*MAJOR UPDATE IN PROGRESS* I’m revising this entire website, including LGBTQ+ Literature and Film. Thank you for understanding.

Best English-Language Films — Year by Year

Here are my picks for the best English-language films from 1930 to 2010 — now in 2020, I am actively updating this site, and in the months ahead I’ll add films that I highly recommend released since 2010. I consider all genres — drama, comedy, documentary, fantasy, westerns, et al. — with no set number of titles.

Pictures are listed, year by year, in “best first” order. For each decade, the top pick gets a gold star gold star, while the 10 Best Films are in red and followed by an asterisk*, and runners-up are italicized and listed in the right-most column. I focus on works in English from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc., as well as “foreign” directors – such as Ophüls, Antonioni, Polanski – working in English, because of greater access to those films; but many of the finest pictures I’ve seen are either not in my native tongue or from the Silent Era (see 50 Landmarks of Film History and “10 Best” lists).

Decades: 2020s | 2010s | 2000s | 1990s | 1980s | 1970s | 1960s | 1950s | 1940s | 1930s [LINKS WILL BE UPDATED SOON]

2010s — Moonlight (Barry Jenkins / 2016)

2019

  • Avengers: Endgame (Anthony Russo)

2018

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, & Rodney Rothman)
  • Black Panther (Ryan Coogler)
  • Green Book (Peter Farrelly)
  • Hereditary (Ari Aster)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (Anthony Russo & Joe Russo)
  • BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee)
  • Crazy Rich Asians (Jon M. Chu)
  • A Quiet Place (John Krasinski)

2017

  • Call Me by Your Name (Luca Guadagnino)
  • Beach Rats (Eliza Hittman)

2016

  • Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
  • I am Not Your Negro [James Baldwin] (Raul Peck)
  • Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
  • 13th (Ava DuVernay)
  • The Monster (Bryan Berlino)
  • Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)

2015

  • The VVitch: A New-England Folktale (Robert Eggers)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
  • Spotlight (Tom McCarthy)
  • The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)

2014

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Anthony Russo & Joe Russo)
  • What We Do in the Shadows (Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn)
  • Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
  • It Follows (David Robert Mitchell)
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Matt Reeves)

2013

  • 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)

2012

  • Skyfall (Sam Mendes)
  • Argo (Ben Affleck)

2011

  • Weekend (Andrew Haigh)
  • Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn)

2010

  • Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich)
  • How to Train Your Dragon (Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders)
  • Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik)

2010s Runners-Up (in “best first” order)

  • COMING SOON

2000s — The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Jackson / 2001–2003)

2010

  • Toy Story 3 (Lee Unrich)
  • The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko)

2009

  • Precious (Lee Daniels)
  • Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
  • Torchwood: Children of Earth (Euros Lyn; Torchwood series created by Russell T Davies)
  • Up in the Air (Jason Reitman)

2008

  • WALL-E* (Andrew Stanton)
  • The Hurt Locker* (Kathryn Bigelow)
  • Synecdoche, New York (Charles Kaufman)
  • The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan)
  • Milk (Gus Van Sant)
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen)

2007

  • Into the Wild* (Sean Penn)
  • Sicko (Michael Moore)
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Tim Burton)
  • There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)

2006

  • Jesus Camp* (Rachel Grady & Heidi Ewing)
  • The Departed (Martin Scorsese)
  • Babel (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
  • United 93 (Paul Greengrass)
  • Casino Royale (Martin Campbell)
  • The Last King of Scotland (Kevin Macdonald)

2005

  • Brokeback Mountain* (Ang Lee) [my review]
  • Capote (Bennett Miller)
  • Sin City (Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez, with Quentin Tarantino)
  • Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Nick Park & Steve Box)
  • Munich (Steven Spielberg)

2004

  • Sideways (Alexander Payne)
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry)
  • Tarnation (Jonathan Caouette)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Alfonso Cuarón)
  • Fahrenheit 9/11 (Michael Moore)
  • Kill Bill Vol. 2 (Quentin Tarantino)

2003

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King* (Peter Jackson)
  • Mystic River* (Clint Eastwood)
  • Elephant (Gus Van Sant)
  • Monster (Patty Jenkins)
  • Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)
  • Kill Bill Vol. 1 (Quentin Tarantino)
  • The Fog of War (Errol Morris)
  • Finding Nemo (Stanton & Unkrich)

2002

  • Adaptation* (Spike Jonze)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers* (Peter Jackson)
  • Punch-Drunk Love (P.T. Anderson)
  • Gangs of New York (Martin Scorsese)
  • 28 Days Later (Danny Boyle)
  • Bowling for Columbine (Michael Moore)
  • The Hours (Stephen Daldry)
  • Family Fundamentals (Arthur Dong)

2001

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring* (Peter Jackson)
  • Mulholland Dr*. (David Lynch)
  • Memento* (Christopher Nolan)
  • Bully (Larry Clark)
  • Gosford Park (Robert Altman)
  • Waking Life (Richard Linklater)
  • The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson)
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Columbus)
  • Moulin Rouge! (Baz Luhrmann / 2001)
  • Hell House (George Ratliff)

2000

  • Traffic (Steven Soderbergh)
  • Chuck & Buck (Miguel Arteta)

2000s Runners-Up (best first)

  • Urbania (Shear / 2000)
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
  • Shrek (Adamson & Jenson / 2001)
  • Little Miss Sunshine (Dayton & Faris / 2006)
  • Land of the Dead (Romero / 2005)
  • The Constant Gardener (Meirelles / 2005)
  • District 9 (Neill Blomkamp / 2009)
  • No Country for Old Men (Joel & Ethan Coen / 2007)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Newell / 2005)
  • Good Night, and Good Luck (Clooney / 2005)
  • Session 9 (Brad Anderson / 2001)
  • The Aviator (Scorsese / 2004)
  • Gerry (Van Sant / 2002)
  • Kinsey (Condon / 2004)
  • Far From Heaven (Haynes / 2002)
  • Syriana (Stephen Gaghan / 2005)
  • Vera Drake (Leigh / 2004)
  • Quantum of Solace(Forster / 2008)
  • Hellboy (Del Toro / 2004)
  • The Pianist (Polanski / 2002)
  • Panic Room (Fincher / 2002)
  • Chicago (Rob Marshall / 2002)
  • Northfork (Polish / 2003)
  • Wonder Boys (Hanson / 2000)
  • Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (Smith / 2001)
  • Blade II (del Toro / 2002)
  • In the Bedroom (Field / 2001)
  • Quantum of Solace (Forster / 2008)
  • Road to Perdition (Mendes / 2002)
  • X2: X-Men United (Singer / 2003)
  • Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (Weir / 2003)
  • Requiem for a Dream (Aronofsky / 2000)
  • Funny Games (Haneke / 2008)
  • The Strangers (Bertino / 2008)
  • Hostel (Roth / 2005)
  • Before Night Falls (Schnabel / 2000)
  • The Mothman Prophecies (Pellington / 2001)
  • The Man Who Wasn’t There (Coen / 2001)
  • Zodiac (Fincher / 2007)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Columbus / 2002)
  • Cabin Fever (Roth / 2003)
  • Crash (Haggis /2005)
  • Monster’s Ball (Forster / 2001)

1990s — The Piano (Campion / 1993)

1999

  • American Beauty* (Mendes)
  • Fight Club (Fincher)
  • Being John Malkovich (Jonze)
  • Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick)
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley (Minghella)
  • The Matrix (Wachowski Brothers)
  • Election (Payne)
  • Magnolia (P.T. Anderson)
  • The Limey (Soderbergh)
  • Dogma (Smith)
  • Toy Story 2 (Lasseter & Brannon)

1998

  • The Opposite of Sex (Roos)
  • Saving Private Ryan (Spielberg)
  • A Bug’s Life (Lasseter)
  • Blade (Norrington)
  • Enemy of the State (Tony Scott)

1997

  • L.A. Confidential* (Hanson)
  • The Sweet Hereafter (Egoyan)
  • William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (Luhrmann)
  • Licensed to Kill (Dong)
  • Boogie Nights (P.T. Anderson)
  • Mrs. Dalloway (Gorris)

1996

  • Fargo* (Coen)
  • Pillow Book (Greenaway)
  • Scream (Craven)
  • Breaking the Waves (von Trier)
  • Secrets & Lies (Leigh)
  • Fly Away Home (Ballard)

1995

  • Se7en* (Fincher)
  • Babe (Noonan)
  • A Little Princess (Cuarón)
  • Paris Was A Woman (Schiller)
  • Toy Story (Lasseter)
  • Kids (Larry Clark)
  • Sense and Sensibility (Ang Lee)
  • Welcome to the Dollhouse (Solondz)
  • Safe (Haynes)
  • The Usual Suspects (Singer)
  • Angels & Insects (Haas)

1994

  • Heavenly Creatures* (Jackson)
  • Pulp Fiction (Tarantino)
  • Speed (de Bont)
  • The Underneath (Soderbergh)
  • Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (Craven)
  • Natural Born Killers (Stone)
  • The Lion King (Disney/ Allers & Minkoff)

1993

  • The Piano* (Campion)
  • Schindler’s List (Spielberg)
  • Remains of the Day (Merchant/Ivory)
  • The Wedding Banquet (Ang Lee)
  • Menace II Society (Hughes Brothers)
  • Blue (Jarman)
  • The Age of Innocence (Scorsese)
  • Dazed and Confused (Linklater)
  • Silverlake Life: The View from Here (Joslin; completed by Peter Friedman)
  • Groundhog Day (Ramis)

1992

  • Howards End* (Mechant/Ivory)
  • The Player (Altman)
  • Swoon (Kalin)
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Coppola)
  • Wittgenstein (Jarman)
  • The Crying Game (Jordan)
  • Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino)
  • Under Siege (Davis)
  • Batman Returns (Burton)
  • Falling Down (Schumacher)
  • Aladdin (Disney/ Musker & Clements)

1991

  • Edward II* (Jarman)
  • My Own Private Idaho* (Van Sant)
  • Beauty and the Beast* (Disney/ Trousdale & Wise)
  • Poison (Haynes)
  • JFK (Stone)
  • Slacker (Linklater)
  • A Brief History of Time (Morris)

1990

  • Die Hard 2: Die Harder (Harlin)
  • GoodFellas (Scorsese)
  • Total Recall (Verhoeven)
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Cameron / 1990)

1990s Runners-Up (best first)

  • The Shawshank Redemption (Darabont / 1994)
  • Dark City (Proyas / 1999)
  • Good Will Hunting (Van Sant / 1997)
  • Bound (Wachowski Brothers / 1996)
  • Citizen Ruth (Payne / 1996)
  • The Secret Garden (Holland / 1993)
  • Pi (Aronofsky / 1998)
  • The Thin Red Line (Malick / 1998)
  • There’s Something About Mary (Farrelly Brothers / 1998)
  • Much Ado About Nothing (Branagh / 1993)
  • Dead Alive (Jackson / 1993)
  • Face/Off (Woo / 1997)
  • Candyman (Rose / 1992)
  • Coming Out Under Fire (Dong / 1994)
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney/ Trousdale & Wise / 1996)
  • Chasing Amy (Smith / 1997)
  • Elizabeth (Kapur / 1998)
  • Dances With Wolves (Costner / 1990 – theatrical release NOT the expanded director’s cut)
  • U Turn (Stone / 1997)
  • The Silence of the Lambs (Demme / 1991)
  • Beautiful Thing (MacDonald / 1996)
  • Clerks (Smith / 1994)
  • Bob Roberts (Tim Robbins / 1992)
  • Get Real (Shore / 1998)
  • The Fugitive (Davis / 1993)
  • Ed Wood (Burton / 1994)
  • Go (Liman / 1999)
  • The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Stephen Elliott / 1994)
  • The Crow (Proyas / 1994)

1980s — Raging Bull (Scorsese / 1980)

For me, the 1980s was film’s worst decade nationally — and globally — except for a handful of pictures.

1989 – 0

1988 – 0

1987

  • The Last of England* (Jarman)

1986

  • Platoon* (Stone)
  • Caravaggio (Jarman)

1985 – 0

1984

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street* (Craven)
  • A Passage to India (Lean)

1983 – 0

1982

  • E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial* (Spielberg)
  • The Draughtsman’s Contract (Greenaway)

1981

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg)

1980

  • Raging Bull (Scorsese)
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back* (Kirschner)

1980s Runners-Up (best first)

  • The Tempest (Jarman / 1982)
  • Parting Glances (Sherwood / 1986)
  • The Angelic Conversation (Jarman / 1985)
  • Blood Simple (Coen / 1984)
  • The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover (Greenaway / 1989)
  • Maurice (Merchant/Ivory / 1987)
  • The Shining (Kubrick / 1980)
  • Roger & Me (Moore / 1989)
  • One From the Heart (Coppola / 1982)
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Spielberg / 1989)
  • Porky’s (Bob Clark / 1981)
  • Dead Ringers (Cronenberg / 1988)
  • sex, lies, and videotape (Soderbergh / 1989)
  • Aliens (Cameron / 1986)
  • The Road Warrior (Miller / 1981)
  • Die Hard (McTiernan / 1988)
  • Stop Making Sense (Demme / 1984)
  • Brazil (Gilliam / 1985)
  • The Last Emperor (Bertolucci / 1987)
  • Kiss of the Spider Woman (Babenço / 1985)
  • The Thin Blue Line (Morris / 1988)
  • Blade Runner (Scott / 1982)
  • Airplane! (Abrahams, Zucker & Zucker / 1980)
  • Something Wild (Demme / 1986)
  • Diner (Levinson / 1982)
  • Gremlins (Dante / 1984)
  • Born on the Fourth of July (Stone / 1989)
  • The Little Mermaid (Disney/ Musker & Clemente / 1989)
  • The Times of Harvey Milk (Epstein / 1984)
  • Lethal Weapon (Donner / 1987)
  • Licence to Kill (Glen / 1989)
  • Stranger Than Paradise (Jarmusch / 1984)
  • Fatal Attraction (Lyne / 1987)
  • Never Cry Wolf (Ballard / 1983)
  • Hellraiser (Barker / 1987)
  • Paris, Texas (Wenders / 1984)
  • Videodrome (Cronenberg / 1982)
  • It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books (Linklater / 1988)
  • The Purple Rose of Cairo (Allen / 1985)
  • Dressed to Kill (De Palma / 1980)
  • This is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner / 1984)
  • The Hitcher (Harmon / 1986)
  • The Return of the Living Dead (O’Bannon / 1985)
  • Eating Raoul (Bartel / 1982)

1970s — A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick / 1971)

1979

  • Dawn of the Dead* (Romero)
  • Manhattan (Allen)
  • Over the Edge (Kaplan)
  • Hair (Forman)
  • Apocalypse Now (Coppola)
  • Alien (Ridley Scott)
  • The Tempest (Jarman)
  • The Brood (Cronenberg)

1978

  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Kaufman)
  • Days of Heaven (Malick)
  • Halloween (Carpenter)
  • Gates of Heaven (Morris)
  • Jubilee (Jarman)
  • The Driver (Walter Hill)
  • The Last Waltz (Scorsese)

1977

  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope* (Lucas)
  • Martin (Romero)
  • Annie Hall (Allen)
  • Handle With Care (aka Citizen Band) (Demme)
  • The Last Wave (Weir)
  • New York, New York (Scorsese)
  • The Duellists (R. Scott)
  • Pumping Iron (Fiore & Butler)
  • God Told Me To (Larry Cohen)

1976

  • Taxi Driver (Scorsese)
  • Network (Lumet)
  • Sebastiane (Jarman & Humfress)
  • All the President’s Men (Pakula)

1975

  • Barry Lyndon* (Kubrick)
  • Nashville* (Altman)
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock (Weir)
  • Jaws (Spielberg)
  • Switchblade Sisters (Jack Hill)

1974

  • The Godfather, Part II* (Coppola)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre* (Hooper)
  • The Conversation (Coppola)
  • Chinatown (Polanski)
  • A Woman Under the Influence (Cassavetes)
  • The Sugarland Express (Spielberg)
  • Hearts and Minds (Davis)
  • Primate (Wiseman)
  • Cockfighter (Hellman)
  • Female Trouble (Waters)

1973

  • Badlands* (Malick)
  • Mean Streets* (Scorsese)
  • American Graffiti (Lucas)
  • The Exorcist (Friedkin)
  • F for Fake (Welles)
  • Don’t Look Now (Roeg)
  • The Killing Kind (Harrington)

1972

  • The Godfather (Coppola)
  • Cabaret (Fosse)
  • Pink Flamingos (Waters)
  • Marjoe (Howard Smith & Sarah Kernochan)
  • Season of the Witch (aka Jack’s Wife; aka Hungry Wives) (Romero)
  • Harold and Maude (Ashby)

1971

  • A Clockwork Orange* (Kubrick)
  • The Devils (Russell)
  • Sunday Bloody Sunday (Schlesinger)
  • The Andromeda Strain (Wise)
  • The Boy Friend (Russell)
  • Get Carter (Hodges)
  • Walkabout (Roeg)
  • The Last Picture Show (Bogdanovich)
  • THX 1138 (Lucas)
  • Straw Dogs (Peckinpah)
  • Duel (Spielberg)

1970

  • Gimme Shelter* (Maysles, Zwerin, & Maysles)
  • Company: Original Cast Album (Pennebaker)
  • MASH (Altman)
  • Two-Lane Blacktop (Hellman)
  • Hospital (Wiseman)
  • Performance (Roeg & Cammell)
  • Brewster McCloud (Altman)

1970s Runners-Up (best first)

  • The Crazies (Romero / 1973)
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Sharman / 1975)
  • Dog Day Afternoon (Lumet / 1975)
  • Eraserhead (Lynch / 1977)\
  • The Music Lovers (Russell / 1971)
  • The Wicker Man (1973 / Hardy)
  • Carnal Knowledge (Nichols / 1971)
  • The French Connection (Friedkin / 1971)
  • Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Peckinpah / 1974)
  • Deliverance (Boorman / 1972)
  • O Lucky Man! (Anderson / 1975)
  • The Black Stallion (Ballard / 1979)
  • The Getaway (Peckinpah / 1972)
  • Night Moves (Penn / 1975)
  • The Paper Chase (James Bridges / 1973)
  • Up! (Meyer / 1976)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Forman / 1975)
  • Serpico (Lumet / 1973)
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth (Roeg / 1976)
  • Assault on Precinct 13 (Carpenter / 1976)

1960s — 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick / 1968)

1969

  • The Wild Bunch* (Peckinpah)
  • Women in Love (Russell)
  • The Honeymoon Killers (Kastle)
  • High School (Wiseman)
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Hill)
  • Easy Rider (Hopper)

1968

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey* (Kubrick)
  • Night of the Living Dead (Romero)
  • Rosemary’s Baby (Polanski)
  • Salesman (Maysles, Zwerin, & Maysles)
  • Five Million Years to Earth (aka Quatermass and the Pit) (Baker)
  • Sympathy for the Devil (aka One Plus One) (Godard)
  • Yellow Submarine (Dunning)
  • If… (Anderson)
  • Planet of the Apes (Schaffner)

1967

  • The Graduate* (Nichols)
  • Bonnie and Clyde (Penn)
  • Don’t Look Back (Pennebaker)
  • Titicut Follies (Wiseman)
  • Two For the Road (Donen)
  • The Producers (Brooks)

1966

  • Chimes at Midnight* (aka Falstaff) (Welles)
  • Blowup* (Antonioni)
  • The Shooting (Hellman)

1965

  • Repulsion (Polanski)
  • Darling (Schlesinger)

1964

  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb* (Kubrick)
  • Goldfinger* (Hamilton)
  • A Hard Day’s Night* (Lester)
  • The Naked Kiss (Fuller)
  • My Fair Lady (Cukor)
  • The Masque of the Red Death (Corman)

1963

  • The Haunting* (Wise)
  • The Birds (Hitchcock)
  • The Servant (Losey)
  • Hud (Ritt)
  • This Sporting Life (Anderson)
  • Billy Liar (Schlesinger)

1962

  • Lawrence of Arabia (Lean)
  • The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Richardson)
  • The Longest Day (Annakin, Marton & Wicki)

1961

  • West Side Story* (Wise)
  • The Innocents (Clayton)
  • 101 Dalmatians (Disney/ Geronimi, Luske, & Reitherman)
  • The Guns of Navarone (Thompson)
  • The Hustler (Rossen)

1960

  • Psycho (Hitchcock)
  • The Apartment (Wilder)
  • Spartacus (Kubrick)
  • Peeping Tom (Powell)
  • Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Reisz)

1960s Runners-Up (best first)

  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Nichols / 1966)
  • Monterey Pop (Desmond, Feinstein, Pennebaker, Maysles, Murphy, Leacock & Proferes / 1969)
  • Shock Corridor (Fuller / 1963)
  • The Professionals (Richard Brooks / 1966)
  • Oliver! (Reed / 1968)
  • The Sadist (James Landis / 1963)
  • In the Heat of the Night (Jewison / 1967)
  • The Great Escape (John Sturges / 1963)
  • The Conqueror Worm (aka Witchfinder General) (Reeves / 1968)
  • Judgment at Nuremberg (Kramer / 1961)
  • The Intruder (Corman / 1961)
  • Tom Jones (Richardson / 1963)
  • The Little Shop of Horrors (Corman / 1960)
  • Advise & Consent (Preminger / 1962)
  • Morgan! (Reisz / 1966)
  • Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (Kramer / 1967)
  • Premature Burial (Corman / 1962)

1950s — North by Northwest (Hitchcock / 1959)

1959

  • North by Northwest* (Hitchcock)
  • Some Like It Hot* (Wilder)
  • Odds Against Tomorrow (Wise)
  • Imitation of Life (Sirk)
  • The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery (Guggenheim & Stix)
  • A Bucket of Blood (Corman)

1958

  • Vertigo* (Hitchcock)
  • Touch of Evil* (Welles)
  • Curse of the Demon (aka Night of the Demon) (Tourneur)
  • Gigi (Minnelli)
  • I Want to Live! (Wise)

1957

  • Paths of Glory (Kubrick)
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai (Lean)
  • 12 Angry Men (Lumet)
  • The Incredible Shrinking Man (Arnold)
  • Written on the Wind (Sirk)
  • The Pajama Game (Abbott & Donen)
  • Sweet Smell of Success (Mackendrick)
  • Horror of Dracula (Fisher)

1956

  • The Killing* (Kubrick)
  • Forbidden Planet (Wilcox)
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Siegel)
  • The Searchers (Ford)
  • The Wrong Man (Hitchcock)
  • Somebody Up There Likes Me (Wise)

1955

  • Kiss Me Deadly* (Aldrich)
  • The Night of the Hunter* (Laughton)
  • All That Heaven Allows (Sirk)
  • Rebel Without a Cause (Ray)
  • Blackboard Jungle (Richard Brooks)
  • The Big Combo (Joseph H. Lewis)
  • The Man from Laramie (Anthony Mann)

1954

  • Rear Window (Hitchcock)
  • Rififi (Dassin)
  • On the Waterfront (Kazan)
  • Richard III (Olivier)

1953

  • The Band Wagon (Minnelli)
  • It Came from Outer Space (Arnold)
  • Roman Holiday (Wyler)
  • The Naked Spur (Anthony Mann)
  • Shane (Stevens)
  • The War of the Worlds (Haskin)

1952

  • Othello* (Welles)
  • Singin’ in the Rain* (Kelly & Donen)
  • High Noon (Zinneman)

1951

  • The Tales of Hoffmann (Powell & Pressburger)
  • The African Queen (Huston)
  • Strangers on a Train (Hitchcock)
  • A Streetcar Named Desire (Kazan)
  • The Thing from Another World (Nyby & Hawks)
  • The Lavender Hill Mob (Crichton)
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (Wise)
  • A Christmas Carol (aka Scrooge) (Desmond-Hurst)
  • The Red Badge of Courage (Huston)

1950

  • Sunset Blvd.* (Wilder)
  • In a Lonely Place (Ray)
  • Night and the City (Dassin)
  • Winchester ’73 (Anthony Mann)
  • All About Eve (Mankiewicz)
  • The Asphalt Jungle (Huston)
  • Rio Grande (Ford)
  • Panic in the Streets (Kazan)
  • No Way Out (Mankiewicz)

1950s Runners-Up (best first)

  • Pickup on South Street (Fuller / 1953)
  • The Desperate Hours (Wyler / 1955)
  • A Star is Born (Cukor / 1954)
  • Rio Bravo (Hawks / 1959)
  • The Big Heat (Lang / 1953)
  • Run Silent, Run Deep (Wise / 1958)
  • A Place in the Sun (Stevens / 1951)
  • The Narrow Margin (Fleischer / 1952)
  • Killer’s Kiss (Kubrick / 1955)
  • The Ladykillers (Mackendrick / 1955)
  • The Bad and the Beautiful (Minnelli / 1952)
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Fleischer / 1954)
  • Summertime (Lean / 1955)
  • Damn Yankees (Abbott & Donen / 1958)
  • A Face in the Crowd (Kazan / 1957)
  • The Crimson Pirate (Siodmak / 1952)
  • Tarnished Angels (Sirk / 1958)
  • From Here to Eternity (Zinneman / 1953)
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon (Arnold / 1954)
  • The Captain’s Paradise (Kimmins / 1953)
  • Kansas City Confidential (Karlson / 1952)
  • The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (Lourie / 1953)
  • The Curse of Frankenstein (Fisher / 1956)
  • Old Yeller (Stevenson / 1957)
  • The Tingler (Castle / 1959)

1940s — Citizen Kane (Welles / 1941)

1949

  • The Third Man (Reed)
  • Adam’s Rib (Cukor)
  • White Heat (Walsh)
  • The Set-Up (Wise)
  • The Heiress (Wyler)
  • A Letter to Three Wives (Mankiewicz)
  • The Queen of Spades (Dickinson)
  • Gun Crazy (aka Deadly is the Female) (Joseph H. Lewis)
  • Battleground (Wellman)
  • Force of Evil (Polonsky)
  • Kind Hearts and Coronets (Hamer)

1948

  • Red River* (Hawks)
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre* (Huston)
  • The Lady from Shanghai (Welles)
  • Letter from an Unknown Woman (Ophüls)
  • The Big Sleep (Hawks)
  • Hamlet (Olivier)
  • Rope (Hitchcock)
  • Louisiana Story (Flaherty)

1947

  • Great Expectations* (Lean)
  • Black Narcissus (Powell & Pressburger)
  • Monsieur Verdoux (Chaplin)
  • Out of the Past (Tourneur)
  • Born to Kill (Wise)
  • Crossfire (Dmytryk)
  • Body and Soul (Rossen)
  • Lady in the Lake (Montgomery)
  • Raw Deal (Anthony Mann)
  • Fear in the Night (Shane)
  • Kiss of Death (Hathaway)

1946

  • It’s a Wonderful Life* (Capra)
  • The Best Years of Our Lives* (Wyler)
  • My Darling Clementine* (Ford)
  • Notorious (Hitchcock)
  • The Stranger (Welles)
  • The Killers (Siodmak)

1945

  • Detour* (Ulmer)
  • Brief Encounter* (Lean)
  • Scarlet Street (Lang)
  • Mildred Pierce (Curtiz)
  • Dead of Night (Cavalcanti / Crichton / Dearden / Hamer)
  • The Body Snatcher (Wise / produced by Val Lewton)
  • I Know Where I’m Going! (Powell & Pressburger)
  • The House on 92nd Street (Hathaway)

1944

  • Double Indemnity (Wilder)
  • The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (Preston Sturges)
  • Meet Me in St. Louis (Minnelli) [my review]
  • Gaslight (Cukor)
  • The Curse of the Cat People (Wise & von Fritsch / produced by Val Lewton)
  • The Woman in the Window (Lang)
  • Lifeboat (Hitchcock)
  • Laura (Preminger)
  • National Velvet (Brown)
  • Murder, My Sweet (Dmytryk)
  • The Uninvited (Lewis Allen)
  • Sherlock Holmes and The Scarlet Claw (Neill)

1943

  • The Seventh Victim* (Robson / produced by Val Lewton)
  • Casablanca (Curtiz)
  • The Ox-Bow Incident (Wellman)
  • I Walked With a Zombie (Tourneur / produced by Val Lewton)
  • The Ghost Ship (Robson / produced by Val Lewton)

1942

  • The Magnificent Ambersons (Welles)
  • The Palm Beach Story (Sturges)
  • Cat People (Tourneur)
  • Yankee Doodle Dandy (Curtiz)
  • Now, Voyager (Rapper)

1941

  • Citizen Kane* (Welles)
  • The Maltese Falcon (Huston)
  • Dumbo (Disney/ Sharpsteen)
  • The Lady Eve (Sturges)
  • Sullivan’s Travels (Sturges)
  • Suspicion (Hitchcock)
  • Adventures of Captain Marvel [12-chapter serial] (Witney & English)
  • They Died With Their Boots On (Walsh)
  • The Wolf Man (Waggner)

1940

  • The Philadelphia Story* (Cukor)
  • His Girl Friday (Hawks)
  • Fantasia (Disney/ Beebe & Roberts)
  • My Favorite Wife (Kanin)
  • Pinocchio (Disney/ Sharpsteen)
  • The Great McGinty (Sturges)
  • The Grapes of Wrath (Ford)
  • The Sea Hawk (Curtiz)
  • Christmas in July (Sturges)

1940s Runners-Up (best first)

  • Oliver Twist (Lean / 1948)
  • She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (Ford / 1949)
  • He Walked by Night (Anthony Mann / 1948)
  • Caught (Ophüls / 1949)
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Fleming / 1941)
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice (Garnett / 1946)
  • And Then There Were None (Clair / 1945)
  • The Bank Dick (Cline / 1940)
  • The Naked City (Dassin / 1948)
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Kazan / 1945)
  • Santa Fe Trail (Curtiz)
  • Act of Violence (Zinnemann / 1948)
  • Bedlam (Robson / 1946)
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray (Lewin / 1945)
  • Bataan (Garnett / 1943)
  • Saboteur (Hitchcock / 1942)
  • Son of Dracula (Robert Siodmak / 1943)
  • The Black Book (aka Reign of Terror) (Anthony Mann / 1949)
  • Criss Cross (Robert Siodmak / 1949)
  • The Leopard Man (Tourneur / produced by Val Lewton / 1943)
  • The Great Dictator (Chaplin / 1940)
  • The Outlaw (Howard Hughes & uncredited Howards Hawks / 1943)
  • Sands of Iwo Jima (Dwan / 1949)
  • The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap (Barton / 1948)
  • My Pal Trigger (McDonald / 1946)

1940s Runners-Up (best first)

  • Oliver Twist (Lean / 1948)
  • She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (Ford / 1949)
  • He Walked by Night (Anthony Mann / 1948)
  • Caught (Ophüls / 1949)
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Fleming / 1941)
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice (Garnett / 1946)
  • And Then There Were None (Clair / 1945)
  • The Bank Dick (Cline / 1940)
  • The Naked City (Dassin / 1948)
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Kazan / 1945)
  • Santa Fe Trail (Curtiz)
  • Act of Violence (Zinnemann / 1948)
  • Bedlam (Robson / 1946)
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray (Lewin / 1945)
  • Bataan (Garnett / 1943)
  • Saboteur (Hitchcock / 1942)
  • Son of Dracula (Robert Siodmak / 1943)
  • The Black Book (aka Reign of Terror) (Anthony Mann / 1949)
  • Criss Cross (Robert Siodmak / 1949)
  • The Leopard Man (Tourneur / produced by Val Lewton / 1943)
  • The Great Dictator (Chaplin / 1940)
  • The Outlaw (Howard Hughes & uncredited Howards Hawks / 1943)
  • Sands of Iwo Jima (Dwan / 1949)
  • The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap (Barton / 1948)
  • My Pal Trigger (McDonald / 1946)
  • Oliver Twist (Lean / 1948)
  • She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (Ford / 1949)
  • He Walked by Night (Anthony Mann / 1948)
  • Caught (Ophüls / 1949)
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Fleming / 1941)
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice (Garnett / 1946)
  • And Then There Were None (Clair / 1945)
  • The Bank Dick (Cline / 1940)
  • The Naked City (Dassin / 1948)
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Kazan / 1945)
  • Santa Fe Trail (Curtiz)
  • Act of Violence (Zinnemann / 1948)
  • Bedlam (Robson / 1946)
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray (Lewin / 1945)
  • Bataan (Garnett / 1943)
  • Saboteur (Hitchcock / 1942)
  • Son of Dracula (Robert Siodmak / 1943)
  • The Black Book (aka Reign of Terror) (Anthony Mann / 1949)
  • Criss Cross (Robert Siodmak / 1949)
  • The Leopard Man (Tourneur / produced by Val Lewton / 1943)
  • The Great Dictator (Chaplin / 1940)
  • The Outlaw (Howard Hughes & uncredited Howards Hawks / 1943)
  • Sands of Iwo Jima (Dwan / 1949)
  • The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap (Barton / 1948)
  • My Pal Trigger (McDonald / 1946)

1930s — Bringing Up Baby (Hawks / 1938)

1939

  • Gone With the Wind* (Fleming, Cukor, et al.)
  • Ninotchka (Lubitsch)
  • The Wizard of Oz (Fleming)
  • Stagecoach (Ford)
  • Young Mr. Lincoln (Ford)
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Werker)
  • Midnight (Leisen)

1938

  • Bringing Up Baby* (Hawks)
  • The Lady Vanishes (Hitchcock)
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood (Curtiz & Keighley)
  • Pygmalion (Asquith & Howard)
  • You Can’t Take It With You (Capra)

1937

  • Easy Living (Leisen)
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Disney)
  • The Awful Truth (McCarey)
  • You Only Live Once (Lang)

1936

  • Sabotage* (Hitchcock)
  • The Story of Louis Pasteur* (Dieterle)
  • Show Boat (Whale)
  • Swing Time (Stevens)
  • Dodsworth (Wyler)
  • Modern Times (Chaplin)
  • Fury (Lang)
  • Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Capra)
  • A Day at the Races (Wood)

1935

  • Bride of Frankenstein* (Whale)
  • The Informer (Ford)
  • Mad Love (Freund)
  • Top Hat (Sandrich)
  • Mutiny on the Bounty (Lloyd)
  • A Night at the Opera (Wood)
  • The 39 Steps (Hitchcock)
  • Captain Blood (Curtiz)

1934

  • The Scarlet Empress* (von Sternberg)
  • Man of Aran (Flaherty)
  • The Black Cat (Ulmer)
  • It Happened One Night (Capra)
  • The Thin Man (Van Dyke)
  • Tarzan and His Mate (Gibbons)
  • Twentieth Century (Hawks)

1933

  • King Kong* (Cooper & Schoedsack)
  • 42nd Street (Bacon & Berkeley)
  • The Invisible Man (Whale)
  • Duck Soup (McCarey)
  • The Kennel Murder Case (Curtiz)
  • Dinner at Eight (Cukor)
  • Island of Lost Souls (Kenton)

1932

  • Trouble in Paradise* (Lubitsch)
  • Scarface* (Hawks)
  • Blonde Venus (von Sternberg)
  • Freaks (Browning)
  • I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (LeRoy)
  • Love Me Tonight (Mamoulian)
  • Tarzan the Ape Man (Van Dyke)
  • Horse Feathers (McLeod)
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Mamoulian)
  • Grand Hotel (Goulding)
  • Murders in the Rue Morgue (Florey)

1931

  • The Public Enemy (Wellman)
  • Frankenstein (Whale)
  • City Lights (Chaplin)
  • Monkey Business (McLeod)

1930

  • All Quiet on the Western Front* (Milestone)
  • Morocco (von Sternberg)
  • Little Caesar (LeRoy)

1930s Runners-Up (best first)

  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Capra / 1939)
  • Nothing Sacred (Wellman / 1937)
  • Dracula (Browning / 1931)
  • Things to Come (Menzies / 1936)
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Dieterle / 1939)
  • The Old Dark House (Whale / 1932)
  • Goodbye, Mr. Chips (Wood / 1939)
  • Lost Horizon (Capra / 1937)
  • Gold Diggers of 1933 (LeRoy & Berkeley / 1933)
  • Dodge City (Curtiz / 1939)
  • Gold Diggers of 1935 (Berkeley / 1935)
  • Footlight Parade (Bacon & Berkeley / 1933)
  • Dames (Enright & Berkeley / 1935)
  • Death Takes a Holiday (Leisen / 1934)
  • The Most Dangerous Game (Schoedsack & Pichel)
  • After the Thin Man (Van Dyke / 1936)
  • Love Affair (McCarey / 1932)
  • She Done Him Wrong (Sherman / 1933)
  • Murder at Midnight (Strayer / 1931)

Begun 1997 / Revised September 13, 2020

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