The Empire Strikes Back voted the greatest movie of all time


We asked, you voted in huge numbers for Empire's 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time and now the results are in. We can now officially announce that Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is your number one.

Perhaps George Lucas' space saga is back at the top of your minds after the recent start on Episode VII, or perhaps you all just got tired of voting for The Godfather and gave up when it hit the number two spot, but either way there's a new sheriff in town, and he carries a good blaster by his side.

STAR WARS: EPISODE V – THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)

USP: Where Star Wars had been an unabashedly exciting space adventure, Empire Strikes Back introduced complexity and uncertainty to the galaxy far, far away. The stakes are raised, the characters relationships tested and evolved in surprising ways, and a dash of pure black is mixed into those primary paint colours. As George Lucas himself describes it in our issue, "It's soulful, but in a different way from Episode IV. It's a little bit more adult. I'm more of a goofy director. Star Wars skews slightly younger than you'd expect; it was a film for 12-year-olds. Empire's like that but a bit of the goofiness has been shaved off it. [Director Irvin] Kershner was much more of a serious person. He loved the whole religious aspect of it, Luke learning the Force."

MVP: Mark Hamill as Luke.

OMG: While the Skywalker family soap does most of the heavy dramatic lifting of the film, and the comedy is handled by Yoda and R2, another addition to Empire that was largely absent from its predecessor is that of a love story. Han and Leia are perfectly mismatched, and from that brilliant first kiss ("I'm nice men") things seem to be building nicely until their last, desperate moments together. "I love you," she finally admits. "I know," he says, as he's lowered into the carbon chamber. HOW COULD YOU LEAVE THIS ON A CLIFFHANGER?



THE GODFATHER (1972)

USP: Not just one of the most quotable, and quoted, scripts in cinema ("I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse"), it's also one of the most impressive silk-purse-of-a-sow's-ear jobs in screenwriting history, magicking mediocre source material into a grand criminal opera. Put a lot of cannoli kids through school, too.

MVP: Gordon Willis, whose top lighting of Brando (and cat) made Don Corleone into a shadowy crime deity.

OMG: When studio honcho Jack Woltz declines to cast Vito's godson in his next picture, he finds out the hard way why the horse's head is the Mafia's bedfellow of choice. Well, apart from the fishes.



THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)

USP: Six years on and your love of Christopher Nolan's Batman sequel only grows. It may be the highest-ranking 'superhero' movie on this list, but its genius was in Nolan and his brother Jonah's bold conception of it more, as the director put it to Empire at the time, as "a large crime story, the sort of film Michael Mann always did very well, like Heat… but with the occasional psychotic clown running through it!" Batman Begins had taken Bruce Wayne's world seriously, but it still had a touch of the fantastical, especially during its final act. Here Nolan finally and firmly grounded the comic-book genre in something that felt truly real and thrillingly visceral.

MVP: Heath Ledger, without a doubt.

OMG: The glorious articulated truck-flip, achieved on the streets of Chicago without a single scrap of CGI. It felt like the greatest Bond stunt that James Bond had nothing to do with.



THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994)

USP: The highest-ranking debut on the list (and the only film that's retained the exact same placing since our last Greatest Movies poll), Frank Darabont's Stephen King adaptation is the perfect mix of modern sensibilities (man, it is brutal) and classical storytelling nous. Yet it resonates because the relationship between Tim Robbins' Andy and Morgan Freeman's Red is one of cinema's greatest friendships: earned, touching and true. Twenty years later, even if you know its secrets, the ending is still devastating.

MVP: Morgan Freeman in general and Morgan Freeman's voice in particular - his golden tones turn a potentially on-the-nose narration into poetry.

OMG: Andy Dufresne locks the warden's door and blisses out to Mozart's The Marriage Of Figaro - blaring out over the PA system, the whole prison yard is transfixed. In a tough 142 minutes, it is a beautifully realised moment of grace.



PULP FICTION (1994)

USP: Quentin Tarantino's three-classic-crime-pitches-for-the-price-of-one remains his masterpiece, a gourmet smorgasbord of movie lore — from Howard Hawks to Jean-Luc Godard via Douglas Sirk — transformed into something original, vital and still essential. Chock-full of powerful performances, classic scenes, tricksy yarn-spinning, great tunes you'd never heard before and all tied up with enough verve and energy to get to the moon and back, if you don't love Pulp Fiction, you must really question whether you love movies at all.

MVP: Tarantino the writer, shared with Roger Avary.

OMG: Vincent Vega (John Travolta) takes Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) on a date and we go along to savour every moment. Even the uncomfortable silences.


KEY: USP - Unique Selling Point (What Makes It Special), MVP - Most Valuable Player (Who Brings The Magic), OMG - Oh My God! (Best Moment)

All 301 movies at the Source + List