5. Back to the Future (1985), directed by Robert Zemeckis
Back to the 1980s, this great science-fiction adventure helmed by Robert Zemeckis, and co-written with Bob Gale, is one of the most iconic releases of that decade – and the beginning of one of the most beloved trilogies of all time.
Starring Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, the film follows a high school student who meets a scientist (Christopher Lloyd) who invented a time machine, and ends up being sent back to 1955. Being in his hometown, he has to make sure his parents will meet and fall in love to get back safely to the future.
The remarkable soundtrack and the iconic scenes from this film are definitely among the best things pop culture could give in the 1980s. Who can forget Marty McFly playing Chuck Berry on the iconic ES-335 red guitar? This makes “Back to the Future” number 5 on our list.
4. The Searchers (1956), directed by John Ford
There’s no doubt John Ford is among the best filmmakers of all time. Here, we have a film not only often considered his best work, but a film that is considered by some as the best western in history.
Starring John Wayne as Ethan Edwards, the film follows a veteran of the American Civil War who returns to Texas in hope of finding a home, but when his niece is kidnapped by the Comanches under the command of Chief Scar, he needs to go on a journey to rescue her. As the journey goes on, his hatred for the Comanches starts to appear more and more. Is he trying to rescue his niece or trying to end her life?
Greatly written by Frank S. Nugent and adapted from the novel by Alan Le May, though violent in many moments, this film is so full of subtle traces on the dialogue and the actions of the characters that every time we watch it we discover something new about that place and about Ethan’s character. “The Searchers” is another amazing film by John Ford and definitely deserves its name among the best films in history.
3. Casablanca (1942), directed by Michael Curtiz
Almost always ranked very near the top – if not at the top – of lists of the greatest films in history, “Casablanca” is a romantic drama directed by Michael Curtiz that won three Oscars on the 16th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay.
Based on the unproduced play “Everybody Comes to Rick’s”, written by Joan Alison and Murray Burnett, “Casablanca” follows the story of Rick (Humphrey Bogart), an expatriate American who runs a nightclub in Morocco at the beginning of World War II. His cafe is a place where refugees go to try to get letters to escape to America, but one day, Rick’s former lover, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), shows up at his club with her husband and from that moment on, Rick will have to make a very complicated decision.
One of the best scripts ever written, “Casablanca” is a mandatory movie for any cinephile. The great performances by Bergman and Bogart, allied with the amazing dialogue and one of the most iconic endings in history, makes this film definitely one of the best in history. This movie has a story so moving that is definitely worth watching again and again.
2. The Apartment (1960), directed by Billy Wilder
Always cited alongside the best comedies in history, “The Apartment” is one of Billy Wilder’s best works. Starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, this movie, which has traces of comedy, drama and romance, is among the most remarkable ones from the 60s.
In this film, C.C. Baxter (Lemmon) is a man trying to move up the corporate ladder while working at an insurance company. Because of this, he lets the company executives use his apartment for extramarital affairs, but there comes a day when he becomes attracted to the lover of one of the company’s executives and things start to get complicated for him.
The movie won five Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay (Billy Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond), Best Film Editing (Daniel Mandell) and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration in Black and White (Alexandre Trauner and Edward G. Boyle).
With great performances by Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, “The Apartment” is another great film from Billy Wilder that is mandatory for any cinephile, and deserves a place on this list for its great characters and writing.
1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), directed by Frank Capra
This fantasy, comedy and drama film directed by Frank Capra is really among the most beautiful movies in history. Based on the short story by Philip Van Doren Stern called “The Greatest Gift” and written by Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, Jo Swerling and Frank Capra, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a movie that should definitely be watched by everybody.
The film follows the story of George Bailey (James Stewart), a frustrated man who always did his best by the people of Bedford Falls, and on Christmas Eve decides to commit suicide because he believes everybody is better off without him. But when he is contemplating the possibility of killing himself, an angel named Clarence (Henry Travers) is sent to help him and shows him how the world would be if he did not exist.
Another amazing performance by Stewart and amazingly directed by Capra, this film tells a fascinating story about how we should never give up on life and love, and how we sometimes forget our importance to the people around us. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a beautiful film that should definitely be watched again and again. This makes it number one on this list.
Author bio: Vítor Guima is a filmmaker, writer and musician from São Paulo, Brazil. Every day he watches a movie, reads a few pages from a book, listens to an album and freaks out with the feeling of not having enough time to see everything. You can follow him on Instagram on @ovitorguima.