Your ranked list of the 10 most influential films of all time

Posted by · 9:43 am · June 10th, 2009

Citizen KaneAnd with that, our poll series comes to a screeching halt.  I’ve already offered some thoughts on how all of this turned out.  I hope readers unfamiliar with some of the films I’ve been harping on will take that to heart and at least seek them out.  You owe it to yourself as a film lover, believe you me.

Here is your ranked list.  For background on all of these shenanigans, click here.  I want to thank everyone who participated in the polls and made this a real community effort.

1. “Citizen Kane” (Orson Welles, 1941)
2. “Star Wars” (George Lucas, 1977)
3. “2001: A Space Odyssey” (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
4. “The Godfather” (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
5. “The Wizard of Oz” (Victor Fleming, 1939)
6. “Psycho” (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
7. “Jaws” (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
8. “Pulp Fiction” (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
9. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (David Hand, 1937)
10. “Toy Story” (John Lasseter, 1995)

Honorable mention: “Annie Hall,” “Apocalypse Now,” “Battleship Potemkin,” “The Birth of a Nation,” “Casablanca,” “The Godfather Part II,” “Gone with the Wind,” “The Matrix,” “Metropolis” and “Rashomon”

One of these days I’ll cook up my own list.  Until then, once again, thanks for participating.




→ 20 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: The Lists

20 responses so far

  • 1 6-10-2009 at 12:00 pm

    Alex S. said...

    Other than a couple of those obvious staples on the list, I almost think that your Honorable Mentions selections are more worthy. lol

  • 2 6-10-2009 at 12:08 pm

    Liz said...

    The inclusion of “Casablanca,” even in the honorable mention list, puzzles me. Was it really influential in any way? I’m stumped.

  • 3 6-10-2009 at 12:26 pm

    Mr. Milich said...

    100 years of cinema. Worldwide. And not a single film outside the US is considered among the 10 most influential. No Fellini. No Bergman. Kurosawa. Godard.

    Sure…

  • 4 6-10-2009 at 12:28 pm

    El Rocho said...

    Almost all of the films I voted for are not in the final list, but in the honorable mentions. It’s sad to see. I do think their are many other–more deserving–influencial films out there. I think only 3 are worthy on the top 10.

  • 5 6-10-2009 at 12:44 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    At least the top 3 turned out alright.

  • 6 6-10-2009 at 12:46 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Yeah, the absence of ANY non-U.S. titles is a real shame.

    Oh well.

  • 7 6-10-2009 at 12:58 pm

    Vito said...

    This was fun. Should do another epic elimination poll like this someday.

  • 8 6-10-2009 at 1:05 pm

    M.Harris said...

    Toy Story? But no “Bonnie And Clyde.” Hell! E.T wasn’t high up on my list of the most influential but I would rather go with that and the “E.T phone home” pop cultural phrase that it stirred up back in 1982 over “Toy Story.”

  • 9 6-10-2009 at 1:38 pm

    John H. Foote said...

    With all due respect I think a lot of people missed the point on this poll — the poll was about the most influential film, not one’s favorite — the lack of films from any other countries is alarming and speaks volumes about what people were doing — where would the gritty realism of the late forties and early fities American cinema be with the Neo-Realist Italian work from the mid to late forties? Where are the westerns? “Star Wars” was influenced by “The Searchers” and ‘The Seven Samurai” yet there is not a mention of those films — as for call outs on “Toy Story” it belongs on the list actually more than “Pulp Fiction”, the latter film, though brilliant, having an influence on many imuitators to follow, without the talent of Tarantino — I struggle with any list that has “Citizen Kane” at the top, in particular those that state it is the greatest film of all time, which I do not buy — but most influential? Maybe — certainly the technical innovations were extraordinary but I would need some convincing it is the most influential of all time — fun poll, I am just not sure everyone really got what it was really about — I love American cinema, but recognize that the great directors of American films had many influences from Europe, my God, not a single Godard film????? The greats of the seventies, Coppola, Scorsese, Allen, Scorsese, De Palma…worhsipped at the altar of Godard — and Bergman?? Holy shit did he not influence our greatest comedic writer…Woody Allen??? Again, I think some people missed the point.

  • 10 6-10-2009 at 1:39 pm

    Jesse said...

    I dont know. Have the posts on this site are about Pixar and Toy Story started it all. That certainly means something.

  • 11 6-10-2009 at 1:45 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    John: Couldn’t agree more.

    Jesse: Assuming you mean “half the posts,” when did you start reading the site?

  • 12 6-10-2009 at 1:47 pm

    M.Harris said...

    “Pulp Fiction” doesn’t escape my wrath either Mr.Foote- as far as being on the list in my humble opinion.Great film and it obviously has some influence.So I would replace that with something else to.

  • 13 6-10-2009 at 1:59 pm

    Speaking English said...

    ***“Star Wars” was influenced by “The Searchers” and ‘The Seven Samurai”***

    More so by “The Hidden Fortress.”

    ***where would the gritty realism of the late forties and early fities American cinema be with the Neo-Realist Italian work from the mid to late forties?***

    And the gritty realism of the last 50 or so years without Godard’s “Breathless?”

  • 14 6-10-2009 at 2:38 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    FYI, if I were to make a list, it’d probably look something like this:

    1. “Citizen Kane” – staggering influence on structure and photography; without it, nothing is the same
    2. “The Birth of a Nation” – like “Kane,” a staggering impact on structure; became the blueprint for constructing a film
    3. “Battleship Potemkin” – illuminated Eisenstein’s theory of the montage and changed how a story could be told visually
    4. “The Great Train Robbery” – massive impact on continuity in editing among other post-production particulars
    5. “Jaws” – ushered in the era of the blockbuster and changed the industry’s thinking vis a vis distribution
    6. “The Jazz Singer” – ushered in the era of talkies
    7. “Metropolis” – just search “Schüfftan process”
    8. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” – took animation and its thematic potential seriously for the first time; Eisenstein called it the greatest film ever made at the time
    9. “Shadows” – borrowed from the New Wave and Neo-Realism but shocked a system that would have disavowed DIY filmmaking before it came along
    10. “Pulp Fiction” – reawakened the independent spirit of American cinema, for better or worse

    Honorable mention: “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “The Bicycle Thief,” “Breathless,” “The Godfather,” “Jurassic Park,” “Man with a Movie Camera,” “Psycho,” “The Searchers,” “Star Wars,” “Toy Story”

  • 15 6-11-2009 at 1:23 am

    Jesse said...

    Guy: Sorry, I forget that its difficult to inflect tone in a blogpost. What I should have said was, a large number of posts since this poll was started (although certainly less than half) have been devoted to both the genius of Pixar and their most recent film, Up.
    For the record, I’ve only been on for a few months, ever since I sawHollywood Hitlist recommended you guys. However, I am a daily reader and a major fan.

  • 16 6-11-2009 at 1:26 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Glad to have you, Jesse.

  • 17 6-11-2009 at 1:27 am

    Jesse said...

    And John, you’re right about this. The problem with ranking films is that there’s little concrete evidence to base your judgement on. With baseball, you’ve got lifetime batting average and winning percentage…with film, you have to factor in critical reputations, oscar wins, how many directors have praised it, gut instinct…The Searchers wasn’t even nominated for an oscar but is now considered one of the most influencial westerns ever made. In my opinion, its deserving of this title, but how did its standing become so great in recent decades? Just another example of the great mystery of art’s critical evaluations.

  • 18 6-11-2009 at 6:09 pm

    Craig said...

    Nos. 11-20 would make a better list than the top 10.

  • 19 8-25-2009 at 8:49 pm

    Marvin said...

    I understand the disappointment and am sad I wasn’t here to chime in w. my thoughts but allow me my 2 cents by posting a list of my eternal favorites- 1. Sunset Blvd. 2. Citizen Kane 3. La dolce vita 4. Casablanca 5. Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios 6. Ran 7. Children of Men 8. The Insider 9. Man with a Movie Camera 10. Gosford Park 11. The Smiling Lieutenant 12. All About Eve 13. Madame de… 14. Thelma & Louise 15. La strada 16. The General 17. Todo sobre mi madre 18. El ángel exterminador 19. The Lion in Winter 20. Brokeback Mountain 21. Fitzcarraldo 22. Modern Times 23. Ace in the Hole 24. Smiles of a Summer Night 25. Z