Top 110 Films that Impressed, Influenced Me, I Appreciate and Recommend the Most

Adrian Țofei, December 17th, 2016

Latest Update: October 2nd, 2018

In making this list I tried as much as possible to keep a balance between:

  • how much a film impressed and/or influenced me in the past, from childhood till recently (but not always the film overall, sometimes only a scene, an acting performance, the concept, the ending, or, in case of documentaries, some of the info)
  • how good I currently think the film is (my latest opinion, but not always from a full rewatch, sometimes only from memories and/or rewatching some sequences)
  • how much I would recommend the film to others (but again, not always for the overall quality, sometimes only for a great scene, a great acting performance, a great concept, a great ending or, in case of documentaries, for some great revelatory info)

If a widely acclaimed picture or your favourite film is missing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I didn’t like or appreciate it, I might have not seen it yet, or maybe it impressed me in a way, but didn’t make my top. This is a personal list based on my impressions and opinions, not on what others deem essential. For that, check out TSPDT’s 1,000 Greatest Films, which aggregates opinions from thousands of top critics, filmmakers and publications.

I’d like to also add that listing these films doesn’t mean support or acceptance of the illegal, unethical or immoral behaviour of some of their creators and stars, nor that I agree with their opinions on any subject matter. It also doesn’t mean approval of all the ideas contained in the films or of the ways the films were made.

Top 10

(in chronological order)

  • Where to Invade Next (2015) (Documentary) – directed & written by Michael Moore
  • Earthlings (2005) (Documentary) – directed & written by Shaun Monson, narrated by Joaquin Phoenix
  • My Voyage to Italy / Il mio viaggio in Italia (1999) (TV Documentary) – directed & narrated by Martin Scorsese, written by Martin Scorsese, Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Raffaele Donato & Kent Jones
  • The Celebration / Festen (1998) – directed by Thomas Vinterberg, written by Thomas Vinterberg & Mogens Rukov
  • Frontline: A Class Divided (1985) (TV Documentary Episode) – with Jane Elliott, directed by William Peters, written by William Peters & Charlie Cobb
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – directed by Stanley Kubrick, written by Stanley Kubrick & Arthur C. Clarke inspired from stories by Arthur C. Clarke
  • The Seventh Seal / Det sjunde inseglet (1957) – directed & written by Ingmar Bergman
  • Freaks (1932) – directed by Tod Browning, based on story by Tod Robbins [Tod Browning’s original 90 min version no longer exists, only the abridged 64 min studio version survived with a happy ending added by the studio]
  • Man with a Movie Camera / Chelovek s kino-apparatom (1929) (Documentary) – directed & written by Dziga Vertov
  • The Gold Rush (1925) – directed, written by & starring Charles Chaplin

Top 35

(in chronological order from 11th to 35th)

  • 13th (2016) (Documentary) – directed by Ava DuVernay, written by Ava DuVernay & Spencer Averick
  • Citizenfour (2014) (Documentary) – with Edward Snowden, directed by Laura Poitras
  • The Tree of Life (2011) – directed & written by Terrence Malick, starring Jessica Chastain & Brad Pitt
  • Kiwi! (2006) (Animated Short) – directed & written by Dony Permedi
  • Pan’s Labyrinth / El laberinto del fauno (2006) – directed & written by Guillermo del Toro
  • Grizzly Man (2005) (Documentary) – directed, written & narrated by Werner Herzog
  • Twist of Faith (2004) (Documentary) – directed by Kirby Dick
  • Da Ali G Show (2003) (TV Series) – starring Sacha Baron Cohen
  • Mulholland Drive / Mulholland Dr. (2001) – directed & written by David Lynch, starring Naomi Watts
  • The Straight Story (1999) – directed by David Lynch, written by Mary Sweeney & John Roach, starring Richard Farnsworth
  • Blade Runner (1982) – directed by Ridley Scott, screenplay by Hampton Fancher & David Webb Peoples based on novel by Philip K. Dick, starring Rutger Hauer
  • Taxi Driver (1976) – directed by Martin Scorsese, written by Paul Schrader, starring Robert De Niro
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) – directed by Peter Weir, screenplay by Cliff Green based on novel by Joan Lindsay, cinematography by Russell Boyd
  • The Blair Witch Project (1999) – directed & written by Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez, starring Heather Donahue
  • The Iron Giant (1999) (Animated) – directed by Brad Bird, screenplay by Brad Bird & Tim McCanlies based on book by Ted Hughes
  • A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995) (TV Documentary) – directed & written by Martin Scorsese & Michael Henry Wilson, narrated by Martin Scorsese
  • Roger & Me (1989) (Documentary) – directed, written & narrated by Michael Moore
  • Carrie (1976) – directed by Brian De Palma, starring Sissy Spacek, screenplay by Lawrence D. Cohen based on novel by Stephen King
  • Hearts and Minds (1974) (Documentary) – directed by Peter Davis
  • The 400 Blows / Les quatre cents coups (1959) – directed by Francois Truffaut, written by Francois Truffaut & Marcel Moussy
  • Paths of Glory (1957) – directed by Stanley Kubrick, screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, Calder Willingham & Jim Thompson based on novel by Humphrey Cobb, starring Kirk Douglas
  • Forbidden Games / Jeux interdits (1952) – directed by Rene Clement, screenplay by Rene Clement, Jean Aurenche, Pierre Bost & Francois Boyer based on novel by Francois Boyer
  • The Great Dictator (1940) – directed, written by & starring Charles Chaplin
  • M (1931) – directed by Fritz Lang, written by Fritz Lang & Thea von Harbou, starring Peter Lorre
  • Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) – directed by F. W. Murnau, screenplay by Carl Mayer, original theme by Hermann Sudermann

Top 110

(in chronological order from 36th to 110th)

  • Feud: Betty and Joan (2017) (TV Mini-Series) – created by Ryan Murphy, Jaffe Cohen & Michael Zam, starring Susan Sarandon & Jessica Lange
  • Inside Out (2015) (Animated) – directed by Pete Docter, co-directed by Ronnie Del Carmen, screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve & Josh Cooley, original story by Pete Docter & Ronnie Del Carmen
  • Mustang (2015) – directed by Deniz Gamze Erguven, written by Deniz Gamze Erguven & Alice Winocour
  • Gone Girl (2014) – directed by David Fincher, screenplay by Gillian Flynn based on his own novel, starring Rosamund Pike
  • Interstellar (2014) – directed by Christopher Nolan, written by Christopher Nolan & Jonathan Nolan
  • True Detective: Season 1 (2014) (TV Mini-Series) – created by Nic Pizzolatto, starring Matthew McConaughey
  • Fruitvale Station (2013) – directed & written by Ryan Coogler, starring Michael B. Jordan & Octavia Spencer
  • The Act of Killing (2012) (Documentary) – directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, with Anwar Congo
  • American Horror Story: Asylum (2012) (TV Mini-Series) – created by Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk, starring Jessica Lange
  • Byzantium (2012) – directed by Neil Jordan, screenplay by Moira Buffini based on play by Moira Buffini, starring Saoirse Ronan
  • The Invisible War (2012) (Documentary) – directed & written by Kirby Dick
  • Les Miserables (2012) – directed by Tom Hooper, based on novel by Victor Hugo, starring Anne Hathaway & Hugh Jackman
  • Absentia (2011) – directed & written by Mike Flanegan
  • Happy (2011) (Documentary) – directed & written by Roko Belic
  • Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (2011) (Documentary) – directed by Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky
  • A Separation / Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (2011) – directed & written by Asghar Farhadi
  • Buried (2010) – directed by Rodrigo Cortes, written by Chris Sparling
  • Inside Job (2010) (Documentary) – directed & written by Charles Ferguson
  • The Walking Dead: Season 1 (2010) (TV Series) – created by Frank Darabont
  • Precious (2009) – starring Mo’Nique, directed by Lee Daniels, screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher based on novel by Sapphire
  • Up (2009) (Animated) – directed by Pete Docter, co-directed by Bob Peterson, screenplay by Pete Docter & Bob Peterson, story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson & Tom McCarthy
  • Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008) (Documentary) – directed & written by Kurt Kuenne
  • The Soviet Story (2008) (Documentary) – directed & written by Edvins Snore
  • The Enemies of Reason (2007) (TV Documentary) – written by & with Richard Dawkins, directed by Russell Barnes
  • Exhibit A (2007) – directed & screenplay by Dom Rotheroe, produced & story by Darren Bender, starring Brittany Ashworth
  • The Man from Earth (2007) – directed by Richard Schenkman, written by Jerome Bixby
  • Brokeback Mountain (2005) – directed by Ang Lee, screenplay by Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana based on short story by Annie Proulx, starring Heath Ledger
  • Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream (2005) (Documentary) – directed & written by Stuart Samuels
  • A Decade Under the Influence (2003) (Documentary) – directed by Ted Demme & Richard LeGravenese
  • The Iceman and the Psychiatrist (2003) (TV Documentary) – with Park Dietz & Richard Kuklinski, directed by Arthur Ginsberg
  • Memories of Murder (2003) – directed by Joon-ho Bong, screenplay by Joon-ho Bong  & Sung-bo Shim based on play by Kwang-rim Kim
  • American Beauty (1999) – directed by Sam Mendes, written by Alan Ball, starring Kevin Spacey
  • Titanic (1997) – directed & written by James Cameron, starring Leonardo DiCaprio & Kate Winslet
  • Life Is Beautiful / La vita e bella (1997) – directed by & starring Roberto Benigni, written by Roberto Benigni & Vincenzo Cerami
  • Secrets & Lies (1996) – directed & written by Mike Leigh
  • Forrest Gump (1994) – directed by Robert Zemeckis, screenplay by Eric Roth based on novel by Winston Groom, starring Tom Hanks
  • Falling Down (1993) – directed by Joel Schumacher, written by Ebbe Roe Smith, starring Michael Douglas
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) – directed by James Cameron, written by James Cameron & William Wisher, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Thelma & Louise (1991) – written by Callie Khouri, directed by Ridley Scott, starring Susan Sarandon & Geena Davis
  • GoodFellas (1990) – directed by Martin Scorsese, screenplay by Martin Scorsese & Nicholas Pileggi based on book by Nicholas Pileggi, starring Joe Pesci
  • Twin Peaks: Pilot (1990) (TV Episode) – directed by David Lynch, written by David Lynch & Mark Frost
  • Crimes & Misdemeanors (1989) – directed & written by Woody Allen, starring Martin Landau
  • Dead Poets Society (1989) – directed by Peter Weir, written by Tom Schulman, starring Robin Williams
  • Dekalog / The Decalogue (1989) (TV Mini-Series) – directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski, written by Krzysztof Kieslowski & Krzysztof Piesiewicz
  • The Land Before Time (1988) (Animated) – directed by Don Bluth, screenplay by Stu Krieger, story by Judy Freudberg & Tony Geiss
  • Time of the Gypsies / Dom za vesanje (1988) – directed by Emir Kusturica, written by Emir Kusturica & Gordan Mihic
  • Stand by Me (1986) – directed by Rob Reiner, screenplay Raynold Gideon & Bruce A. Evans based on novel by Stephen King
  • My Life as a Dog / Mitt liv som hund (1985) – directed by Lasse Hallstrom, screenplay by Lasse Hallstrom, Brasse Brannstrom, Per Berglund & Reidar Jonsson based on novel by Reidar Jonsson
  • The Neverending Story (1984) – directed by Wolfgang Petersen, screenplay by Wolfgang Petersen & Herman Weigel based on novel by Michael Ende
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) – directed by Steven Spielberg, written by Melissa Mathison, starring Henry Thomas
  • Koyaanisqatsi (1982) (Documentary) – directed by Godfrey Reggio, written by Godfrey Reggio, Ron Fricke, Michael Hoenig, Alton Walpole
  • Poltergeist (1982) – directed by Tobe Hooper & Steven Spielberg, screenplay by Steven Spielberg, Michael Grais & Mark Victor, story by Steven Spielberg
  • Autumn Sonata / Hostsonaten (1978) – directed & written by Ingmar Bergman, starring Ingrid Bergman
  • Barry Lyndon (1975) – directed by Stanley Kubrick, screenplay by Stanley Kubrick based on novel by William Makepeace Thackeray, cinematography by John Alcott
  • The Mirror / Zerkalo (1975) – directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, written by Andrei Tarkovsky & Aleksandr Misharin
  • Chinatown (1974) – directed by Roman Polanski, written by Robert Towne
  • Cries and Whispers / Viskningar och rop (1972) – directed & written by Ingmar Bergman, starring Harriet Andersson
  • Love Story (1970) – directed by Arthur Hiller, written by Erich Segal, starring Ali MacGraw & Ryan O’Neal
  • Bonnie and Clyde (1967) – directed by Arthur Penn, written by David Newman & Robert Benton, starring Faye Dunaway & Warren Beatty
  • Africa Addio (1966) (Documentary) – directed & written by Gualtiero Jacopetti & Franco Prosperi
  • Empire (1964) (Experimental) – directed by Andy Warhol
  • The Haunting (1963) – directed by Robert Wise, screenplay by Nelson Gidding based on novel by Shirley Jackson
  • What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) – directed by Robert Aldrich, screenplay by Lukas Heller based on novel by Henry Farrell, starring Bette Davis & Joan Crawford
  • Peeping Tom (1960) – directed by Michael Powell, written by Leo Marks
  • One Froggy Evening (1955) (Animated Short) – directed by Chuck Jones, story by Michael Maltese
  • On the Waterfront (1954) – directed by Elia Kazan, written by Budd Schulberg, starring Marlon Brando
  • I Vitelloni (1953) – directed by Federico Fellini, screenplay by Federico Fellini & Ennio Flaiano, story by Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano & Tullio Pinelli
  • For Scent-imental Reasons (1949) (Animated Short) – directed by Chuck Jones, story by Michael Maltese
  • Bicycle Thieves / The Bicycle Thief / Ladri di biciclette (1948) – directed by Vittorio De Sica, screenplay by Vittorio De Sica, Cesare Zavattini, Oreste Biancoli, Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Adolfo Franci & Gherardo Gheraldi based on novel by Luigi Bartolini
  • It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) – directed by Frank Capra, screenplay by Frank Capra, Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett, story by Philip Van Doren Stern, starring James Stewart
  • Notorious (1946) – directed by Alfred Hitchcock, written by Ben Hecht, starring Ingrid Bergman & Cary Grant
  • Bambi (1942) (Animated) – produced by Walt Disney
  • Rebecca (1940) – directed by Alfred Hitchcock, screenplay by Robert E. Sherwood & Joan Harrison based on novel by Daphne Du Maurier, starring Laurence Olivier, produced by David O. Selznick
  • Bride of Frankenstein (1935) – directed by James Whale based on novel by Mary Shelley, starring Boris Karloff
  • Napoleon (1927) – directed & written by Abel Gance