great scenes of LOTR 3 is when Denethor, the deranged Steward of Gondor, is consumed in fire and becomes a running fireball, ultimately falling to his death.
Why People Love It: Most who loved the Lord of the Rings books became infatuated with the movies—partly for the gorgeous, majestic scenes, partly for the fantastical characters and creatures.
Best Quote: Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen): “I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day….But it is not this day! This day, we fight!”
46. American History X (1998)
Logline: Derek Vinyard, a former neo-Nazi skinhead and white supremacist, details his life before he went to prison for killing two black men; once paroled, he will stop at nothing to make certain his young brother doesn’t follow in his wrongful footsteps.
Memorable Moments: Derek runs from his house and murders two would-be car thieves, shooting one and ordering the other to “bite the curb” (doing a “curb-stomp”), ruthlessly dislocating his jaw and skull.
Why People Love It: AH/X is as culturally relevant today as it was over a decade ago. Although there may be scant white-supremicist skinheads running around anymore–hate, intolerance, and bigotry still exist.
Best Quote: Danny Vinyard (Ed Norton): “One in every three black males is in some phase of the correctional system. Is that a coincidence or do these people have, you know, like a racial commitment to crime?”
45. Alien (1979)
Logline: While attempting to find another apparently-in-trouble ship on a desolate-like planet, the crew of the Nostromo become dinner for slimy, merciless creatures.
Memorable Moments: 1. Observe the photo above 2. remember, this happens to our lovely Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), too. 3. Many a moviegoers’ sleep (and stomachs!) was indefinitely interrupted.
Why People Love It: If you pause to think about it, Aliens really jump-started the whole demonic-aliens love affair within the sci-fi genre.
Best Quote: Trailer Tagline: “In space, no one can hear you scream.”
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44. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Logline: Young Frodo (Elijah Wood) stumbles upon an ancient, powerful ring (the One Ring of Sauron) that he learns must be destroyed–or Middle Earth will be consumed by everlasting darkness and ruled by the dark overlord.
Memorable Moments: Could the epic standoff between Gandalf and the terrifying, fiery Balrog possibly be any LESS epic? Gandalf, with rod in-hand: “YOU..SHALL..NOT..PASS!”
Why People Love It: LoTR represents a surreal, yet not of which modern day parallelisms couldn’t be drawn from, epic battle between the forces of good and evil.
Best Quote: Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen): “One Ring to rule them all. One Ring to find them. One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.”
43. Braveheart (1995)
Logline: After losing family members to the Scottish rebellion that wants to overthrow the wrongful “heir” to the throne (Longshanks), William Wallace and Robert the Bruce (Angus McFadyen) begin a perilous journey to overthrow the evil overlord and free Scotland of its tyrannical rule by the English.
Memorable Moments: The ending where Wallace must choose between life (by bowing to the English king’s request) or death (by refusing). See Best Quote for his epic last words.
Why People Love It: Like the lesser-known movie ‘Rob Roy’ (Liam Neeson), Braveheart pays due homage to the epic struggles—between commoners and monarchs—of Middle-Ages Scotland.
Best Quote: William Wallace (Mel Gibson): “Frreeeeeeedddddoooommm…”
42. Forrest Gump (1994)
Logline: Despite his handicap, a mentally-challenged man leads an extraordinary life filled with extraordinary events—including serving in Vietnam and meeting U.S. Presidents. Above all, though, he just wants his childhood love, Jenny, to return his love.
Memorable Moments: In one of the most poignant moments in cinematic history, Gump stands weeping over the grave of his lifelong love.
Why People Love It: First, because it was and still is one of Tom Hank’s most memorable (and awarded) films. Second, Forrest Gump
Best Quote: The universally renowned catchphrase, “Mama always said life is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re gonna get”
41. Bicycle Thieves (1948)
Logline: After World War II and having been out of work for some time, a meagerly father finds work as a poster hanger. However, when the father’s bicycle (the most fundamental resource to his job) is stolen, he and his young son give chase to the thief, having a few ‘odd’ moments themselves.
Memorable Moments: The scene when the son attempts to pee in a public place, and the only thing the father can exclaim is “we don’t have time for that” is a good one!
Why People Love It: Bicycle Thieves’ simple, straightfoward story isn’t only drenched in timeless meaningfulness, it’s also the very epitome and benchmark of the once-great Neo-realism/humanistic movement in film.
Best Quote: Antonio (Lamberto Maggiorani): “You live and you suffer.”
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40. The Matrix (1999)
Logline: Set in a futuristic world, computer hacker Neo joins a group of secretive rebels who make him ‘self-aware’. Morpheus, its ultra-cool/ultra-bada** leader, instructs Neo that he is the human population’s only hope of survival against a world controlled by super computers.
Memorable Moments: The indescribable epicness of the lobby shootout scene, featuring Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) as complete bada**es.
Why People Love It: Because it’s a brilliant feast consisting of cutting edge special effects (at the time), genuine sci-fi vision, and martial arts.
Best Quote: Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne): “…you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.”
39. Spirited Away (2002)
Logline: During Chihiro’s (Rumi Hiiragi) transition from life in the country to the suburbs, the gloomy girl happens upon a dimension ruled by witches, gods, and monsters. A place where humans transform into animals; She gets a job at a bathhouse, but it turns out that that is, by no means, any ordinary one.
Memorable Moments: The scene where Chihiro is introduced to her new job (thanks to the young man Haku) and when she realizes it’s actually a bathhouse full of enchanting gods and spirits.
Why People Love It: From the striking visuals, to the mesmerizing soundtrack, to simply-sublime characters and theme—Spirited Away is one of the few great Japanese anime flicks of our time.
Best Quote: Chihiro: “I finally get a bouquet and it’s a goodbye present. That’s depressing.”
38. Se7en (1995)
Logline: Two detectives–Lt. Det. Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and Det. David Miller (Brad Pitt)—go on a manhunt for a serial killer who applies the Seven Deadly Sins as his m/o in his killings.
Memorable Moments: For those who’ve seen the movie, only one word is needed to recollect one particularly nauseating scene: Spaghetti.
Why People Love It: There exists a certain sect of moviegoers that love the serial-killer/psychopath genre—add in religious overtones (and Morgan Freeman!) and you’ve got yourself a bona-fide cult classic.
Best Quote: Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman): “If John Doe’s head splits open and a UFO should fly out, I want you to have expected it.”
37. City Lights (1931)
Logline: When the Tramp (Charlie Chaplin, who else?) falls for a beautiful blind girl, whose family isn’t doing well financially, he uses a wealthy comrade’s money to woo her and her family over.
Memorable Moments: One of the most worthy scenes comes when The Tramp is forced mano-a-mano with the huge boxer, Hank Mann.
Why People Love It: It’s a classic, mostly-silent flick from Chaplin’s pioneering career.
Best Quote: The Tramp (Charles Chaplain): “Tomorrow the birds will sing.”
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36. Fargo (1996)
Logline: Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) hires a duo of henchmen (one, the genius Steve Buscemi) to murder his wife. The job is severely bungled, though, and a pregnant police cop–Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand)–is determined to solve the crime.
Memorable Moments: The final scene when Marge is transporting the surviving kidnapper, Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare)—and proceeding her line as noted below—emotionally states lt;Cue poignant instrumentalsgt; “I just don’t understand it.”
Why People Love It: Many (like us) get a kick outta Fargo for the characters’ funny ‘Northern Interior’ accents; others love it because the cast (chiefly McDormand, Macy, and Buscemi) lends performances that set the benchmark for the genre.
Best Quote: Marge (Frances McDormand): “So that was Mrs. Lundegaard on the floor in there. And I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper……And those three people in Brainerd. And for what? For a little bit of money. There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’tcha know that? And here ya are, and it’s a beautiful day. Well. I just don’t understand it.”
35. The King’s Speech (2010)
Logline: The story tells how the father to Queen Elizabeth II, King ‘Bertie’ George VI (Colin Firth), became King after the rightful heir to the throne relinquishes power; thus, the next-in-line George VI (however disinclined) takes throne. But hampered by a speech impediment, he seeks council in speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush).
Memorable Moments: One of the great (wacky, even comical) scenes—and bits of it are in the official trailer—comes when Lionel is teaching ‘speech mechanics King “Bertie” George.
Why People Love It: The King’s Speech is a film in which the audience can actually share rapport with its lead character, instead of only sympathy.
Best Quote: Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) amp; King George VI (Colin Firth): LL: “How do you feel?” G VI: “Full of hot air” LL: “Isn’t that what public speaking is all about?”
34. Apocalypse Now (1979)
Logline: Fearing that Colonel Walter Kurtz (Marlon Brando) and his unit have gone rogue and are killing random NVA and Viet Cong members in neighboring Cambodia, Captain Willard and team are secretly commissioned to find and execute the renegade Colonel.
Memorable Moments: In somewhat of a turning point, Captain Willard witnesses stake-mounted human heads near Colonel Kurtz’s camp, basically removing all doubt of his insanity.
Why People Love It: Similar to the seedy and no-holds-barred Full Metal Jacket flick, Apocalypse Now is one haunting, visceral film about one of the most controversial wars ever, The Vietnam War.
Best Quote: Capt. Benjamin L. Willard (Martin Sheen): “Someday this war’s gonna end”. That’d be just fine with the boys on the boat. They weren’t looking for anything more than a way home. Trouble is, I’d been back there, and I knew that it just didn’t exist anymore.”
33. Vertigo (1958)
Logline: San Franciscan Detective Scottie (James Stewart) is hired to spy on an old friend’s estranged wife, Madeleine. However, much to the detriment of his sanity, she lives in a high-rise building and he’s…well, acrophobic. What’s worse, she appears a bit loony.
Memorable Moments: Ultimately, the bizarre, entire second-half of the movie that unfolds after Scottie saves Madeleine from suicide.
Why People Love It: Very few dispute Hitchcock’s firm grip on the thriller/suspense genre of decades-past. Vertigo is a highly-stylized thriller and is oft considered one of Hitchcock’s best, most shocking flicks.
Best Quote: Tom Helmore (Gavin Elster): “Scottie, do you believe that someone out of the past–someone dead–can enter and take possession of a living being?”
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32. Memento (2000)
Logline: An ex insurance official, Leonard (Guy Pierce), uses memos and tattoos to track his wife’s murderer. Through two story lines, one going forward—the other progressively adding more back-story—Leonard is constantly one step closer to finding his prey.
Memorable Moments: Leonard studies a Polaroid of himself—shirtless and pointing at his bare chest—and flips it over to reveal that there is nothing there, as he thought there would or should be.
Why People Love It: Memento is so memorable for its utter originality and its (perhaps overly) complicated narrative. It actually forces the audience to think.
Best Quote: Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce): “Probably burned truck loads of your stuff before. Can’t remember to forget you.”
31. North by Northwest (1959)
Logline: When marketing executive Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is mistakenly identified by a group of spies as a government agent, Roger flees cross-country to escape them and his own government: But not without a little help from a gorgeous blond, Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint).
Memorable Moments: The scene where Roger, on a lonely, remote highway, is suddenly being chased (and shot at) by a crop-dusting aircraft, as illustrated in the famous scene pictured above.
Why People Love It: Maybe you’re noticing the trend that people really LOVE classic Hitchcock thrillers.
Best Quote: Eve: “I’m a big girl.“ Roger: “Yeah, and in all the right places, too.”
30. City of God (2002)
Logline: A tale that spans from the 60’s to the 1980’s in Rio de Janeiro, City of God is about two violent gangs that fight for control of the streets of Rio, much to the dismay of a good-natured photographer, Rocket.
Memorable Moments: The “farewell” party for Benny, highly reminiscent of the wedding scene from The Godfather, is pretty epic all by itself.
Why People Love It: Besides its, ostensibly, highly ironic title, CoD is one of the rare flicks—with startling kid-on-kid, gratuitous gang violence—that’s almost impossible to pull away from once you’ve gotten only 10 to 20 minutes into it.
Best Quote: Buscape (Alexandre Rodrigues): “It was like a message from God: “Honesty doesn’t pay, sucker.”
29. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Logline: A miserable businessman, George Bailey (James Stewart) is visited by an angel, who paints a sobering picture for him that illustrates what the lives of those around George would have looked liked had he never been born.
Memorable Moments: The collection of scenes where Clarence (Peter Travers), the fledgling angel, shows George what Bedford (“Potterville” in the imaginery) what would have come of the small town had he ceased to exist.
Why People Love It: It is, without doubt, very reminiscent of A Christmas Carol, and every bit as memorable and timeless.
Best Quote: Clarence (Henry Travers): “You’ve been given a great gift, George: A chance to see what the world would be like without you.”
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28. Amélie (2001)
Logline: Amelie (Audrey Tautou) chronicles the life of Amelie Poulain: A French girl whose upbringing included general isolation from the world. Later in life, Amelie decides to bestow “love and beauty” upon all those around her, while finding her one true love.
Memorable Moments: In a scene largely representative of the greater movie, Amelie stumbles upon a box of old toys in her home. Finding and delivering it to its rightful owner, Mr. Bretodeau, he experiences a rush of poignent, youthful memories.
Why People Love It: Anyone who’s seen and even remotely liked movies such as Chocolat or Run Lola Run (Germany): This is your movie.
Best Quote: Narrator (André Dussollier): “Amelie has a strange feeling of absolute harmony. It’s a perfect moment. A soft light, a scent in the air, the quiet murmur of the city. A surge of love, an urge to help mankind overcomes her.”
27. Taxi Driver (1976)
Logline: A product of the Vietnam War, Travis Bickle, who is very emotionally unstable at best, takes a gig as a taxi driver. However, once he’s long enough exposed to the seediness and decay of the city, Bickle tries to protect a teenage prostitute—while struggling to contain his violent tendencies.
Memorable Moments: When Travis “rescues” the young prostitute, Iris (Jodie Foster), from the clutches of a pimp named ‘Sport’ (Harvey Keitel).
Why People Love It: Taxi Driver is an exceptional tribute to the study of mental/emotional isolation, extreme paranoia and deviant desire; it’s become symbolic of our violence-prone, hedonistic-driven society.
Best Quote: Travis Bickle (De Niro): “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Well, who the hell else are ya talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? Well, I’m the only one here. Who the f*** do you think you’re talkin’ to?”
26. The General (1927)
Logline: Johnnie (Buster Keaton) pursues his precious locomotive, The General, and its passenger—Johnnie’s love, Annabelle Lee—when its stolen by Union spies.
Memorable Moments: When Annabelle is mistakenly informed by her brother that Johnnie wasn’t “even in line” to enlist in the Confederate army, to which Annabelle replies “He’s a disgrace to the South.”
Why People Love It: It’s one of the more ‘lovable’ of the silent-era movies and because of the exciting (at least at the time) action aboard The General.
Best Quote: Johnnie: “If you lose this war don’t blame me.”
25. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Logline: Rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling (Foster) is charged with hunting down serial killer and transsexual-wannabe ‘Buffalo Bill’. But in order to penetrate the mind of a serial killer in order to anticipate his next move, young Starling must make contact with evil incarnate: Hannibal ‘The Cannibal’ Lecter.
Memorable Moments: Who can forget the scene where Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb demands of young Catherine, who is being held in a deep, indoor well, to “put the f***ing lotion in the basket”?
Why People Love It: Because it’s the very epitome, the benchmark of what a crime-thriller should feel and look like: Dark, gritty, unremorseful, purposeful.
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Best Quote: Lecter (Hopkins): “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”
24. The Usual Suspects (1995)
Logline: The sole survivor of a boat (carrying many criminals) explosion misleadingly recounts his crimes with five other career criminals. Hence a bizarre, unpredictable series of plot twists (revolving around a mysterious, absolutely fearless Keyser Soze) unravels.
Memorable Moments: [Possible spoiler!] The final scene where Verbal Kint walks out of the police station, near crippled, and reveals who is really is.
Why People Love It: The Usual Suspects, in perhaps a nod to the neo-noir movement spearheaded by Tarantino, is easily one of director Bryan Singer’s most coveted, iconic crime thrillers.
Best Quote: Roger ‘Verbal’ Kint (Kevin Spacey): “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
23. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Logline: A reclusive, self-absorbed, has-been actress (Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond), dreams of returning to the spotlight in Hollywood with her ex-husband and director, Max. After developing a relationship with Joe Gillis, a wannabe writer, things soon turn deadly.
Memorable Moments: When Norma discovers that Joe, who is not only seeing her, but also a younger woman (Betty). Norma, needless to say, is not happy and things turn…well, dangerous.
Why People Love It: Possibly, it’s because the famous quote below sums up the vanity and manipulative attributes of the movie’s lead character.
Best Quote: Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson): “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”
22. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Logline: Jack Ripper (Sterling Hayden) has gone
a bit crazy completely certifiable, independently authorizing the bombing of Russia in fear that Communists are trying to kill Americans. But as other officials scramble to recall the catastrophic mission, Russia prepares its ultimate weapon, the Doomsday Machine.
Memorable Moments: The dialogue between the Soviet Premier and U.S. President. President Muffley, “Hello Dimitri…you know how we’ve always talked about…something going wrong with the hydrogen bomb? Well, now…um…one of our base commanders…he’s gone a little funny in the head and went and did a silly thing, he ordered his planes to attack your country.” Priceless moment.
Why People Love It: It is, among a long list of other iconic movies by Stanley Kubrick, one of the most memorable films—portraying a globally-nightmarish event (nuclear annihilation) in a brilliant, hilarious manner.
Best Quote: Dr. Strangelove/President Muffley (Peter Sellers): “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”
21. Psycho (1960)
Logline: After making off with $40k from her employer, Marion (Janet Leigh) embarks for California to begin a ‘new life’. Mid-trip, she stops for some R amp; R at the Bates Motel, operated by Norman Bates—a grown man seemingly way too fond and obedient of his mother.
Memorable Moments: Obviously, the most memorable scene not only from the movie, but perhaps from all Hitchcock films combined, is the shower scene.
Why People Love It: Because, simply said, it’s a prime testament to story-telling genius that Hitchcock was and still is. Oh, and because Norman Bates pins down the role of momma’s-boy psycho every bit as well as Hannibal did ‘The Cannibal’.
Best Quote: Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins): “A boy’s best friend is his mother.”
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20. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Logline: In 1936, professor/adventurist Indiana ‘Indy’ Jones was commissioned to find and protect the Ark of the Covenant from the likes of Renee Belloq and evil Nazis.
Memorable Moments: The blood-curdling (at least for fellow ‘ophidiophobics’) scene in the Well of Souls, where snakes are everywhere in sight, is pretty symbolic of much of the rest of the film.
Why People Love It: It’s very hard not to love the film the started the whole Indiana Jones saga—and possibly even a new genre.
Best Quote: Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford): “You want to talk to God?! Let’s go see him together, I’ve got nothing better to do.”
19. Fight Club (1999)
Logline: The Narrator (Ed Norton) is an insomniac and burnt-out 9-5’er. Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) is a crooked soap salesman and eccentric leader of a gang of angry men. The Narrator joins this ‘Fight Club’, which pits member against member in all-out, brutal fights.
Memorable Moments: This is a hard one (and will contain spoilers), but it’s the ending scene when The Narrator realizes that he and Tyler are the same person—and proceeds to off himself.
Why People Love It: One of Brad Pitt and Edward Norton’s most memorable films, Fight Club is a man’s-man kind of movie. It takes the stereotypical workaholic and insomniac (and the accompanying, pent-up anger) out of his element and—with the ‘help’ of Fight Club’s leader, Tyler Durden—ushers him into an underground world of ruthless street-fighting and seedy characters.
Best Quote: Tyler Durden (Pitt): “Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”‘ amp; Tyler Durden: “Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club”
18. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
Logline: When Luke (Mark Hamill) learns that he must save the rebellion’s leader, Princess Leia, he teams up with Chewbacca, C-3PO, RD-D2, and Han Solo, knowing that one of their greatest and most fearsome obstacles lies in their way—the Empirical Death Star.
Memorable Moments: In the epic climax to the Mos Eisley bar scene (where some pretty bizarre-yet-charming creatures lounge), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) fantastically dispatches of Greedo.
Why People Love It: It’s Star Wars: One of the few “bigger” movie franchises that people either love, hate, or could care less about–very little middle ground.
Best Quote: Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness): “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.”
17. 12 Angry Men (1957)
Logline: Once a young Latino’s (who’s accused of murdering his father) trial has commenced, 12 wary men–initially ready to convict right off and split–must now (thanks to a skeptical juror) seriously deliberate the youngster’s fate.
Memorable Moments: One of the defining moments occurs when jurors # 2 and 3 attempt to persuade the only dissenting juror, Juror #8 (Henry Fonda), to vote in favor of ‘guilty’.
Why People Love It: 12 Angry Men works has worked so well with audiences (even five decades later) because it epitomizes the courage one man displays when the overwhelming majority are eager to convict and go about their lives.
Best Quote: Juror #6 (Ed Binns): “Well, I’m not used to supposin’. I’m just a workin’ man. My boss does all the supposin’ – but I’ll try one. Supposin’ you talk us all out of this and, uh, the kid really did knife his father?”
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16. Casablanca (1942)
Logline: Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), owner of a popular nightclub in Africa, happens upon a former lover, Ilsa, and her Czech husband (who’s wanted by Nazis). Forced to choose between love and virtue, Rick decides to help them by rebelling against Vichy/Nazi forces, while secretly planning to run away with Ilsa.
Memorable Moments: For all of you that love a good, passionate on-screen kiss, the final scene—when Rick and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) cement their love for one another and lock lips—is very much your cup of tea.
Why People Love It: It’s literally impossible to reminisce about classic films of the 1940s/’50s-era without so much as a mention of Casablanca—a timeless, enduring symbol of Hollywood-style romance.
Best Quote: Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart): “Here’s looking at you, kid.” amp; Rick Blaine: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”
15. Rear Window (1954)
Logline: When photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries is injured on the job and bound to his NY apartment, he becomes obsessed with observing his neighbors through his ‘rear window’. Before long, though, he highly suspects one of them of murder, and puts a couple of acquaintances on the case.
Memorable Moments: The scenes where the ever-voyeuristic Jeff witnesses Mr. Thorwald (Raymond Burr) with ‘suspicious’ items such as a saw, large knife, and large crate—all in the absence of his (Thorwald’s) formerly-bedridden, invalid wife.
Why People Love It: Yet another of Alfred Hitchcock’s finest works, Rear Window is a fun adventure in voyeurism and the sometimes-serious consequences of.
Best Quote: Lisa (Grace Kelly): “A murderer would never parade his crime in front of an open window.”
14. Pulp Fiction (1994)
Logline: In a quartet of story lines, two henchmen (Jules and Vincent), a mafia boss (Marsellus) and his wife, a boxer, and a thuggish couple all become entangled in crime and corruption and will, ultimately, realize that their lives are intertwined.
Memorable Moments: Near the end when Jules and Vincent, grabbing some grub at a diner, must deal with a man-and-woman robbery. Epic.
Why People Love It: Perhaps most importantly, it’s a Tarantino flick. That granted, Pulp Fiction is instantly recognizable as a super dark, yet hilarious and eccentric, film icon from the mid-90s.
Best Quote: Jules (Sam Jackson): “S*** N*gro! That’s all you had to say!”
13. Citizen Kane (1941)
Logline: On a mission to discover the truth about the last word spoken (“Rosebud”) by millionaire Charles Foster Kane, a posse of reporters chronicle the man’s rise to the top of the corporate food chain and his show, agonizing fall into exile in his fortress-like home, Xanadu.
Memorable Moments: The opening sequence—with its shocking-for-the-time aesthetic—when Kane, owner of The New York Inquirer, utters ‘Rosebud’ and keels over.
Why People Love It: Many consider it the crowning achievement of film, both then and still in modernity. Others cherish the storyline, which essentially espouses many untruths about capitalism in ordinarily down-to-Earth fashion.
Best Quote: Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): “Don’t believe everything you hear on the radio.”
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12. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Logline: At the instruction of Yoda, Luke (Mark Hamill) and R2-D2 receive coveted Jedi training in preparation to save his kidnapped friends (Princess Leia, C-3PO, and Han Solo) from the clutches of the dark lord Vader.
Memorable Moments: In one of the most memorable scenes of the whole franchise is one of the most repeated (often in jest) quotes in cinema history: Darth Vader to Luke “No…I am your father.”
Why People Love It: The Empire Strikes Back is widely considered the best of the series, boasting an even deeper and more sophisticated story than even A New Hope.
Best Quote: Yoda (Frank Oz): “No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.”
11. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
Logline: To shirk his duties in prison, R.P McMurphy fakes insanity. Transferred to a mental institution, he tries hard to develop rapport among the crazies—while spearheading a revolt against a fascistic head nurse.
Memorable Moments: The scene where McMurphy, in all his charming quirkiness, vividly enacts an imaginary commentary of the ’63 World Series to his mellow friends, who are barred from watching the real thing on TV.
Why People Love It: It’s one of Jack Nicholson’s first movies that made the world fall in love with his distinctive character: Funny, sarcastic, looney-in-a sane way, and at times, scathing.
Best Quote: R.P. McMurphy (Nicholson): “Why don’t ya shut your damn mouth and play some music.?”
10. Once Upon a Time in the West (1969)
Logline: A southern belle, Mrs. McBain, moves to the far West Frontier to join her family. Upon arrival, though, she finds discovers all were ruthlessly murdered; she has to rely on perfect strangers (outlaws and nomads) to protect her and find her family’s killer.
Memorable Moments: Frank (a ruthless outlaw) sexually harasses Jill (Claudia Cardinale). He tells her that she can’t even the resist the advances (having been informed that she was previously a hooker in New Orleans) of the very man who murdered her husband.
Why People Love It: Once Upon a Time isn’t just your de facto Western flick: Rather, a Western thoroughly blended with metaphor, style, and—perhaps—poetic justice that could be easily deemed A Hot Mess.
Best Quote: Frank (Henry Fonda): “How can you trust a man who wears both a belt and suspenders? The man can’t even trust his own pants”
9. Goodfellas (1990)
Logline: Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) enters the Italian mob and, as he grows older, rises through the ranks with Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) and Tommy De Vito (Joe Pesci) until one day, the whole criminal enterprise (as well as Henry’s life) starts to crumble.
Memorable Moments: With Henry Hill narrating, the corpses of several mafia figures (mostly linked to the Lufthansa heist) are paraded in a musical montage.
Why People Love It: An epic film, especially among mob-movie fanatics, that digs deep into the rise and fall of gangster Henry Hill, Goodfellas is the quintessential mafia movie that makes absolutely no excuses for itself and glorifies nothing about the seedy, brutal underworld of the Italian mob.
Best Quote: Jimmy Conway (De Niro): “I’m not mad, I’m proud of you. You took your first pinch like a man and you learn two great things in your life. Look at me, never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut.”
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8. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
Logline: A sort of “prequel and sequel” hybrid, The Godfather II chronicles Vito’s early life in the fledgling 20th-century, as well as his son Michael’s (Al Pacino) assumption of power and attempts at expanding the family enterprise in the 50’s.
Memorable Moments: At the club, Michael grabs Fredo, “kisses” him and spills the beans: “I knew it was you, Fredo…you broke my heart…..you broke my heart!” Some time later, Fredo is faithfully executed by an assassin, hired by Michael.
Why People Love It: Very few sequels enjoy the luxury of being deemed just as good as the first. The Godfather II is almost universally considered one of those.
Best Quote: Michael Corleone (Al Pacino): “Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.”
7. Seven Samurai (1954)
Logline: When a poor farming community is terrorized by bandits, seven former samurai take up arms to defend it. In exchange for defending it and teaching the locals self defense, the village people feed the samurai.
Memorable Moments: Rice, which a farmer had harvested for the samurai, was stolen from under the farmer responsible for it; sobbing as he picks up leftover grains, Kikuchiyo (Toshiro Mifune) throws him money to purchase more.
Why People Love It: You don’t even need an interest in martial arts to appreciate this masterpiece. Seven Samurai is laden with phenomenal action sequences, unforgettable characters, and a timeless story.
Best Quote: Kanbe Shimada (Takashi Shimura): “Danger always strikes when everything seems fine.”
6. Inception (2010)
Logline: Cobb (Leo Dicaprio) is one of the most specialized thieves in the world; that is, he enters others’ minds through their subconscious (dreams) and sells their secrets to the highest bidder. But soon, Cobb and his team must carry out one of the most unfathomable missions ever, Inception.
Memorable Moments: From the scene pictured above, Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) fights others in a gravity-defying, spinning hallway—‘falling’ to the ceiling, walking on walls, and kicking a** mid-air.
Why People Love It: Inception’s premise—intruding into the unconscious mind, which seemingly allows all rules of reality and logic to disappear—is refreshingly original and its plot, nothing short of brilliant.
Best Quote: Yusuf (Dileep Rao): “That many dreams within dreams is too unstable!”
5. The Dark Knight (2008)
Logline: Batman (Christian Bale) collaborates with Harvey Dent and Lieutenant Gordan to rid Gotham’s streets of organized crime. While initially successful, the trio must now face their most formidable opponent yet: The Joker (Heath Ledger) and minions.
Memorable Moments: Either the phenomenal explosion scene (where The Joker merrily skips off), the jailhouse interrogation scene, or the hospital scene when he visits the horribly-burned Harvey Dent, who subsequently becomes Two-Face.
Why People Love It: The lion’s share of Batman enthusiasts agree that The Dark Knight is the best Batman film to-date (and probably ever), thanks in large to an unquestionably great performance by the late (RIP) Heath Ledger.
Best Quote: Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart): “The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming.” |Or| The Joker: “Why so serious?”
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4. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Logline: Three men—Blondie/’The Good’ (Clint Eastwood), Tuco/’The Ugly’, and Angel Eyes/’The Bad’—learn of a mysterious grave, rumored to be full of gold, in a remote cemetery. It soon becomes apparent, though, that it will be every man for himself in the quest to find this grave.
Memorable Moments: Near the end when Blondie, Tuco, and Angel Eyes find themselves in a three-way duel, and Tuco realizes that Blondie had secretly unloaded his revolver the prior night.
Why People Love It: Maybe it’s one of the most memorable Western titles ever, or the utter irony of the title itself? Or perhaps because it stars gun-slingin’ Clint Eastwood in one of his best roles ever?
Best Quote: Blondie: “You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.”
3. Schindler’s List (1993)
Logline: Nazi-occupied Poland: Businessman Oskar Schindler wasn’t initially the loving, humanitarian-type—instead, a savvy profiteer. But witnessing the systematic brutalization of fellow Jews, Schindler (perhaps the most unlikely candidate for ‘hero’) opens his heart and factory to provide over a thousand Jews refuge from Nazis.
Memorable Moments: Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes)—a merciless, wicked Nazi commandant—“falls for” his Jewish maid. After almost raping her, he realizes that even kissing her would be high treason, Goeth delivers a savage beating to her for “seducing” him.
Why People Love It: Schindler’s List symbolizes the love and humanity that each and every one of us is capable of having, despite all of our (possibly) innate/instinctual tendencies toward self-interest, greed, and even having the capacity for murder.
Best Quote: Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley): “It’s Hebrew, it’s from the Talmud. It says, Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”
2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Logline: The Shawshank Redemption, possibly the greatest movie of both Freeman’s (“Red”) and Robbin’s (Andy) careers (make that one of the best movies overall, ever), is an epic tale of two gentlemanly, intellectual prisoners who show remarkable courage and sustain hope against almost all odds of ever getting out of the joint for their old crimes.
Memorable Moments: The epic scene where a just-released, elderly man (James Whitmore)—isolated in his humble New York apartment and missing his ‘home’ in prison (basically, the only life he’d known for decades) —kicks the chair from underneath his feet and hangs himself.
Why People Love It: Directed by Frank Darabont/written by Stephen King, it symbolizes our struggle between the demons that imprison us (quite literally here) and the hope for better-days-to-come—which is all we really have to cling to in the end.
Best Quote: Andy Dufresne (Robbins): “Get busy living, or get busy dying”
1. The Godfather (1972)
Logline: Vito Corleone, Don of the Corleone crime empire, assumed the helm of the fledgling family ‘business’ in the 1920’s and for almost forty years, built it into a dynasty of wiseguys and ruthless henchmen that would make Al Capone’s gang look like clergymen. Decades later, though, he must pass the reigns of his empire to a reluctant Son, Michael Corleone.
Memorable Moments: One of the biggest turning points is when Michael Corleone, whose hands are free of anyone’s blood, murders the corrupt policeman (McCluskey) and wiseguy Sollozzo from a rival family.
Why People Love It: People and critics generally swear by Godfather franchise whenever one of these lists pops up. Plus, how can you dismiss a flick that’s received Oscar after Oscar after Oscar? Performances are second to none (ever), the riveting score is perfect in all senses, there’s nearly flawless editing, and the scenery is fantasticly well-suited.
Best Quote: Vito Corleone (Brando): “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”