Empire's 500 Greatest Movies Of All TimeEmpire's 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time Empire's 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time

L. A. Confidential (1997)
Director: Curtis Hanson
James Ellroy — equally known as “the demon dog of crime fiction” and the author of L. A. Confidential — once admitted that if he’d had his way, the movie of the third entry in his darkly magnificent LA Quartet (or the second entry in his Dudley Smith Trio, if you prefer) would have been shot in black-and-white and been four hours long. Which, as intriguing as that sounds, only goes to show that sometimes it’s a good thing creators maintain a (dis)respectful distance from adaptations of their output. After all, Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland’s well-oiled retool of Ellroy’s devilishly manifold tale of police corruption in ’40s Hollywood should be held up as the very pinnacle of novel-to-script revisualisation: a robust reworking with an eye on the beats that give every good mainstream drama its pulse, while sensitively embracing the original’s bitter core. Read Review
Brazil (1985)
Director: Terry Gilliam
While the Orwellian influences are plain, the heart of this dystopian comedy is pure Gilliam. The desire to fly free of oppressive bureaucracy is the crux of this story — and who can’t empathise with that? Read Review
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The Great Escape (1963)
Director: John Sturges
An all-star cast, a true-life tale and one of the most memorable theme tunes of all time, Sturges’ beloved entertainment somehow combines Boy’s Own thrills with the harsh bite of wartime truths. Dig it. Read Review
Batman Begins (2005)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Nolan’s Year One rebirth of the caped crusader is a grown-up comic-book movie that placed the Dark Knight himself, rather than his gaudy foes, where he belonged... back in the spotlight. Read Review
The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943)
Director: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Slated on its original release for being decidedly unpatriotic, Powell and Pressburger’s satire has now been rightfully re-assessed as a classic which couldn’t be more British if it tried. Read Review
The Thin Red Line (1998)
Director: Terrence Malick
Malick’s stunning return to filmmaking after a 20-year absence is beautiful, thoughtful and admirably uncommercial. And Hans Zimmer’s haunting theme has been used for a dozen trailers since — including, incongruously, that for Pearl Harbor. Read Review

About The Poll
This poll was conducted in November 2008. The list was compiled using votes from Empire readers, Hollywood actors, actress and key film critics.

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In conjunction with the poll results, we produced 100 individual covers celebrating some of the key films in the list. View 100 Covers

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