Tuesday, March 2, 2021

The 25 Best Movies of the Last 50 Years, According to Critics


As the coronavirus pandemic continues, and the modern film industry has all but ground to a halt, many of us are finding solace in cinema from home.

Whether that’s watching old favorites, making new discoveries or both.

For this list, Newsweek turned to the review aggregator Metacritic for their collection of the all-time greatest movies, which ranks films by their composite critical reception.

However, as 50 years ago was 1971 (if you can believe), you will not see classic films of the 20th century such as Citizen Kane, Casablanca and Rear Window on this list.

Whether you agree or disagree with what made this list—the data is skewed in favor of more modern titles with more reviews—it’s a handy springboard for picking your next movie night.

Check out the 25 best movies of the last 50 years according to the critics on Metacritic:

The Godfather (1972)

Metacritic rating: 100

Francis Ford Coppola’s epic features Marlon Brando in his Oscar-winning role as the patriarch of the Corleone family. Director Coppola paints a chilling portrait of the Sicilian clan’s rise and near fall from power in America, masterfully balancing the story between the Corleone’s family life and the ugly crime business in which they are engaged. Based on Mario Puzo’s best-selling novel and featuring career-making performances by Al Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall, this searing and brilliant film garnered 10 Academy Award nominations, and won three including Best Picture of 1972.

The Godfather
Marlon Brando listens in a still from “The Godfather,” directed by Francis Coppola, 1972.
Paramount Pictures/Getty

Boyhood (2011)

Metacritic rating: 100

Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, Boyhood charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before and is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting.

74 Boyhood
26. Boyhood (2014, IFC Films). Score: 276. Metacritic: 100. Rotten Tomatoes: 97. IMDb: 7.9. Directed by: Richard Linklater. Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke.”A remarkable film following the life of Mason, from early childhood to his arrival at college.”
IFC Films

Moonlight (2016)

Metacritic rating: 100

Moonlight is the tender, heartbreaking story of a young man’s struggle to find himself, told across three defining chapters in his life as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love, while grappling with his own sexuality.

moonlight streaming
‘Moonlight’ won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2017.

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Metacritic rating: 98

Following a bloody civil war, young Ofelia enters a world of unimaginable cruelty when she moves in with her new stepfather, a tyrannical military officer. Armed with only her imagination, Ofelia discovers a mysterious labyrinth and meets a faun who sets her on a path to saving herself and her ailing mother. But soon, the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur, and before Ofelia can turn back, she finds herself at the center of a ferocious battle between good and evil.

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3. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). Metacritic score: 98. Director: Guillermo del Toro. Summary: “Following a bloody civil war, young Ofelia enters a world of unimaginable cruelty when she moves in with her new stepfather, a tyrannical military officer.”—Warner Bros.

Hoop Dreams (1994)

Metacritic rating: 98

Two inner-city Chicago boys with hopes of becoming professional basketball players struggle to become college players.

86 Hoop Dreams
15. Hoop Dreams (1994, Fine Line Features). Score: 279. Metacritic: 98. Rotten Tomatoes: 98. IMDb: 8.3. Directed by: Steve James. Starring: William Gates, Arthur Agee.”A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.”
Fine Line Features

My Left Foot (1990)

Metacritic rating: 97

True story of cerebral palsied Christy Brown, who overcame his illness and poverty to become an accomplished artist, poet and writer.

30 A1718
My Left Foot (1989). Metacritic score: 97. Director: Jim Sheridan.
Palace Pictures

American Graffiti (1972)

Metacritic rating: 97

A couple of high school grads spend one final night cruising the strip with their buddies before they go off to college.

american graffiti
American cartoonist Mort Drucker’s poster for ‘American Graffiti’, directed by George Lucas, 1973.
Silver Screen Collection/Getty

Roma (2018)

Metacritic rating: 96

Roma follows Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a young domestic worker for a family in the middle-class neighborhood of Roma in Mexico City. Delivering an artful love letter to the women who raised him, director Alfonso Cuarón draws on his own childhood to create a vivid and emotional portrait of domestic strife and social hierarchy amidst political turmoil of the 1970s.

Since it released its first fiction film in 2015, Netflix has won six Academy Awards for its original content.

Ran (1985)

Metacritic rating: 96

An adaptation of William Shakespeare’s King Lear, Ran considers the disastrous consequences of Lord Hidetora Ichimonji’s (Tatsuya Nakadai) decision to split his kingdom among his three sons.

#4. Ran (1985)
Akira Kurosawa’s “Ran” is inspired by “King Lear.”
Greenwich Film Productions

Manchester By The Sea (2016)

Metacritic rating: 96

After the death of his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is shocked to learn that Joe has made him sole guardian of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Taking leave of his job, Lee reluctantly returns to Manchester-by-the-Sea to care for Patrick, a spirited 15-year-old, and is forced to deal with a past that separated him from his wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and the community where he was born and raised. Bonded by the man who held their family together, Lee and Patrick struggle to adjust to a world without him.

37 Manchester by the Sea
Manchester by the Sea (2016, Roadside Attractions). Score: 269. Metacritic: 96. Rotten Tomatoes: 95. IMDb: 7.8. Directed by: Kenneth Lonergan. Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler.”A depressed man is asked to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies.”
Roadside Attractions

12 Years A Slave (2013)

Metacritic rating: 96

In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man living in upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

56 12 Years a Slave
12 Years a Slave (2013, Twentieth Century Fox). Score: 273. Metacritic: 96. Rotten Tomatoes: 96. IMDb: 8.1. Directed by: Steve McQueen. Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michael Fassbender.”In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.”
Twentieth Century Fox

Killer of Sheep (2007)

Metacritic rating: 96

Killer of Sheep examines the black Los Angeles ghetto of Watts in the mid-1970s through the eyes of Stan, a sensitive dreamer who is growing detached and numb from the psychic toll of working at a slaughterhouse. The film offers no solutions; it merely presents life—sometimes hauntingly bleak, sometimes filled with transcendent joy and gentle humor.

#56. Killer of Sheep (1978)
“Killer of Sheep” is a 1978 American drama film edited, shot, written, produced, and directed by Charles Burnett
Charles Burnett

Nashville (1975)

Metacritic rating: 96

Over the course of a few hectic days, numerous interrelated people prepare for a political convention as secrets and lies are surfaced and revealed.

2 68c7699c470d72e4b2f56f1163ed140a
Nashville (1975). Rotten Tomatoes rating: 92 percent. Number of reviews: 51. Summary: A presidential election is underway, and Replacement Party candidate Hal Philip Walker’s election team is rounding up some acts for a fundraiser.
Paramount Pictures

Ratatouille (2007)

Metacritic rating: 96

Despite his sensational sniffer and sophisticated palate, Remy’s dreams of becoming a chef seem hopeless due to one small detail—he’s a rat! Through a twist of fate, he ends up in the world-famous restaurant of his late hero, Auguste Gusteau. With a dash of culinary courage and the help of garbage boy Linguini, Remy whips up exquisite meals that impress even the nasty chef Skinner and food critic Anton Ego. Together they conquer the kitchen and prove that big dreams can come true no matter how small you are.

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Ratatouille (2007). Rotten Tomatoes rating: 96 percent. Number of reviews: 246. Summary: In the hilarious new animated-adventure, Ratatouille, a rat named Remy dreams of becoming a great chef despite his family’s wishes and the obvious problem of being a rat in a decidedly rodent-phobic profession.

Parasite (2019)

Metacritic rating: 96

Meet the Park Family: the picture of aspirational wealth. And the Kim Family, rich in street smarts but not much else. Be it chance or fate, these two houses are brought together and the Kims sense a golden opportunity. Masterminded by college-aged Ki-woo, the Kim children expediently install themselves as tutor and art therapist, to the Parks. Soon, a symbiotic relationship forms between the two families. The Kims provide “indispensable” luxury services while the Parks obliviously bankroll their entire household. When a parasitic interloper threatens the Kims’ newfound comfort, a savage, underhanded battle for dominance breaks out, threatening to destroy the fragile ecosystem between the Kims and the Parks.

#3. Parasite (2019)
The Bong Joon-ho drak comedy thriller about class won Best Picture at the 2020 Oscars.
Barunson E&A

Rocks (2021)

Metacritic rating: 96

A teenage girl suddenly finds herself struggling to take care of herself and her younger brother.

Don’t Look Now (1976)

Metacritic rating: 96

A married couple grieving the recent death of their young daughter are in Venice when they encounter two elderly sisters, one of whom is psychic and brings a warning from beyond.

29 dont-look-now
Don’t Look Now (1973). Rotten Tomatoes rating: 96 percent. Number of reviews: 52. Summary: A married couple is haunted by a series of mysterious occurrences after the death of their young daughter in this enigmatic chiller.
Paramount Pictures

Mean Streets (1973)

Metacritic rating: 96

Charlie (Harvey Keitel) is working his way up the ranks of a local mob. Teresa (Amy Robinson) is the girlfriend his family deems unsuitable because of her epilepsy. Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro) is a small-time gambler in big-time debt to loan sharks. This is a story Martin Scorsese lived, a semi-biographical tale of the first-generation sons and daughters of New York’s Little Italy.

65 Mean Streets
Mean Streets (1973). Total score: 84.0. IMDb users: 7.3. Metacritic: 96. Rotten Tomatoes: 8.9. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.9. Directed by: Martin Scorsese. Starring: Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, David Proval . Plot summary: A small-time hood aspires to work his way up the ranks of a local mob.
Warner Bros.

Gravity (2013)

Metacritic rating: 96

Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) in command of his last flight before retiring. But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone—tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth—and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left. But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space.

#27. Gravity (2013)
Sandra Bullock in “Gravity.”
Warner Bros.

Spirited Away (2002)

Metacritic rating: 96

A young girl, Chihiro, becomes trapped in a strange new world of spirits. When her parents undergo a mysterious transformation, she must call upon the courage she never knew she had to free herself and return her family to the outside world.

50 Spirited Away
Spirited Away (2001). Rated PG for some scary moments. Total score: 88.6%. Audience score: 88%. Critics’ score: 91%. Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki, Kirk Wise. Starring: Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, Miyu Irino. Plot summary: During her family’s move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and spirits, and where humans are changed into beasts.
Fathom Events

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Metacritic rating: 95

This “tale as old as time” follows the adventures of Belle, a bright young woman who finds herself imprisoned in a castle of a mysterious beast. With the assistance of the castle’s enchanted staff, a delightful and tender romance develops between these two unlikely friends and Belle soon learns the most important lesson of all—that true beauty comes from within.

48 Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast (1991, Walt Disney). Metascore: 95. User score: 8.7. Directed by: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise. Starring: Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Jesse Corti, Angela Lansbury. Summary: A selfish prince is cursed to become a monster for the rest of his life, unless he learns to fall in love with a beautiful young woman he keeps prisoner.
Walt Disney

Small Axe: Lovers Rock (2020)

Metacritic rating: 95

A single evening at a house party in 1980s West London sets the scene, developing intertwined relationships against a background of violence, romance and music.

#1. Small Axe: Lovers Rock
“Small Axe: Lovers Rock.” This film is part of Steve McQieen’s BBC series that presents five insights into the lives of young Caribbean communities in London
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

Toy Story (1995)

Metacritic rating: 95

Led by Woody, Andy’s toys live happily in his room until Andy’s birthday brings Buzz Lightyear onto the scene. Afraid of losing his place in Andy’s heart, Woody plots against Buzz. But when circumstances separate Buzz and Woody from their owner, the duo eventually learns to put aside their differences.

#66. Toy Story 2 (1999)
A still from Pixar’s iconic “Toy Story.”
Pixar Animation Studios

The Social Network (2010)

Metacritic rating: 95

On a fall night in 2003, Harvard undergrad and computer programming genius Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) sits down at his computer and heatedly begins working on a new idea. In a fury of blogging and programming, what begins in his dorm room soon becomes a global social network and a revolution in communication. A mere six years and 500 million friends later, Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in history. But for this entrepreneur, success leads to both personal and legal complications.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

Metacritic rating: 95

France, 1760. Marianne is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse, a young woman who has just left the convent. Because she is a reluctant bride-to-be, Marianne arrives under the guise of companionship, observing Héloïse by day and secretly painting her by firelight at night. As the two women orbit one another, intimacy and attraction grow as they share Héloïse’s first moments of freedom. Héloïse’s portrait soon becomes a collaborative act of and testament to their love.

#12. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
The 2019 French historical romantic drama film written and directed by Céline Sciamma, starring Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel.
Lilies Films

I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

Metacritic rating: 95

Director Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished—a radical narration about race in America, using the writer’s original words. He draws upon James Baldwin’s notes on the lives and assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. to explore and bring a fresh and radical perspective to the current racial narrative in America.

48 I Am Not Your Negro
I Am Not Your Negro. Critics’ score: 98%. Audience score: 83%. Directed by: Raoul Peck. Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King. Synopsis: Writer James Baldwin tells the story of race in modern America with his unfinished novel, Remember This House.
Arte France


Originally published at https://www.newsweek.com/25-best-movies-last-50-years-critics-1567505 on .

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