Any reason for a list, right? Well, even in 2016 an 80th anniversary is pretty significant, so hats off to the Directors Guild of America for deciding to vote on and choose the 80 best-directed films of all-time as a way to mark the occasion, even if it is a little bit of a lackluster way to go about it. Listicles — they’re taking over the world!
The list itself is standard stuff, and most of the titles here will have film buffs nodding their heads as they scroll down. But, then again, there’s a reason all of these “standard” greats are considered greats — they’ve withstood the test of time, whatever that test may be. It’s worth noting, too, that the films were only eligible if they were made in 1936 or later, as that’s the year the DGA was founded. And, well, we all know nothing matters before that — sorry, D. W. Griffith.
To be honest, the list is happily populist, with favorite The Godfather coming in at No. 1, while Goodfellas sits at No. 10, Star Wars sits at No. 19, and, uh, Avatar sits at No. 55? Funny that the exact version of Blade Runner isn’t specified, and also funny that Birdman made the cut.
Here’s the statement the DGA released along with the list:
As the DGA celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, we decided to poll our members to see what they consider the 80 greatest directorial achievements in feature films since the Guild’s founding in 1936. (Features directed by nonmembers were eligible.) Many organizations and critics groups have compiled similar lists, but this was an opportunity for the people who actually do the job to focus specifically on the work of the director and his or her team. Members participating totaled 2,189 (13.7 percent of all Guild members). As in any poll of this nature, there are bound to be choices you disagree with, and other films you would have included—that’s part of the fun. But we think you’ll find this list thought-provoking and a fitting tribute to the timeless work of our great directors.
Whatever you might think of this particular list, it’s always nice to have a handy reference for classic movies worth seeing if you’re ever stuck on a rainy Tuesday night scrolling endlessly through Netflix. Have a look at the full list below.
1. The Godfather Francis Ford Coppola 1972 2. Citizen Kane Orson Welles 1941 3. Lawrence of Arabia David Lean 1962 4. 2001: A Space Odyssey Stanley Kubrick 1968 5. Casablanca Michael Curtiz 1942 6. The Godfather: Part II Francis Ford Coppola 1974 7. Apocalypse Now Francis Ford Coppola 1979 8. Schindler’s List Steven Spielberg 1993 9. Gone With the Wind Victor Fleming 1939 10. Goodfellas Martin Scorsese 1990 11. Chinatown Roman Polanski 1974 12. The Wizard of Oz Victor Fleming 1939 13. Raging Bull Martin Scorsese 1980 14. Jaws Steven Spielberg 1975 15. It’s a Wonderful Life Frank Capra 1946 16. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb Stanley Kubrick 1964 17. The Shawshank Redemption Frank Darabont 1994 18. The Graduate Mike Nichols 1967 19. Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope George Lucas 1977 20. Blade Runner Ridley Scott 1982 21. On the Waterfront Elia Kazan 1954 22. Pulp Fiction Quentin Tarantino 1994 23. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Steven Spielberg 1982 24. Annie Hall Woody Allen 1977 25. Saving Private Ryan Steven Spielberg 1998 26. Seven Samurai Akira Kurosawa 1954 27. A Clockwork Orange Stanley Kubrick 1971 28. Raiders of the Lost Ark Steven Spielberg 1981 29. Vertigo Alfred Hitchcock 1958 30. Sunset Boulevard Billy Wilder 1950 31. To Kill A Mockingbird Robert Mulligan 1962 32. Psycho Alfred Hitchcock 1960 33. The Searchers John Ford 1956 34. Forrest Gump Robert Zemeckis 1994 35. Singin’ in the Rain Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly 1952 36. 8 ½ Federico Fellini 1963 37. The Third Man Carol Reed 1949 38. The Best Years of Our Lives William Wyler 1946 39. Rear Window Alfred Hitchcock 1954 40. The Bridge on the River Kwai David Lean 1957 41. North by Northwest Alfred Hitchcock 1959 42. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Miloš Forman 1975 43. The Sound of Music Robert Wise 1965 44. Taxi Driver Martin Scorsese 1976 45. Titanic James Cameron 1997 46. The Shining Stanley Kubrick 1980 47. Amadeus Miloš Forman 1984 48. Doctor Zhivago David Lean 1965 49. West Side Story Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise 1961 50. Some Like it Hot Billy Wilder 1959 51. Ben-Hur William Wyler 1959 52. Fargo Ethan Coen, Joel Coen 1996 53. The Silence of the Lambs Jonathan Demme 1991 54. The Apartment Billy Wilder 1960 55. Avatar James Cameron 2009 56. The Hurt Locker Kathryn Bigelow 2008 57. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre John Huston 1948 58. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Alejandro G. Iñárritu 2014 59. All About Eve Joseph L. Mankiewicz 1950 60. The Deer Hunter Michael Cimino 1978 61. There Will Be Blood Paul Thomas Anderson 2007 62. The Sting George Roy Hill 1973 63. The Wild Bunch Sam Peckinpah 1969 64. Alien Ridley Scott 1979 65. Rocky John G. Avildsen 1976 66. The Conformist Bernardo Bertolucci 1970 67. Gandhi Richard Attenborough 1982 68. The Bicycle Thief Vittorio De Sica 1948 69. Cinema Paradiso Giuseppe Tornatore 1988 70. Brazil Terry Gilliam 1985 71. The Grapes of Wrath John Ford 1940 72. All the President’s Men Alan J. Pakula 1976 73. Barry Lyndon Stanley Kubrick 1975 74. Touch of Evil Orson Welles 1958 75. Once Upon a Time in America Sergio Leone 1984 76. Unforgiven Clint Eastwood 1992 77. The Usual Suspects Bryan Singer 1995 78. Network Sidney Lumet 1976 79. Rashomon Akira Kurosawa 1950 80. Once Upon a Time in the West Sergio Leone 1968