Brevity may help filmmakers create tiny masterpieces with a significant impact. From thought-provoking dramas to side-splitting laughs, several short films top IMDb rankings. Here is a handful of the best. Have you seen them?
1. 12 Angry Men (1957) – IMDb Score 9
12 Angry Men by Sidney Lumet takes place almost entirely in a jury room, where twelve people decide what will happen to a teen accused of murder. As tensions rise and personal biases emerge, Henry Fonda leads an all-star cast in a gripping look at justice, bias, and the power of reasonable doubt.
2. The Lion King (1994) – IMDb Score 8.5
The Lion King follows a lion cub named Simba who must reclaim his father’s throne after his father dies in a horrific accident. With its distinctive characters, dramatic plot, and everlasting themes of identity and duty, The Lion King has captivated the hearts of people of all ages. It has an incredible soundtrack, to boot!
3. Grave of the Fireflies (1988) – IMDb Score 8.5
The animated movie Grave of the Fireflies by Isao Takahata is a sad and upsetting story that takes place during World War II. It will make everyone who watches it cry.
It follows a brother and sister, Seita and Setsuko, and how they try to stay alive after the bombings and the collapse of society. The film demonstrates how terrible war can be for harmless people through their relationship.
4. Modern Times (1936) – IMDb Score 8.5
An iconic silent comedy, Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times is a scathing look at the modern, industrialized society of the 1930s. Chaplin plays a factory worker who tries to find happiness and love while facing the problems of modern life. The movie is still a beloved piece of cinematic history because of its humor and commentary on society.
5. City Lights (1931) – IMDb Score 8.5
Another Charlie Chaplin favorite, City Lights, is a silent romance comedy about his iconic character, The Tramp, falling in love with a blind flower girl. As The Tramp tries to help her get her sight back, the movie blends humor, heart, and Chaplin’s trademark physical comedy to tell a touching story of love and strength.
6. Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) – IMDb Score 8.4
The satirical dark comedy by Stanley Kubrick takes place during the Cold War and is about how silly nuclear deterrence is. Peter Sellers plays multiple parts in the movie, which is about the chaos that happens when a rogue U.S. Air Force general gives the order to attack the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons. With its sharp wit and dark humor, the movie has always been a warning about the risks of having too much power.
7. Paths of Glory (1957) – IMDb Score 8.4
The men of a World War I unit headed by Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory are accused of cowardice following a botched attack. Colonel Dax, played by Kirk Douglas, stands up for the men against an unfair military system. The movie is one of the most powerful anti-war movies because it shows how pointless war is and how people abuse their power.
8. Toy Story (1995) – IMDb Score 8.3
John Lasseter’s groundbreaking cartoon movie Toy Story, made by Pixar, is about toys that come to life when people aren’t around. Woody the Cowboy (Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) go on a trip where they learn about friendship, trust, and themselves. Toy Story changed the animation business with its creative animation and emotional story.
9. Up (2009) – IMDb Score 8.3
Grab your tissues and prepare for the greatest short film within a short film. The first ten minutes are beautifully brutal. Up follows an elderly widower called Carl, who finally achieves his childhood goal of traveling to South America by tying thousands of balloons to his house and setting off on an adventure. When a little kid named Russell unexpectedly joins him, their voyage becomes a poignant narrative of friendship, grief, and finding one other again.
10. Bicycle Thieves (1948) – IMDb Score 8.3
Vittorio De Sica’s Italian neorealist masterpiece Bicycle Thieves (original title: “Ladri di biciclette”) is about a man’s desperate search for his stolen bicycle, which he needs for work. As he walks around Rome with his young son after the war, the movie looks at themes like poverty, survival, and the human spirit.
11. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) – IMDb Score 8.2
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is peak Monty Python. It brings their own style of fun to the story of King Arthur. In the film, King and his knights embark on a quest for the Holy Grail. Along the way, they face strange problems and funny situations. The film has become a cult favorite because of its irreverent and memorable comedy.
12. Rashomon (1950) – IMDb Score 8.2
Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon is a breakthrough film because it shows many individuals’ perspectives on the same incident (the samurai’s death and his wife’s attack) from different angles. Through these different stories, the movie looks at what truth is, how people see things, and how complicated people are.
13. The Kid (1921) – IMDb Score 8.2
A third Charlie Chaplin contender, The Kid, is another classic silent comedy. The Tramp finds an abandoned baby and takes care of him. As the child grows up, they form a bond that is put to the test when the government tries to take the child away. The movie is a classic because it has funny and touching parts, which are Chaplin’s trademarks.
14. Stand by Me (1986) – IMDb Score 8.1
Based on Stephen King’s tale and directed by Rob Reiner, Stand by Me follows a group of friends who go out to find the body of a missing child. As they deal with growing up and the unknown, the film catches the nostalgia and friendship of their youth. It’s one of the greatest films in history and has a phenomenal cast.
15. Trainspotting (1996) – IMDb Score 8.1
Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting is a gritty and darkly funny movie about a group of young heroin users in Edinburgh. Mark Renton, played by Ewan McGregor, is stuck in a loop of drug use, and the movie is about how he tries to break out of it. The film’s honest look at addiction and friendship has made a lasting impression.
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