Below is a curated cache of every five-star film on AllMovie — films that, in that site’s view, are the greatest of all time. Curating this directory of lists has been a lot of fun for me, and I hope you find this section of the site useful.
The sister site to AllMusic is AllMovie, which applies the same five-star rating system for movies that AllMusic uses for albums. My impression is that 5-star movies on AllMovie are even rarer than 5-star albums on AllMusic. I suppose it’s simple mathematics; more albums get made than movies. I tend to disagree with AllMovie’s opinion more than I do with AllMusic’s, especially with the more contemporary movies — their reviews of those tend to be very hit or miss — but it would appear their focus is more on world cinema and on which movies actually expand upon the principles of cinema, which makes sense.
I’m going to attempt to catalog all of AllMovie’s 5-star movies below, separating them by decade. I have created separate entries for documentaries and animated films, as well.
5-Star Films by Decade
The 2010s – Just a handful of 5-star films trickling out thus far.
The 2000s – Very few films make the cut so far. (Which is good, in my opinion.)
The 1990s – The rise of independent cinema had a huge effect in the rise of diverse, quality films. A great decade for film.
The 1980s – Not seen as a great decade in film — studios took fewer risks after a string of flops (and ’80s culture sucked anyway) — but there were a massive amount of great films made in the ’80s regardless.
The 1970s – Probably the best decade for film, at least as far as Hollywood cinema is concerned. Production costs were still pretty low, directors were granted more creative control, and more risks were taken by studios as a result.
The 1960s – Foreign cinema really emerged as a dominant force during the ’60s, influencing the counterculture movement greatly, and causing a drastic stylistic shift in filmmaking in Hollywood by the end of the decade.
The 1950s – Hollywood still churned out great film after great film, and post-WWII foreign cinema started showing real signs of life, as well, as things started to get back to normal.
The 1940s – Almost exclusively American films. (The rest of the world was a war zone, so film production wasn’t exactly a top priority in most places.)
The 1930s – Even more American-dominated than the 1940s list, if that’s possible. Odd decade that began with the recent advent of the talkie and closed with the first color — well, technicolor — films.
The Silent Era – The first three decades of film.
Animation – Since animation is a very important strand of the film narrative, I thought I would make an additional list of just animated films. (These films appear in the decade lists, too. They are marked with a single asterisk (*).)
Documentaries – Nonfiction film is also very important in contributing to the language of cinema, so I thought I would make a list of all of the documentary 5-star movies on AllMovie, as well. (Like the animated films, the documentary films also appear on the decade lists, but are marked with two asterisks (**).)