IMDb 25: Top 25 Movies by User Rating From the Last 25 Years

by IMDb-Editors | created - 07 Oct 2015 | updated - 14 Oct 2015 | Public

To honor IMDb's 25th anniversary, we're looking back at the movies that our users have championed the most over the years. We've compiled the top 25 movies by year from 1990 to 2014 according to all-time user ratings averages. The films here may run the gamut of genres, ratings, leading actors, directors, and even countries. But they all resonate deeply with you, our faithful IMDb users. — Giancarlo Cairella

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1. Interstellar (2014)

PG-13 | 169 min | Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi

74 Metascore

A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity's survival.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Mackenzie Foy

Votes: 1,328,908 | Gross: $188.02M

To paraphrase Sally Field's famous Oscar acceptance speech, we can't deny that, right now, IMDb users really like Christopher Nolan: He directed 5 of the 25 films on this list, more than anybody else. Although less of a critical and commercial blockbuster than Inception, and perhaps hampered by the weight of lofty expectations (and comparisons with 2001: A Space Odyssey), Interstellar is pure, classic sci-fi that shows that you can dazzle audiences even without showing a single alien or lightsaber.

2. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

R | 180 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

75 Metascore

Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey

Votes: 1,056,798 | Gross: $116.90M

Tackling a different kind of bad guy, The Wolf of Wall Street displays much of the same manic energy and breakneck pace that fuels Goodfellas. But this time, the criminal, whose rise and fall are chronicled over the course of three profanity-laced hours, doesn't use a gun or his fists to maim or ruin people's lives. Nevertheless, audiences have found him to be even more loathsome and despicable than the Mafiosi from Scorsese's previous films. The Wolf of Wall Street is very funny at times, and Leonardo DiCaprio gives Scorsese another fully committed performance. But you may feel the need to take a shower after watching it.

3. Django Unchained (2012)

R | 165 min | Drama, Western

81 Metascore

With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington

Votes: 1,235,705 | Gross: $162.81M

The latest stop in Quentin Tarantino's journey through the 20th-century period genre borrows the name of its hero from a series of Italian spaghetti westerns and takes inspiration from those films for its revenge-fueled storyline. But everything else in this film is pure Tarantino — from the typically ornate dialogue to the memorable and, in Christopher Waltz's case, Oscar-worthy performances of a stellar cast. Audiences responded in droves, giving Quentin the biggest commercial hit of his career.

4. The Intouchables (2011)

R | 112 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

57 Metascore

After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caregiver.

Directors: Olivier Nakache, Éric Toledano | Stars: François Cluzet, Omar Sy, Anne Le Ny, Audrey Fleurot

Votes: 690,079 | Gross: $13.18M

Movies about disabilities and broken people too often cross the line into "disease TV movie of the week" territory. France's The Intouchables avoids this pitfall by virtue of its solid performances from Francois Cluzet as a wealthy paraplegic and Omar Sy as the caretaker who refuses to pity him and manages to be moving without resorting to cheap sentimentality. The film was a huge hit in Europe but not in the U.S., proving once again that IMDb users are a very culturally diverse and geographically varied audience.

5. Inception (2010)

PG-13 | 148 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

74 Metascore

A thief who steals corporate secrets through the use of dream-sharing technology is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a C.E.O.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe

Votes: 1,872,400 | Gross: $292.58M

Thanks to the unprecedented commercial success of The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan had enough clout and resources to get Inception made. We can all be grateful for that, as he gave us the most original and dazzling science-fiction of the decade — and possibly the century so far. A heady mix of sci-fi action, mind-bending visuals, and metaphysical discussions on the relationship between reality and perception, Inception is a groundbreaking film whose IMDb ratings overshadow almost every other film made in 2010.

6. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

R | 153 min | Adventure, Drama, War

69 Metascore

In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers coincides with a theatre owner's vengeful plans for the same.

Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Eli Roth, Mélanie Laurent

Votes: 1,148,576 | Gross: $120.54M

Taking inspiration from the title (and nothing else) of a WWII-era, Italian B movie, Inglorious Basterds showed that Tarantino still had many tricks up his sleeve: He introduced talents who were at that point undiscovered by American audiences (in this case Christoph Waltz and Melanie Laurent), he could write long but never boring setpieces that relied on nothing but dialogue to create tension (that farmhouse opening scene!), and he could pull off the feat of (spoiler alert!) rewriting the course of history without affecting the audience's suspension of disbelief.

7. The Dark Knight (2008)

PG-13 | 152 min | Action, Crime, Drama

84 Metascore

When the menace known as The Joker emerges from his mysterious past, he wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham. The Dark Knight must accept one of the greatest psychological and physical tests of his ability to fight injustice.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine

Votes: 2,099,511 | Gross: $534.86M

Expectations for The Dark Knight were high, but few people could predict that the film would become such a monster hit, becoming the first film to pass $500 million in domestic box office and holding the record for most commercially successful superhero movie of all time before The Avengers). The Dark Knight proved that movies starring a guy in a cape and spandex pants could deliver more than lightweight escapism and gave us one of movie history's most memorable villain: Heath Ledger's Joker, an unforgettable performance that sadly had to be recognized posthumously by the Academy.

8. Into the Wild (2007)

R | 148 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

73 Metascore

After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life.

Director: Sean Penn | Stars: Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener, Marcia Gay Harden

Votes: 530,957 | Gross: $18.35M

Proving once again that life is all about the journey and not the destination, Into the Wild manages to be touching and exhilarating even to audiences who are aware that (spoiler alert!) things are not going to end well for the protagonist. Based on a true story popularized by Jon Krakauer's non-fiction book, Into The Wild follows the adventure and travels of a free-spirited young man named Alexander McCandless. The ultimately uplifting message of this film, inspired by the road movies of the '60s and '70s, have clearly resonated with IMDb audiences, who surprisingly have rated it as the top film of 2007 (ahead of No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood).

9. The Departed (2006)

R | 151 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

85 Metascore

An undercover cop and a mole in the police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg

Votes: 1,093,226 | Gross: $132.38M

Maybe the most amazing feat of The Departed is that it fits perfectly within Martin Scorsese's oeuvre despite being a remake of a foreign language film, (Infernal Affairs). Part of the credit goes to William Mohahan's screenplay, which transports the action from Hong Kong to Boston, and to a stellar cast, led by Jack Nicholson's performance as a Whitey Bulger-inspired gangster. But it is Scorsese's sure-handed direction that seals the deal and finally earned him a long-overdue Best Director.

10. Batman Begins (2005)

PG-13 | 140 min | Action, Adventure

70 Metascore

After training with his mentor, Batman begins his fight to free crime-ridden Gotham City from corruption.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe, Liam Neeson

Votes: 1,211,881 | Gross: $206.85M

It's easy to take for granted the commercial and artistic success of Batman Begins. But when it was first announced, Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale were hardly household names, and the successful reboot of a franchise that seemed dead and buried after the campy catastrophe of Batman & Robin was far from guaranteed. Nevertheless, audiences and IMDb users immediately welcomed this darker take on the Caped Crusader, which was helped immensely by inspired choices for the supporting cast, including Michael Caine and Gary Oldman, and set the stage for the triumphant return of the franchise three years later.

11. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

R | 108 min | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi

89 Metascore

When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a medical procedure to have each other erased from their memories.

Director: Michel Gondry | Stars: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson, Gerry Robert Byrne

Votes: 837,181 | Gross: $34.40M

It's a shame that Jim Carrey has never received the respect he deserves as a dramatic actor. It's certainly not for lack of trying, as films like Man on the Moon and especially Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind clearly attest. But if critics and award organizations have been reluctant to recognize him, the same can't be said of IMDb users, who rated this film as the best of 2004 largely on the strength of his performance and Charlie Kaufman's exceptional and Oscar-winning screenplay.

12. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

PG-13 | 201 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

94 Metascore

Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron's army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom

Votes: 1,518,362 | Gross: $377.85M

The conclusion of Peter Jackson's epic Tolkien trilogy did not disappoint audiences, who rewarded it with 11 Academy Awards (to tie the record set by Ben-Hur and Titanic) and with a worldwide box office gross of more than $1.1 billion. Although a bit overlong, especially due to a series of multiple endings, the film represents the pinnacle of the trilogy and Peter Jackson's career. None of his Hobbit movies, although still well regarded by IMDb users, comes close to receiving a similarly high rating.

13. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

PG | 179 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

87 Metascore

While Frodo and Sam edge closer to Mordor with the help of the shifty Gollum, the divided fellowship makes a stand against Sauron's new ally, Saruman, and his hordes of Isengard.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom

Votes: 1,373,370 | Gross: $342.55M

The Empire Strikes Back notwithstanding, the middle installment of a movie trilogy is often a transitional film that doesn't eclipse its predecessor and sets the tone for the final episode. The Two Towers is no exception to this rule, largely continuing the path set by The Fellowship of the Ring and offering a number of visual setpieces, including the epic battle of Helm's Deep, along the way. But Tolkien-loving IMDb users still voted it the top film of the year, beating other worthy contenders like Brazil's Oscar-nominated City of God.

14. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

PG-13 | 178 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

92 Metascore

A meek Hobbit from the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to destroy the powerful One Ring and save Middle-earth from the Dark Lord Sauron.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean

Votes: 1,534,002 | Gross: $315.54M

It was a monumental and risky endeavor: a three-movie adaptation of one of the most beloved and epic fantasy novels of the 20th century. At the helm was a director from New Zealand, whose five previous films up to that point included at least three low-budget and very violent horror films: (Bad Taste, Dead Alive, Meet the Feebles). The gamble paid off in spades, with the trilogy earning a total U.S. box office of over more than $1 billion and 30 Academy Award nominations. And lest we forget, the franchise received the greatest recognition of all: topping the IMDb top-rated movie chart of the year for three years in a row.

15. Memento (2000)

R | 113 min | Mystery, Thriller

80 Metascore

A man with short-term memory loss attempts to track down his wife's murderer.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Mark Boone Junior

Votes: 1,044,218 | Gross: $25.54M

Sometimes IMDb audiences' tastes align with the mainstream; sometimes they manage to blaze the trail and point others to undiscovered gems. Memento is an example of the latter: Ever since its debut at European festivals, it gathered enthusiastic reviews by our users and sparked positive word of mouth, which kept gathering momentum as the film debuted in the U.S. at Sundance. Months later, IMDb users could not stop talking about the film's serpentine plot and timeline, and catapulted it to the top of our highest-rated films of the year.

16. Fight Club (1999)

R | 139 min | Drama

66 Metascore

An insomniac office worker and a devil-may-care soapmaker form an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.

Director: David Fincher | Stars: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Meat Loaf, Zach Grenier

Votes: 1,706,745 | Gross: $37.03M

The rare movie adaptation that improves on its source material, by novelist Chuck Palaniuk's own admission, Fight Club is another example of movie that initially struggled to find an audience but became a major cultural influence in the years that followed. David Fincher's dazzling vision immediately resonated with IMDb users, who propelled this film to the top of the highest-rated films of 1999.

17. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

R | 169 min | Drama, War

91 Metascore

Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns

Votes: 1,131,302 | Gross: $216.54M

The Best Picture Oscar race of 1998 ended in an upset, with Shakespeare in Love beating Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture. However, IMDb users picked the latter as the highest-rated film of the year, and in hindsight it's clear that they made the right choice. Shakespeare in Love remains a pleasant but harmless and mostly forgettable comedy. But Saving Private Ryan, with its especially grueling opening sequence, has lost none of its power, setting a visual and narrative standard that still looms large over war-action films.

18. Life Is Beautiful (1997)

PG-13 | 116 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

59 Metascore

When an open-minded Jewish librarian and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humor, and imagination to protect his son from the dangers around their camp.

Director: Roberto Benigni | Stars: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini, Giustino Durano

Votes: 563,890 | Gross: $57.60M

It would prove to be a flash in the pan, but for a brief moment Italian actor, writer and director Roberto Benigni captured the attention of movie audiences all over the world with this simple comedy about a "clown" trying to protect his son from dealing with the reality of being emprisoned in a Nazi camp. Benigni's popularity with audiences outside his native Italy didn't last, but the legacy of his film lives on, as IMDb users picked it as the best of 1997 (above favorites like Good Will Hunting, Boogie Nights, and L.A. Confidential).

19. Fargo (1996)

R | 98 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

85 Metascore

Jerry Lundegaard's inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen | Stars: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare

Votes: 569,515 | Gross: $24.61M

The Coen Brothers had already made several great movies by the time Fargo was released, but this is the one that really catapulted them into the big leagues. Despite a dark plot full of murder and mayhem, it's ultimately an optimistic and, in parts, very funny film, anchored by Frances McDormand's performance as unflappable Minnesotan police officer Marge Gunderson.

20. Se7en (1995)

R | 127 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

65 Metascore

Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his motives.

Director: David Fincher | Stars: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Andrew Kevin Walker

Votes: 1,311,966 | Gross: $100.13M

1995 was a good year at the movies, with perennial favorites like Toy Story, The Usual Suspects, Braveheart, and Heat all vying for the top-rated spot on our chart. But it's David Fincher's ultra-bleak thriller Se7en that captured our users' imaginations like no other film before or since. Featuring by far the most downbeat ending of all the titles on this chart, Se7en is Fincher's first real film as an auteur — not counting his debut picture, Alien 3, which he all but disowned — and still one of his best.

21. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

R | 142 min | Drama

80 Metascore

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

Director: Frank Darabont | Stars: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler

Votes: 2,134,939 | Gross: $28.34M

Frank Darabont's adaptation of Stephen King's novella didn't exactly set the box office on fire when it was released. It was also snubbed at the Oscars; nominated for 7 awards, it won none. But the movie found a second life on home video and cable TV. It has also dominated IMDb's Top 250 Chart for the best part of two decades, consistently outperforming classics such as The Godfather and Citizen Kane. Of all the films in this chart, this is definitely the most beloved of all by our users.

22. Schindler's List (1993)

R | 195 min | Biography, Drama, History

94 Metascore

In German-occupied Poland during World War II, industrialist Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazis.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Caroline Goodall

Votes: 1,108,099 | Gross: $96.90M

Some people get an Academy Award later in their career almost as a consolation prize, after having been repeatedly ignored for their best work. But Steven Spielberg's Oscar for Schindler's List does not fall into that category: Although many felt that he should have been recognized earlier, there's no denying that Schindler's List showcases the talents of a director at the height of his powers. The fact that he also had a commercial blockbuster with Jurassic Park in the same year surely helped! Schindler's List is moving, harsh and unsentimental — deserving of all the praise it received from the Academy and IMDb users, who rated it as the top film of 1993.

23. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

R | 99 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

79 Metascore

When a simple jewelry heist goes horribly wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant.

Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn

Votes: 844,081 | Gross: $2.83M

Who knew that a talky, sometimes even stagy, heist movie — which doesn't even show the actual heist! — could be so innovative and exciting?! IMDb users were among the first to recognize Quentin Tarantino's rising talent and his now trademark ear for snappy, pop culture-infused dialogue by rating this over any other 1992 release. Thanks to this film and to 1994's Pulp Fiction, gangster films would continue to be populated by chatty, colorful oddball characters for the next decade.

24. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

R | 118 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

85 Metascore

A young F.B.I. cadet must receive the help of an incarcerated and manipulative cannibal killer to help catch another serial killer, a madman who skins his victims.

Director: Jonathan Demme | Stars: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney, Kasi Lemmons

Votes: 1,156,272 | Gross: $130.74M

Even after almost 25 years and countless parodies and "Chianti and fava beans" jokes, Hannibal Lecter remains a cultural icon and the protagonist of a critically acclaimed and now sadly canceled TV series. Although this was not Hannibal's first cinematic appearance — that honor goes to Michael Mann's Manhunter) — it was The Silence of the Lambs and Anthony Hopkins' Oscar-winning performance that made him a household name.

25. Goodfellas (1990)

R | 146 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

89 Metascore

The story of Henry Hill and his life in the mob, covering his relationship with his wife Karen Hill and his mob partners Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVito in the Italian-American crime syndicate.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco

Votes: 922,577 | Gross: $46.84M

"As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster." And after watching Goodfellas and its colorful slice of life in the mob, audiences were at least able to understand that sentiment but never share it — thanks to Scorsese's uncompromising depiction of the seediest, most violent aspects. Like most sociopaths, Scorsese's good fellas can be charming and at times even funny, but they are monsters. And yet, you can't take your eyes off them.

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