Ebert Great Movies

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Ebert Great Movies

For Ebert Great Movies, there is no limit to the creators reporting on this topic. We assembled 25 of the top ones.

12 Angry Men (1957)

12 Angry Men
★★★★
★★★★
3.6 out of 4 stars

From Sidney Lumet, starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler
Rated Approved

12 Angry Men is a 1957 courtroom drama directed by Sidney Lumet, starring Henry Fonda as the leader of a jury forced to reconsider a murder case. The film centers on a jury of twelve men as they deliberate the guilt or innocence of an 18-year-old defendant accused of fatally stabbing his father. At the beginning of the film, eleven of the jurors vote "guilty," while one votes "not guilty." As the deliberations progress, the jurors are forced to confront their own prejudices and preconceived notions of justice, as well as the evidence presented in court. Through a series of heated debates, the jurors slowly begin to realize that the seemingly open-and-shut case is not as clear cut as it initially appeared. As the film progresses, the jury's collective sense of justice and morality is slowly brought to the forefront, forcing them to make a difficult decision with far-reaching consequences.

Dekalog (19891990)

Dekalog
★★★★
★★★★
3.6 out of 4 stars

From Stars: Artur Barcis, Olgierd Lukaszewicz, Olaf Lubaszenko, Aleksander Bardini, starring
Rated TV-MA

"Dekalog" is a Polish film by director, Krzysztof Kieslowski. It consists of 10 one-hour films, each based on one of the Ten Commandments. The series is set in a housing project in Communist-era Poland. The stories tell tales of everyday life of people living in the housing project, exploring how the commandments affect their lives in the modern world. The stories focus on themes of guilt, love, morality, religion, and mortality. Each individual story has its own plot, characters, and thematic focus, while also being connected to the other stories through recurring characters and themes. The stories feature a ensemble cast, including Artur Barcis, Olgierd Lukaszewicz, Olaf Lubaszenko and Aleksander Bardini.

Alien (1979)

Alien
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Ridley Scott, starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt, Veronica Cartwright
Rated R

Alien is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Sigourney Weaver. The story follows the crew of the commercial space tug Nostromo, who encounter a hostile alien life form that picks off the crew one by one. The survivors, led by Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley, must band together and fight for their lives against the alien, an 8-foot-tall biomechanical killing machine with acid for blood. The film was met with critical acclaim upon its release, and has since gone on to become a classic of the horror genre. Alien spawned two sequels, as well as two prequels and a series of video games.

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Apocalypse Now
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Francis Ford Coppola, starring Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Frederic Forrest
Rated R

Apocalypse Now is a 1979 epic war film directed, produced, and co-written by Francis Ford Coppola. Set during the Vietnam War, it tells the story of Captain Benjamin L. Willard (Martin Sheen) who is sent on a dangerous mission by Colonel Lucas (Marlon Brando) to assassinate the renegade Green Beret Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). As Willard travels upriver, he is forced to confront his own inner demons as he encounters a variety of characters, including a USO singer (Robbie Robertson), a crazed Playboy photographer (Dennis Hopper), and a navy patrol boat crew. The film is based on Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness and is considered a classic of the new Hollywood era.

Casablanca (1942)

Casablanca
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Michael Curtiz, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains
Rated PG

Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid. Set during World War II, it follows the story of Rick Blaine, an American nightclub owner in the city of Casablanca, Morocco. When his former lover Ilsa Lund shows up with her husband, Victor Laszlo, a Czech Resistance leader, Rick is forced to choose between his love for Ilsa and helping Laszlo escape the Nazis. Through a series of thrilling events, Rick and Ilsa are reunited and the couple ultimately escapes to freedom. The film features a timelessly iconic score and quotable lines, and it was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

City Lights (1931)

City Lights
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Charles Chaplin, starring Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee, Harry Myers
Rated G

City Lights is a classic 1931 silent comedy film written and directed by Charlie Chaplin. The movie follows the story of a humble little tramp, played by Chaplin, who falls in love with a blind flower girl. In order to help the flower girl regain her sight, the tramp takes all kinds of odd jobs in order to raise money. Along the way, he gets into all kinds of misadventures and struggles with issues of poverty and class distinction. At the end, the tramp is able to raise the money for the flower girl's operation and she is cured. The film is considered one of the greatest films of all time and has been praised for its comedic timing, emotive story, and innovative cinematography.

Amadeus (1984)

Amadeus
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Milos Forman, starring F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge, Roy Dotrice
Rated R

Amadeus is a biographical period drama film directed by Milos Forman, which follows the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of the greatest composers of all time. The story is told from the perspective of his rival Antonio Salieri, an Austrian court composer, who is jealous of Mozart’s success and plots against him. The film follows the two composers from their childhood, to the courts of Vienna, to the stages of Europe, and ultimately to Salieri’s guilt-ridden confession. Throughout the film we are treated to stunning visuals and a stunning score. Amadeus stands as a timeless masterpiece of filmmaking, and is a vivid celebration of Mozart's life, work and genius.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Stanley Kubrick, starring Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn
Rated PG

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a 1964 black comedy directed by Stanley Kubrick. The film follows the story of a deranged US Air Force general who orders a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. The President of the United States and his advisors frantically attempt to recall the planes, but have little hope of succeeding. The story is told through the eyes of Dr. Strangelove, a wheelchair-bound nuclear scientist who advises the President on how to deal with the impending nuclear war. The film is a satirical comedy, exploring the absurdity of nuclear warfare and the Cold War. The film was widely praised for its dark humor and its use of irony and satire to make its point.

The Apartment (1960)

The Apartment
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Billy Wilder, starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston
Rated Approved

The Apartment tells the story of C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon), an insurance clerk who allows his superiors to use his apartment for their extramarital affairs in exchange for promotions. He eventually falls in love with Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), the mistress of one of his bosses. As the affair progresses, Baxter must decide between his loyalty to his company and his love for Fran. The film explores the themes of loneliness and corruption in the corporate world. Along the way, Baxter is forced to confront his own insecurities and face the consequences of his choices. In the end, Baxter learns to take control of his life and his own decisions, and does the right thing.

Children of Paradise (1945)

Children of Paradise
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Marcel Carné, starring Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault, Pierre Brasseur, Pierre Renoir
Rated Not Rated

Children of Paradise is a 1945 French film directed by Marcel Carné. It was Carné's most famous work and is often considered one of the greatest films of all time. The film follows the lives of a group of people in the theatrical world of 19th-century Paris. At the center of the story is Baptiste, an actor whose tempestuous love affair with a beautiful courtesan, Garance, is the catalyst for a series of dramatic events. The film is told in three parts, each of which focuses on a different romantic relationship involving Baptiste and the other characters in the film. The film is a sweeping and romantic portrait of life in the theater district, and its passionate characters, including the mime Debureau and the actor Frédérick Lemaître, are among the most beloved in all of French cinema.

Citizen Kane (1941)

Citizen Kane
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Orson Welles, starring Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead
Rated PG

Citizen Kane is an American drama film directed and produced by Orson Welles and is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made. The story follows the life and career of Charles Foster Kane, a powerful newspaper publisher whose life and legacy are explored through flashbacks and newsreel footage. Through his rise to power, Kane struggles with the demands of power, his relationships, and his own mortality. The film deconstructs the life of a powerful and influential man, revealing dark secrets and tragic flaws. Ultimately, the film seeks to unearth the meaning of Kane’s enigmatic final word: “Rosebud.”

Double Indemnity (1944)

Double Indemnity
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Billy Wilder, starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Byron Barr
Rated Passed

Double Indemnity is a classic film noir directed by Billy Wilder and starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson. The film is about an insurance salesman who conspires with a femme fatale to commit murder and then attempt to collect double indemnity on the life insurance policy of her husband. The pair soon find themselves in way over their heads as they try to outwit the claims adjuster who is determined to discover the truth behind the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. This fast-paced and suspenseful film is a timeless classic and is considered to be one of the greatest examples of the film noir genre.

All About Eve (1950)

All About Eve
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Joseph L. Mankiewicz, starring Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm
Rated Passed

All About Eve is a 1950 drama directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. The film follows the story of Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), an ambitious young woman who insinuates herself into the lives of a famous Broadway couple, the aging actress Margo Channing (Bette Davis) and her theater director-producer husband Bill (Gary Merrill). Despite warnings from Margo's loyal friend and assistant Karen (Celeste Holm), Eve quickly becomes an integral part of their lives, eventually replacing Karen as Margo's assistant. However, as Eve's success grows, she reveals her true motivations—a desire to become a great star herself—at the cost of those closest to her. All About Eve is a classic exploration of ambition, deception, and friendship, and features an Academy Award-winning performance by Bette Davis.

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

The Bridge on the River Kwai
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From David Lean, starring William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa
Rated PG

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 British-American war film directed by David Lean and based on the 1952 novel of the same name by Pierre Boulle. The film stars Alec Guinness, William Holden and Jack Hawkins. Set in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Burma during World War II, the film tells the story of British colonel Nicholson (Guinness) and his attempt to construct a bridge for the Japanese, despite the mistreatment he and other POWs suffer. The film also focuses on the complex relationship between Nicholson and his Japanese captor Saito (Sessue Hayakawa). As the bridge nears completion, Nicholson finds himself in a moral dilemma, as he must choose between his loyalty to the British forces and his sense of duty to his captors. The film culminates in a climactic battle between the POWs and the Japanese forces. The Bridge on the River Kwai won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Chinatown (1974)

Chinatown
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Roman Polanski, starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez
Rated R

Chinatown is a 1974 American neo-noir mystery film directed by Roman Polanski. The film stars Jack Nicholson as a private detective, J.J. "Jake" Gittes, who is hired by a woman to investigate an adultery case. Gittes uncovers a wide-reaching conspiracy that involves the wealthy and politically powerful figures in Los Angeles, and eventually uncovers a dark secret involving the woman's past. The film also stars Faye Dunaway and John Huston, and features music by Jerry Goldsmith. Chinatown is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, and it received eleven Academy Award nominations, winning Best Original Screenplay. It is often cited as an exemplar of the neo-noir genre, and is considered to be one of Polanski's finest films.

Ace in the Hole (1951)

Ace in the Hole
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Billy Wilder, starring Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Robert Arthur, Porter Hall
Rated Approved

Ace In The Hole is a 1951 drama directed by Billy Wilder, starring Kirk Douglas as Charles Tatum, a cynical, down-on-his-luck reporter. When Tatum arrives in Albuquerque, he finds a job at a local newspaper but quickly grows bored with the mundane stories he's assigned. When a Native American man gets trapped in a cave-in at a nearby tourist attraction, Tatum sees a chance to make his mark. He orchestrates a media circus of sorts, manipulating the situation to keep himself in the public eye and further his own ambitions. In the end, Tatum's actions have devastating consequences, as his quest for fame and fortune comes at the expense of those around him. Ace In The Hole is a searing, powerful indictment of the power of the media and its potential for exploitation.

Army of Shadows (1969)

Army of Shadows
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Jean-Pierre Melville, starring Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Simone Signoret
Rated Not Rated

Army of Shadows is a 1969 French film directed by Jean-Pierre Melville. The film follows several members of the French Resistance during World War II as they carry out their operations in Nazi-occupied France. Led by a mysterious figure known only as "Le Masque," the Resistance fighters battle against the Gestapo to sabotage the enemy and save their comrades. The members of the Resistance must overcome their own doubts and fears as they risk their lives in a relentless fight against the Nazis. The film is a tense and gripping drama that shows the courage and resilience of the French people in the face of their oppressors.

An Autumn Afternoon (1962)

An Autumn Afternoon
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Yasujirô Ozu, starring Chishû Ryû, Shima Iwashita, Keiji Sada, Mariko Okada
Rated Not Rated

An Autumn Afternoon is a 1962 Japanese film directed by Yasujirō Ozu. The film follows Shuhei Hirayama, a middle-aged widower who lives in Tokyo with his daughter Michiko. Michiko is of marriageable age, yet Shuhei is reluctant to let her go and is content to live with her and his widowed sister-in-law. As pressure mounts from his family to find her a husband, Shuhei is forced to confront the realization that his daughter is growing up and his role as a parent is coming to an end. Through its subtle yet powerful narrative, An Autumn Afternoon offers a poignant reflection on the Japanese tradition of arranged marriages, the changing face of Japanese society, and the challenges of parenting in the modern world.

Barry Lyndon (1975)

Barry Lyndon
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Stanley Kubrick, starring Ryan O'Neal, Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee, Hardy Krüger
Rated PG

Barry Lyndon is a 1975 drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on the novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackeray. The film stars Ryan O'Neal as the titular character, a poor Irishman who rises up in the British aristocracy during the 18th century. The film follows Barry's journey as he goes from a poor young adult, to a well-mannered upper-class gentleman, and eventually to a jaded gambler by the end of the film. Along the way, Barry has to make difficult decisions, face hardships, and battle his own inner demons. The film is often praised for its visual style, with Kubrick's masterful cinematography and use of natural lighting creating a unique and beautiful film. Barry Lyndon is an engaging and thought-provoking film that explores the nature of ambition, morality, and class.

The Battle of Algiers (1966)

The Battle of Algiers
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Gillo Pontecorvo, starring Brahim Hadjadj, Jean Martin, Yacef Saadi, Samia Kerbash
Rated Not Rated

The Battle of Algiers is a 1966 Italian-Algerian war film directed by Gillo Pontecorvo and starring Jean Martin, Yacef Saadi, Brahim Haggiag, and Samia Kerbash. It depicts the Algerian people's struggle against French colonial rule in the 1950s, a campaign of urban guerilla warfare specifically targeting the French military. The film also follows Ali la Pointe, an Algerian freedom fighter, as he leads a series of attacks on French targets and is eventually captured and executed. The film was internationally acclaimed for its realistic depiction of the violence and brutality of this particular conflict and its exploration of the ethical and moral complexities of warfare.

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

The Best Years of Our Lives
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From William Wyler, starring Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Fredric March, Teresa Wright
Rated Approved

The Best Years of Our Lives is a 1946 American drama film directed by William Wyler and starring Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, and Harold Russell. The film tells the story of three World War II veterans who return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irrevocably changed. Bomber-pilot Captain Fred Derry (Fredric March), sailor Homer Parrish (Harold Russell), and Marine Al Stephenson (Dana Andrews) struggle to adjust to life after the war. Each of them faces different struggles to fit in and find work, but they soon discover that the problems of adjusting to civilian life are shared by all of them. With help from their families and friends, the three veterans come to terms with their post-war lives and learn the true meaning of friendship and courage.

The Big Lebowski (1998)

The Big Lebowski
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi
Rated R

The Big Lebowski is a 1998 crime comedy film written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. The film follows an aging Los Angeles slacker, Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) who is mistaken for a millionaire of the same name. He seeks restitution for his ruined rug and enlists his bowling buddies to help get it. The movie follows the Dude's misadventures as he and his friends, Walter (John Goodman) and Donny (Steve Buscemi), are entangled in a complicated kidnapping scheme involving a millionaire (David Huddleston) and his avant-garde wife (Julianne Moore). Along the way, the Dude crosses paths with a number of eccentric characters including the nihilists (Tara Reid, Peter Stormare, and Flea) and a mysterious "Big" Lebowski (David Thewlis). In the end, the Dude is able to make peace with the millionaire and reclaim his rug. The Big Lebowski has become a cult classic and is widely considered to be one of the Coen brothers' best films. It features an all-star cast, a memorable soundtrack, and irreverent humor that has made it a fan favorite.

Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Ridley Scott, starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos
Rated R

Blade Runner is a sci-fi noir film directed by Ridley Scott, set in Los Angeles in 2019. The story follows Deckard, a “Blade Runner”, tasked with hunting down a group of genetically engineered replicants who have escaped from an off-world colony and returned to Earth. As Deckard pursues the replicants, he discovers that he may not be entirely human himself. The film explores themes of identity, mortality, and humanity, as well as the moral implications of advances in artificial intelligence. With a mix of action, suspense, and existential dread, Blade Runner is a classic of science fiction cinema.

The Circus (1928)

The Circus
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Charles Chaplin, starring Charles Chaplin, Merna Kennedy, Al Ernest Garcia, Harry Crocker
Rated Passed

The Circus is a classic silent comedy film from 1928, directed by and starring Charles Chaplin. It follows the story of a tramp called "The Little Tramp" as he accidentally becomes a member of a traveling circus. After his first performance, he is an overnight sensation and a huge hit with the audience. However, his newfound fame gets him into trouble when he learns that a pair of con-artists, who had previously attempted to swindle the circus out of money, are now trying to frame him. The Little Tramp must prove his innocence and save the circus, while also contending with the jealous circus ringmaster who is out to get him. Along the way, he falls in love with a beautiful trapeze artist who also happens to be pursued by the ringmaster. In the end, the Little Tramp's innocence is proven and he is reunited with the woman he loves. The film culminates in a thrilling circus performance where the Little Tramp is able to prove himself worthy of the circus and its audience.

Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Cool Hand Luke
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Stuart Rosenberg, starring Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin, J.D. Cannon
Rated GP

Cool Hand Luke is a 1967 classic prison drama directed by Stuart Rosenberg. The film stars Paul Newman as Lucas "Luke" Jackson, a World War II veteran and prisoner incarcerated in a rural Florida prison camp. Despite his best efforts, Luke is unable to conform to the rules and regulations set by the prison authorities, resulting in him being repeatedly punished for his rebellious attitude. As his fellow inmates rally around him, Luke forms a bond with the prison guards, gradually gaining their respect and admiration. The film follows Luke's journey as he attempts to escape the camp and the consequences of his failures and successes along the way. Ultimately, Luke is unable to escape the prison, but he does manage to retain his sense of integrity and courage, earning him the admiration and respect of his peers.

 



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