The 100 Greatest Warner Bros. Movies (20-11)

Few studios are as essential, consistent, and prestigious as Warner Bros. They’ve been around since damn near the beginning and have been pivotal in every major sea change. Bogie had an incredible film noir hot steak with four iconic titles in quick succession in the ’40s and Brando was redefining what acting was in A Streetcar Named Desire. The ’60s had game changers like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Bonnie and Clyde and the ’70s ushered in the age of the auteur that lasted up until Nolan jumped ship for his latest project. The next four decades after that, they grabbed pop culture by the throat and never let go. Blade Runner, Gremlins, Beetlejuice, The Goonies, The Matrix, and Harry Potter are just a handful of seminal fandom favorites released within that period that helped change the landscape of cinema and pop culture as a whole and looking at what they have coming down the pike, it doesn’t seem like they’re slowing down any time soon.

These are the 100 Greatest Warner Bros. Movies of All Time.*

*This list does not include direct-to-video releases or films from New Line Cinema prior to its merger with Warner Bros. in 2008, nor does it include third-party films or films Warner gained the rights to as a result of mergers or acquisitions.

20. The Departed (2006)

I’m a big fan of Asian cinema. Over the years we have seen numerous Hollywood remakes of classics from the region. And every single time they haven’t failed to disappoint. That is until we got The Departed. It takes just the right amount from its counterpart (Infernal Affairs) and is still able to put its own unique spin on proceedings. Every actor seems to want to outdo each other in portraying their larger-than-life characters. The plot is full of unexpected twists and turns, with some that really punch you in the gut. Hard. If you’re a fan of Infernal Affairs you will love The Departed. If you’re not a fan of Infernal Affairs you will love The Departed. It’s a rare example of a remake bettering its already excellent source material. 

Lee McCutcheon

19. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

As fun as the three sequels are, you really cannot do any better than the original, and no I’m not talking about the Frank Sinatra-led Ocean’s Eleven from 1960. To quote Stefon, this movie has everything! A star-studded cast, a clever, witty script, a touch of romance, and the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas! Steven Soderbergh took the rather bland film of 1960 and create an intelligent and funny-as-hell heist film that checks all the boxes of what you want in a blockbuster. On first watch, you have no idea how Danny Ocean and his ten misfits are going to pull it off, but you sure as hell have a lot of fun trying to figure it out. I give credit to the chemistry between the cast members. Every single actor is perfect for their role and this movie does not work if there’s no one to root for, or against. The rest of the movies in the series are worthy of your time, but none of them come close to topping Ocean’s Eleven. It’s by far the most rewatchable, the most entertaining and most thrilling and I would definitely say it’s one of the best heist films of all time.

Romona Comet

18. The Shining (1980)

I’ve got a complicated relationship with The Shining which means I don’t really enjoy the novel as much as I do most of King’s work. As a result of that difficulty with the original novel, I’ve always preferred the film version. Sorry Uncle Stevie – King famously hates Kubrick’s version – but I do. In part because there’s a distance to Stanley Kubrick’s film that allows me to separate myself from the narrative. I’ve always loved Kubrick’s movies, but they’re not… intimate films. They don’t require an attachment, either to the characters or the narrative, which can be byzantine and even contradictory. It allows me to enjoy the story in a way the novel doesn’t because I’m not as personally invested.

Which doesn’t mean it’s not scary to me. It’s terrifying. It remains one of the few films that has ever given me a nightmare (that woman in Room 237 – gah). Kubrick’s “clarification” of the characters lets the actors elevate those roles. Nicholson is never more frighteningly Nicholson, Duval is so brittle she seems like she could shatter at any moment, and young Danny Lloyd is perhaps the most grounded and believable of the trio – quite a feat as he’s the one with the psychic power. The camera prowls the hotel and the snow-covered maze like a separate character, one with bad intentions.

The Shining is one of the most influential horror movies of all time, and among the most memorable films in a career that consists almost entirely of memorable films. It has permeated popular culture and is referenced seemingly constantly in film, music and television. While it wasn’t received well upon its release it has since become a mainstream masterpiece – no “cult favorite” here. Think about how often you’ve seen “Here’s Johnny!” or “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy” referenced. The twin girls, the carpet designs, Danny’s ride through the hotel. Iconic moments and images all as indelible today as they were when the film was released.

Bob Cram

17. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

I love how little context we need for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre to be impactful. We don’t see any detailed backstories or hear any woebegotten monologues to tell us how two down-on-their-luck Americans ended up in 1920s Mexico, begging for scraps. The plot may be that these two guys head into the mountains to look for gold with an old prospector, but the real story is what takes place in the minds of the characters as they fight adversity and finally find their fortunes. It’s a psychological thriller masquerading as a western, and watching the iconic Humphrey Bogart devolve into a greed-driven madman is both horrifying and fascinating. Tim Holt is equally compelling as the good-guy, and Walter Huston simply shines as the crusty old-timer who acts as their guide and sage in the gold mining venture.

R.J. Mathews

16. The Matrix (1999)

When The Matrix came out it was something new. The mix of philosophy, cyberpunk, cutting edge special-effects and “kung-fu” seemed to come out of nowhere and blasted all of our brains with cool idea after cool idea and awesome image after awesome image. None of that was going to work worth a damn without great characters, though, and we got those in spades as well – Morphius, Trinity, Agent Smith. The bottom line, though, is that the original Matrix film is your classic Hero Discovered story – and they had to nail the hero cold or it would have been just another cool looking, but empty film that we don’t really need to see again. Like… I dunno, every other Wachowski film I can think of.

Keanu Reeves was not an obvious pick for the character of Neo. He was actually the sixth choice after actors like Will Smith and Leonardo DiCaprio – his low rank probably due to a string of box office misses that included another cyberpunk-themed film, Johnny Mnemonic (which, I have to admit, my friends and I referred to as Johnny Moronic). I can’t imagine the character as anyone but Reeves, though. From simple Thomas Anderson who spends his nights as hacker “Neo” to reluctant action hero and savior to, finally, an almost godlike superman, Reeves’ flat affect and simple charisma work some undefinable magic to win us over and get us to root for him, even when he’s getting his ass kicked by Agent Smith. At its heart it’s a simple story, despite all the glitzy distractions, and that’s why I still love it and this character so much. I wanted to see him survive, I wanted to see him win, and I wanted him to be The One. The Wachowskis hit this one out of the park and if the subsequent films weren’t quite as good, well, the Hero Defined is just never as exciting as a great origin story. The best heroes are ones we all want to be and, god help me, I really wanted to be Neo. And if I can’t be The One, can’t I at least download some software so I can know kung-fu?

Bob Cram

15. The Maltese Falcon (1941)

To say The Maltese Falcon is one of the best detective movies ever made feels trite — cheap, even — and underwhelming. A million writers have said it before me, but sometimes simple is best. With the legendary John Huston at the helm in his directorial debut and Humphrey Bogart in the lead as no-nonsense detective Sam Spade, The Maltese Falcon is the ideal that often comes to mind when we think of film noir. Dark and shadowy. The femme fatale played beautifully by Mary Astor. Too many unscrupulous bad guys to keep track of (though Peter Lorre’s Joel Cairo is my favorite). And our handsome, fast-talking protagonist with a knack for toeing the line between investigator and criminal. It doesn’t matter that I know how it ends. My heart still races as the final showdown nears.

R.J. Mathews

14. Blade Runner (1982)

I had the chance to see Blade Runner on the big screen a few years ago at my local Alamo Drafthouse. I’d seen the cult favorite more times than I can count, but this was my first time seeing it on the big screen.

From the moment that first bass drum strike from Vangelis’s score sounded in the dark, I was carried off to another world. A world that felt as real as any fictional world could feel. And sitting there in the dark with an auditorium full of strangers as we all collectively gasped as the first images of that world began scrolling across the screen, I was reminded why Blade Runner is such an important film.

Billy Dhalgren

13. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Most fantasy flicks tend to exist solely within the world of their fantasies. Much of the beauty of Pan’s Labyrinth is due to the fact that its fantasy world exists in stark contrast to the woes of the real world. The juxtaposition reminds us of why we as humans need to create fantasy spaces. Ofelia’s need for escapism cannot be more obvious, which makes the magic of when she dips back into the Faun’s labyrinth so much more apparent. Guillermo del Toro is in his absolute bag here. His ability to dream this world up and bring it to life with such amazing detail is nothing short of awe-inspiring. I’m not sure if he’ll ever reach these heights again, but the fact that this movie exists remains a gift that keeps on giving.

Raf Stitt

12. The Road Warrior (1982)

The Road Warrior might be a perfect film. And it’s better than Fury Road. There. I said it. Fight me.

I was probably too young to see George Miller’s follow-up to his breakout film Mad Max. I know I was younger than 10, but I was probably closer to 6. But that’s just how shit was done in the 80s. We could watch the goriest, most violent shit imaginable, but the second a boob appeared on screen, Mom’s hand would shoot over to protect our eyes from the horrors of the female body.

But I digress.

The Road Warrior has got all a growing young boy needs to fuel his imagination. It’s got badass cars and trucks doing badass car and truck shit. It’s got badass explosions, badass weapons, badass guys in mohawks, and a badass villain in a hockey mask.

What more could a 6-year-old ask for? Maybe a boob or two?

Billy Dhalgren

11. Deliverance (1972)

This film deserves more than to be forever tied to its most infamous scene. Ned Beatty deserved more than to be tied to “squeal like a pig.” The scene is so effective, it branded itself onto pop culture and the scar has never faded. It’s a horrible, harrowing scene but it’s one of the most important in cinematic history. It made pillars of masculinity (Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight) impotent. It had them stand there and be forced to watch as their best friend gets violently sodomized. It turns two of the biggest, most macho manly guys around into regular dudes. If this starred Burt Reynolds from any of his other films, the film would’ve turned into a very slow and boring film about four dudes fishing. This is the most realistic, authentic performance he’s ever given. And the other three (Ronny Cox being the other one not mentioned) are just as good. It’s a brilliant subversion of the adventure film that’s inspired so many rip-offs, they could legitimately constitute an entire subgenre. The film deserves to be remembered for more than “that scene” but “that scene” set the mood for the entire rest of the decade. Movies were dangerous and not even your movie stars are safe.

Sailor Monsoon

30-21 | 10-1

What are some of your favorite Warner Bros. movies? Maybe they’ll show up later in the list!