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Misc Movies/TV Movies Archive The 150 Best Movies: 1970-2006
Written by Rich Swerbinsky

Rich Swerbinsky
This is a list I've kept for many years, and I finally got around to updating it. The 150 greatest movies ... from 1970 to present. Of course, a list like this is all just a matter of opinion, yet it always inspires some good debate. Stop in the Swerbs Blurbs movies message board forum to discuss this list, as well as your favorites with the other visitors of our fine website.
1.  The Godfather (1972)

Perfection in film making, a movie without a single weakness.  The transition that Michael goes through in this film, the tens of classic scenes and moments, the lines that are repeated ad nauseum to this day ... 35 years later.  The script, the casting, the acting, the story - all superb.  The most influental movie of all-time and Pacino, Brando, and Caan were born for their roles in it.  The greatest movie ever made.

2.  The Godfather - Part II (1974)

A little slower moving than the first one, but every bit as brilliant.  Pacino is even better in II, and it may be the greatest acting performance ever in my mind.  DeNiro is predictably amazing as the young Vito Corleone as the film continues to perform the case study of the two as dons of the Corleone family.

3.  The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

"I am your father Luke".  The climax of one of the most dramatic scenes in motion picture history as Vader reveals the truth to Luke during their epic light saber battle late in the film.  The darkest and most serious film of the original trilogy, as the characters from Star Wars are developed further and Yoda is introduced.  The best of this series, and one of the greatest movies ever made.

4.  Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)

The conclusion of a stunningly powerful trilogy, of which all three were nominated for Best Picture of the Year.  This is the only of the three that won, and the film was clearly deserving as it ended the journey for Frodo, Sam, and Smeagol/Gollum.  Everything leads up to the battle scene at the end of this film, which is as visually impressive as any other scene in film history. 

5.  Star Wars (1977)

The fourth of the six episodes, but the first in the series to be released in the theaters. The ultimate tale of good versus evil, and a film that set the stage for one of the greatest fantasy stories to ever be portayed on the silver screen.  It's easy to watch this film now and tell me you're not overly impressed, but I can't imagine many people saying that in 1977 when the special effects were off the chart.

6.  Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Simply put, the first and last half hour of this movie are as powerful and realistic as any scenes in film history, and are at times agonizing to watch due to their vicious realism.  An amazing cast.  8-10 of my favorite actors.  Some say the story itself is overrated.  I can see that, I guess, but felt that Spielberg ties it up all nicely at the end.  In my view, this is the greatest war movie ever made.  The realism, the Normandy beach reenactment, the absolutely superb acting ... all are off the charts.

7.  Caddyshack (1980)

Any time I update this list I get criticized for ranking a comedy this high, but I strongly feel an exception needs made here, and that this is one of the greatest films ever.  It's clearly one of the most influental movies of all time.  Try playing a round of golf without one of the lines being spouted out by someone in your group.  And the cast!  Dangerfield, Chase, Knight ... Bill Murray as Carl Spackler may be the greatest comedic character EVER.

8.  The Deer Hunter (1978)

Powerful.  Moving.  Depressing.  A story of what Vietnam did to a group of friends and their community.  They started as blue collar steel workers from a midwestern town being called off by their country to war.  The last 30 minutes of this movie are incredibly hard to watch, as they return back to said town, deeply changed ... and deal with life post-Vietnam. The russian roulette scenes are gripping as any scenes from any film ever. 

9.  Lost In Translation (2003)

I'm gonna catch heat for having this movie so high.  It's clearly a love/hate film.  Some see it as vastly overrated.  Others, like me, see it as a work of genius.  One of the greatest performances ever for Bill Murray.  The story is so simple.  An older unhappily married man meets a gorgoeus young unhappily married woman in Tokyo, a city both are unfamiliar and uncomfortable with.  Yet the film guides you through a roller coaster of emotions.  I simply can't do it justice with a short paragraph here.  Just see it if you haven't.  And if you have, see it again ... it gets better each time.

10.  The Downfall (2004)

Called "Untergang, Der" in German, this is an amazing film.  It examines the last days of World War II, from the perspective of Adolf Hitler, who is portrayed brilliantly and accurately in the movie.  Almost the entire movie is filmed from inside Hitler's bunker, deep under the streets of Berlin, as the Russians make their final assault on the city, which effectively ended the war and toppled the Nazi regime.  The range of emotions Hitler goes through in his final days, with his top advisors, is stunning to see portrayed on film.  If you have not seen this movie, you need to.

11.  Hoosiers (1986)

The greatest serious sports movie off all time.  Some have called it "the Rocky of basketball".  I call Rocky "the Hoosiers of boxing".  In a role taylor made for him, Gene Hackman is amazing as a coach with a checkered past that comes to small town Hickory, Indiana to lead the team to the state championship.  Dennis Hopper is excellent as the town drunk that lives and dies with the team, as well as the bottle.

12.  Alien (1979)

The standard for sci-fi horror movies, and one of the greatest films ever made.  A mining ship investigates a SOS call on a distant planet.  An alien life form makes it's way back on to the ship before they depart, and all hell breaks loose.  An amazing performace by Sigourney Weaver in her coming out party as an actress.  The film was light years ahead of its time.  The alien and set design were fantastic ... the ship's design is so believable that you feel you're really peering inside an actual space vehicle.  The film has you on the edge of your seat throughout - as you never know where the danger will strike next.  Great tag line too.  "In space, no one can hear you scream."

13.  The Shining (1980)

Classic Nicholson as he plays a caretaker of a hotel abandoned for the winter.  An evil and spiritual presence consumes Nicholson, and his son begins to see terrifying visions of the hotel's brutal past.  All hell breaks loose about an hour or so in, and takes you on a terrifying ride towards a great ending.  One of the scariest movies of all-time in my view, and one of the greatest films ever.

14.  Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

Anthony Hopkins role as "Hannibal Lechter" is one of the greatest performances ever.  This is the terrifying tale of a young FBI agent (played brilliantly by Jodie Foster) tracking a psychopathic killer, and needing the help of an even more psychopathic Lechter to do it.  An all-time classic.

15.  Good Fellas (1990)

The standard for post-Godfather mob movies.  A phenomenal cast.  DeNiro, Liotta, Pesci, Bracco, Sorvino.  Basically, this is the story of Henry Hill's (played by Liotta) ascent to the highest levels of the mob hierarchy, then the hard fall as it all comes crashing down. 

16.  The Usual Suspects (1995)

A brilliant, brilliant film ... and an epic performance by Kevin Spacey as "Verbal Kint".  A boat is blown up, and five seemingly unconnected ex-cons are brought in by police for questioning.  The twists and turns are phenomenal, as is the legend of "Kaizer Soze".

17.  Schindlers List (1993)

It wasn't until I recently rewatched this film that I fully appreciated it's greatness.  Liam Neeson plays "Oskar Schindler", a greedy German businessman that exploits cheap Jewish labor during WWII to help his factory business thrive.  As he continues to witness the horrors experienced by the Jews, Schindler begins to use his factory as a way to save them.  A masterpiece.

18.  Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

The beginning of the LOTR triolgy, and the beginning of the journey for Sam and Frodo.  As it is in all three films, the cinematography is nothing short of breathtaking, making you genuinely believe you are witnessing the trek through middle earth to destroy the ring.  Despite the lofty rankings of these films and the Star Wars films, I am not a huge fantasy guy.  These movies are so well done, so believable, so breathtaking ... and are close to perfect tales of good versus evil.

19.  Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

The journey continues, and Sam and Frodo make the acquaintance of Smeagol/Gollum, who becomes a central character the rest of the way.  Sauron's forces increase, his allies grow, brilliant battle scenes are waged, and the stage is set for the War of the Ring.

20.  Munich (2005)

"Crash" winning best picture in 2005 over "Munich" is one of the all-time robberies in Academy history in my view.  The movie starts with the recreation of the apprehension and murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.  The movie centers around what happened next, the Israeli government hiring five Mossad agents to track down and kill the individuals responsible for the attack.

21.  The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

An incredible tale of an innocent man (Tim Robbins) wrongly jailed for the murder of his wife.  Robbins forges a great friendship with another inmate, played by Morgan Freeman.  A great story, with top notch acting.

22.  The Terminator (1984)

The coming out party for James Cameron as a director and Ah-nold as an actor.  A terrifying film that was way ahead of it's time, and Schwargenegger was perfect as the cyborg killing machine sent back in time to wipe Sarah Connor from the face of the planet.

23.  Gladiator (2000)

Russell Crowe is a pompous ass in real life, but is a helluva actor as evidenced by the fact that he stars in three of the top 65 on this list, including the spectacular film "Gladiator".  A great story, powerful acting, and frighteningly realistic special effects in the battle scenes make this one of the greatest films of the modern era.

24.  Platoon (1986)

Charlie Sheen is a fresh faced young recruit thrust into the horrors of Vietnam in this Best Picture of the Year winner in 1986.  Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe were perfect choices for the two main veteran seargents in this film, one an brutal murdering machine (Berenger) and the other an idealistic druggie struggling with the premise of the war itself.

25.  Pulp Fiction (1994)

Superb casting, acting, writing, and dialogue make "Pulp Fiction" Quentin Tarantino's best film ... and easily one of the best movies made in the last 40 years.  The plot flips back and forth between the lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a pair of diner thieves, and a gangster's wife brilliantly in this all around enjoyable film.

26.  Scarface (1983)

"You wanna f*#% with me? Okay. You wanna play rough? Okay. Say hello to my little friend!" ~ Tony Montana

27.  Revenge of the Sith (2005)

"Good. Good. The Force is strong with you. A powerful Sith you will become. Henceforth, you shall be known as Darth... Vader." ~ Darth Sidius

28.  Return of the Jedi (1983)

"Give yourself to the Dark Side. It is the only way you can save your friends. Yes, your thoughts betray you. Your feelings for them are strong. Especially for... sister. So, you have a twin sister. Your feelings have now betrayed her, too. Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me. Now his failure is complete. If you will not turn to the Dark Side... then perhaps she will... " ~ Darth Vader

29.  Animal House (1978)

"My advice to you is to start drinking heavily." ~ Bluto Blutarski

30.  Old School (2003)

"You think I like avoiding my wife and kids to hangout with nineteen year old girls everyday?" ~ Beanie

31.  The Raging Bull (1980)

"Come on, hit me.  Harder.  Harder." ~ Jake LaMotta

32.  Reservoir Dogs (1992)

"I don't tip because society says I have to. All right, if someone deserves a tip, if they really put forth an effort, I'll give them something a little something extra. But this tipping automatically, it's for the birds. As far as I'm concerned, they're just doing their job." ~ Mr. Pink

33.  Office Space (1999)

"The thing is, Bob, it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care." ~ Peter Gibbons

34.  Clerks (1994)

"This job would be great if it wasn't for the f#*%ing customers." ~ Randal Graves

35.  Requiem For A Dream (2000)

"I'm somebody now, Harry. Everybody likes me. Soon, millions of people will see me and they'll all like me. I'll tell them about you, and your father, how good he was to us. Remember? It's a reason to get up in the morning. It's a reason to lose weight, to fit in the red dress. It's a reason to smile. It makes tomorrow all right. What have I got Harry, hm? Why should I even make the bed, or wash the dishes? I do them, but why should I? I'm alone. Your father's gone, you're gone. I got no one to care for. What have I got, Harry? I'm lonely. I'm old." ~ Sara Goldfarb

36.  Mystic River (2003)

"Thanks for finding my daughter's killer, Sean. If only you'd been a little faster." ~ Jimmy Markum

37.  A Few Good Men (1992)

"Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to." ~ Colonel Jessup

38.  A Bronx Tale (1993)

"You gotta do what your heart tells you to do. Let me tell you somethin' right now. You're only allowed three great women in your lifetime. They come along like the great fighters, every ten years. Rocky Marciano. Sugar Ray Robinson. Joe Louis. Sometimes you get 'em all at once. Me? I had my three when I was 16. That happens. What are you gonna do? That's the way it goes, you know? Tell you right now. See this girl? Maybe this girl, she put wind in your sails. Maybe she's your first great one. " ~ Sonny

39.  Jackie Brown (1997)

"Look, I hate to be the kinda nigga does a nigga a favor, then, BAM!, hits a nigga up for a favor in return. But I'm afraid I gotta be that kinda nigga." ~ Ordell Robbie 

40.  The Taxi Driver (1976)

"I got some bad ideas in my head." ~ Travis Bickle

41.  Rocky (1976)

"Apollo Creed vs. the Italian Stallion. Sounds like a damn monster movie." ~ Apollo Creed

42.  Castaway (2000)

"Don't worry Wilson, I'll do all the paddling. You just hang on." ~ Chuck Noland

43.  Seabiscuit (2003)

"The horse is too small, the jockey too big, the trainer too old, and I'm too dumb to know the difference." ~ Charles Howard

44.  Jaws (1975)

"You're gonna need a bigger boat." ~ Brody

45.  Rocky IV (1985)

"Uh Rock, remember what I said about wanting to be you?  Forget it." ~ Paulie

46.  Glory (1989)

"There's more to fighting than rest, sir. There's character. There's strength of heart. You should have seen us in action two days ago. We were a sight to see! We'll be ready, sir. When do you want us?" ~ Colonel Robert G. Shaw 

47.  Titanic (1997)

"1,500 people went into the sea... when Titanic sank from under us... there were twenty boats floating nearby... and only one came back. Six were saved from the water... myself included. *Six*. Out of 1,500. Afterward, the 700 people in the boats had nothing to do but wait... wait to die... wait to live... wait for an absolution... that would never come." ~ Rose (older)

48.  Rocky II (1979)

"I was wonderin' if, uh, you wouldn't mind marryin' me very much." ~ Rocky Balboa

49.  American Beauty (1999)

"Look at me, jerking off in the shower... This will be the high point of my day; it's all downhill from here." ~ Lester Burnham

50.  Apollo 13 (1995)

"Houston, we have a problem." ~ Jim Lovell

51.  Mulholland Drive (2001)
52.  Apocalypse Now (1979)
53.  About Schmidt (2002)
54.  Major League (1989)
55.  Braveheart (1995)
56.  Rounders (1998)
57.  Eight Men Out (1988)
58.  Cinderella Man (2005)
59.  Escape From Alcatraz (1979)
60.  Rocky III (1982)
61.  One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest (1975)
62.  Back To The Future (1985)
63.  E.T. (1982)
64.  Casino (1995)
65.  A Beautiful Mind (2001)
66.  The House of Sand and Fog (2003)
67.  Aliens (1986)
68.  Seven (1975)
69.  Airplane (1980)
70.  Pay It Forward (2000)
71.  Mallrats (1995)
72.  Copland (1997)
73.  Million Dollar Baby (2004)
74.  Miracle (2004)
75.  Catch Me If You Can (2002)
76.  Fatal Attraction (1987)
77.  Match Point (2005)
78.  Patton (1970)
79.  Chinatown (1974)
80.  The Godfather - Part III (1990)
81.  Field of Dreams (1989)
82.  Bull Durham (1988)
83.  Cape Fear (1991)
84.  Heat (1995)
85.  The Green Mile (1999)
86.  21 Grams (2003)
87.  Full Metal Jacket (1997)
88.  Unfaithful (2000)
89.  Diehard (1988)
90.  American History X (1998)
91.  Gangs of New York (2002)
92.  Deliverance (1972)
93.  Good Will Hunting (1997)
94.  Poltergeist (1982)
95.  Top Gun (1986)
96.  We Were Soldiers (2002)
97.  The Unforgiven (1992)
98.  Blazing Saddles (1974)
99.  Brians Song (1971)
100.  The Goonies (1985)
101.  Training Day (2001)
102.  The Insider (1999)
103.  Lucky Number Slevin (2006)
104.  V For Vendetta (2005)
105.  Do The Right Thing (1989)
106.  Bang The Drum Slowly (1973)
107.  Sea Of Love (1989)
108.  The Patriot (2000)
109.  Dirty Harry (1971)
110.  Closer (2004)
111.  The Life of David Gale (2003)
112.  The Fugitive (1993)
113.  Chasing Amy (1997)
114.  Traffic (2000)
115.  Fight Club (1995)
116.  Sideways (2004)
117.  A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
118.  When Harry Met Sally (1989)
119.  The Hurricane (1999)
120.  L.A. Confidential (1997)
121.  Mean Streets (1973)
122.  Capote (2005)
123.  Big Fish (2003)
124.  Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
125.  United 93 (2006)
126.  Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
127.  Sling Blade (1996)
128.  The Princess Bride (1987)
129.  Crash (2004)
130.  Ray (2004)
131.  Internal Affairs (1990)
132.  The Sixth Sense (1999)
133.  JFK (1991)
134.  The Red Dragon (2002)
135.  Gahndi (1982)
136.  The Blues Brothers (1980)
137.  Wall Street (1987)
138.  The Natural (1984)
139.  Slap Shot (1977)
140.  Dumb And Dumber (1994)
141.  The Big Lebowski (1998)
142.  Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
143.  The Siege (1998)
144.  Fargo (1996)
145.  Blackhawk Down (2001)
146.  Stand By Me (1986)
147.  Basic Instinct (1992)
148.  The Game (1997)
149.  Frequency (2000)
150.  The Doors (1991)

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