The 100 Greatest American Films

Apart from the 100 Greatest Foreign-Language films, BBC Culture has a 100 Greatest American Films list as well. And why not, America is still the cinema powerhouse of the world. Every year, it produces not only the highest grossing films, but also some of most critically acclaimed ones across the world. Orson Welles’ masterpiece and cinematic landmark Citizen Kane is still the greatest American film ever.

The 100 Greatest American Films The 100 Greatest American Films Source : Wikimedia Commons


BBC Culture polled 62 international film critics to find out the 100 greatest American films of all time. To get a global perspective on American film, the poll included film critics and authors from US, UK, Europe, South America, Australia, India and the Middle East. 



Alfred Hitchcock has five films (Notorious, Marnie, North By Northwest, Psycho and Vertigo with the latter three featuring in top 13), Billy Wilder has five (Ace in The Whole, Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity, Some Like It Hot and The Apartment), Stanley Kubrick has five (The Shining, Eyes Wide Shut, Dr Strangelove, Barry Lyndon and 2001: A Space Odyssey), Steven Spielberg has five (ET, Raiders of The Lost Ark, Schindler's List, Close Encounters of The Third Kind and Jaws), Howard Hawks has four (Bringing Up Baby, The Red River, His Girl Friday and Rio Bravo), Martin Scorsese has four (Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Taxi Driver), Francis Ford Coppola has his best four (The Godfather I & II, The Conversation and Apocalypse Now), Charlie Chaplin has three (Modern Times, City Lights and The Gold Rush), David Lynch has two (Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive), Surprisingly, both Orson Welles (Touch of Evil, The Magnificent Ambersons and Citizen Kane) and John Ford (Stagecoach, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and The Searchers at 5th spot) have only three each.


Roman Polanski's only film is Chinatown, but it's at a high 12th spot. There are total six 21st century films. Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, Spike Lee's 25th Hour, Michael Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life and David Lynch's Mulholland Drive is the highest rated film on the list.
For the poll, an American film was defined as any movie that received funding from a US source. BBC encourage the critics to submit a list of 10 best films they feel, on an emotional level, are the greatest in American cinema. They don't necessarily have to be the most important ones.


The 100 Greatest American Films:


100. Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951)

99. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

98. Heaven's Gate (Michael Cimino, 1980)

97. Gone With the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939)

96. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)

95. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)

94. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)

93. Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)

92. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

91. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)

90. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)

89. In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)

88. West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 1961)

87. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)

86. The Lion King (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, 1994)

85. Night of the Living Dead (George A Romero, 1968)

84. Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972)

83. Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)

82. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)

81. Thelma & Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991)

80. Meet Me in St Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944)

79. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)

78. Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

77. Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)

76. The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)

75. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)

74. Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994)

73. Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)

72. The Shanghai Gesture (Josef von Sternberg, 1941)

71. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)

70. The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953)

69. Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1982)

68. Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)

67. Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)

66. Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)

65. The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1983)

64. Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954)

63. Love Streams (John Cassavetes, 1984)

62. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)

61. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)

60. Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)

59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Miloš Forman, 1975)

58. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940)

57. Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1989)

56. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)

55. The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)

54. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)

53. Grey Gardens (Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, 1975)

52. The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)

51. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)

50. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)

49. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)

48. A Place in the Sun (George Stevens, 1951)

47. Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964)

46. It's a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)

45. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)

44. Sherlock Jr (Buster Keaton, 1924)

43. Letter from an Unknown Woman (Max Ophüls, 1948)

42. Dr Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)

41. Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)

40. Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, 1943)

39. The Birth of a Nation (DW Griffith, 1915)

38. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)

37. Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959)

36. Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977)

35. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)

34. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)

33. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

32. The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)

31. A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974)

30. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)

29. Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)

28. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)

27. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)

26. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1978)

25. Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)

24. The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)

23. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)

22. Greed (Erich von Stroheim, 1924)

21. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)

20. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)

19. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

18. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)

17. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)

16. McCabe & Mrs Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)

15. The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)

14. Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975)

13. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

12. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)

11. The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942)

10. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

9. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)

8. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

7. Singin' in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952)

6. Sunrise (FW Murnau, 1927)

5. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)

3. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

2. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)

1. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)



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