100 Most Inspiring American Movies
100 YEARS...100 CHEERS


by American Film Institute (AFI)




The American Film Institute (AFI) in Los Angeles, California conducted its ninth polling, 100 Years...100 Cheers. It was to be a definitive selection of the 100 most 'inspiring' American films of all time, as determined by more than 1,500 film artists (directors, screenwriters, actors, editors, cinematographers), critics and historians. AFI’s 100 Years…100 Cheers revealed America’s 100 greatest inspirational films, as chosen by leaders of the entertainment community, in a three-hour television event, that aired on the CBS Television Network in June 2006.

A ballot was distributed with 300 nominated films to a jury of 1,500 leaders from the creative community, including film artists (directors, screenwriters, actors, editors, cinematographers) critics and historians.

Note: The films that are marked with a yellow star are the films that "The Greatest Films" site has selected as the 100 Greatest Films

Facts (and Commentary) About the 100 Most Inspiring American Films Chosen:

  • Charlton Heston was twice celebrated for two religious epics: Ben-Hur (1959) (# 56) and The Ten Commandments (1956) (# 79).
  • Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg placed five films on the list, more than any other director, including three in the Top 10: Schindler's List (1993) (# 3), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) (# 6), Saving Private Ryan (1998) (# 10), The Color Purple (1985) (# 51) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) (# 58).
  • Director Frank Capra had four films in the top 100, the first two (in the top 10) with James Stewart: It's a Wonderful Life (1946) (# 1), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) (# 5), Meet John Doe (1941) (# 49) and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) (# 83).
  • Performers starring in the most films among the 100 were: Sidney Poitier and Gary Cooper with five apiece, Tom Hanks with four, and Katharine Hepburn, Jean Arthur and Sally Field, each with three.
  • At least 11 of the 100 films selected involved athletes or sporting competitions (3 were horse-racing films!): Rocky (1976) (# 4), Breaking Away (1979) (# 8), Hoosiers (1986) (# 13), The Pride of the Yankees (1942) (# 22), National Velvet (1944) (# 24), Field of Dreams (1989) (# 28), Seabiscuit (2003) (# 50), Rudy (1993) (# 54), The Black Stallion (1979) (# 64), The Karate Kid (1984) (# 98), and Chariots of Fire (1981) (# 100).
  • Three dubious choices, among others (two from 1993) were: Working Girl (1988) (# 87), What's Love Got to Do With It (1993) (# 85) and Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993) (# 96).
  • There were only a few westerns represented in the top 100: High Noon (1952) (# 27), Shane (1953) (# 53), and Dances With Wolves (1990) (# 59). Surprisingly, both space-related films were in the list: Apollo 13 (1995) (# 12) and The Right Stuff (1983) (# 19).
  • The most recent films in the top 100 list were: Hotel Rwanda (2004) (# 90), Ray (2004) (# 99), Seabiscuit (2003) (# 50), A Beautiful Mind (2001) (# 93), and Erin Brockovich (2000) (# 73).



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