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.
60. Gravity (2013)
There were more than a few attempts to make 3D films more of a thing than they ever became (or deserved to be) but along the way we got quite a few memorable experiences out of the craze — not least of all in 2013 when Alfonso Cuarón unleashed Gravity. A space-bound survival thriller starring Sandra Bullock, Gravity is a good movie with or without the 3D, but made for a truly memorable and unique theatrical experience, immersing audiences in the anxiety-inducing experience, bolstered by Steven Price’s Oscar-winning score.
59. Inception (2010)
In a rare case of a movie where blockbuster visuals meet indie film intelligence, a star-laden cast is used to tell an imaginative and original heist story. It’s beautiful to look at and contains some of the greatest action set pieces in movie history. I saw it in the cinema when it was released and some of the visuals took my breath away. At the same time, it’s a heartfelt story about love and loss. The plot is complex yet relatively easy to follow and feels like it comes straight from the head of a genius. Inception warrants a few rewatches to fully appreciate. A film that really has it all, and is as close to cinematic perfection as you’re likely to see.
58. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang typically gets a lot of credit for being the movie that kicked off the Robert Downey Jr. renaissance. However, it is probably equally important to note this is probably the last great role of Val Kilmer’s career (up until his reprisal of the Iceman character in Top Gun: Maverick). Kilmer and Downey Jr. have incredible chemistry here and their ability to play off of each other comedically is quite the sight to behold. Although I wish we had more scenes of the two of them together, going back and forth with incredible banter, it’s Michelle Monaghan who proves to be most vital to the film’s success. Shane Black definitely has some misses in his career, but when he makes odd couple murder mystery comedies, he seems to be right in his wheelhouse. A movie like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang hitting theaters every 18 months or so would be a welcomed occurrence.
57. Training Day (2001)
One of the best crime thrillers of the 21st century is Training Day and that’s largely thanks to Denzel Washington’s performance as a seriously corrupt narcotics cop. (Although, Ethan Hawke does deserve a shout-out for being an always reliable presence on the screen.) As a viewer, it’s always refreshing to see an actor primarily known for playing likable good guys take on something dark and that’s exactly what Washington is doing in Training Day as Alonzo Harris, who has to be one of the filthiest cops ever portrayed on screen. If for some reason you begin to think that Washington isn’t a good actor, hit play on Training Day to be immediately set straight.
56. The Aviator (2004)
Scorsese and DiCaprio really hit their stride with this second of many collaborations. What makes The Aviator so special is that it follows a fairly conventional biopic format for much of the film before devolving into a weird psycho-thriller that matches the personal journey of its subject. Like so many other great Martin Scorsese biopics, this one follows the protagonist’s manic path – wherever it is that it may take us. Leo is absolutely magnetic in the lead role. He delivers one of the more captivating performances of his wildly stacked career. Speaking of careers with stacked performances, I wish we got more scenes of Cate Blanchett’s Katherine Hepburn, because she’s absolutely dynamite in the role. Thelma Schoonmaker is a wizard, as always, in the editing room. She creates magic with some of the cuts she’s able to pull off here. It’s funny that Michael Mann was a producer on this. His version of The Aviator certainly would’ve been great, but it’s hard to imagine a world where anyone besides Marty is at the helm of this.
55. My Fair Lady (1964)
In the late 90’s I came this close to writing/producing a college TV show about two “nice guys” who tried to reinvent themselves as bad-boys. The first few episodes were called “Pig-Male-ion” and was roughly based on the same George Bernard Shaw Play as My Fair Lady. I have no idea why I’m telling you this, other than to make a connection with this film, which has always been one of my favorite musicals.
The story, about an arrogant (and misogynistic) professor (Rex Harrison) and the Cockney flower girl he teaches to speak and act like a lady (Audrey Hepburn), is a fun and engaging journey on its own (and Harrison and Hepburn are a joy to watch), but the music is the thing that makes or breaks a musical, and here Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe weave timeless numbers. “The Rain in Spain,” “Just You Wait,” and “Get Me to the Church on Time” are just some of the songs that are still damn catchy today.
While it’s a little absurd to expect Eliza to return to the frumpy Professor Higgens after she’s left, that’s the way romantic films are expected to end. It’s odd – I sometimes think of My Fair Lady as a romantic, musical version of “Flowers for Algernon” except the protagonist decides to get married rather than ending up losing their intellect. Maybe that’s a stretch. Anyway, it’s a delightful musical, well worth watching, and Hepburn in particular. Even if they ended up dubbing her voice.
54. The Jazz Singer (1927)
When Jack Robin says, “You ain’t heard nothing yet,” he sure wasn’t lying. The Jazz Singer represents a turning point in movie history, as with those words an audience experienced synchronized dialogue in a film for the first time. Nearly 100 years later, you can still almost feel the electricity of that moment. Even without considering the technological advancements that make it historic, The Jazz Singer is just a good movie. Jakie Rabinowitz, the son of a Jewish Cantor, must defy his father’s traditions in order to pursue his dream of becoming a jazz singer. As is to be expected, it’s a bit of a slow, lumbering beast compared to modern day musical dramas, but it’s also deeply emotional, addressing themes of family, religion, tradition and culture that are still as relevant today as they were in the 1920s. And doing it with body language, facial expressions and title cards for most of it. If you haven’t seen The Jazz Singer, you should.
53. Paddington 2 (2018)
I saw Paddington 2 in theaters on a whim. A couple of family members were going and asked if I wanted to join them. I was just expecting an average kids’ movie, but what I got instead was cinema. Yes, Paddington 2 is one of the greatest movies ever made. It had 100% on Rotten Tomatoes until a single negative review knocked it down to 99%. A movie based on Paddington Bear has no right to be this good, but here we are.
This is a perfect film. The set pieces, like when Paddington is in jail, are hilarious. The human actors are delightful, especially Hugh Grant. But the best part of Paddington 2 is that it doesn’t require you to have watched the first Paddington. I still haven’t seen the first film and it’s been five years! Paddington 2 gives you all the information you need about why this bear is living with this family in London. After that, the film takes us on an adventure of a lifetime. I know some of you who haven’t seen Paddington 2 will think I’m wrong in labeling this one of the best films ever made. So how about you watch it tonight and then try and tell me that everything I said about Paddington 2 wasn’t spot on. I’ll wait.
52. The Outsiders (1983)
I never read the novel, but I saw the film when I was younger and I enjoyed the hell out it. I liked the recreation of the 50s, and the turbulence between the greasers and the socs. Something about the film just hit me the right way. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the film even though I own it, but I feel like I should see the “The Complete Novel” re-release that Coppola put out in 2005.
The cast for this film is outstanding. It’s got everyone you could think of from that time. Some of them in some very early roles too. I had no idea there were brief uncredited appearances of Melanie Griffith; and Heather Langenkamp either. Definitely need to keep my eyes peeled for those next time I watch it.
51. Free Willy (1993)
On the list of completely implausible movie plots featuring a wayward child bonding with an animal, surely Free Willy is somewhere near the top. However, what it lacks in believability it more than makes up for in heart. Foster kid Jesse (Jason James Richter) and Willy the Killer Whale (Keiko) forge a friendship that helps them both eventually find freedom — Willy in the ocean, and Jesse with his foster parents. While the movie plot is formulaic, the cast brings enough warmth and sincerity to hit you right in the feels. Just a few years ago, I introduced my three kids to this movie, and it was the first time I’d watched it in years. It turns out I still cry at Willy jumping the breakwater.
70-61 | 50-41
What are some of your favorite Warner Bros. movies? Maybe they’ll show up later in the list!