Top 100 thrillers of all time, according to critics

June 24, 2021
Shamley Productions

Top 100 thrillers of all time, according to critics

What is a thriller exactly? Unlike the sci-fi or comedy genres, a film can fit into this corner of cinema if it manages to keep viewers on the edges of their seats with intense thrills and palpable suspense. As long as the movie is able to build tension, it’s fair game. Of course, there are plenty of subgenres within, which filmmakers use to craft excellent thrillers, from war-time stories like “The Hurt Locker” to social allegories like “Parasite” to pretty much all of Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography.

But what are the best thrillers to watch if you want to expand your moviegoing palate? To get to the bottom of that question, Stacker compiled data from Metacritic to create a ranking of the top 100 thriller films ever made, according to critics. To be considered for this list, films had to be defined by Metacritic as “thrillers,” and had to feature at least seven reviews from major critics or publications. Ties were broken internally from Metacritic.

No matter what you’re in the mood to watch, there’s a good chance something in this list will encourage you to get drawn into the often bloody, always exciting storytelling that this genre has to offer. Without further ado, here are the top 100 thriller movies of all time.

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1 / 100
NLT Productions

#100. Wake in Fright (1971)

- Director: Ted Kotcheff
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 114 minutes

Director Ted Kotcheff, known for “Weekend at Bernie’s” and “First Blood,” took on the novel by Kenneth Cook, “Wake in Fright,” a classic and haunting Australian thriller. The film follows a teacher who arrives in an outback town for what should have been one night and loses himself in alcohol and self-destruction.

2 / 100
Gaumont British Picture Corporation

#99. Sabotage (1936)

- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 76 minutes

Lightly based on Joseph Conrad’s novel “The Secret Agent,” this Hitchcock film follows a London woman, played by Sylvia Sidney, who discovers her husband, played by Oscar Homolka, is secretly an agent for a terrorist group. Quentin Tarantino later used a scene from the film in his acclaimed 2009 film “Inglourious Basterds” in order to explain his characters’ decision to use deadly nitrate film in their own plot.

3 / 100
AB Svensk Filmindustri

#98. Persona (1966)

- Director: Ingmar Bergman
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 85 minutes

This iconic Swedish film is largely considered Ingmar Bergman’s opus. It centers on young nurse Alma, played by Bibi Andersson, who cares for a renowned stage actress, played by Liv Ullmann, who has abruptly stopped speaking. After the two retreat to a remote seaside cottage, their senses of selves become increasingly blurred.

4 / 100
Amigo Media

#97. Let the Fire Burn (2013)

- Director: Jason Osder
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 88 minutes

“Let the Fire Burn” recounts the deadly 1985 standoff between Philadelphia police and the Black activist group MOVE, which resulted in a helicopter dropping a bomb on the compound as city officials stood by. Unlike many documentaries, Jason Osder’s film forgoes techniques such as talking head interviews, narration, and B-roll footage for a historical vérité effect, which Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday said “creates both intensity and intimacy, inviting viewers simply to watch and listen as a tragedy … unfolds.”

5 / 100
TriStar Pictures

#96. Baby Driver (2017)

- Director: Edgar Wright
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 112 minutes

“Shaun of the Dead” director Edgar Wright’s energetic and stylish thriller follows a young getaway driver, played by Ansel Elgort, whose love of music helps him excel in the field. Eventually, as thrillers go, his love life and a failed heist threaten the precarious equilibrium he had managed. The film was a surprise megahit, taking in $227 million on a $34 million budget. The soundtrack was also singled out, with Variety calling it “a music nerd’s dream.”

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6 / 100
Valoria Films

#95. Z (1969)

- Director: Costa-Gavras
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 127 minutes

Named after a popular Greek protest slogan, this political thriller fictionalizes the 1963 assassination of Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis. It stands as one of the only movies in Oscar history to be nominated for both best picture and best foreign-language film.

7 / 100
New Line

#94. The Player (1992)

- Director: Robert Altman
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 124 minutes

Robert Altman, known for “M.A.S.H.” and “Nashville,” casts Tim Robbins in this Hollywood satire as a studio executive on the receiving end of death threats from an anonymous screenwriter whose script he rejected. Vincent D’Onofrio, Whoopi Goldberg, Fred Ward, and Greta Scacchi appear in supporting roles, and both Altman and writer Michael Tolkin were nominated for Oscars for their respective directing and screenwriting. This film, widely considered one of Altman’s best, helped revive some of the director’s juice in Hollywood.

8 / 100
Cineplex-Odeon Films

#93. The Grifters (1990)

- Director: Stephen Frears
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 110 minutes

Stephen Frears, who also directed “Philomena” and “Dangerous Liaisons,” adapted Jim Thompson’s 1960s novel into this 1990s neo-noir thriller. “The Grifters” follows con man Roy Dillon (John Cusack) but the real stars are his estranged mother, played by Anjelica Huston, and Annette Bening, his girlfriend, whose battle for Roy and everything else animates the film. Both Huston and Bening were nominated for Oscars for their performances as was Frears for his direction.

9 / 100
Compulsion Inc.

#92. Traffic (2000)

- Director: Steven Soderbergh
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 147 minutes

Director Steven Soderbergh’s sprawling, ambitious film weaves together three different stories of drugs and class into a huge ensemble story. “Traffic” was a critical and commercial hit in 2000, taking in $207 million at the box office and winning four Academy Awards—Benicio Del Toro won for best supporting actor and Soderbergh for his direction. The ensemble cast was truly loaded: Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Don Cheadle, Dennis Quaid, and Luis Guzman, just to name a few.

10 / 100
Beijing Hairun Pictures Company

#91. Drug War (2012)

- Director: Johnnie To
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 107 minutes

“Drug War” centers on Captain Zhang, played by Sun Honglei, a police captain who partners with drug lord Timmy Choi, played by Louis Koo, in hopes of infiltrating a methamphetamine ring. However, as time goes on, Zhang questions whether Choi’s accounts can be trusted. A South Korean remake starring Cho Jin-woong was released in 2018.

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11 / 100
Warner Bros./Seven Arts

#90. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

- Director: Arthur Penn
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 112 minutes

“Bonnie and Clyde” fictionalized the bloody romance between real-life outlaws Bonnie Parker, played by Faye Dunaway, and Clyde Barrow, played by Warren Beatty. The landmark film was a rallying cry for members of the American counterculture at the time and encouraged the U.S. film rating system to be more open to depictions of violence and adult content.

12 / 100
Paramount Pictures

#89. Mission: Impossible—Fallout (2018)

- Director: Christopher McQuarrie
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 147 minutes

In the sixth installment of the “Mission Impossible” franchise, agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) teams up with CIA assassin August Walker (Henry Cavill) to prevent a terrorist group from using stolen plutonium. It’s often considered the best installment in the film series, with IndieWire critic David Ehrlich dubbing it one of the best action films ever made.

13 / 100
The Mirisch Company

#88. The Great Escape (1963)

- Director: John Sturges
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 172 minutes

“The Great Escape” centers on British prisoners of war as they escape from a Nazi Germany prisoner of war camp during World War II. It’s particularly known for its motorcycle chase sequence, which is widely considered one of the best film stunts ever.

14 / 100
Morgan Creek Entertainment

#87. Dead Ringers (1988)

- Director: David Cronenberg
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 116 minutes

In this twisted David Cronenberg tale, Jeremy Irons plays twin gynecologists who begin to mentally unravel after engaging in affairs with their patients. A forthcoming television remake on Amazon Prime stars Rachel Weisz and flips the script so the two doctors are women.

15 / 100
Screen Australia

#86. The Babadook (2014)

- Director: Jennifer Kent
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 93 minutes

In this Australian film, single mom Amelia, played by Essie Davis, and her young son Samuel, played by Noah Wiseman, become haunted by the conviction that a sinister monster from Samuel’s storybook has taken root in their home. In a Daily Beast article, writer Tim Teeman argues that the Babadook represents “the shape of grief: all-enveloping, shape-shifting, black.”

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16 / 100
Selznick International Pictures

#85. Rebecca (1940)

- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 130 minutes

While Hitchcock is one of the most celebrated filmmakers of all time, this is the only film for which he won the Oscar for Best Picture. Based on Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel, “Rebecca” follows a naive young woman played by Joan Fontaine, who marries a brooding, high-society man played by Laurence Olivier, whose late first wife casts a shadow over their marriage.

17 / 100
Columbia Pictures

#84. To Die For (1995)

- Director: Gus Van Sant
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 106 minutes

In “To Die For,” Nicole Kidman portrays local weather reporter Suzanne. She hires a teenager (Joaquin Phoenix), who is one of the subjects in a documentary she is filming, to kill her husband (Matt Dillon) in hopes of making it big in the news industry. Kidman won a Golden Globe for her darkly funny portrayal of Suzanne.

18 / 100
WingNut Films

#83. Heavenly Creatures (1994)

- Director: Peter Jackson
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 99 minutes

Based on New Zealand’s 1954 Parker-Hulme murder case, “Heavenly Creatures” recounts the close, codependent relationship between two teenage girls (Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey) which ultimately leads them to murder one’s mother. Metacritic writer Nick Hyman had this to say: “Peter Jackson’s masterful blend of fantastical visions and a heartbreaking real-life murder tragedy has arguably never been topped.”

19 / 100
Warner Bros.

#82. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

- Director: Sidney Lumet
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 125 minutes

“Dog Day Afternoon” is loosely adapted from a real Brooklyn bank robbery committed by a man desperate to pay for his partner’s gender affirmation surgery. The film was criticized when cisgender actor Chris Sarandon got an Oscar nomination for playing a transgender woman, as activists pushed for more actual trans actors to be hired in transgender roles.

20 / 100
MGM

#81. Point Blank (1967)

- Director: John Boorman
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 92 minutes

In this film noir and avant-garde-inspired drama, a man named Walker (Lee Marvin) attempts to reclaim stolen money after being double-crossed and nearly murdered. Acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh cited “Point Blank” as a major inspiration for many of his films.

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21 / 100
Cinema 77

#80. Blow Out (1981)

- Director: Brian De Palma
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 107 minutes

Soon after megahit “Saturday Night Fever” and mega whiff “Moment by Moment,” John Travolta starred in this Brian De Palma thriller about a sound engineer who unwittingly captures audio that proves a car accident was actually a murder. Travolta’s career continued to ebb and flow after this impressive, moody performance, but “Blow Out” remains one of his most critically acclaimed films.

22 / 100
DDY

#79. The Shape of Water (2017)

- Director: Guillermo del Toro
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 123 minutes

In “The Shape of Water,” a lonely janitor (Sally Hawkins) and an amphibious creature (Doug Jones) form an unlikely romance. Their love is threatened by government officials who have nefarious intentions for the creature. This Best Picture-winning film was inspired by del Toro’s recollections of wanting the relationship from “Creature From the Black Lagoon” between the monster and woman lead to work out.

23 / 100
British Lion Film Corporation

#78. The Wicker Man (1973)

- Director: Robin Hardy
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 88 minutes

This titan of folk horror opens as a policeman investigates a girl’s disappearance on a Scottish island and encounters pagan villagers whose intentions aren’t what they seem. Although this film is a horror classic, the 2006 remake starring Nicholas Cage is regarded as one of the worst movies ever made.

24 / 100
HBO Films

#77. Maria Full of Grace (2004)

- Director: Joshua Marston
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 101 minutes

Breakout actress Catalina Sandino Moreno received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal of the titular protagonist in “Maria Full of Grace,” a pregnant Colombian girl who embarks on a dangerous drug run to make ends meet. Variety critic David Rooney noted that “Marston’s strikingly confident debut maintains an unblinking focus and sustains an almost unbearable level of tension.”

25 / 100
PalmStar Media

#76. Hereditary (2018)

- Director: Ari Aster
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 127 minutes

Writer and director Ari Aster’s terrifying and haunting “Hereditary” focuses on the Graham family's dark history and frightening present as they grieve the death of the matriarch. The film stars Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, and Milly Shapiro, and has been called the scariest movie in years. The film was a box office hit—the biggest yet for indie studio A24—which means Aster was quickly signed on to make his follow-up, “Midsommar.”

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26 / 100
Zanuck/Brown Productions

#75. Jaws (1975)

- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 124 minutes

“Jaws” tells the story of a police chief, played by Roy Scheider, tasked with hunting down the killer white shark that’s killed several people in a New England beach town. It basically created the summer blockbuster as we know it, and to this day, Spielberg’s film has famously made viewers afraid to swim in the ocean.

27 / 100
Eon Productions

#74. Goldfinger (1965)

- Director: Guy Hamilton
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 110 minutes

Widely considered the definitive James Bond movie, Sean Connery’s third time as 007 is the one most remembered. “Goldfinger” is the Bond movie that first unveils the Aston Martin, the futuristic tech, and the martini order—“shaken, not stirred.” Honor Blackman plays Pussy Galore, Harold Sakata plays Oddjob, and Gert Fröbe plays the titular villain Goldfinger.

 

28 / 100
Warner Bros.

#73. The Fugitive (1993)

- Director: Andrew Davis
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 130 minutes

The remake of the popular 1960s TV series (based on a true story) stars Harrison Ford as Dr. Richard Kimble, who is wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife before escaping custody to track the killer himself. Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, who won best supporting actor for his role as U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard, were lauded for their performances. The action thriller pulled in an astronomical $369 million and garnered seven Academy Award nominations.

29 / 100
Compass International Pictures

#72. Halloween (1978)

- Director: John Carpenter
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 91 minutes

You’d be hard-pressed to find a “best of horror” list that doesn’t include “Halloween.” The premise is deceptively simple: Serial killer Michael Myers (Nick Castle) escapes from a psychiatric institution and begins terrorizing the teenagers of Haddonfield, Illinois—particularly high school student Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). The film sparked several slasher tropes, from a chilling synth score to a masked killer.

30 / 100
E-K-Corporation

#71. The Long Goodbye (1973)

- Director: Robert Altman
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 112 minutes

In one of his several collaborations with Robert Altman, Elliot Gould stars as private investigator Philip Marlowe who is investigating the murder of a friend’s wife. The movie was dedicated to a TV star of the time, “Bonanza” actor Dan Blocker, who Altman worked with on several episodes of the show.

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31 / 100
The Caddo Company

#70. Scarface (1932)

- Directors: Howard Hawks, Richard Rosson
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 93 minutes

Decades before Al Pacino starred in a bloody remake, the original “Scarface” charted the rise and fall of hard-hustling gangster Tony, played by Paul Muni in the 1932 film. It’s rumored that infamous mobster Al Capone was a fan, and even obtained his own personal copy of the movie.

32 / 100
Bunya Productions

#69. Sweet Country (2018)

- Director: Warwick Thornton
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 113 minutes

This Australian Western from director Warwick Thornton tells the story of a lower-class aboriginal laborer who kills a white man in self-defense in the 1920s Australian frontier. “Sweet Country” follows him as he sets out on the run to dodge retribution from a bloodthirsty posse. The film was heavily awarded at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, where it won Best Film and five other honors.

33 / 100
Pandora Cinema

#68. Donnie Darko: The Director’s Cut (2004)

- Director: Richard Kelly
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 113 minutes

“Donnie Darko” follows a brooding teenager, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who narrowly avoids death, only to have visions of a giant rabbit telling him the world will end in 28 days. The director’s cut made several changes to the original film, such as including the song “Never Tear Us Apart” and making the explanation behind the film’s mind-bending story more explicit.

34 / 100
London Film Productions

#67. The Fallen Idol (1948)

- Director: Carol Reed
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 95 minutes

Based on a short story from author Graham Greene, Carol Reed’s “The Fallen Idol” is about a butler accused of murdering his wife and a diplomat’s son who struggles to be heard in his defense. The British thriller is tense throughout, and both director Reed and screenwriter Greene were nominated for Academy Awards.

35 / 100
Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer Studios

#66. Thelma and Louise (1991)

- Director: Ridley Scott
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 130 minutes

This Ridley Scott on-the-run thriller tells the story of two women (Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis) who set out for a vacation. When Louise kills a man who assaults Thelma, the road trip turns into a police chase. Sarandon, Davis, and Scott were all nominated for Academy Awards; screenwriter Callie Khouri won the Oscar. Brad Pitt plays the charismatic grifter J.D. in his breakout role, which almost went to another handsome young man of Hollywood at the time—Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo were also considered.

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36 / 100
Warner Bros.

#65. Strangers on a Train (1951)

- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 101 minutes

Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith, this Alfred Hitchcock classic follows Bruno Antony (Robert Walker) as he tries to convince and then coerce tennis player Guy Haines (Farley Granger) to commit the perfect double murder. Robert Burks was nominated for best cinematography for his work on the film.

37 / 100
Walter Wanger Productions

#64. Foreign Correspondent (1940)

- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 120 minutes

In “Foreign Correspondent,” American journalist John (Joel McCrea) attempts to expose British enemy spies who are involved in a global conspiracy shortly before World War II. “Foreign Correspondent” was one of two Hitchcock films nominated for best picture at the 1940 Academy Awards, alongside “Rebecca.”

38 / 100
Stanley Kramer Productions

#63. High Noon (1952)

- Director: Fred Zinnemann
- Metascore: 89
- Runtime: 85 minutes

This classic Western by Fred Zinnemann, who also directed “A Man for All Seasons,” pits a marshall (Gary Cooper) against an entire band of outlaws who threaten a town in the West. Grace Kelly plays Cooper’s newlywed wife, who pleads with him not to so senselessly risk his life. Cooper won Best Actor for his portrayal; John Wayne accepted the award in his stead.

39 / 100
Brandywine Productions

#62. Alien (1979)

- Director: Ridley Scott
- Metascore: 89
- Runtime: 117 minutes

This Ridley Scott masterpiece has one of the most iconic thriller taglines out there: “In space, no one can hear you scream.” The film follows Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and her fellow crew members on a commercial spaceship as they struggle to survive when a dangerous alien life form comes aboard.

40 / 100
Rizzoli Films

#61. Deep Red (1976)

- Director: Dario Argento
- Metascore: 89
- Runtime: 126 minutes

Italian horror legend Dario Argento directed this unsettling thriller about a pianist (David Hemmings) who works with a journalist (Daria Nicolodi) to solve the murder of a psychic (Macha Méril). Argento followed “Deep Red” up with “Suspiria,” which was remade in 2018 by Luca Guadagnino, who also directed “Call Me By Your Name.”

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41 / 100
SBS Productions

#60. Elle (2016)

- Director: Paul Verhoeven
- Metascore: 89
- Runtime: 130 minutes

Paul Verhoeven’s film tells the story of Michèle (Isabelle Huppert), a powerhouse businesswoman who becomes consumed with tracking down the man who assaulted her in her home. Huppert was nominated for Best Actress for her portrayal of Michèle; she won the Golden Globe that year.

42 / 100
Jar Pictures

#59. Gangs of Wasseypur (2015)

- Director: Anurag Kashyap
- Metascore: 89
- Runtime: 319 minutes

This sweeping Indian epic two-parter covers the history of violence and vengeance among three crime families that run a region of India from the 1940s to present day. The film ran an incredible 5 hours and 21 minutes when it screened at Cannes, but was split into two parts for its run in Indian theaters. Before the release of the thriller, director Anurag Kashyap was best known for his controversial film “Black Friday” that told the story of the 1993 bombings in Mumbai.

43 / 100
CKK

#58. Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

- Director: John Carpenter
- Metascore: 89
- Runtime: 91 minutes

After the police raid a street gang, the gang members band together and decide to take over a Los Angeles police department precinct. The station, meant to be shut down, is lightly staffed and must be defended by a highway patrolman (Austin Stoker), a couple of secretaries (Laurie Zimmer and Nancy Loomis), and a few criminals. This was the second film directed by John Carpenter; his “subtle genius” was already obvious.

44 / 100
Wiedemann & Berg Filmproduktion

#57. The Lives of Others (2006)

- Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
- Metascore: 89
- Runtime: 137 minutes

Set in East Berlin in 1984, “The Lives of Others” follows a secret police agent (Ulrich Mühe) as he monitors and becomes consumed by the lives of a playwright and his partner. This was the debut film by German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck; it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. The promising director followed it up with the Hollywood blockbuster “The Tourist,” which Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers hoped to banish to “the bottom of the 2010 dung heap.”

45 / 100
Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer

#56. The Passenger (1975)

- Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 126 minutes

This thriller stars Jack Nicholson as a journalist who assumes the life of a slain gunrunner in order to gain inside access to an African war for a documentary. “The Passenger” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1975. Nicholson was paired with Maria Schneider, who played the mysterious woman he falls for in the film.

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46 / 100
Columbia Pictures Corporation

#55. American Hustle (2013)

- Director: David O. Russell
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 138 minutes

Director David O. Russell followed up “I Heart Huckabees,” “The Fighter,” and “Silver Linings Playbook” with a period thriller starring Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Bradley Cooper. “American Hustle” is a fast-paced scam story about feds and small-time crooks who deliver laughs and excitement. Though no winners emerge, the film was nominated for 10 Oscars, including nominations for Bale, Adams, Lawrence, and Cooper. Russell followed “American Hustle” up with the critical dud “Joy.”

47 / 100
Champs-Élysées Productions

#54. Eyes Without a Face (1960)

- Director: Georges Franju
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 88 minutes

Based on Jean Redon's novel, “Eyes Without a Face” is a horror thriller about a plastic surgeon who becomes consumed with giving his disfigured daughter a face transplant after an accident. Director Georges Franju is a legend of French cinema, and followed this film up with “Therese,” “Judex,” and “Thomas the Impostor.”

48 / 100
Warner Bros. Pictures

#53. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

- Director: George Miller
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 120 minutes

The first “Mad Max” arrived in 1979, an Australian apocalyptic action thriller that made a name for Mel Gibson. The 2015 revival of the franchise, which had been dormant for three decades, was a critical and box office smash hit. Director George Miller’s film made $379 million at the box office and won six Academy Awards. As Christopher Orr wrote in The Atlantic, the film “is an A-plus B-movie, an action flick so vivid and visceral, so striking in conception and extraordinary in execution, that it comes almost as a revelation.”

49 / 100
The Malpaso Company

#52. Dirty Harry (1971)

- Director: Don Siegel
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 102 minutes

Don Siegel’s 1970s thriller features a psycho-killer terrorizing San Francisco and a cop on his tail. But what makes the film legendary is the man holding the .44 Magnum revolver—Clint Eastwood as the titular Dirty Harry. Film critic Emanuel Levy said “Dirty Harry” changed the public’s perception of Eastwood, of vigilante justice, and of San Francisco in general.

50 / 100
Gamechanger Films

#51. The Tale (2018)

- Director: Jennifer Fox
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 114 minutes

The debut feature from writer and director Jennifer Fox focuses on a documentarian, played by Laura Dern, working through a past trauma. After reading a story she wrote in middle school, she begins to wrestle with her past relationships with a track coach, played by Jason Ritter, and a riding instructor, played by Elizabeth Debicki. “The Tale” is based on Fox’s own life and premiered on HBO in 2018. Dern was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance.

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51 / 100
Warner Bros.

#50. To Have and Have Not (1944)

- Director: Howard Hawks
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 100 minutes

Howard Hawks supposedly got his friend Ernest Hemingway's permission to make “To Have and Have Not” after saying he could take Hemingway's worst book and turn it into a great film. In the movie, a weary fisherman named Harry (Humphrey Bogart) and a young American vagabond named Marie (Lauren Bacall) have their romance thrown into question by the French people of Vichy’s heightening resistance movement. When he saw the film, Hemingway was reportedly enraged at how far the film strayed from the novel.

52 / 100
Warner Bros. Entertainment

#49. L.A. Confidential (1997)

- Director: Curtis Hanson
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 138 minutes

Based on the novel by James Elroy, this stylized noir thriller follows three very different cops—Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, and Guy Pearce—chasing down a string of murders in 1950s Los Angeles. Kim Basinger won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress; the film was nominated for eight other awards and won for Best Adapted Screenplay.

53 / 100
Paramount Pictures

#48. The Godfather: Part II (1974)

- Director: Francis Ford Coppola
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 200 minutes

The sequel to Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” managed to match, or even eclipse, the Academy Award-winning original. Incredibly, the sequel also won Best Picture. "The Godfather: Part II" features Al Pacino as Michael Corleone and weaves the move of the family business to Vegas with the story of the rise of the father Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro), who would eventually become Don Corleone (played by Marlon Brando in the first film). De Niro won Best Supporting Actor among the 11 nominations the film garnered at the 1975 Academy Awards.

54 / 100
Anonymous Content

#47. Winter’s Bone (2010)

- Director: Debra Granik
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 100 minutes

Based on the book by Daniel Woodrell, “Winter’s Bone” follows Ree, a tough-as-nails Ozark girl, on her search for her drug-dealing father. This film launched the career of Jennifer Lawrence, who was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Ree. She went on to win her first Oscar two years later for “Silver Linings Playbook.” Lawrence starred as a similarly stalwart outdoorswoman in “The Hunger Games.”

55 / 100
Palace Pictures

#46. The Crying Game (1992)

- Director: Neil Jordan
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 112 minutes

Writer and director Neil Jordan’s story about a British soldier, played by Forest Whitaker, kidnapped by IRA rebels comes to focus on the unlikely friendship between Whitaker and one of his captors, played by Stephen Rea. “The Crying Game” is best remembered for its twist at the end. Jordan won the best original screenplay award at the Academy Awards and followed the film up with “Michael Collins,” which starred Liam Neeson and also garnered Oscar nominations.

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56 / 100
Warner Bros.

#45. After Hours (1985)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 97 minutes

"After Hours" follows a yuppie (Griffin Dunne) who agrees to meet a beautiful woman (Rosanna Arquette) at a bar in Manhattan and has a nightmarish night. Martin Scorsese is thought of as a master of a certain type of film; critics maintain that “After Hours” proves he can be great in any genre.

57 / 100
Paramount Vantage

#44. No Country for Old Men (2007)

- Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
- Metascore: 91
- Runtime: 122 minutes

For this Cormac McCarthy adaptation, the Coen brothers stuck to the source material, creating what’s widely considered one of the great modern Westerns. “No Country for Old Men” focuses on a welder (Josh Brolin) who happens upon a drug deal gone wrong and finds himself in possession of nearly $2 million. Javier Bardem plays a terrifying killer on his trail, and Tommy Lee Jones plays a sheriff doing his best against the evil of the world. Bardem won Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal, while the Coens won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay for their work on the film.

 

58 / 100
A24

#43. Uncut Gems (2019)

- Directors: Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie
- Metascore: 91
- Runtime: 135 minutes

In this chaotically exhilarating modern classic, Adam Sandler plays a New York jeweler named Howie whose gambling gets him into trouble with gangsters and jewel collectors. Sandler won the 2020 Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead, and many critics named “Uncut Gems” as the peak performance of Sandler's career.

59 / 100
Compton Film

#42. Repulsion (1965)

- Director: Roman Polanski
- Metascore: 91
- Runtime: 105 minutes

This claustrophobic thriller from the controversial Roman Polanski follows a pair of sisters trying their best to share a small apartment. Eventually, the younger sister (Catherine Deneuve) deteriorates mentally, repulsed by the boyfriend of her sister (Yvonne Furneaux) and men in general. The film has been hailed as a “chilling tale of psychosis,” managing to make the apartment close in on the viewer as it does on the protagonist.

60 / 100
Comacico

#41. Le Cercle Rouge (1970)

- Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
- Metascore: 91
- Runtime: 140 minutes

In this iconic French heist film, a prison convict (Gian Maria Volonté), skilled thief (Alain Delon), and alcoholic ex-policeman (Yves Montand) team up for a high-stakes robbery. The Criterion Collection notes that the film “combines honorable antiheroes, coolly atmospheric cinematography, and breathtaking set pieces to create a masterpiece of crime cinema.”

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61 / 100
Laokoon Filmgroup

#40. Son of Saul (2015)

- Director: László Nemes
- Metascore: 91
- Runtime: 107 minutes

The Hungarian film by director László Nemes tells the tragic story of Saul Auslander (Géza Röhrig), a prisoner at Auschwitz tasked with burning corpses, who sets off to find a rabbi to bury the body of a child who may have been his son. Nemes’ debut feature is powerful and devastating; it won Best Foreign Language film at the Academy Awards.

62 / 100
Harris-Kubrick Productions

#39. The Killing (1956)

- Director: Stanley Kubrick
- Metascore: 91
- Runtime: 84 minutes

In this crime drama, notorious criminal Johnny (Sterling Hayden) organizes an intricate racetrack heist, which he plans to pull off with the help of five amateur thieves, although only he knows all the details. If “The Killing” reminds you of “Reservoir Dogs,” that’s not a coincidence—Quentin Tarantino has cited it as a major inspiration for the film.

63 / 100
13 Productions

#38. Werckmeister Harmonies (2001)

- Directors: Ágnes Hranitzky, Béla Tarr
- Metascore: 92
- Runtime: 145 minutes

This Hungarian thriller, based on the novel by László Krasznahorkai, tells the story of a town that descends into mayhem after the arrival of a circus, a gigantic whale, and a strange man who can inflame violence with his impassioned speeches. One of the film’s directors, Béla Tarr, is considered one of the great Hungarian filmmakers, though as Roger Ebert wrote, he is “more talked about than viewed” because of the length and artistry of his films.

 

64 / 100
Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions

#37. Frenzy (1972)

- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- Metascore: 92
- Runtime: 116 minutes

Toward the beginning of “Frenzy,” London ex-soldier Richard Blaney (Jon Finch) becomes a suspected serial killer after his ex-wife (Barbara Leigh-Hunt) becomes the criminal’s latest victim. Unbeknownst to Richard, the culprit may actually be his seemingly ordinary best friend Bob (Barry Foster).

65 / 100
Paramount Pictures

#36. Chinatown (1974)

- Director: Roman Polanski
- Metascore: 92
- Runtime: 130 minutes

This masterpiece by Roman Polanski is one of the great Los Angeles films quite possibly the greatest film ever made about water rights. “Chinatown” stars Jack Nicholson as a private investigator and Faye Dunaway as the femme fatale who hires him for a job that sends him straight to the center of a conspiracy. The film was nominated for 11 Oscars and Robert Towne won Best Original Screenplay for his script.

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66 / 100
Participant Media

#35. Spotlight (2015)

- Director: Thomas McCarthy
- Metascore: 93
- Runtime: 128 minutes

Based on The Boston Globe’s real-life investigation into sexual abuse and coverups by the Catholic Church, director Thomas McCarthy’s “Spotlight” is considered one of the great newspaper thrillers. The film had an incredible cast, anchored by Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, and Michael Keaton. Like “All the President’s Men,” the movie builds tension while showing the viewer how the sausage of a great exposé is made.

67 / 100
Paramount Vantage

#34. There Will Be Blood (2007)

- Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
- Metascore: 93
- Runtime: 158 minutes

Incredibly, both “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood” were shot near the town of Marfa in West Texas at the same time. The two movies went head-to-head for numerous Academy Awards that year, with “No Country” winning Best Picture and Daniel Day-Lewis of “There Will Be Blood” winning best actor. The latter film tells the story of a prospector, played by Day-Lewis, and a preacher, played by Paul Dano, fighting for the hearts and minds of a rural oil town at the turn of the century.

68 / 100
Gaumont British Picture Corporation

#33. The 39 Steps (1935)

- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- Metascore: 93
- Runtime: 86 minutes

In “The 39 Steps,” a Canadian man named Richard (Robert Donat) takes a trip to London that goes sideways when he accidentally gets involved with stopping a spy organization from stealing British intelligence. While the film might not be the first Hitchcock film that pops in your mind when you think of the auteur, it has staying power—writer Robert Towne once claimed that “it’s not much of an exaggeration to say that all contemporary escapist entertainment begins with ‘The 39 Steps.’”

69 / 100
Nouvelles Éditions de Films

#32. Elevator to the Gallows (1961)

- Director: Louis Malle
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 92 minutes

Based on the novel by Noël Calef, French director Louis Malle’s “Elevator to the Gallows” tells the story of a man (Maurice Ronet) who kills his boss, who is also the husband of his lover (Jeanne Moreau). As expected, things go wrong and trouble ensues. Malle went on to direct American films such as “Atlantic City” and “My Dinner with Andre.”

70 / 100
Silver Screen Collection // Getty Images

#31. The French Connection (1971)

- Director: William Friedkin
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 104 minutes

Based on a book by Robin Moore, director William Friedkin’s “The French Connection”  features one of the most famous car chase scenes in movie history. The film tells the story of two New York police department narcotics officers who discover a massive drug smuggling plot. The film won five Oscars in total, including a Best Actor nod for Gene Hackman and Best Picture.

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71 / 100
Film en Stock

#30. Carlos (2010)

- Director: Olivier Assayas
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 325 minutes

This three-episode miniseries fictionalizes the true story of Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, a Venezuelan revolutionary and head of a terrorist organization that took hostages at an OPEC meeting in 1975. Édgar Ramírez stars as Sánchez, who also goes by Carlos, and won a Golden Globe for his performance. The series as a whole won the Best Miniseries or Made for TV Movie at the Golden Globes, as well.

72 / 100
Universal Pictures

#29. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 108 minutes

Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense thriller “Shadow of a Doubt” concerns a handsome, charming uncle who may not be who he seems. Joseph Cotton stars as the mysterious uncle, while Teresa Wright shines as the young niece trying to figure him out. The film was Hitchcock’s personal favorite.

 

73 / 100
Tribeca Productions

#28. The Irishman (2019)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 209 minutes

Scorsese’s “Irishman” has all the hallmarks of his greatest works, from a starring turn from Robert De Niro to compelling mobster drama. Clocking in at three and a half hours long, the film follows truck driver-turned-hitman Frank Sheeran (De Niro) across several decades of his life, employing special de-aging technology along the way.

74 / 100
Miramax

#27. Pulp Fiction (1994)

- Director: Quentin Tarantino
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 154 minutes

Quentin Tarantino burst onto the scene with his cult classic and Sundance darling “Reservoir Dogs” in 1992. But with the release of “Pulp Fiction,” Tarantino became one of the biggest names in Hollywood. “Pulp Fiction” is a film built on four seemingly separate stories, told out of order, but all taking place in Los Angeles’ early 1990s underworld. Tarantino won Best Screenplay for the script, and Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, and Uma Thurman were all nominated for their roles.

75 / 100
M.C. Productions

#26. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

- Director: John Frankenheimer
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 126 minutes

Based on the novel by Richard Condon, “The Manchurian Candidate” stars Frank Sinatra as Major Bennett Marco, who is plagued by a recurring nightmare that tips him off to a plan to brainwash a fellow Korean War prisoner-of-war and turn him into a Soviet sleeper cell. Angela Lansbury was nominated for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of the other POW’s mother, one of the iconic supporting roles of the '60s.

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76 / 100
Columbia/Tristar

#25. Taxi Driver (1976)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 114 minutes

One of the grittiest and most influential movies of the past 50 years, “Taxi Driver” focuses on Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), an unstable taxi driver with a violent fixation on the grime of New York City. Jodie Foster had her breakout role portraying Iris in the film. The 14-year-old she was nominated for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

 

77 / 100
Syncopy

#24. Dunkirk (2017)

- Director: Christopher Nolan
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 106 minutes

Director Christopher Nolan’s tension-filled war epic tells the true story of the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk in World War II. Nolan’s film won three Oscars, two for sound and one for editing. It also made an incredible $527 million at the box office. Other notable films by Nolan include “The Dark Knight” and “Memento.”

78 / 100
Columbia Pictures Corporation

#23. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

- Director: Kathryn Bigelow
- Metascore: 95
- Runtime: 157 minutes

Director Kathryn Bigelow once again took on a current conflict, this time dramatizing the search for and assassination of Osama Bin Laden by U.S. Navy Seal Team 6. The film centers on the decade-long struggle by a CIA operative (Jessica Chastain) to find the center of the terrorist group behind 9/11. Chastain won a Golden Globe for her performance and the film was nominated for five Academy Awards.

79 / 100
Otto Preminger Films

#22. Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

- Director: Otto Preminger
- Metascore: 95
- Runtime: 160 minutes

In this classic American courtroom drama, James Stewart plays a defense attorney responsible for representing Army Lt. Manion (Ben Gazzara), who is accused of killing the man who supposedly assaulted his wife. Lee Remick gives a bold, standout performance playing Laura, the wife in question.

80 / 100
Voltage Entertainment

#21. The Hurt Locker (2009)

- Director: Kathryn Bigelow
- Metascore: 95
- Runtime: 131 minutes

Director Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” is a tense, modern war thriller. The film follows an army bomb squad defusing explosives during the Iraq War. Bigelow won best director at the 2010 Academy Awards, becoming the first woman in history to do so. Other films she’s directed are “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Point Break.”

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81 / 100
Paramount Pictures

#20. Double Indemnity (1944)

- Director: Billy Wilder
- Metascore: 95
- Runtime: 107 minutes

Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck are featured in Billy Wilder’s “Double Indemnity,” which centers on an insurance rep who gets roped into a scheme to murder the husband of his lover to collect the life insurance payout. Based on a novella by James M. Cain, this is Los Angeles noir at its finest. Twenty years after the movie’s release, California prosecutors had a highly publicized, real-life "Double Indemnity" on their hands when housewife Lucille Miller was convicted of murdering her husband for the insurance money.

82 / 100
Warner Bros.

#19. Gravity (2013)

- Director: Alfonso Cuarón
- Metascore: 96
- Runtime: 91 minutes

Director Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity” is visually stunning, tracking two astronauts (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) in the most terrifying of situations: stranded in space. The film is an anti-claustrophobic thriller, where the tension comes from being stuck in an endless void. The film won seven Oscars, including Cuarón's first for best director. He was the first Mexican director to win the award; a Mexican director won the award four of the next five years. Two of Cuarón’s other films include “Children of Men” and “Roma.”

83 / 100
Warner Bros.

#18. Mean Streets (1973)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Metascore: 96
- Runtime: 112 minutes

Director Martin Scorsese’s third feature is the film “in which he came into his own,” according to TCM. “Mean Streets” follows a small-time Little Italy tough guy, played by Harvey Keitel, who is too nice for the mob, but also gravitationally pulled to his New York crime life. Robert De Niro co-stars as Johnny Boy, a ball of psychotic energy that keeps Keitel in trouble.

84 / 100
Casey Productions

#17. Don’t Look Now (1973)

- Director: Nicolas Roeg
- Metascore: 96
- Runtime: 110 minutes

In “Don’t Look Now,” a grieving couple (Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland) that has just lost their daughter travel to Venice on business. Their lives are thrown further into disarray when an old woman informs them that their daughter is trying to warn them about impending danger from the afterlife. Apart from being an excellent portrait of grief, the film also faced controversy upon its release for an explicit scene considered particularly risque at the time.

85 / 100
Barunson E&A

#16. Parasite (2019)

- Director: Bong Joon-ho
- Metascore: 96
- Runtime: 132 minutes

Described as a late-stage capitalism fable by many critics, the South Korean film tracks the insidious relationship that forms between the wealthy Park family and the Kims, a poor family that has conned its way into working at the Park house. The movie became the first South Korean film to win Cannes’ Palme d’Or, as well as the first non-English language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars.

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86 / 100
Goskino

#15. Battleship Potemkin (1925)

- Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein
- Metascore: 97
- Runtime: 75 minutes

This silent Soviet film retells the mutiny above the battleship Potemkin during the Russian Revolution. Although the movie is nearly 100 years old, it has staying power—in 2020, the British Film Institute dubbed it the 11th-best movie of all time.

87 / 100
Shamley Productions

#14. Psycho (1960)

- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- Metascore: 97
- Runtime: 109 minutes

Best known for its iconic shower scene, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” has all the aspects of a great thriller: suspense, claustrophobic action, a creepy old house, a twist, and a heavy dose of insanity. While critics will argue forever about Hitchcock’s best film, this was inarguably his biggest hit.

88 / 100
Rialto Pictures

#13. Rififi (1955)

- Director: Jules Dassin
- Metascore: 97
- Runtime: 122 minutes

Director Jules Dassin’s “Rififi” is considered the first heist movie, creating the genre that birthed “Ocean’s 11,” “Reservoir Dogs,” “National Treasure,” and so many more. The film is most famous for its 28-minute safecracking scene, which was revolutionary at the time. It was so intricate, in fact, that Paris police worried it would be used as a  how-to guide. Jules Dassin was an American director, but made the film in Paris because he was blacklisted from Hollywood during the Cold War communist hysteria.

89 / 100
Columbia Pictures Corporation

#12. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

- Director: Stanley Kubrick
- Metascore: 97
- Runtime: 95 minutes

“Dr. Strangelove” is a dark satire about what would happen if the wrong man was in control of the nuclear arsenal. Stanley Kubrick adapted the novel by Peter George, turning the thriller into a black comedy. Visually, though, it's a straight thriller all the way. The film was nominated for Best Picture, while Kubrick was nominated for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. Peter Sellers, who plays three characters in the film, was nominated for Best Actor.

90 / 100
London Film Productions

#11. The Third Man (1949)

- Director: Carol Reed
- Metascore: 97
- Runtime: 104 minutes

Director Carol Reed builds a world full of intrigue and tension in “The Third Man.” The action begins when American writer Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) arrives to meet a friend (Orson Welles) in post-war Austria, only to learn that he’s dead and wanted by the authorities. The Guardian calls the noir classic “a near-perfect work.”

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91 / 100
Universum Film

#10. Metropolis (1927)

- Director: Fritz Lang
- Metascore: 98
- Runtime: 153 minutes

Director Fritz Lang’s silent film is a thriller that also serves as a true masterpiece of science fiction. It’s set in a futuristic city in which the working class and the city’s elites live divergent existences. An ill-fated romance forms between the city mastermind’s son and a working class prophet. Incredibly, the film’s themes of economic inequity continue to be the igniting theme of today’s science fiction and society in general.

92 / 100
Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer

#9. North by Northwest (1959)

- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- Metascore: 98
- Runtime: 136 minutes

In Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest,” adman Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is wrongfully identified as George Kaplan, setting off a wild series of events in which he’s abducted, chased, questioned, and everything else imaginable. Screenwriter Ernest Lehman was nominated for an Oscar and followed up this film with his Oscar-nominated classic adaptation of “West Side Story” in 1961.

93 / 100
Picturehouse

#8. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

- Director: Guillermo del Toro
- Metascore: 98
- Runtime: 118 minutes

Monster-mad director Guillermo del Toro employed all of his eccentric talents in making this nightmarish fairytale about the Spanish Civil War. Overflowing with monsters and poetic metaphors, “Pan’s Labyrinth” tells the story of Ofelia, played by Ivana Baquero, the quiet stepdaughter of a brutal fascist captain, played by Sergi López. Ofelia chases a fairy into a mystical labyrinth that takes her away from the war—at least for a moment. Del Toro later won best director for “The Shape of Water,” which some viewed as a makeup call for him missing out on the award for “Pan’s Labyrinth.”

94 / 100
Gainsborough Pictures

#7. The Lady Vanishes (1938)

- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- Metascore: 98
- Runtime: 96 minutes

After “The Lady Vanishes” protagonist Iris (Margaret Lockwood) notices that an old woman has disappeared from the train she’s traveling on, she and a musician named Gilbert (Michael Redgrave) set out to get to the bottom of things. The film caught American producers’ attention and Hitchcock made his big move to Hollywood not long after it hit theaters.

95 / 100
Universal International Pictures

#6. Touch of Evil (1958)

- Director: Orson Welles
- Metascore: 99
- Runtime: 95 minutes

This film bombed upon its release and spelled the end of Orson Welles’ career in the Hollywood studio system, but it has become much-loved by critics and noir-heads alike. “Touch of Evil” tells the story of a honeymoon gone horribly wrong, as newlywed police officer Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston) gets involved with an investigation, angering the corrupt local police chief portrayed by Welles. Janet Leigh plays Vargas’ wife, and Marlene Dietrich plays a fortune-teller and madam who delivers the hauntingly perfect line, “Your future's all used up.”

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96 / 100
Paul Gregory Productions

#5. The Night of the Hunter (1955)

- Director: Charles Laughton
- Metascore: 99
- Runtime: 93 minutes

Based on a novel by Davis Grubb, “The Night of the Hunter” is a frightening thriller about a phony preacher (Robert Mitchum) who hears rumors of a fortune buried on a farm and sets about infiltrating the family and finding the money. Eventually, the action boils down to a battle between Mitchum and the head of an orphanage (Lillian Gish.) This film was a commercial and critical failure at the time and was the only directing credit for Charles Laughton.

97 / 100
RKO Radio Pictures

#4. Notorious (1946)

- Director: Orson Welles
- Metascore: 100
- Runtime: 101 minutes

“Notorious”—which Roger Ebert deemed the “most elegant expression” of Hitchcock’s visual style—tells the story of a young American woman (Ingrid Bergman) who is recruited as a spy by the handsome American secret agent Devlin (Cary Grant). The two fall in love before Bergman’s character must risk everything and get up close and personal with a Nazi (Claude Rains) in South America. The film won two Oscars, including a Best Supporting Actor award for Rains.

 

98 / 100
Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions

#3. Vertigo (1958)

- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- Metascore: 100
- Runtime: 128 minutes

In “Vertigo,” a former cop (James Stewart) who has retired early due to acute vertigo and acrophobia, is given another chance when a man named Gavin (Tom Helmore) hires him to trail his wife Madeleine (Kim Novak) and discover the source of her strange behavior. Notably, this film marked the first use of the dolly zoom, a camera effect that warps a shot’s perspective.

99 / 100
Paramount Pictures

#2. Rear Window (1954)

- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- Metascore: 100
- Runtime: 112 minutes

This iconic film stars James Stewart as an injured photojournalist who passes his time on the mend watching his neighbors through binoculars and composing narratives of their lives. When he thinks he spies a murder, things get out of hand. Many subsequent filmmakers have borrowed from “Rear Window,” a thoughtful look at voyeurism and paranoia in the the protagonist and the audience.

100 / 100
Paramount

#1. The Godfather (1972)

- Director: Francis Ford Coppola
- Metascore: 100
- Runtime: 175 minutes

“The Godfather” overflows with great actors at the top of their game: Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire, John Cazale, and so many more. Marlon Brando also gives a memorable late-career performance as Vito Corleone, the Godfather himself. The film was nominated for 11 Oscars, winning three, despite virtually everyone on both sides of the camera expecting the film to be a dud.

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