When I looked up how many movies had grossed over a billion dollars (as of May 2023), I was stunned to find there had been fifty. Five-zero. That’s completely unbelievable!
I was also shocked to find how wildly the quality of the films varied. What better way to vent my frustration than with a definitive ranking of all fifty films?
Before we begin, you can check out some of my related blog posts below:
50 – The Rise of Skywalker
When I looked through the list of 50 highest grossing films, one stood out like a sore thumb to me.
Not only is “The Rise of Skywalker” a pitiful end to the new Star Wars trilogy that does nothing right, but fans should’ve known better than to get this film to a billion after the disappointment of “The Last Jedi”!
49 – Captain Marvel
The other of the outright bad films in this list, “Captain Marvel” was a film I was neutral on when seeing it in cinemas but it’s suffered since.
Carol Danvers is a very unlikeable protagonist, the villains and fight scenes are underwhelming, and Nick Fury has to save every scene he’s in. A big flop when compared to some of the strong MCU films at the time.
48 – The Phantom Menace
I have a huge nostalgia for the Star Wars prequels, and some of the filmmaking techniques were ground-breaking, but is “The Phantom Menace” a good film? No, not really.
The acting and dialogue are hammy and distracting, the final battle is too chaotic and directionless, and that pod racing scene is way more extended and mundane than I remembered.
47 – Dark of the Moon
This is going to be a very biased pick – I don’t like the Transformers films. Let the angry comments commence!
“Dark of the Moon” is yet another CGI snooze-fest in a franchise that lacks narrative drive or substance, and I’d rather watch almost anything else.
46 – Age of Extinction
Another Transformers entry, and another film I don’t really like. Maybe kids of a certain age have a huge fondness for the franchise and its lore, but I couldn’t care less.
45 – Minions
I’m the furthest thing from this film’s target audience.
If you’re a kid on an older adult, you probably love “Minions” to bits for its silly humour and the creature design. I do not.
44 – Finding Dory
A pointless sequel to a classic that adds no new ideas.
43 – Fallen Kingdom
I was excited for “Fallen Kingdom” when it released, and its opening scene made it seem like the best film since the original, but the rest of the film was a mess.
I’m glad they returned to the more thriller / horror roots, but the acting choices and clone sub-plot were downright bizarre.
42 – The Last Jedi
“The Last Jedi” might be the most visually appealing film on this list. The cinematography is stunning, and Star Wars hasn’t looked better. Unfortunately, visuals aren’t everything.
The story meanders between pointless sub-plots and underwhelming twists, and I’m extremely mixed on the way they handled some of the franchise’s most iconic characters. On top of that, it neither builds on – nor is resolved by – the films either side of it in the trilogy.
41 – Aquaman
I’m not a big fan of the DC superhero films, with most of them being moody counterparts to Marvel flicks, so “Aquaman” did nothing to win me over.
40 – The Fate of the Furious
I sat through “The Fate of the Furious” in cinemas with some friends when it released, but I can’t remember a single thing about it.
Was the final act in the snow? Was John Cena in this one? I couldn’t tell you, as it all just blends together into pointless absurdity.
39 – Despicable Me 3
I was a fan of the first two “Despicable Me” films, but you can tell they were starting to milk it by the third entry.
38 – Avatar
Everyone went stark-raving mad over “Avatar” and its visual effects when it released, but I don’t think it’s aged all that well.
The story is predictable and cliché, with characters that you can’t remember the names of once the credits roll. At least the final battle was cool.
37 – Alice in Wonderland
“Alice in Wonderland” is the most bizarre and off-beat film on this list, and I’m torn as to whether that’s an act of genius or stupidity.
The characters are zany, the visuals are psychedelic, but I don’t think it comes together in quite the way I wanted it to.
36 – Avatar: The Way of Water
It’s visually stunning, and the story is ever so slightly more interesting and expansive than the original, but “Avatar: The Way of Water” hardly sets itself apart from the original.
After about the one hour mark I was starting to get bored, but I still had two more hours to go – some of the action near the end was good, but I didn’t care about the characters or their troubles in the slightest.
35 – Furious 7
I think this was the point that people started giving up on the Fast and Furious films (in a critical sense – commercially, it had to have done well to make this list!)
Five and Six were fun additions to the franchise, but “Furious 7” veers too far into ridiculousness.
34 – Age of Ultron
The eagerly anticipated follow-up to the incredible Avengers film, but “Age of Ultron” fumbled the hype.
The villain is good, and the action was blood-pumping at points, but the Whedon-esque character interactions and comedy was starting to wear thin by this point.
33 – The Super Mario Bros. Movie
The most recent entry to the billion-dollar club, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” may as well have been called “Fan-Service: The Movie” (which may be hypocritical considering some of my later MCU placements …).
There are lots of fun individual moments, and Jack Black’s Bowser was a pleasant surprise, but at the end of the day it’s a generic kids movie meant to appease to as wide an audience as possible.
32 – Iron Man 3
People like to hate on “Iron Man 3” as a Marvel mis-step, but I think it’s fairly underrated. That being said, it’s far from perfect.
Some of the action scenes are good, and I don’t mind the Mandarin twist, but a lot of the plot directions felt bizarre for Iron Man’s character. I’m still a bit miffed that Iron Man gave up the suit at the end only to appear in every subsequent film after that regardless.
31 – The Lion King
Whilst nowhere near as good as the animated original, I think the 2019 “Lion King” remake has enough going for it to justify its existence.
The animal faces could look a little static at points, and it’s hard to compete against the original voice cast, but the visual overhaul added a new dimension to a classic story.
30 – Frozen 2
An eagerly anticipated sequel to one of the most popular animated films of all time, and “Frozen 2” played it fairly safe.
None of the songs on the soundtrack really gripped me, and the story wasn’t as engrossing as last time, but there was still a fun time to be had.
29 – The Philosopher’s Stone
The very first Harry Potter film excels in its worldbuilding and legendary cast, but I’ve always had my gripes with it.
A lot of the effects haven’t aged all that well, and the young actors give cringy performances, but the overwhelming charm and nostalgia is enough to bump this into “Good”.
28 – On Stranger Tides
My guilty pleasure Pirates of the Caribbean film, “On Stranger Tides” was always on in my household and it was always entertaining.
It’s far from the strongest storytelling this franchise has to offer, but the swashbuckling story and characters do a good job of keeping you invested.
27 – The Dark Knight Rises
A film that suffers from the strength of its predecessor, “The Dark Knight Rises” has its faults but it’s still damn good.
Bane is a phenomenal adversary, and his action set-pieces are some of the best in superhero cinema. If the ending hadn’t dropped the ball, and if the story was a bit more focussed, this could have been a classic.
26 – An Unexpected Journey
I hate how studio interference effectively ruined the Hobbit trilogy, but the first film was nothing if not joyous.
I loved this harmless return to Middle Earth, and even if some of the CGI felt unwarranted the general whimsy of the characters and plots was a delight.
25 – Beauty and the Beast
I think if any Disney film warranted a remake, it was “Beauty and the Beast”.
The live-action element adds a whole new spin on a classic, and all of the roles are really well casted and performed.
24 – Aladdin
The strongest of the recent Disney remakes, “Aladdin” is a brilliant homage to the original.
I especially love Will Smith’s unique take on Genie, a role people thought was impossible to replicate.
23 – Far From Home
MCU fans tend to dunk on “Far From Home”, especially when compared to the other two Spider-Man films, but that’s completely unfair.
Mysterio is a great villain, and seeing Spider-Man tackle challenges across Europe was really fun as a European myself.
22 – Black Panther
While not the overwhelming triumph that some people make it out to be, “Black Panther” is a fantastic superhero flick with one of the MCU’s best villains.
21 – Dead Man’s Chest
I loved the Pirates of the Caribbean films as a kid, and the best of them had to be “Dead Man’s Chest”.
We get a phenomenal introduction to the intimidating Davy Jones, and the action set-pieces – like the wheel and the kraken – are still mind-blowing twenty years later.
20 – Jurassic World
The other “Jurassic World” films were pitiful attempts at raking in easy money, but credit where credit is due – the first was a fantastic time at the cinema.
It’s derivative of the 1993 original, and it gets a little overblown and comic-y at points, but the blood-pumping action and suspense felt like a return to form for one of my favourite franchises.
19 – The Force Awakens
The other two films in the recent trilogy didn’t do it any favours, and it’s definitely derivative of “A New Hope”, but you just had to be there when “The Force Awakens” released.
It was popcorn Star Wars at its very best, with stunning Sci-Fi visuals and bare-bones characters and plot beats for any audience to get behind.
18 – Incredibles 2
The long awaited sequel to a classic, “Incredibles 2” might not reach the highs of the original but its new cast additions and strong plot made it a fun experience.
17 – Rogue One
I was a bit mixed on “Rogue One” when I left the cinema, as I felt it dragged until the final act, but in hindsight it’s easily the best of the Disney Star Wars films.
The characters are compelling, the final act is bombastic, and that Darth Vader scene will go down as one of Star Wars’ best moments.
16 – Toy Story 4
People questioned whether a fourth instalment in the Toy Story franchise was even necessary, but the film itself proved all doubters wrong.
It serves as a brilliant last hurrah for the cast of iconic characters, and the new voice talent they brought in were bundles of fun.
15 – Frozen
My little sister dragged me to the cinema to watch “Frozen” when I was a moody teenager, and I actually didn’t hate it. That’s quite an achievement.
Even as an adult I can’t deny this film’s infectious charm, and its soundtrack is one of the strongest of any Disney film.
14 – Zootropolis
People weren’t expecting much when the initial “Zootropolis” trailers dropped, but it ended up being one of the most thought-provoking films Disney have ever done.
It’s a brilliant allegory for our current societal problems, and it’s baffling how they managed to convey such heavy themes so well in a kids’ movie.
13 – Titanic
Is it overly long and overly dramatic? Maybe, but “Titanic” remains one of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters of all time.
Jack and Rose have one of cinema’s most iconic romances, and the visual / practical effects for the sinking of the titular ship haven’t been topped in the decades since.
12 – Top Gun: Maverick
Top Gun is one of the most feel-good action films of the 80’s, so I was unsure whether that masculine bravado would translate well to the 21st century.
Luckily for us, Tom Cruise and co. knocked it out of the park in “Maverick”, creating one of the most blood-pumping action thrillers of the past decade.
11 – No Way Home
Is “No Way Home” just shameless fan-service? Absolutely, but I loved every minute of it.
Words can’t describe how euphoric my cinema experience was – those two reveals and the final battle were phenomenal, and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.
10 – Toy Story 3
My personal favourite Toy Story film, “Toy Story 3” comes almost a decade after the second but still has all the charm and childhood whimsy of the first two.
Above all else, it was the villain that set this film apart – that bloody pink bear was a surprisingly intimidating force, and that final scene in the incinerator was harrowing.
9 – Civil War
Before the likes of Infinity War and Endgame, “Civil War” was the cross-over event for the ages.
The inner conflict of the Avengers is natural and well-developed – you can genuinely believe this tight-knit group of heroes would fall apart over this dispute. Add to that some incredible action set-pieces and you have a fantastic MCU entry.
8 – Joker
“Joker” may be too controversial to some, or too meandering / artsy for others, but I absolutely loved this entire film.
Joaquin Phoenix gives the performance of a lifetime, and watching his descent from misunderstood outcast to murderous psychopath has rarely been handled better in cinema.
7 – Endgame
The most anticipated film of all time, and even then it somehow delivered.
“Endgame” takes the set-up of Infinity War and runs with it, providing some of the most hype and triumphant superhero cinema we could have ever wished for. The plot can be a little loose and non-sensical at points, but the spectacle more than made up for it.
6 – Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Before the likes of the MCU, the Harry Potter saga was the most exciting franchise of this century.
“Deathly Hallows: Part 2” was exactly what I wanted from the final foray into the wizarding world, and it perfectly ended eight films’ worth of storytelling.
5 – Skyfall
The Bond franchise needed to go big for its 50th anniversary, and I don’t think they could have done much better than “Skyfall”.
Craig is on top form as Bond, and the direction, cinematography and villain are some of the franchise’s very best.
4 – Avengers
The film that proved the MCU was the definitive franchise of the modern era.
It was a big risk doing such a huge cross-over event so early on in the franchise, but Whedon and the incredible cast give their A-game to create an action film for the ages.
3 – Infinity War
“Avengers” has that first-time thrill, “Endgame” has action and drama oozing out of every scene, but “Infinity War” is the perfect storm.
It’s my favourite MCU film for a reason – the writers did a brilliant job showcasing each superhero’s strengths, and the plot was more natural than I expected. Thanos is also the MCU’s best supervillain, and that ending was a cinema experience I’ll never forget.
2 – The Return of the King
I had a really tough time picking between the top two – “Return of the King” is one of the top three fantasy films of all time (no prizes for guessing the other two …), and served as a flawless finale to cinema’s best trilogy.
The filmmaking on display is phenomenal, and I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like it again. For all intents and purposes, consider this joint-first.
1 – Jurassic Park
Another of my favourite films of all time, “Jurassic Park” is Spielberg at his scintillating best – it’s effectively equal to “Return of the King”, but the fact this wasn’t a franchise film (… at first) and still made a billion at the box office makes it all the more impressive.
The dinosaur designs still hold up today, the characters are nuanced and engaging, the suspense is immaculate, and the general themes and plot deserve more love – this is one of the best movie scripts ever!
Aaaaand that’s my list. You can check out some of my latest blog posts below:
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