AFI's Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres Revealed

June 18, 2008

AFI's Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres

The American Film Institute has just announced a new set of lists: the top 10 films in 10 classic genres. Ranging from science fiction to romantic comedy to sports to western to gangster, the AFI has honored another 100 great films. A jury of 1,500 film artists, critics and historians helped choose the list of honorees that can be found below. AFI President and CEO Bob Gazzale said: "This year's celebration of the art form is ten times the fun for movie lovers. And another chapter in our mandate to drive audiences to discover and rediscover the classics of American film." Did they get it right this time around? Check out the full list below and let us know what you think of AFI's choices this year!

The earliest entry on the list is The Thief of Bagdad (Fantasy) from 1924 and the most recent is Finding Nemo (Animation) from 2003. Alfred Hitchcock is the most represented director with 4 films; Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick follow with 3 entries each. James Stewart is the most represented actor with 6 entries; Tom Hanks is next with 4; Warren Beatty, Robert De Niro, Gene Hackman, James Earl Jones, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino and John Wayne all have 3 films each. Diane Keaton is the most represented actress with 4 films on the list; Grace Kelly and Talia Shire each have 3 entries.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs#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)

The Wizard of Oz#1 - The Wizard of Oz (1939)
#2 - 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)

The Godfather#1 - The Godfather (1972)
#2 - Goodfellas (1990)
#3 - The Godfather: Part II (1974)
#4 - White Heat (1949)
#5 - Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
#6 - Scarface: The Shame of a Nation (1932)
#7 - Pulp Fiction (1994)
#8 - The Public Enemy (1931)
#9 - Little Caesar (1930)
#10 - Scarface (1983)

2001: A Space Odyssey#1 - 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
#2 - Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (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)

The Searchers#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)

Raging Bull#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)

Vertigo#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)

City Lights#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)

To Kill a Mockingbird#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 (1988)
#10 - Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

Lawrence of Arabia#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)

You can find movie information, clips, and much more over on AFI's official website. Thoughts?

Find more posts: Discuss, Movie News



Shrek?? Finding Nemo?? What? Where's Monsters Inc?

angryKid on Jun 18, 2008


The animation side is heavily favoring Disney. But why the hell did they leave out "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" The first and only time M. Mouse met B. Bunny on screen. Not to mention a perfect blend of live action & animation. I also think that LOTR:Fellowship should be pulled from the fantasy list, and the whole series moved to EPIC. Taking its place on the fantasy list should be Raiders of the Lost Ark! But that's just me. Your mileage may vary...

jason_md2020 on Jun 18, 2008


Sci Fi list is spot on....i can't help feeling Akira should be there, as one of the best manga films ever.. should be in the animation, or maybe sci-fi. No action list though?

chrisUK on Jun 18, 2008


Vertigo is the #1 Mystery movie? I'm happy. Carry on.

Tom Brazelton on Jun 18, 2008


I'm happy they included Harvey and Cat Ballou. Don't know about The Searchers being #1 western, however. I think that movie is very good and very over-rated. I prefer Red River over Searchers personally. And of course Blade Runner should be nearer the top, Star Wars being closer to Fantasy than sci-fi.

kitano0 on Jun 18, 2008


I think they missed on some of the animation movies. Where is Ratatouille, The Incredibles, or any of the classic Japanese anime movies? Ghost in the Shell, Ninja Scroll, Akira, Princess Mononoke?

Hutch on Jun 18, 2008


Where is The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly in Westerns? WTF

Hutch on Jun 18, 2008


Why is the worst of the 3 LOTR movies in the fantasy list? Fellowship of the Ring cannot compare to the other two movies, especially Return of the King. Also, I know it was hard to do the SciFi list, but leaving Empire Strikes Back off in favor of Back to the Future? Please, that is just wrong.

Hutch on Jun 18, 2008


im slowly losing faith in these AFI lists. 9 times out of 10 they tend to go with the really old classics rather than incorporate contemporary movies. i mean, this list is an exception to that rule but whenever they make lists they always have the same 3 movies on the list: casablanca, citizen kane, wizard of oz. theres nothing wrong with these movies but we already know they're good so show us something different, AFI

mos on Jun 18, 2008


To answer your question Hutch about Japanese Anime, AFI stands for American Film Institute, so no foreign films would be considered for this list.

Ash on Jun 18, 2008


My problem with the list is the inclusion of sub-genres like courtroom dramas and the exclusion of major genres like horror and action. Not sure if AFI has already covered these genres with their own list previously. If so, then may explain the omission.

Ash on Jun 18, 2008


American Film Institute I thought the same thing about the Leone westerns but they were made under Italy.

don john on Jun 18, 2008


courtroom dramas and no action or horror? give me a break and can we get a few younger generation people on the panel PLEASE!! over half the movies are from the 40's and 50's NOT a good representaation of films from the past twenty or so years at all!

thejugfather on Jun 18, 2008


there is no way that shrek should be on the animated list. It was a good movie, but there are SO many more animated movies that are better...starting with all the pixar ones (except for cars)

samiswacky on Jun 18, 2008


Does anyone really consider Jerry Maguire a sports movie? Yes he is a sports agent, but the only sports scene is at the end when Cuba catches a TD pass and does a 10 minute celebration dance. Field of Dreams I would consider more of a sports movie and they threw that in fantasy. Move Jerry Maguire to romantic comedy and Field of Dreams to sports. Or keep Field of Dreams in fantasy and add Remember the Titans to sports.

Ash on Jun 18, 2008


er....why isnt LOTR in the epic section? Like, maybe Alex can explain this, but what exactly makes a movie EPIC??? because personally? The LOTR movies are the standard for epic movies now. And why isnt Blade Runner nearer the list in sci-fi, or empire strikes back even up there? They're rewarding the originals too much, while not considering the sequels. very inappropriate. and i agree with the general sentiment that action and horror should have been kept in. SO many great action movies have defined our consciousness. Yipee-Kay-Yay MotherF*****S lol

Reza on Jun 18, 2008


I think there was some sort of transcription error on the Epic list, because "Titanic" sucked.

Mark P on Jun 18, 2008


I was never a fan of these AFI list. Most of the older (40's and older) haven't really stood the test of time.

Jonah on Jun 18, 2008


My picks would include The Untouchables as a top 10 gangster flick, Gladiator in the epics, and leave out Jerry McGuire and The Pride of the Yankees in the sports movie list. Add Remember the Titans, Rudy or Seabiscuit in their place.

Julie on Jun 18, 2008


I can't find a major fault with any of these lists. Although I haven't seen a single one of the animated films made beofre the 90's. Thankfully I escaped my childhood without being subjected to any substantial amount of Disney lameness. 🙂 I will say I've always thought Goodfellas was overrated though. It wasn't even the best gangster film of that year! The Coen Brothers film, Miller's Crossing, was a bit better in my book. Oh, and maybe drop A Few Good Men down a few notches on the Courtroom Drama list. Maybe.

kevjohn on Jun 18, 2008


how old are the judges and when did they stop watching movies? the Animation/Disney category is horrible.

casey on Jun 18, 2008


All around solid list but I can't help but wonder how it would look. It if we felt a much younger perspective come through in the selection process, not only have the great classic films but also. Incorporating some worthy contemporary films that are less celebrated.

Andee23 on Jun 18, 2008


"Where is The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly in Westerns? WTF" No Sergio Leone films at all WTF?! Once Upon a Time in the West and/or The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly really deserves to be under westerns.

Staatz on Jun 18, 2008


I'm sorry but no Hayao Miyazaki Movies in the Animation, super lame!

A.D.A. on Jun 18, 2008


Frankly I'd love to say that I'm disappointed that the AFI has given ridiculously high bonus points for history and ignored looking at the movies solely as individual, unique pieces of art. With all due respect, the top three animated films of all time are not in the first five Disney ever made. (If you include Fantasia, four of the first five are in the top 5). Beauty and The Beast is the ONLY animated feature ever nominated as a Best Picture, and AFI's historically historical list won't let that in the top 5? I confess myself disenchanted. Also, Shrek being the only non-Disney animated film seems a little silly. What about some of the Don Bluth films? Not all of them are good, but An American Tail is excellent. Oh well.

Ryan M. on Jun 18, 2008


Again AFI = AMERICAN Film Institute. The A in AFI stands for American. Leone's spaghetti westerns, although released here, were Italian. I'm sure if the is an IFI, and they put out a list, the Dollars trilogy would be 1,2, and 3. Miyazaki's anime were Japanese. Again his work would be on the list of animation if the JFI wants to put out a list.

Ash on Jun 18, 2008


"Again AFI = AMERICAN Film Institute. The A in AFI stands for American. Leone's spaghetti westerns, although released here, were Italian. I'm sure if the is an IFI, and they put out a list, the Dollars trilogy would be 1,2, and 3. Miyazaki's anime were Japanese. Again his work would be on the list of animation if the JFI wants to put out a list." Really.... Because LOTR is on the list for fantasy and it was shot by a director from New Zealand, with a New Zealand based effects shop, NZ extras and so on... So shouldn't that be on the NZFI's list and not this one?

jason_md2020 on Jun 18, 2008


Couldn't LOTR be listed under EPIC, (should be #1 any the list not oz)

dac_fan on Jun 18, 2008


@jason_md2020 LOTR was made by a American Studio. Other than godfather 2 AFI really seems to have something againest sequals Next year there probably have ten "new" genras that will have action, horror, maybe even super hero, then they would proceed to screw that up by putting old/crappy films on there too.

rodan8812 on Jun 18, 2008


Close Encounters of the Third Kind should have been on the Sci-Fi list. I would have prefered to see The Iron Giant or any remaining Pixar feature (other than Cars) on the Animation list in lieu of Shrek. I guess Shrek was there because of the Cultural Impact and Popularity Over Time criteria. Beauty and the Beast should have placed higher. It was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, wasn't it? And I'm not too fond seeing Miracle on 34th Street (1947) on the Fantasy list. Good movie -- no doubt about it -- but the only fantasy element in that movie is that Santa Claus is supposedly a real man. Besides that, there's not many elements of the fantasy genre present. I guess it fits the criteria for a fantasy film, but it just doesn't do it enough for me. Excalibur (1981) or Mary Poppins (1964) might have been worthy films to include on that list instead. ---------------- Here are the criteria they used in their selection process: (Taken from, but it's probably up on the AFI website too) *FEATURE-LENGTH FICTION FILMS >>Narrative format, typically over 60 minutes in length. *AMERICAN FILM >>English-language film with significant creative and/or production elements from the United States. Additionally, only films released before January 1, 2008 will be considered. *ANIMATED >>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. *FANTASY >>AFI defines "fantasy" as a genre where live-action characters inhabit imagined settings and/or experience situations that transcend the rules of the natural world. *GANGSTER >>AFI defines the "gangster film" as a genre that centers on organized crime or maverick criminals in a twentieth century setting. *SCIENCE FICTION >>AFI defines "science fiction" as a genre that marries a scientific or technological premise with imaginative speculation. *WESTERN >>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. *SPORTS >>AFI defines "sports" as a genre of films with protagonists who play athletics or other games of competition. *MYSTERY >>AFI defines "mystery" as a genre that revolves around the solution of a crime. *ROMANTIC COMEDY >>AFI defines "romantic comedy" as a genre in which the development of a romance leads to comic situations. *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. *EPIC >>AFI defines "epic" as a genre of large-scale films set in a cinematic interpretation of the past. Their scope defies and demands-either in the mode in which they are presented or their range across time. *CRITICAL RECOGNITION >>Formal commendation in print, television and digital media. *MAJOR AWARD WINNER >>Recognition from competitive events including awards from peer groups, critics, guilds and major film festivals. *POPULARITY OVER TIME >>Including success at the box office, television and cable airing, and DVD/VHS sales and rentals. *HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE >>A film's mark on the history of moving images through visionary narrative devices, technical innovation, or other ground breaking achievements. *CULTURAL IMPACT >>A film's mark on American society in matters of style and substance.

Richard Dreyfuss on Jun 18, 2008


Spiderman had more fantasy than miracle on 34 street.

rodan8812 on Jun 18, 2008


if u watched the afi's top 100 movies list, then last night's show was more or less predictable.. t ANIMATION --why no TOY STORY 2?!?! it's much better than finding nemo or shrek FANTASY -- FIELD OF DREAMS should deff be considered a sports movie and not a fantasy film, they should hav added GHOSTBUSTERS!!! also how could they not put HARRY POTTER or WILLY WONKA but they can put BIG and GROUNDHOG DAY?!?!? (even tho big is a great movie) SCI-FI --what the hell!! CLOSE ENCOUNTERS should be on there, not the soon to be remade the DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL..other than that it was the most accurate of the lists SPORTS --wat about the NATURAL and EIGHT MEN OUT?!?! also BULL DURHAM should be ahead of hoosiers WESTERNS --for a movie i never even heard of, the SEARCHERS showed up at #12 on the top 100 list and now #1 on the greatest westerns, which is complete b.s. they really over looked the good, the bad, and the ugly and how the west was won, that's my only major complaint GANGSTER --almost perfect, except i think ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA should be added to it MYSTERY --idk much about mysteries, so i cant comment on this one, but i would say that REAR WINDOW was the greatest mystery i saw ROMANTIC COMEDIES --i can see the afi not giving THERES SOMETHING ABOUT MARY any love, but no PRETTY WOMAN? c'mon! COURTROOM DRAMAS --pretty good list, but again, i only know the top five films on the list, so i cant comment EPIC --SAVING PRIVATE RYAN is the greatest war movie ever, but what makes that an epic and not PLATOON or APOCALYPSE NOW??? overall a good list, but what would CASABLANCA be considered, bcuz it should be on atleast one of these lists, like an epic

LeeMan on Jun 18, 2008


I don't know why everyone is tearing on Finding Nemo. It was an excellent piece of animation. Other than the story, the water effects are unbelievible. Jerry Macgurie, not that great Awesome that they reconize Terminator 2 Im the only Sci-Fi fan in the world that hates Blade Runner. Other than that, the list is actually pretty good

L on Jun 18, 2008


I hesitate to say this for fear of some people mistaking it for ignorance, but it seems the AFI has mistaken "first" and "classic" for "best". Additionally, how can "Courtroom Drama" get its own list and there be no "Psychological Thriller?" Much less an "Action" or "Suspense." I can understand how, if cultural impact plays a role in selection, newer films have not had the time to garner such acheivements. But where would a masterpiece like No Country for Old Men fall? In Gangster because it has "a maverick criminal in a twentieth century setting" or in Mystery as it "revolves around the solution of a crime." I hate to say it, but I think this list isn't dynamic enough to handle the gray areas where brilliance and creative genious sometimes fall. And allowing popularity over time to play a role leaves too much in the hands of the average moviegoer, a person who would choose Scary Movie 6 over the upcoming Benjamin Button.

Collin on Jun 18, 2008


Is it just me or does anyone else think that 2001 is way overrated?

Digs on Jun 19, 2008


Actually, I think they messed up the Sci-Fi section a bit by including "Back to the Future." Besides the subject of time travel as its theme, most of the movie was a comedy and much of the science in it was fantastical, an obvious example would be the 'flux capacitor.' I think Back to the Future would have been more appropriate in the Comedy genre - although I would not have made it a top ten of all time Comedies. Plus, no "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" leaves the list fractured as well. In the Courtroom Drama genre, why don't they have the excellent "Inherit The Wind" starring Spencer Tracy. Not only was it a fine film with an excellent supporting cast but it dealt with a historical event. It could have easily replaced "A Few Good Men" on my list. In the Western genre, I can only scratch my head in true wonderment as to why the following did not make the list: "The Outlaw Josey Wales" "Pale Rider" "High Plains Drifter" True these all star Clint Eastwood and he does have his Unforgiven already on the list but these are damn fine films and prolly would have easily made the list of each were a top fifteen. For the Sports films that made the AFI's top ten, I have beef with two of the films that made the list. First, "Caddyshack" is one of my all-time favorite films, period. But I wouldn't necessarily categorize it as a sports film. The AFI should have had a full blown COMEDY genre and place Caddyshack high upon that top ten list! Also, Jerry Maguire was not THAT good although there were catch phrases and funny scenes that have made it into pop culture nevertheless. Now for a true glorious sports film, "The Natural" starring Robert Redford, Robert Duval and Glen Close should be on the top ten list for Sports films without question! Also, as another commenter wrote: "Eight Men Out" should also be considered if not for the story and the fact that the ensemble cast was so deep! Perhaps, the AFI based there list solely on the numbers.

Dave on Jun 19, 2008


I knew I forgot something... What top ten list for Sci-Fi would be complete with the original "Planet of the Apes." The screenplay was it was co-penned by Rod Serling for crying out loud! 😉

Dave on Jun 19, 2008


Pigeon holes are a pain. We have room for Romantic Comedies, but other comedies have to shoehorned into the other genres. Cat Balou categorised a western, but no room for Blazing Saddles. Back to the Future foced into Sci-Fi (although having recently rewatched it was amazed how well it stands up and so deserves recognition as it stands the test of time better than most 80s films) But no room at all for Shawshank Redemption Good, Bad and Ugly One flew over the Cuckoo's nest Casablanca Sunset Blvd

Warren on Jun 19, 2008


No true western fan would put Cat Ballou in the top 100. I agree with Dave, Hutch and others that many westerns were overlooked. One of my favorite, "HOMBRE" is a classic. Newman was terrific and the storyline unique for its day.

Bill on Jun 19, 2008


Oh yeah btw... High Fidelity would have made my list for romantic comedy. But #28 is right about no other comedies being on any list or not getting their own. I'm also suprised they didn't have a war movie catagory either.

jason_md2020 on Jun 19, 2008


Why is it so hard to resist reading lists like these? I always know they are going to disappoint me, but i just can't stop myself. I think i would agree with it much more if i was 80+ years old. I enjoy classic movies as much as the next guy, but its annoying when there are lists with only 2 or 3 movies made after 1980. It's like the AFI is trying say that everyone making movies anymore sucks. Thats just my feelings though.

Butters on Jun 19, 2008


WESTERN - out with "McCabe & Mrs. Miller, in with "Man Who Shot Libert Valance"....COURTROOM DRAMA - bye bye "A Cry In The Dark", hello "Inherit The Wind" (a top 5).....SPORTS - gone with "Caddyshack" (sports is secondary) welcome "The Natural".....MYSTERY - drop "The Ususal Suspects" to #11 and raise "Secret Window"......GANGSTER - see ya "Scarface '32" and please recognize "New Jack City".....EPIC - it's simple: "Gahndi" wayyyy above "Titanic"

Joe Chester on Nov 28, 2008


What about good old Drama? What about musicals? Is it possible you forgot legends like Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Anne Miller, etc in the Musical Genre? Say Funny Girl, The Way We were, Summer Stock, Showboat, Moulin Rouge, Chicago? What about Ingrid Bergman? Mery Streep? Bettie Davis, Joan Crawford? Casablanca? Sophie's choice? Now Voyager?

Alfredo on Nov 28, 2008


AFI screwed up on the Westerns...looks like their staff is not totally in touch with the rest of the world. Westerns that should have made it : The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly; Once Upon a Time in the West.... remove Cat Ballou and McCabe & Mrs. Miller. The order is not what I would have picked either...The Searchers as number 1...give me a break....the reviewers at AFI must be over-the-hill. #

Pale Rider on Dec 2, 2008


Some noteworthy sports flicks that have a right to be on the list: The Natural Seabiscuit Million Dollar Baby Miracle Brian's Song Chariots of Fire The Hustler Slapshot Tin Cup National Velvet Happy Gilmour - (Hey..if you are going to put Caddyshack as one of the greatest sports movies ever, might as well include Gilmour too for at least a mention as it is on the same level).

shoeless joe on Dec 4, 2008


Who Framed Roger Rabbit? should have been number 1 on fantasy because it was the first time people really saw live action blended with a toon. Imagine if there was a sequel featuring the Dreamworks characters and the Pixar characters on the same screen. Roger Rabbit was 10 x more fantasy than Harvey and Theif of Baghdad. Fantasia shouldn't bee in animation as it is simmilar to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (live action hybrid). In it's place I would have Beavis and Butthead Do America.

Jack on Jun 6, 2009

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