The Best Years In Movie History, Ranked


Some years have been much stronger than others when it comes to great movie releases. While some years are lucky to have two-to-three great films released, others seem to have masterpieces churned out practically every other week. What years would those be, you may ask? They’re listed below. Here are the strongest years in movie history.


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9/9 2012

2012 was a year that seemed to have a great film in almost every single genre. Quite a few of its best had espionage-centric stories, like Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, and Skyfall, one of the best movies in the James Bond franchise. The year also saw the release of Lincoln, which won Daniel Day-Lewis his third Oscar for portraying the titular president. Other great movies from 2012 include Amour, Silver Linings Playbook, and Life of Pi. Beasts of the Southern Wild is another great film from this year, and while Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master might not be for everyone, it does contain two wonderful performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

8/9 1989

Where to even begin with this year? Perhaps we can start with The Little Mermaid, the film that kicked off the Disney Renaissance? Or perhaps we should mention the two fantastic rom-coms that came out this year: When Harry Met Sally and Say Anything…? Then again, we could also mention the biggest films of the year at the box office, which were Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade and Batman. For those looking for more serious works, there’s Crimes and Misdemeanors and Steven Soderbergh’s debut film, Sex, Lies and Videotape. Then you’ve also got Glory, one of the best US Civil War films ever made, Dead Poets Society, and My Left Foot, which earned Daniel Day-Lewis the first of his three Oscars. We haven’t even mentioned perhaps the most influential film of the year, which was Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing.

Related: 10 Best Coen Brother Films, Ranked

7/9 2007

A lot of the discussion around the best films of 2007 usually centers around the two instant classics released that year: No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood. However, there are several other films that deserve some love in this absurdly strong year. The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford has its devoted fans, and rightfully so. David Fincher released the incredible Zodiac and Tim Burton released the last great film he’s made: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Continuing on, 2007 also saw the release of Into The Wild, Atonement, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, all wonderful films. For those looking for less depressing works, there’s Juno and Hot Fuzz. For animation, there’s Persepolis and Ratatouille, which began an incredible streak of masterpieces for Pixar. We’ll also give a shout-out to The Bourne Ultimatum, one of the few films to ever make shaky cam work.

6/9 1999

1999 was a very strong year for the movies. We saw Toy Story 2, the first Pixar sequel. It also gave us The Matrix, one of the most influential sci-fi films ever made, and The Sixth Sense, which not only earned M. Night Shyamalan Oscar nominations for Original Screenplay and Best Director, but also contained one of the most memorable twists in film history. The year also saw a few films that took a peek beneath pictures of perfection, as seen in American Beauty and The Talented Mr. Ripley. We literally got inside an actor’s mind in Being John Malkovich and saw the most influential found footage film of them all, The Blair Witch Project. Other greats include Magnolia, The Insider, and The Green Mile, and no list of 1999 greats is complete without Office Space.

5/9 1984

There are so many films from 1984 that remain beloved to this day. For comedic works, look to both Ghostbusters and Beverly Hills Cop. We also got Footloose and The Karate Kid this year, both of which remain memorable to this day. We also got this little film starring some muscular Austrian guy who barely spoke. What was that one called again? Ah yes, The Terminator. For more dramatic works, look at Amadeus, which hauled home an impressive eight Oscars, or The Killing Fields, which took home three Oscars, including one for Haing S. Ngor’s incredible performance. Other greats this year include Wim Wenders‘ Paris, Texas and the final films of two incredible directors: David Lean’s A Passage To India and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In America.

4/9 1994

Shall we start with Disney again? After all, 1994 saw the release of one of the most beloved movies the studio ever put out. That film is of course, The Lion King, which at one point, was the second-highest grossing film of all time. The second-highest grossing film of the year was Forrest Gump, which was also the big winner at the Academy Awards that year. For those looking for action movies, look to True Lies, Speed, and Leon: The Professional, all 1994 releases. Throw in greats like Quiz Show and Natural Born Killers, and the year looks very strong indeed. For those looking for some good comedy, there’s Four Weddings and a Funeral, which was ranked the 23rd Best British Film of the 20th Century in 1999. We still need to mention two of the most memorable films of the year. The first is Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption. The second is the one that has really left a huge impact on movies and proved that independent films could thrive at the box office. That was a little film called Pulp Fiction.

3/9 1967

1967 was an incredible year for movies. The year saw the release of Bonnie and Clyde, which features a final shootout that’s pretty violent for today. One must imagine what 1967 audiences thought of it. We also got The Graduate, which was the highest-grossing film of the year and still receives a good amount of praise to this day. The year also saw the release of In The Heat of The Night, which is the film where Sidney Poitier delivers his iconic „They call me Mr. Tibbs!“ line. Cool Hand Luke is another 1967 great, featuring perhaps Paul Newman’s best performance. Wait Until Dark, which has one of Audrey Hepburn’s best performances, also came out this year. Internationally, the year is quite strong, too. Czechoslovakia gave us Closely Watched Trains and Catherine Deneuve had two of her more memorable films released this year: Belle De Jour and The Young Girls of Rochefort.

2/9 1975

To show just how good 1975 was, let’s look at the films the Academy Awards nominated for Best Picture that year: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (the winner), Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon, Jaws, and Nashville. Most years, AMPAS is lucky to get one or two masterpieces in their line-up. In 1975, they nominated nothing but masterpieces. On the international scene, Australia released the wonderfully haunting Picnic At Hanging Rock, Italy released Seven Beauties, and the Soviet Union released Dersu Uzala, directed by the legendary Akira Kurosawa. There’s two other films we have to mention when talking about 1975, both of which have achieved immortality as beloved cult films. The first is The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is the longest running theatrical release in film history. The other is one of the strongest contenders for the title of „funniest film ever made.“ That film is, of course, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There’s no doubt about it. 1975 was an incredible year for movies.

Related: Monty Python and the Holy Grail: The Most Quotable Moments, Ranked

1/9 1939

1939 is pretty much the consensus for the best year in movie history, and when you look at all the classics that came out that year, it’s hard to argue against it. So many classics came out this year. We had Gone With The Wind, which remains to this day the highest earning film of all time, adjusted for inflation. We had The Wizard of Oz, which… it’s The Wizard of Oz. Everybody loves that movie. James Stewart gave us the best performance of his whole career with Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. Greta Garbo gave us one of her best performances in the comedy, Ninotchka. Bette Davis did the same in Dark Victory. We also got two great action films: John Ford’s Stagecoach and George Stevens‘ Gunga Din. There’s probably another dozen great films from this year we’re forgetting, but given how strong the year is, it’s almost impossible to list them all.