Watching a movie is the ultimate form of escape, providing us with a couple of hours of distraction from the outside world. It's no wonder it makes us feel so good, when a study by Oxford University suggests that watching films - particularly sad ones - can boost the production of endorphins in our body ("feel-good" chemicals that can act as a pain reliever and happiness booster).

Interested to find out the highest rated movies from the last 50 years, OnBuy looked into each film that came out between 1970 and 2019. We then found each film's IMDb rating in order to determine the highest rated film for each year, as well as the average film rating for each decade. Which film is the highest rated from the year you were born?

The top 10 high-rated nudist beaches in Europe

The highest rated movie from the year you were born
1970s

Shutterstock / spatuletail

1970s

Best known for their flares and the rise of disco, the '70s were also iconic for film too. This was the era of the first 'blockbuster' movies, and when Scorsese, Spielberg and Coppola found power in a new kind of filmmaking. That's highlighted by movies from this decade averaging an IMDb rating of 8.5 stars.

The highest rated movie from this era is Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 hit, The Godfather, based on Puzo's best-selling 1969 novel of the same name. With a score of 9.2 out of 10, it's no wonder the crime film is still popular today. The Godfather: Part II falls shortly behind as the second highest rated movie of the '70s, scoring 9 stars out of 10.

The highest rated film per year:

  • 1970: "Woodstock" - 8.2 out of 10 (Documentary)
  • 1971: "A Clockwork Orange" - 8.3 out of 10 (Crime)
  • 1972: "The Godfather" - 9.2 out of 10 (Crime)
  • 1973: "The Sting" - 8.3 out of 10 (Comedy)
  • 1974: "The Godfather: Part 2" - 9 out of 10 (Crime)
  • 1975: "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" - 8.7 out of 10 (Drama)
  • 1976: "Taxi Driver" - 8.3 out of 10 (Crime)
  • 1977: "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" - 8.6 out of 10 (Fantasy)
  • 1978: "The Last Waltz" - 8.2 out of 10 (Documentary)
  • 1979: "Apocalypse Now" - 8.4 out of 10 (Drama)
1980s

Shutterstock / Stefano Buttafoco

1980s

Despite the "eighties" being renowned for their extreme fashions, such as "big hair" and bright colours, they were also a golden decade in film, boasting many timeless classics like Dirty Dancing (1987), Back to the Future (1985) and even E.T. (1982). It comes as no surprise that, according to our calculations, the era has an average IMDb rating of 8.4 out of 10!

The highest rated movie from the '80s is the popular fantasy film, Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, scoring 8.7 out of 10. This film was a box office success and quickly became a pop-culture phenomenon, pocketing a whopping $549.3 million! In fact, the film earned $4.9 million during the weekend - an average of $38,972 per cinema - beating other debuting films, like The Shining!

The highest rated film per year:

  • 1980: "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back" - 8.7 out of 10 (Fantasy)
  • 1981: "Raiders of the Lost Ark" - 8.4 out of 10 (Action)
  • 1982: "Koyaanisqatsi" - 8.3 out of 10 (Documentary)
  • 1983: "Scarface" - 8.3 out of 10 (Crime)
  • 1984: "Amadeus" - 8.3 out of 10 (Drama)
  • 1985: "Back to the Future" - 8.5 out of 10 (Adventure)
  • 1986: "Aliens" - 8.3 out of 10 (Sci-Fi)
  • 1987: "Full Metal Jacket" - 8.3 out of 10 (Drama)
  • 1988: "Cinema Paradiso" - 8.5 out of 10 (Drama)
  • 1989: "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" - 8.2 out of 10 (Action)
1990s

Shutterstock / tinseltown

1990s

After the success of previous decades, the '90s had a lot to live up to on the movie scene - and they didn't disappoint! The era produced films that are still universally loved by all, including classics like The Silence of the Lambs, Good Will Hunting and Fight Club.

The decade even saw the highest rated IMDb film of all the time, with The Shawshank Redemption, starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, being awarded an impressive 9.3 stars! Therefore, it's unsurprising that the '90s has the highest average IMDb rating of all eras considered, scoring an impressive 8.6 out of 10.

The highest rated film per year:

  • 1990: "Goodfellas" - 8.7 out of 10 (Crime)
  • 1991: "The Silence of the Lambs" - 8.6 out of 10 (Crime)
  • 1992: "Reservoir Dogs" - 8.3 out of 10 (Crime)
  • 1993: "Schindler's List" - 8.9 out of 10 (Drama)
  • 1994: "The Shawshank Redemption" - 9.3 out of 10 (Drama)
  • 1995: "Se7en" - 8.6 out of 10 (Crime)
  • 1996: "Fargo" - 8.1 out of 10 (Crime)
  • 1997: "Good Will Hunting" - 8.3 out of 10 (Drama)
  • 1998: "Saving Private Ryan" - 8.6 out of 10 (Drama)
  • 1999: "Fight Club" - 8.8 out of 10 (Drama)
2000s

Shutterstock / Willrow-Hood

2000s

The noughties are not only responsible for defining pop culture but producing films that will be loved and remembered forever, including The Lord of the Rings trilogy which was the highest rated film for three years in a row (2001, 2002 and 2003). In fact, 82% of people voted J.R.R. Tolkein's trilogy as films they wish they'd been able to see at the cinema when they were first released, according to our research.

Not to mention, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Night (2008) was also one of IMDb's highest rated films of all-time scoring 9 stars out of 10 - joint third with The Godfather: Part II. With critics praising a lot of movies from the era, it should come as no surprise that films from the 2000s receive an average IMDb rating of 8.6 stars.

The highest rated film per year:

  • 2000: "Gladiator" - 8.5 out of 10 (Action)
  • 2001: "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" - 8.8 out of 10 (Action)
  • 2002: "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" - 8.7 out of 10 (Action)
  • 2003: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" - 8.9 out of 10 (Action)
  • 2004: "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" - 8.3 out of 10 (Drama)
  • 2005: "Batman Begins" - 8.2 out of 10 (Action)
  • 2006: "The Departed" - 8.5 out of 10 (Crime)
  • 2007: "Like Stars on Earth" - 8.4 out of 10 (Drama)
  • 2008: "The Dark Knight" - 9 out of 10 (Action)
  • 2009: "Inglorious Bastards" - 8.3 out of 10 (Adventure)
2010s

Shutterstock / tinseltown

2010s

Despite the success of previous decades, cinema ticket sales began to dwindle during this era thanks to the rise of streaming devices completely changing our viewing habits. But it's not all doom and gloom, as there were a number of fantastic films made across the decade from filmmakers all over the world, including Christopher Nolan's Inception which was released at the beginning of the decade and scored an impressive IMDb rating of 8.8.

But, during the 2010s, animation films took centre stage with Inside Out, Your Name and Coco being the highest rated films in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively. However it was Anthony Russo's Avengers: Infinity War that had everyone talking with its $316 million budget and its opening weekend earning an incredible $640.5 million - the highest-grossing opening weekend of all time.

The highest rated film per year:

  • 2010: "Inception" - 8.8 out of 10 (Action)
  • 2011: "The Intouchables" - 8.5 out of 10 (Comedy)
  • 2012: "Django UnChained" - 8.4 out of 10 (Western)
  • 2013: "The Wolf of Wall Street" - 8.2 out of 10 (Drama)
  • 2014: "Interstellar" - 8.6 out of 10 (Adventure)
  • 2015: "Inside Out" - 8.1 out of 10 (Animation)
  • 2016: "Your Name" - 8.4 out of 10 (Animation)
  • 2017: "Coco" - 8.4 out of 10 (Animation)
  • 2018: "Avengers: Infinity War" - 8.4 out of 10 (Action)
  • 2019: "Parasite" - 8.6 out of 10 (Drama)