Skip to main content

Main Area

Main

100 best biopics of all time

100 best biopics of all time

The grand sweep of history is perhaps more easily told through a narrower lens, which is one reason why biopics (biographical pictures)—which can tell the story of a movement, era, or idea through one individual’s life—have become so popular in recent years. Filmmakers have increasingly preferred to work in the genre over the past several decades, finding that the unique challenges in condensing a life can embolden creativity and experimentation, resulting in extraordinary movies. Take “Persepolis,” for example: The 2007 film explores the Iranian revolution through the life of an ordinary teenage girl via cartoons, weaving snapshots of an ordinary lift in the midst of social upheaval to make one of the most impactful and influential films of the decade.

While the genre has turned out some truly excellent films, not all biopics are created equal. The biggest criticism leveled against them is that they often blend fiction with fact in an irresponsible or misleading manner. J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate essentially disowned the 2019 film “Tolkien,” feeling the author’s character and related facts were misrepresented. Another frequent complaint is that the movies trot out only the best-known facts about an individual’s life, failing to offer anything new or revelatory, as with the Grace Kelly biopic “Grace of Monaco.” So, which movies in this high-risk, high-reward genre are worth a watch?

Stacker compiled data on biopics to come up with a Stacker score—a weighted index split evenly between IMDb and Metacritic scores. To qualify, the film had to be listed as "biography" on IMDb and have a Metascore. Ties were broken by Metascore, and further ties were broken by IMDb user rating. Every film on the list has been considered within the context of the history and development of the genre.

Whether it’s a gangster epic like “Goodfellas,” a royal family drama like “The Queen,” or one of the many chronicles of the lives of artists and musicians like “Endless Poetry” or “Amadeus,” biopics offer something for everyone. Click through to discover the best cinematic portraits of extraordinary lives.

You may also like: Actors With The Most Golden Globe Wins Of All Time

#100. Donnie Brasco (1997)

- Director: Mike Newell
- Stacker score: 83.6
- Metascore: 76
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 127 minutes

Undercover FBI agent Donnie Brasco (real name Joseph D. Pistone) infiltrates the legendary Bonanno crime family in 1970s New York City in this true crime drama. Starring Al Pacino and Johnny Depp, the film was based on Pistone’s book, “Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia.” It’s believed that Pistone’s long career as an undercover agent generated over 200 indictments and 100 convictions of Mafia members.

#99. The Last Emperor (1987)

- Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
- Stacker score: 83.6
- Metascore: 76
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 163 minutes

Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Last Emperor” follows the life of Pu Yi, who took the throne when he was 3 years old and abdicated when he was 7. The film, shot entirely on location in China and its ancient Forbidden City palace complex, follows a country’s move from feudalism through revolution to a peaceful republic, all through the lens of one man’s life.

#98. Philomena (2013)

- Director: Stephen Frears
- Stacker score: 83.6
- Metascore: 77
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 98 minutes

Philomena Lee (Judi Dench) spends 50 years searching for her forcibly adopted son with the help of a journalist, Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan). The film won four Oscar nominations and took home several trophies at the 2013 Venice Film Festival. While the film is certainly a tearjerker, it is balanced both by comedic moments and the real Ms. Lee’s inspirational fortitude in the face of so much loss and grief.

#97. Lorenzo's Oil (1992)

- Director: George Miller
- Stacker score: 83.6
- Metascore: 80
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 129 minutes

In the 1980s, Augusto and Michaela Odone experience every parent's worst nightmare when their son Lorenzo is diagnosed with an incurable nerve disease that will eventually paralyze and kill him. Failing to receive the help they needed from doctors, the Odones begin a desperate search for a cure themselves, eventually stumbling upon an oil they believe could reverse the most devastating effects of their son’s illness. Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon star in this film about one couple's desperate struggle to save their family.

#96. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

- Director: Marielle Heller
- Stacker score: 83.6
- Metascore: 80
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 109 minutes

Tom Hanks stars as one of TV’s most beloved personalities, Fred Rogers, in this 2019 biopic. Based on a 1998 Esquire article, the film doesn’t delve into Roger’s life story but rather focuses on the friendship between Rogers and the troubled journalist Tom Junod (renamed Lloyd Vogel in the film). The real-life Mrs. Joanne Rogers makes a brief cameo in the film, and it’s a quote from her that reminds viewers that her late husband wasn’t a saint, just an ordinary man who tried very, very hard to be better and kind.

You may also like: Best Meryl Streep movies

#95. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

- Director: Ron Howard
- Stacker score: 84.2
- Metascore: 72
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Runtime: 135 minutes

John Nash Jr., a Nobel Prize winner, was one of the greatest mathematicians the world has ever seen. He also struggled with schizophrenia. “A Beautiful Mind,” based on an unauthorized biography of the same name written by acclaimed journalist Sylvia Nasar, tells Nash’s incredible, inspirational life story. Directed by Ron Howard and starring Russell Crowe, the movie won four Academy Awards including Best Picture and grossed over $313 million at the box office.

#94. Into the Wild (2007)

- Director: Sean Penn
- Stacker score: 84.2
- Metascore: 73
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 148 minutes

Written, directed, and produced by Sean Penn, “Into the Wild” tells the story of Christopher McCandless, a loner who cashed in his law school fund and took off for the Alaskan wilderness in the 1990s. At first charmed by the slower pace of life, McCandless eventually found himself disillusioned with nature and attempted to return to society before making a grave mistake that would cost him everything. The story is based on a nonfiction book written by Jon Krakauer, as well as information from McCandless’ surviving sister, Carine McCandless.

#93. The Sea Inside (2004)

- Director: Alejandro Amenábar
- Stacker score: 84.2
- Metascore: 74
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Runtime: 126 minutes

A Spanish-language drama, “The Sea Inside” tells the story of Ramon Sampedro, a man who became a quadriplegic after a diving accident in the 1960s and fought for 30 years for the legal right to end his own life through euthanasia. Javier Bardem stars as Sampedro in an incredibly moving performance that focuses on one individual’s definition of dignity. The film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film in 2004.

#92. American Gangster (2007)

- Director: Ridley Scott
- Stacker score: 84.2
- Metascore: 76
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 157 minutes

Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe co-star in “American Gangster,” a film that chronicles the life of Fred Lucas, a gangster who smuggles heroin into the United States, essentially instigating the drug epidemic that swept Harlem and all of New York City in the 1970s. Although the film brought in $266 million at the box office, those who were connected with the case in real life, including Lucas himself, have argued that it takes too many liberties and strays pretty far from the truth.

#91. The Killing Fields (1984)

- Director: Roland Joffé
- Stacker score: 84.2
- Metascore: 76
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 141 minutes

Nominated for seven Oscars at the 57th Academy Awards, “The Killing Fields” tells the story of two journalists, American Sydney Schanberg and Cambodian Dith Pran, who are covering the country’s civil war and find themselves trapped when Pol Pot begins his bloody Year Zero cleansing campaign. Critics loved the film, including Adrian Turner from Radio Times, who wrote, “Few feature films have captured a nation's agony more dramatically.”

You may also like: 100 best movies of all time

#90. Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

- Directors: John Frankenheimer, Charles Crichton
- Stacker score: 84.2
- Metascore: 76
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 147 minutes

One of the looser retellings on our list, “Birdman of Alcatraz” is about a man (Burt Lancaster) serving a life sentence for murder who becomes an expert on birds while behind bars. The movie was based on Thomas E. Gaddis’ book about Robert Stroud, the titular “birdman,” and was nominated for four Academy Awards. The real Stroud died a year after the film was released, without ever seeing it.

#89. Endless Poetry (2016)

- Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
- Stacker score: 84.2
- Metascore: 78
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 128 minutes

Surrealist filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky tells his own life story in “Endless Poetry.” The second installment of his cinematic memoir, the film is set in 1940s Chile, when Jodorowsky is a young man just breaking into the country’s artistic circles. Very experimental in its form, the film doesn’t accommodate casual viewing but offers a fascinating story for those willing to pay close attention.

#88. An Angel at My Table (1990)

- Director: Jane Campion
- Stacker score: 84.2
- Metascore: 79
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 158 minutes

The story of New Zealand author Janet Frame’s life, “An Angel at My Table” is based on Frame’s three autobiographies and uses three different actresses to portray her at different points in her life, from her impoverished childhood through her time at a mental institution (wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia) to the beginning of her wildly successful writing career. The film swept awards in New Zealand and won a Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival.

#87. Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)

- Director: Phillip Noyce
- Stacker score: 84.2
- Metascore: 80
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 94 minutes

From 1910 to 1970, Australia had an official child-removal policy that took biracial Aboriginal children from their homes and placed them in state-run schools and indentured servitude. “Rabbit-Proof Fence” tells the true story of three children from the Stolen Generation who escape their school and walk some 1,500 miles home, all while being pursued by police officers and trackers. Peter Gabriel provided the soundtrack for the heart-wrenching film.

#86. Love & Mercy (2014)

- Director: Bill Pohlad
- Stacker score: 84.2
- Metascore: 80
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 121 minutes

For years, Brian Wilson, leader of the Beach Boys, struggled with mental illness, even spending a length of time in a controversial 24-hour therapy program. “Love & Mercy” chronicles Wilson’s struggles in a way that Wilson himself called “very factual.” Paul Dano and John Cusack both play the musician at different points in his life, and Elizabeth Banks gives an inspired performance as Wilson’s second wife, Melinda.

You may also like: Oscar Best Actress Winner from the Year You Were Born

#85. Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)

- Director: George Clooney
- Stacker score: 84.2
- Metascore: 80
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 93 minutes

Good Night, and Good Luck” demonstrates the immense power for change that journalists are capable of wielding in the United States. Directed by and starring George Clooney, the film is set in the 1950s, when a fear of communism led by Senator Joseph McCarthy was sweeping the nation. It tells the story of heroic reporter Edward R. Murrow and producer Fred W. Friendly, who used their news show to stand up to McCarthy and remove his cancerous lies from the public eye. The film and its message remain incredibly relevant to today’s political polarization.

#84. Il Divo (2008)

- Director: Paolo Sorrentino
- Stacker score: 84.2
- Metascore: 81
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 110 minutes

“Il Divo” translates to “The Divine Performer,” a fitting title for this 2008 film that explores the life of seven-time Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, who had alleged ties to the Mafia. The story begins in 1992 as Andreotti is elected for the seventh time, then covers his failed presidency bid and bribe scandal, ultimately ending with his trial in 1995. The Guardian called the movie “a macabre masterpiece.”

#83. The General (1998)

- Director: John Boorman
- Stacker score: 84.2
- Metascore: 81
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 124 minutes

Martin Cahill was an Irish criminal who managed to pull off two incredibly daring robberies (totaling about $60 million), a feat that turned him into a bit of a folk hero. “The General” tells the story of his life, including his murder by a member of the Irish Republican Army after he became involved in politics. While Cahill (played by Brendan Gleeson) was far from a good man, the 1998 movie will make you admire the way he stuck to his morals, even when they were questionable.

#82. Steve Jobs (2015)

- Director: Danny Boyle
- Stacker score: 84.2
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Runtime: 122 minutes

Since his death in 2011, there have been several movies and documentaries about Apple co-founder and tech guru Steve Jobs, but this 2015 biopic is among the best. Michael Fassbender brings the turtleneck-loving visionary to life in the film, which covers three different product launches that took place between 1984 and 1998. Unlike many other Jobs films, this movie also focuses on his relationship with his daughter, Lisa, whom he had with ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan and refused to support for many years, despite his massive wealth.

#81. Vincere (2009)

- Director: Marco Bellocchio
- Stacker score: 84.2
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Runtime: 128 minutes

Ida Dalser may be, in many ways, one of history’s most important women, but her name and memory have largely been forgotten by the general public. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s first wife and the mother of his son Benito Albino, Dasler financed a newspaper in which Mussolini shared and expounded on his political views, garnering support for his fascist platform. Although the film occasionally steps away from the facts of the story, it’s still a wonderful primer for those who wish to know more about the rise of the politician and those who shaped him.

You may also like: Movie Trivia for the Top 100 Films of all Time

#80. Rush (2013)

- Director: Ron Howard
- Stacker score: 84.7
- Metascore: 74
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 123 minutes

The first sports film on our list, “Rush” chronicles the 1970s rivalry between two of Formula One’s best-known drivers, James Hunt and Niki Lauda. The real Lauda has publicly stated that the film holds true to the reality of their lives, in spite of the fact that it omits the close friendship the men shared later in life. It also received accolades for the accuracy with which it portrays F1 racing and culture.

#79. Control (2007)

- Director: Anton Corbijn
- Stacker score: 84.7
- Metascore: 78
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 122 minutes

Joy Division’s late singer Ian Curtis is the focus of this 2007 biopic co-produced by his widow, Deborah. The film chronicles the rise of the band as well as Ian and Deborah’s relationship, his epilepsy diagnosis, and the fallout from his affair with journalist Annik Honore. Debuting at the Cannes Film Festival, the movie picked up several awards in the festival circuit and took home a British Academy Film Award.

#78. Missing (1982)

- Director: Costa-Gavras
- Stacker score: 84.7
- Metascore: 78
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 122 minutes

In September 1973, American journalist Charles Horman disappeared during the Chilean coup that disposed of then-president Salvador Allende. “Missing” recounts the desperate search Charles’ father and wife undertook to learn of his fate and their eventual realization that the United States government had not only aided the coup but had washed their hands of Horman. The Academy Award-winning drama stars Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek.

#77. Selma (2014)

- Director: Ava DuVernay
- Stacker score: 84.7
- Metascore: 80
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 128 minutes

Ava DuVernay directed this historical film that chronicles the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery that was led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, and Hosea Williams. Covering a three-month period leading up to the march, the film largely focuses on King’s role in the events without discrediting the role the other leaders had in shaping this important piece of American history. The film features the Oscar-winning song “Glory” by John Legend and Common.

#76. The End of the Tour (2015)

- Director: James Ponsoldt
- Stacker score: 84.7
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 106 minutes

The End of the Tour” tells the famous story of Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky’s five-day interview with novelist David Foster Wallace. Based on Lipsky’s 2011 book “Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself,” the movie is set just after the release of Wallace’s epic novel ”Infinite Jest,” when the duo set off on a road trip. Wallace’s estate and many of his living friends objected to the film, saying that it didn’t capture the famous writer as he really was.

You may also like: 50 of the best films according to women critics

#75. The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki (2016)

- Director: Juho Kuosmanen
- Stacker score: 84.7
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Runtime: 92 minutes

Immensely talented Finnish boxer Olli Maki has a shot at the World Featherweight title in 1962, something he’s been training for his entire life. But when the small-town boy falls in love with a local girl named Raija, he begins to question his dedication to the brutal sport. “The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki,” Finland’s entry for the 2016 Academy Awards, features a cameo from the retired fighter and won the Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

#74. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Stacker score: 85.2
- Metascore: 75
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 141 minutes

A runaway commercial success, “Catch Me If You Can” tells the stranger-than-fiction story of con man turned FBI assistant Frank Abagnale. The Steven Spielberg film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and is based on the con artist’s 1980 book, grossed more than $352 million at the box office. Abagnale himself makes a cameo as the officer who arrests DiCaprio’s character on Christmas Eve, 1969.

#73. Inherit the Wind (1960)

- Director: Stanley Kramer
- Stacker score: 85.2
- Metascore: 75
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 128 minutes

While it changes the names of all of the key players, 1960’s “Inherit the Wind” is clearly about the Scopes Monkey Trial, which argued the legality of teaching evolution over creationism. Based on the play of the same name, the film starred veteran actors Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly, and Fredric March. In spite of the fact that the storyline of the film varies substantially from real-life events, it’s had an outsized impact on the general public’s opinion and beliefs about the case, inspiring debate over a biopic’s obligation to stick to the hard facts of its topic.

#72. Glory (1989)

- Director: Edward Zwick
- Stacker score: 85.2
- Metascore: 78
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 122 minutes

A stalwart of high school history classes, “Glory” tells the story of the first all-Black regiment in the Civil War, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Starring big names like Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, and Morgan Freeman, the movie was an instant success with critics despite a middling performance at the box office. Historians agree that the film, which is based on Captain Robert Gould Shaw’s personal letters, adheres pretty closely to the historical record.

#71. The Damned United (2009)

- Director: Tom Hooper
- Stacker score: 85.2
- Metascore: 81
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 98 minutes

“The Damned United” is another biopic whose adherence to real events is highly questionable. The film is based on a novel loosely inspired by Brian Clough’s 44-day tenure as the manager of English football team Leeds United, and the Clough family has alleged that the film bears little resemblance to reality.

You may also like: 50 best space movies of all time

#70. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Stacker score: 85.8
- Metascore: 75
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Runtime: 180 minutes

It’s no secret that Wall Street is full of would-be fraudsters and schemers, but few hold a candle to 1990s trader Jordan Belfort, whose company, Stratton Oakmont, engaged in corruption and fraud at never-before-seen levels. Martin Scorsese’s smash hit “The Wolf of Wall Street” tells the true story of the unparalleled misconduct laid bare in Belfort’s memoir of the same name. An awards season darling, the movie was nominated for five Oscars and won a Golden Globe for star Leonardo DiCaprio.

#69. Pride (2014)

- Director: Matthew Warchus
- Stacker score: 85.8
- Metascore: 79
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 119 minutes

One of history’s more unlikely events, the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign is chronicled in the British drama “Pride.” In the 1980s, both the U.K.’s LGBTQ+ community and its coal miners were being threatened by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative Party, a fact that inspired them to join together and fight for their rights, an unlikely alliance that paid off for both groups. This film would make an excellent watch for those interested in lesser-known corners of history.

#68. The Fighter (2010)

- Director: David O. Russell
- Stacker score: 85.8
- Metascore: 79
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 116 minutes

Junior welterweight boxer “Irish” Micky Ward fights his way out from under the shadow of his older, more successful, and troubled brother Dicky Eklund in the sports drama “The Fighter.” The intense flick contains some extraordinary acting, as Mark Wahlberg shines as Micky, while Christian Bale and Amy Adams give Oscar-winning turns as brother Dicky and girlfriend Charlene, respectively.

#67. Frost/Nixon (2008)

- Director: Ron Howard
- Stacker score: 85.8
- Metascore: 80
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 122 minutes

In 1977, three years after he left office, former President Richard Nixon agreed to a single, tell-all interview with British television personality David Frost. It is assumed that Nixon thought he’d be able to outfox the Brit, but he eventually found himself backed into a corner by questions about the Watergate scandal. This 2008 film tells the whole story of the legendary Frost-Nixon interviews and was based on a stage play of the same name, which also starred Frank Langella (Nixon) and Michael Sheen (Frost).

#66. 127 Hours (2010)

- Director: Danny Boyle
- Stacker score: 85.8
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 94 minutes

Academy Award winner Danny Boyle directed “127 Hours,” an intense film about a hiker named Aron Ralston who found himself trapped by a boulder in a remote canyon in Utah. Over the course of his ordeal, Ralston examines his life and finds that he is willing to do whatever it takes to escape—even if it means cutting off his own arm. The real-life Ralston (played by James Franco) has said that the movie is incredibly true to his harrowing experience, if a little less gruesome.

You may also like: Mistakes from the 50 best movies of all time

#65. First Man (2018)

- Director: Damien Chazelle
- Stacker score: 85.8
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 141 minutes

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. This drama chronicles the decade of Armstrong’s life leading to that historical moment, including the loss of his daughter and much of his intense training. Ryan Gosling stars in the film, which was nominated for major awards at the Golden Globes, Academy Awards, Critics Choice Awards, and British Academy Film Awards.

#64. Before Night Falls (2000)

- Director: Julian Schnabel
- Stacker score: 85.8
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Runtime: 133 minutes

An episodic look at the life of Cuban poet, novelist, and Castro supporter-turned-critic Reinaldo Arenas, “Before Night Falls” was based on the man’s own autobiography. An openly gay man, Arenas spent much of his life under careful watch by the government and did several stints in jail before managing to escape to the United States in 1980, where he’d eventually die of AIDS. Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp both have leading roles in this visually arresting picture.

#63. Il Postino (1994)

- Directors: Michael Radford, Massimo Troisi
- Stacker score: 86.3
- Metascore: 81
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 108 minutes

A fictional tale peppered with facts, “Il Postino” follows the friendship that develops between a lowly Italian postman and the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who has been exiled from his home country for political reasons. Massimo Troisi, who played the postman, died of a heart attack the day after the film wrapped and was never able to bask in its critical and commercial success. He was, however, awarded a posthumous Oscar for his work.

#62. Hunger (2008)

- Director: Steve McQueen
- Stacker score: 86.3
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 96 minutes

A dramatic retelling of the hunger strike that took place in Northern Ireland’s Maze Prison in 1981, “Hunger” follows the final days and death of Bobby Sands, an IRA member and the first prisoner to die in the strike. By turns unflinching and abstract, the film won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Steve McQueen directed the intense, harrowing picture, with Michael Fassbender starring as Sands.

#61. Henry V (1989)

- Director: Kenneth Branagh
- Stacker score: 86.3
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 137 minutes

Shakespeare’s classic historical play “Henry V'' was brought to the screen in this 1989 film. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars as the king, the movie chronicles the events of the 15th-century Battle of Agincourt, in which the English continued their Hundred Years’ War against the French.

You may also like: 100 best Westerns of all time

#60. BlacKkKlansman (2018)

- Director: Spike Lee
- Stacker score: 86.3
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 135 minutes

In another stranger-than-fiction tale, African American detective Ron Stallworth infiltrated a Colorado Springs branch of the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1970s. Wowed by Stallworth’s story, Spike Lee set out to bring it to life, casting John David Washington as the young detective, Adam Driver as his Jewish colleague assisting in the sting, and Topher Grace as Grand Wizard David Duke. The finished project was widely praised by critics and won several prestigious awards, including Cannes’ Grand Prix and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

#59. Seraphine (2008)

- Director: Martin Provost
- Stacker score: 86.3
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 125 minutes

A self-taught French painter who holds down a day job as a housekeeper and walks the line between genius and mentally ill is the subject of this 2008 French film. Today, Seraphine Louis’ works hang in museums around the world, but her life was far from a happy one, and she died in the early 20th century in a mental institution, destitute and alone. This simple, subtle biopic, which stars Yolande Moreau, won seven Cesars (the French equivalent of the Academy Award).

#58. 24 Hour Party People (2002)

- Director: Michael Winterbottom
- Stacker score: 86.3
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 117 minutes

In the 1970s, Tony Wilson established Factory Records, which signed bands like Joy Division and the Happy Mondays and sparked a musical revolution, eventually leading to the development of the legendary Hacienda dance club in Manchester, England. A blend of real events, newsreel footage, urban legends, and completely fictional tidbits, this movie expertly tells the raucous story of a man, city, and movement that made up the rules as they went along.

#57. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

- Director: Marielle Heller
- Stacker score: 86.3
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Runtime: 106 minutes

Melissa McCarthy stepped away from her typical comedic roles in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” She plays Lee Israel, a failing writer who tries to revitalize her career by selling forged letters from dead celebrities. While the movie certainly has funny moments, it’s a true crime tale that features an unlikable heroine, a gamble that paid off when McCarthy and co-star Richard E. Grant were nominated for their performances at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes.

#56. The Elephant Man (1980)

- Director: David Lynch
- Stacker score: 86.9
- Metascore: 78
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 124 minutes

Set in Victorian London, “The Elephant Man” chronicles the relationship that formed between a surgeon named Dr. Frederick Treves and John Merrick, a severely disfigured man who earns his living as a freak-show performer called the Elephant Man. Adapted from two different books, one written by Treves himself, the story garnered praise for the way it handled disability and difference. It also inspired the creation of the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling after industry insiders complained that the film’s incredible work wasn’t given enough recognition.

You may also like: Mistakes from the 100 worst movies of all time

#55. Gandhi (1982)

- Director: Richard Attenborough
- Stacker score: 86.9
- Metascore: 79
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Runtime: 191 minutes

The life of civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi has been portrayed in numerous ways via several media since his death in 1948, but perhaps never as movingly as in this 1982 biopic. The story begins with Gandhi being thrown off a South African train in 1893 and concludes with his assassination some 55 years later. Ben Kingsley played Gandhi and won an Academy Award (one of eight the film took home) for his efforts.

#54. Milk (2008)

- Director: Gus Van Sant
- Stacker score: 86.9
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 128 minutes

The life of an openly gay activist who becomes the first LGBTQ+ person elected to public office in California is the subject of “Milk.” Using archival footage of Harvey Milk’s life, the movie covers the time period from Milk’s 40th birthday until his shocking assassination in 1978. Sean Penn’s performance as the title character was awe-inspiring and earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor.

#53. The Long Day Closes (1992)

- Director: Terence Davies
- Stacker score: 86.9
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 85 minutes

Terence Davies’ autobiographical film follows a boy named Bud as he comes of age in 1950s Liverpool, fearing the ever-present eye of the Catholic Church and realizing both his love for cinema and his homosexuality. The film doesn’t follow a straightforward narrative but rather jumps back-and-forth through time, infusing each moment with precisely chosen pieces of popular music and cinema.

#52. Lincoln (2012)

- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Stacker score: 86.9
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 150 minutes

The final four months of U.S. president Abraham Lincoln’s life are explored in detail in Steven Spielberg’s 2012 historical smash “Lincoln.” Starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the gentle, gangly leader, it primarily focuses on Lincoln’s determination to abolish slavery and pass the 13th Amendment. Sally Field co-stars as Mary Todd Lincoln, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the 16th president’s son, Robert. The movie was nominated for 12 Academy Awards, winning two, including Best Actor for Day-Lewis.

#51. Hotel Rwanda (2004)

- Director: Terry George
- Stacker score: 87.4
- Metascore: 79
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 121 minutes

Tackling tough topics like genocide, violence, and political corruption, “Hotel Rwanda” is set during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, when members of the Tutsi ethnic group were hunted down and murdered by armed militias. The movie brings to life the true story of a hotel manager named Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu who offers shelter to over 1,000 Tutsis in the Hotel des Mille Collines. While the Academy Award-winning film finishes on a relatively happy note, real life wasn’t so kind: In late 2020, the real Rusesabagina was charged with “terrorism, complicity in murder, and forming an armed rebel group” by a Rwandan court.

You may also like: Best and worst Leonardo DiCaprio movies

#50. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

- Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
- Stacker score: 87.4
- Metascore: 80
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Runtime: 117 minutes

Ronald Woodroof was a womanizing, drug-using, homophobic electrician from Texas living a carefree life when his doctor announced that he had HIV/AIDS and would likely die in 30 days. After researching his illness, Woodroof uncovered an experimental drug that would potentially prolong his life and established the Dallas Buyers Club, whose mission was to import the drug from Mexico so that it could be easily accessible to everyone who needed it. Along the way, Woodroof (played by Matthew McConaughey in an Oscar-winning performance) became a compassionate friend and advocate for the legal rights of those with the disease.

#49. Captain Phillips (2013)

- Director: Paul Greengrass
- Stacker score: 87.4
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 134 minutes

In 2009, for the first time in 200 years, a U.S. container ship was hijacked by a group of Somali pirates some 145 miles off the Somali coast. This thriller, inspired by those events, stars Tom Hanks as the American captain of the ship and chronicles the tense relationship that develops between him and the pirate captain who holds him hostage, played by newcomer Barkhad Abdi. While Hanks’ character is hailed as a hero in the film, the real-life crew of the ship argues that this wasn’t the case in reality.

#48. Fruitvale Station (2013)

- Director: Ryan Coogler
- Stacker score: 87.4
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 85 minutes

Fruitvale Station” tells the true story of Oscar Grant, a Bay Area resident and young Black man who was killed by Oakland Police officers on New Year’s Eve 2008. His murder would inspire protests and unrest in the California town, events that fall outside the scope of this film but testify to the heated controversy of the incident. Michael B. Jordan stars in the movie, which made its debut at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and collected a number of prizes there and elsewhere.

#47. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)

- Director: Paul Schrader
- Stacker score: 88
- Metascore: 81
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Runtime: 120 minutes

Inspired by the life of Japanese author Yukio Mishima, this biopic freely weaves fact, fiction, and portions of Mishima’s own writing to create a stunning picture of the artist’s life and death. Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas worked as executive producers on the film, which earned director Paul Schrader a special prize at Cannes.

#46. The Wind Rises (2013)

- Director: Hayao Miyazaki
- Stacker score: 88
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 126 minutes

The first animated movie on this list, “The Wind Rises” follows the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of several of Japan’s fighter planes during World War II. The anime film by Studio Ghibli became Japan’s highest-grossing film in 2013, bringing in $116.1 million at the domestic box office. It was widely appreciated outside of Japan as well, winning Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and other animation prizes.

You may also like: The strange and beautiful worlds of Tim Burton movies

#45. Boys Don't Cry (1999)

- Director: Kimberly Peirce
- Stacker score: 88
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 118 minutes

Brandon Teena was a trans man from rural Nebraska who was passionately in pursuit of his true self and true love before becoming the victim of a vicious hate crime perpetrated by two male acquaintances. “Boys Don’t Cry” is a harrowing depiction of Teena’s fate starring Hillary Swank and featuring Chloe Sevigny as Teena’s girlfriend, Lana. While the movie was critically acclaimed, several people with links to the case, including the real Lana (who has been alleged to have been a part of the hate crime) have spoken out against it, saying that the on-screen story doesn’t match the facts.

#44. Capote (2005)

- Director: Bennett Miller
- Stacker score: 88
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 114 minutes

Philip Seymour Hoffman won multiple awards, including an Oscar, for his portrayal of author Truman Capote in this 2005 biopic. The events of the film center around the time period in which Capote was writing “In Cold Blood” and include the friendship he developed with Perry Smith, one of the killers who is on death row. The movie marked Bennet Miller’s directorial debut.

#43. The Madness of King George (1994)

- Director: Nicholas Hytner
- Stacker score: 88
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Runtime: 110 minutes

It is believed that King George III suffered from mental illness, a malady highly misunderstood in 1788 but that drove him to act erratically and rendered him unfit to rule a country. “The Madness of King George” focuses on the monarch’s decline as well as the troubled relationship he shared with his son, the Prince of Wales. Rupert Graves and Helen Mirren both lent their talents to the acclaimed British production.

#42. Ford v Ferrari (2019)

- Director: James Mangold
- Stacker score: 88.5
- Metascore: 81
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 152 minutes

In “Ford v Ferrari,” American car designer Carroll Shelby and fearless British driver Ken Miles come together under the Ford Motor Company banner with hopes of defeating the dominant Ferrari racing team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France. The movie, which tells the twisty story of the most bitter rivalry in auto racing history, stars Matt Damon and Christian Bale as Shelby and Miles, respectively.

#41. The Insider (1999)

- Director: Michael Mann
- Stacker score: 88.5
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 157 minutes

An industry insider appears on a “60-Minutes” expose on Big Tobacco, risking his own safety as well as the safety of his CBS producer in “The Insider”. Accurate in its broad strokes, the film demonstrates the influence of journalism as well as the power of those who choose to stand up for what’s right. Director Michael Mann martialed an abundance of star power for this intense drama, casting Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, and Christopher Plummer in leading roles.

You may also like: 100 Greatest Movie Quotes from 100 Years of Film

#40. Coal Miner's Daughter (1980)

- Director: Michael Apted
- Stacker score: 88.5
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 124 minutes

Based on country music star Loretta Lynn’s biography, “Coal Miner’s Daughter” spans from Lynn’s birth into poverty and marriage at 13 to her emergence as one of the genre’s leading voices. Sissy Spacek, who plays Lynn, accompanied the singer on tour in order to better embody the country queen’s mannerisms and demeanor—a move that paid off when she won the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance.

#39. Richard III (1955)

- Director: Laurence Olivier
- Stacker score: 88.5
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 161 minutes

Another adaptation of a Shakespeare play, “Richard III” famously relates how and why Richard, Duke of Gloucester, stole the crown from his brother, King Edward IV. One of three films directed by Laurence Olivier to bring Shakespeare’s work to the screen, the Criterion Collection deems it “ravishing” and “visually inspired.”

#38. Mr. Turner (2014)

- Director: Mike Leigh
- Stacker score: 88.5
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Runtime: 150 minutes

The story of the last 25 years in the life of the talented, eccentric Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner (played by Timothy Spall) is explored in this drama. The New York Times described Mike Leigh’s portrait as “loving” and “unsentimental,” one that “patiently and thoroughly demolishes more than a century’s worth of mythology about what art is and how artists work.”

#37. Argo (2012)

- Director: Ben Affleck
- Stacker score: 89.1
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 120 minutes

No movie emphasizes the power of Hollywood quite like “Argo,” which tells the story of a harebrained CIA scheme that sought to rescue six American diplomats from Iran (during the Iran hostage crisis) under the guise of shooting a science fiction movie. Based on the real-life accounts of the CIA operative Tony Mendez in his book “The Master of Disguise,” the movie stars Ben Affleck, who also directs. 

#36. Moneyball (2011)

- Director: Bennett Miller
- Stacker score: 89.1
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 133 minutes

Professional sports are as much games of money as they are of talent, which means that the poorest teams are often the least competitive. One exception is the 2002 Oakland Athletics baseball team. “Moneyball” tells the truly impressive story of A’s general manager Billy Beane, who uses statistical data to scout and pick players, creating an aggressively competitive team despite having the lowest salary constraints in Major League Baseball.

You may also like: Can you answer these real 'Jeopardy!' questions about movies?

#35. Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993)

- Director: Steven Zaillian
- Stacker score: 89.1
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 109 minutes

Searching for Bobby Fischer” focuses on Josh Waitzkin, a 7-year-old chess prodigy who loses his love for the game under a ruthless and strict coach, then finds it again with a much more relaxed tutor. Based on a book written by Waitzkin’s father, the movie struck Roger Ebert as “a film of remarkable sensitivity and insight” and was nominated for an Academy Award for its Best Cinematography.

#34. Funny Girl (1968)

- Director: William Wyler
- Stacker score: 89.1
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 151 minutes

Loosely based on the life and career of Broadway star Fanny Brice and her relationship with Nicky Arnstein, “Funny Girl” was the highest-grossing film of 1968. Barbra Streisand, in her feature film debut, won an Oscar for her portrayal of Brice.  

#33. The Tale (2018)

- Director: Jennifer Fox
- Stacker score: 89.1
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 114 minutes

Jennifer Fox’s semiautobiographical “The Tale” explores long-buried, darker aspects of her relationships with two of her childhood coaches, which came to light as she worked on a documentary about child rape victims. Laura Dern stars as Fox in the movie, which made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival before receiving a wider release on HBO.

#32. Topsy-Turvy (1999)

- Director: Mike Leigh
- Stacker score: 89.1
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 160 minutes

The musical “Topsy-Turvy” depicts the relationship between Victorian-era theatrical partners Sir Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert. After their show “Princess Ida” flops, the duo consider going their separate ways but agree to complete at least one more production, “The Mikado,” which ends up becoming one of their greatest successes. An unexpectedly delightful period piece, the movie explores the difficult reality of the creative professions.

#31. Downfall (2004)

- Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
- Stacker score: 89.6
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Runtime: 156 minutes

Set during WWII’s Battle of Berlin, “Downfall” recounts Adolf Hitler’s final days, spent in a bunker miles below the city. Based on a memoir by Traudl Junge, a secretary for Hitler, the movie brings Hitler’s mental decline, which Junge observed firsthand, to life in a way few others have ever been able to. The movie sparked a serious conversation about the moral and ethical questions involved in portraying Hitler, one of the most monstrous villains in world history, with even a hint of humanity.

You may also like: Hitchcock vs. Spielberg: How the Legendary Directors Stack Up

#30. The Miracle Worker (1962)

- Director: Arthur Penn
- Stacker score: 89.6
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 106 minutes

Annie Sullivan, a “half-blind Yankee schoolgirl,” manages to teach the deaf, blind, and mute Helen Keller how to communicate in “The Miracle Worker.” An instant critical success in 1962, both Anne Bancroft, who played Annie Sullivan, and Patty Duke, who played Helen Keller, took home Academy Awards for their performances. The movie was adapted from the Broadway play of the same name, which also starred the same actresses.

#29. All the President's Men (1976)

- Director: Alan J. Pakula
- Stacker score: 89.6
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Runtime: 138 minutes

The dramatic events surrounding Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s unveiling of the Watergate scandal lie at the center of “All the President’s Men.” The award-winning political thriller was based on the 1974 book of the same name written by the two journalists, portrayed by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, respectively.

#28. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

- Director: Arthur Penn
- Stacker score: 89.6
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 111 minutes

Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway bring America’s most notorious crime couple to life in this 1967 telling of the Bonnie and Clyde story. A landmark film and one of the first of the New Hollywood era, the movie became famous for the groundbreakingly realistic way it depicted violence and sex, something that wasn’t done in cinema at the time. Upon its release, Roger Ebert even predicted that it will come to be seen as the “definitive film of the 1960s.”

#27. Shine (1996)

- Director: Scott Hicks
- Stacker score: 89.6
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 105 minutes

Geoffrey Rush’s breakout role was as pianist David Helfgott in the Australian drama “Shine.” Rush’s depiction of the musician, who was afflicted by schizophrenic disorder and spent years living in institutions, won him an Oscar and launched a successful, decades-long career. While the film was a critical success, Helfgott’s real-life siblings were more divided in their reception of it, with one actively campaigning against it and the other two happy with its portrayal of their sibling and his tumultuous family life.

#26. Serpico (1973)

- Director: Sidney Lumet
- Stacker score: 89.6
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 130 minutes

In “Serpico,” a New York City cop blows the whistle on the corruption that runs rampant within the NYPD, which prompts an investigation by the Knapp Commission. Al Pacino plays Frank Serpico, who in real life experienced ostracization and hate from those both inside and outside the force, and saw his act as shameful rather than heroic.

You may also like: Best Robert De Niro movies

#25. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

- Director: Frank Lloyd
- Stacker score: 89.6
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 132 minutes

One of the biggest hits of the 1930s, “Mutiny on the Bounty” may not be historically accurate, but it sure is fun to watch. The movie retraces the classic tale of the HMS Bounty, whose first mate (played by Clark Gable) launches a mutiny against the tyrannical Captain Bligh (Charles Laughton) on an 18th-century voyage from Tahiti. The movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1935.

#24. American Splendor (2003)

- Directors: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
- Stacker score: 89.6
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 101 minutes

A blend of documentary, animation, and live action, as well as fact and fiction, “American Splendor” relays the complicated story of Harvey Pekar, the creator of the titular comic book series. In spite of its complicated-sounding setup, the film is a mesmerizing, absorbing watch full of delightful details. Paul Giamatti plays Pekar and Hope Davis his wife, Joyce—except when the real-life couple steps in for various scenes.

#23. The Queen (2006)

- Director: Stephen Frears
- Stacker score: 89.6
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 103 minutes

Beginning with the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, “The Queen” depicts Elizabeth II’s struggle to publicly react to the news appropriately, as she realizes just how drastically the culture of her country has shifted, leaving her without a clear role. Helen Mirren won an Oscar and received exorbitant praise for her performance in the leading role, with the Queen herself praising her work and inviting her to dinner.

#22. In the Name of the Father (1993)

- Director: Jim Sheridan
- Stacker score: 90.2
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 133 minutes

The Guildford Four were a group of men who were wrongly convicted of the politically motivated 1974 Guildford pub bombings that killed several people. “In the Name of the Father” explores this complicated story and the way it impacted the lives of the four men, as well as those of others connected to them. Daniel Day-Lewis turns in an impressive early performance as one of the accused, Gerry Conlon, whose autobiography “Proved Innocent” provides the basis for the film.

#21. Reversal of Fortune (1990)

- Director: Barbet Schroeder
- Stacker score: 90.2
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Runtime: 111 minutes

A courtroom drama, “Reversal of Fortune” follows the real-life case of Claus von Bulow, a wealthy husband accused of trying to murder his socialite wife by giving her an overdose of insulin. Told from the perspective of the husband’s lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, who struggles with his own questions of the husband’s innocence, the film’s smart script was derived primarily from Dershowitz’s memoir. The film stars Glenn Close, Jeremy Irons, and Ron Silver.

You may also like: Best Picture Winner From the Year You were Born

#20. Spartacus (1960)

- Director: Stanley Kubrick
- Stacker score: 90.7
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Runtime: 197 minutes

Hailed as an intellectual epic, “Spartacus” features a hero who is denied a typical victory and is instead consoled with the promise that his ideas will survive in his stead. The down-ending movie is about a Thracian slave who leads a violent revolt against the Roman Empire but ends up paying dearly for his actions. Although a huge moneymaker for Universal Studios and a critical success, director Stanley Kubrick hated the film and never included it in his canon.

#19. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

- Director: Michael Curtiz
- Stacker score: 90.7
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 126 minutes

George M. Cohan was one of Broadway’s biggest stars, a playwright, composer, actor, dancer, and singer who wrote his own shows in the earliest years of the 20th century. “Yankee Doodle Dandy” is a musical that honors the performer’s life, though it strays pretty far from the truth, in spite of the fact that Cohan himself briefly acted as a consultant.

#18. The Favourite (2018)

- Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
- Stacker score: 90.7
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 119 minutes

A multiple award-winner and a box-office smash, “The Favorite” follows the rivalry between two cousins, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, and Abigail Masham, a lady’s maid, who are vying for the position of Queen Anne’s court favorite. While some of the film’s historical accuracy has been questioned, including the sexual and romantic relationships that exist between the women, the broad strokes of the film are certainly true to life. Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone star in the period black comedy.

#17. Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

- Director: John Ford
- Stacker score: 91.3
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 100 minutes

The second film on the list about Abraham Lincoln, “Young Mr. Lincoln” focuses on the early years of the 16th president’s life, rather than his final months. The first collaboration between John Ford and lead Henry Fonda, the movie focuses on a definitive court case (the “Almanac Trial”) in which the novice lawyer finds himself wrapped up, laying the groundwork for the philosophy and morality which would guide him as one of American history’s most important figures.

#16. Quiz Show (1994)

- Director: Robert Redford
- Stacker score: 91.3
- Metascore: 92
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 133 minutes

Robert Redford directed the docudrama set in the 1950s about a young lawyer who discovers that quiz shows like “Twenty-One” are being fixed and begins to investigate, focusing on two former contestants, a working-class Jewish man from Queens and a member of one of America’s leading literary families. A critical success, the movie was a commercial failure when it was released in 1994.

You may also like: Steven Spielberg films ranked from worst to firs

#15. The King's Speech (2010)

- Director: Tom Hooper
- Stacker score: 91.8
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Runtime: 118 minutes

The King’s Speech” tells the story of the friendship that existed between King George VI and his speech therapist, who helped the king overcome his stutter so that he could face his subjects with confidence. Earning nominations for almost every existing award, the star-studded film was far and away one of the biggest hits of 2010.

#14. In Cold Blood (1967)

- Director: Richard Brooks
- Stacker score: 91.8
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Runtime: 134 minutes

Based on Truman Capote’s novel of the same name, “In Cold Blood'' follows two drifters who murder an entire family in a robbery gone wrong. Described as a filmmaking masterclass, the movie boasts “clinically precise editing,” according to the Criterion Collection, as well as evocative black-and-white cinematography and authentic, unshowy performances.

#13. The Pianist (2002)

- Director: Roman Polanski
- Stacker score: 92.9
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Runtime: 150 minutes

Holocaust survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish-Jewish pianist and composer, wrote his life story in “The Pianist,” which became the basis for this Roman Polanski film. As the lead in this incredibly intense story, lead actor Adrien Brody said in 2017 that he was still recovering from the emotional toll of the story, 15 years after its release. Still, the award-winning movie is an important watch for those who seek to understand just how much the Holocaust and its aftermath shaped the world.

#12. Persepolis (2007)

- Directors: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
- Stacker score: 92.9
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Runtime: 96 minutes

The only other animated film to make the list, “Persepolis” is the story of an outspoken teenage girl named Marji who comes of age during the Iranian Revolution. Simple in an elegant way, the film was based on a series of graphic novels Marjane Satrapi wrote about her life. Making its debut at the Cannes Film Festival, “Persepolis” was a co-winner of the Jury Prize.

#11. Patton (1970)

- Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
- Stacker score: 92.9
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Runtime: 172 minutes

Famous and controversial WWII tank commander General George S. Patton is the subject of this 1970s biopic, which remains among the most iconic movies ever made. George C. Scott took on the role of Patton and won an Academy Award for it (one of seven the picture took home). The film was in the works for several years before production went underway, as the United States Department of Defense was not keen on signing off on the project.

You may also like: 111 monumental movies from film history and why you need to see them

#10. Amadeus (1984)

- Director: Milos Forman
- Stacker score: 93.4
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Runtime: 160 minutes

The premise of “Amadeus'' hinges on a fictional rivalry between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Italian composer Antonio Salieri. Though the beef between the two is contrived, the details of Mozart’s life that are woven into the film are, by and large, true. Accuracy aside, the film was quickly regarded as a classic and ended up winning eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

#9. Raging Bull (1980)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Stacker score: 93.4
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Runtime: 129 minutes

Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull” tells the story of prizefighter Jake LaMotta’s rise and fall. The athlete’s obsessive rage and animalistic appetite led him to incredible victories within the ring but destroyed almost every aspect of his life outside it. While initially a bit of a critical and commercial flop, the movie has come to be considered Scorsese’s magnum opus.

#8. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

- Directors: Julian Schnabel, Laura Obiols
- Stacker score: 94
- Metascore: 92
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Runtime: 112 minutes

In “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby suffers a massive stroke that leaves him with locked-in syndrome, a condition where almost all the muscles in his body are paralyzed except for his left eye. The French film, based on Bauby’s memoir, was called “a poignant reflection on what it means to be alive” by Empire’s Alan Morrison.

#7. The Social Network (2010)

- Director: David Fincher
- Stacker score: 94
- Metascore: 95
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 120 minutes

Before Facebook became a dominant force in our lives and culture, monitoring our every move, it was a way for college students to connect and make new friends. “The Social Network” tells the story of the platform’s early years, including the not-so-honorable moves of co-founder Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg). A critical and commercial success, the film was named one of the best films of 2010.

#6. The Irishman (2019)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Stacker score: 94.5
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Runtime: 209 minutes

Scorsese strikes again with “The Irishman,” a gangster movie based on the book “I Heard You Paint Houses” about former mafia hitman Frank Sheeran. The film brings together some of the gangster genre’s biggest heavyweights—Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel—who earned a host of accolades for their collective work. The film was released on Netflix in late 2019.

You may also like: 100 best John Wayne movies

#5. My Left Foot (1989)

- Director: Jim Sheridan
- Stacker score: 96.2
- Metascore: 97
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Runtime: 103 minutes

Christy Brown was an Irishman born with cerebral palsy and was only able to control a single limb, his left foot. Despite his substantial physical disabilities, Brown learned how to paint and write with his foot, providing an unlikely outlet for his creativity. Daniel Day-Lewis brings the cantankerous artist to life in this Oscar-nominated film based on Brown’s memoir.

#4. Goodfellas (1990)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Stacker score: 96.7
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Runtime: 146 minutes

The final Martin Scorsese picture on our list and one of the best-loved gangster films of all time, “Goodfellas” chronicles the true-life story of Henry Hill, a small-time mobster turned informant. Starring frequent Scorsese collaborator Rober De Niro as well as Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci, the movie is based on crime reporter Nicholas Pileggi’s book “Wiseguy” and is widely considered one of the highest artistic peaks of Scorsese’s career.

#3. 12 Years a Slave (2013)

- Director: Steve McQueen
- Stacker score: 96.7
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 134 minutes

Solomon Northup was a New York-born free Black man who was kidnapped into slavery in 1841 and spent 12 years enslaved on plantations in Louisiana before being released. “12 Years a Slave,” a realistic and violent depiction of Northup’s experience, was based on his memoirs. The award-winning movie did what many before it failed to do: it demolished, once and for all, the idea that slavery was anything but a horrific, unjust, and unfair practice whose sins remain in America to this day.

#2. Schindler's List (1993)

- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Stacker score: 100
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Runtime: 195 minutes

A success on every level, Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust masterpiece “Schindler’s List” is, at its heart, two parallel character studies. On the one hand, there’s Amon Goeth (played by Ralph Fiennes), a purely evil psychopath, and on the other Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a greedy businessman turned unlikely humanitarian. Haunting and powerful, the film insists that goodness and truth can prevail, even in some of humanity’s darkest moments.

#1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

- Director: David Lean
- Stacker score: 100
- Metascore: 100
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Runtime: 228 minutes

The best biopic of all time? This 1962 epic chronicling the life of British Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence, who’s tasked with serving as a liaison between Prince Faisal and the British government during their fight against the Turks. Earning 10 Oscar nominations, the movie is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential films in cinematic history. Still, there are always haters: Lawrence’s brother A.W. reportedly hated the film so much that he refused to let David Lean use the title of T.E.’s memoir, “Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

You may also like: Movie trivia for the top 100 films of all time