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

AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers
  1. It's a Wonderful Life 1946
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird 1962
  3. Schindler's List 1993
  4. Rocky 1976
  5. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington 1939
  6. E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial 1982
  7. The Grapes of Wrath 1940
  8. Breaking Away 1979
  9. Miracle on 34th Street 1947
  10. Saving Private Ryan 1998
  11. The Best Years of Our Lives 1946
  12. Apollo 13 1995
  13. Hoosiers 1986
  14. The Bridge on the River Kwai 1957
  15. The Miracle Worker 1962
  16. Norma Rae 1979
  17. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 1975
  18. The Diary of Anne Frank 1959
  19. The Right Stuff 1983
  20. Philadelphia 1993
  21. In the Heat of the Night 1967
  22. The Pride of the Yankees 1942
  23. The Shawshank Redemption 1994
  24. National Velvet 1944
  25. Sullivan's Travels 1941
  26. The Wizard of Oz 1939
  27. High Noon 1952
  28. Field of Dreams 1989
  29. Gandhi 1982
  30. Lawrence of Arabia 1962
  31. Glory 1989
  32. Casablanca 1942
  33. City Lights 1931
  34. All the President's Men 1976
  35. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner 1967
  36. On the Waterfront 1954
  37. Forrest Gump 1994
  38. Pinocchio 1940
  39. Star Wars 1977
  40. Mrs. Miniver 1942
  41. The Sound of Music 1965
  42. 12 Angry Men 1957
  43. Gone with the Wind 1939
  44. Spartacus 1960
  45. On Golden Pond 1981
  46. Lilies of the Field 1963
  47. 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968
  48. The African Queen 1951
  49. Meet John Doe 1941
  50. Seabiscuit 2003
  51. The Color Purple 1985
  52. Dead Poets Society 1989
  53. Shane 1953
  54. Rudy 1993
  55. The Defiant Ones 1958
  56. Ben-Hur 1959
  57. Sergeant York 1941
  58. Close Encounters of the Third Kind 1977
  59. Dances with Wolves 1990
  60. The Killing Fields 1984
  61. Sounder 1972
  62. Braveheart 1995
  63. Rain Man 1988
  64. The Black Stallion 1979
  65. A Raisin in the Sun 1961
  66. Silkwood 1983
  67. The Day the Earth Stood Still 1951
  68. An Officer and a Gentleman 1982
  69. The Spirit of St. Louis 1957
  70. Coal Miner's Daughter 1980
  71. Cool Hand Luke 1967
  72. Dark Victory 1939
  73. Erin Brockovich 2000
  74. Gunga Din 1939
  75. The Verdict 1982
  76. Birdman of Alcatraz 1962
  77. Driving Miss Daisy 1989
  78. Thelma & Louise 1991
  79. The Ten Commandments 1956
  80. Babe 1995
  81. Boys Town 1938
  82. Fiddler on the Roof 1971
  83. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town 1936
  84. Serpico 1973
  85. What's Love Got to Do with It 1993
  86. Stand and Deliver 1988
  87. Working Girl 1988
  88. Yankee Doodle Dandy 1942
  89. Harold and Maude 1971
  90. Hotel Rwanda 2004
  91. The Paper Chase 1973
  92. Fame 1980
  93. A Beautiful Mind 2001
  94. Captains Courageous 1937
  95. Places in the Heart 1984
  96. Searching for Bobby Fischer 1993
  97. Madame Curie 1943
  98. The Karate Kid 1984
  99. Ray 2004
  100. Chariots of Fire 1981

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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