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Books - Top Ten Films

Saving Private Ryan , A modern classic renown for its stunning opening and closing sequences.

Enemy at the Gates , An stunning modern film with a strong mostly British cast showing the often neglected Russian experience of WW2

Waterloo , Now over 30 years old although it shows its age at times a excellent film with a strong cast.

A Bridge too Far , An impressive multinational cast tells the story of the battle of Arnhem

We Were Soldiers , Often under rated Vietnam war film showing an early battle in the war, brutaly realistic battle sequences bring the film to life.

Platoon , A classic insight into Vietnam.

The Longest Day , not as brutally realistic as the modern films this epic does cover a much wider historical scope looking at the whole battle, a very impressive cast [see more].

Zulu , Now a staggering 40 years old this is still an excellent film which is surprising historically accurate on the details of the battle and avoids depicting the Zulus as just mindless savages

Cross of Iron , An excellent film and one of the few from the German perspective showing the bloody descent into barbarism of the Russian front

List of films considered the best

This is a list of films considered the best in national and international surveys of critics and the public.

Some surveys focus on all films, while others focus on a particular genre or country. Voting systems differ, and some surveys suffer from biases such as self-selection or skewed demographics, while others may be susceptible to forms of interference such as vote stacking.


With a worldwide box-office gross of over $2.8 billion, Avatar is proclaimed to be the "highest-grossing" film, but such claims usually refer to theatrical revenues only and do not take into account home video and television income, which can form a significant portion of a film's earnings. Once revenue from home entertainment is factored in it is not immediately clear which film is the most successful. Titanic earned $1.2 billion from video and DVD sales and rentals, [1] in addition to the $2.2 billion it grossed in theaters. While complete sales data are not available for Avatar, it earned $345 million from the sale of sixteen million DVD and Blu-ray units in North America, [2] and ultimately sold a total of thirty million DVD and Blu-ray units worldwide. [3] After home video income is accounted for, both films have earned over $3 billion each. Television broadcast rights will also substantially add to a film's earnings, with a film often earning as much as 20–25% of its theatrical box office for a couple of television runs on top of pay-per-view revenues [4] Titanic earned a further $55 million from the NBC and HBO broadcast rights, [1] equating to about 9% of its North American gross.

When a film is highly exploitable as a commercial property, its ancillary revenues can dwarf its income from direct film sales. [5] The Lion King (1994) earned over $2 billion in box-office and home video sales, [6] but this pales in comparison to the $8 billion earned at box offices around the world by the stage adaptation. [7] Merchandising can be extremely lucrative too: The Lion King also sold $3 billion of merchandise, [8] while Pixar's Cars—which earned $462 million in theatrical revenues and was only a modest hit by comparison to other Pixar films [9] —generated global merchandise sales of over $8 billion in the five years after its 2006 release. [10] [11] Pixar had another huge hit with Toy Story 3, which generated almost $10 billion in merchandise retail sales in addition to the $1 billion it earned at the box office. [12]

On this chart, films are ranked by the revenues from theatrical exhibition at their nominal value, along with the highest positions they attained. Five films in total have grossed in excess of $2 billion worldwide, with Avatar ranked in the top position. All of the films have had a theatrical run (including re-releases) in the 21st century, and films that have not played during this period do not appear on the chart because of ticket-price inflation, population size and ticket purchasing trends not being considered.

Highest-grossing films [13]
Rank Peak Title Worldwide gross Year Reference(s)
1 1 Avatar $2,847,246,203 2009 [# 1] [# 2]
2 1 Avengers: Endgame $2,797,501,328 2019 [# 3] [# 4]
3 1 Titanic $2,187,425,379 1997 [# 5] [# 6]
4 3 Star Wars: The Force Awakens $2,068,223,624 2015 [# 7] [# 8]
5 4 Avengers: Infinity War $2,048,359,754 2018 [# 9] [# 10]
6 3 Jurassic World $1,671,713,208 2015 [# 11] [# 12]
7 7 The Lion King $1,656,943,394 2019 [# 13] [# 4]
8 3 The Avengers $1,518,812,988 2012 [# 14] [# 15]
9 4 Furious 7 $1,516,045,911 2015 [# 16] [# 17]
10 10 Frozen II $1,450,026,933 2019 [# 18] [# 19]
11 5 Avengers: Age of Ultron $1,402,805,868 2015 [# 20] [# 17]
12 9 Black Panther $1,347,280,838 2018 [# 21] [# 22]
13 3 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 $1,342,025,430 2011 [# 23] [# 24]
14 9 Star Wars: The Last Jedi $1,332,539,889 2017 [# 25] [# 26]
15 12 Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom $1,309,484,461 2018 [# 27] [# 10]
16 5 Frozen F $1,290,000,000 2013 [# 28] [# 29]
17 10 Beauty and the Beast $1,263,521,126 2017 [# 30] [# 31]
18 15 Incredibles 2 $1,242,805,359 2018 [# 32] [# 10]
19 11 The Fate of the Furious F8 $1,238,764,765 2017 [# 33] [# 31]
20 5 Iron Man 3 $1,214,811,252 2013 [# 34] [# 35]
21 10 Minions $1,159,398,397 2015 [# 36] [# 12]
22 12 Captain America: Civil War $1,153,329,473 2016 [# 37] [# 38]
23 20 Aquaman $1,148,485,886 2018 [# 39] [# 10]
24 2 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King $1,146,030,912 2003 [# 40] [# 41]
25 24 RK Spider-Man: Far From Home $1,131,927,996 2019 [# 42] [# 4]
26 23 RK Captain Marvel $1,128,274,794 2019 [# 43] [# 44]
27 5 RK Transformers: Dark of the Moon $1,123,794,079 2011 [# 45] [# 24]
28 7 Skyfall $1,108,561,013 2012 [# 46] [# 47]
29 10 Transformers: Age of Extinction $1,104,054,072 2014 [# 48] [# 49]
30 7 The Dark Knight Rises $1,084,939,099 2012 [# 50] [# 51]
31 31 Joker $1,074,251,311 2019 [# 52] [# 19]
32 32 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker $1,074,144,248 2019 [# 53] [# 19]
33 30 Toy Story 4 $1,073,394,593 2019 [# 54] [# 4]
34 4 TS3 Toy Story 3 $1,066,969,703 2010 [# 55] [# 56]
35 3 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest $1,066,179,725 2006 [# 57] [# 58]
36 20 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story $1,056,057,273 2016 [# 59] [# 60]
37 34 Aladdin $1,050,693,953 2019 [# 61] [# 4]
38 6 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides $1,045,713,802 2011 [# 62] [# 56]
39 24 Despicable Me 3 $1,034,799,409 2017 [# 63] [# 31]
40 1 Jurassic Park $1,029,939,903 1993 [# 64] [# 65]
41 22 Finding Dory $1,028,570,889 2016 [# 66] [# 67]
42 2 Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace $1,027,044,677 1999 [# 68] [# 6]
43 5 Alice in Wonderland $1,025,467,110 2010 [# 69] [# 70]
44 24 Zootopia $1,023,784,195 2016 [# 71] [# 38]
45 14 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey $1,017,003,568 2012 [# 72] [# 73]
46 2 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone $1,006,968,171 2001 [# 74] [# 75]
47 4 The Dark Knight $1,004,934,033 2008 [# 76] [# 77]
48 10 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 $976,941,486 2010 [# 78] [# 79]
49 19 DM2 Despicable Me 2 $970,761,885 2013 [# 80] [# 35]
50 2 The Lion King $968,483,777 1994 [# 81] [# 65]

F Box Office Mojo stopped updating its main total for Frozen in August 2014, while it was still in release. The total listed here incorporates subsequent earnings in Japan, Nigeria, Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany up to the end of 2015 but omits earnings in Turkey, Iceland, Brazil, and Australia (2016), which amount to a few hundred thousand dollars. The total is rounded to $1 million to compensate for the numerical inaccuracy. It was re-released in the United Kingdom in December 2017 with Olaf's Frozen Adventure earning an additional $2.3 million.

F8 In the case of The Fate of the Furious the gross is from an archived version of Box Office Mojo, after irregularities were discovered in the current figure. Ongoing weekly drops in the totals for several countries—Argentina being the worst affected—led to a drop in the overall worldwide total. [14] In view of what appears to be an aberration in the source, a previous figure is provided.

RK Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King saw its original gross corrected in 2019. The result of this correction is that Spider-Man: Far From Home, Captain Marvel and Transformers: Dark of the Moon all peaked one place lower than shown in the accompanying source.

TS3 Box Office Mojo revised the grosses for Pixar films in August 2016, resulting in the gross for Toy Story 3 being corrected from $1.063 billion to $1.067 billion. [15] [16] This means that it peaked at number 4 at the end of its run, ahead of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, rather than at number 5 as indicated by the source.

DM2 Disney issued an erratum to the gross for The Lion King in May 2016, correcting its gross from $987.5 million to $968.5 million. [17] This means that Despicable Me 2 peaked at number 19 at the end of its run, ahead of The Lion King, rather than at number 20 as indicated by the source.

Because of the long-term effects of inflation, notably the significant increase of movie theater ticket prices, the list unadjusted for inflation gives far more weight to later films. [18] The unadjusted list, while commonly found in the press, is therefore largely meaningless for comparing films widely separated in time, as many films from earlier eras will never appear on a modern unadjusted list, despite achieving higher commercial success when adjusted for price increases. [19] To compensate for the devaluation of the currency, some charts make adjustments for inflation, but not even this practice fully addresses the issue, since ticket prices and inflation do not necessarily parallel one another. For example, in 1970, tickets cost $1.55 or about $6.68 in inflation-adjusted 2004 dollars by 1980, prices had risen to about $2.69, a drop to $5.50 in inflation-adjusted 2004 dollars. [20] Ticket prices have also risen at different rates of inflation around the world, further complicating the process of adjusting worldwide grosses. [18]

Another complication is release in multiple formats for which different ticket prices are charged. One notable example of this phenomenon is Avatar, which was also released in 3D and IMAX: almost two-thirds of tickets for that film were for 3D showings with an average price of $10, and about one-sixth were for IMAX showings with an average price over $14.50, compared to a 2010 average price of $7.61 for 2D films. [21] Social and economic factors such as population change [22] and the growth of international markets [23] [24] [25] also have an impact on the number of people purchasing theater tickets, along with audience demographics where some films sell a much higher proportion of discounted children's tickets, or perform better in big cities where tickets cost more. [19]

The measuring system for gauging a film's success is based on unadjusted grosses, mainly because historically this is the way it has always been done because of the practices of the film industry: the box-office receipts are compiled by theaters and relayed to the distributor, which in turn releases them to the media. [26] Converting to a more representative system that counts ticket sales rather than gross is also fraught with problems because the only data available for older films are the sale totals. [22] As the motion picture industry is highly oriented towards marketing currently released films, unadjusted figures are always used in marketing campaigns so that new blockbuster films can much more easily achieve a high sales ranking, and thus be promoted as a "top film of all time", [20] [27] so there is little incentive to switch to a more robust analysis from a marketing or even newsworthy point of view. [26]

Despite the inherent difficulties in accounting for inflation, several attempts have been made. Estimates depend on the price index used to adjust the grosses, [27] and the exchange rates used to convert between currencies can also impact upon the calculations, both of which can have an effect on the ultimate rankings of an inflation adjusted list. Gone with the Wind—first released in 1939—is generally considered to be the most successful film, with Guinness World Records in 2014 estimating its adjusted global gross at $3.4 billion. Estimates for Gone with the Wind ' s adjusted gross have varied substantially: its owner, Turner Entertainment, estimated its adjusted earnings at $3.3 billion in 2007, a few years earlier than the Guinness estimate [28] other estimates fall either side of this amount, with one putting its gross just under $3 billion in 2010, [29] while another provided an alternative figure of $3.8 billion in 2006. [30] Which film is Gone with the Wind ' s nearest rival depends on the set of figures used: Guinness had Avatar in second place with $3 billion, while other estimates saw Titanic in the runner-up spot with first-run worldwide earnings of almost $2.9 billion at 2010 prices. [29]

Inf Inflation adjustment is carried out using the Consumer price index for advanced economies published by the International Monetary Fund. [32] The index is uniformly applied to the grosses in the chart published by Guinness World Records in 2014, beginning with the 2014 index. The figures in the above chart take into account inflation that occurred in 2014, and in every available year since then, through 2020.

A The adjusted gross for Avatar includes revenue from the original release and from the 2010 Special Edition, but not from the 2020 and 2021 reissues.

T Guinness ' adjusted total for Titanic only increased by $102,000,000 between the 2012 (published in 2011) and 2015 editions, a rise of 4.2% shared by the other adjusted totals in the chart, and omitted the gross from a 3D re-release in 2012. [31] [33] This chart incorporates the gross of $343,550,770 from the reissue and adjusts it from the 2014 index. [34] Titanic grossed a further $691,642 during a limited re-release in 2017 for its 20th anniversary, but this figure is not represented in the adjusted total. [35]

AE The gross for Avengers: Endgame is adjusted from the 2020 index.

Audience tastes were fairly eclectic during the 20th century, but several trends did emerge. During the silent era, films with war themes were popular with audiences, with The Birth of a Nation (American Civil War), The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Big Parade and Wings (all World War I) becoming the most successful films in their respective years of release, with the trend coming to an end with All Quiet on the Western Front in 1930. With the advent of sound in 1927, the musical—the genre best placed to showcase the new technology—took over as the most popular type of film with audiences, with 1928 and 1929 both being topped by musical films. The genre continued to perform strongly in the 1930s, but the outbreak of World War II saw war-themed films dominate again during this period, starting with Gone with the Wind (American Civil War) in 1939, and finishing with The Best Years of Our Lives (World War II) in 1946. Samson and Delilah (1949) saw the beginning of a trend of increasingly expensive historical dramas set during Ancient Rome/biblical times throughout the 1950s as cinema competed with television for audiences, [39] with Quo Vadis, The Robe, The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur and Spartacus all becoming the highest-grossing film of the year during initial release, before the genre started to wane after several high-profile failures. [40] The success of White Christmas and South Pacific in the 1950s foreshadowed the comeback of the musical in the 1960s with West Side Story, Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music and Funny Girl all among the top films of the decade. The 1970s saw a shift in audience tastes to high concept films, with six such films made by either George Lucas or Steven Spielberg topping the chart during the 1980s. The 21st century has seen an increasing dependence on franchises and adaptations, with the box-office dominance of films based on pre-existing intellectual property at record levels. [41]

Steven Spielberg is the most represented director on the chart, with six films to his credit, occupying the top spot in 1975, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1989 and 1993. Cecil B. DeMille (1932, 1947, 1949, 1952 and 1956) and William Wyler (1942, 1946, 1959 and 1968) are in second and third place with five and four films respectively, while D. W. Griffith (1915, 1916 and 1920), George Roy Hill (1966, 1969 and 1973), James Cameron (1991, 1997 and 2009) and the Russo brothers (2016, 2018 and 2019) all feature heavily with three films apiece. George Lucas directed two chart-toppers in 1977 and 1999, but also served in a strong creative capacity as a producer and writer in 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984 and 1989 as well. The following directors have also all directed two films on the chart: Frank Lloyd, King Vidor, Frank Capra, Michael Curtiz, Leo McCarey, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lean, Stanley Kubrick, Guy Hamilton, Mike Nichols, William Friedkin, Peter Jackson, Gore Verbinski, and Michael Bay Mervyn LeRoy, Ken Annakin and Robert Wise are each represented by one solo credit and one shared credit, and John Ford co-directed two films. Disney films are usually co-directed and some directors have served on several winning teams: Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Clyde Geronimi, David Hand, Ben Sharpsteen, Wolfgang Reitherman and Bill Roberts have all co-directed at least two films on the list. Only seven directors have topped the chart in consecutive years: McCarey (1944 and 1945), Nichols (1966 and 1967), Spielberg (1981 and 1982), Jackson (2002 and 2003), Verbinski (2006 and 2007) and the Russo brothers (2018 and 2019).

Because of release schedules—especially in the case of films released towards the end of the year—and different release patterns across the world, many films can do business in two or more calendar years therefore the grosses documented here are not confined to just the year of release. Grosses are not limited to original theatrical runs either, with many older films often being re-released periodically so the figures represent all the business a film has done since its original release a film's first-run gross is included in brackets after the total if known. Because of incomplete data it cannot be known for sure how much money some films have made and when they made it, but generally the chart chronicles the films from each year that went on to earn the most. In the cases where estimates conflict both films are recorded, and in cases where a film has moved into first place because of being re-released the previous record-holder is also retained.

High-grossing films by year of release [42] [43] [44]
Year Title Worldwide gross Budget Reference(s)
1915 The Birth of a Nation $50,000,000 – 100,000,000
$20,000,000 + R ( $5,200,000 ) R
$110,000 [# 82] [# 83] [# 84]
1916 Intolerance $1,000,000 * R IN $489,653 [# 85] [# 86]
1917 Cleopatra $500,000 * R $300,000 [# 85]
1918 Mickey $8,000,000 $250,000 [# 87]
1919 The Miracle Man $3,000,000 R $120,000 [# 88]
1920 Way Down East $5,000,000 R ( $4,000,000 ) R $800,000 [# 89] [# 90]
1921 The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse $5,000,000 R ( $4,000,000 ) R $600,000 – 800,000 [# 91]
1922 Robin Hood $2,500,000 R $930,042.78 [# 92] [# 93]
1923 The Covered Wagon $5,000,000 R $800,000 [# 94] [# 95]
1924 The Sea Hawk $3,000,000 R $700,000 [# 94]
1925 The Big Parade $18,000,000 – 22,000,000 R
( $6,131,000 ) R
$382,000 [# 96] [# 97] [# 98]
Ben-Hur $10,738,000 R ( $9,386,000 ) R $3,967,000 [# 99] [# 100]
1926 For Heaven's Sake $2,600,000 R FH $150,000 [# 89] [# 101]
1927 Wings $3,600,000 R $2,000,000 [# 89] [# 102] [# 103]
1928 The Singing Fool $5,900,000 R $388,000 [# 103] [# 104]
1929 The Broadway Melody $4,400,000 – 4,800,000 R $379,000 [# 105] [# 106]
Sunny Side Up $3,500,000 * R SS $600,000 [# 107] [# 108]
1930 All Quiet on the Western Front $3,000,000 R $1,250,000 [# 89] [# 109] [# 110] [# 111]
1931 Frankenstein $12,000,000 R ( $1,400,000 ) R $250,000 [# 112] [# 113]
City Lights $5,000,000 R $1,607,351 [# 114]
1932 The Sign of the Cross $2,738,993 R $694,065 [# 95] [# 115] [# 116] [# 117]
1933 King Kong $5,347,000 R ( $1,856,000 ) R $672,255.75 [# 118]
I'm No Angel $3,250,000 + R $200,000 [# 119] [# 120]
Cavalcade $3,000,000 – 4,000,000 R $1,116,000 [# 90] [# 110]
She Done Him Wrong $3,000,000 + R $274,076 [# 121] [# 122] [# 123]
1934 The Merry Widow $2,608,000 R $1,605,000 [# 124] [# 116]
It Happened One Night $1,000,000 R ON $325,000 [# 125] [# 126]
1935 Mutiny on the Bounty $4,460,000 R $1,905,000 [# 116]
1936 San Francisco $6,044,000 + R ( $5,273,000 ) R $1,300,000 [# 124] [# 116]
1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs $418,000,000 + S7 ( $8,500,000 ) R $1,488,423 [# 127] [# 128]
1938 You Can't Take It With You $5,000,000 R $1,200,000 [# 129] [# 130]
1939 Gone with the Wind $390,525,192 – 402,352,579
( $32,000,000 ) R GW
$3,900,000 – 4,250,000 [# 131] [# 132] [# 133] [# 134] [# 135]
1940 Pinocchio $87,000,862 * ( $3,500,000 ) R $2,600,000 [# 136] [# 128] [# 137]
Boom Town $4,600,000 * R $2,100,000 [# 138] [# 139]
1941 Sergeant York $7,800,000 R $1,600,000 [# 140] [# 141]
1942 Bambi $267,997,843 ( $3,449,353 ) R $1,700,000 – 2,000,000 [# 142] [# 143] [# 144]
Mrs. Miniver $8,878,000 R $1,344,000 [# 145] [# 146]
1943 For Whom the Bell Tolls $11,000,000 R $2,681,298 [# 147] [# 148] [# 149]
This Is the Army $9,555,586.44 * R $1,400,000 [# 150] [# 151] [# 149]
1944 Going My Way $6,500,000 * R $1,000,000 [# 152] [# 153] [# 154]
1945 Mom and Dad $80,000,000 MD / $22,000,000 R $65,000 [# 155]
The Bells of St. Mary's $11,200,000 R $1,600,000 [# 156]
1946 Song of the South $65,000,000 * ( $3,300,000 ) R $2,125,000 [# 157] [# 158] [# 159]
The Best Years of Our Lives $14,750,000 R $2,100,000 [# 160] [# 161]
Duel in the Sun $10,000,000 * R $5,255,000 [# 152] [# 162]
1947 Forever Amber $8,000,000 R $6,375,000 [# 107] [# 162]
Unconquered $7,500,000 R UN $4,200,000 [# 163] [# 164]
1948 Easter Parade $5,918,134 R $2,500,000 [# 154] [# 165]
The Red Shoes $5,000,000 * R £505,581 (

(. ) Since grosses are not limited to original theatrical runs, a film's first-run gross is included in brackets after the total if known.

IN No contemporary sources provide figures for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, although The Numbers provides a figure of $8,000,000 for the North American box-office gross. [45] However, it is possible this figure has been mistaken for the gross of the 1954 remake which also earned $8,000,000 in North American rentals. [46]

FH Some sources such as The Numbers state that Aloma of the South Seas is the highest grossing film of the year, earning $3 million. [47] However, no contemporary sources provide figures for Aloma of the South Seas, so it is unclear what the $3 million figure relates to. If it were the rental gross then that would have made it not only the highest-grossing film of the year, but one of the highest-grossing films of the silent era, and if that is the case it would be unusual for both International Motion Picture Almanac and Variety to omit it from their lists.

SS It is not clear if the figure for Sunny Side Up is for North America or worldwide. Other sources put its earnings at $2 million, [48] which may suggest the higher figure is the worldwide rental, given the confusion over international figures during this period. [49]

ON The figure for It Happened One Night is not truly representative of its success: it was distributed as a package deal along with more than two dozen other Columbia films, and the total earnings were averaged out the true gross would have been much higher.

S7 Snow White ' s $418 million global cume omits earnings outside of North America from 1987 onwards.

GW It is not absolutely clear how much Gone with the Wind earned from its initial release. Contemporary accounts often list it as earning $32 million in North American rentals and retrospective charts have often duplicated this claim however, it is likely this was the worldwide rental figure. Trade journals would collate the data by either obtaining it from the distributors themselves, who were keen to promote a successful film, or by surveying theaters and constructing an estimate. Distributors would often report the worldwide rental since the higher figure made the film appear more successful, while estimates were limited to performance in North America therefore it was not unusual for worldwide and North American rentals to be mixed up. Following the outbreak of World War II, many of the foreign markets were unavailable to Hollywood so it became standard practice to just report on North American box-office performance. [49] In keeping with this new approach, the North American rental for Gone with the Wind was revised to $21 million in 1947 ($11 million lower than the previous figure), [50] and as of 1953—following the 1947 re-release—Variety was reporting earnings of $26 million. [51] Through 1956, MGM reported cumulative North American earnings of $30,015,000 and foreign earnings of $18,964,000, from three releases. [52] Worldwide rentals of $32 million from the initial release is consistent with the revised figures and later reported worldwide figures: they indicate that the film earned $21 million in North America and $11 million overseas from the initial release, and added a further $9 million in North America and $8 million overseas from subsequent re-releases up to 1956.

MD Mom and Dad does not generally feature in 'high-gross' lists such as those published by Variety due to its independent distribution. Essentially belonging to the exploitation genre, it was marketed as an educational sex hygiene film in an effort to circumvent censorship laws. Falling foul of the Motion Picture Production Code, Mom and Dad was prevented from obtaining mainstream distribution and restricted to independent and drive-in theaters. It was the biggest hit of its kind, and remained in continual distribution until the 1970s when hardcore pornography eventually took over. At the end of 1947 it had earned $2 million, and by 1949, $8 million by 1956 it had earned $22 million in rentals, representing a gross of $80 million, and would have easily placed in the top ten films in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Estimates of its total earnings are as high as $100 million.

UN Chopra-Gant stipulates that the figure given for Unconquered is for North American box-office, but as was common at the time, the chart confuses worldwide and North American grosses. Other sources state that the takings for Forever Amber ($8 million) and Life with Father ($6.5 million) [53] were in fact worldwide rental grosses, so it is possible this is also true of Unconquered.

CI The Cinerama figures represent gross amounts. Since the Cinerama corporation owned the theaters there were no rental fees for the films, meaning the studio received 100% of the box-office gross, unlike the case with most other films where the distributor typically receives less than half the gross. Since Variety at the time ranked films by their U.S. rental, they constructed a hypothetical rental figure for the Cinerama films to provide a basis for comparison to other films in their chart: in the case of This Is Cinerama, the $50 million worldwide gross was reconfigured as a $12.5 million U.S. rental gross this is exactly 25% of the amount reported by Cinerama, so Variety's formula seemingly halved the gross to obtain an estimate for the U.S. share, and halved it again to simulate a rental fee. Variety ' s 'rental' amounts are often repeated, but have no basis in the reality of what the films actually earned—they are hypothetical figures conceived for comparative analysis. [54] All five Cinerama features collectively generated $120 million in worldwide box office receipts. [55]

GS Variety put the worldwide rental for The Greatest Show on Earth at around $18.35 million (with $12.8 million coming from the United States [46] ) a year after its release however, Birchard puts its earnings at just over $15 million up to 1962. It is likely that Birchard's figure is just the North American gross rental, and includes revenue from the 1954 and 1960 reissues.

SW The "first run" Star Wars grosses do not include revenue from the 1997 special-edition releases however, the figure does include revenue from the re-releases prior to the special editions.

HP Production costs were shared with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1.

At least eleven films have held the record of 'highest-grossing film' since The Birth of a Nation assumed the top spot in 1915. Both The Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind spent twenty-five consecutive years apiece as the highest-grosser, with films directed by Steven Spielberg and James Cameron holding the record on three occasions each. Spielberg became the first director to break his own record when Jurassic Park overtook E.T., and Cameron emulated the feat when Avatar broke the record set by Titanic. When it took over the top spot in 2019, Avengers: Endgame became the first sequel to hold the record of highest-grossing film, and in doing so ended thirty-six years of Spielberg/Cameron dominance before Avatar reclaimed the top spot two years later in 2021.

Some sources claim that The Big Parade superseded The Birth of a Nation as highest-grossing film, eventually being replaced by Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which in turn was quickly usurped by Gone with the Wind. [56] Exact figures are not known for The Birth of a Nation, but contemporary records put its worldwide earnings at $5.2 million as of 1919. [57] Its international release was delayed by World War I, and it was not released in many foreign territories until the 1920s coupled with further re-releases in the United States, its $10 million earnings as reported by Variety in 1932 are consistent with the earlier figure. [58] At this time, Variety still had The Birth of a Nation ahead of The Big Parade ($6,400,000) on distributor rentals and—if its estimate is correct—Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ($8,500,000) [59] would not have earned enough on its first theatrical run to take the record [60] although it would have been the highest-grossing 'talkie', [61] displacing The Singing Fool ($5,900,000). [62] Although received wisdom holds that it is unlikely The Birth of a Nation was ever overtaken by a silent-era film, [63] the record would fall to 1925's Ben-Hur ($9,386,000) if The Birth of a Nation earned significantly less than its estimated gross. [64] In addition to its gross rental earnings through public exhibition, The Birth of a Nation played at a large number of private, club and organizational engagements which figures are unavailable for. [65] It was hugely popular with the Ku Klux Klan who used it to drive recruitment, [66] and at one point Variety estimated its total earnings to stand at around $50 million. [67] Despite later retracting the claim, the sum has been widely reported even though it has never been substantiated. [57] While it is generally accepted that Gone with the Wind took over the record of highest-grossing film on its initial release—which is true in terms of public exhibition—it is likely it did not overtake The Birth of a Nation in total revenue until a much later date, with it still being reported as the highest earner up until the 1960s. [65] Gone with the Wind itself may have been briefly overtaken by The Ten Commandments (1956), which closed at the end of 1960 with worldwide rentals of $58–60 million [68] [69] compared to Gone with the Wind ' s $59 million [70] if it did claim the top spot its tenure there was short-lived, since Gone with the Wind was re-released the following year and increased its earnings to $67 million. Depending on how accurate the estimates are, the 1959 remake of Ben-Hur may also have captured the record from Gone with the Wind: as of the end of 1961 it had earned $47 million worldwide, [71] and by 1963 it was trailing Gone with the Wind by just $2 million with international takings of $65 million, [72] ultimately earning $66 million from its initial release. [73]

Another film purported to have been the highest-grosser is the 1972 pornographic film Deep Throat. In 1984, Linda Lovelace testified to a United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on juvenile justice that the film had earned $600 million [74] this figure has been the subject of much speculation, since if it is accurate then the film would have made more money than Star Wars, and finished the 1970s as the highest-grossing film. The main argument against this figure is that it simply did not have a wide enough release to sustain the sort of sums that would be required for it to ultimately gross this amount. [75] Exact figures are not known, but testimony in a federal trial in 1976—about four years into the film's release—showed the film had grossed over $25 million. [76] Roger Ebert has reasoned it possibly did earn as much as $600 million on paper, since mobsters owned most of the adult movie theaters during this period and would launder income from drugs and prostitution through them, so probably inflated the box office receipts for the film. [77]

The Birth of a Nation, Gone with the Wind, The Godfather, Jaws, Star Wars, E.T. and Avatar all increased their record grosses with re-releases. The grosses from their original theatrical runs are included here along with totals from re-releases up to the point that they lost the record therefore the total for The Birth of a Nation includes income from its reissues up to 1940 the total for Star Wars includes revenue from the late 1970s and early 1980s reissues but not from the 1997 Special Edition the total for E.T. incorporates its gross from the 1985 reissue but not from 2002. The total for Avatar's first appearance on the chart includes revenue from the 2010 Special Edition, which represents all of its earnings up to the point it relinquished the record, whereas its second appearance also incorporates revenue from a 2020 re-release in the Asia-Pacific region as well as the 2021 re-release in China which helped it to reclaim the record. Gone with the Wind is likewise represented twice on the chart: the 1940 entry includes earnings from its staggered 1939–1942 release (roadshow/general release/second-run) [78] along with all of its revenue up to the 1961 reissue prior to losing the record to The Sound of Music in 1966 its 1971 entry—after it took back the record—includes income from the 1967 and 1971 reissues but omitting later releases. The Godfather was re-released in 1973 after its success at the 45th Academy Awards, and Jaws was released again in 1976, and their grosses here most likely include earnings from those releases. The Sound of Music, The Godfather, Jaws, Jurassic Park and Titanic increased their earnings with further releases in 1973, 1997, 1979, 2013 and 2012 respectively, but they are not included in the totals here because they had already conceded the record prior to being re-released.

Includes revenue from re-releases. If a film increased its gross through re-releases while holding the record, the year in which it recorded its highest gross is also noted in italics.

Prior to 2000, only seven film series had grossed over $1 billion at the box office: James Bond, [90] Star Wars, [91] Indiana Jones, [92] Rocky, [93] [94] [95] Batman, [96] Jurassic Park, [97] and Star Trek. [98] Since the turn of the century that number has increased to over seventy (not including one-off hits such as Avatar, Titanic, and Zootopia). [99] This is partly due to inflation and market growth, but also to Hollywood's adoption of the franchise model: films that have built-in brand recognition, such as being based on a well-known literary source or an established character. The methodology is based on the concept that films associated with things audiences are already familiar with can be more effectively marketed to them, and as such are known as "pre-sold" films within the industry. [100]

A franchise is typically defined to be at least two works derived from a common intellectual property. Traditionally, the work has a tautological relationship with the property, but this is not a prerequisite. An enduring staple of the franchise model is the concept of the crossover, which can be defined as "a story in which characters or concepts from two or more discrete texts or series of texts meet". [101] A consequence of a crossover is that an intellectual property may be utilized by more than one franchise. For example, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice belongs to not only the Batman and Superman franchises, but also to the DC Extended Universe, which is a shared universe. A shared universe is a particular type of crossover where a number of characters from a wide range of fictional works wind up sharing a fictional world. [102] The most successful shared universe in the medium of film is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a crossover between multiple superhero properties owned by Marvel Comics. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is also the highest-grossing franchise, amassing over $22 billion at the box office.

The Star Wars films are the highest-grossing series based on a single property, earning over $10 billion at the box office (although the Eon James Bond films have earned over $18 billion in total when adjusted to current prices). [104] If ancillary income from merchandise is included, then Star Wars is the most lucrative property [105] it holds the Guinness world record for the "most successful film merchandising franchise" and was valued at £19.51 billion in 2012 (approximately $30 billion). [106] [107] The Marvel Cinematic Universe has had the most films gross over $1 billion with nine. The four Avengers films and the two Frozen films are the only franchises where each installment has grossed over $1 billion. Along with The Lion King, these are also the only franchises to have a series average of over $1 billion per film.

S Shared universes for which some properties also have their own entries.


Rare is the saint’s biographer who can avoid these words in the first few pages of the book: “His life would make a great film!” Or “Her story was like something out of a Hollywood movie!”

Some lives of the saints seem tailored for the cinema, so inherently visual are their stories. The series of brightly colored frescoes in the Basilica of St. Francis, in Assisi, by Giotto, could be a storyboard pitch for a movie: Francis and his vision at San Damiano, Francis preaching to the birds, and so on. In his book A Brief History of the Saints, Lawrence S. Cunningham notes that there have been, since the talkies, over 30 versions of the life of St. Joan of Arc. Again, one can identify the visual elements with ease: her visions, her meeting the Dauphin, her military conquests, her martyrdom.

The lives of other saints, especially founders of religious orders, are more difficult to dramatize, since they often move from dramatic conversion to undramatic administration. It was long rumored that Antonio Banderas (the cousin of a Jesuit) was set to play St. Ignatius of Loyola on screen. But any marketable screenplay would end after the founding of the Society of Jesus. Few moviegoers would want to slog through an hour of Ignatius sitting at his desk composing the Constitutions or writing one of the 6,813 letters he wrote during his lifetime.

In our time, some saints and near-saints had a closer relationship to their film biographies. In 1997, Mother Teresa approved a script by Dominique LaPierre based on her life, which would star Geraldine Chaplin. "Bless him and his film,” she said. On the other hand, when Don Ameche approached the Abbey of Gethsemani in 1949 to obtain the rights to Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain, the abbot, Dom James Fox, said no. (For his part, Merton had been thinking along the lines of Gary Cooper.) After turning down the actor, Dom James asked Mr. Ameche if he had made his Easter duty that year. (He had.)

Films can be a fine introduction to the saints. And sometimes the movie versions are as good as any biography for conveying the saint's special charism. Here is a roster of the ten best films and documentaries about holy men and women, listed in order of their release.

Actress Jennifer Jones as St. Bernadette Soubirous

The Song of Bernadette (1943).

Busloads of Catholic schoolchildren were taken by enthusiastic priests, sisters and brothers to see this movie upon its release. Since then, the story of the Virgin Mary appearing to a poor girl in a backwater town in Southern France in 1858 has lost little appeal. Based on the novel by Franz Werfel, the movie is unabashedly romantic, with a luminous Jennifer Jones as St. Bernadette Soubirous and the handsome Charles Bickford as her initially doubtful but ultimately supportive pastor, Abbé Peyramale. Some find the score overripe, the dialogue saccharine and the acting hammy (Vincent Price all but devours the French scenery), but the stalwart character of Bernadette comes through. So does the shock that greeted what initially appeared to be a little girl’s lie. (In reality, Bernadette’s parents beat her after hearing their daughter’s tale.) “The Song of Bernadette” effectively conveys Bernadette’s courage in the face of detractors and her refusal to deny her experiences, despite everyone else’s doubts.

Joan of Arc (1948).

Cinéastes may still sigh over “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” the 1928 silent film starring Maria Falconetti and directed by Carl Theodore Dreyer, but this Technicolor sound version is unmatched for its colorful flair. At 33, Ingrid Bergman was far too old to play the 14-year-old girl, and too statuesque to portray the more diminutive visionary, but the movie makes up for those shortcomings with the intensity of Bergman’s performance and the director Victor Fleming’s love of sheer pageantry. Watch it also for the foppish portrayal of the Dauphin, and later, Charles VII, by José Ferrer. You can tell that he’s going to be a bad king.

A Man for All Seasons (1966).

It is hard to go wrong with a screenplay by Robert Bolt (who also penned “Lawrence of Arabia” and, later, “The Mission”) Paul Scofield as Sir Thomas, Orson Welles as Cardinal Wolsey Wendy Hiller as his wife, Alice and Robert Shaw as an increasingly petulant and finally enraged Henry VIII. Here is a portrait of the discerning saint, able both to find nuance in his faith and see when nuance needs to give way to an unambiguous response to injustice. The movie may make viewers wonders whether St. Thomas More was as articulate as his portrayal in Bolt’s screenplay. He was, and more, as able to toss off an epigram to a group of lords as he was to banter with his executioner before his martyrdom. Read Thomas More, by Richard Marius or The Life of Thomas More, by Peter Ackroyd, for further proof.

Roses in December (1982).

During a time when the fight for social justice and the “preferential option for the poor” is often derided as passé, this movie reminds us why so many Christians are gripped with a passion to serve the poor, as well as the lasting value of liberation theology. The bare-bones documentary is a moving testament to the witness of three sisters and a lay volunteer who were killed as a result of their work with the poor in El Salvador in December of 1980. “Roses” focuses primarily on Jean Donovan, the Maryknoll lay missioner, chronicling her journey from an affluent childhood in Connecticut to her work with the poor in Latin America. The film’s simplicity is an artful counterpoint to the simple lifestyle of its subjects and the simple beauty of their sacrifice.

Merton: A Film Biography (1984).

I’m too biased to be subjective about this short documentary about Thomas Merton, produced by Paul Wilkes, the Catholic writer. Almost 20 years ago, I happened to see this film on PBS and it started me on the road to the priesthood. Last year, I had the opportunity to watch it again and found it equally as compelling. A low-key introduction to the Trappist monk and one of the most influential American Catholics told with still photographs and interviews with those who knew Merton before and after he entered the monastery. The best part of this film is that by the end you will want to read The Seven Storey Mountain, and who knows where that will lead you?

Thérèse (1986).

This austere work is a rare example of a story about the contemplative life that finds meaningful expression on screen. Alain Cavalier, a French director, deploys a series of vignettes that leads the viewer through the life of Thérèse Martin, from her cossetted childhood until her painful death. It doesn’t quail from showing how difficult life was for Thérèse in the convent at Lisieux, nor the physical pain that attended her last years. But it also shows the quiet joy that attends the contemplative life. A masterpiece of understatement, “Thérèse,” in French with subtitles, reminds us that real holiness is not showy, and the Carmelite nun’s “Little Way” of loving God by doing small things, is made clear to us through this gem of a movie.

Romero (1989).

One of the great strengths of this movie about the martyred archbishop of San Salvador is its depiction of a conversion. Archbishop Oscar Romero moves from a bishop willing to kowtow to the wealthy to a man converted—by the death of friends, the plight of the poor and his reappropriation of the Gospel—into a prophet for the oppressed. Raul Julia invests the archbishop of San Salvador with a fierce love for the people of his archdiocese that manifests itself in his work for social justice. The actor said that he underwent of a conversion himself while making the film, something that informs his performance. One scene, where Romero wrestles with God—half aloud, half silently—is one of the more realistic portrayals of prayer committed to film.

Blackrobe (1991).

Admittedly, Bruce Beresford’s film is not about a particular saint. Nevertheless, it hews closely to the lives of several 17th-century Jesuit martyrs, including St. Jean de Brébeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, who worked among the Hurons and Iroquois in the New World. (The protagonist, who meets St. Isaac in the film, is named “Father Laforgue.”). Some Catholics find this movie, based on the stark novel by Brian Moore, who also wrote the screenplay, unpleasant for its bleak portrayal of the life of the priest as well as for its implicit critique that the missionaries brought only misfortune to the Indians. But, in the end, the movie offers a man who strives to bring God to the people that he ends up loving deeply. The final depiction of the answer to the question, “Blackrobe, do you love us?” is an attempt to sum up an entire Catholic tradition of missionary work.

St. Anthony: Miracle Worker of Padua (2003).

In Italian with subtitles, this is the first feature-length film about the twelfth-century saint best known for helping you find your keys. Hoping to become a knight in his native Lisbon, Anthony is a headstrong youth who almost murders his best friend in a duel. As penance, Anthony makes a vow to become a monk. He enters the Augustinian canons but is soon caught up with the lure of Francis of Assisi, who accepts him into his Order of Friars Minor. The movie successfully conveys the saint’s conversion, the appeal of the simple life and the miraculous deeds reported in his lifetime. The only drawback is that, if medieval portraiture is to be believed, the film’s Anthony looks more like Francis of Assisi than the fellow who plays Francis of Assisi.


Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in Hitchcock's "Notorious."

If I must make a list of the Ten Greatest Films of All Time, my first vow is to make the list for myself, not for anybody else. I am sure than Eisenstein's "The Battleship Potemkin" is a great film, but it's not going on my list simply so I can impress people. Nor will I avoid "Casablanca" simply because it's so popular: I love it all the same.

If I have a criterion for choosing the greatest films, it's an emotional one. These are films that moved me deeply in one way or another. The cinema is the greatest art form ever conceived for generating emotions in its audience. That's what it does best. (If you argue instead for dance or music, drama or painting, I will reply that the cinema incorporates all of these arts).

Cinema is not very good, on the other hand, at intellectual, philosophical or political argument. That's where the Marxists were wrong. If a movie changes your vote or your mind, it does so by appealing to your emotions, not your reason. And so my greatest films must be films that had me sitting transfixed before the screen, involved, committed, and feeling.

After seeing this film many times, I think I finally understand why I love it so much. It's not because of the romance, or the humor, or the intrigue, although those elements are masterful. It's because it makes me proud of the characters. These are not heroes -- not except for Paul Heinreid's resistance fighter, who in some ways is the most predictable character in the film. These are realists, pragmatists, survivors: Humphrey Bogart's Rick Blaine, who sticks his neck out for nobody, and Claude Rains' police inspector, who follows rules and tries to stay out of trouble. At the end of the film, when they rise to heroism, it is so moving because heroism is not in their makeup. Their better nature simply informs them what they must do.

The sheer beauty of the film is also compelling. The black-and-white closeups of Ingrid Bergman, the most bravely vulnerable woman in movie history. Bogart with his cigarette and his bottle. Greenstreet and Lorre. Dooley Wilson at the piano, looking up with pain when he sees Bergman enter the room. The shadows. "As Time Goes By." If there is ever a time when they decide that some movies should be spelled with an upper-case M, "Casablanca" should be voted first on the list of Movies.

I have just seen it again, a shot at a time, analyzing it frame-by-frame out at the University of Colorado at Boulder. We took 10 hours and really looked at this film, which is routinely named the best film of all time, almost by default, in list after list. Maybe it is. It's some movie. It tells of all the seasons of a man's life, shows his weaknesses and hurts, surrounds him with witnesses who remember him but do not know how to explain him. It ends its search for "Rosebud," his dying word, with a final image that explains everything and nothing, and although some critics say the image is superficial, I say it is very deep indeed, because it illustrates the way that human happiness and pain is not found in big ideas but in the little victories or defeats of childhood.

Few films are more complex, or show more breathtaking skill at moving from one level to another. Orson Welles, with his radio background, was able to segue from one scene to another using sound as his connecting link. In one sustained stretch, he covers 20 years between "Merry Christmas" and "A very happy New Year." The piano playing of Kane's young friend Susan leads into their relationship, his applause leads into his campaign, where applause is the bridge again to a political rally that leads to his downfall, when his relationship with Susan is unmasked. We get a three-part miniseries in five minutes.

I do not expect many readers to have heard of this film, or of Yasujiro Ozu, who directed it, but this Japanese master, who lived from 1903 to 1963 and whose prolific career bridged the silent and sound eras, saw things through his films in a way that no one else saw. Audiences never stop to think, when they go to the movies, how they understand what a close-up is, or a reaction shot. They learned that language in childhood, and it was codified and popularized by D. W. Griffith, whose films were studied everywhere in the world -- except in Japan, where for a time a distinctively different visual style seemed to be developing. Ozu fashioned his style by himself, and never changed it, and to see his films is to be inside a completely alternative cinematic language.

"Floating Weeds," like many of his films, is deceptively simple. It tells of a troupe of traveling actors who return to an isolated village where their leader left a woman behind many years ago -- and, we discover, he also left a son. Ozu weaves an atmosphere of peaceful tranquility, of music and processions and leisurely conversations, and then explodes his emotional secrets, which cause people to discover their true natures. It is all done with hypnotic visual beauty. After years of being available only in a shabby, beaten-up version usually known as "Drifting Weeds," this film has now been re-released in superb videotape and laserdisc editions.

This film, not to be confused in any way with "Heaven's Gate" (or with "Gates of Hell," for that matter) is a bottomless mystery to me, infinitely fascinating. Made in the late 1970s by Errol Morris, it would appear to be a documentary about some people involved in a couple of pet cemeteries in Northern California. Oh, it's factual enough: The people in this film really exist, and so does the pet cemetery. But Morris is not concerned with his apparent subject. He has made a film about life and death, pride and shame, deception and betrayal, and the stubborn quirkiness of human nature.

He points his camera at his subjects and lets them talk. But he points it for hours on end, patiently until finally they use the language in ways that reveal their most hidden parts. I am moved by the son who speaks of success but cannot grasp it, the old man whose childhood pet was killed, the cocky guy who runs the tallow plant, the woman who speaks of her dead pet and says, "There's your dog, and your dog's dead. But there has to be something that made it move. Isn't there?" In those words is the central question of every religion. And then, in the extraordinary centerpiece of the film, there is the old woman Florence Rasmussen, sitting in the doorway of her home, delivering a spontaneous monolog that Faulkner would have killed to have written.

Fellini's 1960 film has grown passe in some circles, I'm afraid, but I love it more than ever. Forget about its message, about the "sweet life" along Rome's Via Veneto, or about the contrasts between the sacred and the profane. Simply look at Fellini's ballet of movement and sound, the graceful way he choreographs the camera, the way the actors move. He never made a more "Felliniesque" film, or a better one.

Then sneak up on the subject from inside. Forget what made this film trendy and scandalous more than 30 years ago. Ask what it really says. It is about a man (Marcello Mastroianni in his definitive performance) driven to distraction by his hunger for love, and driven to despair by his complete inability to be able to love. He seeks love from the neurosis of his fiancee, through the fleshy carnality of a movie goddess, from prostitutes and princesses. He seeks it in miracles and drunkenness, at night and at dawn. He thinks he can glimpse it in the life of his friend Steiner, who has a wife and children and a home where music is played and poetry read. But Steiner is as despairing as he is. And finally Marcello gives up and sells out and at dawn sees a pale young girl who wants to remind him of the novel he meant to write someday, but he is hung over and cannot hear her shouting across the waves, and so the message is lost.

I do not have the secret of Alfred Hitchcock and neither, I am convinced, does anyone else. He made movies that do not date, that fascinate and amuse, that everybody enjoys and that shout out in every frame that they are by Hitchcock. In the world of film he was known simply as The Master. But what was he the Master of? What was his philosophy, his belief, his message? It appears that he had none. His purpose was simply to pluck the strings of human emotion -- to play the audience, he said, like a piano. Hitchcock was always hidden behind the genre of the suspense film, but as you see his movies again and again, the greatness stays after the suspense becomes familiar. He made pure movies.

"Notorious" is my favorite Hitchcock, a pairing of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, with Claude Rains the tragic third corner of the triangle. Because she loves Grant, she agrees to seduce Rains, a Nazi spy. Grant takes her act of pure love as a tawdry thing, proving she is a notorious woman. And when Bergman is being poisoned, he misreads her confusion as drunkenness. While the hero plays a rat, however, the villain (Rains) becomes an object of sympathy. He does love this woman. He would throw over all of Nazi Germany for her, probably -- if he were not under the spell of his domineering mother, who pulls his strings until they choke him.

Ten years ago, Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" was on my list of the ten best films. I think "Raging Bull" addresses some of the same obsessions, and is a deeper and more confident film. Scorsese used the same actor, Robert De Niro, and the same screenwriter, Paul Schrader, for both films, and they have the same buried themes: A man's jealousy about a woman, made painful by his own impotence, and expressed through violence.

Some day if you want to see movie acting as good as any ever put on the screen, look at a scene two-thirds of the way through "Raging Bull." It takes place in the living room of Jake LaMotta, the boxing champion played by De Niro. He is fiddling with a TV set. His wife comes in, says hello, kisses his brother, and goes upstairs. This begins to bother LaMotta. He begins to quiz his brother (Joe Pesci). The brother says he don't know nothin'. De Niro says maybe he doesn't know what he knows. The way the dialog expresses the inner twisting logic of his jealousy is insidious. De Niro keeps talking, and Pesci tries to run but can't hide. And step by step, word by word, we witness a man helpless to stop himself from destroying everyone who loves him.

This movie is on the altar of my love for the cinema. I saw it for the first time in a little fleabox of a theater on the Left Bank in Paris, in 1962, during my first $5 a day trip to Europe. It was so sad, so beautiful, so romantic, that it became at once a part of my own memories -- as if it had happened to me. There is infinite poignancy in the love that the failed writer Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) feels for the woman (Alida Valli) who loves the "dead" Harry Lime (Orson Welles). Harry treats her horribly, but she loves her idea of him, he neither he nor Holly can ever change that. Apart from the story, look at the visuals! The tense conversation on the giant ferris wheel. The giant, looming shadows at night. The carnivorous faces of people seen in the bombed-out streets of postwar Vienna, where the movie was shot on location. The chase through the sewers. And of course the moment when the cat rubs against a shoe in a doorway, and Orson Welles makes the most dramatic entrance in the history of the cinema. All done to the music of a single zither.

I have very particular reasons for including this film, which is the least familiar title on my list but one which I defy anyone to watch without fascination. No other film I have ever seen does a better job of illustrating the mysterious and haunting way in which the cinema bridges time. The movies themselves play with time, condensing days or years into minutes or hours. Then going to old movies defies time, because we see and hear people who are now dead, sounding and looking exactly the same. Then the movies toy with our personal time, when we revisit them, by recreating for us precisely the same experience we had before. Then look what Michael Apted does with time in this documentary, which he began more than 30 years ago. He made a movie called "7-Up" for British television. It was about a group of British 7-year-olds, their dreams, fears, ambitions, families, prospects. Fair enough. Then, seven years later, he made "14 Up," revisiting them. Then came "21 Up" and, in 1985. "28 Up," and next year, just in time for the Sight & Sound list, will come "35 Up." And so the film will continue to grow. 42. 49. 56. 63. until Apted or his subjects are dead.

The miracle of the film is that it shows us that the seeds of the man are indeed in the child. In a sense, the destinies of all of these people can be guessed in their eyes, the first time we see them. Some do better than we expect, some worse, one seems completely bewildered. But the secret and mystery of human personality is there from the first. This ongoing film is an experiment unlike anything else in film history.

Film can take us where we cannot go. It can also take our minds outside their shells, and this film by Stanley Kubrick is one of the great visionary experiences in the cinema. Yes, it was a landmark of special effects, so convincing that years later the astronauts, faced with the reality of outer space, compared it to "2001." But it was also a landmark of non-narrative, poetic filmmaking, in which the connections were made by images, not dialog or plot. An ape uses to learn a bone as a weapon, and this tool, flung into the air, transforms itself into a space ship--the tool that will free us from the bondage of this planet. And then the spaceship takes man on a voyage into the interior of what may be the mind of another species.

The debates about the "meaning" of this film still go on. Surely the whole point of the film is that it is beyond meaning, that it takes its character to a place he is so incapable of understanding that a special room--sort of a hotel room--has to be prepared for him there, so that he will not go mad. The movie lyrically and brutally challenges us to break out of the illusion that everyday mundane concerns are what must preoccupy us. It argues that surely man did not learn to think and dream, only to deaden himself with provincialism and selfishness. "2001" is a spiritual experience. But then all good movies are.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Kazakh” TV reporter (even if he speaks Hebrew) travels back to the US, 14 years after his latest feature-long escapade. This time Baron Cohen has brought his (Bulgarian-speaking) teenage daughter along, with the mission of giving her “as a gift” to some powerful American politicians – initially Mike Pence, then Rudy Giuliani. In classic Boratic fashion, the mockumentary follows the wacky duo on a cavalcade across Trump’s America, filming candid performances by unsuspecting characters ranging from QAnon believers, to Republican activists, to prim debutantes, all the way to Giuliani himself. Even the coronavirus pandemic, which struck America as the film was being shot, is subverted as a comedic plot point. Baron Cohen delivers, with the expected repertoire of shock gags and deadpanned verbal enormities, and he manages to land some punches at the expenses of bigots and loons. But, in contrast to its 2006 predecessor, many of the pranks and stunts here seem more aimed at eliciting the audience’s nervous laughter than at exposing America’s heart of darkness. Still, a worthy and funny watch.

The 100 Best Movies of All Time

An entirely subjective list of the greatest films in history that matter right now.

To completely take the wind out of all of our sails, coming up with a perfect list of the 100 greatest movies of all time is. well, it's impossible isn't it? To get cerebral about it, when lists like this come together, half the fun is going through and seeing where (or even if) your favorite made the list. Taking in how your tastes and experiences line up with whomever wrote this monstrosity. With film being such an expansive and subjective form of art, there is hardly a wrong answer to what is and isn't deserving of making a list like this.

But what's special about this, our list of 100 great films, is that it speaks to this moment&mdashthis group of Esquire editors. We went through the lists made in the past and we collectively agreed. it didn't represent who we are right now, in 2021, looking out our pandemic windows with our political anxiety and our TikTok pastas. So instead we changed it. Made it something reflective of us. When you peruse the pieces we write, the opinions we have, and the approaches we take, you can see the influence of the films on this list. Not to get too earnest, but pop culture has this way of permeating our senses and informing who we are as people. It's the beauty of good writing and acting and direction. It's easy to think, "A movie is just a movie!" but it isn't, is it? We wouldn't care what films are on this list if it were.

So bookmark this page and take the journey with us. Get spicy in the comments and tell us what we left off, but be careful! That might reveal as much about you as it does about us. In all seriousness, this list is meant to be a conversation: a celebration of the 100 films that we decided help define who we are as a publication and a staff and consumers of them talkie pictures that fill our nights. And hey, your opinion might just be a wake up call to us. Between 12 Angry Men and Parasite, we are willing to bet there's a good movie we missed in the in between.

Oh, and for you documentary heads? Chill out. We see you and your penchant for real stories, so we put the best of those documentary films in a separate list. So come. Let's go through the best 100 movies of all time.

Nanni Moretti’s Palme d’Or-winning drama about a father crippled by grief after the accidental death of his child is not for the faint-hearted. Yet the Italian writer/director/star performs miracles making a movie so wrenching also so hopeful. CS
Read the review

Sarah Polley followed Away From Her and Take This Waltz by turning the camera on her own family secrets in this tricksy and compassionate documentary uncovering the true identity of her father. CS
Read the review

Upset … Katie Jarvis and Michael Fassbender in Fish Tank. Photograph: Holly Horner


What is film noir?

Film noir is a style or genre of films made in Hollywood in the '40s and '50s that have stylistic and thematic similarities. Specifically, tales of crime and moral ambiguity shot in black & white with high contrast lighting (bright lights and deep black shadows).

Film noir translates from French as “black film,” but that’s misleading because these aren't French films. The term was, however, coined by French critics.

It’s actually German cinematographers and directors like John F. Seitz and Fritz Lang that deserve the most credit for shaping the style. They applied the fundamentals of expressionism to the gritty American crime story, inverting the internal turmoil and anguish of private eyes and volatile gangsters so they’re visible on the surface.

The 106 Best HBO Series Ranked

Game of Thrones’ may have been HBO’s most popular show ever — but is the epic fantasy series HBO’s all-time best-reviewed show?

Well, the short answer is no.

The longer answer is that the premium cable network offers plenty of new, buzzworthy series on its current lineup with higher scores than the drama, including dark comedy Barry, the sci-fi mystery of Westworld, and award-winning drama Big Little Lies. And that’s not to mention HBO’s signature prestige dramas including The Sopranos, Chernobyl, and Western period drama Deadwood.

In 2020, the highly anticipated first season of horror-fantasy Lovecraft Country and troubling docuseries The Vow joined those classics in our list of HBO’s best shows, along with a few more new additions: docuseries Allen v. Farrow and The Investigation, Tiger Woods documentary series Tiger, Painting with John, and J.K. Rowling’s crime series C.B. Strike, whose new season gave it the number of reviews needed to join the list.

We’ve rounded up Tomatometer scores for the best HBO series and miniseries to make a list to fill your binge-watch calendar into next year. To qualify for the list, a series must have at least 10 reviews counting toward its score.

Is your favorite HBO title missing? Tell us in the comments.

Recently added: The Crime of the Century miniseries, Mare of Easttown


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