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The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made 

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Originally by Ranker Community
Updated October 3, 2019 279.7k votes 16.5k voters 699.3k views 599 items

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Need some movie ideas? Check out this list of the best epic films of all time, which encompasses some of the best movies of all time. These are movies with incredible stories and characters, and whose mere existence have enriched the world of cinema in some way. From historical war films to the best superhero flicks, these are hands down some seriously epic flicks. Take James Cameron's Avatar whose imagined planet and humanity are now the stuff of Oscar legend and whose cast was catapulted to fame. Or Batman Begins which simultaneously reinvented the superhero movie and the Batman franchise. These are some of the biggest, most important movies ever.

What are the best epic movies of all time? What makes a great epic movie? By definition, epic movies have a larger than life storyline, take place over a span of time, and has a plot that carries out some kind of heroic deed or epic adventure. Every epic movie listed can be sorted by actor, director, and title and every epic film on this list is more epic than the last. What's the best epic movie? That's for you to decide! Enjoy this list of the greatest epic movies and use it as a starting point for your own epic movie list. Whichever you choose as your favorite, these epics are definitely worth adding to your must-watch list.

list ordered by
1
The Lord of the Rings: T... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler

Released: 2003

Directed by: Peter Jackson

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a 2003 epic fantasy drama film directed by Peter Jackson based on the second and third volumes of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. It is ...more

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2
The Lord of the Rings: T... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler

Released: 2002

Directed by: Peter Jackson

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is a 2002 epic fantasy film directed by Peter Jackson and based on the second volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings. It is the second ...more

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3
The Lord of the Rings: T... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler

Released: 2001

Directed by: Peter Jackson

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a 2001 epic fantasy film directed by Peter Jackson based on the first volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. It is the first ...more

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4
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Sally Field

Released: 1994

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Forrest Gump is a 1994 American epic romantic-comedy-drama film based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis and stars Tom Hanks, Robin ...more

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5
Saving Private Ryan is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel

Released: 1998

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American epic drama war film set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II. Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat, the film is notable for ...more

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6
The Shawshank Redemption... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Morgan Freeman, Rita Hayworth, Tim Robbins

Released: 1994

Directed by: Frank Darabont

The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 American drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont and starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. Adapted from the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and ...more

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7
Star Wars is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

Released: 1977

Directed by: George Lucas

Star Wars is a 1977 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. The first release in the Star Wars franchise, it stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter ...more

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8
Indiana Jones and the Ra... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen

Released: 1981

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Raiders of the Lost Ark is a 1981 American adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg. The screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan was from a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman. It was produced by ...more

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9
Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

Released: 2000

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Gladiator is a 2000 American-British epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, ...more

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10
Star Wars Episode V: The... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

Released: 1980

Directed by: Irvin Kershner

The Empire Strikes Back is a 1980 American epic space opera film directed by Irvin Kershner. Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan wrote the screenplay, with George Lucas writing the film's story ...more

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11
The Godfather is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall

Released: 1972

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel by Mario Puzo. The aging patriarch (Marlon Brando) of an organized crime dynasty transfers ...more

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12
The Dark Knight is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger

Released: 2008

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

The Dark Knight is a 2008 superhero film directed by Christopher Nolan, based on the DC Comics character, Batman. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), Police Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and ...more

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13
The Green Mile is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Sam Rockwell

Released: 1999

Directed by: Frank Darabont

The Green Mile is a 1999 American fantasy drama film directed by Frank Darabont and adapted from the 1996 Stephen King novel of the same name. The film is told in a flashback format and stars ...more

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14
Star Wars: Episode VI –R... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

Released: 1983

Directed by: Richard Marquand

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi is a 1983 American epic space opera film directed by Richard Marquand, and the third and final film in the original Star Wars trilogy. After a daring ...more
15
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

Released: 1995

Directed by: Mel Gibson

Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical medieval war drama film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First ...more

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16
The Lord of the Rings is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
John Hurt, Annette Crosbie, Peter Woodthorpe

Released: 1978

Directed by: Ralph Bakshi

The Lord of the Rings is a 1978 animated high fantasy film directed by Ralph Bakshi. It is an adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's high fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings, comprising The Fellowship ...more
17
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley

Released: 1993

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama, directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Thomas ...more

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18
Back to the Future is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

Released: 1985

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Back to the Future is a 1985 American science fiction film directed by Robert Zemeckis. Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent thirty years into ...more

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19
Indiana Jones and the La... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, River Phoenix

Released: 1989

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a 1989 American adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg, from a story co-written by executive producer George Lucas. It is the third installment in the ...more

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20
The Good, the Bad and th... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
PeteBoyle added Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef

Released: 1966

Directed by: Sergio Leone

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a 1966 Italian epic Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach. The screenplay was written by Age ...more

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21
Pirates of the Caribbean... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Zoe Saldana

Released: 2003

Directed by: Gore Verbinski

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a 2003 American fantasy swashbuckler film based on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney theme parks. It was directed by Gore ...more

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22
Apollo 13 is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Tom Hanks, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ed Harris

Released: 1995

Directed by: Ron Howard

Apollo 13 is a 1995 American historical docudrama film directed by Ron Howard. The film stars Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris. The screenplay by William Broyles, ...more

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23
The Matrix is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving, Carrie-Anne Moss

Released: 1999

Directed by: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

The Matrix is a 1999 American-Australian science fiction action film written and directed by The Wachowskis, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe ...more

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24
Lawrence of Arabia is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness

Released: 1962

Directed by: David Lean

Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British epic adventure drama film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel. The film stars Peter O'Toole in the ...more

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25
The Terminator is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton

Released: 1984

Directed by: James Cameron

The Terminator is a 1984 American science fiction/horror action film directed by James Cameron, written by Cameron and the film's producer Gale Anne Hurd. Schwarzenegger plays the Terminator, a ...more

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