This is a personal list, put together after weighing various factors. Huge box office is a given, which is why you cant ignore that boat movie. Enjoy!
1 STAR WARS TRILOGY
(George Lucas, 1976-83)
As the first cult blockbuster - fewer people saw it, but viewers saw it more often - Star Wars is the most influential film in the history of Hollywood. No one would have backed nine hours of Lord Of The Rings for over $200 million without its example, and The Transformers wouldn't be on this summer's release schedule. It's all about the toys and the Happy Meals and the cross-marketing possibilities.
2 GONE WITH THE WIND
(Victor Fleming, 1939)
It's had multiple re-releases, and with grosses adjusted for inflation, it's still the domestic box office champ. GWTW offers a useful template for box-office success: a war, a love story, great special effects and butt-numbing length.
3 THE GODFATHER
(Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
We tend to forget in the post-Star Wars era that, for a while, this was the all-time top-grossing American movie. It offers another classic blockbuster template: a bestselling middlebrow novel, legendary production difficulties, a cast nobody wanted and butt-numbing length.
4 THE LORD OF THE RINGS
(Peter Jackson, 2001-03)
Star Wars doesn't exist without the JRR Tolkien novel, and the Peter Jackson film doesn't exist without Star Wars, a perfect symbiotic interplay.
5 LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
(David Lean, 1962)
The middlebrow historical epic par excellence. Director Lean owns the genre. Years in the making, cast of hundreds, exotic locations - and the running time? See Gone With The Wind, above.
(Steven Spielberg, 1975)
If Jaws had flopped, Spielberg, the best director to work consistently on blockbuster projects, might have gone back to television. Probably not, but you never know....
7 TOY STORY
(John Lasseter, 1995)
Sure, it's only number 11 on the all-time computer-animated feature list. But five ahead of it are Toy Story 2, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Cars and Monsters, Inc. In other words, if it weren't for Toy Story, Disney would still have a hand-drawn animation department.
8 THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
(Cecil B. DeMille, 1956)
The Biblical epic par excellence - reverential, kind of dull, with a remarkably goyishe Moses in Charlton Heston. Until The Passion Of The Christ, the most successful Hollywood religious movies seldom featured Jesus as a central character.
9 THE SOUND OF MUSIC
(Robert Wise, 1965)
When people talk about the worst movie ever to win best picture at the Oscars, no one ever brings up this one, which was such a cultural phenomenon that Pauline Kael purportedly got fired from McCall's for her review. Fox kept trying to imitate its success and nearly bankrupted the studio.
(James Cameron, 1997)
Star Wars for girls, with historical disaster, grand love story, great special effects. The teenage girls who kept going back again and again made Leonardo DiCaprio a big star. Sneer at it if you will, but when they're projecting now, they talk about Titanic numbers, not Star Wars numbers.