What is it that makes a movie epic? Could it be how long the movie is or its lasting impact on future media? Maybe it’s the subject matter or possibly the people involved in making it. The truth is that it can be all of these things and more.
In today’s list, we’re taking a look at the top 10 Epic movies no one will ever forget.
#10. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
We begin our list with one of the most influential movies of all time, Lawrence of Arabia. Starring Peter O’Toole as the titular Lawrence. This 1962 historical drama is based on the life of a former British Army officer turned diplomat, T. E. Lawrence.
The story follows Lawrence’s travels through the Ottoman Empire during World War I. When Lawrence of Arabia was released, it was massive, both figuratively and literally.
Not only was it immediately a huge critical and financial success, it was also the longest movie ever to win a best picture Oscar, beating out Ghan with the Wind by 1 minute.
Lawrence of Arabia is not immune to criticism, though questions have been raised regarding how accurate the representation of Lawrence actually is.
Even biographers have mixed points of view. There is also the issue of there being a noticeable lack of non-white actors. True, Omar Sharif was in the movie, but the role was offered to multiple white actors before Sharif.
Regardless of its controversies, the fingerprints of Lawrence of Arabia are all over today’s movies, especially in the realms of science fiction, adventure and fantasy.
You can see elements of Lawrence in movies from Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, and many others.
#9. Back to the Future (1985)
Released in 1985, Back to the Future, was a phenomenon. In this first installment, we are introduced to eccentric inventor Dr. Emmett Brown and his teenage friend Marty, the latter of which is inadvertently transported back to 1955. Naturally, this causes issues with the reality the characters have grown accustomed to.
Assisted by a 30 year younger but not extremely different looking Dr. Brown, Marty has limited time to fix the timeline before he is erased from existence.
Back to the Future saw immediate financial and critical success, as did the sequels, but to a lesser extent. And just like Lawrence of Arabia, Back to the Future’s influence is seen all over modern movies, even being directly referenced during the time heist plot in Avengers: Endgame.
The franchise is also present in other media, the most notable of which being the animated TV series. There is even a Back to the Future musical, which premiered in March 2020.
#8. Seven Samurai (1954)
Directed by the legendary Akira Kurosawa, Seven Samurai, tells the story of seven men hired to be the bodyguards to a village of farmers and protect their crops from Marauders.
Much of the film’s success is directly due to Kurosawa’s calm decision-making and the creative freedom allowed by the studio. Kurosawa employed the use of multiple cameras and telephoto lenses, a rarity in 1954, which gave the action scenes much more action than audiences were used to.
Seven Samurai currently holds a stellar 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, a feat only obtained by a relatively small number of movies. The direct influence of Seven Samurai can be seen in all different types of movies, from Mad Max, Fury Road all the Way to Three Amigos.
The most notable influence was on the 1960 version of The Magnificent Seven, which was a direct adaptation of Seven Samurai. To this day, it is one of the most borrowed from and referenced films ever.
#7. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
known for its graphic portrayal of the Omaha Beach assault during the Allied invasion at Normandy during World War II, saving Private Ryan is a critically acclaimed war drama directed by the often imitated but never duplicated Steven Spielberg.
The film follows a brave but exhausted squad of Army Rangers led by Tom Hanks’s, Captain Miller. After surviving the horrors of Omaha Beach, they are tasked with the rescue of Matt Damon’s titular Private Ryan having to traverse through Nazi-occupied France to do so.
Saving Private Ryan features supporting roles from Tom Sizemore and Giovanni Ribisi, plus a few blink and you’ll miss them cameos and several glimpses of actors before they became household names.
Although Saving Private Ryan did earn some criticism for not depicting that soldiers of other countries were present at the Omaha Beach assault, it was praised by many World War II veterans for its realistic depiction of combat during the war.
#6. Interstellar (2014)
Coming in at the halfway point of our list is the 2014 Christopher Nolan’s science fiction epic Interstellar.
Starring Matthew McConaughey, and Anne Hathaway, Interstellar is set in the year 2067, where humans are barely surviving due to the effects of climate change.
The film follows a former NASA pilot as he leaves his family to help find a place in the Cosmos for what’s left of the population of Earth to habitate.
The details of how this is accomplished could take up an entire article alone, but let’s just say that things get a little tiny Whiny.
Critical response for Interstellar was not as strong as some of the other entries on this list. It currently holds a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes, but the scientific aspects were highly praised by many experts, some going as far as to consider it the gold standard for science fiction to come.
#5. The Matrix (1999)
Considered to be one of the most important and influential science fiction films ever, The Matrix was released in 1999 with high praise from practically everyone.
With his biggest roll up to that point, Keanu Reeves plays Neo, a software engineer by day and hacker by night, who stumbles across the truth about how his world truly operates.
With some of the most groundbreaking visual effects up until the turn of the century, including the often imitated bullet time effect that you were so sure was real.
The legacy of The Matrix can still be seen in film and television 20 years later. The influence of The Matrix expanded beyond the scope of filmmaking as well, spreading into the worlds of comics, video games, and literature. The Matrix even influenced many fashion decisions in the years following its release.
#4. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Epic isn’t a term invoked very much in this day and age when discussing spaghetti Westerns, but Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly definitely applies.
Although scoffed at by critics upon release due mainly to general backlash against the genre, the film was a huge financial success. It’s also the movie that made Clint Eastwood a megastar.
Overall critic views now are firmly positive, and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” is considered to be the definitive spaghetti Western.
One of the most important elements of the film’s success, alongside Leoni’s vision and direction, was the score. The main theme, the Ecstasy of Gold, composed by Enio Morocconi, set the perfect mood for the preceding film.
#3. Forrest Gump (1994)
The next entry on our list may have some names attached that sound very familiar at this point. Forrest Gump is a multi era spanning drama starring Tom Hanks and directed by Robert Zemeckis, the second time both of them have popped up in this list.
Released in 1994, the story follows the fictional Forrest Gump, a man with a below average IQ but above average luck.
The movie is an emotional roller coaster showing Forest as he unwittingly participates in many important historical events.
Has an on-off relationship with his childhood best friend Jenny, and haphazardly becomes a successful businessman.
Winning a ton of awards, including Oscars for Best Picture and Best director, Forrest Gump was the second highest-grossing picture in 1994, falling just behind The Lion King.
#2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
The culmination of a multiplexer fantasy adventure saga, The Return of the King is the third installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
To say that this movie was huge would actually be doing it a disservice. Raking in 1.146 billion USD worldwide, making The Return of the King the second highest-grossing picture of all time up to then.
Not only that, at the 76th Academy Awards, the movie was nominated for a staggering eleven awards and won all of them.
To this date, the only other films able to accomplish this feat were Titanic and Ben Her. We wonder if J. R. R. Tolkien could ever imagine how massive the world of Middle-earth would become when his first book, The Hobbit, was published all those decades ago.
#1. The Dark Knight (2008)
Ever since he debuted in comics in 1939, Batman has become one of the most adapted characters of all time. There will always be debate over who did the best version but after 2000 eights of the dark knight many look at Christopher Nolan’s version of Gotham city and its inhabitants as the definitive interpretation.
As the second installment of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, this film draws comparisons to the likes of the empire strikes back or aliens as examples of second installments that are superior to their predecessors.
What makes this movie the most memorable is heath ledger’s career defining role as the joker. Released a few months after his death ledger was posthumously awarded an Oscar for best Supporting Actor an accolade that’s well deserved.
This was our top 10 list of the best Epic movies ever made. It is a great list of the best Epic movies of all time that No One Will Ever Forget.
Do you agree with our list? If you have any suggestions or comments please shoot them down in the comments below.