Only 10 remain of the 50 greatest blockbusters ever made. Tensions are high, you can feel the hum of excitement in the air as faint gasps cut the silence. Elsewhere, chairs yawn with the sound of bottoms readjusting to the edge of them, and young children ask their parents if it’s safe to look. Well, here it is. The last-act hurrah. The moment you’ve all been waiting for…
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I give to you One Room With a View’s top 10 blockbusters of all time…
10. Die Hard (1988)
Die Hard: the ultimate Christmas movie, the ultimate blockbuster? John McTiernan’s classic is easily one of the most exquisitely crafted action films ever made. That it doesn’t boast a single inch of fat is part of its charm; every detail has its purpose in the grand design: from the opening dialogue (“take off your shoes and socks and walk around on the rug barefoot”), every element has its consequence somewhere down the line.
When you combine this sublime craftsmanship with tight-as-hell plotting and stonking performances from all involved, plus some of cinema’s most explosive action all-round? No sir, you couldn’t drag me away.
9. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
One need not have ever turned a page of Tolkien to appreciate the majesty, ingenuity and beauty of Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring. With a pitch-perfect cast, stunning effects – both through the computer and crafted by the human hand – and a spectacular command of narrative, Fellowship is perfection.
So many productions attempt to emulate the grandeur of the likes of Lean, while others flail trying to capture the worlds their source novels create. So very few can claim to achieve both, but Jackson did. A fully-realised world of consequences, characters and creativity.
Aragorn was right, the Fellowship is the best.
8. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Mad Max: Fury Road demonstrates the cinematic medium’s potential so completely, so beautifully, so energetically, that it’s no wonder the film is already being discussed as one of the modern greats. With confident plotting, breathtaking cinematography, and breakneck editing, George Miller ensures that his return to the dystopian hellscapes that made his name was fully worth the wait.
Miller’s aptitude for strong visual storytelling winds up being one of the film’s biggest strengths; the blood and oil-soaked landscapes come to life to provide an antagonistic presence throughout that contribute to the film’s high stakes. Tom Hardy is on fine, tortured form as Max, though his leading credentials are somewhat undermined by a show-stopping performance from Charlize Theron, who steals the film from the character whose name it bears.
7. The Dark Knight (2008)
Christopher Nolan brings the dawn of the gritty superhero blockbuster with his 2008 urban costume epic The Dark Knight. Batman’s murky, often contradictory politics are pushed to their limit, testing the intelligence and moral fibre of the characters and audience alike.
In Nolan’s magnum opus, Batman is torn from his fanciful comic-book origins and re-situated in the harsh, sobering world that the character inhabited in the ’80s. It is world ruled by the Joker, masterfully played by Heath Ledger, a character so ruthless that he pushes the unbreakable “hero” to his breaking point. A permanent space has been reserved for this film among the great blockbusters of history.
6. Jaws (1975)
Duuuh-duh. Duuuh-duh. Duuuh-duh (and so on). Jaws is the film that gave thousands a lifelong fear of the ocean, and the legacy of its form has irrevocably ingrained itself into modern popular culture.
Like many of the blockbusters on our list, most that have never seen Jaws are still aware of its cultural cache, and will recognise a quote or reference when they see one. But not many other films can claim to have originated the term “blockbuster”, at least in the way it is most commonly used today. Not bad for a cheap-looking rubber shark called Bruce.
5. Star Wars (1977)
Originally marketed as an “epic space opera”, there was no predicting that when Star Wars hit cinema screens in the summer of ’77, it would quickly destroy all box office records to become one of the most beloved blockbusters of all time.
You needn’t look further than its inimitable pop-cultural capital to understand just how intrinsic Star Wars is to the landscape of modern cinema. Boasting old-fashioned romance beside cutting-edge space battles – all nestled between enduring political and religious allegory – even if perhaps not the best of the franchise, Star Wars has earned its place on this list and within the hearts and minds of cinemagoers across the globe.
4. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Despite George Lucas’ misplaced thoughts that this is the worst of the original six movies, The Empire Strikes Back is – by far – the best. Irvin Kershner’s phenomenal followup to the phenomenon that was Star Wars is dark, thought-provoking, and epic.
From the electric opening at the Battle of Hoth, to the unforgettable finale at Cloud City, Empire improves upon the original in every regard.
To think, one of cinema’s most unforgettable lines is uttered 50 feet above a series of second-hand mattresses. To audiences worldwide though, it was a galaxy far, far away. A legendary, unforgettable blockbuster for the ages.
3. Back to the Future (1985)
It’s ironic that our love for Back to the Future is flavoured so potently by nostalgia, especially considering it is that particular strain of hive sentimentality that serves as the film’s primary engine. While it was born out of wistfulness for the 1950s, Back to the Future survives as a time capsule of the 1980s – complete with denim-on-denim – demonstrating the era’s bombastic, enduring approach to filmmaking. It’s a blockbuster exactly how you remember them to be.
Effervescent with the saplings of popular culture references and immortal iconography, Back to the Future does not need money, fame, nor credit cards. Zemeckis delivers more than a blockbuster. This is a story for the ages.
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Is there a more perfect blockbuster than Raiders of the Lost Ark? As it brought together the imagination of Lucas with the craftsmanship of Spielberg, the New Hollywood duo’s beloved homage to 1930s serials managed to both inhabit film history while looking forward into a post-Star Wars future in which anything was possible.
Indiana Jones is Harrison Ford’s greatest character (apologies, Han Solo fans), and Raiders is his finest hour. In a film boasting showstopping action, a witty script, and a darkness not felt in Lucas’ other franchise, Raiders of the Lost Ark remains a pinnacle for blockbuster filmmaking.
1. Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park represents the perfect marriage between heart-pounding high-cost spectacle and heartfelt, lovingly-crafted cinema. Spielberg’s blockbuster opus debuted mind-blowing, state-of-the-art VFX technology while never losing sight of the heart and humour that define his films. The film is a masterpiece in every sense – it really is no surprise that this 1993 classic has topped our list.
The cultural impact of Jurassic Park is monumental: from sequels and re-releases, to its role within the scientific community for which it faithfully revamped public interest in dinosaurs, to its role as a meme generator even 24 years after its release, the cultural and cinematic legacy of the franchise it bore is immeasurable. From its tight scripting to its phenomenal cast and delicate philosophical musings, we wholeheartedly choose to endorse this Park!
And there you have it, the top 50 blockbusters of all time… Thanks for sticking with us. Please do let us know your thought. In the meantime, follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up to date with all the goodness that One Room With a View has to offer…