Top Ten Films, a collaborative series by Rhiannon Phillips and Rowan Tull, brings you their ranking of all kinds of movies. The first of the series features their top ten favorite older movies (made from 1930-1979) that are still good today. Without further ado, here are their lists and reasoning!


Rowan’s List:

  1. Casablanca                            
  2. The Godfather                                  
  3. Citizen Kane                                     
  4. Gone With The Wind                        
  5. Apocalypse Now                               
  6. 12 Angry Men                                  
  7. On the Waterfront                               
  8. 2001: A Space Odyssey                         
  9. Psycho 
  10. City Lights
    Honorable Mention: Alien

Rhiannon’s List:

  1. Casablanca 
  2. Wizard of Oz 
  3. Grease 
  4. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  5. 12 Angry Men 
  6. Star Wars: New Hope 
  7. Superman the Movie 
  8. The Jerk 

Reasoning for the Ranking: 

Rhiannon and Rowan’s #1: Casablanca 

The only thing we could agree on for this list (trust us, it’s harder than it looks) was the placement of Casablanca as number 1. There were plenty of movies I (Rowan) wanted to put in that top spot, but in the end, a decision had to be made. We based our choice off of a variety of factors, from the quality of the writing/screenplay, acting, story/narrative, etc. Overall, this film excelled in each of those categories, bringing in Oscars for Best Picture, Writing, Director, and more. It’s a frequently quoted classic, and the performances from Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman are nothing short of outstanding, especially considering the script was finalized just moments before shooting scenes. Long story short, this film is one of the best out there, hands down. 

Rowan’s #2: The Godfather

Here’s the thing, I haven’t seen the Godfather Part 2. I know that many people see the sequel as even better than the original, but for me, having nothing to compare it to, this film was fantastic. From countless quotable lines to acting that feels as real as anything I’ve ever seen, The Godfather is simply a classic. Unsurprisingly, it won three Oscars including Best Picture, and got nominated for 8 others. Now that’s an offer you can’t refuse. 

Rhiannon’s #2: The Wizard of Oz*  

The Wizard of Oz is the first movie that used technicolor besides Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and it perfectly captures the actors’ chemistry. There is such an amazing score within the film that it even won the Oscar for Best Original Score, plus it is no surprise the movie also received 4 other Oscar nominations due.
*Rowan’s honorable mention: Magical and toe-tapping, Hollywood’s first fully colored live-action film is still fun and unforgettable, proving that there is such a thing as timeless classics. 

Rowan’s #3: Citizen Kane

Being regarded as the best movie of all time, it’s no wonder Citizen Kane managed to nab one of the top spots on this list. There are plenty of reasons why it’s viewed this way, from the writing to the characters to the complexly excellent story. The mystery and intrigue pulls the viewer in and we’re held there by stand-out performances and timely themes that delve straight into human spirit. The utilization of flashbacks and non-linear storytelling was revolutionary at the time and still makes for fascinating viewing today. Overall, the sheer fame of the film highlights its significance and importance in film history, making it a must-see for all. 

Rhiannon’s #3: Grease

How do you even think of not putting Grease on your list? You have the chemistry between John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, the music in the soundtrack that will have you singing at the top of your lungs, and who could forget the hand jive that everyone should know how to do by now. It may send some mixed messages about feminism and healthy relationships, but it is still a classic movie musical that has gone down in history.

Rowan’s #4: Gone with the Wind

Stunning, romantic, epic in scope, fantastically acted, and perfectly written, Gone with the Wind remains one of the most influential and controversial movies of all time. The romanticizing of the antebellum South paired with stereotypical portrayals of African American slaves have led to banning, removal, and general criticism. However, the recent backlash can’t overshadow the pure quality of the film. From the excellent cinematography to costume designs that continue to inspire, this movie will stay cemented in film history.

Rhiannon’s #4: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

In Willy Wonka, you have the amazing performance of Gene Wilder as the main character Willy Wonka. He brings 5 children on the tour of a lifetime in the ever famous, Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, and I don’t know a single person who hasn’t wanted that golden ticket. The excitement, magic, and candy that fills this film was every child’s fantasy, and whether it’s in your top ten or not, you can’t deny the pure joy you get from watching it.

Rowan’s #5: Apocalypse Now

We’ve all heard the horror stories about what a complete disaster this film was behind the scenes. Heck, there was even a documentary called Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse that illustrated how hard the movie was to make. Despite this, we still have one of the greatest war films of all time, boasting outstanding performances, iconic lines: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning!”, and more. The visceral images may be disturbing to say the least, but there’s no doubt that this is an unforgettable masterpiece. 

Rhiannon’s #5: 12 Angry Men 

To sum it up, this film is about 12 men as part of a jury trying to find a young man guilty or not guilty, with this movie having all the men deliberating throughout the entire film. The anticipation and tension leaves you on the edge of your seat the whole time.

Rowan’s #6: 12 Angry Men 

Spending 90 minutes in a crowded room with 12 guys debating someone’s fate doesn’t sound like a particularly exciting way to spend your movie night. However, if you look past the limited set design and grainy black-and-white camera quality, you will find a dark, twisty, and intriguing story of innocence, deception, class, and justice. Emotions run high and so does the tension, so sit up, lean forward, and listen carefully to every word. 

Rhiannon’s #6: Star Wars: A New Hope** 

You have an epic space adventure with a young farm boy Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) teaming up with a scoundrel Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and a wookie (Peter Mayhew) to save a space princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) from an evil lord Darth Vader and stop the plans of the Death Star. Action packed and iconic, it is a can’t miss classic.
**Rowan’s Honorable Mention: The first of the long-running franchise may have been bested by its sequel, but that doesn’t deny its place as the most important sci-fi movie of all time.

Rowan’s #7: On the Waterfront

Acting is a process. For some, it comes more naturally than others. But no one can deny the sheer power great acting can have on a film. There are plenty of examples where one performance has saved a film from being a disaster. Luckily, this film was not one of those examples. By combining fantastic writing with relevant themes, On The Waterfront was already a great film on its own. But bring in a revolutionary performance by Marlon Brando and you have one of the best films of the 20th century.

Rhiannon’s #7: Superman the Movie

Superman’s home planet Krypton is about to be destroyed, so scientist Jor-El (Marlon Brando) sends his infant son Kal-El on a spaceship to be raised on Earth by kind farmers, Jonathan (Glenn Ford) and Martha Kent (Phyllis Thaxter). A young Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve) discovers his superhuman powers, moves to Metropolis to fight evil. There he battles Lex Luther as Superman, so it meets the action and fighting quota, but when he is Clark Kent, he tries to woo his coworker Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), adding in some romance to the film. It really has something for everyone. 

Rowan’s #8: 2001 A Space Odyssey 

Although there are plenty of people who call it the most boring movie of all time, 2001: A Space Odyssey is still one of the most influential sci-fi films ever made. Released in 1968, the special effects, story, and themes haven’t aged a day, despite taking place in a future that never happened. Stanley Kubrick’s direction is superb, focusing on both the vastness of space and the depths of our own humanity. And who can forget that mesmerizing soundtrack or the Hal-9000 saying, “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that”. Que the chef’s kiss. 

Rhiannon’s #8: The Jerk 

Steve Martin plays Navin, a white man who believes he was born a poor black man. Kind of weird, I know. But he heads north to St. Louis to find himself. He gets a job at a gas station, he is excited to see his name printed in the new phone book. This discovery of his existences leads him from one misadventure to another, as he invents gadgets, dodges bullets, joins the carnival, and finds love at his fingertips of beautiful Marie (Bernadette Peters). 

Rowan’s #9: Psycho

Alfred Hitchcock is simply the best director of his time. No one can compare to the consistent quality of his films. From Rear Window to The Birds, Hitchcock’s slew of mysteries and thrillers continue to capture our attention, even decades later. Psycho is one of those films, but it stands above the rest in just a couple ways. Critically panned upon release due to the violence and partial nudity that deemed itself too much for the tameness of 1960 audiences, the thriller now finds itself as one of the tamer horror films compared to the various gore-fests we see today. However, this movie doesn’t need gore to get its point across. From gorgeous cinematography, to great performances, haunting writing, and that iconic soundtrack, Psycho still flies higher than the rest, proving that you don’t need constant blood-splattering to scare the pants off your audience. 

Rowan’s #10: City Lights

Who doesn’t love Charlie Chaplin. The father of slapstick comedy and lovable protagonists has enchanted both kids and adults alike for nearly a century. With City Lights, Chaplin both starred and directed, proving himself to be fantastic at both. Perfectly-choreographed stunts and hilarious slapstick situations bring light into his stories, but they don’t overshadow the emotions and poignant themes involved. Many will be left speechless or crying by the film’s ending, but none will forget that little tramp. 

Rowan’s Honorable Mention: Alien

Scary, thrilling, tense, and superb, Alien remains one of the greatest sci-fi/horror crossovers ever put to film. 

We want to know your top ten old movies! The choices were difficult and the lists go on and on, so if there is one you think we missed, let us know!

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