The 20 Best Movies Of All Time (According To IMDb)

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What are the best movies of all time? Ranking the best movies ever made is a pretty impossible task. However, the closest thing to a definitive ranking is a list based on audience ratings. In that sense, IMDb’s list of the top-rated films of all time might be among the best of its kind.

RELATED: 10 Best Movies Of All Time, According To Ranker

IMDb remains one of the most popular movie information sites on the internet. Their top-rated movies list is compiled of films that have been rated by millions of viewers. While the list is always changing, the top films have remained quite unchanged for a number of years now.

Updated on March 19th, 2022 by Colin McCormick: While it is fun to stay current with all the new movies being released, sometimes it is just easier to return to those ever-popular classic movies everyone seems to love. While all movie-goers have different opinions on what makes up the top 10 movies of all time, there is something for everyone among IMDb’s top-rated movies, from the best movies Hollywood has to offer to international hits and from movies of the 21st century to movies decades old.

Whether fans are revisiting an old favorite or catching up on a famous movie they have overlooked, this collection is a good place to look for the best movies of all time.

25 Life Is Beautiful (1997) – 8.6

Life Is Beautiful 1997

  • Available to stream on Prime Video and Plex

It is a very difficult thing for a movie to combine humor and an uplifting tone inside a story that is also filled with tragedy and heartbreak. But that is something that Life is Beautiful accomplished in the minds of many fans which explains its popular reputation.

C-written by, directed by, and starring Roberto Benigni, the Italian movie tells the story of a positive-minded Jewish man and his son who become victims of the Holocaust in World War II and the father goes to great lengths to convince his son that they are in the midst of one big game.

24 City Of God (2002) – 8.6

Knockout Ned in City of God

  • Available to stream on HBO Max, HBO, Max Go, DIRECTV

It takes a very special international movie to strike a chord with audiences all over the world but City of God was a story that transcended language. The movie takes place in the slums of Rio and tells the story of two young children on different paths, with one seeking to become a photographer and the other seeking to become a criminal kingpin.

The movie makes for a harrowing coming-of-age story. It is also a stylish and engrossing adventure that does not shy away from the uglier aspects of the story but is also laced with an engrossing energy.

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23 Saving Private Ryan (1998) – 8.6

The Soldiers under fire in Saving Private Ryan.

  • Available to stream on Prime Video

Steven Spielberg has told a number of war movies over the course of his career, but Saving Private Ryan has been hailed as one of the best movies of all time to capture the horror and chaos of war. The movie stars Tom Hanks as the leader of a squad of men who set out on a rescue mission to find a soldier who is being sent back home.

RELATED: 10 Realistic War TV Shows To Watch If You Love Saving Private Ryan

The depictions of the WWII battles have been called some of the greatest ever seen on film. Spielberg’s grand vision and exciting storytelling elevate this movie from a typical team-on-a-mission adventure to a deeply impactful experience.

22 The Silence Of The Lambs (1991) – 8.6

  • Available to stream on Prime Video and DIRECTV

Sometimes audiences want to experience a story that puts them on the edge of their seats for their entire movie. The Silence of the Lambs delivers just such an experience as it stars Jodie Foster as an FBI agent who seeks the help of serial killer Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) in order to catch a new killer.

Lecter has become one of the most iconic movie villains of all time, but he is not the only reason the movie earns such a high ranking. It is an expert thriller that fills the audience with dread yet keeps their eyes glued to the screen with a brilliant showcase of acting, writing, and directing.

21 It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) – 8.7

Everyone hugging in It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

  • Available to stream on Prime Video and Plex

As perhaps the most beloved Christmas classic of all time, It’s a Wonderful Life is a movie many fans continue to enjoy year after year. But while it is the perfect holiday viewing experience, it is a story that can touch the hearts of audiences any time of the year.

Jimmy Stewart gives a winning performance as a man who finds himself in a desperate place on Christmas eve and is given the gift of seeing just what his life means to the people around him. It is a funny, charming, and emotional story that stands the test of time.

20 Se7en (1995) – 8.6

David and William standing in a field in Se7en.

  • Available to stream on HBO Max and Pluto TV

David Fincher cemented himself in Hollywood with the gripping serial killer movie Se7en. It is a film that has a premise terrifying enough to creep audiences out. However, viewers were not ready for the intensity and shocking story that was in store for them.

Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman star as two homicide detectives on the trail of a killer who murders his victims based on the Seven Deadly Sins. It is an atmospheric and haunting crime procedural with one of the most shocking endings in Hollywood history.

19 Seven Samurai (1954) – 8.6

Samurai shot looking up from ground level in Seven Samurai.

  • Available to stream on HBO Max and Criterion Channel

It cannot be understated just how widely Akira Kurosawa has influenced Hollywood filmmakers and his movie Seven Samurai is likely the most influential of all. The movie has not only been remade into Western movies like The Magnificent Seven, but the filmmaking style also has seen plenty of homages.

RELATED: The 10 Best Movies Of All Time, According To Letterboxd

The adventure story follows a group of masterless samurai who are hired by poor farmers to help protect their village from bandits. It is truly one of the best action movies of all time and remains a wild ride decades later.

18 One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest (1975) – 8.6

McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

  • Available to stream on HBO Max

Jack Nicholson delivered one of his best performances in the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. He plays a criminal who fakes a mental illness in order to go to a psychiatric hospital rather than prison. There, he becomes the leader of the eccentric group of patients and challenges the sadistic head nurse.

The movie is a terrific blend of comedy and drama with Nicholson doing his best devilishly charming performance. The result is a complex and unforgettable story.

17 Goodfellas (1990) – 8.6

  • Available to stream on HBO Max and Peacock Premium

Martin Scorsese has made a number of gangster movies throughout his career, but many see Goodfellas as his masterpiece. It tells the true story of Henry Hill who became a major player inside a lucrative and dangerous mob family.

Scorsese’s brilliance in telling this story is in how he draws the audience in with the intoxicating nature of this exciting and lavish world before shocking them with the violence and ugliness. It also features one of the most unsettling movie villains of all time – Tommy DeVito, played by Joe Pesci.

16 The Matrix (1999) – 8.7

  • Available to stream on Hulu and HBO Max

With fans eagerly awaiting The Matrix: Resurrections, many will no doubt be revisiting the first movie which remains one of the most groundbreaking movies of the 1990s. From the inventive action to the thought-provoking story, The Matrix is a mind-bending genre masterpiece.

Keanu Reeves stars as Neo, a bored office worker who is exposed to a shocking reality about the world he lives in and begins his quest to become the savior of humanity. Even more than two decades later, it has aged extremely well for an action movie.

15 Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – 8.7

Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back

  • Available to stream on Disney+

It’s perhaps shocking to some fans that no Star Wars film broke into the top ten. What is less surprising is that The Empire Strikes Back is the highest-rated film in the franchise. The story set in a galaxy far, far away told a much darker and more complex story this time around.

The story finds the heroes separated with Darth Vader closing in on them. With interesting growth for the returning characters and some iconic new ones turning up, this film truly showcased how much sequels can further a story.

14 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) – 8.7

Frodo and Sam looking at the Black Gates in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

  • Available to stream on HBO Max

Seeing as The Two Towers is the lowest-rated movie in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s quite apparent this series is beloved. The second film saw the fellowship divided as they attempted to defeat Sauron’s forces of evil.

The film is another grand fantasy epic with two standout elements, the first being the proper introduction of the character Gollum and the second being in the massive and thrilling battle sequence in the third act.

13 Inception (2010) – 8.7

  • Available to stream on HBO Max and Hulu

Christopher Nolan proved himself to be one of the most ambitious filmmakers around with his mind-bending crime film, Inception. The film follows a team of thieves with the ability to enter people’s dreams and steal their ideas. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as the team’s leader, looking to pull off one last score.

RELATED: 15 Best Action Movies Of All Time, Ranked (According To IMDb)

The inventive idea of the film is backed by Nolan’s stunning visuals. It makes for some unforgettable action sequences. It is much more than just another heist film and contains one of the most debated endings of all time.

12 Forrest Gump (1994) – 8.7

Forrest Gump talking to a woman on the bench in Forrest Gump

  • Available to stream on Starz Roku Premium Channel and Spectrum On Demand

Tom Hanks created perhaps his most iconic film character of all time with the titular character in Forrest Gump. The film follows the many misadventures of a simple yet kind man as he inadvertently inserts himself into many of the biggest moments in American history.

Hanks gives a wonderful performance, infusing this character with enough charm and heart to save him from seeming cartoonish. It is a funny, touching, and entertaining film that remains a crowd-pleasing adventure all these years later.

11 Fight Club (1999) – 8.8

Shirtless Tyler Durden looking down at something in Fight Club

  • Available to stream on Prime Video

David Fincher remains one of the most talented filmmakers working today. His projects are often dark, but always compelling thanks to his own perfectionist approach and unique visual style. Fight Club stands as his most popular project and one of the most exciting films of the 1990s.

Brad Pitt creates an iconic character with Tyler Durden, a mysterious philosopher who leads Edward Norton’s mild-mannered protagonist to create an underground fighting community. The dark humor, brutal violence, and warped philosophies make it a thrilling watch and the twist ending makes fans want to rewatch the movie again and again.

10 The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Rings (2001) – 8.8

The Fellowship in The Lord of the Rings: The Followship of the Ring

  • Available to stream on HBO Max

Peter Jackson’s hugely popular fantasy trilogy kicked off with The Fellowship of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien’s books were brought to life as fans were transported to Middle Earth where Frodo Baggins and a band of heroes set out to destroy the powerful One Ring before Sauron can use it for evil.

The film wonderfully introduces this beautiful world and its characters. The simple yet thrilling quest is filled with fun, terror, and action. It’s not hard to see why fans were immediately drawn to this franchise.

9 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) – 8.8

Clint Eastwood in The Good The Bad And The Ugly

  • Available to stream on Peacock Premium, DIRECTV, and TCM

The so-called Spaghetti Westerns changed Westerns forever with unique styles of filmmaking that were unlike anything audiences had seen before. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the definitive entry in that subgenre.

The film follows three deadly men on a quest to retrieve buried treasure in the midst of the Civil War. The movie helped popularize the Mexican Standoff trend which is still used in action movies today, made a star of Clint Eastwood, and gave movie fans one of the most iconic film scores of all time.

8 Pulp Fiction (1994) – 8.9

Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction

  • Available to stream on Pluto TV

Quentin Tarantino is one of the most popular filmmakers of all time. His unique voice, extensive film knowledge, and penchant for mixing hilarious comedy with brutal violence helped to inspire a generation of filmmakers. Pulp Fiction is regarded by many as his masterpiece, and it’s hard to argue with that.

RELATED: 9 Things In Pulp Fiction That Still Hold Up Today

The film intercuts between various stories set in the Los Angeles underworld. Tarantino takes familiar crime stories and gives them his own special twist. The film is unpredictable and fast-paced, with endlessly quotable dialogue all backed up by an amazing soundtrack. Often imitated but never duplicated.

7 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) – 8.9

  • Available to stream on HBO Max

Few people thought adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic Lord of the Rings series for the big screen would be possible, but Peter Jackson proved them all wrong. With The Return of the King, Jackson managed to conclude one of the greatest film trilogies of all time in a truly satisfying way.

The film brings the quest to destroy the One Ring to a big end. While the film gets ridiculed for dragging out its finale, Jackson and his team did a beautiful job bringing it all to a close in this emotional spectacle that features some truly amazing battle sequences.

6 Schindler’s List (1993) – 8.9

Schindler's List the girl in red

  • Available to stream on Fubo TV, Showtime, DIRECTV, and Spectrum On Demand

Steven Spielberg is known for creating a number of the best movies of all time. However, it is his most difficult movie to watch which ranks the highest, which is appropriate as it is one of his finest jobs as a director.

Schindler’s List is a harrowing story of the real-life tale of Oskar Schindler and his attempts to save Jewish citizens during the Nazi rule in Germany. While Schindler may be an inspiring hero, the film is most effective as a horrific depiction of the Holocaust. Shot in haunting black and white, Spielberg created a film that will last in the minds of viewers for years to come.

5 12 Angry Men (1957) – 8.9

12 Angry Men Cast

  • Available to rent on Apple iTunes

Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men is a smaller scale movie, however, that does nothing to lessen its impact. The film is set almost entirely inside a juror’s room as the twelve men debate a murder case they have just overseen. With one voice insisting the accused is innocent, the film details the life-or-death debate which ensues.

While the setting might seem dull, it only helps to give the movie a sense of intensity. The filmmaking brilliantly makes the room seem more and more confined as the debate rages on. The claustrophobic feel adds to the atmosphere of it all. It’s stunning proof that small-scale films can pack a big punch.

4 The Dark Knight (2008) – 9.0

Heath Ledger's Joker Behind Bars in The Dark Knight

  • Available to stream on HBO Max

The superhero genre might not get a lot of respect from most cinephiles, but Christopher Nolan’s second Batman film proved they can deliver smart, epic, and thrilling movies.

The Dark Knight details Batman’s desperate attempt to stop Joker from destroying Gotham as he searches for someone to take up the role of the city’s protector. The film feels like a crime epic, with some amazing set pieces and unpredictable twists. However, the film is most remembered for the late Heath Leger’s mesmerizing performance as the anarchist Joker.

3 The Godfather: Part II (1974) – 9.0

Godfather Robert De Niro Sonny Corleone Audition

  • Available to stream on Showtime Roku Premium Channel and Spectrum On Demand

It probably seemed like a preposterous idea at the time for Francis Ford Coppola to make a follow-up to his widely acclaimed crime saga, but The Godfather: Part II proved it was a very good idea.

RELATED: The 10 Best Prequel Movies Of All Time, Ranked According To IMDb

Without Marlon Brando returning for his iconic role, the film tells the story of young Vito Corleone, played by Robert De Niro who makes the role his own. Along with those amazing flashback scenes, the sequel follows Michael’s further descent into the world of crime and his complicated relationship with his brother Fredo. A brilliant continuation and a masterpiece in its own right.

2 The Godfather (1972) – 9.2

Al Martino as Johnny Fontane and Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather

  • Available to stream on Spectrum On Demand

The Godfather: Part II is one of the most acclaimed films of all time and still it’s not the highest-ranked film in that trilogy. That honor goes to the original. There’s a lot of debate among film fans about which is the better movie, but it’s safe to say they are both massive achievements in cinema.

This is the story of the Corleone family, an Italian-American mafia family who struggle with maintaining power after their patriarch is nearly assassinated. The film is violent, funny, intense, emotional and so much more. There are countless quotable lines and unforgettable sequences. It’s no wonder it is regarded as such an inspiring film to so many of today’s best filmmakers.

1 The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – 9.3

Red and Andy watch a movie together in The Shawshank Redemption

  • Available to stream on HBO Max

It’s no surprise that the highest-ranked film of all time is also one of the most crowd-pleasing films of all time. It can be easy to assume that a story set inside a maximum-security prison would not have many pleasing moments, but The Shawshank Redemption manages to be a surprisingly uplifting tale.

Based on a Stephen King story, the film is told over several years at the titular prison and centers on a friendship between two inmates. The relationship between the two men is one of the most heart-warming friendships ever shown on screen and it helps give the film those beautiful moments which lead up to one of the greatest endings in film history.

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About The Author Colin McCormick (1985 Articles Published)

Colin McCormick is a Senior Writer with Screen Rant and has been a proud member of the team since 2019. In addition to his work as Screen Rant, Colin is also a writer of News, Feature and Review pieces at Game Rant. Colin has had a long passion and obsession with movies going back to the first time he saw The Lion King in theaters. Along with movies, Colin stays up-to-date on the latest must-see TV shows. While he loves to find interesting projects in any kind of genre, he has a special movie of crime stories that are infused with a little dark humor much like the work of his favorite author, Elmore Leonard.

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