The 40 (or so) Best Films in the Past 20 Years

by bogartcagney19 | created - 08 Oct 2010 | updated - 03 Mar 2011 | Public
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1. Dances with Wolves (1990)

PG-13 | 181 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
72 Metascore

Lieutenant John Dunbar, assigned to a remote western Civil War outpost, befriends wolves and Indians, making him an intolerable aberration in the military.

Director: Kevin Costner | Stars: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene, Rodney A. Grant

Votes: 204,833 | Gross: $184.21M

2. Ghost (1990)

PG-13 | 127 min | Drama, Fantasy, Romance

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
52 Metascore

After a young man is murdered, his spirit stays behind to warn his lover of impending danger, with the help of a reluctant psychic.

Director: Jerry Zucker | Stars: Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Goldwyn

Votes: 167,238 | Gross: $217.63M

3. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

R | 118 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

8.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
85 Metascore

A young F.B.I. cadet must receive the help of an incarcerated and manipulative cannibal killer to help catch another serial killer, a madman who skins his victims.

Director: Jonathan Demme | Stars: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney, Kasi Lemmons

Votes: 1,014,708 | Gross: $130.74M

4. Beauty and the Beast (1991)

G | 84 min | Animation, Family, Fantasy

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
95 Metascore

A young woman whose father has been imprisoned by a terrifying beast offers herself in his place, unaware that her captor is actually a prince, physically altered by a magic spell.

Directors: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise | Stars: Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Jesse Corti, Rex Everhart

Votes: 354,397 | Gross: $218.97M

5. Aladdin (1992)

G | 90 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

When a street urchin vies for the love of a beautiful princess, he uses a genie's magic power to make himself off as a prince in order to marry her.

Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker | Stars: Scott Weinger, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman

Votes: 293,132 | Gross: $217.35M

6. Basic Instinct (1992)

R | 127 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
41 Metascore

A violent, suspended police detective investigates a brutal murder, in which a manipulative and seductive woman could be involved.

Director: Paul Verhoeven | Stars: Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, George Dzundza, Jeanne Tripplehorn

Votes: 146,264 | Gross: $117.73M

7. The Fugitive (1993)

PG-13 | 130 min | Action, Crime, Drama

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
88 Metascore

Dr. Richard Kimble, unjustly accused of murdering his wife, must find the real killer while being the target of a nationwide manhunt lead by a seasoned US Marshall.

Director: Andrew Davis | Stars: Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, Sela Ward, Julianne Moore

Votes: 230,635 | Gross: $183.88M

8. Groundhog Day (1993)

PG | 101 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
72 Metascore

A weatherman finds himself inexplicably living the same day over and over again.

Director: Harold Ramis | Stars: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott, Stephen Tobolowsky

Votes: 494,879 | Gross: $70.91M

9. Pulp Fiction (1994)

R | 154 min | Crime, Drama

8.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
94 Metascore

The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis

Votes: 1,488,699 | Gross: $107.93M

10. Forrest Gump (1994)

PG-13 | 142 min | Drama, Romance

8.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
82 Metascore

The presidencies of Kennedy and Johnson, Vietnam, Watergate, and other history unfold through the perspective of an Alabama man with an IQ of 75.

Director: Robert Zemeckis | Stars: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Sally Field

Votes: 1,438,790 | Gross: $330.25M

11. The Lion King (1994)

G | 88 min | Animation, Adventure, Drama

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
83 Metascore

Lion cub and future king Simba searches for his identity. His eagerness to please others and penchant for testing his boundaries sometimes gets him into trouble.

Directors: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff | Stars: Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Whoopi Goldberg

Votes: 742,453 | Gross: $312.90M

12. Braveheart (1995)

R | 178 min | Biography, Drama, History

8.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
68 Metascore

When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, Sir William Wallace begins a revolt against King Edward I of England.

Director: Mel Gibson | Stars: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, Angus Macfadyen

Votes: 824,079 | Gross: $75.60M

13. Se7en (1995)

R | 127 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

8.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
65 Metascore

Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his motives.

Director: David Fincher | Stars: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Andrew Kevin Walker

Votes: 1,161,026 | Gross: $100.13M

14. Scream (1996)

R | 111 min | Horror, Mystery

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
65 Metascore

A year after the murder of her mother, a teenage girl is terrorized by a new killer, who targets the girl and her friends by using horror films as part of a deadly game.

Director: Wes Craven | Stars: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich

Votes: 243,295 | Gross: $103.05M

15. Jerry Maguire (1996)

R | 139 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
77 Metascore

When a sports agent has a moral epiphany and is fired for expressing it, he decides to put his new philosophy to the test as an independent agent with the only athlete who stays with him and his former secretary.

Director: Cameron Crowe | Stars: Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renée Zellweger, Kelly Preston

Votes: 207,510 | Gross: $153.95M

16. The Fifth Element (1997)

PG-13 | 126 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
52 Metascore

In the colorful future, a cab driver unwittingly becomes the central figure in the search for a legendary cosmic weapon to keep Evil and Mr. Zorg at bay.

Director: Luc Besson | Stars: Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm

Votes: 377,171 | Gross: $63.54M

17. L.A. Confidential (1997)

R | 138 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

8.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
90 Metascore

As corruption grows in 1950s LA, three policemen - one strait-laced, one brutal, and one sleazy - investigate a series of murders with their own brand of justice.

Director: Curtis Hanson | Stars: Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger

Votes: 456,623 | Gross: $64.62M

18. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

R | 169 min | Drama, War

8.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
90 Metascore

Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns

Votes: 1,002,366 | Gross: $216.54M

19. A Bug's Life (1998)

G | 95 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
77 Metascore

A misfit ant, looking for "warriors" to save his colony from greedy grasshoppers, recruits a group of bugs that turn out to be an inept circus troupe.

Directors: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton | Stars: Kevin Spacey, Dave Foley, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Hayden Panettiere

Votes: 230,690 | Gross: $162.80M

20. American Beauty (1999)

R | 122 min | Drama

8.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
86 Metascore

A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend.

Director: Sam Mendes | Stars: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley

Votes: 917,930 | Gross: $130.10M

21. Fight Club (1999)

R | 139 min | Drama

8.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
66 Metascore

An insomniac office worker, looking for a way to change his life, crosses paths with a devil-may-care soapmaker, forming an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.

Director: David Fincher | Stars: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Meat Loaf, Zach Grenier

Votes: 1,525,499 | Gross: $37.03M

22. Gladiator (2000)

R | 155 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
67 Metascore

When a Roman General is betrayed, and his family murdered by an emperor's corrupt son, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed

Votes: 1,104,083 | Gross: $187.71M

23. Almost Famous (2000)

R | 122 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
90 Metascore

A high-school boy is given the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone Magazine about an up-and-coming rock band as he accompanies them on their concert tour.

Director: Cameron Crowe | Stars: Billy Crudup, Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson, Frances McDormand

Votes: 223,066 | Gross: $32.53M

24. Donnie Darko (2001)

R | 113 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
88 Metascore

A troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a man in a large rabbit suit who manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after he narrowly escapes a bizarre accident.

Director: Richard Kelly | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne

Votes: 648,357 | Gross: $0.19M

25. Black Hawk Down (2001)

R | 144 min | Drama, History, War

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
74 Metascore

160 elite U.S. soldiers drop into Somalia to capture two top lieutenants of a renegade warlord and find themselves in a desperate battle with a large force of heavily-armed Somalis.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana

Votes: 318,991 | Gross: $108.64M

26. Minority Report (2002)

PG-13 | 145 min | Action, Adventure, Crime

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
80 Metascore

In a future where a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes, an officer from that unit is himself accused of a future murder.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max von Sydow

Votes: 438,179 | Gross: $132.07M

27. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

PG-13 | 179 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

8.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
87 Metascore

While Frodo and Sam edge closer to Mordor with the help of the shifty Gollum, the divided fellowship makes a stand against Sauron's new ally, Saruman, and his hordes of Isengard.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom

Votes: 1,231,365 | Gross: $342.55M

28. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

PG-13 | 201 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

8.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
94 Metascore

Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron's army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom

Votes: 1,360,194 | Gross: $377.85M

29. Finding Nemo (2003)

G | 100 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
90 Metascore

After his son is captured in the Great Barrier Reef and taken to Sydney, a timid clownfish sets out on a journey to bring him home.

Directors: Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich | Stars: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe

Votes: 789,091 | Gross: $380.84M

30. Seabiscuit (2003)

PG-13 | 140 min | Drama, History, Sport

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
72 Metascore

True story of the undersized Depression-era racehorse whose victories lifted not only the spirits of the team behind it but also those of their nation.

Director: Gary Ross | Stars: Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Cooper

Votes: 60,538 | Gross: $120.28M

31. The Incredibles (2004)

PG | 115 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
90 Metascore

A family of undercover superheroes, while trying to live the quiet suburban life, are forced into action to save the world.

Director: Brad Bird | Stars: Craig T. Nelson, Samuel L. Jackson, Holly Hunter, Jason Lee

Votes: 531,777 | Gross: $261.44M

32. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

PG-13 | 127 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
83 Metascore

Peter Parker is beset with troubles in his failing personal life as he battles a brilliant scientist named Doctor Otto Octavius.

Director: Sam Raimi | Stars: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Alfred Molina, James Franco

Votes: 459,848 | Gross: $373.59M

33. King Kong (2005)

PG-13 | 187 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
81 Metascore

In 1933 New York, an overly ambitious movie producer coerces his cast and hired ship crew to travel to the mysterious Skull Island, where they encounter Kong, a giant ape who is immediately smitten with leading lady Ann Darrow.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann

Votes: 345,530 | Gross: $218.08M

34. Munich (2005)

R | 164 min | Drama, History, Thriller

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
74 Metascore

Based on the true story of the Black September aftermath, about the five men chosen to eliminate the ones responsible for that fateful day.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Marie-Josée Croze, Ciarán Hinds

Votes: 188,888 | Gross: $47.40M

35. The Departed (2006)

R | 151 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
85 Metascore

An undercover cop and a mole in the police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg

Votes: 982,459 | Gross: $132.38M

36. The Prestige (2006)

PG-13 | 130 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
66 Metascore

After a tragic accident two stage magicians engage in a battle to create the ultimate illusion whilst sacrificing everything they have to outwit the other.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine

Votes: 967,039 | Gross: $53.09M

37. Ratatouille (2007)

G | 111 min | Animation, Comedy, Family

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
96 Metascore

A rat who can cook makes an unusual alliance with a young kitchen worker at a famous restaurant.

Directors: Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava | Stars: Brad Garrett, Lou Romano, Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm

Votes: 526,758 | Gross: $206.45M

38. I Am Legend (2007)

PG-13 | 101 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
65 Metascore

Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York City struggles valiantly to find a cure.

Director: Francis Lawrence | Stars: Will Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan, Salli Richardson-Whitfield

Votes: 591,224 | Gross: $256.39M

39. The Dark Knight (2008)

PG-13 | 152 min | Action, Crime, Drama

9.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9/10 X  
82 Metascore

When the menace known as the Joker emerges from his mysterious past, he wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham, the Dark Knight must accept one of the greatest psychological and physical tests of his ability to fight injustice.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine

Votes: 1,877,976 | Gross: $534.86M

40. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

R | 120 min | Drama, Romance

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
86 Metascore

A Mumbai teen reflects on his upbringing in the slums when he is accused of cheating on the Indian Version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

Directors: Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan | Stars: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Saurabh Shukla, Anil Kapoor

Votes: 701,032 | Gross: $141.32M

41. Up (2009)

PG | 96 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

8.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
88 Metascore

Seventy-eight year old Carl Fredricksen travels to Paradise Falls in his home equipped with balloons, inadvertently taking a young stowaway.

Directors: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson | Stars: Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, John Ratzenberger, Christopher Plummer

Votes: 761,338 | Gross: $293.00M

42. District 9 (2009)

R | 112 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
81 Metascore

An extraterrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth suddenly finds a kindred spirit in a government agent who is exposed to their biotechnology.

Director: Neill Blomkamp | Stars: Sharlto Copley, David James, Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt

Votes: 574,203 | Gross: $115.65M

43. Inception (2010)

PG-13 | 148 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

8.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
74 Metascore

A thief, who steals corporate secrets through the use of dream-sharing technology, is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe

Votes: 1,666,322 | Gross: $292.58M

44. Toy Story 3 (2010)

G | 103 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

8.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
92 Metascore

The toys are mistakenly delivered to a day-care center instead of the attic right before Andy leaves for college, and it's up to Woody to convince the other toys that they weren't abandoned and to return home.

Director: Lee Unkrich | Stars: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty

Votes: 617,084 | Gross: $415.00M