Col Needham's Top 30 Movies from the Last 30 Years

by Col Needham | last updated - 1 week ago

I am the Founder and CEO of IMDb and in honour of our 30th anniversary here are my favourite movies from 1990 to 2019. One movie per year and in chronological order.

This is a companion list to my Top 30 International Movies from the Last 30 Years list and my Top 30 Hidden Gem Movies from the Last 30 Years list.

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1. The Hunt for Red October (1990)

PG | 135 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
58 Metascore

In November 1984, the Soviet Union's best submarine Captain in their newest sub violates orders and heads for the U.S. Is he trying to defect or to start a war?

Director: John McTiernan | Stars: Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn, Sam Neill

Votes: 176,294 | Gross: $122.01M

2. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

R | 118 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

8.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
85 Metascore

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.

Director: Jonathan Demme | Stars: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney, Kasi Lemmons

Votes: 1,244,675 | Gross: $130.74M

3. Basic Instinct (1992)

R | 127 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
41 Metascore

A violent police detective investigates a brutal murder that might involve a manipulative and seductive novelist.

Director: Paul Verhoeven | Stars: Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, George Dzundza, Jeanne Tripplehorn

Votes: 172,923 | Gross: $117.73M

4. Jurassic Park (1993)

PG-13 | 127 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
68 Metascore

A pragmatic paleontologist visiting an almost complete theme park is tasked with protecting a couple of kids after a power failure causes the park's cloned dinosaurs to run loose.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough

Votes: 852,291 | Gross: $402.45M

5. Pulp Fiction (1994)

R | 154 min | Crime, Drama

8.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
94 Metascore

The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster and his wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis

Votes: 1,792,766 | Gross: $107.93M

6. Se7en (1995)

R | 127 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

8.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
65 Metascore

Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his motives.

Director: David Fincher | Stars: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Andrew Kevin Walker

Votes: 1,414,048 | Gross: $100.13M

7. Bound (1996)

R | 109 min | Crime, Romance, Thriller

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
61 Metascore

Tough ex-con Corky and her lover Violet concoct a scheme to steal millions of stashed mob money and pin the blame on Violet's crooked boyfriend Caesar.

Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski | Stars: Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, Joe Pantoliano, John P. Ryan

Votes: 49,899 | Gross: $3.80M

8. Contact (1997)

PG | 150 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
62 Metascore

Dr. Ellie Arroway, after years of searching, finds conclusive radio proof of extraterrestrial intelligence, sending plans for a mysterious machine.

Director: Robert Zemeckis | Stars: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt

Votes: 250,541 | Gross: $100.92M

9. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

R | 169 min | Drama, War

8.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
91 Metascore

Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns

Votes: 1,212,674 | Gross: $216.54M

10. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

R | 159 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
68 Metascore

A New York City doctor embarks on a harrowing, night-long odyssey of sexual and moral discovery after his wife reveals a painful secret to him.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Todd Field, Sydney Pollack

Votes: 297,110 | Gross: $55.69M

11. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

R | 102 min | Drama

8.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
68 Metascore

The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island people are shattered when their addictions run deep.

Director: Darren Aronofsky | Stars: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans

Votes: 753,667 | Gross: $3.64M

Honourable mentions: Memento (2000) & Snatch (2000)

12. Moulin Rouge! (2001)

PG-13 | 127 min | Drama, Musical, Romance

7.6
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66 Metascore

A poet falls for a beautiful courtesan whom a jealous duke covets.

Director: Baz Luhrmann | Stars: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent

Votes: 263,955 | Gross: $57.39M

13. Minority Report (2002)

PG-13 | 145 min | Action, Crime, Mystery

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
80 Metascore

In a future where a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes, an officer from that unit is himself accused of a future murder.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max von Sydow

Votes: 501,470 | Gross: $132.07M

Honourable mentions: Panic Room (2002) & Signs (2002)

14. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

PG-13 | 143 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
63 Metascore

Blacksmith Will Turner teams up with eccentric pirate "Captain" Jack Sparrow to save his love, the governor's daughter, from Jack's former pirate allies, who are now undead.

Director: Gore Verbinski | Stars: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley

Votes: 1,004,902 | Gross: $305.41M

15. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

PG | 142 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

7.9
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82 Metascore

Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for their third year of study, where they delve into the mystery surrounding an escaped prisoner who poses a dangerous threat to the young wizard.

Director: Alfonso Cuarón | Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Richard Griffiths

Votes: 538,289 | Gross: $249.36M

Honourable mentions: Closer (2004) & Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)

16. Flightplan (2005)

PG-13 | 98 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

6.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
53 Metascore

A bereaved woman and her daughter are flying home from Berlin to America. At 30,000 feet, the child vanishes, and nobody will admit she was ever on the plane.

Director: Robert Schwentke | Stars: Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Sean Bean, Kate Beahan

Votes: 150,839 | Gross: $89.71M

17. The Prestige (2006)

PG-13 | 130 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
66 Metascore

After a tragic accident, two stage magicians engage in a battle to create the ultimate illusion while sacrificing everything they have to outwit each other.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine

Votes: 1,165,290 | Gross: $53.09M

18. Atonement (2007)

R | 123 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
85 Metascore

Thirteen-year-old fledgling writer Briony Tallis irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister's lover of a crime he did not commit.

Director: Joe Wright | Stars: Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Brenda Blethyn, Saoirse Ronan

Votes: 246,298 | Gross: $50.93M

19. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

R | 120 min | Drama, Romance

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
84 Metascore

A Mumbai teenager reflects on his life after being accused of cheating on the Indian version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?".

Directors: Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan | Stars: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Saurabh Shukla, Anil Kapoor

Votes: 789,440 | Gross: $141.32M

20. Avatar (2009)

PG-13 | 162 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
83 Metascore

A paraplegic Marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home.

Director: James Cameron | Stars: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez

Votes: 1,105,818 | Gross: $760.51M

21. Inception (2010)

PG-13 | 148 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

8.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
74 Metascore

A thief who steals corporate secrets through the use of dream-sharing technology is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a C.E.O.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe

Votes: 2,022,443 | Gross: $292.58M

22. The Descendants (2011)

R | 115 min | Comedy, Drama

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
84 Metascore

A land baron tries to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife is seriously injured in a boating accident.

Director: Alexander Payne | Stars: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause

Votes: 230,857 | Gross: $82.58M

23. Prometheus (I) (2012)

R | 124 min | Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
64 Metascore

Following clues to the origin of mankind, a team finds a structure on a distant moon, but they soon realize they are not alone.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron

Votes: 563,048 | Gross: $126.48M

24. Gravity (2013)

PG-13 | 91 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
96 Metascore

Two astronauts work together to survive after an accident leaves them stranded in space.

Director: Alfonso Cuarón | Stars: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Orto Ignatiussen

Votes: 759,302 | Gross: $274.09M

Honourable mentions: Trance (2013) & The World's End (2013)

See also: My 2013 Top 10

25. Interstellar (2014)

PG-13 | 169 min | Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi

8.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
74 Metascore

A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity's survival.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Mackenzie Foy

Votes: 1,468,253 | Gross: $188.02M

26. True Story (I) (2015)

R | 99 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

6.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
50 Metascore

When disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel meets accused killer Christian Longo - who has taken on Finkel's identity - his investigation morphs into a game of cat-and-mouse.

Director: Rupert Goold | Stars: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Felicity Jones, Maria Dizzia

Votes: 62,405 | Gross: $4.72M

27. A Monster Calls (2016)

PG-13 | 108 min | Adventure, Drama, Family

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
76 Metascore

A boy seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mother's terminal illness.

Director: J.A. Bayona | Stars: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell

Votes: 79,289 | Gross: $3.73M

28. The Shape of Water (2017)

R | 123 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
87 Metascore

At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.

Director: Guillermo del Toro | Stars: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon, Doug Jones

Votes: 360,963 | Gross: $63.86M

29. Wild Rose (2018)

R | 101 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

7.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
80 Metascore

A troubled young Glaswegian woman dreams of becoming a Nashville country star.

Director: Tom Harper | Stars: Jessie Buckley, Matt Costello, Jane Patterson, Lesley Hart

Votes: 9,608 | Gross: $1.64M

30. Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood (2019)

R | 161 min | Comedy, Drama

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
83 Metascore

A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the final years of Hollywood's Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles.

Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch

Votes: 521,342 | Gross: $142.50M




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