70 Essential, Classic, Quality Films

Of all the films in the world, in the history of cinema, here are 70 films I believe encapsulate well the essence of cinema. Each film in its own way pushed the horizons of film's capacity. Many films will be missing; these are my personal selection of classic movies, each of which has closely inspired me as a filmmaker. Thank you for reading. *Note: NO particular order.
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1.
The Godfather (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.2/10 X  
The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son. (175 mins.)
 
2.
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting in Hue. (116 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
 
3.
Psycho (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A Phoenix secretary steals $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother. (109 mins.)
 
4.
Unforgiven (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Retired Old West gunslinger William Munny reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner and a young man. (131 mins.)
Director: Clint Eastwood
 
5.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her young son, John Connor, from a more advanced cyborg, made out of liquid metal. (137 mins.)
Director: James Cameron
 
6.
Aliens (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
The planet from Alien has been colonized, but contact is lost. This time, the rescue team has impressive firepower, but will it be enough? (137 mins.)
Director: James Cameron
 
7.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims. (118 mins.)
Director: Jonathan Demme
 
8.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption. (154 mins.)
 
9.
The Exorcist (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
When a preteen girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter. (122 mins.)
 
10.
City Lights (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
With the aid of a wealthy erratic tippler, a dewy-eyed tramp who has fallen in love with a sightless flower girl accumulates money to be able to help her medically. (87 mins.)
Director: Charles Chaplin
 
11.
Die Hard (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save his wife Holly Gennaro and several others that were taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles. (131 mins.)
Director: John McTiernan
 
12.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop. (95 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
 
13.
Titanic (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind, but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic. (194 mins.)
Director: James Cameron
 
14.
Gone with the Wind (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A manipulative Southern belle carries on a turbulent affair with a blockade runner during the American Civil War. (238 mins.)
Director: Victor Fleming
 
15.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A somewhat romanticized account of the career of the notoriously violent bank robbing couple and their gang. (111 mins.)
Director: Arthur Penn
 
16.
All About Eve (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
An ingenue insinuates herself into the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends. (138 mins.)
 
17.
Goodfellas (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
Henry Hill and his friends work their way up through the mob hierarchy. (146 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
 
18.
Jaws (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and a grizzled fisherman set out to stop it. (124 mins.)
 
19.
Clerks (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A day in the lives of two convenience clerks named Dante and Randal as they annoy customers, discuss movies, and play hockey on the store roof. (92 mins.)
Director: Kevin Smith
 
20.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.3/10 X  
Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. (142 mins.)
Director: Frank Darabont
 
21.
Fargo (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Jerry Lundegaard's inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson. (98 mins.)
Director: Joel Coen
 
22.
American Beauty (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend. (122 mins.)
Director: Sam Mendes
 
23.
The Matrix (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers. (136 mins.)
 
24.
Scarface (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
In Miami in 1980, a determined Cuban immigrant takes over a drug cartel and succumbs to greed. (170 mins.)
Director: Brian De Palma
 
25.
From Russia with Love (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
James Bond willingly falls into an assassination ploy involving a naive Russian beauty in order to retrieve a Soviet encryption device that was stolen by SPECTRE. (115 mins.)
Director: Terence Young
 
26.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
After an encounter with U.F.O.s, a line worker feels undeniably drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen. (137 mins.)
 
27.
Wild Strawberries (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
After living a life marked by coldness, an aging professor is forced to confront the emptiness of his existence. (91 mins.)
Director: Ingmar Bergman
 
28.
Seven Samurai (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves. (207 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
 
29.
Bicycle Thieves (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Set in Post-WWII Italy, a working class man's bicycle is stolen. He and his son set out to find it. (89 mins.)
 
30.
Nosferatu (1922)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Vampire Count Orlok expresses interest in a new residence and real estate agent Hutter's wife. (94 mins.)
Director: F.W. Murnau
 
31.
For a Few Dollars More (1965)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Two bounty hunters with the same intentions team up to track down a Western outlaw. (132 mins.)
Director: Sergio Leone
 
32.
Breathless (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy. (90 mins.)
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
 
33.
Double Indemnity (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
An insurance representative lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator's suspicions. (107 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
 
34.
The Fly (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A brilliant but eccentric scientist begins to transform into a giant man/fly hybrid after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong. (96 mins.)
 
35.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
A criminal pleads insanity after getting into trouble again and once in the mental institution rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients. (133 mins.)
Director: Milos Forman
 
36.
Paisan (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Six vignettes follow the Allied invasion from July 1943 to winter 1944, from Sicily north to Venice... (125 mins.)
 
37.
The Seventh Seal (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague. (96 mins.)
Director: Ingmar Bergman
 
38.
Hell's Angels (1930)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Brothers Monte and Ray leave Oxford to join the Royal Flying Corps. Ray loves Helen; Helen enjoys an affair with Monte; before they leave on their mission over Germany they find her in still another man's arms. (127 mins.)
Director: Howard Hughes
 
39.
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A surreal, virtually plotless series of dreams centered around six middle-class people and their consistently interrupted attempts to have a meal together. (102 mins.)
Director: Luis Bunuel
 
40.
Enter the Dragon (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A martial artist agrees to spy on a reclusive crime lord using his invitation to a tournament there as cover. (102 mins.)
Director: Robert Clouse
 
41.
The Evil Dead (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons. (85 mins.)
Director: Sam Raimi
 
42.
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The anti-Ching patriots, under the guidance of Ho Kuang-han, have secretly set up their base in Canton... (115 mins.)
Director: Chia-Liang Liu
 
43.
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire's world-destroying battle-station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader. (121 mins.)
Director: George Lucas
 
44.
Fight Club (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
An insomniac office worker, looking for a way to change his life, crosses paths with a alter-ego devil-may-care soap maker, forming an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more... (139 mins.)
Director: David Fincher
 
45.
Cast Away (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A FedEx executive must transform himself physically and emotionally to survive a crash landing on a deserted island. (143 mins.)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
 
46.
Raging Bull (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
An emotionally self-destructive boxer's journey through life, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring destroys his life outside it. (129 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
 
47.
Blade Runner (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A blade runner must pursue and try to terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space and have returned to Earth to find their creator. (117 mins.)
Director: Ridley Scott
 
48.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Five high school students, all different stereotypes, meet in detention, where they pour their hearts out to each other, and discover how they have a lot more in common than they thought. (97 mins.)
Director: John Hughes
 
49.
Mad Max (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
In a self-destructing world, a vengeful Australian policeman sets out to stop a violent motorcycle gang. (88 mins.)
Director: George Miller
 
50.
Airplane! (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A man afraid to fly must ensure that a plane lands safely after the pilots become sick. (88 mins.)
 
51.
The Terminator (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A human-looking indestructible cyborg is sent from 2029 to 1984 to assassinate a waitress, whose unborn son will lead humanity in a war against the machines, while a soldier from that war is sent to protect her at all costs. (107 mins.)
Director: James Cameron
 
52.
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A young couple move into an apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life. (136 mins.)
Director: Roman Polanski
 
53.
Predator (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A team of commandos on a mission in a Central American jungle find themselves hunted by an extraterrestrial warrior. (107 mins.)
Director: John McTiernan
 
54.
The Warriors (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
In 1979, a charismatic leader summons the street gangs of New York City in a bid to take it over. When he is killed, The Warriors are falsely blamed and now must fight their way home while every other gang is hunting them down to kill them. (92 mins.)
Director: Walter Hill
 
55.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse. (96 mins.)
 
56.
They Live (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A drifter discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to wake up to the fact that aliens have taken over the Earth. (93 mins.)
Director: John Carpenter
 
57.
Apocalypse Now (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe. (153 mins.)
Director: Francis Coppola
 
58.
Mission: Impossible (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
An American agent, under false suspicion of disloyalty, must discover and expose the real spy without the help of his organization. (110 mins.)
Director: Brian De Palma
 
59.
The Princess Bride (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
While home sick in bed, a young boy's grandfather reads him a story called The Princess Bride. (98 mins.)
Director: Rob Reiner
 
60.
Superman (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
An alien orphan is sent from his dying planet to Earth, where he grows up to become his adoptive home's first and greatest superhero. (143 mins.)
Director: Richard Donner
 
61.
Rear Window (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder. (112 mins.)
 
62.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
In future Britain, charismatic delinquent Alex DeLarge is jailed and volunteers for an experimental aversion therapy developed by the government in an effort to solve society's crime problem - but not all goes according to plan. (136 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
 
63.
M (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt. (117 mins.)
Director: Fritz Lang
 
64.
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A strange prehistoric beast lurks in the depths of the Amazonian jungle. A group of scientists try to capture the animal and bring it back to civilization for study. (79 mins.)
Director: Jack Arnold
 
65.
Medium Cool (1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A TV news reporter finds himself becoming personally involved in the violence that erupts around the 1968 Democratic National Convention. (111 mins.)
Director: Haskell Wexler
 
66.
The Birds (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people. (119 mins.)
 
67.
Faces of Death (1978 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.0/10 X  
A collection of death scenes, ranging from TV-material to home-made super-8 movies The common factor is death by some means. (105 mins.)
 
68.
The Shining (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future. (146 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
 
69.
North by Northwest (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A hapless New York advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive. (136 mins.)
 
70.
The Godfather: Part II (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.0/10 X  
The early life and career of Vito Corleone in 1920s New York is portrayed while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on his crime syndicate stretching from Lake Tahoe, Nevada to pre-revolution 1958 Cuba. (202 mins.)