1. Citizen Kane: This film has been consistently ranked as the greatest film of all time on many lists, such as the AFI top 100. However, I believe it deserves this place mostly because it had a huge impact on all film going forward. Pretty much the Illmatic of cinema. Not only is the film a masterpiece with great philosophical content, but also its use of deep focusa and a non-linear storyline (novel at the time), make it #1.
2. Schindler’s List: While it is controversial to rank this film this high, I believe that its story is the main reason this film deserves the #2 spot. The documentary value of this film cannot be understated, and it chronicles one of the most important events in human history through the lens of the life of a first and foremost capitalist. The plot may stretch the truth of Schindler’s life, but it certainly displays the horrors that humanity is capable of in a realistic and concise fashion.
3. The Godfather: Simply fantastic cinema, this story of the Corleone family is engaging and intriguing. The complex characters and its portrayal of the American gangster are great, and the acting is phenomenal. Great exploration of true human relationships and interactions.
4. The Third Man: Considered the best mystery film of all time, this piece of British cinema is not surprisingly on this list. The inner struggle between justice for the innocent and turning in a friend played out very well, and the Ferris wheel scene forces the audience to be confronted with a very interesting ethical discussion. Its screenwriting is some of the best, and it is the opposite of cliché.
5. 12 Angry Men: Revolutionary at the time, this courtroom drama is a perfect description of the United States justice system and its flaws. It shows the dark side of humanity as well as why the search for justice must take human bias into account, for it is better to save the innocent than doom the guilty.
6. The Godfather Pt. 2: Undoubtedly the best sequel of all time, this film has the same character complexity and relationship exploration as the first. It lacks the romanticism of the first film, but explores darker concepts. The rise of power of Vito Corleone and its parity with the fall of Michael is great.
7. Casablanca: Probably the most popular romance film of all time, this Hollywood classic lives up to the hype. A revolutionary film like Citizen Kane, simply early cinema at its finest.
8. Vertigo: This film’s complex murder mystery plot and its subsequent exploration of obsession, love, and voyeurism simply makes for a great plot. For someone that hates Hitchcock it pains me to put this on the list, but it deserves it.
9. Unforgiven: An anti-western that realistically describes life in the American west. Death and evolution are presented in a very interesting fashion. Plus Clint Eastwood is badass.
10. Once Upon a Time in the West: A true Western as well as a Spaghetti Western, and a great embodiment of the genre. There are two or three scenes that really do not hold up well, but for the most part it is very entertaining.