Action/Adventure, Best Movies, Classics, Drama, Foreign-Language, History, War

The Best Epic Movies Of All-Time

“What are the best Epic Movies ever made?” We looked at 113 of the top Epic films and ranked them so we could answer that very question!

The top 24 films, all appearing on 2 or more “Best Epic” movie lists, are ranked below by how many times they appear. The remaining 75+ movies, as well as the sources we used, are in alphabetical order on the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



Top 24 Best Epic Movies Ever Made



24 .) 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) directed by Stanley Kubrick

 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Stuff
  • Tuko

Humanity finds a mysterious object buried beneath the lunar surface and sets off to find its origins with the help of HAL 9000, the world’s most advanced super computer.



23 .) Forrest Gump (1994) directed by Robert Zemeckis

 Forrest Gump (1994)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Ranker

A man with a low IQ has accomplished great things in his life and been present during significant historic events—in each case, far exceeding what anyone imagined he could do. But despite all he has achieved, his one true love eludes him.



22 .) Quo Vadis (1951) directed by Mervyn LeRoy

 Quo Vadis (1951)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Stuff
  • Thought Co.

Set against the back drop of Rome in crisis, General Marcus Vinicius returns to the city from the battle fields and falls in love with a Christian woman, Lygia. Caught in the grip of insanity, Nero’s atrocities become more extreme and he burns Rome, laying the blame on the Christians. Vinicius races to save Lygia from the wrath of Nero as the empire of Rome collapses around them.



21 .) Ran (1985) directed by Akira Kurosawa

 Ran (1985)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Stuff
  • W Top

With Ran, legendary director Akira Kurosawa reimagines Shakespeare’s King Lear as a singular historical epic set in sixteenth-century Japan. Majestic in scope, the film is Kurosawa’s late-life masterpiece, a profound examination of the folly of war and the crumbling of one family under the weight of betrayal, greed, and the insatiable thirst for power.



20 .) Saving Private Ryan (1998) directed by Steven Spielberg

 Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Ranker

As U.S. troops storm the beaches of Normandy, three brothers lie dead on the battlefield, with a fourth trapped behind enemy lines. Ranger captain John Miller and seven men are tasked with penetrating German-held territory and bringing the boy home.



19 .) Schindler’s List (1993) directed by Steven Spielberg

 Schindler's List (1993)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Ranker

The true story of how businessman Oskar Schindler saved over a thousand Jewish lives from the Nazis while they worked as slaves in his factory during World War II.



18 .) Star Wars (1977) directed by George Lucas

 Star Wars (1977)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Ranker

Princess Leia is captured and held hostage by the evil Imperial forces in their effort to take over the galactic Empire. Venturesome Luke Skywalker and dashing captain Han Solo team together with the loveable robot duo R2-D2 and C-3PO to rescue the beautiful princess and restore peace and justice in the Empire.



17 .) The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) directed by George Stevens, David Lean, Jean Negulesco

 The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Fandango
  • Stuff

From his birth in Bethlehem to his death and eventual resurrection, the life of Jesus Christ is given the all-star treatment in this epic retelling. Major aspects of Christ’s life are touched upon, including the execution of all the newborn males in Egypt by King Herod; Christ’s baptism by John the Baptist; and the betrayal by Judas after the Last Supper that eventually leads to Christ’s crucifixion and miraculous return.



16 .) The Passion of the Christ (2004) directed by Mel Gibson

 The Passion of the Christ (2004)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Fandango
  • W Top

“The Passion of the Christ” is a film about the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus. Director Mel Gibson received much criticism from critics and audiences for his explicit depiction of and focus on violence and on Christ’s suffering, especially on the part of the Jewish community. The film’s languages are Arabic, Latin and Hebrew and it’s actors are laymen which was controversially received as well.



15 .) The Robe’ (1953) directed by Henry Koster

 The Robe’ (1953)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Fandango
  • Thought Co.

Marcellus is a tribune in the time of Christ. He is in charge of the group that is assigned to crucify Jesus. Drunk, he wins Jesus’ homespun robe after the crucifixion. He is tormented by nightmares and delusions after the event. Hoping to find a way to live with what he has done, and still not believing in Jesus, he returns to Palestine to try and learn what he can of the man he killed.



14 .) 300 (2006) directed by Zack Snyder

 300 (2006)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Ranker
  • Stuff

Based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel, “300” is very loosely based the 480 B.C. Battle of Thermopylae, where the King of Sparta led his army against the advancing Persians; the battle is said to have inspired all of Greece to band together against the Persians, and helped usher in the world’s first democracy.



13 .) Cleopatra (1963) directed by Joseph Mankiewicz

 Cleopatra (1963)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Stuff
  • Thought Co.
  • W Top

Winner of four Oscars, this epic saga of love, greed, and betrayal stars Elizabeth Taylor as the passionate and ambitious Egyptian queen, Cleopatra. Determined to hold on to the throne, she seduces the Roman emperor Julius Caesar. When Caesar is murdered, she redirects her attentions to his general, Marc Antony, who vows to take power—but Caesar’s successor has other plans.



12 .) Dances with Wolves (1990) directed by Kevin Costner

 Dances with Wolves (1990)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Ranker
  • W Top

Wounded Civil War soldier, John Dunbar tries to commit suicide—and becomes a hero instead. As a reward, he’s assigned to his dream post, a remote junction on the Western frontier, and soon makes unlikely friends with the local Sioux tribe.



11 .) Gone with the Wind (1939) directed by Victor Fleming

 Gone with the Wind (1939)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Ranker
  • Tuko
  • W Top

The spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner is forced to use every means at her disposal to claw her way out of poverty, following Maj. Gen. William Sherman’s destructive “March to the Sea,” during the American Civil War.



10 .) Out of Africa (1985) directed by Sydney Pollack

 Out of Africa (1985)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Stuff
  • W Top

Out of Africa tells the story of the life of Danish author Karen Blixen, who at the beginning of the 20th century moved to Africa to build a new life for herself. The film is based on the autobiographical novel by Karen Blixen from 1937.



9 .) Spartacus (1960) directed by Stanley Kubrick

 Spartacus (1960)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Ranker
  • Thought Co.
  • W Top

The rebellious Thracian Spartacus, born and raised a slave, is sold to Gladiator trainer Batiatus. After weeks of being trained to kill for the arena, Spartacus turns on his owners and leads the other slaves in rebellion. As the rebels move from town to town, their numbers swell as escaped slaves join their ranks. Under the leadership of Spartacus, they make their way to southern Italy, where they will cross the sea and return to their homes.



8 .) The Last Emperor (1987) directed by Bernardo Bertolucci

 The Last Emperor (1987)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Stuff
  • Tuko
  • W Top

A dramatic history of Pu Yi, the last of the Emperors of China, from his lofty birth and brief reign in the Forbidden City, the object of worship by half a billion people; through his abdication, his decline and dissolute lifestyle; his exploitation by the invading Japanese, and finally to his obscure existence as just another peasant worker in the People’s Republic.



7 .) The Lord of the Rings Trilogy directed by Peter Jackson

 The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Ranker
  • Tuko

Young hobbit Frodo Baggins, after inheriting a mysterious ring from his uncle Bilbo, must leave his home in order to keep it from falling into the hands of its evil creator. Along the way, a fellowship is formed to protect the ringbearer and make sure that the ring arrives at its final destination: Mt. Doom, the only place where it can be destroyed.



6 .) Titanic (1997) directed by James Cameron

 Titanic (1997)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Ranker
  • W Top

84 years later, a 101-year-old woman named Rose DeWitt Bukater tells the story to her granddaughter Lizzy Calvert, Brock Lovett, Lewis Bodine, Bobby Buell and Anatoly Mikailavich on the Keldysh about her life set in April 10th 1912, on a ship called Titanic when young Rose boards the departing ship with the upper-class passengers and her mother, Ruth DeWitt Bukater, and her fiancé, Caledon Hockley. Meanwhile, a drifter and artist named Jack Dawson and his best friend Fabrizio De Rossi win third-class tickets to the ship in a game. And she explains the whole story from departure until the death of Titanic on its first and last voyage April 15th, 1912 at 2:20 in the morning.



5 .) Braveheart (1995) directed by Mel Gibson

 Braveheart (1995)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Ranker
  • Stuff
  • W Top

Enraged at the slaughter of Murron, his new bride and childhood love, Scottish warrior William Wallace slays a platoon of the local English lord’s soldiers. This leads the village to revolt and, eventually, the entire country to rise up against English rule.



4 .) Gladiator (2000) directed by Ridley Scott

 Gladiator (2000)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Ranker
  • Stuff
  • W Top

In the year 180, the death of emperor Marcus Aurelius throws the Roman Empire into chaos. Maximus is one of the Roman army’s most capable and trusted generals and a key advisor to the emperor. As Marcus’ devious son Commodus ascends to the throne, Maximus is set to be executed. He escapes, but is captured by slave traders. Renamed Spaniard and forced to become a gladiator, Maximus must battle to the death with other men for the amusement of paying audiences.



3 .) Lawrence of Arabia (1962) directed by David Lean

 Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Ranker
  • Stuff
  • W Top

The story of British officer T.E. Lawrence’s mission to aid the Arab tribes in their revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. Lawrence becomes a flamboyant, messianic figure in the cause of Arab unity but his psychological instability threatens to undermine his achievements.



2 .) The Ten Commandments (1956) directed by Cecil B.DeMille

 The Ten Commandments (1956)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Fandango
  • IMDB
  • Ranker
  • Thought Co.
  • W Top

Escaping death, a Hebrew infant is raised in a royal household to become a prince. Upon discovery of his true heritage, Moses embarks on a personal quest to reclaim his destiny as the leader and liberator of the Hebrew people.



1 .) Ben-Hur (1959) directed by William Wyler

 Ben-Hur (1959)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Fandango
  • IMDB
  • Ranker
  • Thought Co.
  • Tuko
  • W Top

Judah Ben-Hur, a Palestinian Jew, is battling the Roman empire at the time of Christ. His actions send him and his family into slavery, but an inspirational encounter with Jesus changes everything. He finally meets his rival in a justly famous chariot race and rescues his suffering family.



 


The 75+ Additional Best Epic Movies



 

#MoviesDirectorsLists
25Amadeus (1984)Milos FormanW Top
26Apocalypse NowFrancis Ford CoppolaTuko
27Apollo 13 (I) (1995)Ron HowardIMDB
28Armageddon (1998)Michael BayIMDB
29Atonement (2007)Joe WrightIMDB
30Avatar (2009)James CameronIMDB
31Barbara The Local
32Cold Mountain (2003)Anthony MinghellaIMDB
33Doctor Zhivago (1965)David LeanW Top
34Downfall The Local
35Dr Zhivago (1965) Stuff
36Elizabeth (1998)Shekhar KapurIMDB
37Farewell My Concubine (1993)Kaige ChenW Top
38Fitzcarraldo (1982) Stuff
39Flags of our Fathers (2006)Clint EastwoodIMDB
40Gangs of New York (2002) Stuff
41Generation War The Local
42Giant (1956)George StevensW Top
43Glory (1989)Edward ZwickIMDB
44Gods and Generals (2003) Stuff
45Good Bye, Lenin! The Local
46Hamlet (1948)Laurence OlivierW Top
47
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
 Tuko
48Hero (2002) Stuff
49How the West Was Won (1962) Stuff
50Independence Day (1996)Roland EmmerichIMDB
51
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
 Ranker
52Into the Wild (2007)Sean PennIMDB
53Intolerance (1916) Stuff
54Jason and the Argonauts (1963) Stuff
55Jinnah (1998) Stuff
56Jurassic Park (1993)Steven SpielbergIMDB
57
Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair (2004)
 Stuff
58King Kong (2005)Peter JacksonIMDB
59King of Kings’ (1961) Fandango
60Kingdom of Heaven (2005) Stuff
61Kundun (1997) Stuff
62Land of the Pharaohs 
Thought Co.
63Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)Clint EastwoodIMDB
64Life of Brian’ (1979) Fandango
65Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)Terry GilliamIMDB
66Napoleon (1927) Stuff
67Noah’ (2014) Fandango
68Nowhere in Africa The Local
69Pearl Harbor (2001)Michael BayIMDB
70Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)Gore VerbinskiIMDB
71Planet of the Apes (1968)Franklin J. SchaffnerIMDB
72Planet of the Apes (2001)Tim BurtonIMDB
73Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)Steven SpielbergIMDB
74Red Dawn (1984)John MiliusIMDB
75Reds (1981)Warren BeattyW Top
76Robin Hood (2010)Ridley ScottIMDB
77Seven SamuraiAkira KurosawaTuko
78Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)Kerry ConranIMDB
79Star Trek (2009)J.J. AbramsIMDB
80
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
 Ranker
81
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
 Ranker
82The Baader-Meinhof Complex The Local
83The boat The Local
84The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)David LeanIMDB
85The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobeAndrew AdamsonIMDB
86The Counterfeiters The Local
87The Dark Knight Ranker
88The English Patient (1996)Anthony MinghellaW Top
89The Fall (2006)Tarsem SinghIMDB
90The Fall of the Roman Empire 
Thought Co.
91The Godfather Ranker
92The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Ranker
93The Green Mile Ranker
94The Last Legion (2007)Doug LeflerIMDB
95The Last of the Mohicans (1992)Michael MannW Top
96The Last Samurai (2003)Edward ZwickIMDB
97The Last Temptation of Christ’ (2008) Fandango
98The Leopard (1963)Luchino ViscontiW Top
99The Lives of Others The Local
100The Mummy (1999)Stephen SommersIMDB
101The Mummy Returns (2001)Stephen SommersIMDB
102The Patriot (2000)Roland EmmerichIMDB
103The Perfect Storm (2000)Wolfgang PetersenIMDB
104The Prince of Egypt’ (1998) Fandango
105The Seven Samurai (1954)Akira KurosawaW Top
106The Shawshank Redemption Ranker
107The Time Machine (2002)Simon WellsIMDB
108The Vikings (1958) Stuff
109The Wave The Local
110Troy (2004)Wolfgang PetersenIMDB
111Twelve Years a Slave (2011)Steve McQueenW Top
112War and PeaceSergei BondarchukTuko
113We Were Soldiers (2002)Randall WallaceIMDB

 


8 Best Epic Film Sources/Lists



Source Article
Fandango Top 10 Must-See Biblical Epics
IMDB The 51 Top Epic Movies Of All Time
Ranker The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made
Stuff 50 best epic movies ever – part two
The Local 10 epic German movies you have to watch before you die
Thought Co. Eight Classic Historical Epic Movies
Tuko 10 Best Epic Movies of All Time
W Top Best epic movies of all time

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