I have to admit. 2018 has not been a great year for my writing. Whilst I’ve consumed a lot of media throughout the year, I haven’t written a great deal. But for 2019, this will change. I am going to watch and write about the top 100 movies of all-time, because what better way to get back into writing, than to write about the thing I love the most?
I have always been an avid movie buff. I consider myself fairly well-rounded. In the early 2000s, I was certain movies were my future. In fact, I was accepted to film school at university, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to attend. Still, my love of movies has never faultered, and I am so grateful that I grew up with a film buff for a father – the man who showed me Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and Citizen Kane before I was even 10.
Back then, AFI came out with a list of the 100 Top Movies of All-Time, but that list is far too dated to use now. So many great movies have come out in the past two decades. So my first task was to find the right Top 100 Movies list to use, and a quick Google search showed me far more than I had expected. There were possibly too many options, and the more I looked at each list, the more incomplete each seemed. Some lists had Captain America: Civil War in the list, which seems crazy to me, but then great movies like 2001:A Space Odyssey were completely removed. I could never quite feel right if the list I used was wrong. So early on in my quest, I decided I was going to do something different.
I’m going to admit something now, which might make me seem like a super nerd and I’m totally okay with that, but I love analyzing data. I love taking information and finding patterns, so I thought, what if I combined ten of the best lists I could find and ranked the movies based on overall placement across those lists? Sounds simple enough, until I realized that no matter how I ranked, the movies I really want on the list won’t be there, like LA Confidential. It is by far one of my favorite movies, but it didn’t end up making the cut thanks to my “algorithm.”
I took all 10 lists and placed them into a spreadsheet. I combined the lists together to get a complete list of 400+ movies, and removed any that appeared in only one list. That left me with 201 movies to rank. Then the fun began.
But first, I’m going to talk about which lists I used.
There were six publications, one IMDb user list, and three aggragate sites. I have given more weight to the first seven, as aggragate sites are not great, which I’ll get into more below.
- Hollywood’s 100 Favorite Films – Hollywood Reporter
This list was collated by industry professionals via THR. This list was among the better that I found, but still a few were missing that made it feel incomplete, like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
- The Top 100 “Must-Watch” Movies of All Time That You Won’t Regret Watching – Sinemia
This list was ranked by scores on Sinemia and IMDb rankings. There are some fantastic movies on this list that do not appear on any other, like Das Boot, Oldboy, and Grave of the Fireflies. But that means some movies, like Wizard of Oz, Jaws, and Gone with the Wind was not on it.
- The 100 best movies of all time as chosen by actors – TimeOut
As the title suggests, these were ranked by actors as the best movies for their performances. Some fantastic entries appeared on this list, like Being There, the fabulous dark comedy/political satire starring Peter Sellers. This list might be one I revisit in the future, because I loved the hidden gems. It just didn’t meet the brief for top 100 of all time.
- The 100 Greatest Movies – Empire Online
This list was ranked by readers of Empire.
- The Best Movies of All Time – Ranker
Ranked by movie experts and film fans alike on Ranker.
- The 100 Best Films of All time: The Ultimate List – Newsweek
This list was ranked based on Metacritic, Rotten Tomatoes ratings, and IMDb user scores. It’s
- Top 100 Greatest Movies of All Time (The Ultimate List) – IMDb user ChrisWalczyk55
To quote his list, “The movies on this list are ranked according to their success (awards & nominations), their popularity, and their cinematic greatness from a directing/writing perspective.”
- Top Rated Movies on IMDb
- Top 100 Movies of All Time on Rotten Tomatoes
- Best Movies of All Time on Metacritic
The last three come from aggragate sites, and even some of the other lists above are generated by them. While I see value in these and the overall usefulness they provide when new movies are released, the ratings can be manipulated. Hardcore fans tend to use multiple accounts to generate higher scores. Additionally, critics in the past were less likely to provide higher ratings to movies than they do now, or completely miss the movie altogether, such as in the case of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Take the Rotten Tomatoes list. Over 20 of the Top 100 Movies of All-Time are from 2015 and beyond. I’ll admit that there have been some good movies in the last couple of years, but included in that is Baby Driver (a movie by Edgar Wright, who has a large and rabbid fan-base), Spider-man: Homecoming, and Finding Dory. Missing from that list are Pulp Fiction, Schindler’s List, and The Godfather Part II. I’m not even lying. These movies are far superior that the formers, yet they don’t even get a look in.
So once I collected all my data together, I decided that the easiest way to score the movies was to give weight to the movies that had the highest ranks, their average ranking (across the first seven lists), and the number of times they appeared on a list.
The scoring is as such:
- Total List Points: Total List Appearances (Column M) x Total number of appearances in the top 7.
- Avg Rank Points: Average Rank of all 201 movies based on their Average Rank in Column N
- Top 5 Points: Column P x 5
- Top 10 Points: Column Q x 4
- Top 25 Points: Column R x 3
- Top 50 Points: Column S x 2
- Top 100 Points: Total List Appearances from 51-100
Total Score was Column T x Sum of Columns U to Z.
I did try this a few different ways, but I ended up having movies like Three Colours: Red (which appears once in Newsweek and once in Metacritic) in the top 100, while Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (which appears in three lists and the IMDb list as well) missed out. I had to figure out the best way to give the movies that landed on multiple lists, while still giving focus to movies that were in the top 10 and top 5, as that is a mean feat.
It’s not a perfect system. Movies like Inglorious Basterds, which was on 4 lists, but had an average rank of 73 across those, didn’t make the cut. Additionally, all lists are very Western-focused, which means there is a significant lack of diversity. Future me would love to do a top 100 foreign films list someday. Nevertheless, I’m fairly proud of the list that I’ve created. I would not call this my top 100 but rather everyone in the Western world, and what excites me, as well, is getting to revisit movies I haven’t seen in years (some I have totally forgotten) or ones I’ve never watched, for one reason or another.
More about this challenge. I will be watching each of these, even if I’ve seen them before (in some cases dozens of times). My plan is to watch two movies per week, with a post about each on Sunday and Friday, if possible. Some weeks, I may do more, as I know there will be some times when I might fall behind, due to work commitments, etc. I will be watching the movies at random, unless they are part of a series, and then I will watch them in order of their series (a la Star Wars, Lord of the Rings). Lastly, I will be making my best attempt to find these movies on Australian streaming services Netflix and Stan, Apple, or on Blu-Ray, DVD. I recently learned that when format changes occur, ie VHS to DVD, DVD to Blu-Ray, a percentage of movies never make the shift. Australian distribution rights are another issue. I’m hoping that none of this will affect me, since these are universally recognized as great movies, but if I exhaust all of the above, then I may have to just skip it.
And finally, here is the list:
- The Godfather
- Citizen Kane
- Pulp Fiction
- Schindler’s List
- The Godfather Part II
- Apocalypse Now
- Star Wars: A New Hope
- 12 Angry Men
- Taxi Driver
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
- Singin’ in the Rain
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
- It’s a Wonderful Life
- Rear Window
- The Shawshank Redemption
- Lawrence of Arabia
- The Wizard of Oz
- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
- Saving Private Ryan
- Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- The Silence of the Lambs
- Dr Strangelove
- Back to the Future
- The Dark Knight
- The Shining
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
- Gone with the Wind
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Some Like It Hot
- A Clockwork Orange
- Fight Club
- The Matrix
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- Forrest Gump
- Toy Story
- T. the Extra-Terrestrial
- The Usual Suspects
- American Beauty
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
- Seven Samurai
- North by Northwest
- Raging Bull
- All About Eve
- Jurassic Park
- Blade Runner
- Annie Hall
- Sunset Boulevard
- Spirited Away
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day
- The Philadelphia Story
- On the Waterfront
- Leon: The Professional
- A Streetcar Named Desire
- The Departed
- The Lion King
- Modern Times
- The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
- Rosemary’s Baby
- The Green Mile
- The Big Lebowski
- The Third Man
- The Sound of Music
- Die Hard
- Reservoir Dogs
- The Princess Bride
- Life is Beautiful
- Cinema Paradiso
- Pan’s Labyrinth
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- There Will Be Blood
- Once Upon a Time in the West
- The Grapes of Wrath
- Good Will Hunting
- Double Indemnity
- The Maltese Falcon
- Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
- The Lives of Others
- American History X
- City Lights