Orlando Bloom in a scene from "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"
Stacker Studio

Best PG-13 movies of all-time

Written by:
June 29, 2022
New Line Cinema

Best PG-13 movies of all-time

Have you ever wondered why some relatively crude or violent movies from the 1970s and early ’80s are rated PG when they would definitely be rated PG-13 today? The answer is actually pretty simple: PG-13 didn’t exist yet.

Movie ratings have changed drastically since the Motion Picture Association of America first implemented them in 1968. After playing around with some vague interpretations, the organization settled on four in 1972 that are still in use today: G (General audience), PG (Parental Guidance suggested), R (Restricted to those over 17, unless accompanied by a parental guardian), and X (no one under 17 admitted).

The MPAA restructured its rating system in 1984 after parents complained of violence and gore in movies like “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “Gremlins.” It was actually Steven Spielberg himself who suggested the PG-13 label as a stepping stone between PG and R ratings, and the first film to adorn the rating was 1985’s “Red Dawn.”

Since then, thousands of movies have been given the PG-13 rating, and many that originally came out before its existence have been retroactively fit with the label upon their home video releases. What’s more, the rating has become something of a sweet spot for film studios in terms of releasing films with the greatest chance of box office success.

Giggster looked at all movies on IMDb with a PG-13 rating and over 10,000 votes and ranked the top 30 according to IMDb user rating, with ties broken by votes. By nature of the MPAA being an American company, only films distributed in the U.S. that received an MPAA rating were considered.

Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe, and Emma Watson in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
1 / 30
Warner Bros.

#30. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

- Director: David Yates
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 130 minutes

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” is the eighth and final installment of the beloved series. It also happens to be the highest-earning “Harry Potter” movie at the box office. The film also earned Academy Award nominations for Best Visual Effects, Best Art Direction, and Best Makeup.

Tom Hanks in a scene from "Catch Me If You Can"
2 / 30
Dreamworks Pictures

#29. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

- Director: Steven Spielberg
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 141 minutes

It’s mind-boggling that “Catch Me If You Can” is based on a true story. It’s equally unbelievable that Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t get nominated for any awards for his depiction of teenage con artist Frank Abagnale.

Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman in "The Father"
3 / 30
Les Films du Cru

#28. The Father (2020)

- Director: Florian Zeller
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 97 minutes

“The Father” was praised for its honest portrayal of dementia and was nominated for six Academy Awards. Its star, Anthony Hopkins, took home one of those Oscars, which was his second win in the Best Actor category (his first coming nearly 30 years prior for “Silence of the Lambs”).

Joel Edgerton in a scene from "Warrior"
4 / 30
Lionsgate

#27. Warrior (2011)

- Director: Gavin O'Connor
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 71
- Runtime: 140 minutes

“Warrior” is a rare example of a movie that wasn’t commercially successful but was critically acclaimed. Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton star in this sports drama about mixed martial arts, and Nick Nolte got an Oscar nod for his supporting role as the pair’s father.

Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in "Green Book"
5 / 30
Dreamworks Pictures

#26. Green Book (2018)

- Director: Peter Farrelly
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 69
- Runtime: 130 minutes

Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali star in this biographical dramedy about the treatment of African Americans in the Jim Crow South in the 1960s. Though it was criticized by some for its depictions of race, the movie took home a few Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Ali’s portrayal of pianist Don Shirley.

Sean Connery and Harrison Ford in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"
6 / 30
Paramount Pictures

#25. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

- Director: Steven Spielberg
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 127 minutes

The third installment of the iconic franchise features Sean Connery acting alongside Harrison Ford as father and son—despite an age difference of just 12 years at the time of filming. The film was a financial success and was actually meant to close the book on Indy. That book was reopened with 2008’s “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and will be opened yet again in 2023 with the as-yet-untitled fifth Indy adventure.

Russell Crowe in scene from "A Beautiful Mind"
7 / 30
Universal Pictures

#24. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

- Director: Ron Howard
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 135 minutes

Ron Howard’s “A Beautiful Mind” took the Academy by storm when it came out in 2001. It was nominated for eight Oscars and won four, including Best Picture and Best Director. Though Russell Crowe didn’t take home the award for Best Actor that night, he’s still praised for his portrayal of real-life mathematician and Nobel Laureate John Nash.

A scene from Jurassic Park with a T-Rex
8 / 30
Universal Pictures

#23. Jurassic Park (1993)

- Director: Steven Spielberg
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 127 minutes

This adaptation of Michael Crichton’s bestseller is the first movie in the legendary franchise and is widely considered the best. It was so successful that it spawned not only its own trilogy but also the “Jurassic World” trilogy, which concluded with 2022’s “Jurassic World: Dominion.”

Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment in "The Sixth Sense"
9 / 30
Hollywood Pictures

#22. The Sixth Sense (1999)

- Director: M. Night Shyamalan
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 64
- Runtime: 107 minutes

M. Night Shyamalan is now known (and sometimes made fun of) for his plot twist, but when “The Sixth Sense” came out in 1999 the director was still relatively unknown, and so was his storytelling technique. As a result, the ending blew the minds of anyone who watched it and it is still talked about today.

Gary Oldman and Christian Bale in "Batman Begins"
10 / 30
Warner Bros.

#21. Batman Begins (2005)

- Director: Christopher Nolan
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 70
- Runtime: 140 minutes

“Batman Begins” set the stage for Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. As its name suggests, the trilogy is notable for being darker than other adaptations of the comic book superhero, and Christian Bale has been praised for his portrayal of Batman.

Leila Hatami and Payman Maadi in a scene from "A Separation"
11 / 30
Asghar Farhadi Productions

#20. A Separation (2011)

- Director: Asghar Farhadi
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Metascore: 95
- Runtime: 123 minutes

This film explores the aftermath that follows the separation of an Iranian couple. The drama won Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 Academy Awards, becoming the first Iranian movie to take home the award.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Holland in "Spider-Man: No Way Home""
12 / 30
Columbia Pictures

#19. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

- Director: Jon Watts
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Metascore: 71
- Runtime: 148 minutes

This third installment of Jon Watts’ Tom Holland-led trilogy “saved” the COVID-19-bedraggled film industry. The film broke several box office records, becoming Sony’s highest-grossing movie of all time.

Silambarasan Rajendar, Premgi Amaren, Karunakaran, and Kalyani Priyadarshan in "Maanaadu"
13 / 30
V House Productions

#18. Maanaadu (2021)

- Director: Venkat Prabhu
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 147 minutes

“Maanaadu” is an Indian Tamil-language science fiction political-action thriller about a man trapped in a time loop—think a dead-serious “Groundhog Day.” The film was so successful that a sequel is in the works.

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Phillipa Soo in "Hamilton"
14 / 30
Walt Disney Pictures

#17. Hamilton (2020)

- Director: Thomas Kail
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 160 minutes

When the musical “Hamilton” took Broadway by storm in 2015, it only made sense to release a film version. It took five years to come out, but in 2020 fans were finally able to experience the beloved production from the comfort of their own homes.

Screengrab of a scene from "Princess Mononoke"
15 / 30
DENTSU Music And Entertainment

#16. Princess Mononoke (1997)

- Director: Hayao Miyazaki
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Metascore: 76
- Runtime: 134 minutes

Heralded as one of the best anime movies of all time (and the eighth highest-grossing at the box office), this animated historical fantasy was the highest-grossing film in Japan when it was released in 1997. All these years later, it’s still discussed for its timeless message about human impact on the natural world.

Sharman Joshi, Aamir Khan, and Madhavan in "3 Idiots"
16 / 30
Vinod Chopra Productions

#15. 3 Idiots (2009)

- Director: Rajkumar Hirani
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Metascore: 67
- Runtime: 170 minutes

Rajkumar Hirani’s coming-of-age film is a satirical look at the Indian education system. It’s also considered by many to be one of the best Bollywood movies of all time.

Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Wong, and Benedict Cumberbatch in "Avengers: Infinity War"
17 / 30
Marvel Studios

#14. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

- Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 149 minutes

All of Marvel’s long-term planning crescendoed in this fourth Avengers epic, which brought together every character in the Marvel Extended Universe, from Iron Man to Ant-Man to Captain Marvel. Amazingly, it did not suffer from the narrative dissonance one might expect from being merely the first of a two-part epic, but rather it set up the final act almost perfectly when, in 2019, audiences went in droves to see… (wait for it…)

Robert Downey Jr. in "Avengers: Endgame"
18 / 30
Marvel Studios

#13. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

- Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 181 minutes

This is the film that decided the fate of many characters in the Marvel universe. The last movie in the franchise is not only the highest-grossing superhero movie of all time, but it’s also the second-highest grossing movie ever (just behind James Cameron’s “Avatar”).

Christian Bale in "The Dark Knight Rises"
19 / 30
Warner Bros.

#12. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

- Director: Christopher Nolan
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 164 minutes

“The Dark Knight Rises” is the third and final installment in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. It famously introduced fans to Tom Hardy’s Bane, a take on the character quite different from one seen in Joel Schumacher’s “Batman and Robin,” and was the second highest-grossing movie of 2012.

Claudia Cardinale in a scene from "Once Upon a Time in the West"
20 / 30
Paramount Pictures

#11. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

- Director: Sergio Leone
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 165 minutes

“Once Upon a Time in the West” was actually a financial flop when it was released in the United States, but the Henry Fonda-led spaghetti Western is now considered one of the best of its kind and was added to the National Film Registry in 2009. Fun fact: Sergio Leone wanted Clint Eastwood to play the film’s protagonist, but he turned down the role.

Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman in "The Prestige"
21 / 30
Touchstone Pictures

#10. The Prestige (2006)

- Director: Christopher Nolan
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Metascore: 66
- Runtime: 130 minutes

Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman play rival stage magicians at the end of the 19th century who attempt to one-up each other with perilous results. The movie’s all-star cast also includes Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine, Piper Perabo, Andy Serkis, Rebecca Hall, and none other than David Bowie as Nikola Tesla.

Tom Cruise in a scene from "Top Gun: Maverick"
22 / 30
Paramount Pictures

#9. Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

- Director: Joseph Kosinski
- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 130 minutes

Many scoffed when it was announced that a “Top Gun” sequel was being made 36 years after the original, but “Top Gun: Maverick” delivers just what fans were wanting. In addition to Tom Cruise reprising his role as Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, the film also stars Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, Lewis Pullman, Ed Harris, and, of course, Val Kilmer. Welcome back to the Danger Zone.

Roberto Benigni in a scene from "Life Is Beautiful"
23 / 30
Melampo Cinematografica

#8. Life Is Beautiful (1997)

- Director: Roberto Benigni
- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Metascore: 59
- Runtime: 116 minutes

Roberto Benigni’s heart-wrenching tale about a Jewish Italian father’s relentless determination to shield his son from the horrors of life in a Nazi internment camp made him the first non-English male performer to win a Best Actor Oscar. “Life Is Beautiful” also took home the award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway in "Interstellar"
24 / 30
Warner Bros.

#7. Interstellar (2014)

- Director: Christopher Nolan
- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Metascore: 74
- Runtime: 169 minutes

The science behind “Interstellar” may be incomprehensible to the common person, but Christopher Nolan made sure he got it right. The production hired Caltech theoretical physicist and 2017 Nobel Laureate in Physics Kip Thorne as an executive producer. He also acted as scientific consultant, and even wrote a tie-in book, “The Science of Interstellar.”

Orlando Bloom in a scene from "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"
25 / 30
New Line Cinema

#6. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

- Director: Peter Jackson
- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 179 minutes

The second installment in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece, “The Two Towers” continued the adventures of Frodo and Sam as they pushed further toward Mount Doom and introduced the character of Gollum, a creature voiced and motioned by Andy Serkis. It was the highest-grossing film of 2002.

Elijah Wood in a scene from "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"
26 / 30
New Line Cinema

#5. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

- Director: Peter Jackson
- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Metascore: 92
- Runtime: 178 minutes

“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” was the first film to bring author J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth to life. It was added to the National Film Registry in 2021 and is notably the only movie in the trilogy to be selected for preservation (so far).

Tom Hanks in a scene from "Forrest Gump"
27 / 30
Paramount Pictures

#4. Forrest Gump (1994)

- Director: Robert Zemeckis
- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 142 minutes

Forrest Gump is one of Tom Hanks’ most iconic characters, and for good reason. The film was a huge success upon its release in 1994, taking home six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Hanks’ memorable performance.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Marion Cotillard in a scene from "Inception"
28 / 30
Warner Bros.

#3. Inception (2010)

- Director: Christopher Nolan
- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Metascore: 74
- Runtime: 148 minutes

Christopher Nolan is apparently the master of PG-13 movies. This 2010 sci-fi action film stars Leonardo DiCaprio alongside an all-star cast including Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine. (It’s interesting to note that most of these names also show up in the credits for Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.)

Ian McKellen in a scene from "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"
29 / 30
New Line Cinema

#2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

- Director: Peter Jackson
- IMDb user rating: 9.0
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 201 minutes

The final chapter in Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy is also the most critically acclaimed. It won all 11 Academy Awards for which it was nominated, including Best Picture, tying it with 1959’s “Ben-Hur” and 1997’s “Titanic” as the movie with the most Oscar wins.

Christian Bale in a scene from "The Dark Knight"
30 / 30
Warner Bros.

#1. The Dark Knight (2008)

- Director: Christopher Nolan
- IMDb user rating: 9.0
- Metascore: 84
- Runtime: 152 minutes

It’s only fitting that a Christopher Nolan movie would be in the top spot on this list. “The Dark Knight” is the second installment of his Dark Knight trilogy and has become famous for Heath Ledger’s chilling—and Oscar-winning—depiction as Joker. Sadly, the film came out just months after the actor’s death. It was added to the National Film Registry in 2020.

This story originally appeared on Giggster and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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