The 50 Greatest Movies Ever Made

Ranking half a century of the finest films in cinematic history

15. 12 Angry Men (1957)

The 50 Greatest Movies Ever Made 14

Sidney Lumet takes a minimalist concept and wrings every single ounce of tension and drama from it, with 12 Angry Men limited in scope but massive in impact and influence. Almost the entire movie takes place on a single set, letting the actors do the heavy lifting as they deliberate the verdict in a murder trial, with a boy’s life dependent on the outcome.

A true ensemble piece, each of the dozen title characters has a major part to play in the narrative in a movie that betrays its apparent simplicity to present a morally complex tale of human conflict.