The 50 best movies of all time, according to critics

Paramount Pictures/’The Godfather’‘The Godfather.’
  • Business Insider ranked the best films of all time, based on Metacritic scores.
  • They include recent Oscar winners “Moonlight” and “Parasite” and classics like “The Godfather” and “Citizen Kane.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

To find out which films have been the most critically acclaimed over time, Business Insider turned to the reviews aggregator Metacritic for this ranking, which scores films by their composite critical reception.

The resulting list includes modern masterpieces like recent Oscar winners “Moonlight” and “Parasite” in contention with classics like “The Godfather” and “Citizen Kane.”

There’s also, not surprisingly, a lot of Hitchcock.

Here are the 50 best movies of all time, according to Metacritic reviews:

John Lynch contributed to a previous version of this post.


50. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (2019)

Neon

Critic score: 95/100

User score: 8.5/10

What critics said: “There’s almost no single moment in Portrait of a Lady on Fire that couldn’t be captured, mounted, and hung on a wall as high art.” – Entertainment Weekly


49. “Toy Story” (1995)

Disney / Pixar

Critic score: 95/100

User score: 9.0/10

What critics said: “A gem of fast action, sophisticated wit and inspired comedy.” – San Francisco Chronicle


48. “Beauty and the Beast” (1991)

Disney

Critic score: 95/100

User score: 8.6/10

What critics said: “Disney’s 30th animated feature, Beauty and the Beast stands at the pinnacle of animated accomplishment, even when weighted against the excellencies of its lineage.” – Hollywood Reporter


47. “Spirited Away” (2001)

Disney

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 9.0/10

What critics said: “It will disturb you as much as thrill you, make you wonder whether the boundaries between life and death, reality and fantasy, imagination and insanity are ever what they appear to be.” – Salon


46. “Fantasia” (1940)

Disney

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 8.4/10

What critics said: “Fantasia is simply terrific-as terrific as anything that has ever happened on a screen.” – New York Times


45. “Gravity” (2013)

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 7.8/10

What critics said: “A stunning space saga that takes off for new technical frontiers without leaving its humanity behind.” – Total Film


44. “Mean Streets” (1973)

Warner Bros.

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 7.9/10

What critics said: “Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets is a true original of our period, a triumph of personal filmmaking. It has its own hallucinatory look; the charac­ters live in the darkness of bars, with lighting and colour just this side of lurid.” – New Yorker


43. “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940)

20th Century Fox

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 9.0/10

What critics said: “Gregg Toland captures the open spaces and big skies of rural America, while the normally conservative Ford puts forward a sympathetic but radical plea for workers’ rights and freedom for the people.” – Empire


42. “Parasite” (2019)

Neon

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 8.9/10

What critics said: “Parasite begins in exhilaration and ends in devastation, but the triumph of the movie is that it fully lives and breathes at every moment, even when you might find yourself struggling to exhale.” – Los Angeles Times


41. “Ratatouille” (2007)

Disney / Pixar

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 8.6/10

What critics said: “The subtle colours and textures of the food alone make Ratatouille a three-star Michelin evening.” – Time


40. “Nashville” (1975)

Paramount

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 8.3/10

What critics said: “One of the greatest American films of the ’70s, Nashville remains Altman’s crowning achievement.” – Entertainment Weekly


39. “12 Years a Slave” (2013)

Fox Searchlight

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 8.0/10

What critics said: “A work that, finally, asks a mainstream audience to confront the worst of what humanity can do to itself.” – Boston Globe


38. “The Maltese Falcon” (1941)

Warner Bros.

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 8.2/10

What critics said: “This is one of the best examples of actionful and suspenseful melodramatic story telling in cinematic form.” – Variety


37. “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968)

Paramount Pictures

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 8.4/10

What critics said: “The brilliance of the film comes more from Polanski’s direction, and from a series of genuinely inspired performances, than from the original story.” –Chicago Sun-Times


36. “Manchester by the Sea” (2016)

Claire Fogler

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 8.2/10

What critics said: “Despite his draw to tragic subjects, Lonergan holds onto a sharp, dark, Irish sense of humour, and a feel for the absurd that comes out at the most unexpected times.” – New York Daily News


35. “12 Angry Men” (1957)

IMDB

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 9.3/10

What critics said: “What really transforms the piece from a rather talky demonstration that a man is innocent until proven guilty, is the consistently taut, sweltering atmosphere, created largely by Boris Kaufman’s excellent camerawork.” – Time Out London


34. “Ran” (1985)

Rialto Pictures

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 8.4/10

What critics said: “The drama itself packs a powerful – and timeless – gut punch.” Washington Post


33. “Killer of Sheep” (2007)

Oscilloscope

Critic score: 94/100

User score: N/A

What critics said: “You have to be prepared to see a film like this, or able to relax and allow it to unfold. It doesn’t come, as most films do, with built-in instructions about how to view it. ” – RogerEbert.com


32. “Roma” (2018)

Netflix

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 7.9/10

What critics said: “Alfonso Cuarón has made yet another movie that will transport you to another time and place. You will feel like you’re living it.” – Uproxx


31. “Dumbo” (1941)

DIsney

Critic score: 96/100

User score: N/A

What critics said: “It’s not only one of the best classic-era Disney features, but also one of the best animated films from any studio at any time.” – AV Club


30. “American Graffiti” (1973)

Universal via YouTube

Critic score: 97/100

User score: 7.8/10

What critics said: “This superb and singular film catches not only the charm and tribal energy of the teen-age 1950s but also the listlessness and the resignation that underscored it all like an incessant bass line in one of the rock-‘n’-roll songs of the period.” – Time


29. “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951)

Warner Bros.

Critic score: 97/100

User score: 8.7/10

What critics said: “Streetcar is always a wonderful screen drama and now, also, a study in film archaeology.” – Austin Chronicle


28. “Psycho” (1960)

Paramount Pictures

Critic score: 97/100

User score: 9.1/10

What critic said: “This is a first-rate mystery thriller, full of visual shocks and surprises which are heightened by the melodramatic realism of the production.” –Hollywood Reporter


27. “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” (2008)

Bac Films

Critic score: 97/100

User score: 8.0/10

What critics said: “This slice of celluloid dynamite comes from Romania, and what you see will floor you.” –Rolling Stone


26. “Gone With The Wind” (1940)

MGM

Critic score: 97/100

User score: 8.5/10

What critics said: “The older it gets, and we with it, the more we’re able to see in it. As few American films have, Gone With the Wind succeeds both as historical epic and as intimate drama.” – Los Angeles Times


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

Columbia Pictures

Critic score: 97/100

User score: 8.3/10

What critics said: “Baleful and brilliant, Dr. Strangelove; Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, will outrage a predictable percentage of the population and enthrall an even greater percentage.” – Hollywood Reporter


24. “The Third Man” (1949)

London Film Productions

Critic score: 95/100

User score: 8.4/10

What critics said: “The thing about Carol Reed’s 1949 The Third Man was that no matter how many times I saw it over the years its magic never failed. Its sophisticated, world-weary glamour never lost its allure.” – Newsweek


23. “My Left Foot” (1990)

Miramax

Critic score: 97/100

User score: 8.5/10

What critics said: “That it features a brilliant performance by Daniel Day-Lewis and a fine supporting cast lifts it from mildly sentimental to excellent.” – Variety


22. “The Wild Bunch” (1969)

Warner Bros.

Critic score: 97/100

User score: 7.5/10

What critics said: “The hard action, bracing wit and mournful grace of Peckinpah’s cowboy classic shames every new movie around. It’s a towering achievement that grows more riveting and resonant with the years.” – Rolling Stone


21. “Hoop Dreams” (1994)

Fine Line

Critic score: 98/100

User score: 8.0/10

What critics said: “A film like ‘Hoop Dreams’ is what the movies are for. It takes us, shakes us, and make us think in new ways about the world around us. It gives us the impression of having touched life itself.” – Chicago Sun-Times


20. “All About Eve” (1950)

20th Century Fox

Critic score: 98/100

User score: 8.8/10

What critics said: “ALL ABOUT EVE is the consummate backstage story, a film that holds a magnifying glass up to theatrical environs and exposes all the egos, tempers, conspiracies and backstage back-biting that make up the world of make-believe on Broadway.” – TV Guide


19. “Rashomon” (1951)

RKO

Critic score: 98/100

User score: 8.8/10

What critics said: “Every element in the film, from the dense thicket of forest branches to master cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa’s deceptive framing and lighting design, is precisely calibrated to make the facts more difficult to discern.” – AV Club


18. “North by Northwest” (1959)

MGM

Critic score: 98/100

User score: 8.1/10

What critics said: “A sublime classic.” –Guardian


17. “Some Like It Hot” (1959)

United Artists

Critic score: 98/100

User score: 8.3/10

What critics said: “If Some Like It Hot isn’t the funniest movie ever made, you can’t blame it for not trying. The first time you see Billy Wilder’s 1959 farce, you might not believe that anything can make you laugh so hard for so long.” –Salon


16. “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006)

New Line Cinema

Critic score: 98/100

User score: 8.7/10

What critics said: “Literally and figuratively marvellous, a rich, daring mix of fantasy and politics.” –Village Voice


15. “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948)

Warner Bros.

Critic score: 98/100

User score: 8.5/10

What critics said: “Mr. Huston has shaped a searching drama of the collision of civilisation’s vicious greeds with the instinct for self-preservation in an environment where all the barriers are down. And, by charting the moods of his prospectors after they have hit a vein of gold, he has done a superb illumination of basic characteristics in men.” – New York Times


14. “Touch of Evil” (1958)

Universal

Critic score: 99/100

User score: 8/5/10

What critics said: “A masterclass in tension, visual panache and B-movie excess.” – Time Out


13. “Pinocchio” (1940)

Disney

Critic score: 99/100

User score: 8.2/10

What critics said: “Every element in Pinocchio shimmers with the energy of young artists reveling in their newly discovered powers of creation.” – Los Angeles Times


12. “Intolerance” (1916)

Triangle

Critic score: 99/100

User score: 8.7/10

What critics said: “The plunging and roving camera provides visceral thrills; ecstatic special effects capture the sacred (the Crucifixion) and the profane (combat in the Great War); a metaphysical framing device (starring Lillian Gish) raises human conflict to universal import; and Griffith’s trademark closeups lend a quivering lip or a trembling hand the tragic grandeur of historical cataclysm.” – New Yorker


11. “Moonlight” (2016)

A24

Critic score: 99/100

User score: 7.2/10

What critics said: “Like Brokeback Mountain a decade ago, Moonlight is a piece of art that will transform lives long after it leaves theatres.” – The Playlist


10. “City Lights” (1931)

United Artists

Critic score: 99/100

User score: 8.8/10

What critics said: “There’s dignity and folly to The Tramp in City Lights, and everything in between.” – The Dissolve


9. “Singin’ In The Rain” (1952)

MGM

Critic score: 99/100

User score: 8.8/10

What critics said: “Escapism raised to the level of art, Singin’ In The Rain inventively satirizes the illusions of the filmmaking process while celebrating their life-affirming joy.” – AV Club


8. “Notorious” (1946)

RKO

Critic score: 100/100

User score: 8.0/10

What critics said: “Love is a dark, corroded obsession in Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious, a black-velvet biocide brimming with notes of tabloid titillation, spy-versus-spy nonsense, and romance as rotten as a half-eaten Granny Smith left out in the summer sun.” – Slant


7. “Vertigo” (1958)

Universal

Critic score: 100/100

User score: 8.8/10

What critics said: “The greatest sexual suspense drama ever made has come to be regarded by many Hitchcock admirers as his most accomplished film. It is certainly his most forlorn, and easily his most mesmerising.” – San Francisco Chronicle


6. “Three Colours: Red” (1994)

The Criterion Collection

Critic score: 100/100

User score: 8.8/10

What critics said: “It is a film of much humanity and very far from smart European pap. But the external brilliance of its making does at times subvert its inner workings, as if its manufacture and its meaning were not quite in perfect harmony.” – Guardian


5. “Boyhood” (2014)

‘Boyhood’/Universal

Critic score: 100/100

User score: 7.7/10

What critics said: “On rare occasions a movie seems to channel the flow of real life. Boyhood is one of those occasions. In its ambition, which is matched by its execution, Richard Linklater’s endearing epic is not only rare but unique.” – Wall Street Journal


4. “Casablanca” (1943)

Warner Bros.

Critic score: 100/100

User score: 9.0/10

What critics said: “The dialogue is so spare and cynical it has not grown old-fashioned. Much of the emotional effect of Casablanca is achieved by indirection; as we leave the theatre, we are absolutely convinced that the only thing keeping the world from going crazy is that the problems of three little people do after all amount to more than a hill of beans.” –Chicago Sun-Times


3. “Rear Window” (1954)

Paramount

Critic score: 100/100

User score: 8.8/10

What critics said: “There is never an instant, in fact, when Director Hitchcock is not in minute and masterly control of his material: script, camera, cutting, props, the handsome set constructed from his ideas, the stars he has Hitched to his vehicle.” – Time


2. “The Godfather” (1972)

YouTube screenshot

Critic score: 100/100

User score: 9.2/10

What critics said: “The Godfather traces the arc of this doomed idealism with a beauty that is still fresh.” – LA Weekly


1. “Citizen Kane” (1941)

Warner Bros screengrab

Critic score: 100/100

User score: 8.5/10

What critics said: “What’s magical about Kane – the sheer transformative thrill of invention – is there in every shot, every performance, every narrative surge.” – Entertainment Weekly

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