IMDb has a list of the top 250 films ever made online for anyone to see. Most of these films are easily recognizable. They were blockbusters, or classics which were under-appreciated in their time at the box office but gained recognition and admiration a few years after their debut. There are sad movies and happy movies, dramatic movies and funny movies, and ones that masterfully capture a wide spectrum of human emotion as only the best movies can. However, there are some movies on the list that you may have never heard of, and some that are just plain hard to find if you were to try to watch them now. This could be for a number of reasons. Some of them were made before this generation, or even the one before it, was born. Some were wonderfully crafted movies that simply were released in a different country or language. These aspects have not taken away from the beauty of the films though, and the list still represents that.
Among the top 100 movies ranked, there are a handful of movies that you may scroll right through. These are the ones we focus on here. The ones that you maybe never saw in theaters, didn’t see a trailer for on television, and maybe haven’t even heard the titles to. A lot of these movies have stood the test of time and held their own against films that had larger budgets, better effects, better color, better sound (or just any dialogue at all), and newer marketing tactics. Their content and performance have kept them on the list, not their recognizability. They cover a wide spectrum of human experience; whether it be trying your best to survive in a time of war and destruction, caring for the ones you love more than you love yourself, following your dreams, opening your mind, or the ever-interesting tale of stopping the bad guy. Many of these stories have been retold time and time again, over the past few decades, with clear influence and adaptations in Hollywood.
I strongly encourage you to check these movies out, even if you’ve never heard of the titles or actors in them. Who knows, you might find a new favorite. Or you might realize a lot of the movies you love, are loosely based on some of these forgotten classics.
Whiplash is one of the newer films on this list, coming out in 2014. It comes in at number 45 on the IMDb list and unsurprisingly with a big ticket cast. The bigger names include Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons as two of the main characters. The movie is about a drummer who joins a music program with a devoted mentor. The storyline progresses as the two try to work together and stop at nothing to get better. The movie won three Oscars and has an overall rating of 8.5 out of 10. While it is a great movie and has received a lot of positive reviews, a lot of people did not see it yet or have not heard of it at all. Many don’t even remember seeing ads for it, when it only came out a couple years ago.
14. City Lights
Now, most people young and old have heard the name Charles (Charlie) Chaplin, even though most have never heard his voice. The silent film star had a large run of fame in the first half of the 1900s and appeared in multiple films on IMDb’s top 100. However, a lot of people have still never heard of the film City Lights, which involves Chaplin trying to do all he can to help a blind girl pay for her medical bills. This could be because the movie was released in the 1930s. Or, this could also be because Silent films took a back seat when talking worked its way into film. But, the movie still comes in at number 35 on the list. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think most people nowadays could sit through a silent film, which is understandable.
13. Seven Samurai
This Japanese film comes in at number 19 on the IMDb list. The movie, which was nominated for two Oscars, came out in 1954 and comes in at a little over three hours long. It is about a village that recruits seven unemployed Samurais to protect them and to teach them how to protect themselves from bandits. What else could an awesome Samurai movie lead up to? Why, a giant battle of course. Many movies since have come out that were inspired by Seven Samurai and some debate has been raised over where the original idea for the movie came from. Whatever the source may be, this movie resulted in a great film for the ages, with a solid storyline and awesome fight scenes. After all, number 19 on a list of 100 movies is very impressive.
12. Rear Window
This 1954 movie was directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the genius behind The Birds and Psycho. In this movie a photographer, who is confined to a wheelchair, spends his day spying on his neighbors with a pair of binoculars. When he becomes convinced that one of his neighbors has committed a crime, he takes it into his own hands to try to solve the problem. Sound familiar? Recently the television show Castle, did an episode that followed the same plot line with a twist. But the theme is not shy to fame, as many shows and movies have taken the same idea and worked their own stories out of it, Disturbia anyone? This one comes in at number 39 on the list, even being over 50 years old, which speaks wonders to its impressive content and storyline. I’m sure there will be other movies with the same idea in the next few years as well.
11. The Lives of Others
This German drama comes in at number 55 on the list. With one Oscar, and 75 other wins, it is easy to see why this 2006 film has made such a good impression. The story follows a secret police agent who conducts secret surveillance of citizens of East Berlin in 1984. While attending a play, he gets a gut feeling about the play writer and convinces the Stasi to let him conduct surveillance. While observing the writer and the woman he is seeing, the agent becomes more and more involved in their lives, eventually beginning to interfere in their day to day activities. It’s a compelling storyline, with great twists and unexpected events. It will keep you on the edge of your seat as you watch the characters develop within the story and wait to find out how everything unwinds and concludes. Think cop-stake-out thriller meets almost 1984 level citizen surveillance and you have yourself a great thriller.
10. The Kid
Another Charlie Chaplin classic comes in at number 96 on the IMDb list. This 1921 film follows “The Tramp”, as he cares for a lonely child that was left behind by his mother as a baby. When the mother regrets her decision, she looks for years trying to find her abandoned son. Chaplin, who has raised the boy as his own has to fight through all of the obstacles in his path to try to keep his son, and so does the boy’s biological mother. The signature Chaplin humor and emotional undertones make this movie a great one to watch on your own or with your kids (it doesn’t hurt that the kid cast in the movie is absolutely adorable, too). However, as another silent film on the list, its popularity has decreased over the years and a lot in the younger generations have not heard of it or even seen it.
This German mystery is somewhat like a 1931 version of Suicide Squad in the shallowest layer- that is that bad guys are used to catch another bad guy. The tale follows German police as they desperately try to find a serial killer who has been preying on young girls in their city. When the police fail time and time again, the organized crime leaders in the area, who have been struggling with the increased police presence and activity, decide to find him on their own. They, and the beggars association, set out to find the killer and finally bring him to justice. The film comes in at number 74 on the IMDb list, which is not a surprise considering the director’s wonderful use of cinematography and sound, which was still relatively new at this point in movies.
8. Spirited Away
This 2001 movie is one of the only animated films on the top 100 list, and it comes in impressively at number 29. The film, which won one Oscar, follows the journey of a 10-year-old girl who moves to the suburbs with her family. When their path to a new town gets an unexpected detour, they find a mysterious tunnel that leads to an abandoned amusement park. While her parents eat, the girl decides to explore and accidentally discovers a new kind of world- one that she may not have wanted to stumble into. She meets a boy who warns her of danger and runs into a place where humans are able to change into creatures, she has to deal with Gods, witches and spirits, in her new journey. The story focuses on the girl’s attempt to save her family and herself, with the help of a new friend.
7. The Intouchables
This French drama came out a few years ago in 2011. It made its way around to critics in the United States but not many average movie-goers, which is why it has made its way onto this list. The story begins with a well-off man injuring himself in a paragliding accident. Following his life-changing accident, he has to adjust to life as a quadriplegic and needs some help navigating around his new life and his house. He decides to hire a “young man from the projects” to help with his home and some caregiving responsibilities. The movie follows their relationship and getting used to each other, as they come to accept their differences and embrace the worlds that they each grew up and lived in. It comes in at number 37 on the list.
5. Das Boot
This German film came out in 1981 and portrayed the life of a soldier on a U-Boat during World War II. The movie, which comes in at number 70 on the IMDb list, was nominated for a total of 6 Oscars. The story follows German soldiers who try to understand their government, the war, and how to cope with being part of a diminishing fleet. The movie received praise for its portrayal of young men who were thrown into war much too young, and beginning to mature and question what they were actually fighting for. It does a great job of showing the human aspect of war and corrupt governments, and how the Nazi soldiers could often be misconstrued and lumped in with the government and leaders. It’s truly a thrilling movie with heart and emotion mixed in with adventure and genuine war-time thrills. It’s definitely worth watching.
4. Life is Beautiful
This 1997 Italian film comes in at number 26 on the IMDb list. The film follows a Jewish librarian and his son, who unfortunately become victims of the Holocaust. The father must try his best to protect his son from the heartbreak and pain of what surrounds them during the war, and keep his son from breaking down. He does so using humor and imagination, as well as some love and positive thought. The film won 3 Oscars and it honestly is clear to see why. While it was many years later, concentration camp stories are never easy to tell, especially when victims are still alive who may remember situations you are portraying. The director, Roberto Benigni does an absolutely wonderful job of portraying the pressure a father would hold trying to uphold his family during a very hard time.
3. Double Indemnity
This 1944 film comes in at number 81 on the IMDb list. It was nominated for an astounding 7 Oscars. This story follows an insurance salesman who falls in love with a woman he shouldn’t, one of his client’s wives. After they begin an affair, the woman convinces him to take part in a murder to get rid of her husband and collect his insurance money. She suggests making it look like an accident, but he suggests collecting double the mount of insurance money by using a double indemnity clause. The police buy it and they think they are getting away clean, except for one little problem. The insurance agent’s best friend, who is also the insurance analyst, thinks the woman killed her husband, and he suspects that it was with the help of another man. The thriller takes you through the crime and motive, as well as dealing with the suspense of the investigation afterwards.
2. Grave of the Fireflies
The second animated film to appear here comes in at number 60 on the IMDb list. Also set in Japan, this film covers the life of a brother and sister who try to survive during World War II with their father fighting in the war, and their mother the late victim of an air raid. While struggling to survive while also trying to stay strong, they find joy and happiness in the simple light of the fireflies. The film received great reviews for its heartwarming portrayal of family and love, its heart-wrenching depiction of war-time life and destruction, and its strong emphasis on the human will to survive and provide for those in need. While the film is based in a bleak environment and situation, the spirit and love of the children keeps the movie from being too depressing and moving.
1. The Apartment
This 1960 film starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine was received with great critiques and praise when it came out. It since has dropped to number 99 on the top movies list, which is still impressive considering how long ago it came out. The film follows a man who tries to make nice with his company’s executives- many who are married- by letting them use his apartment for “trysts.” The story gets complicated when one of the executives has feelings for the same girl that our main character does. The love triangle comes to a peak on Christmas Eve and then everything starts to unravel in brilliant fashion. The film won a total of 5 Oscars, as well as 19 other Awards. The film has been referenced a few times in shows and films, but for the most part has disappeared into the archives of forgotten movies of the past.