The best movie released the year you were born

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Just as major events help mark the passing of time, movies have also defined different eras in American history. From the silent movies of the early 20th century, to movie musicals of the 1950s, to the not-strictly-for-kids animated features of recent decades, films have grown and changed alongside the country.

Using data from a number of sources, PrettyFamous identified the best movie of every year since 1945. They selected the movie with the highest Smart Rating each year, which is a weighted average out of 100 of the following:

– Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer
– Rotten Tomatoes’ Audience Score
– IMDb Rating
– Metacritic’s Metascore
– Gracenote’s Proprietary Rating
– Inflation-adjusted cumulative domestic box office gross

PrettyFamous set a limit of IMDb votes that a movie needs to have to be considered popular enough to be eligible. To account for older movies which have fewer reviews than their modern counterparts, PrettyFamous only included movies from 1945-1949 with more than 25,000 IMDb votes and 50,000 IMDb votes for movies from 1950-2015.

1945: Spellbound

 

Smart Rating: 91

Genre: Mystery
IMDb votes: 31,666

1946: It’s a Wonderful Life

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Holiday, Drama
IMDb votes: 262,665

1947: Miracle on 34th Street

 

Smart Rating: 94

Genre: Holiday, Fantasy
IMDb votes: 29,623

1948: The Bicycle Thief

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Drama
IMDb votes: 83,409

1949: The Third Man

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
IMDb votes: 108,694

1950: Sunset Blvd.

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Drama
IMDb votes: 132,884

1951: Strangers on a Train

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Thriller
IMDb votes: 91,342

1952: Singin’ in the Rain

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Musical, Comedy
IMDb votes: 142,316

1953: Roman Holiday

 

Smart Rating: 94

Genre: Romantic, Comedy
IMDb votes: 95,073

1954: Seven Samurai

 

Smart Rating: 98

Genre: Action
IMDb votes: 218,812

1955: The Night of the Hunter

 

Smart Rating: 97

Genre: Thriller
IMDb votes: 62,478

1956: The Killing

 

Smart Rating: 95

Genre: Crime Drama
IMDb votes: 60,229

1957: 12 Angry Men

 

Smart Rating: 98

Genre: Drama
IMDb votes: 421,352

1958: Vertigo

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Thriller
IMDb votes: 235,402

1959: North by Northwest

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Thriller
IMDb votes: 210,767

1960: Psycho

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Horror, Thriller
IMDb votes: 399,574

1961: Yojimbo

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Adventure, Dark Comedy
IMDb votes: 69,706

1962: Lawrence of Arabia

 

Smart Rating: 98

Genre: Adventure, Drama
IMDb votes: 182,675

1963: The Birds

 

Smart Rating: 93

Genre: Thriller
IMDb votes: 123,373

1964: Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

 

Smart Rating: 97

Genre: Comedy
IMDb votes: 327,306

1965: For a Few Dollars More

 

Smart Rating: 95

Genre: Western
IMDb votes: 147,540

1966: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

 

Smart Rating: 95

Genre: Drama
IMDb votes: 53,467

1967: Cool Hand Luke

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Drama
IMDb votes: 114,803

1968: 2001: A Space Odyssey

 

Smart Rating: 95

Genre: Science Fiction
IMDb votes: 403,030

1969: The Wild Bunch

 

Smart Rating: 95

Genre: Western
IMDb votes: 61,119

1970: Patton

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Biography, Drama, War
IMDb votes: 73,640

1971: The French Connection

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Crime Drama, Thriller
IMDb votes: 78,466

1972: The Godfather

 

Smart Rating: 100

Genre: Drama, Crime Drama
IMDb votes: 1,098,061

1973: The Sting

 

Smart Rating: 95

Genre: Comedy, Drama
IMDb votes: 166,890

1974: Chinatown

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Crime Drama
IMDb votes: 206,098

1975: Monty Python and the Holy Grail

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Comedy
IMDb votes: 365,119

1976: Taxi Driver

 

Smart Rating: 97

Genre: Drama
IMDb votes: 478,725

1977: Star Wars

 

Smart Rating: 99

Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure, Action, Fantasy
IMDb votes: 865,651

1978: Dawn of the Dead

 

Smart Rating: 94

Genre: Horror
IMDb votes: 86,537

1979: Apocalypse Now

 

Smart Rating: 97

Genre: War Drama
IMDb votes: 431,242

1980: Raging Bull

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Biography, Drama
IMDB votes: 225,082

1981: Raiders of the Lost Ark

 

Smart Rating: 97

Genre: Adventure, Action
IMDb votes: 626,013

1982: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

 

Smart Rating: 95

Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure
IMDb votes: 269,839

1983: A Christmas Story

 

Smart Rating: 93

Genre: Holiday, Comedy
IMDb votes: 103,747

1984: Amadeus

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Biography, Historical Drama
IMDb votes: 257,715

1985: Back to the Future

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Comedy, Science Fiction, Fantasy
IMDb votes: 690,270

1986: Aliens

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Science Fiction, Horror, Action
IMDb votes: 465,003

1987: Full Metal Jacket

 

Smart Rating: 95

Genre: War Drama
IMDb votes: 457,736

1988: Grave of the Fireflies

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Drama, Anime
IMDb votes: 128,142

1989: Do the Right Thing

 

Smart Rating: 95

Genre: Drama
IMDb votes: 56,854

1990: Goodfellas

 

Smart Rating: 97

Genre: Crime Drama
IMDb votes: 690,841

1991: The Silence of the Lambs

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Thriller, Crime Drama
IMDb votes: 835,276

1992: Unforgiven

 

Smart Rating: 95

Genre: Western
IMDb votes: 264,875

1993: Schindler’s List

 

Smart Rating: 98

Genre: Historical Drama
IMDb votes: 818,540

1994: Pulp Fiction

 

Smart Rating: 97

Genre: Crime Drama
IMDb votes: 1,253,831

1995: Toy Story

 

Smart Rating: 97

Genre: Children, Comedy, Adventure, Fantasy, Animated
IMDb votes: 583,642

1996: Fargo

 

Smart Rating: 95

Genre: Dark Comedy, Crime Drama, Thriller
IMDb votes: 429,601

1997: L.A. Confidential

 

Smart Rating: 97

Genre: Crime Drama
IMDb votes: 397,274

1998: Saving Private Ryan

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: War, Historical Drama
IMDb votes: 827,986

1999: Toy Story 2

 

Smart Rating: 95

Genre: Children, Comedy, Adventure, Fantasy, Animated
IMDb votes: 365,948

2000: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

 

Smart Rating: 95

Genre: Adventure, Action, Martial Arts
IMDb votes: 210,471

2001: Spirited Away

 

Smart Rating: 97

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Animated
IMDb votes: 390,230

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

 

Smart Rating: 97

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
IMDb votes: 1,037,590

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

 

Smart Rating: 97

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
IMDb votes: 1,147,689

2004: Million Dollar Baby

 

Smart Rating: 95

Genre: Drama
IMDb votes: 457,817

2005: Brokeback Mountain

 

Smart Rating: 93

Genre: Romance, Drama
IMDb votes: 251,392

2006: Pan’s Labyrinth

 

Smart Rating: 97

Genre: Fantasy, Drama, War
IMDb votes: 444,647

2007: Ratatouille

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Children, Comedy, Animated
IMDb votes: 448,080

2008: The Dark Knight

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller, Fantasy
IMDb votes: 1,584,042

2009: Up

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Children, Comedy, Adventure, Animated
IMDb votes: 620,679

2010: Toy Story 3

 

Smart Rating: 97

Genre: Children, Comedy, Adventure, Fantasy, Animated
IMDb votes: 508,680

2011: A Separation

 

Smart Rating: 97

Genre: Drama
IMDb votes: 144,013

2012: Argo

 

Smart Rating: 95

Genre: Historical Drama, Thriller
IMDb votes: 430,637

2013: 12 Years a Slave

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Historical Drama, Biography
IMDb votes: 401,573

2014: Whiplash

 

Smart Rating: 96

Genre: Drama
IMDb votes: 346,655

2015: Inside Out

 

Smart Rating: 97

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Animated
IMDb votes: 267,253

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