TV

Best movies to stream on Prime, according to critics

Written by:
April 27, 2020
A24

Best movies to stream on Prime, according to critics

There was a time not too long ago when the problem with movie night was a lack of choices. When people exhausted the limits of their premium channels and DVD collection, the well was pretty much dry. Now, however, between multiple streaming services, on-demand offerings in every category imaginable, and hundreds of channels to choose from, you could spend more time scrolling through options than it would have taken to watch a movie in the first place—all without ever viewing anything good.

With the coronavirus lockdown trapping people across America in their homes, well-chosen distractions are more welcome than ever. The good news is, an Amazon Prime subscription comes with Prime Video, which offers hundreds of hours of quality content for all tastes, flavors, and styles—if you know what to watch. Like anything else concerning the arts, taste in movies is subjective. The fact that a film was adored by critics doesn’t mean everyone is going to love it—but critical consensus is usually a pretty good place to start.

Stacker developed a list of the best movies to watch on Prime by using Metacritic data on all films streaming on Amazon Prime as of April 27, 2020, and ranked them according to their Metascores. Initial ties were broken by IMDb user scores.

Some of the options made their way to digital just in the last few months. Others are well-worn classics from decades past. Documentaries—particularly heavy documentaries that deal with important but difficult subject matter, which critics tend to love—are disproportionately represented, as are foreign films. There is, however, plenty of lighter and more familiar fare to choose from, including comedies old and new, rom-coms, and even a few great horror flicks. Some of the offerings were box-office blockbusters whose credits are teeming with household names. Others are obscure, little-known masterpieces that earned just five figures in ticket sales but became must-see cult favorites among die-hard fans.

In short, there’s something for everyone on Prime Video. If the lockdown has people feeling cooped up, these critics’ choices can offer some respite.

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1 / 100
Sweet Delight Pictures

#100. Ava (2017)

- Director: Sadaf Foroughi
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb user rating: 6.6
- Runtime: 102 min

This drama, which follows a young Iranian girl who dares to challenge the smothering constraints of her society, is Sadaf Foroughi’s directorial debut. Critics fawned over the film’s tightly wound tension, rich characters, and aesthetic beauty.

2 / 100
Gullane

#99. The Second Mother (2015)

- Director: Anna Muylaert
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 112 min

This study of complex relationships and family dynamics revolves around an ambitious girl in Brazil who’s forced to rise above difficult circumstances. At once funny and emotionally gripping, one reviewer noted that “all the elements of the story fit impeccably together for a humorous and occasionally wrenching examination of relationships.”

3 / 100
Film Blossom

#98. Office (2015)

- Director: Hong Won-chan
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 6.0
- Runtime: 111 min

Oddly enough, this musical dramedy was the brainchild of Hong Won-chan, a director out of Hong Kong who’s known for explosive action movies. Critic Simon Abrams concluded that Won-chan was able to successfully repurpose the innovative choreography, lighting, and movement techniques that made his action movies famous into this radical swerve from his standard fare.

4 / 100
Phi

#97. The Forbidden Room (2015)

- Directors: Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 6.1
- Runtime: 130 min

Scattered between multiple simultaneous story lines, “The Forbidden Room” is eccentric to a point that might challenge or even frustrate mainstream audiences. It certainly does not, however, lack in flavor. One reviewer wrote, “What Maddin & Co. have invented here ranges from Freudian horror to childish naughtiness.”

5 / 100
Daniel Marin/WireImage // Getty Images

#96. La Camioneta: The Journey of One American School Bus (2012)

- Director: Mark Kendall
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Runtime: 71 min

Most Guatemalans ride to work every day on vehicles known locally as camionetas, brightly colored buses that begin their lives as school buses in the United States before being sent south, repainted, and repurposed. This movie follows one such bus along its journey and transformation—and tells a uniquely universal story of people along the way. It maintains a perfect 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

[Pictured: Director Mark Kendall speaks onstage during "La Camioneta - The Journey of One American School Bus" Q&A at the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival]

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6 / 100
BorderLine Films

#95. James White (2015)

- Director: Josh Mond
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Runtime: 85 min

“James White” was writer/director Josh Mond’s debut work—and what a debut it was. The weighty drama, which portrays a man who must learn how to get out of his own way before he can help his ailing mother, won the “Best of Next” Audience Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Dynamite performances by Cynthia Nixon and Christopher Abbott helped launch the film’s success.

7 / 100
Canal+

#92. Raising Victor Vargas (2002) (tie)

- Director: Peter Sollett
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Runtime: 88 min

“Raising Victor Vargas” is a compelling tale about young Latinos in love on New York City’s Lower East Side, and one that’s easy to get immersed in quickly. A Newsday critic summed it up brilliantly in calling it “Real, sweet and often really sweet.”

8 / 100
Bona Fide Productions

#92. Election (1999) (tie)

- Director: Alexander Payne
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Runtime: 103 min

A fun, smart, and witty black comedy, “Election” pits Reese Witherspoon against Matthew Broderick at their late-’90s best. A biting and satirical examination of the petty and narcissistic tendencies of human nature, it was originally a box office bomb but is known today as a comedy classic. It went on to be nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe.

9 / 100
Next Wave Films

#92. Fighter (2001) (tie)

- Director: Amir Bar-Lev
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Runtime: 91 min

Audiences should make sure they’re ready for a heavy emotional lift before they stream “Fighter,” which follows two European Jews who survived the Holocaust as they return to the Czech Republic as old men trying to reconcile with their pasts. One reviewer concluded, “In juxtaposing two extraordinary personal histories, it ponders in a refreshingly original way unanswerable questions about memory, imagination, history and that elusive thing we call truth.”

10 / 100
A24

#91. The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019)

- Director: Joe Talbot
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 121 min

This movie, which took home several big awards after stunning audiences at the Sundance Film Festival, follows a man struggling to find a home in a beloved city that seems to have left him behind. Lauded for its impressive cinematography as much as its dynamic opening and closing scenes, critics rave about its stunning aesthetics and well-played story. It stands as a tribute both to San Francisco and to the power of friendship.

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11 / 100
Elsewhere Films

#90. Trouble the Water (2008)

- Directors: Carl Deal, Tia Lessin
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 93 min

Widely considered to be the seminal documentary on Hurricane Katrina, “Trouble the Water” follows a family of survivors pitted against two disasters: the storm itself and the inept and indifferent government response that followed. The filmmakers behind the movie made sure that audiences won’t soon forget the film’s primary characters—even if society did when they needed it most.

12 / 100
Renaissance Films

#87. Henry V (1989) (tie)

- Director: Kenneth Branagh
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 137 min

Although it debuted more than 30 years ago, “Henry V” still holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film was the directorial debut of Kenneth Branagh, who also wrote and starred in this makeover of the Shakespeare classic. One reporter wrote, “Mr. Branagh's Henry has psychological heft and intellectual weight.”

13 / 100
Corniche Pictures

#87. 20,000 Days on Earth (2014) (tie)

- Directors: Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 97 min

Based on a fictional 24 hours in the very real life of cultural icon Nick Cave, this genre-bender chronicles the metamorphosis that takes place when an earthly mortal transforms into a star of the stage. An homage to the creative spirit, one reviewer hailed the film as “an intelligent and revealing look at one of rock's last true iconoclasts.”

14 / 100
K.G. Productions

#87. Custody (2017) (tie)

- Director: Xavier Legrand
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 93 min

Pulling no punches with difficult subject matter, “Custody” is a French drama that won several international awards. Critics raved about the film, which tackles divorce and tense family drama. One commented, “Custody is heartbreaking, but never feels manipulative, thanks to the believable performances.”

15 / 100
Ciné Tamaris

#86. The Gleaners & I (2000)

- Director: Agnès Varda
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 82 min

Shedding light on the culturally important but rarely documented scavenger culture of France, this film stands out for exploring people who, in the words of one reviewer, “don't fit into society's cubbyholes.” More than just a wonderful, unique, and well-made film, the movie serves as a tribute to self-reliance and all those who think and live outside the box.

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16 / 100
Stanley Donen Films

#85. Charade (1963)

- Director: Stanley Donen
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Runtime: 113 min

One of the first comedies released after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, “Charade” remains a beloved classic among audiences and critics alike. Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant sizzle with chemistry in this mystery/heist blockbuster.

17 / 100
Film Science

#82. Old Joy (2006) (tie)

- Director: Kelly Reichardt
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Runtime: 76 min

A camping trip reunites two friends in “Old Joy,” an artistic yet minimalist original that puts a fresh coat of paint on the buddy-movie genre. With a heaping dose of wordsmithery, one reviewer wrote of the sad but beautiful film, “It's the world contained in a single moment, or what one of the characters calls a giant teardrop of the universe, falling forever through space and time.”

18 / 100
Why Not Productions

#82. You Were Never Really Here (2017) (tie)

- Director: Lynne Ramsay
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Runtime: 89 min

Joaquin Phoenix delivers a powerful lead performance in this hard-hitting thriller that follows a super-intense dude who uncovers a conspiracy while tracking lost children. Stylish and fast-paced, one reviewer called it “a beautifully brutal piece of cinema that is guaranteed to stay with you after the credits roll.”

19 / 100
Vonnie Von Helmolt Film

#82. Dracula: Pages From a Virgin's Diary (2002) (tie)

- Director: Guy Maddin
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Runtime: 73 min

With all the options available, it takes a special kind of mood to pick a silent black-and-white ballet-horror-dance vampire flick for movie night. If the urge does strike, however, this is the height of the genre. Like most Guy Maddin movies, it’s not only outrageous, but mercifully short—audiences are in and out with a runtime of just 75 minutes.

20 / 100
Item 7

#81. War Witch (2012)

- Director: Kim Nguyen
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Runtime: 90 min

The deep subject matter of child soldiers in Africa is the backdrop of this drama, but “War Witch” certainly carries the load. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and featured a highly regarded breakout performance by Rachel Mwanza, who was then just 14 years old and was not a professional actress.

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21 / 100
RYOT Films

#80. On Her Shoulders (2018)

- Director: Alexandria Bombach
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 95 min

This choice, too, is no emotional walk in the park. “On Her Shoulders” is a documentary that follows a genocide survivor and escaped Isis sex slave who now advocates for Iraq’s brutalized Yazidi people. Virtually all credible critics agree that it’s an important and powerful film, but for anyone looking for an easy popcorn movie, this isn’t it.

22 / 100
Eye Steel Film

#79. Up the Yangtze (2007)

- Director: Yung Chang
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 93 min

A big, sweeping documentary that’s been roundly lauded for its stunning visuals, “Up the Yangtze” chronicles the effects of the fast-moving changes in Chinese culture. It’s also a cautionary tale about the rush to modernize. One reviewer called it, “A poignant reminder of the human, natural, and historical cost of technological advancement.”

23 / 100
Misfits Entertainment

#78. McQueen (2018)

- Directors: Ian Bonhôte, Peter Ettedgui
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 111 min

This documentary provides an intimate look into the life and world of visionary fashion icon Alexander McQueen, who committed suicide at the age of 40. It received widespread acclaim for its depth, music, and visuals. One incredibly unhelpful reviewer offered this advice: “If you have any intention of seeing ‘McQueen’ make sure you see it in a theater for full effect.” However, we think it holds up just fine on the small screen too.

24 / 100
Paramount Pictures

#76. Stalag 17 (1953) (tie)

- Director: Billy Wilder
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Runtime: 120 min

There is almost universal agreement that Billy Wilder is among the greatest filmmakers in history, and his legend was built on movies like “Stalag 17.” The story of American POWs under the heel of a cruel Nazi camp commander during World War II, the movie is rowdy, irreverent, and farcical. Some argue that it paved the way for “M.A.S.H.”

25 / 100
Discovery Films

#76. In the Shadow of the Moon (2007) (tie)

- Director: David Sington
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Runtime: 100 min

In all of history, only 12 human beings have ever stood on the surface of a world that wasn’t their own, all of whom were American astronauts who walked on the moon. This thrilling documentary brings every surviving one of them together for a truly awesome look at the Apollo mission, NASA, and the unbelievable story of human space travel.

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26 / 100
Moho Film

#74. The Handmaiden (2016) (tie)

- Director: Park Chan-wook
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 145 min

“The Handmaiden” repurposes a Victorian-set crime novel for a story that takes place in 1930s colonial Korea and Japan. “The result is a lush, silken, erotic, disturbing, beautifully photographed drama of betrayal and passion,” according to one critic, with another offering this: “Go see it. If you love cinema at all, go see it.”

27 / 100
Noujaim Films

#74. The Square (2013) (tie)

- Director: Jehane Noujaim
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 95 min

“The Square” lets anyone with a Prime membership experience the reality of a revolution as lived by the people caught up in the chaos, hope, and brutality they inspire. “No revolution has ever been filmed from the inside with such intimate detail and breathtaking scope,” one critic said of the film, which chronicles the unfolding drama of the Egyptian Revolution.

28 / 100
DreamWorks

#73. American Beauty (1999)

- Director: Sam Mendes
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Runtime: 122 min

Before his swift and stunning fall from grace, Kevin Spacey played some undeniably great roles in some undeniably great movies—and many still consider “American Beauty” to be his seminal performance. Dark, funny, and groundbreaking, the plot pits Spacey against Annette Benning as a portrait of dysfunction in suburban America. The movie’s detractors, however, were ferocious, with one naysayer calling it “faux-deep Oscar bait.”

29 / 100
Louverture Films

#72. Hale County This Morning, This Evening (2018)

- Director: RaMell Ross
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 6.3
- Runtime: 76 min

A modern examination of African-American life in the Deep South, this tale follows two young black men in rural Alabama as their common experiences lead them down two very different paths. One reviewer called it, “An essential and utterly fascinating look at what it means to be black, to be American, and ultimately to be human.”

30 / 100
South Central Films

#70. Tales of the Grim Sleeper (2014) (tie)

- Directors: Nick Broomfield, Barney Broomfield, Marc Hoeferlin
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Runtime: 110 min

This chilling documentary focuses on a serial killer who terrorized South Central Los Angeles for 20 years virtually unimpeded. In doing so, the film dissects the broader dynamic of poor minority communities being over-policed on the street level while suffering from flagrant under-policing when a diligent investigation is needed most.

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31 / 100
Candescent Films

#70. The Departure (2017) (tie)

- Director: Lana Wilson
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Runtime: 87 min

“The Departure” is counted among a small and select group of movies that boast a perfect 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with both audiences and critics alike. The documentary revolves around Ittetsu Nemoto, a Japanese priest and suicide counselor who eventually begins to grapple with the reality of his own mortality. One reviewer called it “a quiet and considered study of a remarkable person.”

32 / 100
Killer Films

#69. First Reformed (2017)

- Director: Paul Schrader
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Runtime: 113 min

Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfried turn in high-caliber performances in this thriller about a small-town pastor’s crisis of faith. Many critics consider it to be Paul Schrader’s best work, which says a lot considering he wrote “Raging Bull,” “Taxi Driver,” and “The Last Temptation of Christ.”

33 / 100
Hard Working Movies

#68. I Am Another You (2017)

- Director: Nanfu Wang
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Runtime: 80 min

This documentary follows a Chinese filmmaker who befriends a drifter who gave up a cozy home for a life of intentional homelessness in Florida. It takes a new approach to the well-worn documentarian subjects of homelessness and mental illness while celebrating the uplifting power of friendship and the human desire to live unconstrained.

34 / 100
Cinema 77

#67. Blow Out (1981)

- Director: Brian De Palma
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 108 min

Although this intense political thriller is highly regarded now, it was largely ignored by audiences when it came out in theaters. Brian De Palma both wrote and directed “Blow Out,” which is now considered one of his great classics.

35 / 100
Chicago Media Project

#66. One Child Nation (2019)

- Directors: Nanfu Wang, Zhang Lynn
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 88 min

“Powerful” is probably the word most frequently used to describe this documentary, which examines the painful era in China when the government took the radical population-control measure of forbidding families from having more than one child. It is not one for the weak. One reviewer stated simply, “It is a true horror story.”

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36 / 100
The Directors Company

#64. The Conversation (1974) (tie)

- Director: Francis Ford Coppola
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 113 min

Francis Ford Coppola made “The Conversation” in the year between “The Godfather” and its sequel. It starred Gene Hackman and John Cazale, who played Fredo in both “Godfather” films. Although it was easy for the movie to get lost in the shuffle between twin masterpieces from one of history’s greatest filmmakers, it’s a suspenseful thriller that makes an important social statement. Now it’s revered as an early and eerily accurate predictor of the societal implications of technology and surveillance that people are grappling with today.

37 / 100
ARTE

#64. The Salesman (2016) (tie)

- Director: Asghar Farhadi
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 124 min

“The Salesman” was yet another layered, complex, and well-received achievement for Asghar Farhadi, who had already won an Oscar for “A Separation.” A relationship drama based on a couple forced to change apartments in Iran, one reviewer wrote, “In its oddly quiet and deliberate way, it's a thrilling film to watch.”

38 / 100
Gage Skidmore // Wikimedia Commons

#63. Street Fight (2005)

- Director: Marshall Curry
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Runtime: 83 min

“Street Fight” is a David versus Goliath tale that takes place in the no-holds-barred world of the Newark, New Jersey, political scene. Young, bright, and charismatic upstart Cory Booker is pitted against an entrenched, corrupt, and viscous incumbent political machine in a high-stakes mayoral race. Audiences learn just how far American political bosses are willing to go—and how low they’re willing to stoop—to retain their grip on power.

39 / 100
How follows what

#62. Stand Clear of the Closing Doors (2013)

- Director: Sam Fleischner
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 6.3
- Runtime: 102 min

It’s impossible to count how many filmmakers have tried to capture the complexities of New York City and its endless subterranean network of tunnels. “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors,” which follows a boy lost below the city while his mother frantically searches for him above, did it well by keeping the focus on the little things that millions of New Yorkers pass by every day but don’t seem to notice.

40 / 100
Morgan Creek Entertainment

#61. Dead Ringers (1988)

- Director: David Cronenberg
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 116 min

If a single helping of Jeremy Irons isn’t enough, then “Dead Ringers” is a must when weathering the shutdown. Irons plays dual roles as a pair of diabolical identical twin doctors—one passive, one aggressive. It’s not a slasher flick by any means, but it commands a place among the golden age of ’80s horror.

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41 / 100
Capella International

#58. Nobody's Fool (1994) (tie)

- Director: Robert Benton
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 110 min

“Nobody’s Fool” showcases two of the greatest late-period performances by both Paul Newman and Jessica Tandy. The witty small-town dramedy is rounded out with top-shelf performances from the likes of Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith.

42 / 100
Alta Films

#58. Sweet Sixteen (2002) (tie)

- Director: Ken Loach
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 106 min

A gritty tale about coming of age in a hardscrabble world, “Sweet Sixteen” takes place in a part of Scotland where the accents are so thick that subtitles are required for the untrained ear. One reviewer wrote, “[Loach] has fashioned...an achingly true portrait of a young man's despairing attempts to better his life, but coming up against social obstructions both visible and invisible.”

43 / 100
Our Time Projects

#58. City of Ghosts (2017) (tie)

- Director: Matthew Heineman
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 92 min

“City of Ghosts” joins the long list of documentaries that deal with the hard-to-stomach realities of life inside ISIS-occupied Syria during the war. One reviewer wrote, “This film will give you a new appreciation for the freedoms that are often taken for granted in a democracy.”

44 / 100
Apatow Productions

#57. The Big Sick (2017)

- Director: Michael Showalter
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 120 min

Pakistani-American comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani co-wrote this fresh and funny update on the well-trodden rom-com genre with his real-life wife Emily V. Gordon, and the plot is based on their romance. That fact was not lost on the many critics who hailed the film’s feeling of authenticity. One wrote, “The Big Sick is so funny, so smart, so heartfelt that it demands to be seen.”

45 / 100
Moxie Firecracker Films

#56. Last Days in Vietnam (2014)

- Director: Rory Kennedy
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 98 min

A deep, deep dive into the lead-up to the fall of Saigon, “Last Days in Vietnam” has been heralded for its archival source material, first-person interviews, and meticulous granularity. One reviewer wrote, “Authoritative and exhaustive. A must-watch.”

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46 / 100
Eye Steel Film

#54. Last Train Home (2009) (tie)

- Director: Lixin Fan
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 85 min

In yet another hard-hitting documentary that examines the human cost of harsh Chinese government policies, “Last Train Home” probes the human toll of the country’s scramble toward modernization. Viewers follow the journey of an annual mass-migration of laborers that represents the divide between the country’s rural past and industrial future.

47 / 100
Paramount Pictures

#54. Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018) (tie)

- Director: Christopher McQuarrie
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 147 min

This installment of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise captures the best of everything that made the series an eight-installment juggernaut that boasts more than $450 million at the worldwide box office for all but one episode. It’s visually stunning, exciting, fast-moving, and has a plot like a Rubik’s cube—just like the rest.

48 / 100
Diamond Docs

#53. The Tillman Story (2010)

- Director: Amir Bar-Lev
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 94 min

Arizona Cardinals defensive end Pat Tillman inspired America and stoked patriotism when he left the millionaire lifestyle of a professional athlete to serve in the Army in 2002 during the run-up to the Iraq war. When Tillman was killed in action in 2004, the Army and government circulated a rosy story of Tillman making the ultimate sacrifice through heroic exploits—but that story turned out to be false propaganda that ultimately dishonored Tillman’s legacy. Josh Brolin’s narration drives this revealing documentary, which—just as Tillman’s own anti-war parents have done—probes for the truth against pushback from powerful forces that were deeply committed to keeping their secrets.

49 / 100
La Parti Productions

#52. Ernest & Celestine (2012)

- Directors: Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Runtime: 80 min

Frequently moving from dark to sweet, this animated tale has enough depth to keep adults interested but is safe enough for most children. Its characters and story line made a splash with critics, but its standout feature is its beautiful but understated watercolor-esque animation.

50 / 100
Westerly Films

#51. Love & Friendship (2016)

- Director: Whit Stillman
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 6.4
- Runtime: 90 min

Kate Beckinsale is the driving force behind the success of this Jane Austen adaptation. Any household craving a witty and charming period piece would be hard-pressed to do better than “Love & Friendship.” One reviewer raved, “The dialogue alone offers enough riches to require a second viewing.”

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51 / 100
Doc Society

#50. Bisbee '17 (2018)

- Director: Robert Greene
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Runtime: 112 min

This documentary relies on well-staged reenactments as well as historical narratives to tell the tale of Bisbee, Arizona, in 1917, when thousands of already vulnerable immigrant laborers were harassed, targeted, and violently deported as the region was swept into a frenzy of racial anger and paranoia. It’s especially compelling now, as many descendants of the exact same people are suffering the exact same experience in the exact same place a century later.

52 / 100
Hungarian Motion Picture Ltd.

#48. Fateless (2005) (tie)

- Director: Lajos Koltai
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Runtime: 140 min

“Fateless” is a Hungarian drama that chronicles the tragic story of a teenage boy swept up in the horrors of the Holocaust after the Nazis invade his home city of Budapest. The subject matter has been covered time and time again, but only a tiny few have managed to capture its enormity. In the words of one reviewer, “Relatively few films touching on the Holocaust are worthy of their subject; this one is.”

53 / 100
Bunya Productions

#48. Sweet Country (2017) (tie)

- Director: Warwick Thornton
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Runtime: 113 min

The wild and harsh Australian outback is the backdrop of this sweeping drama, which uses a Western-esque story line to communicate the injustice and violence suffered by the Aboriginal people. According to one reviewer, “Warwick Thornton's outback morality tale, ‘Sweet Country,’ combines exquisite visuals of Australian landscapes with a script that dabbles as much in mythical justice as deeply specific ideas of what this country is made of.”

54 / 100
A24

#46. Hereditary (2018) (tie)

- Director: Ari Aster
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 127 min

Lead actress Toni Collette shines in Ari Aster’s directorial debut—Aster also wrote this delightfully scary horror movie. “Hereditary” starts off like so many other horror movies, which lulls the audience into a false sense of security in believing that they can expect what’s coming next. They cannot.

55 / 100
Non-Stop Productions

#46. Elena (2011) (tie)

- Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 109 min

A Russian thriller with a Hitchcockian feel, this noir drama stirs family drama, class warfare, greed, and mystery all into one plot. Subtitles and a slow build are barriers to entry, but once those hurdles are cleared, it stands out as one of the most suspenseful rides of the year in any language.

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56 / 100
Paramount Pictures

#43. Murderball (2005) (tie)

- Directors: Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 88 min

A sports documentary like no other, “Murderball” takes its name from a real-life sport officially known as quad rugby. Intense and occasionally shocking, the film leaves able-bodied viewers with few excuses for mediocrity—the sport is played by quadriplegics in battle-armored wheelchairs.

57 / 100
Artists Entertainment Complex

#43. Serpico (1973) (tie)

- Director: Sidney Lumet
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 130 min

One of the great Al Pacino movies of all time and arguably the best man-against-the-world movie in history, “Serpico” tells the real-life story of a New York City cop who broke the Blue Wall of Silence to take a stand against rampant corruption in his own department. For those who have never seen it, the coronavirus shutdown offers the perfect opportunity to brush up on a classic and dive into the world of a righteous man who refused to drown in a sewer of corruption in gritty 1970s New York.

58 / 100
Paramount Pictures

#43. Ordinary People (1980) (tie)

- Director: Robert Redford
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 124 min

Although “Ordinary People” was Robert Redford’s directorial debut, he had the foresight to stay out of the way and let the cast own the magic of the movie—and what a cast it was. This sad and dramatic family tale stars Mary Tyler Moore, Timothy Hutton, Donald Sutherland, Judd Hirsch, and Elizabeth McGovern.

59 / 100
Lions Gate Films

#42. Grizzly Man (2005)

- Director: Werner Herzog
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 103 min

The controversial saga of amateur-bear-expert-turned-bear-food Timothy Treadwell is now part of the American consciousness. A full 15 years later, “Grizzly Man” still captures the bizarre and tragic story better than any of the many documentaries that have tried in the ensuing years.

60 / 100
The Mirisch Company

#41. The Great Escape (1963)

- Director: John Sturges
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Runtime: 172 min

Many of its action sequences have not aged well and the movie as a whole feels frozen in time, but “The Great Escape,” as its name implies, is still a world-class example of cinematic escapism. An all-star cast that includes Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Richard Attenborough, and James Garner drives this real-life story of Allied prisoners jailbreaking from a Nazi detention camp through German-occupied territory.

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61 / 100
Pallas Film

#40. Tulpan (2008)

- Director: Sergei Dvortsevoy
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Runtime: 100 min

The G-rated Kazakh sheepherder dramedy genre is not a particularly crowded field, so as highly rated as it is, it’s likely that “Tulpan” is the best of the entire lot. Perhaps alluding to Borat, one reviewer snarked, “Finally, a Kazakh character to cheer for!”

62 / 100
Artyom Geodakyan\TASS // Getty Images

#38. Manuscripts Don't Burn (2013) (tie)

- Director: Mohammad Rasoulof
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Runtime: 125 min

This one is yet another critical favorite that’s set in Iran—only this time it’s not a documentary. A political thriller designed to make a statement, “Manuscripts Don’t Burn” takes aim at cultural and governmental repression while making audiences cheer for an artist who dares to rage against the machine.

[Pictured: The manuscript of the first draft to Mikhail Bulgakov's "The Master and Margarita" novel (1928) on display at an exhibition titled "Manuscripts don't burn" as part of the opening of Russian writer and playwright Bulgakov's apartment-museum, a branch of the Bulgakov Museum.]

63 / 100
BRON Studios

#38. Leave No Trace (2018) (tie)

- Director: Debra Granik
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Runtime: 109 min

Anyone looking for a cheery cinematic escape from the gloomy reality of the shutdown should avoid “Leave No Trace” at all costs—but those who want to cry should look no further. A sad, sweet, and ultimately inspiring father/daughter movie, it’s propped up by amazing lead performances from Ben Foster and especially his young co-star Thomasin McKenzie.

64 / 100
Praxis Films

#37. Citizenfour (2014)

- Director: Laura Poitras
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 114 min

A civil liberties-themed documentary that manages to avoid a partisan or political slant, “Citizenfour” documents the whistleblower who would turn out to be Edward Snowden as he prepares to expose an enormous and secret global government surveillance operation. One reviewer wrote, “The message of the movie is as clear as Siberian ice: Whether you're a Tea Partier, an Occupier or just an ordinary Joe, you might be the next citizen who's stranded in limbo.”

65 / 100
Bananeira Filmes

#36. Zama (2017)

- Director: Lucrecia Martel
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Runtime: 115 min

A New World period tale of banditry, royalty, colonialism, and class conflict, “Zama” is an Argentinian film, but it won praise from critics all over the world. Argentina submitted the movie as the country’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at that year’s Oscars.

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66 / 100
The Samuel Goldwyn Company

#35. The Madness of King George (1994)

- Director: Nicholas Hytner
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Runtime: 110 min

Based on the theater production of the same name, this darkly witty dramedy stood on the shoulders of its cast. Nigel Hawthorne, who played the title role, was backed up by Helen Mirren, Ian Holm, and Rupert Everett.

67 / 100
A24

#34. Eighth Grade (2018)

- Director: Bo Burnham
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 93 min

“Eighth Grade” follows the frequently trampled trail of movies about suburban adolescents enduring the rigors of life in the final year before high school—but this is no ordinary coming-of-age movie, and Elsie Fisher is no ordinary actress. She earned the praise of critics and a Golden Globe nomination for her vulnerable, sweet, and authentic representation of modern tween life.

68 / 100
Big Beach Films

#32. The Farewell (2019) (tie)

- Director: Lulu Wang
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 100 min

Cultural history and relationship dynamics collide in “The Farewell,” which chronicles a Chinese-American family coping with a wedding and the impending loss of a family matriarch at the same time. Critics use words like “poignant,” “charming,” and “touching” to describe it—and those are all accurate—but it’s also funny, often darkly, throughout. It’s based on the shared experience of a specific ethnicity but its story is relatable to all.

69 / 100
Rizzoli Film

#32. Deep Red (1975) (tie)

- Director: Dario Argento
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 127 min

Widely considered to be the pinnacle of Italian horror, “Deep Red” inspired a wave of knock-off slasher flicks that never matched up. It’s a highly artistic and wild ride that is not for everyone, but critically, it represents a before-and-after moment for its genre. One reviewer wrote, “Operating under the principle that a moving camera is always better than a static one, and not above throwing in a terrifying evil doll, ‘Deep Red’ showcases the technical bravado and loopy shock tactics that made Argento famous.”

70 / 100
40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks

#31. 4 Little Girls (1997)

- Director: Spike Lee
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 102 min

Spike Lee’s initial foray into documentary filmmaking is hardly the first movie to examine the 1963 bombing of the 16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, or the larger climate of racial terror that agitated and excused it. None that came before or since, however, proved better able to tell the human story of the four tiny human beings who died in the explosion.

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71 / 100
Image Ten

#30. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

- Director: George A. Romero
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Runtime: 96 min

The movie’s official description is “a group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse,” but “Night of the Living Dead” is so much more than that. The zombie craze that now permeates every nook and cranny of popular culture—and in a way, indie films in general—can trace its genesis to George A. Romero’s breakout work, which remains the genre’s flagship movie. Anyone who considers themselves a horror fan but doesn’t instantly recognize the phrase “they’re coming to get you, Barbara” must immediately revisit this classic.

72 / 100
Chartoff-Winkler Productions

#29. Raging Bull (1980)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Runtime: 129 min

“Raging Bull” tells the tragic real-life story of Jake LaMotta, a boxing champion whose battle with his own inner demons was almost as dynamic and violent as his performance in the ring. It won two Academy Awards of the eight for which it was nominated and today is considered one of the greatest movies of all time and a career zenith for both Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro.

73 / 100
Channel 4 News

#28. For Sama (2019)

- Directors: Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Runtime: 100 min

A story about grief, brutality, and courage in war-torn Syria once again makes this list, this time in the form of “For Sama.” One reviewer summed up the documentary simply but efficiently with this: “This is devastating. So hard to watch, so heartbreaking, and so inspiring.”

74 / 100
Liberty Films (II)

#26. It's a Wonderful Life (1946) (tie)

- Director: Frank Capra
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Runtime: 130 min

Anyone who has ever heard of Christmas, movies, or both is likely familiar with “It’s a Wonderful Life.” There’s no need, however, to wait until the winter holidays to break out this joyous, yet bittersweet Jimmy Stewart tale of redemption.

75 / 100
Talking Heads

#26. Stop Making Sense (1984) (tie)

- Director: Jonathan Demme
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Runtime: 88 min

Being a Talking Heads fanatic, or even a casual fan, is not a prerequisite for loving “Stop Making Sense.” Filmed during three concerts over three nights, the movie captures the energy, intensity, and oddity associated with watching David Byrne leave everything he has on stage.

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76 / 100
Wildwood

#25. Downhill Racer (1969)

- Director: Michael Ritchie
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 6.4
- Runtime: 101 min

One of Hollywood’s most underrated Robert Redford movies, “Downhill Racer” is as much about ego and ambition as it is about skiing. It was also well ahead of its time in terms of technical ingenuity. One reviewer noted, “Several shots are positively astonishing when you consider that they are in no way manipulated or digitally altered, simply a man on skis flying down a hill with a 40-pound film camera in his hands.”

77 / 100
Yes, Ma'am!

#24. The Fits (2015)

- Director: Anna Rose Holmer
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Runtime: 72 min

“The Fits” marks both the writing and directorial debut of Anna Rose Holmer as well as the breakout performance of young Royalty Hightower. Critics have lauded the authenticity and rhythm of this psychological drama, which focuses on a young girl who joins a dance drill team that suddenly becomes swept by strange physical forces.

78 / 100
Boynton Films Production

#23. Big Men (2013)

- Director: Rachel Boynton
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Runtime: 99 min

Viewers of this high-octane documentary get a birds-eye view of the wild and Darwinistic world of the oil trade in Africa. Many filmmakers have explored the energy industry—and the greed, corruption, and exploitation that goes with it. “Big Men,” however, hones in on how the promise of wealth can be a siren call for both poor people and poor countries.

79 / 100
K5 International

#22. Paterson (2016)

- Director: Jim Jarmusch
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 118 min

“Paterson,” which is the name of both the city where the movie is set and the lead character’s name, adds yet another layer of credibility to the careers of both Jim Jarmusch and Adam Driver. A character study about a simple man with a simple job, simple habits, and a deep connection to both his wife and poetry, this one is an Amazon Studios original.

80 / 100
Opus Film

#21. Cold War (2018)

- Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 89 min

If “Paterson” is about the simplicity of love, “Cold War” is about its many complications. Set in post-war Europe, this deep and passionate romantic drama follows two lovers who find a way despite personal differences that are almost as varied and numerous as the challenges their romance faces. One critic wrote, “Its love story is both epic and intimate, personal and political, and one that will haunt you a very long time.”

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81 / 100
Columbia Pictures

#20. Almost Famous (2000)

- Director: Cameron Crowe
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Runtime: 122 min

Cameron Crowe—who both wrote and directed “Almost Famous”—wrote for Rolling Stone as a teenager and toured with giant rock and roll acts, just like the movie’s protagonist. The semi-autobiographical film includes top-shelf performances from the likes of Kate Hudson, Frances McDormand, Zooey Deschanel, Jason Lee, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. It’s regarded as one of the best movies of the 2000s.

82 / 100
Final Cut for Real

#19. The Act of Killing (2012)

- Directors: Joshua Oppenheimer, Anonymous, Christine Cynn
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Runtime: 117 min

Unsettling bordering on horrifying, “The Act of Killing” centers on a charming grandfather in Indonesia who happens to be a national hero—and the chief executioner during the country’s period of mass killings in the 1960s, which claimed about 1 million lives. In an odd twist of moviemaking fate, the film’s main subject—a notorious and wholly unrepentant mass murderer—is now a documentarian who makes films about killing and war.

83 / 100
BBC Films

#18. The Souvenir (2019)

- Director: Joanna Hogg
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 6.5
- Runtime: 120 min

An intense portrait of first love, “The Souvenir” is a heavy and emotional romantic drama. Critics almost roundly celebrated the depth of the writing, the richness of the characters, and the performance of the cast.

84 / 100
Zipporah Films

#17. Ex Libris: New York Public Library (2017)

- Director: Frederick Wiseman
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 197 min

Frederick Wiseman is one of the most prolific documentarians on Earth—“Ex Libris” was documentary #42 on the honorary Oscar winner’s long résumé. This film tells the amazing story of the New York Public Library system, one of the most significant institutions of cultural and intellectual exchange in American history.

85 / 100
Alliance Communications Corporation

#16. The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

- Director: Atom Egoyan
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 112 min

An intimate story about a small town forced to cope with an unimaginable tragedy, “The Sweet Hereafter” stands as a high-water mark for Atom Egoyan specifically and for Canadian cinema in general. One critic wrote it “cuts to the bone and stays there long after its end credits have finished rolling.”

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86 / 100
Romulus Films

#15. The African Queen (1951)

- Director: John Huston
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 105 min

Nearly 70 years on and this Humphrey Bogart/Katharine Hepburn classic still resonates with audiences and critics alike. Bogart won an Oscar for his role as an inebriated steamship captain who stumbles into an unlikely romance. One critic wrote, “Five minutes in, and cowriter-director John Huston has already set the stage for something besides your typical '50s jungle-bwana boogie.”

87 / 100
Cre Film

#14. The Florida Project (2017)

- Director: Sean Baker
- Metascore: 92
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 111 min

Raw, real, and emotional, “The Florida Project” tells two stories: one of carefree children reveling in the wonderment of youth and the other of their parents, who are struggling to get by. Powerful performances from Willem Dafoe and young Brooklynn Prince seal the deal on this moving drama about coming of age in America.

88 / 100
Hemdale

#13. Platoon (1986)

- Director: Oliver Stone
- Metascore: 92
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 120 min

Thirty years before “The Florida Project,” Willem Dafoe helped to lift a much different kind of film to critical and commercial glory. Directed by Vietnam vet Oliver Stone, “Platoon” remains the seminal Vietnam movie and one of the greatest war films of all time.

89 / 100
CBS Films

#12. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

- Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 104 min

This tale of a 1960s folk singer struggling with both his career and his life has the fingerprints of the Coen brothers all over it. A drama steeped in dark comedy—one of the duo’s creative hallmarks—it brings back Coen brothers standard-bearers like John Goodman while introducing fresh talent like Oscar Isaac. One reviewer wrote, “The Coen Brothers do create one of their most complex characters in Llewyn Davis.”

90 / 100
GKIDS

#11. Sita Sings the Blues (2008)

- Director: Nina Paley
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 82 min

Writer-director Nina Paley breathes new life into the Sanskrit epic fable of The Ramayana with “Sita Sings the Blues.” An animated reimagining of an ancient and important piece of Indian culture, one reviewer called the movie “a spellbinding film that charms with its quirkiness in almost every sequence.”

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91 / 100
Walter Wanger Productions

#10. Stagecoach (1939)

- Director: John Ford
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Runtime: 96 min

1939 was a banner year for the film industry, with movies like “Gone With the Wind,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” and “Wuthering Heights” all making their debuts. Even so, “Stagecoach” carved out a place among those groundbreaking movies with greatness of its own. The John Wayne classic remains the cinematic embodiment of the classic Western genre.

92 / 100
IAC Films

#9. Lady Bird (2017)

- Director: Greta Gerwig
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 94 min

Both written and directed by Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird” reveled in adoration from the time it was released until its nomination for five Academy Awards—it won several Golden Globes, as well. The coming-of-age dramedy stands out for its complexity. One reviewer wrote, “As teen movies go, it's supremely sophisticated, capturing and crystallizing that moment in adolescence when it seems that life is at last about to start and the only place you want to be is elsewhere.”

93 / 100
Weissman Projects

#8. We Were Here (2011)

- Directors: David Weissman, Bill Weber
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Runtime: 90 min

“We Were Here” takes audiences back to the life-and-death crisis that battered the gay community in the 1980s. An ultimately optimistic documentary, the film provides a granular look into the intensity, struggle, and fear of those years, as well as the bigotry, stigma, and misinformation that fueled the flames of the AIDS crisis.

94 / 100
John Ford Productions

#7. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

- Director: John Ford
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 123 min

More than 20 years after “Stagecoach,” John Wayne starred in yet another movie that came to epitomize the Western genre. One critic wrote, “There's much to say about it; the simplest is that it's both the most romantic of Westerns and the greatest American political movie.”

95 / 100
Zoetrope

#6. Apocalypse Now (1979)

- Director: Francis Ford Coppola
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Runtime: 147 min

Backdropped by the Vietnam War but based on Joseph Conrad’s much earlier novel “Heart of Darkness,” “Apocalypse Now” is remembered as one of the greatest Coppola movies, the greatest Marlon Brando movies, and the greatest war movies of all time. One critic wrote, “Certainly, no movie in history has ever presented stronger proof that war is living hell.”

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96 / 100
ARTE

#5. I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

- Director: Raoul Peck
- Metascore: 95
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 93 min

This incendiary documentary offers a fierce examination of race relations in America from slavery through Black Lives Matter. It takes the unique approach of imagining the unfinished manuscript of the late writer and activist James Baldwin. According to one critic: “Baldwin re-emerges as a devastatingly eloquent speaker and public intellectual; a figure who deserves his place alongside Edward Said, Frantz Fanon or Gore Vidal.”

97 / 100
Amazon Studios

#4. Manchester by the Sea (2016)

- Director: Kenneth Lonergan
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 137 min

Casey Affleck won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in “Manchester by the Sea.” The family/neighborhood drama won two Oscars and was nominated for four others. It was described by one critic this way: “This is about life as it is lived in the real world, with unassuageable pain, loose ends untied, life lessons unlearned. Life with no narrative closure.”

98 / 100
William Castle Productions

#3. Rosemary's Baby (1968)

- Director: Roman Polanski
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Runtime: 137 min

More than a half-century after it was released, “Rosemary’s Baby” remains one of the most haunting and important horror movies ever made—and Mia Farrow’s performance still causes shivers. It was Roman Polanski’s first American film and was based on the novel by Ira Levin.

99 / 100
Orion-Nova Productions

#2. 12 Angry Men (1957)

- Director: Sidney Lumet
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Runtime: 96 min

While this iconic movie wasn’t a condemnation of the American legal system, it does put the spotlight on the peculiarities of consensus-building among jurors and the concept of reasonable doubt, as well as bias, morals, race, and class as they apply to courtroom outcomes. “12 Angry Men” was selected for the National Film Registry in the Library of Congress and remains one of the most significant courtroom dramas of all time.

100 / 100
Ashton Productions

#1. Some Like It Hot (1959)

- Director: Billy Wilder
- Metascore: 98
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Runtime: 121 min

It’s fitting that the list should conclude with a Billy Wilder movie, and if it’s going to be a Billy Wilder movie, it can be none other than “Some Like it Hot.” Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Joe E. Brown starred in this roaring comedy, which never seems to age even as its all-star cast passed on by one. Dipping its toes into subject matter considered scandalous at the time, it earned condemnation from the Catholic Church’s Legion of Decency and is remembered as the beginning of the end for the conservative and repressive Hays Code, which censored virtually all movies from the mid-1930s to the late 1960s.

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