The Greatest American Movies

Blame Jonathan Rosenbaum. Everytime that old wizard posts anything on facebook I can't help but steal his ideas. This time it was a poll of his ten favourite American movies, and like his greatest living director list, it got me thinking. So I asked just about every badass cinephile I knew for the same list, not because I needed to know the greatest American movie, but because I wanted to hear the ways we agree and disagree. It was fascinating to hear everyone's answer. American had to mean something in particular in this case, so I narrowed the field to "American money." That included Hitchcock and Lang and the like, but cut out UK co-productions like Alien and Barry Lyndon, which I've included as phantom choices for those who couldn't live without them. I'm not a monster after all. Anyway, I hope you have fun perusing them. Feel free to post your own choices in the comments. I could go on for days about what I wanted to include but couldn't, as all of these guys could, I'm sure. Forgive us what we left behind. 

Damian Arlyn
City Lights
Pinocchio 
Citizen Kane
Psycho
Apocalypse Now
Manhattan
Die Hard
Unforgiven
Schindler's List
The Tree of Life


Noah Aust
Minnie & Moskowitz/A Woman Under The Influence
Synecdoche NY
Mulholland Dr.
Blade Runner
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
The Tree of Life
A Night At The Opera
The Wizard of Oz
12 Monkeys
The Conversation



Blake Backlash
Psycho
Letter From An Unknown Woman
Touch of Evil
Phantom of the Paradise
A Serious Man
Quiz Show
Carnival of Souls
Starship Troopers
The Parallax View
Blazing Saddles




Miriam Bale

"It's insane not to include Lewis, Ray, Lubitsch, & Hawks, the four greatest American directors. But with them, it's too difficult to choose one.”

Mean Streets
Magnificent Ambersons
Love Streams
Vertigo
A New Leaf
I Walked With A Zombie
Meet Me in St. Louis
Objective Burma!
Daughters of the Dust
Rushmore




Eric Barroso
Johnny Guitar
The Magnificent Ambersons
Thief
His Girl Friday/Only Angels Have Wings
Park Row
Mothlight
Sherlock, Jr.
Scorpio Rising
Fury
Night of the Hunter


Theodora Blasko
The Tree of Life
Pulp Fiction
Bringing Up Baby
The Royal Tenenbaums
All That Jazz
Rosemary’s Baby
No Country for Old Men
Zodiac 
Annie Hall 
Boogie Nights




Danny Bowes
Citizen Kane
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
Singin' in the Rain
2001: A Space Odyssey
Vertigo
Blade Runner ('07 cut)
The Grapes of Wrath
Goodfellas
The Godfather
Network




Charles Bramesco
Boogie Nights
All About Eve
Dr. Strangelove
Sherlock Jr.
Taxi Driver
Vertigo
Lost Highway
Barton Fink
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm
Nashville


David Cairns
2001: A Space Odyssey
Rear Window
Out of the Past
Citizen Kane
The General
Paper Moon
Raging Bull
Harold & Maude
He Who Gets Slapped
The Apartment


Forrest Cardamenis
Meshes of the Afternoon
Dog Star Man
Killer of Sheep
Mulholland Dr.
2001: A Space Odyssey
The Tree of Life
Johnny Guitar
Meek's Cutoff
Safe
Do The Right Thing


Monica Castillo
Night of the Hunter
Singin' In The Rain
His Girl Friday
The Thing
Do The Right Thing
Annie Hall
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Our Hospitality
Jaws
Rosemary's Baby



Jaime N. Christley
Greed
Make Way For Tomorrow
Only Angels Have Wings
His Girl Friday
The Magnificent Ambersons
Vertigo
The Ladies Man
Blade Runner
White Dog
Schindler’s List




Sam Cohen
Thief
True Grit
McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Badlands
Dead Man
All That Jazz
Spring Breakers
Manhattan
Blue Velvet
The Last Picture Show



Jake Cole
Monsieur Verdoux
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Bigger Than Life
A.I.
Opening Night
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
Rio Bravo
Nashville
The King of Comedy
The Magnificent Ambersons


Olivia Collette
Moonstruck
Some Like It Hot
Alien
The Royal Tenenbaums
Pleasantville
Citizen Kane
Koyaanisqatsi
Lost In Translation
The Shining
L.A. Story



Adam Cook
Notorious
Age of Innocence
The Long Voyage Home
An American In Paris
Blackout
Love Streams
Heat
City Lights
Unforgiven
The Big Heat


Max Covill
2001: A Space Odyssey
The Godfather
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
Vertigo
Singin' In The Rain
Jaws
Badlands
Double Indemnity
Taxi Driver
City Lights



Fernando F. Croce
The Naked Kiss
Badlands
The Reckless Moment
Johnny Guitar
The Bowery
City Girl
Take Me To Town
The Patsy
Duel In The Sun
To Sleep With Anger



Greg Cwik
Apocalypse Now
Batman Returns
The Godfather
Goodfellas
Jaws
Mulholland Drive
Point Blank
Rosemary's Baby
There Will Be Blood
Vertigo
Phantom 11. Alien



Brian Darr
Intolerance
Docks of New York
Angel
King-Size Canary
The End
The Far Country
Hold Me While I'm Naked
Carrie
To Sleep With Anger
The Company




Abhimanyu Das
McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Apocalypse Now
Pulp Fiction
Blue Velvet
Blade Runner
Chinatown
Rear Window
RoboCop
Die Hard
The Godfather Part II


Diana Drumm
It Happened One Night
Gone with the Wind
Sunset Boulevard
Vertigo
Annie Hall
Badlands
Network
Dead Man
Closer
Laura
Phantom 11. 12 Years a Slave




Paul Duane
The Unknown 
Only Angels Have Wings
The Thing
Taxi Driver
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Detour 
Gun Crazy
The Producers
Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia
Rio Bravo


Tim Earle
Network
Citizen Kane
Fargo
Do the Right Thing
Saving Private Ryan
Goodfellas
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Team America, World Police
Fight Club
Synecdoche, New York


Tom Elrod
The Crowd
Modern Times
Fantasia
The Magnificent Ambersons
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
The Searchers
The Long Goodbye
E.T.
Ishtar
The Last Temptation of Christ





Alex Engquist
The Big Parade
Meshes of the Afternoon
The Magnificent Ambersons
Imitation of Life
Only Angels Have Wings
Window Water Baby Moving
Wanda
Nashville
Love Streams
Do The Right Thing
A.I.


Autumn Faust
Resident Evil Extinction
The Blair Witch Project
A.I.
Inland Empire
Apocalypse Now
Spring Breakers
Meshes of the Afternoon
Do The Right Thing
The Evil Dead 2
The Act of Seeing With One's Own Eye



Veronika Ferdman
Limelight
Johnny Guitar
Wild at Heart
The Tree of Life
The Tarnished Angels
Heat
The Moderns
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Puce Moment





Kenji Fujishima
Vertigo
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
Dawn of the Dead
The Crowd
The Conversation 
Killer of Sheep
Love Streams
Window Water Baby Moving
Mean Streets
Barry Lyndon


Felipe Furtado
Hatari!
Walden: Diaries, Notes & Sketches
Broken Blossoms
Wagon Master
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
Make Way for Tomorrow
Two-Lane Blacktop
Hallejulah
Force of Evil
My Hustler




Jim Gabriel
The Crowd
Citizen Kane
Miracle of Morgan’s Creek
Meet Me In St. Louis
Bigger Than Life
The Wild Bunch
Nashville
All That Jazz
The Dante Quartet
The Tree of Life



CM Gardner
The Magnificent Ambersons
Only Angels Have Wings
Head
Female Trouble
Killer of Sheep
California Split
Nashville
The King of Comedy
Duck Amuck
Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story


Sean Gilman
Fort Apache
Ruggles of Red Gap
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
Night of the Hunter
Slacker
Two Lane Blacktop
Do The Right Thing
The New World
Dead Man
High School


Robert Greene
Welfare/The Store
Love Streams
Salesman
3 Women
Frownland
Manhattan Murder Mystery/Stardust Memories
Imitation of Life
Miami Vice
Portrait of Jason
As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty


Tina Hassania
Love Streams
Do The Right Thing
The Shining
To Be Or Not To Be
Meshes of the Afternoon
Badlands
His Girl Friday
Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans
You've Got Mail
The Big Lebowski


Roderick Heath
Foolish Wives
The Seventh Victim
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome/Lucifer Rising
Hell To Eternity
The Hustler
Confessions of an Opium Eater
Marnie
The Color Purple
Kundun



Tony G. Huang
They Live By Night
Notorious
Steamboat Bill, Jr.
The Shop Around The Corner
The Last Detail
Rebel Without A Cause
Wind Across The Everglades
To Have and Have Not
Citizen Kane
Days of Heaven



Tucker Johnson
Apocalypse Now
Citizen Kane
There Will Be Blood
The Godfather
Jaws
Dr. Strangelove
Sweet Smell of Success
Pulp Fiction
Fargo
Zodiac


Alan Jones
"As an English-speaking Canadian, I largely absorbed American culture and entertainment as my own while I grew up. But the older I get, the more alien America seems to me, the more I realize that American myths are not my myths, and the more I realize that America (like any other place in the world) is a weird, special place with its own culture and idiosyncrasies, as well as its own demons. So that might be why my favourite "American films" tend to treat America as a strange and unique place rather than succumbing to the horseshit concept of American exceptionalism or attempting to universalize the American experience. To be honest, there are probably American productions I prefer to some of the movies below, but to me the words "American film" suggest a certain preoccupation with "America," so that's how I've written this list (sorry, Hitch!). Also, I like movies about teens."


Apocalypse Now
The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Beach Blanket Bingo
The Breakfast Club
Chinatown
Do the Right Thing
Once Upon a Time in America
The Last Picture Show
Rebel Without a Cause
The Straight Story




Dan Khan
Dr. Strangelove
Casablanca
The Lady From Shanghai
Killing of a Chinese Bookie
Pulp Fiction
The Searchers
The Royal Tenenbaums
The Tree of Life
Bringing Up Baby
Down By Law




Danny King
Chilly Scenes of Winter
Cop
Fat City
Heaven’s Gate
Keane
Losing Ground
My Son John
The New Centurions
Pride of the Marines
Two Lovers


Ryland Walker Knight
The Awful Truth
His Girl Friday
The Birds
Wanda
Two-Lane Blacktop
A New Leaf
Bless Their Little Hearts
Love Streams
Inland Empire
The Master


Zach Lewis
Dr. Strangelove
Young Mr. Lincoln
North on Evers
Sunrise
The Black Book
Kiss Me Deadly
The Clock
The Addiction
Nothing But A Man
The Lusty Men




Mark Lukenbill
Two Lane Blacktop
Killer of Sheep
All that Heaven Allows
Sullivan's Travels
Paper Moon
The Night of the Hunter
The Long Goodbye
Mikey and Nicky
Elephant
Two Lovers




Lucas Mangum
Alien/Clockwork Orange
American Beauty
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Pulp Fiction
Raging Bull
O, Brother Where Art Thou?
Big Trouble In Little China
Jaws
Terminator 2
Blade Runner



Calum Marsh
To Be or Not to Be
Ruggles of Red Gap
The Thin Man
The Palm Beach Story
Ball of Fire
Bitter Victory
Los Angeles Plays Itself
The Sweet Smell of Success
California Split
Ms. 45
Phantom 11: Barry Lyndon


Jake Mulligan
The Age of Innocence
The Best Years of Our Lives
Blow Out
It's Always Fair Weather
Jungle Fever
Monkey Business
Patty Hearst
Rolling Thunder
Unfaithfully Yours
You Only Live Once


Vikram Murthi
Double Indemnity
Night of the Hunter
Taxi Driver
2001: A Space Odyssey
Chinatown
Blue Collar
Something Wild
Blue Velvet
Pulp Fiction
Zodiac



Nick Newman
City Girl
You Only Live Once
Bigger Than Life
Rio Bravo
Nothing But a Man
Zapruder Film of the Kennedy Assassination
Days of Heaven
After Hours
Pulp Fiction
Inland Empire


Max B. O'Connell
Raging Bull
Vertigo
Manhattan
E.T.
Citizen Kane
On The Waterfront
There Will Be Blood
2001: A Space Odyssey
The Lady Eve
City Lights




John M. Oursler
Imitation of Life
King of Comedy
Nashville
The Exorcist
Opening Night
Safe
Mulholland Dr.
Cabaret
The Master
All About Eve



Michael Pattison
The French Connection
Singin' In The Rain
Deseret
Chinatown
North By Northwest
Rope
Southern Comfort
Blue Velvet
Die Hard
Heat


Cain Rodriguez
"I made this list to be representative of the American cinematic culture/landscape so I limited this list to American-directed films. These are films I love but not necessarily my favorites, this is a list I would give to someone who wanted to understand American culture"

The Godfather
12 Angry Men
All The President's Men
The Killing
Days of Heaven
Die Hard
Raising Arizona
Boogie Nights
Halloween



Bill Ryan
Targets
She Wore A Yellow Ribbon
The Exorcist
The Friends of Eddie Coyle
Glengarry Glen Ross
Some Came Running
A Serious Man
In Harm's Way
This is Spinal Tap
The Shooting


Kristen Sales
The General
Young Mr. Lincoln
Citizen Kane
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Imitation of Life
The Wild Bunch
The Godfather
Nashville
Days of Heaven
Do The Right Thing


Michael Sicinski
Mothlight
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
2001: A Space Odyssey
Vertigo
What The Water Said Nos. 4-6
Imitation of Life
Kiss Me Deadly
Do The Right Thing
Side/Walk/Shuttle
Killer of Sheep




Michelle Siracusa
3:10 To Yuma
The New World
Sorcerer
Near Dark
Moonrise Kingdom
Hugo
The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
Rosemary's Baby
West Side Story
Wall*E


Andrew Skelton
The Gold Rush
My Darling Clementine
Only Angels Have Wings
Fury
In A Lonely Place
The Heartbreak Kid
Targets
Pickup on South Street
Singin' in the Rain
Safe



Justine A. Smith
Catch-22
The Awful Truth
Laura
Lost Highway
Eyes Wide Shut
Cluny Brown
Baby Doll
Some Like It Hot
The Searchers
Window Water Baby Moving




Colin Stacy
City Lights
Trouble in Paradise
The Apartment 
The Birds
His Girl Friday
Chinatown
Grey Gardens
Killer of Sheep
Eraserhead
Boogie Nights



Andreas Stoehr
The Big Parade 
The Scarlet Empress 
Bride of Frankenstein 
Meshes of the Afternoon 
Johnny Guitar 
All That Heaven Allows 
All My Life 
Nashville 
RoboCop 
Mulholland Dr. 




Tanner Tafelski
Bad Lieutenant 
How Green Was My Valley 
Notorious 
Dead Man 
The Thin Red Line 
Eraserhead 
3:10 to Yuma 
Naked Lunch 
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie 
Landscape Suicide




Scout Tafoya
The New World
Punishment Park
Man In The Wilderness/The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
Leviathan
Killer of Sheep
Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia
Dawn of the Dead
Morocco
Love Streams
North By Northwest




Brian Tallerico
The Gold Rush
Fargo
Jaws
Zodiac
Night of the Hunter
The Searchers
Singin' in the Rain
Touch of Evil
The Tree of Life
Vertigo




Irina Trocan
The Long Goodbye
Anatomy of a Murder
High School
Rio Bravo
Sunset Boulevard
High Plains Drifter
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
Design for Living
Stemple Pass
David Holzman’s Diary
Phantom 11. Barry Lyndon


Kyle Turner
Bringing Up Baby
Angels in America
Clue
Stranger Than Fiction
Paper Moon
The Silence of the Lambs
Mildred Pierce 
Design for Living
Fantasia
Frances Ha




Sean Van Deuren
My Dinner With Andre
Frances Ha
Badlands
Zodiac
Hannah and Her Sisters
All The President’s Men
Eyes Wide Shut
Singing In The Rain
Raging Bull
Punch-Drunk Love



Neil Young
American Graffiti 
Punch-Drunk Love
The Fog
Nashville
Casting A Glance
The Long Goodbye
Don't Look Back
The Elephant Man
Badlands
The Game