AFI's 10 Top 10

Last updated

AFI 100 Years... series
1998 100 Movies
1999 100 Stars
2000 100 Laughs
2001 100 Thrills
2002 100 Passions
2003 100 Heroes & Villains
2004 100 Songs
2005 100 Movie Quotes
2005 25 Scores
2006 100 Cheers
2006 25 Musicals
2007 100 Movies (Updated)
2008 AFI's 10 Top 10

AFI's 10 Top 10 honors the ten greatest US films in ten classic film genres. [1] Presented by the American Film Institute (AFI), the lists were unveiled on a television special broadcast by CBS on June 17, 2008. In the special, various actors and directors, among them Clint Eastwood, Quentin Tarantino, Kirk Douglas, Harrison Ford, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Roman Polanski, and Jane Fonda, discussed their admiration for and personal contributions to the films cited.


The entire list of 500 nominated films is available on the American Film Institute website.

To date, this is the final program in AFI's countdown specials. [2]


AFI defines "animated" as a genre in which the film's images are primarily created by computer or hand and the characters are voiced by actors.

1 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1937
2 Pinocchio 1940
3 Bambi 1942
4 The Lion King 1994
5 Fantasia 1940
6 Toy Story 1995
7 Beauty and the Beast 1991
8 Shrek 2001
9 Cinderella 1950
10 Finding Nemo 2003

Courtroom drama

AFI defines "courtroom drama" as a genre of film in which a system of justice plays a critical role in the film's narrative.

1 To Kill a Mockingbird 1962
2 12 Angry Men 1957
3 Kramer vs. Kramer 1979
4 The Verdict 1982
5 A Few Good Men 1992
6 Witness for the Prosecution 1957
7 Anatomy of a Murder 1959
8 In Cold Blood 1967
9 A Cry in the Dark (Evil Angels) 1988
10 Judgment at Nuremberg 1961


AFI defines "epic" as a genre of large-scale films set in a cinematic interpretation of the past.

1 Lawrence of Arabia 1962
2 Ben-Hur 1959
3 Schindler's List 1993
4 Gone with the Wind 1939
5 Spartacus 1960
6 Titanic 1997
7 All Quiet on the Western Front 1930
8 Saving Private Ryan 1998
9 Reds 1981
10 The Ten Commandments 1956


AFI defines "fantasy" as a genre in which live-action characters inhabit imagined settings and/or experience situations that transcend the rules of the natural world.

1 The Wizard of Oz 1939
2 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 2001
3 It's a Wonderful Life 1946
4 King Kong 1933
5 Miracle on 34th Street 1947
6 Field of Dreams 1989
7 Harvey 1950
8 Groundhog Day 1993
9 The Thief of Bagdad 1924
10 Big 1988


AFI defines the "gangster film" as a genre that centers on organized crime or maverick criminals in a modern setting.

1 The Godfather 1972
2 Goodfellas 1990
3 The Godfather Part II 1974
4 White Heat 1949
5 Bonnie and Clyde 1967
6 Scarface 1932
7 Pulp Fiction 1994
8 The Public Enemy 1931
9 Little Caesar 1931
10 Scarface 1983


AFI defines "mystery" as a genre that revolves around the solution of a crime.

1 Vertigo 1958
2 Chinatown 1974
3 Rear Window 1954
4 Laura 1944
5 The Third Man 1949
6 The Maltese Falcon 1941
7 North by Northwest 1959
8 Blue Velvet 1986
9 Dial M for Murder 1954
10 The Usual Suspects 1995

Romantic comedy

AFI defines "romantic comedy" as a genre in which the development of a romance leads to comic situations.

1 City Lights 1931
2 Annie Hall 1977
3 It Happened One Night 1934
4 Roman Holiday 1953
5 The Philadelphia Story 1940
6 When Harry Met Sally... 1989
7 Adam's Rib 1949
8 Moonstruck 1987
9 Harold and Maude 1971
10 Sleepless in Seattle 1993

Science fiction

AFI defines "science fiction" as a genre that marries a scientific or technological premise with imaginative speculation.

1 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968
2 Star Wars 1977
3 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 1982
4 A Clockwork Orange 1971
5 The Day the Earth Stood Still 1951
6 Blade Runner 1982
7 Alien 1979
8 Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991
9 Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956
10 Back to the Future 1985


AFI defines "sports" as a genre of films with protagonists who play athletics or other games of competition.

1 Raging Bull 1980
2 Rocky 1976
3 The Pride of the Yankees 1942
4 Hoosiers 1986
5 Bull Durham 1988
6 The Hustler 1961
7 Caddyshack 1980
8 Breaking Away 1979
9 National Velvet 1944
10 Jerry Maguire 1996


AFI defines "western" as a genre of films set in the American West that embodies the spirit, the struggle, and the demise of the new frontier.

1 The Searchers 1956
2 High Noon 1952
3 Shane 1953
4 Unforgiven 1992
5 Red River 1948
6 The Wild Bunch 1969
7 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 1969
8 McCabe & Mrs. Miller 1971
9 Stagecoach 1939
10 Cat Ballou 1965


Related Research Articles

Film genre Classification of films based on similarities in narrative elements

A film genre is a motion-picture category based on similarities either in the narrative elements or in the emotional response to the film. Most theories of film genre borrow from literary-genre criticism. Each film genre is associated with "conventions, iconography, settings, narratives, characters and actors". Standard genre characters vary according to the film genre; for film noir, for example, standard characters include the femme fatale and the "hardboiled" detective; a Western film may portray the schoolmarm and the gunfighter. Some actors acquire a reputation linked to a single genre, such as John Wayne or Fred Astaire. A film's genre will influence the use of filmmaking styles and techniques, such as the use of flashbacks and low-key lighting in film noir, tight framing in horror films, fonts that look like rough-hewn logs for the titles of Western films, or the "scrawled" title-font and credits of Se7en (1995), a film about a serial killer. As well, genres have associated film-scoring conventions, such as lush string orchestras for romantic melodramas or electronic music for science-fiction films.

<i>Harold and Maude</i> 1971 American romantic dark comedy directed by Hal Ashby

Harold and Maude is a 1971 American coming-of-age black comedy drama film directed by Hal Ashby and released by Paramount Pictures. It incorporates elements of dark humor and existentialist drama. The plot revolves around the exploits of a young man named Harold Chasen who is intrigued with death. Harold drifts away from the life that his detached mother prescribes for him, and slowly develops a strong friendship, and eventually a romantic relationship, with a 79-year-old woman named Maude who teaches Harold about living life to its fullest and that life is the most precious gift of all.

<i>Rocky</i> 1976 American sports drama directed by John G. Avildsen

Rocky is a 1976 American sports drama film directed by John G. Avildsen, written by and starring Sylvester Stallone. It tells the rags to riches American Dream story of Rocky Balboa, an uneducated, kind-hearted working class Italian-American boxer, working as a debt collector for a loan shark in the slums of Philadelphia. Rocky, a small-time club fighter, gets a shot at the world heavyweight championship. The film also stars Talia Shire as Adrian, Burt Young as Adrian's brother Paulie, Burgess Meredith as Rocky's trainer Mickey Goldmill, and Carl Weathers as the reigning champion, Apollo Creed.

Legal drama subgenre of dramatic fiction

A legal drama, or a courtroom drama, is a genre of film and television that generally focuses on narratives regarding legal practice and the justice system. The American Film Institute (AFI) defines "courtroom drama" as a genre of film in which a system of justice plays a critical role in the film's narrative. Legal dramas have also followed the lives of the fictional attorneys, defendants, plaintiffs, or other persons related to the practice of law present in television show or film. Legal drama is distinct from police crime drama or detective fiction, which typically focus on police officers or detectives investigating and solving crimes. The focal point of legal dramas, more often, are events occurring within a courtroom, but may include any phases of legal procedure, such as jury deliberations or work done at law firms. Some legal dramas fictionalize real cases that have been litigated, such as the play-turned-movie, Inherit the Wind, which fictionalized the Scopes Monkey Trial. As a genre, the term "legal drama" is typically applied to television shows and films, whereas legal thrillers typically refer to novels and plays.

<i>Goodfellas</i> 1990 crime film directed by Martin Scorsese

Goodfellas is a 1990 American crime film directed by Martin Scorsese, produced by Irwin Winkler and distributed by Warner Bros. It is an adaptation of the 1985 non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scorsese. The film narrates the rise and fall of mob associate Henry Hill and his friends and family from 1955 to 1980.

<i>The Godfather Part II</i> 1974 film directed by Francis Ford Coppola

The Godfather Part II is a 1974 American epic crime film produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola from the screenplay co-written with Mario Puzo, starring Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, Talia Shire, Morgana King, John Cazale, Mariana Hill, and Lee Strasberg. It is the second installment in The Godfather trilogy. Partially based on Puzo's 1969 novel The Godfather, the film is both sequel and prequel to The Godfather, presenting parallel dramas: one picks up the 1958 story of Michael Corleone (Pacino), the new Don of the Corleone family, protecting the family business in the aftermath of an attempt on his life; the prequel covers the journey of his father, Vito Corleone, from his Sicilian childhood to the founding of his family enterprise in New York City.

<i>Moonstruck</i> 1987 film by Norman Jewison

Moonstruck is a 1987 American romantic comedy film directed by Norman Jewison and written by John Patrick Shanley. It is about a widowed, 37-year-old, Italian-American woman who falls in love with her fiancé's estranged, hot-tempered younger brother.

<i>Field of Dreams</i> 1989 film by Phil Alden Robinson

Field of Dreams is a 1989 American fantasy-drama sports film written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson, adapting W. P. Kinsella's novel Shoeless Joe. It stars Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta and Burt Lancaster in his final film role. It was nominated for three Academy Awards, including for Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.

<i>Jerry Maguire</i> 1996 sports film by Cameron Crowe

Jerry Maguire is a 1996 American romantic drama sports film written, produced, and directed by Cameron Crowe, and stars Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Renée Zellweger. Produced in part by long time Simpsons producer James L. Brooks, it was inspired by sports agent Leigh Steinberg, who acted as technical consultant on the crew. It was released in North American theaters on December 13, 1996, produced by Gracie Films and distributed by TriStar Pictures.

<i>Bull Durham</i> 1988 romantic baseball comedy movie directed by Ron Shelton

Bull Durham is a 1988 American romantic comedy sports film. It is partly based upon the minor-league baseball experiences of writer/director Ron Shelton and depicts the players and fans of the Durham Bulls, a minor-league baseball team in Durham, North Carolina.

The AFI's 100 Years… series is a series of lists and accompanying CBS television specials from 1998 to 2008 in which the American Film Institute celebrated 100 years of the greatest films in American cinema. This list is intended to ignite public interest in classical Hollywood cinema.

Part of the AFI 100 Years... series, AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars is a list of the top 25 male and 25 female greatest screen legends of American film history. The list was unveiled by the American Film Institute on June 15, 1999, in a CBS special hosted by Shirley Temple, with 50 current actors making the presentations.

Part of the AFI 100 Years… series, AFI's 100 Years…100 Passions is a list of the top 100 greatest love stories in American cinema. The list was unveiled by the American Film Institute on June 11, 2002, in a CBS television special hosted by American film and TV actress Candice Bergen.

Part of The American Film Institute, AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes is a list of the top 100 quotations in American cinema. The American Film Institute revealed the list on June 21, 2005, in a three-hour television program on CBS. The program was hosted by actor Pierce Brosnan and had commentary from many Hollywood actors and filmmakers. A jury consisting of 1,500 film artists, critics, and historians selected "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn", spoken by Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in the 1939 American Civil War epic Gone with the Wind, as the most memorable American movie quotation of all time.

<i>The Godfather</i> 1972 film directed by Francis Ford Coppola

The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy, based on Mario Puzo's best-selling novel of the same name. It is the first installment in The Godfather trilogy. The film features an ensemble cast including Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte, and Diane Keaton. The story, spanning from 1945 to 1955, chronicles the Corleone family under patriarch Vito Corleone (Brando), focusing on the transformation of one of his sons, Michael Corleone (Pacino), from reluctant family outsider to ruthless mafia boss.

<i>To Kill a Mockingbird</i> (film) 1962 film by Robert Mulligan

To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1962 American drama film directed by Robert Mulligan. The screenplay by Horton Foote is based on Harper Lee's 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. It stars Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and Mary Badham as Scout. To Kill a Mockingbird marked the film debuts of Robert Duvall, William Windom, and Alice Ghostley.

<i>The Hustler</i> (film) 1961 film by Robert Rossen

The Hustler is a 1961 American CinemaScope drama film directed by Robert Rossen from Walter Tevis's 1959 novel of the same name, adapted for the screen by Rossen and Sidney Carroll. It tells the story of small-time pool hustler "Fast Eddie" Felson and his desire to break into the "major league" of professional hustling and high-stakes wagering by high-rollers that follows it. He throws his raw talent and ambition up against the best player in the country, seeking to best the legendary pool player "Minnesota Fats". After initially losing to Fats and getting involved with unscrupulous manager Bert Gordon, Eddie returns to try again, but only after paying a terrible personal price.

AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes & Villains is a list of the one-hundred greatest screen characters as chosen by the American Film Institute in June 2003. It is part of the AFI 100 Years... series. The list was first presented in a CBS special hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The presentation programme was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Special.

Thriller film Film genre

Thriller film, also known as suspense film or suspense thriller, is a broad film genre that evokes excitement and suspense in the audience. The suspense element found in most films' plots is particularly exploited by the filmmaker in this genre. Tension is created by delaying what the audience sees as inevitable, and is built through situations that are menacing or where escape seems impossible.

Gangster film Film genre

A gangster film or gangster movie is a film belonging to a genre that focuses on gangs and organized crime. It is a subgenre of crime film, that may involve large criminal organizations, or small gangs formed to perform a certain illegal act. The genre is differentiated from Westerns and the gangs of that genre.


  1. "AFI's 10 Top 10". American Film Institute.
  2. CBS Announces "AFI 10 Top 10" to Honor Greatest Films to Air June 2008 - Cinema Spider
  3. AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Film Genres -