Best Movie Genres The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
195k votes 12.4k voters 600.8k views 612 items

List Rules Vote up and add all of your favorite expansive genre movies of all time.

A 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. 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. 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.

1
3,564 1,705
The Lord of the Rings: The Fel... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler 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

2
3,138 1,936
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Braveheart Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson 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

3
3,068 1,260
Saving Private Ryan is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Saving Private Ryan Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel 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

4
4,281 1,835
The Lord of the Rings: The Ret... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler 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

5
3,659 1,756
Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Gladiator Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen 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

6
3,441 1,604
The Lord of the Rings: The Two... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler 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

7
2,376 1,300
Star Wars is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Star Wars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill 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

8
2,162 1,237
Star Wars Episode V: The Empir... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill 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

9
2,775 1,161
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Forrest Gump Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Sally Field 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

10
1,499 1,282
Ben-Hur is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Ben-Hur Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Hugh Griffith Ben-Hur is a 1959 American epic historical drama film, directed by William Wyler, produced by Sam Zimbalist for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and starring Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd, Jack Hawkins, Hugh ...more

11
1,695 1,133
Return of the Jedi is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Return of the Jedi Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill Return of the Jedi is a 1983 American epic space opera film directed by Richard Marquand. The screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas was from a story by Lucas, who was also the executive ...more

12
1,169 1,049
The Ten Commandments is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
The Ten Commandments Charlton Heston, Vincent Price, Yul Brynner The Ten Commandments is a 1956 American religious epic film produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille, shot in VistaVision, and released by Paramount Pictures. It dramatizes the biblical story ...more

13
2,185 1,157
The Godfather is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
The Godfather Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy from a screenplay by Mario Puzo and Coppola. Starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino as ...more

14
2,002 844
The Shawshank Redemption is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
The Shawshank Redemption Morgan Freeman, Rita Hayworth, Tim Robbins 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

15
1,153 909
Gone with the Wind is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Gone with the Wind Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American epic historical romance film adapted from Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel. It was produced by David O. Selznick of Selznick International ...more

16
1,664 748
The Green Mile is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
The Green Mile Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Sam Rockwell 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

17
1,429 1,079
Lawrence of Arabia is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Lawrence of Arabia Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness 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 through his British company, Horizon ...more

18
1,753 1,130
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Schindler's List Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley 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

19
1,255 995
Dances with Wolves is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Dances with Wolves Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Charles Rocket Dances with Wolves is a 1990 American epic western film directed, produced by, and starring Kevin Costner. It is a film adaptation of the 1988 book of the same name by Michael Blake and tells ...more

20
1,223 581
Indiana Jones and the Raiders ... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen 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

21
1,058 969
Spartacus is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Spartacus Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Tony Curtis Spartacus is a 1960 American epic historical drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay by Dalton Trumbo was based on the novel Spartacus by Howard Fast. It was inspired by the life ...more

22
1,744 884
The Dark Knight is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
The Dark Knight Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger The Dark Knight is a 2008 superhero film directed by Christopher Nolan, based on the DC Comics character. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), Police Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District ...more

23
1,509 1,290
Titanic is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates Titanic is a 1997 American epic romantic disaster drama film directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. A fictionalized account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, it stars ...more

24
1,012 678
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
PeteBoyle added The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Clint Eastwood, Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong 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 in the title roles respectively. ...more

25
1,567 1,268
300 is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
300 Gerard Butler, Michael Fassbender, Lena Headey 300 is a 2006 American fantasy war film based on the 1998 comic series of the same name by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley. Both are fictionalized retellings of the Battle of Thermopylae which took ...more

26
1,214 822
The Godfather Part II is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
The Godfather Part II Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall The Godfather Part II is a 1974 American epic crime film produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a screenplay co-written with Mario Puzo, starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. ...more

27
944 824
Die Hard is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Die Hard Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia Die Hard is a 1988 American action film directed by John McTiernan and written by Steven E. de Souza and Jeb Stuart. It is based on the 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever, by Roderick Thorp. Die ...more

28
1,108 838
Apocalypse Now is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Apocalypse Now Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic adventure war film set during the Vietnam War. Produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, and Robert Duvall. ...more

29
951 812
Terminator 2: Judgment Day is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Terminator 2: Judgment Day Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, Linda Hamilton Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a 1991 American science fiction action thriller film written, produced and directed by James Cameron. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert ...more

30
1,205 809
Back to the Future is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Back to the Future Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson Back to the Future is a 1985 American comic science fiction film. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale, produced by Steven Spielberg, and stars Michael J. Fox, ...more

31
895 1,092
The Passion of the Christ is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
The Passion of the Christ Monica Bellucci, Jim Caviezel, Claudia Gerini The Passion of the Christ is a 2004 American epic biblical drama film directed by Mel Gibson and starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus Christ. It depicts the Passion of Jesus largely according to the ...more

32
854 646
The Terminator is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
The Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton 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, and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, ...more

33
1,372 1,092
Troy is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Troy Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Rose Byrne Troy is a 2004 American epic war film written by David Benioff and directed by Wolfgang Petersen. It is loosely based on Homer's Iliad, which narrates the story of the 10 year Trojan War. ...more

34
804 395
Indiana Jones and the Last Cru... is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, River Phoenix 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

35
909 679
The Patriot is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
The Patriot Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Logan Lerman The Patriot is a 2000 American epic historical fiction war film directed by Roland Emmerich. Peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) is driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the ...more

36
861 567
Goodfellas is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Goodfellas Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson, Joe Pesci Goodfellas is a 1990 American crime film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is a film adaptation of the 1986 non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scorsese. ...more

37
992 556
The Last of the Mohicans is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
The Last of the Mohicans Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite The Last of the Mohicans is a 1992 historical epic film set in 1757 during the French and Indian War and produced by Morgan Creek Pictures. It was directed by Michael Mann and based on James ...more

38
1,472 1,319
Avatar is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Avatar Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez Avatar is a 2009 American epic science fiction film written and directed by James Cameron, and starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Joel David Moore, Giovanni ...more

39
1,298 794
The Matrix is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
The Matrix Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving, Carrie-Anne Moss 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

40
1,099 849
The Last Samurai is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
The Last Samurai Tom Cruise, Billy Connolly, Timothy Spall The Last Samurai is a 2003 American epic war film directed and co-produced by Edward Zwick, who also co-wrote the screenplay with John Logan. The film stars Tom Cruise, who also co-produced, as ...more

41
864 245
The Lord of the Rings is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
The Lord of the Rings John Hurt, Annette Crosbie, Peter Woodthorpe J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is a 1978 American animated fantasy film directed by Ralph Bakshi. It uses a hybrid of traditional cel animation and rotoscoped live action footage. It is ...more

42
999 811
Full Metal Jacket is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Full Metal Jacket Stanley Kubrick, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey Full Metal Jacket is a 1987 war film directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay by Kubrick, Michael Herr, and Gustav Hasford was based on Hasford's novel The Short-Timers. The film ...more

43
854 299
Apollo 13 is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Apollo 13 Tom Hanks, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ed Harris 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

44
788 731
Independence Day is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Independence Day Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Vivica A. Fox Independence Day is a 1996 American science fiction disaster film co-written and directed by Roland Emmerich. The film stars Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, ...more

45
793 656
The Avengers is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
The Avengers Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo Marvel's The Avengers is a 2012 American superhero film directed by Joss Whedon, based on the Marvel Comics superhero team. Earth's mightiest heroes must come together and learn to fight as a ...more

46
742 437
Pirates of the Caribbean: The ... is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Zoe Saldana 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

47
483 564
Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Gandhi Daniel Day-Lewis, Ben Kingsley, Martin Sheen Gandhi is a 1982 epic biographical film which dramatises the life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the leader of India's non-violent, non-cooperative independence movement against the United ...more

48
761 769
Gangs of New York is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Gangs of New York Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Liam Neeson Gangs of New York is a 2002 American fictionalized historical drama film set in the mid-19th century in the Five Points district of Lower Manhattan in 1863. The film was directed by Martin ...more

49
513 266
The Wizard of Oz is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
The Wizard of Oz Judy Garland, Margaret Hamilton, Frank Morgan The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and the most well-known and commercially successful adaptation based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful ...more

50
896 371
Cast Away is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Cast Away Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Chris Noth Cast Away is a 2000 American adventure drama film directed and produced by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks as a FedEx employee stranded on an uninhabited island after his plane crashes in ...more