With a good 100 years of cinema in the books, we take a look back at some of the most influential and ambitious movies in history.

15 Milestones of Film History

Movies are an integral part of my life. Even while I’m writing these features, it’s likely there’s a movie running on my TV in the background.
I can’t even count how many different movies I’ve watched in my life but it might actually come close to a thousand.
Some of them good, a lot of them not so much, but only a few have risen above their peers to become something everyone aspires to be. I’m talking about movies that have driven innovation and defined their era.
These are fifteen defining entries in film history. No ranking, just fifteen movies that elevated films to new heights in terms of technology, story or art.


Avatar (2009)

Probably not the most original script in history, as it is basically Pocahontas in space. But Avatar has pushed the envelope in cinematography by introducing new motion and facial-capture technology to bring the Na’vi, Pandora’s alien species, to life. Paired with a new approach to Stereoscopic-3D, this Sci-Fi movie quickly became the highest grossing film of all time. With at least three sequels on the way, David Cameron will surely break more records in the future.


Metropolis (1927)

Released in 1927, this dystopian Sci-Fi drama can only be described as followed:
A Masterpiece.
Visually impressive, not just for it’s time but even 30 years later, with visual effects that no one today would know how to create, dealing with a story about class-warfare in a cyberpunk inspired city, Metropolis is a story for the masses. Actually using the technological disadvantages of it’s time to create an impressive atmosphere, ranging from dark and uneasy in the underground factories to the bright and golden cityscape of the rich and powerful, the movie tells the story of a young woman as a symbol of hope for the working class. After losing a lot of the original movie nearly 50 years ago, it was only in 2010 that the film was stitched back together from an old copy out of Argentina.


Citizen Kane (1941)

Wildly considered to be the best movie of all time, Orson Welles’ 1941 Citizen Kane was everything but a success at it’s time. While receiving good overall reviews, the film flopped at the box office. Only after a 1956 screening at a New York film-festival, the movie became noticed the way we see it now, as one of the most important entries in film history. Using new ways of cinematography, with camera-angles and prosthetic make-up actually influencing the structure of the story, Citizen Kane tells the story of Charles Foster Kane through the eyes of a reporter by the name of Jerry Thompson.
Following him, interviewing and talking to people in Kane’s life, the audience learns about this mysterious man at the same time as Thompson does.
A brillant soundtrack by Bernard Herrmann and Orson Welles in a stellar performance as Kane himself make this a must-see for film-fans all around the world.


Toy Story (1995)

The first feature-length CG movie sounds like a bold move, but it helped to put one of the greatest groups of filmmakers on the map: Pixar.
Whether you laughed or cried, you’re old or young, Toy Story is so much more than just a kids movie. While being cute and lighthearted for a younger audience, it is an actual coming-of-age drama for everyone else. Though the rise of animated movies provided a market for cheap flicks aimed at kids, the rise of Pixar was worth it, as most of their movies quickly became classics over time.


The Matrix (1999)

Disguised as a cyberpunk/sci-fi/post-apocalyptic action film, The Matrix tackles some of humanity’s most complex philosophical questions. Dealing with themes about virtual-reality, free-will and the meaning of humanity itself, it elevates itself over it’s own genre. With an incredible cast and script, and groundbreaking visual-effects, this movie introduced the audience to new ways of storytelling and character development. And it made one thing mainstream over night: the Bullet-Time effect.


There are obviously a lot more movies over the past century that had a great impact on the industry, so here are just a few more you should definitely watch:

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (1999-2003)

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

The Great Dictator (1940)

Alien (1979)

Finding Nemo (2003)

Gravity (2013)

King Kong (1933)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Tron (1982) and Tron: Legacy (2010)

Back to the Future II (1989)


There are still a lot more movies I could mention, but we leave it at this for now. If you want more suggestions, just write a comment, also let us know about your favorite movies if you like.

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Beitragsbild: Kevin Wendlandt