The 100 Greatest Movies


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2001
A wizard is never late. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he… well, you know the rest. It might have taken 20 years for Peter Jackson‘s plucky fantasy to clamber, Mount-Doom-style, to the very pinnacle of our greatest-movies pantheon. But here it is, brighter and more resplendent than ever.

The Fellowship Of The Ring contains so much movie. Even at the halfway point, as the characters take a breather to bicker in Rivendell, you already feel sated, like you’ve experienced more thrills, more suspense, more jollity and ethereal beauty than a regular film could possibly muster up. But Jackson is only getting started. Onwards his adventure hustles, to the bravura dungeoneering of Khazad-dûm, to the sinisterly serene glades of Lothlorien, to the final requiem for flawed Boromir amidst autumnal leaves. As Fellowship thrums to its conclusion, finally applying the brakes with a last swell of Howard Shore‘s heavenly score, you’re left feeling euphoric, bereft and hopeful, all at the same time.

The Two Towers has the coolest battle. The Return Of The King boasts the most batshit, operatic spectacle. But Fellowship remains the most perfect of the three, matching every genius action beat with a soul-stirring emotional one, as its Middle-earth-traversing gang swells in size in the first act, then dwindles in the third. This oddball suicide squad has so much warmth and wit, they’re not just believable as friends of each other — they’ve come to feel like they’re our pals too.

An ornately detailed masterwork with a huge, pulsing heart, it’s just the right film for our times — full of craft, conviction and a belief that trudging forward, step by step, in dark days is the bravest act of all. Its ultimate heroes aren’t the strongest, or those with the best one-liners, but the ones who just keep going. And so Fellowship endures: a miracle of storytelling, a feat of filmmaking and still the gold standard for cinematic experiences.

Right, now that’s decided, who’s up for second breakfast?

Read Empire’s review of The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring


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