We’d like to present you a short list of some of the best cinema classics. These are the movies that have gone down in history due to their uniqueness, great acting creations, famous scenes and emotional music. Meet the best movies of all time!
Cinema classics – the best-rated films in history
Cinematography has been with us for several decades – this artform began to appear at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, as easily accessible entertainment. So the history of the film goes back a long way and back then, it did not resemble what we know from cinemas today. Many genres with note-worthy films representing them have already been created and these lists often need to be re-compiled for many reasons. Often a film that is considered an unusual example of one genre when it premiers, will be recognized as a precursor of another movement in cinema later on. First of all, the number of such productions is constantly growing, and at an increasing pace. Second, over time viewers discover good movies that have been lost for some odd reason when they debuted. Third, the reverse process also happens over time, as great productions fade into oblivion over time – and articles like this one will remind you of works that are really worth knowing.
Huge websites that aggregate viewer ratings give you a good insight into what is good to see. Lesser known pearls of cinematography are often lost in the mass of information. That is why we have divided our article into several segments, in which we look at productions from different regions and periods, so that everyone can find classic films worth attention. At the end, however, we also have something for fans of more modern productions.
Classics of American cinema – the best films of all time
No country has had such a contribution to the popularization and development of cinematography as the United States. Hollywood, commonly known as the Dream Factory, has been consistently releasing works for decades that affect our imagination and touch our hearts. The most famous authors such as Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese are also a product of that industry. So what is worth watching in classic American cinema?
Taxi Driver (1976)
We have just mentioned Martin Scorsese, so why not start with his probably most famous production, which shocked viewers in the seventies and is still considered one of the most brilliant works coming from the USA? Many lists of best films from the seventh decade of the twentieth century mentions Taxi Driver at its top. This American film focuses on the character of Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), the title taxi driver and veteran of the Vietnam War. It is a moving study of trauma and nonsense, as well as loneliness in the New York city jungle. The main character enters the night life of the Big Apple and plunges into corruption and crime, embellished with great music by Bernard Hermann, also known for his collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock.
Since we mentioned Alfred Hitchcock, we cannot forget about his outstanding work. In the ranking for the best movies of all time conducted by the British magazine Sight and Sound, it was Vertigo with James Stewart and Kim Novak in the leading roles that took first place. It happened in 2012. It was a controversial decision as the Briton’s work jumped to the top in place of Citizen Kane by Orson Welles. Over time, however, this change was accepted and is not so controversial.
Citizen Kane (1940)
This is a production that had to give way to Hitchcock’s Vertigo in the above-mentioned ranking. Many fans could not agree with this decision. At the time of its premiere, the production of Orson Welles was a fulfilled work, summing up everything that had been achieved in the cinema up to that point. Particularly noteworthy is the camerawork of Greg Toland – today films are rarely made with such reverence, setting each frame with such accuracy and using the second and third set to tell stories. Kane has consistently ranked in numerous top 10 best movies. And no wonder, because the script written by Herman Mankiewicz is one of the most ingenious constructions – David Fincher recently made a film about the backstage of its creation called Mank.
12 Angry Men (1957)
This is an absolute classic of cinema and top 100 in almost every rank. Why? Probably mainly because when it comes to blockbusters, this one very well restores faith in humanity and our ability to find a common language. Angry people locked in four walls must deliberate over whether a man should be convicted of a crime he is accused of committing. One could even state that this is a production that restores faith in democracy, because it shows that rational dialogue can lead even a group of outraged people to right and fair conclusions.
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
After Twelve Angry Men is the second film directed by Sidney Lumet. There are many reasons for the screening here. First of all, Al Pacino and John Cazale are a wonderful acting duo. Secondly, a great, original and at times completely crazy script. Third, the dense atmosphere that accompanies the viewer from the very first minutes of the screening. When it comes to blockbuster movies, you don’t have to look any further.
The series of films about the famous boxer does not need to be introduced to the older generations. Especially the first part is a cult production known all over the world. Nevertheless, this work is worth refreshing, especially for the title role portrayed by Sylvester Stallone. Besides, there are certainly younger viewers who have not had contact with Rocky Balboa before. This picture became famous for several reasons. First, this motivating story is about ambition and the struggle against adversity in a touching way. The music with the song Eye of the Tiger by Survivor at the forefront is also iconic. The series was so successful that it saw five more installments in which “Italian Stallion” was the main character. Later, there was also a reboot: Creed and Creed 2 were released in recent years, and soon the third installment with Michael B. Jordan in the lead role will be released. Consistently in the background from the very beginning of the series is Sylvester Stallone – the author of the script for the original Rocky.
Classics of European cinema – the best Soviet, Italian and French films
The European films we recommend have become a permanent part of the cinema canon for several reasons. Mainly due to their great artistic value, memorable scenes and unique, original storylines. We advise you to start with these productions. The list of world cinema classics could contain several hundred items, so we tried to choose the most interesting ones for you.
This is an absolute classic of Soviet cinema and one of the most beautiful and philosophical films ever made. Andrei Tarkowski’s movie is based on a short story by the Strugacki Brothers titled Roadside Picnic. When it comes to ambitious science fiction cinema, which tells not only about technology, but above all reflects on the modern condition of humanity, it is difficult to find a better film.
La Dolce Vita (1960)
One of the most famous scenes in the history of cinema comes from this film. Anita Ekberg bathing with Marcello Mastroianni in the Di Trevi Fountain in Rome is an image that has been immortalized. It is a beloved work of many moviegoers, thanks to which the word “paparazzo” has become popular. And no wonder, because Federico Fellini’s film tells about many things at once, which is why it is often listed in numerous lists as a classic of world cinema.
La notte (1961)
A great complement to La Dolce Vita. The work of Michelangelo Antonioni is the second part of an informal trilogy, consisting of the L’avventura, La notte and L’eclisse. These films commented on the changes in Italian society, but were also very philosophical texts of culture. In La notte, Antonioni managed to capture the emptiness and decadence of the elite represented, as in La Dolce Vita, by Marcello Mastroianni. In addition, great black and white cinematography, a jazz soundtrack and this unique, pessimistic atmosphere. It is without a doubt one of the greatest masterpieces of the 1960s in European cinema.
La jetée (1962)
When asked about the films that must be watched by more seasoned cinema fans, La jetée (the Pillar) by Chris Marker comes to mind. This is an unusual proposition on this list because it is a so-called film essay. The mischievous might say that this is actually an advanced story slideshow. However, putting these discussions aside, it is worth noting that the story told in the film by the director is amazing. It was inspired by a certain concept known from the aforementioned few paragraphs above of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Then, it was developed into 12 Monkeys – a very interesting genealogy showing how some creators can inspire each other. Coming back to the Pillar, however, this is a short film, as it lasts only 28 minutes. This classic of European cinema shows that great movies don’t always have to be epic productions on a huge budget. All you need is an interesting concept and its ingenious implementation.
Good old movies? Or maybe something newer – famous new movies worth watching
We understand that not everyone is a fan of cinema classics. Fortunately, great films are also being made now, so we have also prepared suggestions for fans of something contemporary.
My Octopus Teacher (2020)
This is a documentary that is readily available on streaming platforms. It’s amazing how it tells the story of a single animal. This is a significant development compared to a typical documentary about nature, in front of the viewer the director creates a biography of the titular animal. Documents are not the most popular films and, unfortunately, it will not change for a long time – but sometimes it is worth giving them a chance. My Octopus Teacher is a truly moving work, which is a great story about how a man can create an extensive relationship with an underwater, unique creature.
Promising Young Woman (2020)
This motion picture has probably won more than one ranking of 2020 films. The production with Carey Mulligan in the lead role shocked many viewers and sparked numerous discussions. It is a film about contemporary social realities and the challenges our civilization faces today. Perhaps these are strong words, but the work of Emerald Fennell moves the viewer on many levels, because it mixes candy aesthetics and a terrifying story. This disturbing connection lingers in the viewer for a long time. Certainly, the young director will create many more famous films.