A Definitive List Of The Best Movie Scenes Of All Time

Jordan Claes
Tom Hanks and Tom Sizemore in 'Saving Private Ryan' opening scene.
DreamWorks Pictures | DreamWorks Pictures

Great films are defined by great moments. Sometimes, these moments come in the form of classic dialogue, while other times they play out in a much more visceral manner.

Being that I fancy myself a bit of a cinephile, I decided it was high time to make note of some of the greatest moments in cinema history. Have a look below and check out this definitive list of the best movie scenes of all time.

"How often do you really look at a man's shoes?" - 'The Shawshank Redemption'.

Andy Dufresne reveling in the rain after he crawls to freedom in 'The Shawshank Redemption'.
Columbia Pictures | Columbia Pictures

Audiences thought that Andy was simply using his rock polishing kit to occupy his mind when in reality he'd been playing the long game, crafting his escape since day one.

"Game over!" - 'SAW'

Adam in 'SAW' screaming on the floor of the bathroom.
Lions Gate Films | Lions Gate Films

I don't care who you are or what you say, there's no way in hell you saw that sickening twist-ending coming unless someone spoiled it for you in the first place. Saw may not be a perfect film but it does have a perfect ending.

Beatrix Kiddo takes on the Crazy 88s in 'Kill Bill'.

Beatrix Kiddo as she's about to fight the Crazy 88s in 'Kill Bill'.

This scene isn't for the faint of heart. It's bloody, gory, and easily one of Tarantino's most violent scenes (and that's saying a lot). Still, there's a kind of beauty to be found amid the chaos.

"I'll be right here." - 'E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

Fun fact, E.T. is the first movie to ever make me cry. When Elliot and E.T. say their heartfelt goodbyes to one another, I'm reduced to a puddle every single time.

"You will know my name is The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee." - 'Pulp Fiction'

Samuel L. Jackson in the opening scene of 'Pulp Fiction'.
Miramax Films | Miramax Films

Not only is this just one of the most badass pieces of dialogue in movie history, but it helps to set the tone for the remainder of this tried and true classic.

"Maybe it's the power trying to come back on?" - 'Jurassic Park'

Water shaking in 'Jurassic Park'.

Sorry, but it's not the power that's making the water in those glasses shake and rumble. That's the sound of a hungry T-Rex making her way toward you.

"Say hello to my little friend!" - 'Scarface'

Tony Montana saying "Say hello to my little friend" in 'Scarface'.
Universal Pictures | Universal Pictures

Tony Montana knows that he's done for before he fires off the first round. Yet even in the face of assured demise, he chooses to go out exactly as he lived — like a gangster.

"FREEDOM!" - 'Braveheart'

William Wallace screaming "Freedom!" in 'Braveheart'.

Torture scenes are always tough to watch and this one is especially grueling. That's what makes William Wallace screaming out "Freedom!" at the top of his lungs all the more impactful and inspiring: he could've taken the easy way out but he fought until his dying breath.

"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist..." - 'The Usual Suspects'

Kaiser Soze was Roger "Verbal" Kint the whole time. He pieced the entire story together based solely on the fragments he saw lying around Detective Kujan's office. My mind is officially blown.

"I know now why you cry, but it's something I can never do." - 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day'

T-800 lowering himself into the molten metal in 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day'.
Giphy | Lionsgate Home Entertainment

I can say with confidence that T2 is far and away superior to the original Terminator. Watching the T-800 being lowered into molten metal is one of the more endearing sacrifices in cinema history.

"Are you talkin' to me?" - 'Taxi Driver'

Robert De Niro in 'Taxi Driver' talking to himself in the mirror.

What makes this scene even more special is that this legendary piece of dialogue was totally ad-libbed by Robert De Niro. It serves as the breaking point for Travis' shattered psyche.

"What's the most you've ever lost in a coin toss?" - 'No Country For Old Men'

As far as I'm concerned, this was the scene that secured Javier Bardem his Oscar for "Best Actor in a Supporting Role." It's positively bone-chilling.

"Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore..." - 'The Wizard Of Oz'

Dorothy arriving in Oz in 'The Wizard Of Oz'.
Loew's Inc. | Loew's Inc.

The Wizard of Oz is widely regarded as the first movie filmed in technicolor. You can't discount the impact it must've had on audiences who were seeing this brilliant technology for the first time.

The fight scene in 'Crazy, Stupid, Love'.

Crazy, Stupid, Love is the epitome of a modern-day Shakespearean comedy. The masterfully woven elements of mistaken identity, misconception, and dramatic irony all come to climax in this hilarious and brilliantly scripted fight scene.

"You can't handle the truth!" - 'A Few Good Men'

Jack Nicholson yelling "You can't handle the truth" in  'A Few Good Men'.

This is one of the finest examples of screen acting that we're ever likely to see again. Jack Nicholson is a god among men, and as far as I'm concerned — is the greatest actor who has ever lived.

"I am...Iron Man." - 'Avengers: Endgame'

Tony Stark snapping the Infinity Gauntlet in 'Avengers: Endgame'.
Disney | Disney

Thanos snapped half of the world out of existence when he first wielded the Infinity Gauntlet. It only made sense that Iron Man, the one who started it all, would be the hero to restore order and bring Thanos to his knees.

"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy..." - 'The Shining'

Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of the "Here's Johnny!" scene, too. But that terrifying suspenseful moment where Wendy furiously flips through page after page of Jack's work is far more frightening than any ax-wielding maniac could ever be.

"I'm Batman." - 'Batman'

Batman holding thug over a rooftop in 'Batman'.
Warner Bros. | Warner Bros.

This is easily one of the most monumental scenes in the history of superhero cinema. Michael Keaton's dark brooding take on the Batman would go on to serve as the basis of comparison for all future iterations of the Dark Knight.

"Do you wanna know how I got these scars?" - 'The Dark Knight'

Watching the Joker tell the story of how he got his scars was the pinnacle moment of what is often regarded as the greatest superhero movie ever made.

"You moved like they do." - 'The Matrix'

Neo dodging bullets in 'The Matrix'.

So much of the technology in The Matrix had never been seen on film before. Therefore, watching Neo dodge bullets in a full 360-degree spectrum wasn't just a "cool" effect — it was groundbreaking.

"My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius..." - 'Gladiator'

Russell Crowe in 'Gladiator' confronting the emperor.
DreamWorks | DreamWorks

I think it goes without saying that Gladiator is one of the best movies ever made. That being said, this scene still gives me goosebumps — even more than 20 years after its initial release.

"Smile, you son of a [expletive]!" - 'Jaws'

Who would've guessed that the greatest movie villain of all time would wind up being an animatronic shark? this scene is riveting, suspenseful, and had moviegoers in theaters all across America leaping for joy.

"I am your father." - 'Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back'

Luke fighting Darth Vader after he's had his hand cut off in 'Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back'.
20th Century Fox | 20th Century Fox

Four simple words helped to turn an entire franchise on its head, thus creating one of the most memorable and impactful movie moments that have ever been seen.

Storming Omaha Beach in 'Saving Private Ryan'.

By the year 2043, nearly all the veterans of WWII will be gone. Most of us will never be able to imagine the sacrifices they had to make, which makes this horrifically hard-to-watch opening scene in Saving Private Ryan all the more meaningful.