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Best films turning 50 in 2024

Stacker ranked the top 50 films turning 50 years old in 2024, providing a strong overview of the innovative and long-lasting impact of 1974 cinema.

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Gene Wilder, Cleavon Little, Jack Nicholson, Ellen Burstyn, Steve McQueen, Divine, Al Pacino with the numbers “’74”.

Photo Illustration by Stacker // Getty Images

The 1970s is a decade to be remembered both politically and cinematically. 1974, in particular, gave the world iconic slashers, pop samurai films, and psychedelic rock musicals, but also playful hangout comedies, unlikely buddy movies, and classic whodunits.

This dazzling spectrum of cinematic choices shouldn't be a surprise for a decade often characterized as a Golden Age for filmmakers. A number of films from the 1970s appear on Sight & Sound's prestigious "Greatest Films of All Time" list from 2022, including "The Godfather" from 1972, "Taxi Driver" from 1976, and "Apocalypse Now" from 1979.

Even now, filmmakers find inspiration in that decade, sometimes going so far as to make sure that the movie not only feels set in the era but made during that tumultuous time. In director Alexander Payne's Academy Award Best Picture nominee "The Holdovers," for example, not only did the filmmakers refer to movies from the period like Hal Ashby's "The Last Detail" and Francis Ford Coppola's "The Conversation," but they used specific camera lenses to produce a vintage look typical of movies from the '70s.

One of the reasons 1970s cinema has such a hold on contemporary audiences and filmmakers is because the decade saw unprecedented changes in politics, technology, and the kind of stories audiences gravitate toward. It was a time of upheaval both culturally and politically with issues like the Civil Rights Movement, gender roles, and the war in Vietnam tackled at kitchen tables and political conventions. The issues of the day whetted audience appetites for darker, grittier narratives, some featuring anti-heroes and complicated lead characters.

Technology was also quickly advancing. Cameras became far more portable and more accessible, which allowed filmmakers to take to the streets and innovate outside of Hollywood's studio system.

To celebrate this distinct cinematic era, Stacker looked at data on all movies turning 50 in 2024, meaning the films themselves were released theatrically in 1974 and encapsulated the exciting energy of '70s cinema. The films on this list are ranked in the top 50 by IMDb user ratings, with ties broken by the number of IMDb user votes. In order to qualify, each film had to have at least 2,500 user votes and be released theatrically in 1974. Metacritic scores are provided for critical context.

#50. Death Wish

Charles Bronson seated on the banks of the East River in ‘Death Wish’.

Bettmann // Getty Images

- Director: Michael Winner
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Metascore: 51
- Runtime: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Michael Winner's 1974 film "Death Wish" is a violent yet heartbreaking story of a man named Paul Kersey, who seeks vengeance after the murder of his wife. Star Charles Bronson, known for his rugged looks and humble upbringing, gives a strong performance that cemented him as an excellent action (anti)hero. The film inspired four sequels as well as a remake in 2018 from director Eli Roth, which starred Bruce Willis in the lead role.

#49. Mahler

Robert Powell and Georgina Hale at the Cannes Film Festival in 1974.

Keystone/Hulton Archive // Getty Images

- Director: Ken Russell
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 1 hour, 55 minutes

Before "Amadeus" and "Maestro," there was 1974's "Mahler," a musician biopic about the life and love of famed composer Gustav Mahler. Director Ken Russell was less concerned with historical accuracy, however, and more focused on creating a fantastical and energetic film that captured the plight of the underrated artist.

#48. Thieves Like Us

Shelly Duvall and Keith Carradine in a scene from ‘Thieves Like Us’.

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- Director: Robert Altman
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 2 hours, 3 minutes

Robert Altman's 1974 film "Thieves Like Us" is a crime drama that draws parallels to the classic 1967 "Bonnie and Clyde" in that it's about a bank-robbing trio hiding from the police, and one of them falls in love. The ill-fated romance between Bowie (Keith Carradine) and Keechie (Shelley Duvall) is the real heart of the film, expertly aided by Robert Altman's skill for visual storytelling.

#47. The Odessa File

Mary Tamm and Jon Voight in a scene from ‘The Odessa File’.

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- Director: Ronald Neame
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 2 hours, 10 minutes

An adaptation of Frederick Forsyth's novel of the same name, the 1974 film "The Odessa File" is a thrilling drama exploring the aftermath of World War II and the ways the trauma from that conflict still manifests in people's lives. Audiences follow German journalist Peter Miller (Jon Voight) as he investigates sightings of a former Nazi captain, eventually leading to his discovery and infiltration of a secret society of former Nazis.

#46. Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges in

Silver Screen Collection // Getty Images

- Director: Michael Cimino
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Metascore: 62
- Runtime: 1 hour, 55 minutes

While "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" is a heist film, the 1974 action comedy is primarily a story of two gunslingers (played by Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges) teaming up and taking on the world, trusting each other with their wealth and their life. This is the debut feature film of director and writer Michael Cimino, who successfully subverts the traditional heist structure by withholding the film's crime plot until its midpoint.

#45. The Towering Inferno

Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway, and Paul Newman in a scene from ‘The Towering Inferno’.

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- Director: John Guillermin
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Metascore: 69
- Runtime: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Despite the almost three-hour runtime of "The Towering Inferno," this San Francisco-based disaster film keeps audiences on the edge of their seat the entire time. Guillermin's film features five different storylines unfolding while a skyscraper slowly burns down. "The Towering Inferno" features an all-star cast, including Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway, and William Holden.

#44. The Clockmaker

Bertrand Tavernier in conversation with Philippe Noiret.

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- Director: Bertrand Tavernier
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 1 hour, 45 minutes

"The Clockmaker" is a subversion of the classic investigative thriller because its protagonist is not a police chief or a victim, but instead the killer's father. Based on a Georges Simenon novel, Tavernier's French adaptation features an incredible performance by actor Philippe Noiret. His performance was so good that the director would work with Noiret for nine of his films.

#43. The Gambler

James Caan and Lauren Hutton at the card table in a scene from

Paramount // Getty Images

- Director: Karel Reisz
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 1 hour, 51 minutes

The pitfalls of addiction serves as the throughline of Karel Reisz's 1974 film "The Gambler," manifested in the character of Axel Freed, expertly played by James Caan. Freed is a university professor by day and a compulsive gambler by night. The film doesn't shy away from darker aspects of his personality, creating a complicated portrayal of a man addicted to playing his odds.

#42. Female Trouble

Divine as Dawn Davenport and Cookie Mueller as Concetta in ‘Female Trouble’.

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- Director: John Waters
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 1 hour, 29 minutes

John Waters is a director most known for his refreshingly independent and morally dubious films, earning him the title "Pope of Trash." "Female Trouble" is a highlight of his frequent collaborations with drag queen Divine, also in 1972's "Pink Flamingos" and 1981's "Polyester." In "Female Trouble," she plays fame-hungry Dawn Davenport, who turns to a life of crime when her parents don't get her cha-cha heels.

#41. The Parallax View

Warren Beatty in ‘The Parallax View’.

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- Director: Alan J. Pakula
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 1 hour, 42 minutes

America in the 1970s was a tumultuous place with the Vietnam War, Watergate, and Roe v. Wade. The anxiety of this period is reflected in its cinema, evidenced by "The Parallax View." In Alan J. Pakula's film, reporter Joseph Frady (Warren Beatty) dives deep into the mysterious circumstances surrounding a top senator's assassination, eventually uncovering a massive political conspiracy.

#40. The Longest Yard

Burt Reynolds on the sideline in a scene from the film

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- Director: Robert Aldrich
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Metascore: 61
- Runtime: 2 hours, 1 minute

Audiences may be familiar with the 2005 film "The Longest Yard" with Adam Sandler, but Burt Reynolds preceded him when he played former football star Paul "Wrecking" Crewe in the 1974 version. In this prison-based comedy, an incarcerated Crewe is pressured by his warden to coach an inmate football team and play against the prison guards. Reynolds told USA Today in 2018 that he regularly consulted with actual inmates to deliver his performance.

#39. Black Christmas

Poster art for ‘Silent Night, Evil Night’, original title for

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- Director: Bob Clark
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 1 hour, 38 minutes

1974 was a big year for the horror genre, with the infamous "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" and Bob Clark's holiday-themed thriller "Black Christmas." The film is considered one of the first slasher films, coming out four years before John Carpenter's "Halloween," and follows sorority sisters as they get picked off one by one. This isn't Clark's only holiday film; he's also the director behind the 1983 classic "A Christmas Story."

#38. Almost Human

Poster art for ‘Almost Human’.

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- Director: Umberto Lenzi
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 1 hour, 39 minutes

Umberto Lenzi's "Almost Human" is a shocking drama-thriller following the sadistic criminal Giulio Sacchi (Tomas Milian) as he embarks upon a spree of violent attacks. This Italian film is a part of the larger "poliziotteschi" genre that emerged in Italy in the 1960s and '70s, focusing on depictions of criminals and the police who chase them in action and thriller films.

#37. Céline and Julie Go Boating

Poster art for

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- Director: Jacques Rivette
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Metascore: 100
- Runtime: 3 hours, 13 minutes

"Céline and Julie Go Boating" is a standout from the French New Wave, a revolutionary film movement that emerged in 1950s France and completely subverted the rules of cinema. Jacques Rivette's film is considered a "hangout comedy" and centers around librarian Julie (Dominique Labourier) and magician Céline (Juliet Berto) spending time together across the span of time and space.

#36. California Split

George Segal and Elliot Gould in ‘California Split’.

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- Director: Robert Altman
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 1 hour, 48 minutes

George Segal and Elliott Gould star as Bill and Charlie respectively, two gambling addicts with a tendency to push their luck as far as humanly possible. Robert Altman, director of 1970's "M*A*S*H," masterfully balances comedy and tragedy as the naturally engaging protagonists dig themselves deeper and deeper into a hole of their own vices.

#35. Going Places

Gerard Depardieu and Patrick Dewaere in ‘Going Places

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- Director: Bertrand Blier
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 1 hour, 57 minutes

It's hard to balance humor and nihilism, evidenced by Bertrand Blier's 1974 film "Going Places." Audiences follow two men, Jean-Claude (Gérard Depardieu) and Pierrot (Patrick Dewaere), as they live from stolen car to stolen car, engaging in every sexual and criminal whim across the whole of France. While there is some humor to be found, some critics consider the film both nihilistic and misogynistic.

#34. The Yakuza

Robert Mitchum and Keiko Kishi on the set of ‘The Yakuza’.

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- Director: Sydney Pollack
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 1 hour, 52 minutes

Sydney Pollack's "The Yakuza" is known as the "first film on Japanese crime milieu produced by Western studios" according to Cinephilia & Beyond. Embodying the cultural clash of American and Japanese values post-World War II is American protagonist Harry Kilmer (Robert Mitchum), a detective who visits Japan to help save an old friend's kidnapped daughter.

#33. Murder on the Orient Express

Albert Finney questions passengers in a scene from the film

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- Director: Sidney Lumet
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Metascore: 63
- Runtime: 2 hours, 8 minutes

"Queen of Crime" Agatha Christie created the perfect setup for a mystery film in her novel "Murder on the Orient Express." Someone is killed in the confined location of a train, meaning the culprit has to be one of the few people in the train car. Throw in a seasoned detective like Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) and a director like Sidney Lumet, whose other films include 1957's "12 Angry Men" and 1975's "Dog Day Afternoon," and you have a smashing success that's been adapted into various storytelling formats, even for Japanese TV.

#32. Vincent, François, Paul and the Others

Michel Piccoli, Ludmilla Mikael, Yves Montant and Serge Reggiani on the set of ‘Vincent, François, Paul and the Others.

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- Director: Claude Sautet
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 1 hour, 58 minutes

As the title indicates, "Vincent, François, Paul and the Others" is a drama centered around the three titular men. Vincent (Yves Montand) is a factory owner who loses both his mistress and his wife; François (Michel Piccoli) is a doctor who's sold out on his ideals; and Paul (Serge Reggiani) is a writer unable to write. The film observes these men over a number of weeks, creating an intentionally naturalistic cinematic experience.

#31. Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell

Tomisaburo Wakayama holds up his sword in

Columbia Pictures // Getty Images

- Director: Yoshiyuki Kuroda
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 1 hour, 23 minutes

The "Lone Wolf and Cub" franchise covers six chambara films, popular Japanese samurai films of the 1960s and 1970s. The films draw inspiration from a manga series of the same name. "White Heaven in Hell" is the final installment of the film series, following assassin Itto Ogami (Tomisaburo Wakayama) and his young son Daigoro (Akihiro Tomikawa) as they face their craziest challenges yet: zombies.

#30. Harry and Tonto

Art Carney holding a cat in a scene from ‘Harry and Tonto’.

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- Director: Paul Mazursky
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 1 hour, 55 minutes

"Harry and Tonto" features two unlikely protagonists in this 1974 road movie: a 72-year-old man named Harry (Art Carney) and his pet cat, Tonto. When Harry is forcefully evicted from his soon-to-be destroyed apartment building, he embarks upon a leisurely journey across the United States, connecting with family, making new friends, and collecting unusual experiences.

#29. Watch Out, We're Mad

Terrence Hill and Bud Spencer in a scene from ‘Watch Out, We’re Mad!’.

Mondadori via Getty Images

- Director: Marcello Fondato
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Filmed in both Spain and Italy, Marcello Fondato's "Watch Out, We're Mad" is a part action, part buddy comedy film starring Terrence Hill and Bud Spencer. Hill and Spencer star as Kid and Ben respectively, two stunt drivers forced to share a new dune buggy after tying for first in a race—that is, of course, until a local crime syndicate destroys it. "Watch Out, We're Mad" was rebooted in 2022 by Netflix but received very little praise.

#28. The Front Page

Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in a scene from ‘The Front Page’.

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- Director: Billy Wilder
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: 62
- Runtime: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Based on a 1928 play of the same name, Billy Wilder's 1974 film "The Front Page" is actually the third cinematic retelling of the story, following 1931 film of the same name and 1940's "His Girl Friday." Set in 1920s Chicago, Wilder's film sees editor Walter Burns (Walter Matthau) trying to manipulate his star reporter Hildy Johnson (Jack Lemmon) into staying at his job to cover one last case, even though Johnson wants to retire.

#27. Phantom of the Paradise

William Finley in ‘Phantom of the Paradise’.

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- Director: Brian De Palma
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: 67
- Runtime: 1 hour, 31 minutes

The 1974 film "Phantom of the Paradise" has been described as what happens if someone made the Phantom from "Phantom of the Opera" the story's protagonist and mixed in Faust and "The Picture of Dorian Gray." The result is a psychedelic rock opera that precedes 1975's "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." De Palma's film follows composer Winslow (William Finley) whose music gets stolen by a devilish producer named Swan (Paul Williams) for his new rock palace.

#26. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Ellen Burstyn and Alfred Lutter III in a scene from ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’.

Warner Brothers // Getty Images

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 1 hour, 52 minutes

Most people associate Martin Scorsese with gangster epics, but his 1974 film "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" is quite the departure: a naturalistic drama that centers on the titular widow and mother. Ellen Burstyn plays Alice who, when her husband dies, embarks on a literal and personal journey to restart her career as a singer in order to provide for her son. The film was nominated for three Oscars, with Burstyn taking home Best Actress.

#25. At Home Among Strangers, a Stranger Among His Own

Director and Actor Nikita Mikhalkov poses for a portrait.

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- Director: Nikita Mikhalkov
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 1 hour, 37 minutes

"At Home Among Strangers, a Stranger Among His Own" is set against the backdrop of the Russian Civil War of 1917, following veterans of the Red Army who defended Lenin's new government. Shilov (Yuriy Bogatyryov) and his friends' optimistic outlook following the war's end is subverted when he's accused of stealing gold and faces the threat of capital punishment.

#24. Conversation Piece

Burt Lancaster in a scene from ‘Conversation Piece’.

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- Director: Luchino Visconti
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 2 hours, 1 minute

The title of Luchino Visconti's "Conversation Piece" is an art history reference to a style of group portraits that became popular in the 18th century. It's a fitting choice, seeing as the film's protagonist is an older art historian simply called the professor (Burt Lancaster), whose solitary existence is upended when an Italian socialite named Countess Brumonti (Silvana Mangano) moves into his upstairs apartment with her eccentric family.

#23. Rabid Dogs

Black and white vintage film projector.

Canva

- Director: Mario Bava
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 1 hour, 36 minutes

The bulk of director Mario Bava's work falls into the stylized horror genre of Giallo, but he forged into new territory with the 1974 crime drama "Rabid Dogs." Adapted from Michael J. Carroll's short story "Man and Boy," "Rabid Dogs" follows three criminals who, after a bungled robbery, wind up taking a young woman, a middle-aged man, and a child hostage to avoid capture by the police.

#22. Salako

Closeup of vintage movie film reels.

Canva

- Director: Atif Yilmaz
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 1 hour, 27 minutes

"Salako" is a romantic comedy from Turkish director Atif Yilmaz, who helmed more than 100 films in his long career. This one focuses on the titular character (Kemal Sunal), a dim-witted villager who yearns for his landlord's daughter, Emine (Meral Zeren), even though she's got her heart set elsewhere.

#21. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

Warren Oates in a scene from the movie "Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia”.

Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

- Director: Sam Peckinpah
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 1 hour, 52 minutes

In the larger tradition of Westerns, "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia" is a tale of a down-on-their-luck drifter attempting to make the best of a bad situation. When a bounty is promised for the head of one Alfredo Garcia to a powerful crime lord, a bar pianist named Bennie (Warren Oates) is determined to procure the head and bring it to Mexico to make the money necessary for a better life. The film was initially reviled for being too violent, but retrospectively, it's been hailed as a masterpiece, with Roger Ebert calling it "extraordinary, a true and heartfelt work" nearly 30 years later.

#20. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Marilyn Burns in a scene from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."

Canva

- Director: Tobe Hooper
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 1 hour, 23 minutes

Depending on who you ask, Tobe Hooper's "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" is either a baseless, gratuitously violent film or an intelligently constructed thriller with sociopolitical commentary. No matter which side of the spectrum you sit on, the original "Texas Chain Saw Massacre" is one of the horror genre's earliest slasher films and arguably one of the most famous. As of 2024, the franchise—which follows a group of friends traveling across rural Texas who encounter a sadistic family in a deserted house—includes eight additional films.

#19. Scent of a Woman

Alessandro Momo and Vittorio Gassman in ‘Scent of a Woman’.

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- Director: Dino Risi
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 1 hour, 43 minutes

The 1992 "Scent of a Woman" starring Al Pacino certainly left its mark—and won Pacino an Oscar—but many younger cinephiles may not realize that the original "Scent of a Woman" is a 1974 Italian film written and directed by Dino Risi. The plot centers around young army cadet Ciccio (Alessandro Momo) who's tasked to look after blind Captain Fausto Consolo (Vittorio Gassman). Risi's film was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.

#18. Swept Away

Mariangela Melato in a publicity portrait for ‘Swept Away’.

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- Director: Lina Wertmüller
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 1 hour, 54 minutes

On the surface, "Swept Away" is the story of a rich, young woman and a poor, proud sailor who get stranded together on a Mediterranean Island. On a more thematic level, it's about the class dynamics in Italian society. A year after "Swept Away" hit theaters, director Lina Wertmüller became the first woman ever nominated for Best Director at the Oscars for her 1975 film "Seven Beauties."

#17. Lenny

Dustin Hoffman in the leading role in a scene from the film ‘Lenny

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- Director: Bob Fosse
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Metascore: 61
- Runtime: 1 hour, 51 minutes

Stand-up comedian Lenny Bruce broke ground as one of the first public figures to engage in countercultural commentary, leading to a highly publicized obscenity trial that lasted for four years. Bob Fosse's biographical film "Lenny" utilizes both documentary interviews and fictional narrative segments to portray the scope of Bruce's life and impact, with Dustin Hoffman playing the comedy legend.

#16. Lacombe, Lucien

Pierre Blaise in

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- Director: Louis Malle
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 2 hours, 18 minutes

In Louis Malle's "Lacombe, Lucien," eponymous character Lucien Lacombe (Pierre Blaise) is an apolitical country boy desperate to get ahead in World War II-era France. Lucien goes from wannabe resistance leader to collaborator with the Gestapo all while falling in love with a young Jewish girl. Malle's film was one of the first French features to acknowledge the country's collaboration with Germany during the war, with Lacombe serving as the stand-in for France's opposing views.

#15. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

Hector Elizondo in a scene from the movie ‘The Taking of Pelham One Two Three’.

Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

- Director: Joseph Sargent
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 1 hour, 44 minutes

"The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" is an adaptation of the John Godey book of the same name. This heist thriller takes place in New York City, focusing on four hijackers taking control of a subway car (departing from the Pelham Bay Park station at 1:23 p.m.) and holding the passengers hostage for a hefty ransom. But what elevates this movie beyond a run-of-the-mill heist film is its complex characters, both the criminals and hostages alike.

#14. Blazing Saddles

Gene Wilde and Cleavon Little in

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- Director: Mel Brooks
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Metascore: 73
- Runtime: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Over the course of his 70-year career, comedian and director Mel Brooks has perfected the art of the lowbrow gag in his massively popular films like 1967's "The Producers" and 1987's "Spaceballs." Nowhere is that mastery more evident than in "Blazing Saddles," Brooks' attempt at parodying a Western. Starring Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder as the newly instated sheriff and deputy of the town Rock Ridge, the movie includes famous gags like the fart-heavy campfire scene and the opening musical number that would not pass muster today.

#13. That's Entertainment!

MGM

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- Director: Jack Haley Jr.
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 73
- Runtime: 2 hours, 15 minutes

"That's Entertainment!" is unlike any other entry on this list in that it's neither a narrative film nor a true documentary. It serves as a compilation of the best musical numbers from MGM's extensive catalog, with the musical segments introduced by an all-star lineup of hosts, from Frank Sinatra to Gene Kelly, and from Debbie Reynolds to Elizabeth Taylor.

#12. The Phantom of Liberty

Serge Silberman and Luis Bunuel in a scene from the film

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- Director: Luis Buñuel
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Luis Buñuel is a masterful Spanish director whose work often expands into surrealist territory while still providing shrewd social commentary. Described as a "brilliantly anti-narrative film" by Sense of Cinema Magazine, "The Phantom of Liberty" takes a stream-of-consciousness approach, covering multiple time periods and drawing inspiration from Karl Marx and the Spanish picaresque, episodic tales that focus on an antihero.

#11. The Conversation

Gene Hackman in a scene from ‘The Conversation’.

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- Director: Francis Ford Coppola
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 1 hour, 53 minutes

Francis Ford Coppola introduced audiences to the subject matter of "The Conversation" in its opening sequence: High on a rooftop, the camera surveys an innocent couple talking in a crowd. Protagonist Harry Caul (Gene Hackman), an expert in the field of surveillance, is hired to wiretap this couple. But what is supposed to be a routine job becomes a moral dilemma when Harry starts to suspect his subjects will be the victims of an assassination attempt. "The Conversation" won the coveted Palme d'Or at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival and has since landed on many lists of the best films of all time.

#10. Alice in the Cities

Yella Rottländer in ‘Alice in the Cities’.

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- Director: Wim Wenders
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 1 hour, 53 minutes

While Wim Wenders has created a wide array of work in his more than 50 years as a director, he has frequently returned to one genre in his most renowned films: the road movie, a film that follows characters hitting the road, where the emphasis is on the journey they undertake and not where they're headed. "Alice in the Cities" is the first of Wenders' road movie trilogy, following a German journalist in the U.S. who winds up taking care of an abandoned young girl.

#9. We All Loved Each Other So Much

Vittorio Gassman, Stefania Sandrelli, and Nino Manfredi in the film ‘We All Loved Each Other So Much’.

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- Director: Ettore Scola
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 2 hours, 4 minutes

Like the earlier entry "Lacombe, Lucien," Ettore Scola's Italian dramedy "We All Loved Each Other So Much" grapples with the aftershocks of the Nazi occupation in Europe, although with a lot more humor. Spanning 30 years, the film centers on the friendship of three former partisan troops: lawyer Gianni (Vittorio Gassman), hospital orderly Antonio (Nino Manfredi), and movie fanatic Nicola (Stefano Satta Flores).

#8. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

El Hedi ben Salem and Brigitte Mira in a scene from ‘Ali: Fear Eats the Soul’.

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- Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 1 hour, 32 minutes

While the name might indicate action or horror, "Ali: Fear Eats the Soul" is actually a romance that pays tribute to the classic melodramas of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Masterful German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder adapts Douglas Sirk's 1955 film "All That Heaven Allows" and recontextualizes it in contemporary Germany, following a 60-year-old widow falling in love with a 40-year-old mechanic from Morocco.

#7. Young Frankenstein

Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, and Teri Garr in a scene from the movie

Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection // Getty Images

- Director: Mel Brooks
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Metascore: 83
- Runtime: 1 hour, 46 minutes

Like "Blazing Saddles," "Young Frankenstein" is another classic comedy from Mel Brooks starring Gene Wilder. This time, Wilder plays Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, a professor who moves to Transylvania and attempts to take up the family business of reanimating corpses. Brooks' fans expected "Young Frankenstein" to be hilarious, but critic Roger Ebert also notes that the movie "shows artistic growth and a more sure-handed control of the material" on the director's part.

#6. A Woman Under the Influence

Peter Falk and Gena Rowlands in

Silver Screen Collection // Getty Images

- Director: John Cassavetes
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 2 hours, 35 minutes

Filmmaker and actor John Cassavetes created a cinematic language that's entirely his own, and nowhere is that more evident than in "A Woman Under the Influence." Starring Gena Rowlands as Mabel Longhetti in an unbelievably authentic performance, the film follows the Longhetti family as they try to maintain normalcy while Mabel's mental health steadily worsens. Cassavetes ditched a traditional plot and instead placed audiences in the Longhettis' day-to-day life, where time moves slowly as tension grows high.

#5. Chinatown

Jack Nicholson in ‘Chinatown

Screen Archives // Getty Images

- Director: Roman Polanski
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Metascore: 92
- Runtime: 2 hours, 10 minutes

"Chinatown" boasts one of the most iconic final scenes in movie history, largely thanks to the highly quotable line, "Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown." Jack Nicholson stars as private investigator J.J. Gittes, who gets dragged into a world of corruption when an adultery case goes awry. Ultimately, the success of "Chinatown" was greatly overshadowed by the crimes of director Roman Polanski, who, in 1978, fled the U.S. after being charged with drugging and raping a young teenage girl and learning his plea deal was going to be rejected.

#4. Beautiful People

Poster art for ‘Beautiful People’.

LMPC via Getty Images

- Director: Jamie Uys
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 1 hour, 32 minutes

The name "Beautiful People" is pretty misleading; but the full title of this film, "Animals Are Beautiful People," is far more indicative of its content. The nature documentary features African animals of the Kalahari and Namib Deserts. Filmmaker Jamie Uys captured more than 500,000 feet of film over four years and edited his footage down to a roughly 90-minute run time, creating engaging narratives surrounding his animal subjects.

#3. Hearts and Minds

Victory in Vietnam committee marching in a scene for the film

Warner Brothers // Getty Images

- Director: Peter Davis
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 1 hour, 52 minutes

Even in modern times, the ethicality surrounding the Vietnam War and the United States' involvement in it is a hotly contested issue. "Hearts and Minds" was one of the early documentaries to brave this topic, stringing together war footage, newsreels, and interviews to illustrate just how devastating the aftermath of the U.S. military campaign was for soldiers and victims alike. Davis' documentary was especially groundbreaking as it was released at the height of controversy, with the last U.S. troops being removed from Vietnam in 1975. That same year, the film won Best Documentary at the Oscars.

#2. Scenes from a Marriage

Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson in ‘Scenes from a Marriage’.

Cinematograph AB/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

- Director: Ingmar Bergman
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Metascore: Data not available
- Runtime: 2 hours, 49 minutes

"Scenes from a Marriage" is highly romantic, but not in a way that audiences have been used to seeing in traditional romance or romantic comedy films. It tracks the love between Marianne (Liv Ullman) and Johan (Erland Josephson) over the span of their marriage through their divorce when Johan falls in love with another woman, and then to their eventual reunion. Originally made as a 1973 miniseries, "Scenes from a Marriage" was later edited and released as a feature film around the world. Nearly half a century later, HBO adapted it for a 2021 miniseries starring Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain.

#1. The Godfather Part II

Robert De Niro in a scene from ‘The Godfather Part II’.

Michael Ochs Archive // Getty Images

- Director: Francis Ford Coppola
- IMDb user rating: 9.0
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 3 hours, 22 minutes

One of the biggest conundrums for film fans is choosing their preference for "The Godfather" or "The Godfather Part II." The choice is so difficult because Coppola's "The Godfather Part II," for many, is the rare sequel that matches, if not beats, the original film in both quality and originality. "Part II" transports viewers to the early days of Vito Corleone—played by Marlon Brando in the original but whose younger iteration is played by Robert De Niro in the sequel. The film juxtaposes Vito's rise with the downfall of his son, Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), in contemporary times. The result is undoubtedly one of the best movies of all time.

Data reporting by Luke Hicks. Story editing by Carren Jao and Jaimie Etkin. Copy editing by Tim Bruns.