The Essential Filmsby seagrave54 | created - 21 Nov 2012 | updated - 4 weeks ago | Public
When I first started to watch movies as more than just a casual fan I had a difficult time deciding what movies to watch. There are tons of top 10, 20, 50, 100, 250, 500, 1000 movie lists and I had no idea where to start. Having gone through a large number of said lists I have decided to make a list of the Essential 100 Films for anyone attempting to get deeper into film to use as a starting point. **Limit of two entries per director.
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1. A Trip to the Moon (1902)
TV-G | 13 min | Short, Adventure, Fantasy
A group of astronomers go on an expedition to the Moon.
Georges Méliès most famous film using a number of technical innovations.
2. Cabiria (1914)
Not Rated | 148 min | Adventure, Drama, History
Three centuries before Christus. Young Cabiria is kidnapped by some pirates during one eruption of the Etna. She is sold as a slave in Carthage, and as she is just going to be sacrificed to... See full summary »
This Italian epic is the first of its kind and heavily influenced D.W. Griffith's Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages.
Not Rated | 197 min | Drama, History
The story of a poor young woman, separated by prejudice from her husband and baby, is interwoven with tales of intolerance from throughout history.
Intolerance, following the influence of Cabiria, evolved into a more epic story that uses parallel editing to move between stories from different points in history.
4. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Unrated | 67 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
Hypnotist Dr. Caligari uses a somnambulist, Cesare, to commit murders.
German expressionism in film via unique set design.
5. The Phantom Carriage (1921)
Not Rated | 100 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror
On New Year's Eve, the driver of a ghostly carriage forces a drunken man to reflect on his selfish, wasted life.
From Sweden, This Phantom Carriage is an intimate story that uses non-linear storytelling along with parallel editing to create tension in this dark and influential film. Its influences include It's a Wonderful Life and The Shining.
6. Nosferatu (1922)
Unrated | 81 min | Fantasy, Horror
Vampire Count Orlok expresses interest in a new residence and real estate agent Hutter's wife.
F.W. Murnau's version of Bram Stoker's Dracula is one of the earliest and most influential horror films.
7. La roue (1923)
273 min | Drama
Sisif, a railwayman, and his son Elie fall in love with the beautiful Norma (who Sisif rescued from a train crash when a baby and raised as his daughter), with tragic results. Originally ... See full summary »
Abel Gance revolutionizes editing with a number of sequences (most notably the cliffhanger sequence) that have been unmatched in this fairly taboo story that concludes with a hauntingly beautiful shot.
8. Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Unrated | 66 min | Drama, History
In the midst of the Russian Revolution of 1905, the crew of the battleship Potemkin mutiny against the brutal, tyrannical regime of the vessel's officers. The resulting street demonstration in Odessa brings on a police massacre.
Votes: 44,262 | Gross: $0.05M
Potemkin was ahead of its time with rapid paced editing that gave the film a kinetic energy. The film also features the iconic scene of the massacre at the steps of Odessa.
9. The General (1926)
Not Rated | 67 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy
When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single-handedly and straight through enemy lines.
Buster Keaton's most famous film featuring his deadpan style of comedy uses a number of inventive physical gags.
10. Metropolis (1927)
Not Rated | 153 min | Drama, Sci-Fi
In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.
Votes: 126,067 | Gross: $0.03M
The most influential sci-fi film of all time. Inspiring films from Star Wars to Blade Runner.
11. Sunrise (1927)
Not Rated | 94 min | Drama, Romance
An allegorical tale about a man fighting the good and evil within him. Both sides are made flesh - one a sophisticated woman he is attracted to and the other his wife.
An intimate story that is incredibly well shot for its time.
14. City Lights (1931)
G | 87 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
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.
Votes: 125,486 | Gross: $0.02M
15. The Public Enemy (1931)
Not Rated | 83 min | Crime, Drama
A young hoodlum rises up through the ranks of the Chicago underworld, even as a gangster's accidental death threatens to spark a bloody mob war.
17. La Grande Illusion (1937)
Unrated | 113 min | Drama, War
During the First World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.
Votes: 28,987 | Gross: $0.17M
19. Gone with the Wind (1939)
G | 238 min | Drama, History, Romance
A manipulative woman and a roguish man conduct a turbulent romance during the American Civil War and Reconstruction periods.
Votes: 238,271 | Gross: $198.68M
20. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
PG | 102 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Dorothy Gale is swept away from a farm in Kansas to a magical land of Oz in a tornado and embarks on a quest with her new friends to see the Wizard who can help her return home in Kansas and help her friends as well.
Votes: 320,698 | Gross: $22.20M
21. The Great Dictator (1940)
G | 125 min | Comedy, Drama, War
Dictator Adenoid Hynkel tries to expand his empire while a poor Jewish barber tries to avoid persecution from Hynkel's regime.
23. Casablanca (1942)
PG | 102 min | Drama, Romance, War
In Casablanca in December 1941, a cynical American expatriate encounters a former lover, with unforeseen complications.
Votes: 429,436 | Gross: $1.02M
24. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
Not Rated | 75 min | Drama, Western
When a posse captures three men suspected of killing a local farmer, they become strongly divided over whether or not to lynch the men.
26. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Not Rated | 170 min | Drama, Romance, War
Three World War II veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.
Votes: 45,140 | Gross: $23.65M
27. The Big Sleep (1946)
Approved | 114 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery
Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a rich family. Before the complex case is over, he's seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love.
29. Late Spring (1949)
Not Rated | 108 min | Drama
Noriko is twenty-seven years old and still living with her widowed father. Everybody tries to talk her into marrying, but Noriko wants to stay at home caring for her father.
30. The Third Man (1949)
Not Rated | 93 min | Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller
Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime.
Votes: 127,294 | Gross: $0.45M
31. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
Approved | 106 min | Comedy, Crime
A distant poor relative of the Duke of D'Ascoyne plots to inherit the title by murdering the eight other heirs who stand ahead of him in the line of succession.
32. All About Eve (1950)
Not Rated | 138 min | Drama
An ingenue insinuates herself into the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends.
Votes: 93,566 | Gross: $0.01M
37. High Noon (1952)
PG | 85 min | Action, Drama, Thriller
A town marshal, despite the disagreements of his newlywed bride and the townspeople around him, must face a gang of deadly killers alone at high noon when the gang leader, an outlaw he sent up years ago, arrives on the noon train.
Votes: 85,192 | Gross: $9.45M
40. Rear Window (1954)
PG | 112 min | Mystery, Thriller
A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.
Votes: 354,952 | Gross: $36.76M
42. Sansho the Bailiff (1954)
Not Rated | 124 min | Drama
In medieval Japan, a compassionate governor is sent into exile. His wife and children try to join him, but are separated, and the children grow up amid suffering and oppression.
45. Diabolique (1955)
Not Rated | 117 min | Crime, Drama, Horror
The wife and mistress of a cruel headmaster conspire to kill him; after the murder is committed, his corpse disappears, and strange events begin to plague the two women.
48. The Seventh Seal (1957)
Not Rated | 96 min | Drama, Fantasy
A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.
49. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
PG | 161 min | Adventure, Drama, War
After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.
Votes: 166,373 | Gross: $44.91M
51. The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (I) (1959)
Not Rated | 208 min | Drama, War
A Japanese pacifist, unable to face the dire consequences of conscientious objection, is transformed by his attempts to compromise with the demands of war-time Japan.
The Human Condition Trilogy
53. Some Like It Hot (1959)
Not Rated | 121 min | Comedy, Romance
When two male musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all-female band disguised as women, but further complications set in.
Votes: 195,791 | Gross: $25.00M
54. Psycho (1960)
R | 109 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
A Phoenix secretary embezzles $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.
Votes: 475,937 | Gross: $32.00M
56. Breathless (1960)
Not Rated | 90 min | Crime, Drama
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.
Votes: 58,295 | Gross: $0.34M
57. Harakiri (1962)
Not Rated | 133 min | Action, Drama, History
An elder ronin samurai arrives at a feudal lord's home and requests an honorable place to commit suicide. But when the ronin inquires about a younger samurai who arrived before him things take an unexpected turn.
58. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
PG | 216 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
The story of T.E. Lawrence, the English officer who successfully united and led the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks.
Votes: 215,403 | Gross: $44.82M
59. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Not Rated | 129 min | Crime, Drama
Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his children against prejudice.
62. Contempt (1963)
Not Rated | 102 min | Drama
Screenwriter Paul Javal's marriage to his wife Camille disintegrates during movie production as she spends time with the producer. Layered conflicts between art and business ensue.
Votes: 22,356 | Gross: $0.04M
63. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
R | 178 min | Western
A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.
Votes: 558,675 | Gross: $6.10M
The Dollars Trilogy
66. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
G | 149 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi
Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest.
Votes: 481,067 | Gross: $56.95M
67. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
PG-13 | 164 min | Western
A mysterious stranger with a harmonica joins forces with a notorious desperado to protect a beautiful widow from a ruthless assassin working for the railroad.
Votes: 242,426 | Gross: $5.32M
68. Hell in the Pacific (1968)
G | 103 min | Adventure, War
During World War II, an American pilot and a marooned Japanese navy captain are deserted on a small uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean. There, they must cease their hostility and cooperate if they want to survive, but will they?
69. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
R | 136 min | Crime, Drama, Sci-Fi
In the future, a sadistic gang leader is imprisoned and volunteers for a conduct-aversion experiment, but it doesn't go as planned.
70. The Godfather (1972)
R | 175 min | Crime, Drama
The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.
Votes: 1,287,592 | Gross: $134.97M
and part II
72. Taxi Driver (1976)
R | 113 min | Crime, Drama
A mentally unstable veteran works as a nighttime taxi driver in New York City, where the perceived decadence and sleaze fuels his urge for violent action, while attempting to liberate a twelve-year-old prostitute.
Votes: 570,579 | Gross: $28.26M
73. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
PG | 121 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
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.
Votes: 1,013,690 | Gross: $322.74M
Star Wars Original Trilogy
74. Apocalypse Now (1979)
R | 147 min | Drama, War
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.
Votes: 497,006 | Gross: $83.47M
75. Alien (1979)
R | 117 min | Horror, Sci-Fi
After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun.
Votes: 642,221 | Gross: $78.90M
77. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
PG | 115 min | Action, Adventure
Archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis.
Votes: 731,989 | Gross: $248.16M
78. Blade Runner (1982)
R | 117 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller
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.
Votes: 548,002 | Gross: $27.00M
79. Goodfellas (1990)
R | 146 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
The story of Henry Hill and his life in the mob, covering his relationship with his wife Karen Hill and his Mob partners Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVito in the Italian-American crime syndicate.
Votes: 812,604 | Gross: $46.84M
80. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
R | 118 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A young F.B.I. cadet must receive the help of an incarcerated and manipulative cannibal killer to help catch another serial killer, a madman who skins his victims.
Votes: 1,004,258 | Gross: $130.74M
81. Pulp Fiction (1994)
R | 154 min | Crime, Drama
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.
Votes: 1,475,120 | Gross: $107.93M
82. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
R | 142 min | Crime, Drama
Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.
Votes: 1,885,863 | Gross: $28.34M
84. Fargo (1996)
R | 98 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
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.
Votes: 507,114 | Gross: $24.61M
86. Fight Club (1999)
R | 139 min | Drama
An insomniac office worker, looking for a way to change his life, crosses paths with a devil-may-care soap maker, forming an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.
Votes: 1,511,482 | Gross: $37.03M
87. The Matrix (1999)
R | 136 min | Action, Sci-Fi
A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.
Votes: 1,356,590 | Gross: $171.48M
PG-13 | 178 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
A meek Hobbit from the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to destroy the powerful One Ring and save Middle Earth from the Dark Lord Sauron.
Votes: 1,367,780 | Gross: $315.54M
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
90. City of God (2002)
R | 130 min | Crime, Drama
Two boys growing up in a violent neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer.
Votes: 586,990 | Gross: $7.56M
92. The Dark Knight (2008)
PG-13 | 152 min | Action, Crime, Drama
When the menace known as the Joker emerges from his mysterious past, he wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham, the Dark Knight must accept one of the greatest psychological and physical tests of his ability to fight injustice.
Votes: 1,861,717 | Gross: $534.86M
The Dark Knight Trilogy
93. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
R | 118 min | Drama, Fantasy, War
In the falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world.
Votes: 518,424 | Gross: $37.63M
94. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
R | 141 min | Drama, History, War
The story of the battle of Iwo Jima between the United States and Imperial Japan during World War II, as told from the perspective of the Japanese who fought it.
Votes: 139,882 | Gross: $13.76M
95. No Country for Old Men (2007)
R | 122 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and more than two million dollars in cash near the Rio Grande.
Votes: 688,562 | Gross: $74.28M
96. There Will Be Blood (2007)
R | 158 min | Drama, History
A story of family, religion, hatred, oil and madness, focusing on a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business.
Votes: 418,055 | Gross: $40.22M
97. The Hurt Locker (2008)
R | 131 min | Drama, History, Thriller
During the Iraq War, a Sergeant recently assigned to an army bomb squad is put at odds with his squad mates due to his maverick way of handling his work.
Votes: 362,989 | Gross: $17.02M
98. Drive (I) (2011)
R | 100 min | Crime, Drama
A mysterious Hollywood stuntman and mechanic moonlights as a getaway driver and finds himself in trouble when he helps out his neighbor.
Votes: 479,671 | Gross: $35.06M
99. The Tree of Life (2011)
PG-13 | 139 min | Drama, Fantasy
The story of a family in Waco, Texas in 1956. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence and struggles with his parents' conflicting teachings.
Votes: 147,536 | Gross: $13.30M