40. Psycho (1960)
It was a bold move to kill off the lead actress halfway through the movie, but Hitchcock was always a bold director. This film is the quintessential thriller and I find it as shocking now as I did when I was a kid.
39. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Paul Thomas Anderson is a great director and it seems impossible that Adam Sandler could prove to be a great muse. This film is bizarre, but it moves at a quick pace and with such rapid fire dialogue that it never feels too out there.
38. The Descendants (2011)
George Clooney is a great actor and it is in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants that he truly shines. Funny and charming and never stale, this film finds light in a dark situation and it is one of the finest films of this decade.
37. The Great Escape (1963)
Prison break movies are always enjoyable, there is something relatable about innocent victims escaping their overlords. There’s also a lot of joy to be found in sticking it to the Nazis, who probably deserve what they get.
36. Good Will Hunting (1997)
This film always leaves a bitter taste, due mostly to the acting of Matt Damon and Robin Williams. It’s a great film that offers a great look into the world of genius and also into the pain of loss.
35. Metropolis (1927)
Innovative and well-ahead of its time, this film made a major statement about the importance of working conditions and used a shape-shifting android to hammer home it’s point. Weird, but an amazing feat in film-making.
34. Lady Bird (2017)
A fresh take on the struggle of being a teenager by actress-turned director Greta Gerwig who uses, what can only be, life experience to create this funny film. Saoirse Ronan gives an amazing performance as the title character who is almost too awkward to watch.
33. The Hustler (1961)
Paul Newman is one of those dreamboat actors who really could act. The tension in this film never stops building and it is the arrogance of Newman’s character that adds to and creates most of the issues in this great film.
32. Wall-e (2008)
A little too close to true for me to be comfortable with it, but in spite of the very real realities it offer, this film is a great odyssey of the human (robot) spirit. Plus, he’s extremely adorable which just makes it all the better.
31. Stagecoach (1939)
John Ford is the master of the western and it is one of his earliest films that stands out the most. John Wayne gives one of his first performances and it is his youth and vigor that makes this such a fun film.
30. The Third Man (1949)
Orson Welles does his best to play the villain in this classic, but he still comes off as too charming to be bad. And it is through a discussion of cuckoo clocks that his real motives become clear and his dark view changes the film in the best way.
29. Network (1976)
“We’re as mad as hell, and we’re not gonna take it anymore.” This satire of the news industry is more relevant now than ever before and it’s signature line summarizes the views of pretty much everybody right now.
28. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
The return of the Terminator was one of the greatest moments in film history and Arnold made the role into something completely different. I chose this film, but this one could easily be replaced the original since both are great cinema.
27. Modern Times (1936)
The rise of technology is a graver threat now than it was eighty years ago, but Chaplin hit the nail on the head all the same. The film was Chaplin’s love letter to the silent era, but it was also his acknowledgment of defeat.
26. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
This was not the first film to have a gay love story, but it was the most prominent one and probably the best received film of lgbt cinema. The fearlessness that Heath Ledger brings to this role makes it a masterpiece under any circumstances.
25. Holy Motors (2012)
This is probably the weirdest film that I have watched, but it’s strangeness was both appealing and discouraging. This film has a chance to be one the greatest films ever made, but it might just be a little too out there to make it.
24. Tokyo Story (1953)
Yasujiro Ozu was a master of Japanese cinema and Tokyo Story is undoubtedly his finest work. This film is completely reserved and its calm nature lures the viewer into a false sense of security, but don’t be mistaken this movie is powerful.
23. The Dark Knight (2008)
The only superhero film to make my top 40, but probably the best one ever made. Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece offers up a new take on the greatest rivalry in comic book history and it never once disappoints.
22. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Wes Anderson is a master of the human condition and no film is more true to its characters than this one. The film plays like a dysfunctional family reunion, but it’s deeper than that and it lets you know it.
21. Alien (1979)
The beginning of a franchise that is still running almost forty years later, but as good as some of the sequels have been, none holds a candle to this one. Sigourney Weaver gives a great performance as Ripley and set the stage for one of cinema’s greatest heroes.
20. The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick never made a bad film, and most of the films he made revolutionized the industry. The Shining is the perfect example of the shifts his film caused, he changed the horror genre into a slow-paced fade-in that just worked.
19. The King’s Speech (2010)
A true story that plays like Shakespeare, this film uses the talents of Colin Firth to tell the story of King George VI and boy does he succeed. There is a lot to love about this film, but his friendship with his therapist is probably the best part.
18. It Happened One Night (1934)
Clark Gable was a great talent and his southern charm plays really well in this classic romantic comedy that finds him paired with the vivacious Claudette Colbert. Their adventure across the country has lots of laughs and a few tears too.
17. The Red Shoes (1948)
The ballet is a passion that isn’t appreciated today like it once was, but in this film it is painted as less of a passion and more of an addiction. The film lives in a world of fantasy and it is this fantasy that brings the picture to life.
16. Boyhood (2014)
Filmed over twelve years and made meticulously through the keen direction of Richard Linklater. Every moment of the film feels absolutely necessary and the life a young man is played out in under three hours, but never misses the best moments.
15. Close-Up (1990)
Abbas Kiarostami is one of the greatest directors of the last forty years and this film is probably his opus. A true story of epic proportions, this film uses the real people involved and recreates an interesting story of mistaken identity.
14. Blade Runner (1982)
One of those films that will always be considered a classic and rightly so. Ridley Scott is a master of Science Fiction and it is here that he takes the bleak world of 2019 and makes it into a neo-noir film that sends chills down your spine.
13. The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)
Epic in scale and story, this film takes the classic tale by J.R.R. Tolkien and creates and nine-hour film that envelops the viewer. The thing that I love about this movie is how it takes the source-material and translates it perfectly onto the screen.
12. On the Waterfront (1954)
Marlon Brando had a weird personal life, but he was still a phenomenal actor and it is in this, one of his earliest films, that he shone brightest. A story of unions and organized crime, this one hit home and truer than most.
11. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Martial arts movies are, for lack of a better word, an art and none is more impressive than Ang Lee’s story of theft and betrayal. The film’s stunts and character dynamics make it a great film to watch for a thrill.
10. The Godfather (1972)
The best crime film ever made and it is thanks to Francis Ford Coppola’s masterful technique. Marlon Brando may be the title character, but as great as he is, Pacino gives his best performance as the son who tries to pull away from his father.
9. Casablanca (1942)
The greatest love story ever told may seems like it should have a happy ending, but it this film’s refusal to follow tradition that makes it great. Bogart is always fun to watch and it is here that he plays the most compelling character of his career.
8. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Guillermo Del Toro loves the fantastical and every film he makes bridges the gap between reality and fantasy. Pan’s labyrinth takes the story of a little girl with big dreams and turns it into a gritty war drama with seriously frightening creatures.
7. The Lion King (1995)
Animation is a tricky area, but there is no argument that the Lion King is the greatest animated film of all time. The music is good, the voices are good, and the story will make you feel things that you didn’t know were possible.
6. 12 Angry Men (1957)
Legal dramas are especially compelling and this one is no exception to the rule. This intense drama takes the case of a murderous teenager and puts it in the hands of twelve men, only one of whom is certain of the boy’s guilt.
5. Lost in Translation (2003)
A film that was only made thanks to a verbal agreement between Bill Murray and Sofia Coppola. This film takes the talented Bill Murray and pairs him with a young Scarlett Johannson as two Americans lost together in Tokyo.
4. No Country for Old Men (2007)
The Coen Brothers are witty and intelligent and make movies that put the viewers down in the dirt with the characters, but that isn’t a bad thing. This film turns a Cormac McCarthy novel into one of the greatest films ever made.
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
HAL9000 is one of the greatest villains ever created for a film and he was a computer with the most soothing voice ever. What Kubrick does well here isn’t what he shows on the screen, it’s everything that is implied in the background.
2. Citizen Kane (1941)
This film might just be Howard Hughes’ biography, but he tries to dress it up in a way that makes him seem a little less crazy than his counterpart. The disconcerting part is that this film was made thirty years before Howard Hughes died.
1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Here we are, my all time favorite film. There is something rewarding about this film and there is nothing better than having Morgan Freeman’s narration playing over your life, if only he could record something for mine.