Top 10 The Best Movies Ever Made – These are the best films of all time. They are the reason people watch movies. They fill you with joy, sadness, hope, laughter, and everything else you are suppose to feel. They are the reason directors even try to make films. They are the reason why you live life 24 frames a second. They are the only place true cinephiles live. They are the only drug that can get you high. They are everything you wish you saw in society. They are the parents that raised you to be the people you are today. They are the reason you spend so many hours in the dark. They are the only happiness you find on those awful, rainy days.
They contain the moments that you try to share with the ones you love. The moments that you keep visiting year after year like an old friend. The moments that motivate you to keep going. The moments that change who you are as a person. The moments you relive more than your actual memories. The moments you try to recreate in your life.
These are the only things that never let you down in life. These are quite possibly the only reason you are alive. These are the study guides you actually study. These are the things you swipe right on. These are the things you lie awake thinking about at night. These are the things you use to test whether or not you’ll date someone. These are the best days. These are the worst days. These are the only manuals to life that you need. These are the things you cuddle at night when you’re lonely. These are the things you cry about at night. These are the things you talk about day and night. These are the things that you dream about. These are the things that make you dream. These are the things that give you hope. These are the things that fill the cracks in your DNA. These are the best films of all time.
10. La Jetee
Chris Marker’s La Jetee at only 28 minutes long manages to be as complex and dense as films that uses three times the run time; this is because La Jetee is a time traveling romance which manages to also be a philosophical essay on how your childhood memories affect your adult lives.
Marker tells the story of La Jetee mostly through the use of still photos because he couldn’t afford to rent a film camera for more than a day; however, it is through the use of these still photos that these images linger in your brain much longer than a single shot in film would.
The most beautiful scene in La Jetee is when the protagonist and his love go to a museum; the way Marker captures the beauty of their doomed romance is as romantic as it is heartbreaking because it reminds you of all the dates you’ve been on while reminding you why that relationship failed in the first place.
The way Marker interacts with your memories is unlike any filmmaker in the history of film; it isn’t ironic that one of his most explored themes is memory and how it relates to identity. La Jetee has the ability to pull memories from your brain that you completely forgot about which is to say La Jetee is quite possibly the rarest of films: the kind that find fills the gaps in your memory and becomes your memory.
Jean Cocteau was obsessed with the myth of Orpheus; he went so far as to make three different films that all included the myth of Orpheus in some way; Orpheus was the best of these attempts to capture the beauty and poetry of the myth truly showing the poetry in Cocteau’s style.
Even though he was originally a poet of words, many of the most beautiful scenes in Orpheus transcend the poetry of words in favor of the poetry of the moving image which is to say that Orpheus isn’t a film concerned with plot so much as the moods and emotions that are evoked.
The most beautiful scene is when Orpheus travels with Heurtebise travel to the Underworld; there is something so magical in the way Orpheus and Heurtebise enter the Underworld through an everyday object like a mirror and then travel through this strangely familiar, yet completely foreign desolate landscape.
Cocteau manages to capture the magical feeling that is lost in contemporary cinema due to the overuse of CGI creating less authenticity in the worlds that are created. Orpheus is the kind of film that reminds you why you have dreams in the first place, and why you need to continue dreaming because Orpheus is, as Cocteau said, “a sleep in which [the audience] is dreaming” making Orpheus the most magical film ever made.
Of all of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpieces, Vertigo is undoubtedly the most hauntingly beautiful film that Hitchcock ever made. From the lush colors of the film to the Bernard Hermann’s score to the characters, Vertigo is and will always be Hitchcock’s greatest film. The first half of Vertigo has the greatness of most Hitchcock films, but the second half of Vertigo is what makes Vertigo linger in the mind long after the credits.
The beauty of Vertigo lies in Scottie’s relationship with Judy because their relationship is haunted by Scottie’s past relationship with Madeleine. The most memorable scene in Vertigo is when Judy’s transformation into Madeline is complete; the way that the green starts by enveloping Judy, but eventually envelopes both Judy and Scottie which is Hitchcock’s way of visually telling the audience that both of the characters are consumed by Madeline so heavily that the only way they can ever love each other again is through her.
Hitchcock captures so well the way people try to mold the ones they love to fill their own needs rather than just loving them for who they are. Scottie could’ve accepted Judy as Judy, but instead slowly transformed her into what he needed her to be; he was trapped in the past like Jay Gatsby chasing something all ready gone.
By watching Scottie’s behavior and narrative unfold, Hitchcock makes you reflect on your relationships with people and how you try to shape them to fill the holes left inside you from your past; Hitchcock makes you confront yourself through Scottie, and while Vertigo didn’t end with Scottie’s tragic death, it ended with something much more painful and tragic for Scottie than his own death: the death of the past he tried to relive.
Dekalog would’ve made the list if the series was only one of the ten episodes; this is because there is so much beauty and brilliance behind the performances, the stories that are told, and the cinematography in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Dekalog. Stanley Kubrick believed that Dekalog was the only true masterpiece he saw in his lifetime.
The best of the ten short films is the fifth one; Kieslowski believed the same which is why he picked it as the episode he wanted to make into a feature film. In Dekalog five, the audience experiences the most heartbreaking death sequence in film history when the young protagonist, Jacek Lazar, is hung; it is the single greatest argument against capital punishment because you feel the pain of Jacek as he is dying due to the desensationalized way Kieslowski shot his death. You are there in the room with everyone watching someone slowly die, and you can do nothing about it except watch.
Other highlights in Dekalog include Tomek and Magda going on a date in Dekalog six, Romek’s bicycle accident as well as every other scene that shows how much he hurts inside in Dekalog nine, Janusz and Ewa talking at the train station in Dekalog three, and the ending of Dekalog ten; however, nearly every scene in Dekalog is a masterpiece because Dekalog is the rarest of films: as you grow throughout life, Dekalog grows with you until it becomes apart of you.
6. Twin Peaks (Entire Series and Film)
There are so many great moments in Twin Peaks that it would’ve ranked first if it wasn’t for the latter half of the second season. David Lynch and Mark Frost created a film so immersive that the characters feel like neighbors; you care about them, and you watch and rewatch the show trying to relive the memories that you have with them.
Whether it is when Donna is crying in school, when Norma and Big Ed are sneaking off together, when Andy is trying to figure out Lucy, when Audrey is flirting with Cooper, when James, Maddy, and Donna sing together, when Audrey is dancing to the score, when James leaves Donna, when Laura is struggling to make it through family dinner, when Dougie wins so many jackpots that he becomes known as Mr. Jackpots, when Cooper is talking to Diane, when Cooper has his dreams, when Cooper finds out who the killer is, when Ben Horne believes he is Robert E, Lee, or when Laura is saved by Cooper, Twin Peaks has some of the greatest scenes in the history of film.
However, the greatest scene in Twin Peaks is when BOB kills Maddy because it recreates how heartbreaking Laura’s death was for the people of Twin Peaks, but this time around you feel the heartbreak as well instead of just watching how it affects the characters; you become Donna crying in a classroom, the girl running and screaming from school, Sarah freaking out about Laura’s whereabouts, and James wanting to just leave from the situation because the sadness is too much to handle.
All of these moments and more become forever engraved inside you like a tattoo on your heart. Because of this, Twin Peaks becomes home to not only the characters you love, but to you as well.
5. The Godfather
The opening scene of The Godfather is the greatest opening of all time; Francis Ford Coppola uses a mixture of camera movements, blocking, and dialogue to draw you in and hook you; However, while Coppola is certainly the author of this scene as well as the whole film, The Godfather wouldn’t be half as great if even one cast member was changed.
The films cast almost reads as a who’s who of the greatest actors of all time; the cast of the film has won five Oscars collectively, Marlon Brando won twice, Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, and Robert Duvall have all won once, and the fact Sterling Hayden and James Caan haven’t won an Oscar is tragic.
However, while the cast is undeniable the greatest cast ever assembled, the story is what makes the Godfather such a great film; Coppola manages to weave an episodic plot that follows Michael Corleone from the war hero to the godfather.
This works brilliantly because in the beginning, you moral align with Michael in the way he disagrees with what his family does for a living, but slowly, as the plot unravels, Michael begins to change more and more until Michael becomes the new godfather, and you, the audience, who has been following him the whole way realizes by the end of the film that you too could’ve become the new godfather had you been put in the position that Michael was in.
The reason The Godfather is able to do this is the way Coppola seemingly takes you step by step through Michael’s transformation. Coppola allows for every scene to cook awhile which creates a slow paced film, but one that sweeps you up with the narrative; you really comes to terms with the way each generation of a family relates to one another including your own.
You might even realize by the end of the film that you are more like your Michael by following in your parent’s footsteps than you’d like to admit because The Godfather is more than a crime film; it is an exploration of the influence that your family has over you even when you try to be different than them.
4. Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver is a nightmare dressed as a dream which is why the explosive ending hits harder than any other shootout in the history of film. Martin Scorsese manages to craft a masterpiece through PTSD, lonely nights, long drives, and romantic failures.
It doesn’t hurt that Bernard Herman’s score is a dreamy jazz symphony that is used perfectly to underscore each scene in the film; the opening is a perfect example of how the score adds a dreamy, menacing, and slightly romantic feeling to each scene.
This romantic feeling is perhaps Herman’s attempt to underlie the motivation behind Travis Bickle’s actions when courting Betsy; the most disturbing part about his dates with Betsy is that he genuinely was trying to connect to her.
However, while Travis’ failed romance with Betsy is disturbing, the most disturbing part in Taxi Driver is his relationship with Iris; Travis sees himself as her knight in shining armor when in reality he isn’t the least bit interested in saving Iris as much as he is in killing the men in her life. This is evident in shootout when Travis tries to commit suicide after killing all the men around Iris because he simply has no reason to live after that.
Taxi Driver is haunting in many ways, but the most haunting part is how Scorsese makes you empathize with Travis and his situation because while he is undoubtedly mentally unstable, you wonder if it has to do with his PTSD or the societal rejection that he faces everyday. To use a single word to describe Taxi Driver is like using rosebud to describe the life of Charles Foster Kane: both are things to be experienced rather than talked about.
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey is so great that even the overture and intermission are masterpieces as well as nearly every other scene in the film. The Dawn of Man sequence and the Entering Jupiter sequence are among the most memorable; however, the most emotionally charge scene, and possibly the only emotionally charged scene in 2001 is after Dave enters Jupiter and finds himself in a room by himself; he hears noises, decides to check them out, and sees an older version of himself doing something, and this continues until he evolves.
This scene is often times overlooked, but Stanley Kubrick created the greatest metaphor for human life every shot on celluloid; Dave’s life in this room seems to jump ahead much like real life does for your minds because even though you perceive time as linear, you find gaps of time in your life that you hardly remember as you grow older. You grow older slow at first, but time seems to move a little faster with each passing year, and this scene with Dave captures the mortality as the lack of time you have to live.
Many people accuse Kubrick of being cold and unsentimental; however, his detractors misinterpret Kubrick’s objectiveness for coldness because while he was unsentimental, his films, especially 2001, are more humane than almost any other director’s films.
The ending of the film, with a man, Dave, overcoming obstacles and eventually evolving, is arguably the most hopeful ending in the history of cinema because where most films end with hope for the future of the protagonist, 2001 ends with hope for the future of every human.
2. Chungking Express
From the opening with the step printing scene of the Woman in the Blonde Wig to the closing shot of a stereo, Chungking Express is an assault on every single one of your senses. The film manages to envelope you, the audience, in the crazy, hectic world of 90s Hong Kong: the consumerism, the bright neon lights, the lonely nights, the drug scene, and the failed attempts at connecting with other people.
Wong Kar-Wai populates the frame with passing faces to create an experience similar to actually living in a big city; these are faces that are never seen a second time, but each face could easily be the lead character in Chungking Express because they’re all moving so fast that their lives are all relatively similar: work, sleep, eat all while trying to connect with people moving just as fast.
This is illustrated perfectly when Wong Kar-Wai switches to the second story; Cop 223 bumps into Faye while she is working, and then the film follows her story almost like saying these characters aren’t anomalies, but rather normalities. Christopher Doyle, Wong Kar-Wai’s usual cinematographer, manages to capture not only the fast pace of Hong Kong, but also the loneliness that big cities are heir to.
One scene in particular where Cop 223 is calling all of his ex-girlfriends on the phone to see if they want to go on a date perfectly captures how unbearable the loneliness is in Hong Kong, but even more so, how difficult it is to escape the loneliness of Hong Kong. Another great scene that illustrates the characters’ inability to connect with each other is when Cop 663 is drinking coffee as Faye is watching him which is all happening in slow motion; this creates a visual metaphor for just how far away someone is mentally when you’re right next to them physically trying to connect with them.
Even though Chungking Express displays the inability of characters to connect with each other, Chungking Express manages to radiate with an abundance of hopeless romanticism that even after a single viewing, you’ll be a hopeless romantic for the rest of your life.
Playtime is the greatest film of all time. It is one of the only film that transcends film itself. You aren’t watching a story unfold; you’re experiencing this world that Tati crafted at your own free will. You can watch the story Tati wanted the audience to follow or you can follow extras as they roam about the city much like you do yourself while watching Playtime.
Tati’s eye for architecture is reminiscent of an Michelangelo Antonioni film except Tati uses the architecture of the city in Playtime to represent the lack of individuality each city will have in the future as shown by the row of posters for each famous city in the ticket exchange.
Another brilliant use of architecture in Playtime is the glass that creates a invisible separation between everyone in the future. The gag in the beginning with the man asking the doorman to light his cigarette to the gag with a different doorman pretending to open a glass door for people; these scenes and several others are representative of the seemingly impersonal relationship everyone has with each other in the film. They may appear to be close or personal, but much like the glass appearing to be invisible so to are the shields that prevent each character from getting in a deep and personal relationship.
Tati’s Monsieur Hulot is the only character who tries to create a meaningful relationship which is fitting because he also seems to be the only one out of place. He is slipping and sliding his way through the city until he stumbles upon Barbra, and he tries his best to woo her, but unfortunately he is too out of place in this version of the future.
Tati’s Hulot is a symbol for the old world that this futuristic world has left behind which might explain why he is the only one breaking the glass because he wants the personal relationships the city deprives itself of. The inhabitants of this city are the faceless many that the audience finds itself among because now that the future has arrived, Playtime doesn’t seem so much like comedy rather than a personal reflection on habits that will ruin our civilization.
There are no politicians in Playtime because Tati is arguing that our desires are to blame for this terrible version of the future that is both hilarious, captivating, and startlingly true.