Top 100 Movies American Film Institute

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Top 100 Movies American Film Institute

Thinking about Top 100 Movies American Film Institute, there are many films who explored this topic. We gathered 25 of the top ones.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption
★★★★
★★★★
3.7 out of 4 stars

From Frank Darabont, starring Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler
Rated R

The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 American drama film directed by Frank Darabont and written and based on the Stephen King novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. It stars Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne, a banker who is wrongfully convicted of murder and sent to Shawshank State Prison. While there, he forms a friendship with fellow inmate Ellis "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman). Over the years, Andy works to improve the prison library and eventually gains the trust of the prison authorities, who grant him unusual privileges. In the end, Andy is able to safely escape from the prison and reunite with Red on the outside. The Shawshank Redemption is a story of hope, redemption, and the power of friendship to overcome even the most difficult of circumstances.

The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather
★★★★
★★★★
3.7 out of 4 stars

From Francis Ford Coppola, starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton
Rated R

The Godfather is an iconic, Academy Award-winning crime drama set in the 1940s in New York City. It follows the Corleone family, a powerful mafia clan led by patriarch Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando). After Vito's death, his son Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) takes over the family business and attempts to legitimize it while trying to protect the family from their rivals. As the film progresses, Michael is drawn deeper into the criminal underworld and must make difficult decisions that will protect his family and ultimately cost him his soul. The film is a saga of loyalty, corruption, love, and power and is widely considered one of the greatest films of all time.

Schindler's List (1993)

Schindler's List
★★★★
★★★★
3.6 out of 4 stars

From Steven Spielberg, starring Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Caroline Goodall
Rated R

Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Steven Zaillian. The film is based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. It stars Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as SS officer Amon Göth, and Ben Kingsley as Schindler's Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern. The film follows Schindler's gradual transformation from an opportunistic businessman to a benevolent benefactor of the Jews who works to save as many of his workers as possible from the Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps. The film's narrative takes place in Kraków, Poland and German-occupied Poland during World War II. It was the first Hollywood film to be entirely shot in the former Soviet Union, in various locations in Lithuania, Poland and the former Yugoslavia. The film was nominated for twelve Academy Awards, winning seven, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. It was also a box office success, grossing $322.2 million worldwide on a $22 million budget, making it

The Godfather Part II (1974)

The Godfather Part II
★★★★
★★★★
3.6 out of 4 stars

From Francis Ford Coppola, starring Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton
Rated R

The Godfather Part II is a 1974 American crime epic film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and a sequel to the 1972 blockbuster The Godfather. It is both a sequel and a prequel to The Godfather, presenting parallel dramas: one picks up the 1958 story of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino); the other, the early history of his father, Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro). The Godfather Part II received critical acclaim, with some people considering it a better film than its predecessor, and was nominated for eleven Academy Awards. The film follows Michael Corleone as he attempts to expand the Corleone family business, while dealing with his inner turmoil, the emerging power of the other Mafia families, and the political machinations of U.S. Senator Pat Geary. Meanwhile, the early life of Vito Corleone is paralleled, showing his rise to power in 1920s New York and his founding of the Corleone family. The Godfather Part II is considered to be one of the greatest sequels ever made, with an iconic score by Nino Rota and a powerful performance by both Pacino and De Niro. It is also renowned for its iconic visuals and rich

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 an American courtroom drama film directed by Sidney Lumet, in which a jury of twelve men must unanimously decide the fate of an eighteen-year-old defendant accused of murder. The jury, initially convinced of the defendant’s guilt, slowly comes to a unanimous decision to acquit him. As the jury debates the case, they must grapple with the truth of the evidence presented and their own biases and prejudices. Through the course of the film, the jurors, who initially believed the case to be an open-and-shut conviction, come to think of the defendant’s fate as a personal responsibility, and ultimately, as a matter of justice.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction
★★★★
★★★★
3.6 out of 4 stars

From Quentin Tarantino, starring John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis
Rated R

Pulp Fiction is a crime drama directed by Quentin Tarantino and released in 1994. It tells the interconnected stories of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a gangster, as they intertwine in violence, crime, and unexpected consequences. The hit men, Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), are sent out to retrieve a mysterious briefcase for their boss, Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). Meanwhile, boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) is forced to throw a fight for Marsellus, but instead double-crosses him, leading to a violent confrontation. The gangster's wife Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) is taken out by Vincent to a 1950s-themed restaurant, where their night of fun and dancing quickly turns into a deadly encounter. In the end, all of the characters find themselves in unpredictable situations, forcing them to face the consequences of their actions. Pulp Fiction is a darkly comic, stylishly shot exploration of life, death, and the consequences of violence.

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

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
★★★★
★★★★
3.5 out of 4 stars

From Peter Jackson, starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean
Rated PG-13

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is an epic fantasy adventure film directed by Peter Jackson and based on J. R. R. Tolkien's novel of the same name. The film follows a group of brave heroes, known as the Fellowship, who embark on a quest to save Middle-earth from the dark forces of Sauron by destroying the One Ring. Along the way, they face many obstacles, including a powerful wizard, an evil army, and a mysterious, ancient force. Along the way, the Fellowship must rely on each other to survive and come together as one to succeed in their mission. The movie features an all-star cast, including Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, and Sean Bean. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was a critical and commercial success, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest films of all time.

Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump
★★★★
★★★★
3.5 out of 4 stars

From Robert Zemeckis, starring Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Sally Field
Rated PG-13

Forrest Gump is a 1994 American comedy-drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, and Sally Field. Based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom, the film tells the story of a slow-witted but kind-hearted man named Forrest Gump, who, despite his below average intelligence, leads an extraordinary life. Throughout his life, Forrest meets a number of important historical figures while being a part of key events in US history. Despite all the challenges he faces, Forrest's strength of spirit, kindness, and perseverance endear him to those around him, including his childhood sweetheart Jenny Curran. Ultimately, Forrest proves that true love and friendship triumph over adversity.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
★★★★
★★★★
3.5 out of 4 stars

From Milos Forman, starring Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Michael Berryman, Peter Brocco
Rated R

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a 1975 American drama film directed by Milos Forman and starring Jack Nicholson. The film follows Randle McMurphy (Nicholson), a criminal who feigns insanity in order to serve his sentence in a mental institution rather than a prison. Once there, he finds himself in a battle of wills with the head nurse, Mildred Ratched (Louise Fletcher). The film examines the oppressive and dehumanizing atmosphere of the institution, and McMurphy's attempts to challenge it. With the help of his fellow inmates, McMurphy ultimately wins a minor victory and is ultimately released. The film won five Academy Awards and is widely considered to be one of the greatest films ever made.

Goodfellas (1990)

Goodfellas
★★★★
★★★★
3.5 out of 4 stars

From Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco
Rated R

Goodfellas (1990) is a classic crime film directed by Martin Scorsese that follows the rise and fall of mob associate Henry Hill (Ray Liotta). The movie follows Henry for three decades, as he works his way up the ranks of the New York mafia, grows increasingly powerful, and then eventually suffers a downfall. Along the way, Henry's life is riddled with violence, drugs, and betrayal. He also befriends Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) and Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) as he rises to power. As Henry's life spirals out of control, the cost of his loyalty to the mafia becomes increasingly apparent. The film is a rollercoaster of suspense and emotion, and the riveting performances of its main characters make it an unforgettable classic.

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

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From George Lucas, starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness
Rated PG

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope is a 1977 science fiction film written and directed by George Lucas. It is the first installment of the original Star Wars trilogy and the beginning of the Star Wars saga. The plot follows the quest of Luke Skywalker, a young farm boy, to rescue Princess Leia, a rebel leader held captive by the Galactic Empire, and help the Rebel Alliance defeat the Empire and restore freedom to the galaxy. Along the way, Luke meets a series of colorful characters, including a wise Jedi master named Obi-Wan Kenobi, who helps him to become a Jedi Knight and take on the Empire. Along with a team of rebels, Luke faces a series of epic battles, including a dogfight in space, a light saber duel with Darth Vader, and a battle on the surface of the Death Star. In the end, the Rebels are triumphant and the Empire is defeated.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

It's a Wonderful Life
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Frank Capra, starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell
Rated PG

It's a Wonderful Life is a classic Christmas movie directed by Frank Capra in 1946. The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who is on the brink of suicide on Christmas Eve. Through the help of his guardian angel, Clarence Oddbody, George is able to travel through time and view what his town of Bedford Falls would be like if he had never existed. He soon realizes the positive effect he has had on the lives of his family and friends, and decides to continue his life. The film is a heartwarming tale about the value of life, friendship, and family. It is a beloved classic, and it is often considered one of the greatest films of all time.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Saving Private Ryan
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns
Rated R

Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American war drama film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat. Set during the invasion of Normandy in World War II, the movie follows United States Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller and a squad of soldiers as they search for a paratrooper, Private First Class James Francis Ryan, who is the last surviving brother of four servicemen. Against all odds, the captain and his squad embark on a dangerous mission to find and bring the soldier home, while they battle the overwhelming odds of enemy forces. Along the way, they must cope with the loss of their own comrades and face the ultimate sacrifice for their country. This film, which won five Academy Awards, is now regarded as one of the greatest war films of all time.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The Silence of the Lambs
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Jonathan Demme, starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney, Kasi Lemmons
Rated R

The Silence of the Lambs is a psychological horror-thriller film directed by Jonathan Demme and released in 1991. The film follows FBI trainee Clarice Starling as she teams up with the brilliant and manipulative Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a former psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer, in order to catch another serial killer. The film stars Jodie Foster as Clarice, Anthony Hopkins as Lecter, and Ted Levine as the killer. The Silence of the Lambs was a massive critical and commercial success, and was the first (and so far only) horror film to win the “Big Five” Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

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 classic romantic drama set in the early 1940s. It follows the story of Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), an American expatriate who runs a nightclub and gambling den in the Moroccan city of Casablanca. He is dragged into the international intrigue of World War II when his former lover Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) arrives in town, seeking to obtain exit visas for herself and her Czech Resistance leader husband Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid). Determined to keep Ilsa from Laszlo, Rick must choose between his love for Ilsa and his sense of honor and patriotism. The film's iconic climax has become one of the most famous scenes in cinema history.

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 film directed by and starring Charles Chaplin. The film follows the story of a kindly tramp (Chaplin) who falls in love with a blind flower girl and tries to help her in any way he can. His attempts to raise money to pay for her eye operation result in a series of comedic misadventures, including a boxing match and a wild night on the town. Throughout the film Chaplin's tramp character retains his optimism and good heart, endearing him to the audience. The film is widely considered to be Chaplin's masterpiece, and one of the greatest films of all time.

Psycho (1960)

Psycho
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Alfred Hitchcock, starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin
Rated R

Psycho is a 1960 psychological horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The film stars Anthony Perkins as the disturbed motel proprietor Norman Bates, Janet Leigh as Marion Crane, and Vera Miles as her sister, Lila Crane. The film follows Marion as she begins embezzling money from her employer and goes on the run. She checks in to the Bates Motel, run by Norman and his mother, only to suffer a shocking fate at their hands. The film is known for its groundbreaking use of the "shower scene" and the ominous score by Bernard Herrmann. Psycho is considered one of the most influential films of all time, and is generally regarded as a masterpiece.

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 an American epic war film directed and produced by Francis Ford Coppola. The story follows Captain Benjamin L. Willard (Martin Sheen) as he is deployed to Cambodia to assassinate Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando), a renegade Green Beret officer who has gone insane. Along the journey, Willard is exposed to the horrors of war and the many different ways in which it affects those involved. He encounters a number of characters, including a bridge crew, a group of surfers, and Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall), and is forced to confront his inner demons. As the film progresses, the characters come to realize that there is no true solution to the conflict and that the only way to survive is to accept the absurdities of war. In the end, Kurtz's words, "The horror, the horror," reverberate off the screen as the film comes to an end.

Rear Window (1954)

Rear Window
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Alfred Hitchcock, starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter
Rated PG

Rear Window is a 1954 classic thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly. Stewart plays a photographer, L.B. "Jeff" Jefferies, who is confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg. To pass the time, he begins to observe his neighbors through the windows of his apartment complex, and soon becomes convinced that one of them has committed murder. With the help of his girlfriend, Lisa, and his insurance company nurse, Stella, Jeff sets out to uncover the truth about the mysterious neighbor, leading to a nail-biting climax.

Modern Times (1936)

Modern Times
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Charles Chaplin, starring Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Tiny Sandford
Rated G

Modern Times is a 1936 silent comedy film directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin. The film follows Chaplin's iconic character, the Little Tramp, as he struggles to survive in modern industrial society. He is employed and fired from various odd jobs, including belonging to a nightmarish factory assembly line where he is nearly driven insane. In his free time, he befriends a homeless girl and gets caught up in a series of misadventures. The film is a critique of the bleak conditions of the Great Depression, as well as a parody of the machine age and the struggles of the individual in an increasingly industrialized and impersonal world. The film culminates with the Little Tramp overcoming his struggles, as he is ultimately reunited with the girl and finds a better life.

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 satirical black comedy film directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Peter Sellers, George C. Scott and Slim Pickens. The film follows an insane United States Air Force General who orders a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. The President of the United States and his advisors must then try to find a way to prevent the attack and to prevent a nuclear war. The film is widely considered to be one of the best comedies ever made and it is highly praised for its comedic, dark humor and its biting satire of the Cold War.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Steven Spielberg, starring Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, John Rhys-Davies
Rated PG

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is an action-adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg and released in 1981. It stars Harrison Ford as archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones, an American leading a quest to prevent the Nazis from acquiring the supernatural power of the Lost Ark of the Covenant. Accompanied by his former lover, Marion Ravenwood, and the gruff Sallah, Indy sets out to find the Lost Ark in the deserts of Egypt. Along the way, he must battle the Nazis and their agents, fend off giant snakes, and survive endless traps set by the mysterious Akator. Ultimately, Indy is successful in his mission, rescuing the ark and preventing its power from being used for evil.

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 follows the life of Charles Foster Kane, a powerful newspaper tycoon. After Kane's death, a reporter attempts to uncover the meaning behind his final words, "Rosebud". The story unfolds through flashbacks as Kane's friends and associates remember his life, from his childhood as an orphan to his rise to fame and power. Along the way, viewers gain insight into Kane's personal relationships, his quest for power and control, and his eventual decline. As the film progresses, the truth behind the enigmatic Rosebud is slowly revealed. Kane's story is ultimately a cautionary tale about the dangers of wealth, power, and ambition.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Singin' in the Rain
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly, starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen
Rated G

Singin' in the Rain is a 1952 American musical romantic comedy film directed and choreographed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, and Debbie Reynolds. The story takes place in Hollywood in the late 1920s, during the transition from silent films to "talkies". The movie follows Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont, a famous on-screen romantic pair, as they attempt to make the transition as well. Don falls in love with aspiring actress Kathy Selden, and both must deal with the consequences of Lina's anger, as well as her attempts to sabotage their relationship. Meanwhile, Don and his friend Cosmo must create songs to accompany the films they produce, ultimately resulting in the creation of the famous musical number "Singin' in the Rain". Along the way, they must also contend with the changes in Hollywood due to the advent of sound films. The film was a commercial and critical success, earning several Academy Award nominations and winning two awards.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Lawrence of Arabia
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From David Lean, starring Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins
Rated Approved

Lawrence of Arabia is a classic epic film directed by David Lean and released in 1962. It stars Peter O'Toole as T.E. Lawrence, a British army officer who is sent to Arabia during World War I to help the Arab nations fight the Turks. The film follows Lawrence's journey as he leads a small Arab army in daring raids against the Turks, becoming a legendary figure in the process. Along the way, Lawrence struggles with his own inner conflict between his loyalty to the British forces and his admiration for the Arab culture. Through his courageous actions, he succeeds in unifying the Arabs and leading them to victory over the Turks. The film won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography, and has become an iconic classic.

 



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