10. The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring
It may feature monsters, wizards and plucky little fellas with furry feet, but The Lord Of The Rings isn't a fairy tale. Which is why Peter Jackson's adaptation worked so well; from this note-perfect first instalment, it was treated exactly as Tolkien intended — as a historical epic which just happens to be set in an alternative world.
9. Star Wars
It's nuts: we're now as far, far away from the release of Star Wars as 1977 audiences were from Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. And yet George Lucas' cocktail of fantasy, sci-fi, Western and World War II movie remains as culturally pervasive as ever. It's so mythically potent, you sense in time it could become a bona-fide religion...
Forty-five years young, and Spielberg's breakthrough remains the touchstone for event-movie cinema. Not that any studio these days would dare put out a summer blockbuster that's half monster-on-the-rampage disaster, half guys-bonding-on-a-fishing-trip adventure. Maybe that's why it's never been rebooted. Or just because it's genuinely unsurpassable.
7. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
In '81, it must have sounded like the ultimate pitch: the creator of Star Wars teams up with the director of Jaws to make a rip-roaring, Bond-style adventure starring the guy who played Han Solo, in which the bad guys are the evillest ever (the Nazis) and the MacGuffin is a big, gold box which unleashes the power of God. It still sounds like the ultimate pitch.
Where Coppola embroiled us in the politics of the Mafia elite, Martin Scorsese drew us into the treacherous but seductive world of the Mob's foot soldiers. And its honesty was as impactful as its sudden outbursts of (usually Joe Pesci-instigated) violence. Not merely via Henry Hill's (Ray Liotta) narrative, but also Karen's (Lorraine Bracco) perspective: when Henry gives her a gun to hide, she admits, "It turned me on."
Will Christopher Nolan ever make a Bond movie? Well, with Inception he kind of already has. Except, instead of a British secret agent, we get a freelance corporate dream-thief. And the big climactic action sequence is so huge it takes up almost half the movie and is actually three big action sequences temporally nested inside each other around a surreal, metaphysical-conflict core.
4. The Shawshank Redemption
The warm, leathery embrace of Morgan Freeman's narration... The reassuringly Gary Cooper-ish rumple of Tim Robbins' face... Odd that a movie which features such harshness and tragedy should remain a feel-good perennial — even odder when you consider it was a box-office flop on release. Few directorial debuts are so deftly constructed; no surprise, then, that Frank Darabont has yet to top it.
3. The Dark Knight
Easily as influential on the genre as that other summer '08 comic-book movie, Iron Man, Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins sequel works wonders because he never saw it as a superhero film. It's closer to a Michael Mann crime epic — except instead of Pacino and De Niro in a diner, you get a bloke dressed as a bat and a psychotic clown in a police interrogation room. With, er, Aaron Eckhart as Val Kilmer...
2. Forrest Gump
Robert Zemeckis' affable stroll through some of America's most turbulent decades, as seen through the childlike eyes of the simple-but-successful Forrest — the role which earned Tom Hanks his second Oscar in two years. And it says a lot about the film's emotional heft that it managed to win an Oscar itself, when it was in competition with both Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption.
1. The Godfather
The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola who co-wrote the screenplay with Mario Puzo, based on Puzo's best-selling 1969 novel of the same name. The film stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte, and Diane Keaton. It is the first installment in The Godfather trilogy. The story, spanning from 1945 to 1955, chronicles the Corleone family under patriarch Vito Corleone (Brando), focusing on the transformation of one of his sons, Michael Corleone (Pacino), from reluctant family outsider to ruthless mafia boss.
Paramount Pictures obtained the rights to the novel for the price of $80,000, before it gained popularity. Studio executives had trouble finding a director; their first few candidates turned down the position before Coppola signed on to direct the film. They and Coppola disagreed over the casting for several characters, in particular, Vito and Michael. Filming took place primarily on location around New York City and in Sicily, and was completed ahead of schedule. The musical score was composed principally by Nino Rota, with additional pieces by Carmine Coppola.