The Best Special Effects Ever Seen in Movies (Chronological Order)

by ndude1997 | created - 04 Dec 2014 | updated - 08 Mar 2015 | Public

Special effects are part of what make some movies great. Here are my picks for the movies with the best special effects of all time (fully animated films are excluded).

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1. Metropolis (1927)

Not Rated | 153 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

98 Metascore

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.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge

Votes: 136,722 | Gross: $0.03M

2. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

PG | 102 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

100 Metascore

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 to Kansas and help her friends as well.

Directors: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Mervyn LeRoy, Norman Taurog, King Vidor | Stars: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr

Votes: 339,962 | Gross: $22.20M

3. The War of the Worlds (1953)

G | 85 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

A small town in California is attacked by Martians, beginning a worldwide invasion.

Director: Byron Haskin | Stars: Gene Barry, Ann Robinson, Les Tremayne, Robert Cornthwaite

Votes: 28,631 | Gross: $4.36M

4. Gojira (1954)

Not Rated | 96 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

78 Metascore

American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast.

Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Takashi Shimura, Akihiko Hirata, Akira Takarada, Momoko Kôchi

Votes: 23,124 | Gross: $2.42M

5. The Ten Commandments (1956)

G | 220 min | Adventure, Drama

The Egyptian Prince, Moses, learns of his true heritage as a Hebrew and his divine mission as the deliverer of his people.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille | Stars: Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson

Votes: 55,432 | Gross: $93.74M

6. The Time Machine (1960)

G | 103 min | Adventure, Romance, Sci-Fi

A man's vision for a utopian society is disillusioned when travelling forward into time reveals a dark and dangerous society.

Director: George Pal | Stars: Rod Taylor, Alan Young, Yvette Mimieux, Sebastian Cabot

Votes: 31,766

7. Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

G | 104 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

The legendary Greek hero leads a team of intrepid adventurers in a perilous quest for the legendary Golden Fleece.

Director: Don Chaffey | Stars: Todd Armstrong, Nancy Kovack, Gary Raymond, Laurence Naismith

Votes: 20,163

8. Mary Poppins (1964)

G | 139 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy

88 Metascore

In turn of the century London, a magical nanny employs music and adventure to help two neglected children become closer to their father.

Director: Robert Stevenson | Stars: Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson, Glynis Johns

Votes: 128,000 | Gross: $102.27M

9. Planet of the Apes (1968)

G | 112 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi

79 Metascore

An astronaut crew crash-lands on a planet in the distant future where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved.

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner | Stars: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans

Votes: 152,665 | Gross: $33.40M

10. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

G | 149 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi

82 Metascore

A space-opera spanning the dawn of man to humanity reaching the stars, 2001: A Space Odyssey tells the story of the Black Monolith, humanity's evolution and the rise of A.I.'s ultimate supercomputer HAL 9000.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter

Votes: 517,666 | Gross: $56.95M

11. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

G | 100 min | Family, Fantasy, Musical

67 Metascore

A poor but hopeful boy seeks one of the five coveted golden tickets that will send him on a tour of Willy Wonka's mysterious chocolate factory.

Director: Mel Stuart | Stars: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Roy Kinnear

Votes: 153,040 | Gross: $4.00M

12. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)

PG | 121 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

90 Metascore

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.

Director: George Lucas | Stars: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness

Votes: 1,077,758 | Gross: $322.74M

13. The Muppet Movie (1979)

G | 95 min | Adventure, Comedy, Family

74 Metascore

Kermit and his newfound friends trek across America to find success in Hollywood, but a frog legs merchant is after Kermit.

Director: James Frawley | Stars: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt

Votes: 28,496 | Gross: $76.66M

14. Alien (1979)

R | 116 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

83 Metascore

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.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt, Veronica Cartwright

Votes: 684,355 | Gross: $78.90M

15. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

PG | 124 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

82 Metascore

After the rebels are brutally overpowered by the Empire on the ice planet Hoth, Luke Skywalker begins Jedi training with Yoda, while his friends are pursued by Darth Vader.

Director: Irvin Kershner | Stars: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams

Votes: 1,007,460 | Gross: $290.48M

16. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

PG | 115 min | Family, Sci-Fi

91 Metascore

A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home world.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote, Dee Wallace

Votes: 324,418 | Gross: $435.11M

17. TRON (1982)

PG | 96 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

58 Metascore

A computer hacker is abducted into the digital world and forced to participate in gladiatorial games where his only chance of escape is with the help of a heroic security program.

Director: Steven Lisberger | Stars: Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan

Votes: 103,587 | Gross: $33.00M

18. Blade Runner (1982)

R | 117 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

89 Metascore

A blade runner must pursue and terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space, and have returned to Earth to find their creator.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos

Votes: 601,979 | Gross: $27.00M

19. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)

PG | 131 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

58 Metascore

After a daring mission to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt, the rebels dispatch to Endor to destroy a more powerful Death Star. Meanwhile, Luke struggles to help Vader back from the dark side without falling into the Emperor's trap.

Director: Richard Marquand | Stars: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams

Votes: 827,158 | Gross: $309.13M

20. Ghostbusters (1984)

PG | 105 min | Action, Comedy, Fantasy

71 Metascore

Three former parapsychology professors set up shop as a unique ghost removal service.

Director: Ivan Reitman | Stars: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis

Votes: 312,257 | Gross: $238.63M

21. The NeverEnding Story (1984)

PG | 102 min | Adventure, Drama, Family

46 Metascore

A troubled boy dives into a wondrous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book.

Director: Wolfgang Petersen | Stars: Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Tami Stronach, Gerald McRaney

Votes: 114,822 | Gross: $20.16M

22. The Terminator (1984)

R | 107 min | Action, Sci-Fi

84 Metascore

A seemingly indestructible android 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.

Director: James Cameron | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Paul Winfield

Votes: 701,732 | Gross: $38.40M

23. Aliens (1986)

R | 137 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

84 Metascore

Ellen Ripley is rescued by a deep salvage team after being in hypersleep for 57 years. The moon that the Nostromo visited has been colonized, but contact is lost. This time, colonial marines have impressive firepower, but will that be enough?

Director: James Cameron | Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn, Paul Reiser

Votes: 578,942 | Gross: $85.16M

24. Batman (1989)

PG-13 | 126 min | Action, Adventure

69 Metascore

The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being the clownishly homicidal Joker.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl

Votes: 303,271 | Gross: $251.19M

25. Terminator 2 (1991)

R | 137 min | Action, Sci-Fi

75 Metascore

A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her teenage son, John Connor, from a more advanced and powerful cyborg.

Director: James Cameron | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick

Votes: 869,970 | Gross: $204.84M

26. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

G | 85 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

64 Metascore

The Muppet characters tell their version of the classic tale of an old and bitter miser's redemption on Christmas Eve.

Director: Brian Henson | Stars: Michael Caine, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson

Votes: 40,143 | Gross: $27.28M

27. Jurassic Park (1993)

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

68 Metascore

During a preview tour, a theme park suffers a major power breakdown that allows its cloned dinosaur exhibits to run amok.

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

Votes: 748,710 | Gross: $402.45M

28. Jumanji (1995)

PG | 104 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

39 Metascore

When two kids find and play a magical board game, they release a man trapped for decades in it and a host of dangers that can only be stopped by finishing the game.

Director: Joe Johnston | Stars: Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, Bonnie Hunt, Jonathan Hyde

Votes: 258,220 | Gross: $100.48M

29. The Matrix (1999)

R | 136 min | Action, Sci-Fi

73 Metascore

A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.

Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski | Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving

Votes: 1,438,749 | Gross: $171.48M

30. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

PG-13 | 178 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

92 Metascore

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.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean

Votes: 1,444,534 | Gross: $315.54M

31. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

PG-13 | 179 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

87 Metascore

While Frodo and Sam edge closer to Mordor with the help of the shifty Gollum, the divided fellowship makes a stand against Sauron's new ally, Saruman, and his hordes of Isengard.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom

Votes: 1,290,670 | Gross: $342.55M

32. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

PG-13 | 201 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

94 Metascore

Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron's army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom

Votes: 1,427,762 | Gross: $377.85M

33. I, Robot (2004)

PG-13 | 115 min | Action, Crime, Drama

59 Metascore

In 2035, a technophobic cop investigates a crime that may have been perpetrated by a robot, which leads to a larger threat to humanity.

Director: Alex Proyas | Stars: Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Bruce Greenwood, Alan Tudyk

Votes: 447,885 | Gross: $144.80M

34. Star Trek (2009)

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

82 Metascore

The brash James T. Kirk tries to live up to his father's legacy with Mr. Spock keeping him in check as a vengeful Romulan from the future creates black holes to destroy the Federation one planet at a time.

Director: J.J. Abrams | Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Leonard Nimoy

Votes: 548,061 | Gross: $257.73M

35. Avatar (2009)

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

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: 1,005,001 | Gross: $760.51M

36. Inception (2010)

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

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 CEO.

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

Votes: 1,754,755 | Gross: $292.58M

37. The Muppets (2011)

PG | 103 min | Adventure, Comedy, Family

75 Metascore

A Muppet fanatic with some help from his 2 human compatriots must regroup the Muppet gang to stop an avaricious oil mogul from taking down one of their precious life-longing treasures.

Director: James Bobin | Stars: Amy Adams, Jason Segel, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones

Votes: 81,107 | Gross: $88.63M

38. Life of Pi (2012)

PG | 127 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

79 Metascore

A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger.

Director: Ang Lee | Stars: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain, Tabu

Votes: 513,968 | Gross: $124.99M

39. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

PG-13 | 169 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

58 Metascore

A reluctant Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, sets out to the Lonely Mountain with a spirited group of dwarves to reclaim their mountain home, and the gold within it from the dragon Smaug.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis

Votes: 703,203 | Gross: $303.00M

40. Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)

PG-13 | 132 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

72 Metascore

After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one-man weapon of mass destruction.

Director: J.J. Abrams | Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch

Votes: 437,824 | Gross: $228.78M

41. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

PG-13 | 161 min | Adventure, Fantasy

66 Metascore

The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott

Votes: 549,623 | Gross: $258.37M

42. Gravity (2013)

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

96 Metascore

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

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

Votes: 679,482 | Gross: $274.09M

43. Godzilla (2014)

PG-13 | 123 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

62 Metascore

The world is beset by the appearance of monstrous creatures, but one of them may be the only one who can save humanity.

Director: Gareth Edwards | Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe

Votes: 337,141 | Gross: $200.68M

44. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

PG-13 | 113 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

71 Metascore

A soldier fighting aliens gets to relive the same day over and over again, the day restarting every time he dies.

Director: Doug Liman | Stars: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson

Votes: 524,084 | Gross: $100.21M

45. Interstellar (2014)

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

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: 1,217,750 | Gross: $188.02M

46. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

PG-13 | 144 min | Adventure, Fantasy

59 Metascore

Bilbo and company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the Lonely Mountain from falling into the hands of a rising darkness.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett

Votes: 422,316 | Gross: $255.12M



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