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



 

# Movies Directors Lists
25 Amadeus (1984) Milos Forman W Top
26 Apocalypse Now Francis Ford Coppola Tuko
27 Apollo 13 (I) (1995) Ron Howard IMDB
28 Armageddon (1998) Michael Bay IMDB
29 Atonement (2007) Joe Wright IMDB
30 Avatar (2009) James Cameron IMDB
31 Barbara   The Local
32 Cold Mountain (2003) Anthony Minghella IMDB
33 Doctor Zhivago (1965) David Lean W Top
34 Downfall   The Local
35 Dr Zhivago (1965)   Stuff
36 Elizabeth (1998) Shekhar Kapur IMDB
37 Farewell My Concubine (1993) Kaige Chen W Top
38 Fitzcarraldo (1982)   Stuff
39 Flags of our Fathers (2006) Clint Eastwood IMDB
40 Gangs of New York (2002)   Stuff
41 Generation War   The Local
42 Giant (1956) George Stevens W Top
43 Glory (1989) Edward Zwick IMDB
44 Gods and Generals (2003)   Stuff
45 Good Bye, Lenin!   The Local
46 Hamlet (1948) Laurence Olivier W Top
47
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
  Tuko
48 Hero (2002)   Stuff
49 How the West Was Won (1962)   Stuff
50 Independence Day (1996) Roland Emmerich IMDB
51
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
  Ranker
52 Into the Wild (2007) Sean Penn IMDB
53 Intolerance (1916)   Stuff
54 Jason and the Argonauts (1963)   Stuff
55 Jinnah (1998)   Stuff
56 Jurassic Park (1993) Steven Spielberg IMDB
57
Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair (2004)
  Stuff
58 King Kong (2005) Peter Jackson IMDB
59 King of Kings’ (1961)   Fandango
60 Kingdom of Heaven (2005)   Stuff
61 Kundun (1997)   Stuff
62 Land of the Pharaohs  
Thought Co.
63 Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) Clint Eastwood IMDB
64 Life of Brian’ (1979)   Fandango
65 Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) Terry Gilliam IMDB
66 Napoleon (1927)   Stuff
67 Noah’ (2014)   Fandango
68 Nowhere in Africa   The Local
69 Pearl Harbor (2001) Michael Bay IMDB
70 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) Gore Verbinski IMDB
71 Planet of the Apes (1968) Franklin J. Schaffner IMDB
72 Planet of the Apes (2001) Tim Burton IMDB
73 Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Steven Spielberg IMDB
74 Red Dawn (1984) John Milius IMDB
75 Reds (1981) Warren Beatty W Top
76 Robin Hood (2010) Ridley Scott IMDB
77 Seven Samurai Akira Kurosawa Tuko
78 Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) Kerry Conran IMDB
79 Star Trek (2009) J.J. Abrams IMDB
80
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  Ranker
81
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
  Ranker
82 The Baader-Meinhof Complex   The Local
83 The boat   The Local
84 The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) David Lean IMDB
85 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Andrew Adamson IMDB
86 The Counterfeiters   The Local
87 The Dark Knight   Ranker
88 The English Patient (1996) Anthony Minghella W Top
89 The Fall (2006) Tarsem Singh IMDB
90 The Fall of the Roman Empire  
Thought Co.
91 The Godfather   Ranker
92 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly   Ranker
93 The Green Mile   Ranker
94 The Last Legion (2007) Doug Lefler IMDB
95 The Last of the Mohicans (1992) Michael Mann W Top
96 The Last Samurai (2003) Edward Zwick IMDB
97 The Last Temptation of Christ’ (2008)   Fandango
98 The Leopard (1963) Luchino Visconti W Top
99 The Lives of Others   The Local
100 The Mummy (1999) Stephen Sommers IMDB
101 The Mummy Returns (2001) Stephen Sommers IMDB
102 The Patriot (2000) Roland Emmerich IMDB
103 The Perfect Storm (2000) Wolfgang Petersen IMDB
104 The Prince of Egypt’ (1998)   Fandango
105 The Seven Samurai (1954) Akira Kurosawa W Top
106 The Shawshank Redemption   Ranker
107 The Time Machine (2002) Simon Wells IMDB
108 The Vikings (1958)   Stuff
109 The Wave   The Local
110 Troy (2004) Wolfgang Petersen IMDB
111 Twelve Years a Slave (2011) Steve McQueen W Top
112 War and Peace Sergei Bondarchuk Tuko
113 We Were Soldiers (2002) Randall Wallace IMDB

 


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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