Top 10 Philosophical Movies Of All Time
#10 - MEMENTO [2000]
MEMENTO [2000] Image

"I have to believe in a world outside my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if I can't remember them. I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world's still there. Do I believe the world's still there? Is it still out there? . . . Yeah. We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are. I'm no different."

#09 - BLADE RUNNER [1982]
BLADE RUNNER [1982] Image

"I don't know why he saved my life. Maybe in those last moments he loved life more than he ever had before. Not just his life, anybody's life, my life. All he'd wanted were the same answers the rest of us want. Where did I come from? Where am I going? How long have I got? All I could do was sit there and watch him die."

#08 - WAKING LIFE [2001]
WAKING LIFE [2001] Image

"The trick is to combine your waking rational abilities with the infinite possibilities of your dreams. Because, if you can do that, you can do anything."

#07 - SECONDS [1966]
SECONDS [1966] Image

"What kind of man is he? There's grace in the line and color, but it doesn't emerge pure. It pushes at the edge of something still tentative, unresolved . . . as if somewhere in the man there is still a key unturned . . . When you come to think of it—it sort of fits everybody, doesn't it?"

#06 - LA DOLCE VITA [1960]
LA DOLCE VITA [1960] Image

"We must get beyond passions, like a great work of art. In such miraculous harmony. We should love each other outside of time . . . detached."

#05 - THE MATRIX [1999]
THE MATRIX [1999] Image

"I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet, you are a plague, and we are the cure."

#04 - BEING THERE [1979]
BEING THERE [1979] Image

"Life is a state of mind . . ."

#03 - THE SEVENTH SEAL [1957]
THE SEVENTH SEAL [1957] Image

"Is it so terribly inconceivable to comprehend God with one's senses? Why does he hide in a cloud of half-promises and unseen miracles? How can we believe in the faithful when we lack faith? What will happen to us who want to believe, but can not? What about those who neither want to nor can believe? Why can't I kill God in me? Why does He live on in me in a humiliating way . . . despite my wanting to evict Him from my heart? Why is He, despite all, a mocking reality I can't be rid of?"

#02 - A CLOCKWORK ORANGE [1971]
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE [1971] Image

"Goodness is something to be chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man."

#01 - MY DINNER WITH ANDRE [1981]
MY DINNER WITH ANDRE [1981] Image

"We're bored. We're all bored now. But has it ever occurred to you, Wally, that the process that creates this boredom that we see in the world now, may very well be a self perpetuating, unconscious form of brainwashing created by a world totalitarian government based on money and that all of this is much more dangerous than one thinks, and it's not just a question of individual survival, Wally, but that somebody who's bored is asleep, and somebody who's asleep will not say no?"

User Comments - Add a Comment
Ben - 2008-06-09 11:01:57
Amazing list. Love momento being there because i think it was a real sleeper for a while, pardon the pun. havent seen "My dinenr with andre" but i endevor to.
Matt - 2008-07-02 10:45:20
Yes, My Dinner With Andre is something I'm having a hard time finding, but the quote definitely makes me want to see it.
phil - 2008-07-04 03:13:44
There are certianly many philosophical films named here, I certainly don't agree with the order- waking life is by far more philosophical than the matrix but there are two films not mentioned that should have been on this list: I heart Huckabees and Existenz- both of which are by far more philosphical than many mentioned here.
Delanie - 2008-07-08 08:26:23
waking life is one of the most incredible movies i have ever watched. it makes you think about everything in a new perspective. and when a movie can do that, you know its a good one.
ognjen, 20 - 2008-07-26 18:10:57
look for more in ''second hands'' movie production. there is something.
Anon - 2008-08-04 21:33:35
I'd have to say Fight Club should be put on this list
Alx - 2008-08-26 01:24:31

I'm glad I Heart Huckabees wasn't on the list. Sure, it was philosophical, but it was shitty. Some grand choices. Ikiru, though, definitely number one.

traffic - 2008-10-16 10:28:00

wild strawberries should also be on the list....!

Alex - 2008-10-25 21:44:45

Nice list, if I could make some suggestions I would pick Winter Light instead of Seventh Seal by Bergman. I would also have mentioned Woman of the Dunes (Suna no onna). And not a single Tarkovsky film on the list? "If you want the world to go forward we must hold hands. We must mix the so-called healthy with the so-called sick. You healthy ones! What does your health mean? [..] Freedom is useless if you don't have the courage to look us in the eye, to eat, drink and sleep with us! It's the so-called healthy who have brought the world to the verge of ruin. [..] What kind of world is this if a madman tells you you must be ashamed of yourselves?" /Nostalgia, by Andrei Tarkovsky

Matt - 2008-10-26 15:40:15

I will admit I haven't seen most of these, but if I were to make my own list a few that would be on there: Donnie Darko, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep, Pan's Labyrinth.

Thomas - 2008-11-02 15:17:44

"I Heart Huckabees" is terrible and only pseudo-philosophical. "waking Life" is more philosophy-oriented than any of these.

Beatnik Bob - 2008-11-11 09:19:14

"Kitten with a Whip" (1964) starring Ann Margaret should be included.

Tyler - 2008-11-16 06:35:09

I'm honestly disappointed in the few who say the Matrix shouldn't be included. The movie in itself presents a purely philosophical debate of solipsism, but if one is willing to delve deeper, it encompasses everything from Government, Religion, to even looking in at one's self. I also agree with the sentiment that Fight Club should be included, though this is a great list.

T.J. - 2008-11-20 22:55:36

I'm with you on "Donnie Darko" Matt

WRAY EDWARDS - 2008-12-11 02:33:32

"SECONDS WAS ROCK HUDSON'S GREATEST MOVIE AND FRANKENHEIMER'S BREAKOUT CLASSIC. IT WAS A GREAT EXPOSE OF SOCIAL TYRANNY. I WOULD GIVE HONORABLE MENTION TO "MINDWALK" WITH LIV ULMAN, SAM WATERSTON AND JOHN HURD (?).

Devin - 2009-01-14 21:44:16

Thanks to the poster who mentioned "Existenz". It is one of the greatest movies ever and I never meet anyone in person who has even heard of it. I have shown it to about 20 people now because I think it is so good. Not sure why some people don't think "I Heart Huckabees" is philosophical, it is more explicitly philosophical than any movie on this list. I would have included "A Scanner Darkly" on here, as well as "The Fountain", both very philosophical. This list is also seriously lacking Japanese content, which is typically much more philosophical than western. How about an anime like "Ghost in the Shell"? This movie as well as it's sequal are heavily philosophical.

Heikos - 2009-01-15 16:31:26

Great movies indeed. But I am missing the movie Revolver (2005). Which is not only philosophical but also psychological. Revolver is about the enemy (ego) within us all. Don't expect to understand the movie at once, but afer a few reviews, you should be able to understand.

Elnaz - 2009-01-23 09:23:59

Nice... How about Fight Club and Stalker :-?

Victorie - 2009-02-06 15:45:07

MindWalk (with Liv Ullmann, Sam Waterston and John Heard) and The NeverEnding Story are on my list. Also The Truman Show, as well as Dark City (Rufus Sewell) for strong philosophical content.

Anthony - 2009-02-11 01:11:21

What, no Tartovsky? No Eisenstein? No Vidor? I'd say someone needs to rethink this list.

Marcus - 2009-02-12 07:08:08

agree with anthony - if this is the best you can come up with you really need to watch some more philosophical films!

Parker - 2009-02-17 19:50:48

I would have included The Fountainhead.

Mike - 2009-02-24 12:22:20

I think Fight Club should have been on the list.
Our fathers are a model for God. If our fathers bailed, what does that tell you about guy? Listen to me! You have to consider the possibility that god does not like you. He never wanted you. In all probability, he hates you. It's not the worst thing that can happen. We don't need him. Fuck Damnation, man! Fuck Redemption! We are God's unwanted children, so be it... First, you have to give up. First, you have to know, not fear, KNOW that some day you are going to die... It's only after you've lost everything, that you're free to do anything.

Matt - 2009-03-11 18:41:51

How about " The Fountain" ?

jane - 2009-03-16 21:14:46

Pi? the fountain?

GreGary - 2009-03-23 04:32:06

What about Adaptation? that really delves into problems of the modern views of success.

luke81 - 2009-03-25 22:22:16

ZARDOZ.

2bornot2b - 2009-04-09 02:46:46

Chinatown is an incredible cinematic meditation on epistemology. Check it out. "When you don't know what's going on, do as little as possible, or you might end up hurting the people you're trying to help." Brilliant.

Sleba - 2009-04-12 12:47:51

Stay is a reallly great film as well, and i also agree that Fight Club has reason to be on this list!

PETER BYROM - 2009-05-12 17:21:16

how about "network"?????? im sure it should be here, "1984" could be there too...

Guest - 2009-06-04 12:54:58

Nice work, im looking forward to see those old pieces. For me - the best i can think of now: 1. matrix. 2. starwars, Total Recall, Sphere, paprika, Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi, Fight club, Revolver, Stalker, Lola run

Richard - 2009-06-11 04:15:29

I agree with Devin I Heart Huckabees is far more philosophical than most of these films, albeit existentialism. Also, Dark City. Gohave od list there are are a few I haven't seen and will have to check out.

Soule - 2009-08-09 19:24:40

I agree with Traffic, above, Wild Strawberries definitely belongs on the list. Also, a distinction between whether the films are "philosophical" by blatantly philisophical dialogue or by theme is in order as well. Some excellent films on the list, though.

H - 2009-08-14 20:57:38

Killer Klowns from Outer Space. I base my entire existence on this movie.

Richard j. - 2009-08-26 21:10:56

I think this is a great list, however, I would have added "Johnny Got His Gun" to the list.

Endsville - 2009-09-07 18:32:08

Fight Club should have been #1

Martin - 2009-10-20 20:52:32

More philisophical anime - Haibane Renmei, and Kino's Journey.

nickapleeze - 2009-10-27 01:46:16

wtf!!!1 wheres Fight Club?

Anonymous - 2009-11-04 22:09:10

The final speech in Blade Runner by Roy was just incredible. However, the book was far greater, both philosophically and entertainment wise. The movie left out a lot of parts from the novel which questioned religion, love, life, emotions, friendship and even reality. For all interested, read the original book, "Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?" Much greater experience then the movie.

otana - 2009-11-25 18:59:28

The funny thing here is all the people complaining about this or that with this top 10. If you're really into philosophy then you'd know that everything is subjective, nothing exists with independent value, and that all taste is relative. What's the point of watching these movies if you don't learn anything from them lol

oh - 2009-12-20 01:17:54

Just forget the list, and main subject of this page; if we talking to philosophers the films we want to recomnanded dont need to be in that way; for one philosopher could be very funny if you recomand to hom 'phohlosophical' film, so keep in mind what did i marked as a good movies, im gonna do this quick without sorting, almost as i copied from my dvd catalog, so, this is going to be like this: 1.Ghost Dog 2.Down by law 3.Dead man 4.Stranger than paradise 5.Coffee and cigarettes 6.The limits of control 7.Hollywood ending 8.Small time crocks 9.The cruise of jade scorpion 10.The man without past 11.Dancer in the dark 11.L'enfant 12.Taste of cherry 13.The bunishment 14.Lost highway 15.Memento 16.The wind will carry us 17.Apokalypse now 18.American beauty 19.Scarface 20.The deer hunter 21.Once upon time in america 22.Barfly 23.Lost in translation 24.Der himmel uber berlin 25.Solyaris 26.The return 27.Planet of apes 28.And now something completly different 29.Football factory 30.Catch me if you can 31.Cinema paradiso 32.Wacking life 33.Apphavile 34.Faustrecht der freuheit 35.Fear eats soul 36.4 luni 3 saptimani si 2 zile

daws - 2010-01-22 19:58:44

man great lists... you should credit the directors with these movies. I'm curious, and I'm sure others are too...

 

[Editor's Note: Thanks for the suggestion, I will definitely add the directors soon!]

mohammed - 2010-01-28 05:05:05

the matrix & being there are phinnominal...........

emanon - 2010-02-05 23:47:26

also... Antonioni films like L'Aventura, Blow Up, and The Passenger; Cimino's Heaven's Gate; Visconte's The Leopard and Death in Venice; Pontecorvo's Burn; Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey; Fellini's 81/2 ...

Branden - 2010-03-11 21:38:21

A lot of people have to realize that "philosophy" and "psychology" are two totally different things. But great list, I agree with it in the fullest.

Djambo Hayward - 2010-03-24 18:23:17

I really think "The man from earth" should be on that list

Saosin - 2010-04-28 03:26:21

Not 1 person has mentioned Vanilla Sky. Vanilla Sky to me is absolute Genious and by far my favorite move of all time

matrix - 2010-05-18 13:21:21

That particular theory is flawed because any organism will over populate given the right conditions. think mice, rabbits, locusts..... Epic philisophical fail!!

Duh - 2010-05-20 21:00:47

The United States of Leland, starring a young Ryan Gosling, is based pretty strongly around Camus' The Stranger. It's really undeniable that this film should be on here. It does an amazing job with the story, and Leland's narrative is both heartbreaking and insightful. It's really a beautiful movie, I recommend it to everybody.

nietzsche - 2010-05-28 15:04:49

GROUNDHOG DAY starring Bill Murray should be included.. It is an interpretation on Nietzsche's eternal recurrence

Mehmet - 2010-05-31 23:22:19

Akira Kurosawa's 'Dreams' is good, particularly the conversation in the village of the windmills scene ;). 'PI' is also interesting. 'the fountain' another good one. 'dark city' , :)

Alex - 2010-06-26 16:28:52

What about "Synecdoche, New York" or "The Prestige" as well?

Dave Brough - 2010-07-06 00:43:49

One great film written by the late Bruce Lee who never got to see his work was a film called IRON CIRCLE and later re released as The silent flute starring David Caradine, Christopher Lee and many others..It is definitely a martial arts film with a twist to which fighting is secondary to the philosophical teachings. The film is about the book of enlightenment, well worth a watch, and clearly not very well known..Awesome for spiritual and Buddhist interest...

Vince - 2010-07-24 23:27:39

Add a new one to the list - Inception. Also wheres Donnie Darko??

furb - 2010-07-26 19:33:15

cant believe no one has said "lawnmower man" great movie for the subject at hand. and "tron" for that matter. questioning authority... Philosophy.... any who great picks by the list maker

lcam - 2010-08-11 07:00:41

to the editor, great list, was wondering if it won't be possible to expand the list or maybe create another list with more movies and quotes, it doesn't even need rankings, it would be highly appreciated and some of the suggestions given are certainly worth mentioning, thanks alot.. ps. i think 'into the wild' should also be considered

 

[Editor's Note: This is a great idea, we will definitely work on a comprehensive list!]

erik - 2010-08-23 13:50:09

some people realy need learn what the difference is between philosophy and psychology, the two are tottaly different.

Stan - 2010-09-02 00:52:40

I have to second the idea that Groundhog Day is conspicuously absent from the list. It not only asks the ultimate question about the goal, if not the actual meaning of life... it actually answers it.

ismaeel - 2010-09-30 04:50:25

inception, and peacefully warrior

Sadun_Mahabuthgamuwa - 2010-10-18 04:57:10

Matrix is the best.. Bcz...If any1 can get some idea abt Matrix then other can be give other idea 4 it... Give me ansr 2 tis... If there has any life WITHOUT ANY SENSE?? tht mean....is it the Life? Wake Up from ur dream...

jaroslav_gg - 2010-10-20 07:59:50

Not even close... And besides, where is "Barton Fink"?

huckey - 2010-10-22 08:28:04

Im shocked know one said vanilla sky or even number 23..two of my favs

babaganush - 2010-12-19 02:21:26

No1 said butterfly affect.. i 2nd that peacefull warrior pst too.

T - 2010-12-24 15:37:57

I entirely agree with everyone who mentioned Fight Club. Here's another one you guy's might enjoy (personal favorite) -Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. This movie is incredible, it really creates a sense of everything that is meanigful and profound in life. "Dr. Rubin: I can tell you are chipmunks by the fur and the tails." Brilliant.

Will - 2011-01-17 01:44:13

I'm not sure if these movies would make a top 10 list but, I think "the butterfly effect" and "surrogates" with Bruce Willis were really philosophically good movies.

wade419 - 2011-02-03 21:23:05

This list, as well as so many of the ones posted by commenters, are all going on my to-watch list. I love these types of movies - I always define it as "something that makes me think". One story not yet mentioned is Watchmen - I found it sparked great debate about human nature. Of course, the graphic novels should be mentioned as well (I've heard great things, but have yet to go beyond the film).

rushabh - 2011-02-26 12:17:55

momento the movie shows great philosophy

Can't - 2011-03-06 20:02:48

List is strange at least. Where's Jarman's Wittgenstein? According to the list any film can be given that status.

Djambo - 2011-03-10 17:40:01

Man from earth.

edd - 2011-03-30 21:33:40

Sadly, (even though this list is very good) I'm disapointed to not see "The Man From Earth" on this list. It's not that well known (sadly) so i'll give you some slack for that. I guess I'm mostly pissed at the fact that no-one's ever heard of it.

 

[Editor's Note: Good suggestion, love this movie, good suggestion, it definitely ranks among the top philosophical movies!] 

Dang - 2011-04-24 06:11:12

I came across this website hoping to find another movie like The Man from Earth. All these movies on the list seem to touch on common philosophical dilemmas but I'm looking for something more intriguing. Something like The Truman Show but less entertainment like 12 Angry Men. Unthinkable - has a overplayed topic on torture vs security Sunset Limited - beyond my level of comprehension at the moment to completely understand what theyre talking about Contact - the ending was the real philosophical debate Those are some that I can think of right now

Peter Ponet - 2011-05-21 17:27:26

the thin red line

Atomicant - 2011-06-23 10:50:17

What about Gattaca?

Caroline - 2011-07-07 18:39:42
Many of the films are related to metaphysics, the study of what is real. But ethics is a branch of philosophy too, and for this branch, Crimes and Misdemeanors Twelve Angry Men Gone Baby Gone
dave - 2011-09-26 02:02:05

I also think this list is missing to philosophical movies aimed to address the question "what exactly is reality" - Ghost in the Machine (anime, but awesome none-the-less and Avalon a foreign film, but watch it dubbed. Both are pretty hard to find too.

Mical Jones - 2012-02-17 07:45:14
To far too many people philosophy is much to much a nebulous term and enterprise. It does not form from a core value, it seeps in like the humidity and can be easily neutralized or overcome by using the air conditioner. Philosophy, a human invention, should not be used against humanity. It is its best when it is positive. These movies are for the most part nothing more than one mans opinion expressed more for the sake of the Yankee dollar and a need to share his depression for the sake of his ego. There is so much that is good and lovely about this world and life and yet the fashion has become one of disassociation from life in order to bring down indictments upon that life. Only cowards and mental cripples form opinion at the expense of their fellowman and use that eye for detail to offset their hypocrisy, their dishonesty, their lack of soul. their lack of faith.
tsp - 2012-02-19 22:18:04
"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives" it's a wonferful life
anenome - 2012-04-28 16:31:38

It's hard to find really good philosophical movies...the kind I like. Very few actors, just major dialogue. If anyone knows of any in my catagories, please email me at: anenome(a)gmail(dot)com. I like things like: Waking life; Mindwalk; Sunset Limited; The Man From Earth; HurlyBurly (must see); Scanner Darkly; Swimming with Sharks (yes, Spacey is good); Tape; Talk Radio; Broken Flowers; Lost in Translation; Usual Suspects (just Spacey's character mostly, but good film); Pi; Network; Before Sunrise/Sunset;...stuff like that. Thanks and have a very philosophical day!!!

Dave - 2012-06-26 07:00:45

Consider adding 'Another Earth' (2011) to this list.

madam octa - 2012-10-19 09:14:29

i think David lynch movies should be included specially eraserhead

James - 2013-05-28 16:34:49

I think No Country For Old Men is worth a mention. Sure, it doesn't venture the scope of metaphysics (like a lot on this list do), but it's a brutally honest exploration into nihilism. It leads every viewer into assuming a common stance on matters of causation, humanity and morality - and then teaches every viewer a lesson. A very valuable lesson, which I wouldn't want to spoil. Not only does it tackle nihilism (and flirt with the boundary with existentialism), but it's also a fantastic piece of pure film-making, philosophy aside.

bottleslingguy - 2013-06-29 13:34:47

anyone mention Altered States with William Hurt yet?

Theo - 2014-01-16 02:51:05

Great list! Everyone has their favorites in different flavors. Thanks to everyone who added to the list (helped me remember some of my favorites!) I agree the list could be redone with directors names included and maybe connecting the dots thematically.... Here's my list to share (the ranking tends toward those that I continue to re-watch and learn from). My list: 1) The Fountain/Pi 2) Solaris/Stalker/Nostalgia 3) Man from Earth 4) Gravity 5) Planet of the Apes 6) Blade Runner/Alien/Prometheus? 7) Battlestar Galactica (new series) 8) Tree of Life 9) Looper 10) Persona/Wild Strawberries/7th Seal 11) Mindwalk 12) 2001 13) Waking Life/Scanner Darkly/Watchmen 14) Altered States

Pete - 2014-02-12 20:47:45

Heres my list of existential films,/blade runner/the dark knight trilogy/clockwork orange/the big leubowski/fight club/2001 a space odyssey/the matrix/prometheus/platoon/the duelist/ all have a touch of nietzsche or shopenhauer,possibly freud,blade runner is clearly referencing thus spake the zarathrustra,when nietzsche claims man kind must be surpassed,roy baddy playing the role of the superman or ubermensch,who revels in his earthly existence and feels betrayed by his maker,who denys him long life

spork - 2014-03-01 04:29:15

Mike Leigh's "Naked".

Jayk47 - 2014-07-22 12:29:54

surprised not to see 1 of my favourites .... "K-PAX" < not like it's unheard of with Kevin spacey, also "Instinct" < with Anthony Hopkins, these two films are so underrated. Others I like are Matrix 1, 2 and 3, Fight club, Dark city, Memento, Pi, Waking life, A Scanner darkly and sixth sense.

rob ford - 2015-05-01 03:23:13

Without Bresson, Tarkovsky and Antonioni its just a mess

Tupi rebellion - 2015-06-23 20:31:31

The last commenter has a point, however what a glorious mess. I truly hope that you continue to keep this site available as it has been a bastion of integrity amongst the swill of meaningless bandwidth pollution that comprises most cyberspace. It is still one of the best. Bravo.

[Editor's Note: You, sir, just made our day, thanks!]

Anonymous - 2015-07-13 02:14:13

Cloud Atlas should be on that list. Check it out.

Jo - 2015-08-25 22:45:50

Has anyone mentioned Sacred Mountain? Imagery aside, this was a great philosophical movie.

Ema - 2016-03-20 00:33:08

Bravo for the anonymous entries for Cloud Atlas and Mindwalk. Where is The Bridge of San Luis Rey? And The Book Thief? And Agora? This list should be updated!!!