Creating a truly great movie that can withstand the test of time is a monumental task. Every year a handful of successful movies emerge that clean up during awards season. However, these movies often fade back into oblivion after a few years and are eventually forgotten entirely.

Only a select few will reach the level of true classic, and the following list comprises 20 masterpieces you need to watch immediately.

1. The Godfather


The greatest mob movie of all time was nominated for eight Academy Awards, seven Golden Globes, several BAFTAs and even a Grammy for Best Original Score. The Godfather follows Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, the future Don of a notorious crime family based in New York. The movie is unique in that it tells the story from the criminal’s point of view.

2. The Shawshank Redemption


Frank Darabont’s awe-inspiring film set in the fictional Shawshank State prison is undoubtedly one of the most stunning examples of filmmaking ever produced. Tim Robbins stars as Andy Dufresne, an innocent man who spends 19 years in prison. Morgan Freeman also gives the performance of a lifetime as a fellow inmate.

3. The Silence of the Lambs


Despite only appearing on screen for 16 minutes, Anthony Hopkins managed to turn The Silence of the Lambs into one of the most terrifying psychological thrillers of all time. His performance as the criminally insane Dr Lecter earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor and played a large role in getting the movie inducted into the National Film Registry.

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey


Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was both harshly criticised and showered with praise after its release in 1968. The movie echoes Kubrick’s typically bland, sterile method of filmmaking and led many to write it off as boring. However, the film is widely revered for its philosophical approach to life and the role of mankind.

5. Blade Runner


Blade Runner is Ridley Scott’s science fiction masterpiece set in a dystopian future that pits man against machine. The film is based on Philip K. Dick’s novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ The film earned a huge cult following and has influenced countless other films, video games and TV shows.

6. Gone With the Wind


Gone With the Wind received ten Academy Awards after its release in 1939. It stars Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh as tempestuous lovers in 19th century America. The film was voted as the most popular film of all time by the American Film Institute and is still the most financially successful film in history after adjusting for inflation.

7. A Streetcar Named Desire


A Streetcar Named Desire is the stunning 1951 film adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ Broadway play of the same name. The movie stars many of the original theatre actors including Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden. It is considered to be one of the greatest American movies of all time.

8. Thelma and Louise


The movie that propelled Brad Pitt to stardom also inspired Tori Amos and Argentinean musician Fito Páez to write hit songs based on its themes. Thelma and Louise tells the story of two friends who lead the FBI on a chase across America after murdering an attempted rapist.

9. Pulp Fiction


Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece stars John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson as two LA mobsters charged with delivering a mysterious briefcase to notorious crime boss Marsellus Wallace played by Ving Rhames. The film’s tight, punchy dialogue is expertly delivered by an A-list cast including Christopher Walken, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman and Tim Roth.

10. The Goonies


The Goonies is possibly the greatest adventure movie of all time and captivated an entire generation of children. The film follows a group of young children who discover a pirate’s treasure map and set out on an adventure in order to save their homes from demolition.

11. The Great Dictator


Charlie Chaplin’s first talking picture was a scathing send-up of Adolf Hitler that mocked anti-Semitism, Nazism and fascism. The Great Dictator was released in 1940 whilst America and Germany were at peace. However, the UK was already at war with the Fuhrer and embraced the movie for its propaganda value.

12. Scarface


Scarface is one of the most referenced movies of all time, and has become a cult classic in the mob movie genre. It is hard to believe that the movie opened to mostly negative reviews by critics who were shocked by the level of violence and cursing that takes place.

13. Apocalypse Now


Apocalypse Now is a war epic set in Vietnam that stars Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen and Robert Duvall. The movie was adapted from Joseph Conrad’s classic novel A Heart of Darkness. The film suffered numerous problems during production, but director Francis Ford Coppola eventually produced a masterpiece that is considered to be one of the best movies of all time.

14. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly


The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is one of the most well-known western movies ever. The film is an Italian production directed by Sergio Leone and stars Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach. Ennio Morricone composed the soundtrack that has become even more famous than the movie itself.

15. Raging Bull


Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull tells the true story of Jake LaMotta, an Italian-American boxer who destroys his career and loses his family due to his uncontrollable temper. The movie was nominated for eight Academy Awards and it won two including Best Actor for Robert De Niro. Raging Bull is considered to be Scorsese’s best film.

16. History of the World Part I


Mel Brook’s 1981 parody film History of the World Part I chronicles the history of mankind from the Stone Age all the way up to the French Revolution. The film was narrated by Orson Welles and starred Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn and Mel Brooks who played a total of five roles.

17. The Sound of Music


The Sound of Music was adapted from the popular Broadway show, and grossed a whopping $286 million in 1965. The story revolves around the memoirs of Maria Von Trapp, a young girl growing up in Austria during the Second World War. The musical features some of the most recognisable songs in movie history.

18. La Vita e Bella


Roberto Benigni’s incredible mixture of comedy and tragedy in the 1997 movie La Vita e Bella led to the film becoming the highest grossing movie in Italian history. Roberto plays a Jewish shop owner who attempts to shield his son from the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp by creating a fantasy world around them.

19. The Exorcist


Widely regarded as the scariest horror movie of all time, The Exorcist has grossed a staggering $441 million worldwide. The Exorcist is proof that a solid plot and superb acting are the key ingredients that make a good horror movie rather than expensive special effects. Just don’t watch it alone.

20. Monty Python’s Life of Brian


Life of Brian was the subject of much criticism following its release in 1979 with many accusing the film of blasphemy. It was subsequently banned in Norway and Ireland. This led to a stroke of genius from the advertising department who began promoting the movie using the slogan “So funny it was banned in Norway!”