In reply to a thread with the above question:
That's an interesting question. Effects make the impossible possible, of course, but sometimes it's not good enough that they do this realistically; they have to show beauty and imagination as well.
By that criteria, the all time greats for me would be the 1933 King Kong, Fritz Lang's Metropolis, Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast, Murnau's Faust, Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (the shots are mostly not photography, but SFX), of course 2001, and maybe as recent as Blade Runner. I may be forgetting a few here.
Of recent examples I did like the effects in Coppola's Dracula, Spielberg's 1941, and the Coen's The Hudsucker Proxy.
Of CGI films my list would be very very short: Master and Commander shows the state of the art in realistic CGI effects, I think, while Jackson's Heavenly Creatures show how they can be used to poetic effect. Pretty much all else tends to make me shudder.