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Since the dawn of Hollywood, movies have not only served as entertainment, but also as time capsules, forever preserving specific moments in history. This is what makes going back and discovering the films that defined an era so much fun — and even more so, the movies that were dominating theaters and breaking records the year we were born.
We rounded up the top box-office hits of the last six decades and put together a definitive list of the most popular movie, year over year. Stretching all the way from the Golden Age of Hollywood to modern times, this list is filled with everything from classic movies you know and love to surprise hits you might’ve forgotten about (or never even seen!)
Keep scrolling for a countdown of the highest grossing films of the last 60+ years and discover what film America was obsessing over the year you were born.
Gone With The Wind 1939
1939 — Gone With the Wind
Starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable; Directed by Victor Flemming.
1940 — Rebecca
Starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine; Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
Sergeant York 1941
1941 — Sergeant York
Starring Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, and Joan Leslie; Directed by Howard Hawks
Mrs Miniver 1942
1942 — Mrs. Miniver
Starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon; Directed by William Wyler.
For Whom The Bell Tolls 1943
1943 — For Whom the Bell Tolls
Starring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman; Directed by Sam Wood.
Going My Way 1944
1944 — Going My Way
Starring Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald; Directed by Leo McCarey.
The Bells Of St Marys 1945
1945 — The Bells of St. Mary's
Starring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman; Directed by Leo McCarey.
Song Of The South 1946
1946 — Song of the South
Starring James Baskett, Bobby Driscoll, and Luana Patten; Directed by Harve Foster and Wilfred Jackson.
1947 — Unconquered
Starring Gary Cooper and Paulette Goddard; Directed by Cecil B. DeMille.
The Red Shoes 1948
1948 — The Red Shoes
Starring Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook, and Marius Goring; Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.
Samson And Delilah 1949
1949 — Samson and Delilah
Starring Heddy Lamarr and Victor Mature; Directed by Cecil B. DeMille.
King Solomons Mines 1950
1950 — King Solomon's Mines
Starring Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger, and Richard Carlson; Directed by Compton Bennett and Andrew Marton.
Quo Vadis 1951
1951 — Quo Vadis
Starring Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr; Directed by Mervyn Leroy.
The Greatest Show On Earth 1952
1952 — The Greatest Show on Earth
Starring Betty Hutton, Cornel Wilde, Charlton Heston, James Stewart, Dorothy Lamour, and Gloria Grahame; Directed by Cecil B. DeMille.
The Robe 1953
1953 — The Robe
Starring Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature; Directed Henry Koster.
Rear Window 1954
1954— Rear Window
Starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly; Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
Cinerama Holiday 1955
1955— Cinerama Holiday
Starring John Marsh, Betty Marsh, Fred Troller, Beatrice Troller, Art Buchwald, Ricard Alexis, Oscar Celestin, and Robert Marsh; Directed by Robert L. Bendick and Philippe De Lacy.
The Ten Commandments 1956
1956 — The Ten Commandments
Starring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson, Yvonne De Carlo; Directed by Cecil B. DeMille.
Bridge On The River Kwai 1957
1957 — Bridge on the River Kwai
Starring William Holden, Jack Hawkins, and Alec Guinness; Directed by David Lean
South Pacific 1958
1958 — South Pacific
Starring Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor; Directed by Joshua Logan.
Ben Hur 1959
1959 — Ben Hur
Starring Charlton Heston. Directed by William Wyler.
1960 — Spartacus
Starring Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons. Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, John Gavin, Tony Curtis; Directed by Stanley Kubrick.
West Side Story 1961
1961 — West Side Story
Starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno, and George Chakiris; Directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins.
Lawrence Of Arabia 1962
1962 — Lawrence of Arabia
Starring Peter O'Toole; Directed by David Lean.
1963 — Cleopatra
Starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton; Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
My Fair Lady 1964
1964 — My Fair Lady
Starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn; Directed by George Cukor.
Sound Of Music 1965
1965 — The Sound of Music
Starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer; Directed by Robert Wise.
The Bible In The Beginning 1966
1966 — The Bible: In the Beginning
Starring Michael Parks, Ulla Bergryd, Richard Harris, John Huston, Stephen Boyd, George C. Scott, Ava Gardner, and Peter O'Toole; Directed by John Huston.
The Graduate 1967
1967 — The Graduate
Starring Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, and Katharine Ross; Directed by Mike Nichols.
2001 A Space Odyssey 1968
1968 — 2001: A Space Odyssey
Starring Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood; Directed by Stanley Kubrick.
Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid 1969
1969 — Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford; Directed by George Roy Hill.
Love Story 1970
1970 — Love Story
Starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal; Directed by Arthur Hiller.
Fiddler On The Roof 1971
1971 — The Fiddler on the Roof
Starring Topol, Norma Crane, Leonard Frey, Molly Picon, and Paul Mann; Directed by Norman Jewison.
The Godfather 1972
1972 — The Godfather
Starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino; Directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
The Sting 1973
1973 — The Sting
Starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford; Directed by George Roy Hill.
Blazing Saddles 1974
1974 — Blazing Saddles
Starring Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder; Directed by Mel Brooks.
1975 — Jaws
Starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss; Directed by Stephen Spielberg.
1976 — Rocky
Starring Sylvester Stallone; Directed by John G. Avildsen.
Star Wars 1977
1977 — Star Wars
Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher; Directed by George Lucas.
1978 — Grease
Starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John; Directed by Randal Kleiser.
Kramer Vs Kramer 1979
1979 — Kramer vs. Kramer
Starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep; Directed by Robert Benton.
Empire Strikes Back 1980
1980 — The Empire Strikes Back
Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher; Directed by Irvin Kershner.
Raiders Of The Lost Ark 1981
1981 — Raiders of the Lost Ark
Starring Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, and Paul Freeman; Directed by Stephen Speilberg.
Et The Extra Terrestrial 1982
1982 — E.T. the Extra Terrestrial
Starring Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote, and Henry Thomas; Directed by Stephen Spielberg.
Return Of The Jedi 1983
1983 — Return of the Jedi
Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher; Directed by Richard Marquand.
Beverly Hills Cop 1984
1984 — Beverly Hills Cop
Starring Eddie Murphy; Directed by Martin Brest.
Back To The Future 1985
1985 — Back to the Future
Starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd; Directed by Robert Zemeckis.
Top Gun 1986
1986 — Top Gun
Starring Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis; Directed by Tony Scott.
Beverly Hills Cop Two 1987
1987 — Beverly Hills Cop II
Starring Eddie Murphy and Judge Reinhold; Directed by Tony Scott.
Rain Man 1988
1988 — Rain Man
Starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise; Directed by Barry Levinson.
Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade 1989
1989 — Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Starring Harrison Ford and Sean Connery; Directed by Stephen Spielberg.
1990 — Ghost
Starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore; Directed Jerry Zucker.
Terminator 2 Judgement Day 1991
1991 — Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, and Robert Patrick; Directed by James Cameron.
Aladdin — 1992
Starring Scott Weinger, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, and Jonathan Freeman; Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker.
Jurassic Park 1993
1993 — Jurassic Park
Starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, and Richard Attenborough ; Directed by Stephen Spielberg.
The Lion King 1994
1994 — The Lion King
Starring Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Moira Kelly, Nathan Lane, and Ernie Sabella; Directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff.
Die Hard With A Vengeance 1995
1995 — Die Hard with a Vengeance
Starring Bruce Willis, Jeremy Irons, Samuel L. Jackson, and Graham Greene; Directed by John McTiernan.
Independence Day 1996
1996 — Independence Day
Starring Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Will Smith, Mary McDonnell, and Judd Hirsch; Directed by Roland Emmerich.
1997 — Titanic
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet; Directed by James Cameron.
1998 — Armageddon
Starring Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Liv Tyler, and Ben Affleck; Directed by Michael Bay.
The Phantom Menace 1999
1999 — The Phantom Menace
Starring Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, and Jake Lloyd; Directed George Lucas.
Mission Impossible Two 2000
2000 —Mission: Impossible 2
Starring Tom Cruise, Dougray Scott, Thandie Newton, and Richard Roxburgh; Directed by John Woo.
Harry Potter And The Sorcerors Stone 2001
2001 — Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson; Directed by Chris Columbus.