Are These the 50 Best Special Effects in Film of All-Time?


David Fear, Joshua Rothkopf and Keith Uhlich from Time Out New York have taken the time to list their choices for the 50 “most special effects of all time” from films dating from 1902-2009.

As effects have become a larger and larger part of today’s films, to the point we are now debating whether a CG-rendered character is worthy of an Oscar nomination, it’s interesting to look at the number of films on the list from each decade. Here’s how each decade breaks down:

  • 1900-1909 – 1 film
  • 1920s – 2 films
  • 1930s – 4 films
  • 1940s – 2 films
  • 1950s – 5 films
  • 1960s – 4 films
  • 1970s – 8 films
  • 1980s – 14 films
  • 1990s – 7 films
  • 2000-2009 – 3 films

Looking over the list, there are a few films I haven’t seen, but of the bunch I would consider for such a list, they have pretty much covered them all. The ranking would probably be the only dispute, but then again the effect newer films have had on the world of cinema as a whole has not yet been fully realized. In ten years we’ll probably see if Avatar should rank higher on such a list, but there aren’t many recent films I would say necessarily deserve inclusion. Can you think of any over the last two years that you may put on this list over any that are already included?

I would bet some of you will instantly say Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but after Gollum in Lord of the Rings and the Na’vi in Avatar, did Rise really bring that much more to the landscape? Right now we can’t answer that question, but in ten years we will hopefully realize the full effect.

I have listed the top 10 directly below with a clip from each followed by the complete list of 50 films on the second page. To browse Time Out New York’s six-page feature, with explanations for each decision click here.

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

9.) Metropolis (1927)

8.) Blade Runner (1982)

7.) The Abyss (1989)

6.) Jaws (1975)

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