Favorite Movies For Every Year


A friend of mine did something like this online, and I thought it was an interesting idea: a selection of favorite movies for every year. The gimmick my friend did was to do it for every year you’ve been alive, but I’m clearly too insane for that.

I’m starting with 1931, because I wasn’t familiar enough with the notable 1930 films. ’31 had City Lights, the Fredrich March Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the Universal Horrors classics Dracula and Frankenstein, in addition to the winner, so I felt comfortable that I had seen enough to make an intelligent selection, and that this was the case for every subsequent year.



1933-Duck Soup

1934-It Happened One Night

1935-Bride of Frankenstein

1936-Modern Times

1937-Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

1938-The Adventures of Robin Hood

1939-Gone With the Wind


1941-Citizen Kane


1943-The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

1944-Double Indemnity

1945-Brief Encounter (this is not a year in film that I’m very familiar with, so there may be other movies out there that I’ll enjoy more)


1946-It’s a Wonderful Life

1947-Black Narcissus

1948-Treasure of the Sierra Madre

1949-The Third Man

1950-All About Eve

1951-The African Queen

1952-High Noon

1953-Tokyo Story

1954-Rear Window (very good year)


1956-The Searchers

1957-The Seventh Seal

1958- Vertigo


1959- North by Northwest


1961- Yojimbo

1962- Lawrence of Arabia

1963-The Great Escape

1964- Dr. Strangelove

1965- Doctor Zhigavo

1966- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

1967- Bonnie and Clyde

1968- 2001: A Space Odyssey

1969- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

1970- Patton

1971-A Clockwork Orange


1972- The Godfather

1973- The Exorcist

1974- The Godfather Part 2

1975- Jaws

1976- Taxi Driver (Very good year)

1977- Star Wars

1978- Days of Heaven

1979- Apocalypse Now

1980-The Empire Strikes Back (damn good year)

1981-An American Werewolf in London

1982- ET (damn good year)

1983- Terms of Endearment (there were some notable films I hadn’t seen from that year)


1984- Once Upon a time in America (technically, the version I liked best came out later)

1985- Back to the Future (there were some notable films I hadn’t seen from that year)

1986- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

1987- The Princess Bride

1988- Grave of the Fireflies

1989-Henry V

1990- Goodfellas

1991- Silence of the Lambs

1992- Unforgiven

1993-Schindler’s List

1994- Forrest Gump (not a knock on Pulp Fiction or The Shawshank Redemption, which would dominate in many other years)

1995- Toy Story

1996- Trainspotting

1997- Wag the Dog

1998- Saving Private Ryan

1999- South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut


2000- Requiem for a Dream

2001- Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring

2002-City of God

2003- Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

2004- Kill Bill Volume 2

2005- Munich

2006- The Lives of Others

2007- There Will Be Blood

2008- The Dark Knight

2009- Up

2010-The Social Network

2011- Hugo

2012- Zero Dark Thirty

2013- The Wolf of Wall Street

2014- The Grand Budapest Hotel

2015- Mad Max: Fury Road

2016- Moonlight

It was an interesting exercise. There is an element of randomness as there are some years where I’ve seen quite a few notable films. For example, 1954 had On the Waterfront, The Seven Samurai, La Strada, Sancho the Bailiff, and the beginning of the Samurai trilogy. Other years represent major blind spots for me. I went with Brief Encounter for 1945, but I hadn’t seen a few that I’ve heard good things about (Children of Paradise, Mildred Pierce, Blithe Spirit, They Were Expendable, Rome Open City.) From 1985, I haven’t seen The Color Purple (Ebert’s #1 film of the year), Out of Africa (the Best Picture winner), The Goonies, Witness or Curse of the Spider-Woman, so Back to the Future‘s reign may be brief.

I often find myself relying on the memory of something I’ve seen once years ago, so some of the choices are subject to change. For 1988, I made a snap judgement that Grave of the Fireflies was better than The Vanishing, a very different film that’s on the same level in terms of artistic merit. Coming up with the list does allows for a greater appreciation for a few films. If I compare Ferris Beuller’s Day Off to other major and good films from 1986 (Platoon, Blue Velvet, The Fly, Aliens) and it comes out ahead, it’s worth acknowledging its staying power. The South Park movie also shines with this kind of spotlight. It’s not a slight on American Beauty, Fight Club, The Matrix, The Sixth Sense, The Green Mile, Being John Malkovich, Toy Story 2, The Insider, The Iron Giant, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Office Space, Galaxy Quest or Bowfinger. I just liked the South Park film with the penis pun in the title better. Though, if I ever finish Magnolia I might change my mind on what the best film of that year was.

About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
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