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Film Reviews - 100 of the Greatest Movies in History - A Greensleeves Home Page

In a series of illustrated articles, the author gives personal easy-to-read reviews of some of the most watchable films in Hollywood history

WHAT DO GREAT FILMS HAVE IN COMMON?

What makes a great film? Everyone will, of course, have their own views, and no one view is definitive. I give my own opinion during the course of compiling this list. At this stage, I would merely suggest that no one should be prejudiced by any one single criterion. Films can be great even if they star a cast of unknown actors. Films of course can be great even if they are written in a foreign language or screened in black and white. Films can be great even if they are all action with no dialogue, or all dialogue with no action. Conversely, the world's best directors have all made turkeys, and the world's best actors have starred in them. I trust that in my selection of great films, there are very few defining qualities - other than quality itself.

Active links to my reviews of some of the films featured here will be highlighted below.

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THE HOW AND WHY OF THE COMPILATION OF THIS LIST

Many people enjoy the old party game of compiling lists of 'favourites', and one of the most popular topics for such lists is 'favourite movies'. This is my list, and for me it serves two purposes;

  1. It satisfies the desire to put down in writing my feelings, and to promote these films so that others unfamiliar with all on this list, can be introduced to them. I hope anyone who chooses to watch any of these films for the first time, will enjoy the experience; that will be sufficient justification for the list.
  2. The list also serves as a page of links to my reviews of these movies. Links to each of the films on this page will be highlighted as each new review is added. I hope you enjoy the reviews.

As with everyone I suspect, my tastes change with time. Some films I watch for the twentieth time, and I find something new with each viewing. Other films wear a bit thin with repeated screenings, and I will eventually grow bored with a movie I once loved. Some date less well than others, and viewed ten or twenty or fifty years after first screening, they just do not seem so good anymore. And of course, there are always new movies coming along to add to the list. Consequently this list will be dynamic, and will be adjusted on a regular basis to reflect my current opinion.

Finally, I should point out something about the 100 movies on this list. They are my favourites, and I can defend the fact that they are all great films, but I cannot claim they are definitively the greatest ever. I am not a professional film reviewer; I am a casual film viewer. I do not spend all my evenings at the local cinema, catching the latest offerings, and many of the most universally admired films from the past are works which I have never seen. I therefore make no claims for the movies on this list, except that they are my favourites, and they are all worth watching.

This then, is my list of 100 favourite films, with links to reviews, and accompanying notes.

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THE TOP 20

01) The Big Country

02) Nottinghill

03) Dave

04) In the Heat of the Night

05) The Untouchables

06) Witness

07) Star Wars : Episode IV - A New Hope

08) The Terminator

09) Apollo 13

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10) Kingdom of Heaven

11) Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

12) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

13) Charade

14) Zulu

15) Shenandoah

16) For a Few Dollars More

17) The Sting

18) The Fugitive

19) Die Hard

20) Master and Commander : The Far Side of the World

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The Big Country

The Big Country

ENTERTAINMENT v QUALITY

For many people a list like this would be full of action packed entertainment movies with amazing special effects (yet in my opinion - ineptly stupid). For others the list would be full of serious-minded well directed movies, full of talent, and perhaps with a philosophical or moral message (yet in my opinion - mind-numbingly pretentious or boring). It's my belief that all of the movies on my list have both entertainment value and great quality of direction and production. Neither is enough by itself.

I am quite proud of the fact that every decade from the last sixty years is represented in just this top 20 ranging from 'The Big Country', made in 1958, to 'Kingdom of Heaven', in 2005. It's true there are no foreign language films or black and white films (though a few of these are featured further down), but the top 20 list does include almost every genre from comedy to period drama, and sci fi to westerns. Some are unashamedly fun ('Dirty Rotten Scoundrels') or fantasy ('Terminator'), while some portray real events ('Apollo 13' and 'Zulu').

The top 20 includes just two Best Picture Academy Award winners ('In the Heat of the Night' and 'The Sting') and these two films plus 'Star Wars' garnered a total of 18 awards between them. Half of the films in my top 20, however, didn't get a single Oscar between them; though whether that says something about my taste, or the tastes of Academy members, is for you to decide.

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FILMS 21 - 40

21) Jaws

22) Raiders of the Lost Ark

23) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

24) The Day of the Jackal

25) The Apartment

26) The Battle of Britain

27) Jurassic Park

28) The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill .....

29) Downfall

30) Batteries Not Included

31) Starman