The Best and Worst “100 Greatest Movies” Lists

The Best and Worst 100 Greatest Movies Lists

Tyler Hayley, Reporter and Editor

For as long as people have critiqued films, there has been a debate over the greatest movies of all time. Most major magazines and publications have their own list of what they believe are the 100 greatest movies (of all time or of a specific decade). Some of these lists are complete garbage; they put action and popularity over actual craftsmanship and talent. But some articles are right on the money when it comes to their rankings, so this is a list of which rankings are good and which aren’t worth your time.

GOOD: Variety’s “The 100 Best Movies Of All Time”

Variety’s ranking of the 100 best movies of all time is not only well-written but features many great films. While I didn’t agree with every ranking, Variety gave good reasons for all of their decisions and I agreed with their top 10. They also featured some not-as-well-recognized films such as A Hard Day’s Night, Do the Right Thing, and Seven Samurai. You can read the article here.

BAD: Newsweek’s “The 100 Best Films of All Time”

Movie ranking articles are supposed to bring us a new perspective on the film industry and what makes a movie great. But, most articles cop out by simply compiling the most highly-rated movies (based on IMDb ratings, Rotten Tomatoes, etc.), and that’s what Newsweek does. Not only is Newsweek’s article boring, but the rankings are terrible as well. There is no world in which Paddington 2 is above Whiplash and Dunkirk.

GOOD: Insider’s “The 100 best movies of the decade”

A slightly different article, Insider’s ranking of the best movies from the 2010s is a well-done article that highlights some great movies. The top 10 rankings are perfect with Jordan Peele’s Get Out taking the top spot, and thankfully no Marvel movie comes anywhere near the top of the list. You can read the article here.

BAD: The Guardian’s “The 100 best films of the 21st century”

The Guardian’s ranking of the 100 best films of the 21st century is one of those articles that place popularity above real artistic expression. In no world is Borat above The Social Network, nor Ted above The Dark Knight. The Guardian takes the route of most publications and chooses the movies that sell, not the ones that deserve a high ranking.

GOOD: British Film Institute’s “The Greatest Films of All Time”

The British Film Institute’s ranking of the greatest films of all time is a thoughtful and accurate list that contains plenty of wonderful movies. The list consists of a good mix of well-known, critically acclaimed movies as well as lesser-known films. The top three movies on the list are one of the best of any list in this article. You can read the article here.

BAD: Empire’s “The 100 Best Movies Of All Time”

Empire’s rankings are just plain bad. This is one of the clearest examples of excusing unoriginality and basic movies based on how popular they are. Fantastic films such as Alien, Parasite, and Fight Club rank lower than Avengers: Infinity War. Also, there is no way any Avengers film would make it into the top 10, let alone any accurate 100-best movies of all time list.

GOOD: The Hollywood Reporter’s “Best Movies of All Time”

The Hollywood Reporter does a great job with their rankings, not only picking incredible movies but also taking into account the making of the movie. The top 10 movies are perfectly picked, featuring such great films as Citizen Kane and Schindler’s List. You can read the article here.

BAD: Stacker’s “100 Best Movies of All Time”

Stacker’s list of the 100 best movies earns this spot for the same reason as Newsweek, a poorly assembled article based on polling critics’ reviews instead of actually judging the movies. These articles should bring new opinions to the table about which movies are the best, but simply looking up what critics think is lazy.

GOOD: Parade’s “100 Best Movies of All Time”

Parade had one of the best lists in this article, giving not only great reasons for all of its rankings but making good choices for each spot as well. Parade’s list features some great movies, not seen on many of these other lists, including The Color Purple, Million Dollar Baby, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. You can read the article here.

BAD: Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Movies of All Time

Finally, the inspiration for this entire article, is Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest movies of all time. Rolling Stone normally does a bad job with its ranking articles, and this one is no different. Not only does the article give no reason for its rankings besides a quick intro, but the rankings themselves are terrible. Avengers: Endgame, Dirty Dancing, and Titanic are all above Alien, Saving Private Ryan, Apocalypse Now, Citizen Kane, and Schindler’s List; need I say more? This is a terrible list and is not worth anybody’s time.

GOOD: American Film Institute’s “The 100 Greatest American Movies Of All Time”

The American Film Institute presents one of the best movie rankings lists I’ve seen, providing nothing but incredible movies that are all masterpieces in their own right. Taking into account the long list of American-made movies, A.F.I. does a great job of highlighting some of American cinema’s greatest works, including Casablanca, Network, and To Kill a Mockingbird. You can read the article here.