Films that have been considered the greatest ever

From Academic Kids

While it is impossible to objectively determine the greatest film of all time, it is possible to discuss the films that have been regarded as the greatest ever. The important criterion for inclusion in this article is that the film is the "greatest" by some specific measure — be it a critics' poll, popular poll, box office receipts or awards. No one film tops all four criteria. None of the top films acclaimed by critics and filmmakers has won a popular poll, been a top financial success or received a record number of awards.


Films acclaimed by critics and filmmakers

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Citizen Kane tops many critics' lists

Films acclaimed in audience polls

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The Godfather tops the IMDb
  • The Godfather has long stood atop IMDb's list of the top 250 films. It was also voted number one by Entertainment Weekly readers and number one in a Time Out Readers' poll in 1995.
  • The Shawshank Redemption, the #2 entry on the IMDb list, was voted the best film never to have won "Best Picture" in a 2005 BBC poll. [1] (
  • The Godfather Part II, often considered better than the original, was voted best film ever by TV Guide readers in 1998.
  • Casablanca (1942) is widely cited as the greatest film of all time and was voted as such by readers of the Los Angeles Daily News in 1997. It is also regarded the "best Hollywood movie of all time" by the influential Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide.
  • Star Wars (1977) was chosen by readers of Empire magazine in November 2001 and by voters in a Channel 4/FilmFour poll [2] (
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) was the pick of readers in a poll by Empire magazine in November 2004.
  • Dirty Dancing was chosen by 200,000 British respondents as their "best film ever" from a choice of 100 films weighted towards modern commercial films. The poll was organised by The Coca-Cola Company and Vue Cinemas [3] (

Biggest box office successes

Worldwide highest grossing films

Titanic broke box office records
Titanic broke box office records
  1. Titanic (1997): Currently the highest grossing film ever. It has taken $1,835,300,000 in box office receipts.
  2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) $1,129,219,252
  3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) $981,400,000
  4. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) $926,600,000
  5. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers(2002) $924,700,000
  6. Jurassic Park (1993) $920,100,000
  7. Shrek 2 (2004) $880,871,036
  8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) $866,300,000
  9. Finding Nemo (2003) $865,000,000
  10. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) $860,700,000

Prior highest-grossing films

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During the 1920s and 1930s D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation was considered to have been the greatest movie ever created
  • The Birth of a Nation (1915): Highest-grossing film until 1925. Director D.W. Griffith said in 1929 that the film had taken $10m worldwide. This has been reported as both an under-estimate and an over-estimate, and its true takings may never be known. In the 1920s the New York Mail described the movie as "the supreme picture of all time".
  • The Big Parade (1925). The highest grossing silent film of all time, taking $22m world wide.
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937): Highest grossing until 1939. Total gross $185m.
  • Gone With the Wind (1939): Highest grossing until 1966, when it was overtaken by the Sound of Music. Following a re-release in 1971, Gone With The Wind retook the lead for a further year. Current total gross $309.5m.
  • The Sound of Music (1965): Highest gross from August 1966 until the re-issue of Gone With The Wind in 1971. Current total gross £163m.
  • The Godfather (1972): Highest grossing until 1975. Current total gross £245m.
  • Jaws (1975): Highest grossing until 1977. Current total gross $470m.
  • Star Wars (1977): Highest grossing until January 1983. Current total gross $798m
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982): Highest grossing until 1993. Current total gross $757m. (Star Wars did not re-overtake ET until its re-release in 1997, by which time Jurassic Park had landed the top slot.)
  • Jurassic Park (1993): Highest grossing until 1997. Current total gross $920m.

Highest USA grossing film adjusted for inflation

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Gone With the Wind is the highest grossing film ever, when adjusted for inflation

By adjusting for inflated ticket prices, the popularity of films released at different times can be compared. This list estimates the number of admissions for each film by using the average ticket price at the time of each release [4] (

  1. Gone With the Wind (1939): nine Academy Awards, National Film Registry, when adjusted for inflation is still the highest grossing film ever. The film has had at least four substantial releases worldwide (in 1939, 1954, 1961 and 1971). The adjusted for inflation value of these releases is $3.8bn worldwide, $1.3bn in the United States (2004 dollars).
  2. Star Wars (1977)
  3. The Sound of Music (1965)
  4. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  5. The Ten Commandments (1956)
  6. Titanic (1997)
  7. Jaws (1975)
  8. Doctor Zhivago (1965)
  9. The Exorcist (1973)
  10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Films that have received the most Academy Awards

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Ben Hur was the first film to win 11 Oscars

Ever since their inception in 1928, the Academy Awards (the "Oscars") have been seen as the most significant of the film award ceremonies. The first film to dominate an Oscars ceremony was Frank Capra's It Happened One Night at the 1935 ceremony. It was the first film to win five awards. Moreover it won the "Oscar grand slam" by winning Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Screenplay—a feat that has been repeated only twice more, by One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1976 and Silence of the Lambs in 1992.

In the year that describes as "undoubtedly the most celebrated year in American film history" (1939), Gone With the Wind was nominated for thirteen awards and two special citations. It won eight of the Awards to beat It Happened One Night's record. All About Eve (1950) broke the nominations record with 14, and won in six categories.

Gigi was the film to break Gone With The Wind's record - winning in all nine of its nominated categories at the ceremony for films made in 1958. However its moment at the top was short-lived as the epic Ben-Hur went on to win 11 Oscars from 12 nominations the following year. Eleven Oscars remains the record. However this achievement has been equalled twice—by Titanic in 1997 with eleven awards from fourteen nominations, and by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which won in all eleven of its nominated categories in 2003 (an honor that many interpreted as applying to the whole of the Lord of the Rings trilogy).

Films that are considered the greatest in their particular genre


  • Сказка сказок - Tale of Tales (1979) - Yuri Norstein's (short biography ( short film was voted by critics to be the greatest animated film of all time at a 1984 Los Angeles arts festival. [5] (,11710,1460940,00.html) [6] (
  • Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し) 2001 was voted best animated movie by IMDb users. It was the first anime (Japanese animation) film to win an Academy Award. It is the highest grossing movie in Japanese history, and the only movie to earn $250M before its US release.
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) is the highest-grossing animated film of all time when adjusted for inflation. Without the effects of inflation, Shrek 2 (2004) is the highest grossing animated film of all time, computerized or not. The Lion King (1994) is the highest-grossing "traditional" (hand drawn) animated film and Finding Nemo (2003) was the first computer-generated motion picture to outgross The Lion King as the highest-grossing animated film of all time, until it was surpassed the next year by Shrek 2.
  • Akira (アキラ) 1988 was chosen as the top anime ever by Anime Insider in fall 2001.



  • The Poseidon Adventure was voted best disaster movie in a consumer poll commissioned by UCI cinemas in May 2004.


  • Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore's documentary relating gun control and the fear culture in the United States, heads the list of 20 all-time favorite non-fiction films ( selected by members of the International Documentary Association (IDA). [7] (
  • The Thin Blue Line, Errol Morris' 1985 film, has long been considered one of the greatest documentaries ever made. It is actually credited with not only solving a murder case, but also as the major factor in freeing an innocent man from death row in Texas. It was voted number 2 by the IDA.
  • Fahrenheit 9/11, also by Michael Moore, won the Palme D'or at Cannes. It then became "the highest-grossing documentary in its opening weekend" [8] ( by breaking the old record held by Bowling for Columbine. It went on to become the "first ever documentary to cross the $100 million mark in the United States."[9] (
  • Gates of Heaven, Errol Morris' first film which follows the lives of various pet owners as a pet cemetery closes down, was called one of the ten greatest films of all time by Roger Ebert.



  • Psycho: Alfred Hitchcock classic is considered the most important thriller of all time. Voted the best horror film by IMDb users. Tops AFI’s list of the 100 most thrilling American films.
  • Halloween: The original slasher was voted best horror film of all time by readers of SFX magazine in June 2004. Also was the most "profitable" film of all time (lowest production cost vs. highest box office gross) until surpassed in 1990 by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Before Halloween, the most profitable film was Easy Rider.


  • The Wizard of Oz The highest ranked musical on AFI's list of the 100 best American films and the Village Voice list of the 100 best films of the 20th century .
  • Singin' in the Rain The highest rated movie musical at the IMDb.
  • West Side Story Winner of the most Academy Awards of any movie musical (10).


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  • Casablanca - Voted best American-based film in which there is "a romantic bond between two or more characters, whose actions and/or intentions provide the heart of the film’s narrative" by the AFI.

Science fiction

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey, a popular and influential film directed by Stanley Kubrick. The highest ranked science fiction film (#11) on the Village Voice 100 Best films of the 20th century list; selected by the late Gene Siskel as his choice of the best film ever.
  • Star Wars (1977) - the highest-rated sci-fi film (#8) on the IMDb, and also the highest-grossing.
  • Blade Runner - Initially avoided by North American audiences it was popular internationally and has become a cult classic. Voted the best science fiction film by a panel of scientists assembled by the British newspaper The Guardian in 2004. [10] (,3604,1290823,00.html)


  • Battleship Potemkin see Films acclaimed by critics and filmmakers above.
  • Modern Times, the last major American film to make use of silent film conventions such as title cards for dialogue, is the highest rated silent film on the IMDb. There is a recorded soundtrack, a scene with dialogue spoken over an intercom and Charlie Chaplin sings nonsense lyrics to a song at the end. City Lights, another of Chaplin's films, is the highest rated movie without any dialogue, spoken or sung. It too has a recorded soundtrack. Metropolis is the highest rated movie that was totally silent when released. However, IMDb viewers most likely watched the restored version which has a recorded soundtrack.
  • The Big Parade is the highest grossing silent film of all time, taking $22m world wide.



In particular countries





  • Pather Panchali is the only Indian film to appear on Sight and Sound Critics's Top Ten Poll (ranked #9 in 1992). It was ranked the top Indian film in a 2002 popularity poll by the British Film Institute (BFI) conducted on the web, and number two in the BFI critics' poll in which critics were asked to compile a list of 50 best Indian as well as South Asian films [11] ( It is also a favorite of many directors, including Martin Scorsese.
  • Sholay is the highest grossing movie of all time in India. It was also the top film selected in the 2002 BFI critics' poll.


United Kingdom

United States

See also



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