The 100 Greatest Films of All Time

In our biggest ever film critics’ poll, the list of best movies ever made has a new top film, ending the 50-year reign of Citizen Kane.

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Credit: Kobal Collection

1. Vertigo

Alfred Hitchcock, USA 1958

A former detective with a fear of heights is hired to follow a woman apparently possessed by the past in Alfred Hitchcock’s timeless thriller about obsession.

The accession of Vertigo to the top spot in this poll is hardly in the nature of a coup d’état. Tying for 11th place in 1972, Hitchcock’s masterpiece steadily inched up the poll over the next three decades, and by 2002 was clearly the heir apparent to the long-ruling Citizen Kane. Still, even ardent Wellesians should feel gratified at the modest revolution – if only for the proof that film canons (and the versions of history they legitimate) are not completely fossilised.

There may be no larger significance in the bare fact that a couple of films made in California 17 years apart have traded numerical rankings on a whimsically impressionistic list. Yet the human urge to interpret chance phenomena will not be denied, and Vertigo is a crafty, duplicitous machine for spinning meaning…

— Peter Matthews’ opening to his commemorative poll essay Vertigo rises: the greatest film of all time?

See all 191 votes for Vertigo


2. Citizen Kane

Orson Welles, USA 1941

Given extraordinary freedom by Hollywood studio RKO for his debut film, boy wonder Welles created a modernist masterpiece that is regularly voted the best film ever made.

Kane and Vertigo don’t top the chart by divine right. But those two films are just still the best at doing what great cinema ought to do: extending the everyday into the visionary.

— Nigel Andrews

In the last decade I’ve watched this first feature many times, and each time, it reveals new treasures. Clearly, no single film is the greatest ever made. But if there were one, for me Kane would now be the strongest contender, bar none.

— Geoff Andrew

All celluloid life is present in Citizen Kane; seeing it for the first or umpteenth time remains a revelation.

— Trevor Johnston

3. Tokyo Story

Ozu Yasujiro, Japan 1953

The final part of Yasujiro Ozu’s loosely connected ‘Noriko’ trilogy is a devastating story of elderly grandparents brushed aside by their self-involved family.

Ozu used to liken himself to a “tofu-maker”, in reference to the way his films – at least the post-war ones – were all variations on a small number of themes. So why is it Tokyo Story that is acclaimed by most as his masterpiece? DVD releases have made available such prewar films as I Was Born, But…, and yet the Ozu vote has not been split, and Tokyo Story has actually climbed two places since 2002. It may simply be that in Tokyo Story this most Japanese tofu-maker refined his art to the point of perfection, and crafted a truly universal film about family, time and loss.

— James Bell

See all 107 votes for Tokyo Story


4. La Règle du jeu

Jean Renoir, France 1939

Made on the cusp of WWII, Jean Renoir’s satire of the upper-middle classes was banned as demoralising by the French government for two decades after its release

Only Renoir has managed to express on film the most elevated notion of naturalism, examining this world from a perspective that is dark, cruel but objective, before going on to achieve the serenity of the work of his old age. With him, one has no qualms about using superlatives: La Règle du jeu is quite simply the greatest French film by the greatest of French directors.

— Olivier Père

See all 100 votes for La Règle du Jeu


5. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

F.W. Murnau, USA 1927

Lured to Hollywood by producer William Fox, German Expressionist filmmaker F.W. Murnau created one of the silent cinema’s last and most luminous masterpieces.

When F.W. Murnau left Germany for America in 1926, did cinema foresee what was coming? Did it sense that change was around the corner – that now was the time to fill up on fantasy, delirium and spectacle before talking actors wrenched the artform closer to reality? Many things make this film more than just a morality tale about temptation and lust, a fable about a young husband so crazy with desire for a city girl that he contemplates drowning his wife, an elemental but sweet story of a husband and wife rediscovering their love for each other. Sunrise was an example – perhaps never again repeated on the same scale – of unfettered imagination and the clout of the studio system working together rather than at cross purposes.

— Isabel Stevens

See all 93 votes for this Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans


6. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick, UK/USA 1968

Stanley Kubrick took science fiction cinema in a grandly intelligent new direction with this epic story of man’s quest for knowledge.

2001: A Space Odyssey is a stand-along monument, a great visionary leap, unsurpassed in its vision of man and the universe. It was a statement that came at a time which now looks something like the peak of humanity’s technological optimism.

— Roger Ebert

See all 90 votes for 2001: A Space Odyssey


7. The Searchers

John Ford, USA 1956

John Ford created perhaps the greatest of all westerns with this tale of a Civil War veteran doggedly hunting the Comanche who have kidnapped his niece.

Do the fluctuations in popularity of John Ford’s intimate revenge epic – no appearance in either critics’ or directors’ top tens in 2002, but fifth in the 1992 critics’ poll – reflect the shifts in popularity of the western? It could be a case of this being a western for people who don’t much care for them, but I suspect it’s more to do with John Ford’s stock having risen higher than ever this past decade and the citing of his influence in the unlikeliest of places in recent cinema.

— Kieron Corless

See all 78 votes for The Searchers


8. Man with a Movie Camera

Dziga Vertov, Soviet Union 1929

An impression of city life in the Soviet Union, The Man with a Movie Camera is the best-known film of experimental documentary pioneer Dziga Vertov.

Is Dziga Vertov’s cine-city symphony a film whose time has finally come? Ranked only no. 27 in our last critics’ poll, it now displaces Eisenstein’s erstwhile perennial Battleship Potemkin as the Constructivist Soviet silent of choice. Like Eisenstein’s warhorse, it’s an agit-experiment that sees montage as the means to a revolutionary consciousness; but rather than proceeding through fable and illusion, it’s explicitly engaged both with recording the modern urban everyday (which makes it the top documentary in our poll) and with its representation back to its participant-subjects (thus the top meta-movie).

— Nick Bradshaw

See all 68 votes for Man with a Movie Camera


9. The Passion of Joan of Arc

Carl Dreyer, France 1927

Silent cinema at its most sublimely expressive, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s masterpiece is an austere but hugely affecting dramatisation of the trial of St Joan.

Joan was and remains an unassailable giant of early cinema, a transcendental film comprising tears, fire and madness that relies on extreme close-ups of the human face. Over the years it has often been a difficult film to see, but even during its lost years Joan has remained embedded in the critical consciousness, thanks to the strength of its early reception, the striking stills that appeared in film books, its presence in Godard’s Vivre sa vie and recently a series of unforgettable live screenings. In 2010 it was designated the most influential film of all time in the Toronto International Film Festival’s ‘Essential 100’ list, where Jonathan Rosenbaum described it as “the pinnacle of silent cinema – and perhaps of the cinema itself.”

— Jane Giles

See all 65 votes for The Passion of Joan of Arc


8½ (1963)


Federico Fellini, Italy 1963

Federico Fellini triumphantly conjured himself out of a bad case of creative block with this autobiographical magnum opus about a film director experiencing creative block.

Arguably the film that most accurately captures the agonies of creativity and the circus that surrounds filmmaking, equal parts narcissistic, self-deprecating, bitter, nostalgic, warm, critical and funny. Dreams, nightmares, reality and memories coexist within the same time-frame; the viewer sees Guido’s world not as it is, but more ‘realistically’ as he experiences it, inserting the film in a lineage that stretches from the Surrealists to David Lynch.

— Mar Diestro-Dópido

See all 64 votes for 8½


Battleship Potemkin (1925)

11. Battleship Potemkin

Sergei Eisenstein, Soviet Union 1925

A fixture in the critical canon almost since its premiere, Sergei Eisenstein’s film about a 1905 naval mutiny was revolutionary in both form and content.

Finally, Battleship Potemkin. There is little need to say anything about this film. It is on my list because it is one of the first films to show the power of cinema and what it could achieve. Everyone talks about its use of montage, and is fantastically done. But it is also Brechtian in form, ie it is didactic. It wants to move viewers to feel differently and to act differently as a result of what they experience. As a result, it has been banned in many places. This film will always move people.

— Alby James

Battleship Potemkin because of the imagination of the revolution and its filmic invention. – Sheila Schwartzman
In my opinion, Battleship Potemkin is the greatest film ever made. All of the future search of experimentalism is contained within it. The story moves ahead in a permanent tension between novelty (in terms of style and the changes in Russian life at the time) and the big frame of history in which the action takes place.

— Victor Fowler Calzada

See all 63 votes for Battleship Potemkin


L’Atalante (1934)

12. L’Atalante

Jean Vigo, France 1934

Newly-weds begin their life together on a working barge in this luminous and poetic romance, the only feature film by director Jean Vigo.

L’Atalante is cinema as a diaphanous waft of half-dreamed desire; the most beautiful erotic dream ever put on film.

— Michal Oleszczyk

See all 58 votes for L’Atalante


À bout de souffle (1960)

13. Breathless

Jean-Luc Godard, France 1960

Jean-Luc Godard’s precocious feature debut was this hugely influential jazzy, Noir-inflected crime drama. 

Few works have gathered so many elements that would come to transform film narration as Breathless. Even today, we feel that Godard reinvented the art of the cinema, pushing it to the boundaries of risk and experimentation.

— Victor Fowler Calzada

Breathless has an excellent mise en scène and explores how narration merges with meta-film reflections.

— Long Tin Shum

Effortless modernity retains its shock value in Breathless. You wonder what there was to discover after 1959. Most of all, it shows us what time just passing might feel like between humming, naming passing cars, rubbing our thumbs across our lips and making faces at the mirror – and immediately convinces us that it’s something the cinema was always supposed to describe.

— Ben Gibson

Breathless redefined and reimagined the possibilities of the medium.

— Jason Wood

See all 57 votes for Breathless


Apocalypse Now (1979)

14. Apocalypse Now

Francis Ford Coppola, USA 1979

Transplanting the story of Joseph Conrad’s colonial-era novel Heart of Darkness to Vietnam, Francis Ford Coppola created a visually mesmerising fantasia on the spectacle of war.

Apocalypse Now is complex, random and visionary. Everything about it is miraculous. It’s also a brilliant film to project. I’ve seen projectionists ride the fantastic sound like an engineer would ride levels of a live band.

— Richard Sowada

Apocalypse Now is a compelling, groundbreaking film about the journey into the heart of darkness and the insanity of war.

— Maura McHugh

From the opening shot to the bad trip climax, Apocalypse Now is the war film for people who hate war films, and a fitting cinematic end to a decade when the rulebook was torn up and wild excess encouraged. Everything else seems a little flat after you see this.

— David Flint

See all 53 votes for Apocalypse Now


Late Spring (1949)

15. Late Spring

Ozu Yasujiro, Japan 1949

Yasujiro Ozu’s exploration of the relationship between a widower and his unmarried adult daughter is often described as the perfect distillation of his style. Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara star. 

The transience of time, the inevitability of separation and the pain of loss inform Ozu’s most compassionate, most disarmingly tender picture Late Spring.

— Joseph Fahim

It’s especially painful to have to choose one film to represent Ozu’s endlessly rich body of work, but Late Spring, a sublimely beautiful meditation on family, marriage and loneliness, is his most profoundly moving film.

— Joseph McBride

See all 50 votes for Late Spring


Au hasard Balthazar (1966)

16. Au hasard Balthazar

Robert Bresson, France/Sweden 1966

Robert Bresson’s distinctive pared-down style elicits extraordinary pathos from this devastating tale of an abused donkey passing from owner to owner.

Au hasard Balthazar is a film that will continue to exist outside the conventional limitations of time and space.

— Marco Mueller

Au Hasard is an overpowering experience, but nothing to do with sentiment, more a troubling recognition of the fathomless suffering in the world.

— Trevor Johnston

See all 49 votes for Au hasard Balthazar


Seven Samurai (1954)

Credit: Toho Co., Ltd

17=. Seven Samurai

Kurosawa Akira, Japan 1954

Rice farmers hire a band of samurai to defend them against marauding bandits in Akira Kurosawa’s influential epic, a touchstone for action movies ever since.

Akira Kurosawa’s majestic account of a village that hires a motley crew of samurai to defend it from bandit raids is so fluent and visually powerful that the subtitles become incidental.

— Paul Whitington

Seven Samurai’s dynamism! It’s the pinnacle of Kurosawa’s filmography and the best bridge between western and Asian cinema.

— Jean Chanil

Seven Samurai is consummate Kurosawa and perhaps the greatest action picture ever made, as emotionally as it is physically exhausting.

— Patrick McGilligan

See all 48 votes for Seven Samurai


Persona (1966)

17=. Persona

Ingmar Bergman, Sweden 1966

A nurse (Bibi Andersson) and an actress who refuses to speak (Liv Ullmann) seem to fuse identities in Ingmar Bergman’s disturbing, formally experimental psychological drama.

Bergman’s Persona is uncanny. It is like a conundrum that changes every time you watch it. Hence it stands outside of time (yes, it is vampiric, if you like).

— Vigen Galstyan

Persona is the best example of what Béla Balázs termed as the ‘dimension of physiognomy’. Together with Nykvist, Andersson and Ullman, Bergman explores the soul behind the mask.

— Cesar Ballester

See all 48 votes for Persona


Mirror (1975)

19. Mirror

Andrei Tarkovsky, Soviet Union 1974

Andrei Tarkovsky drew on memories of a rural childhood before WWII for this personal, impressionistic and unconventional film poem.

The most personal of Andrey Tarkovsky’s movies, in The Mirror he found a poetic equivalent for the verses of his father Arseny Tarkovsky and convinced the world of the immortality of the great Russian artistic tradition.

Peter Shepotinnik

Mirror, an attempt at a cinematic autobiography, ends up as a story about the main character’s relationship with himself. If – following the usual method of film watching – we identify with the protagonist, then the film becomes a meditation on our own relationship with ourselves: narrative cinema brought full circle to its point zero.

Vlastimir Sudar

See all 47 votes for Mirror


Singin' in the Rain (1952)

20. Singin’ in the Rain

Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, USA 1951

Hollywood’s troubled transition from silent to talking pictures at the end of the 1920s provided the inspiration for perhaps the greatest of movie musicals.

Through the faked-up DIY of Singin’ in the Rain, seemingly a mad throwing together of stuff that somehow just gels, we’re allowed to feel the joy of creativity and to glimpse the very human face of genius. It’s the least improvised film providing the most thrillingly spontaneous feeling to be had in a cinema.

Ben Gibson

Singin’ in the Rain is an all-singing all-dancing course on the dawn of talking pictures, bursting with Roaring Twenties-inspired gags.

Martin Tudor Caranfil

See all 46 votes for Singin’ in the Rain


L'avventura (1960)

21=. L’Avventura

In Michelangelo Antonioni’s groundbreaking and controversial arthouse milestone, the mystery of a woman’s disappearance from a Mediterranean island is left unresolved.

Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy 1960

I choose L’Avventura not just for the landmark open narrative, but for Antonioni’s amazing architectural sense that composition is expression.

Trevor Johnston

Antonioni’s L’Avventura has the kind of plotline that gives arthouse cinema a bad name, but somehow a lacklustre search for a young woman who’s gone missing on a small volcanic island becomes an existential investigation of the human condition. Every time you watch it, you notice something new.

Paul Whitington

Postmodernism found a voice in Antonioni’s revolutionary cinematic language and changed the face of arthouse cinema. The post-God world the visionary chronicler of the alienated and the disaffected valiantly confronts in L’avventura speaks of truths filmmakers have tended to ignore ever since.

Joseph Fahim

See all 43 votes for L’Avventura


Le Mépris (1963)

21=Le Mépris

Jean-Luc Godard, France/Italy 1963

Working with his biggest budget to date, Jean-Luc Godard created a sublime widescreen drama about marital breakdown, set during pre-production on a film shoot.

Contempt is a beautiful opus to Nouvelle Vague cinema, and one of Godard’s most experimental movies. I love his troubled and troubling narration, his obsession with breaking the codes of popular cinema using some typical Godardian tropes: minimal dialogues with strange gestures, stares and situations. It’s intellectual as usual but also aesthetically different and courageous.

Mustapha Benfoldi

One of the finest films ever made about both coupledom and the cinema, Le Mépris is also – with good reason – Godard’s most mythical film, in which he allows himself a degree of lyricism that was only to resurface again in much later work.

Olivier Pėre

Le Mépris has always been my favorite Godard. It is the pinnacle of something, and is so beautifully inspired by classical Greco-German-Roman culture. It is even dedicated to Fritz Lang as a master.

Sylvia Pierre

See all 43 votes for Le Mépris


The Godfather (1972)

21=The Godfather

Francis Ford Coppola, USA 1972

The first of Francis Ford Coppola’s epic trilogy about the Corleone crime family is the disturbing story of a son drawn inexorably into his father’s Mafia affairs.

The Godfather Part I works as a masterful portrait of modern societies. Coppola does not analyse his characters, nor seeks to moralise, but instead constructs these characters with all those ingredients that constitute the human condition. The visual and narrative elements are simply fascinating.

Juan Antonio Garcia Borrero

See all 43 votes for The Godfather


Ordet (1955)


Carl Dreyer, Denmark 1955

The penultimate film by the Danish master Carl Theodor Dreyer is a parable on the power of faith, set in a remote religious community.

Dreyer was the first filmmaker to ask the big questions about life, God and the mysteries of the human soul, and in Ordet he delivered his most impassioned address on the elusive concept of faith.

— Joseph Fahim

See all 42 votes for Ordet


In the Mood for Love (2000)

24=In the Mood for Love

Wong Kar-wai, China 2000

Wong Kar-wai’s ravishing romance stars Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung as two wronged spouses in 1960s Hong Kong who find comfort in each other’s company. 

In the Mood for Love is built on rapture, ecstasy, and the suffering it entails – on wheels. Blasting away all the conventions of melodrama, Wong comes up with a fiction of emotions powered by music (melos) that leaves everyone else in the dust. For fluidity, color, editing, music and unforgettable romance, this is it.

— Martha P. Nochimson

See all 42 votes for In the Mood for Love


Rashomon (1950)


Kurosawa Akira, Japan 1950

Credited with bringing Japanese cinema to worldwide audiences, Akira Kurosawa’s breakthrough tells the story of a murder in the woods from four differing perspectives.

Rashomon shows us impossibility of understanding the world and the inability of discovering the truth – those are, at first sight, European existential values, but they were brought to cinema by its Eastern film director.

— Gulnara Abikeyeva

See all 41 votes for Rashomon


Andrei Rublev (1966)

26=Andrei Rublev

Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966

The life of a 15th-century icon painter takes centre stage in Andrei Tarkovsky’s epic meditation on the place of art in turbulent times.

Andrei Rublev is a strongest story about the artist – the suffering of the creator and creation. Tarkovski made the individual story of Rubljov much bigger then it was in reality until finally it is like a symbol, an archetype of the artist and his relationships with power and absolutist authority. I also like the visual language of the film. The scene with bells is one of the greatest in history of the cinema.

— Tiina Lok

I wouldn’t say these films are necessarily in an order, but I do find Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev to be a film that still enchants and intrigues. There is something about the warp and weft of his film, and its attempt to understand the nature of the votive and the creative, that seems to me cinematic poetry of the highest order.

— Roger Clark

See all 41 votes for Andrei Rublev


Mulholland Dr. (2001)

28. Mulholland Dr.

David Lynch, USA 2001

In David Lynch’s labyrinthine neo-noir, Naomi Watts plays an aspiring ingénue who moves in with an amnesiac woman on her arrival in Hollywood. The famously open-ended plot reflects the film’s origin as a TV pilot. 

Non-linear narratives had already been explored in film, but Lynch took the form to a different and unique level in Mulholland Dr.

— Fernanda Solórzano

Mulholland Dr. thrives effortlessly on the idea that films can reverse time and turn interpretations upside down, while its filmmaker character is a lost, self-obsessed arse.

— Vlastimir Sudar

See all 40 votes for Mulholland Dr.


Stalker (1979)


Andrei Tarkovsky, Soviet Union 1979

The Stalker guides illegal visitors through the overgrown labyrinth of the Zone, an area of alien traps and treasures, containing a room where wishes may come true…

Stalker is a genius melancholy utopist’s filmic fever-dream come true.

— Michel Lipkes

Stalker is about searching for the truth inside us. Not one of its main protagonists is able to cross the border of the miraculous room: they are afraid of their real inner desires. It is also a film about victimising oneself for others; and about human modesty and humbleness.

— Zuzana Gindl-Tatarova

See all 39 votes for Stalker


Shoah (1985)


Claude Lanzmann, France 1985

An epic eyewitness account of the Holocaust told by those who lived through it.

Shoah seems to me the most important film ever made…

— Graham Fuller

See all 39 votes for Shoah


The Godfather Part II (1974)

31=The Godfather Part II

Francis Ford Coppola, USA 1974

Both prequel and sequel to the original, The Godfather Part II follows two generations of the Corleone family as they fight for supremecy in the treacherous world of organised crime.

“That’s my family, Kay, it’s not me.” When Michael Corleone utters these words to his WASP girlfriend at his sister’s wedding in The Godfather he is setting up the sequel as certainly as if it had all been pre-planned. The second movie is an answer to this line of dialogue, an operatic crime melodrama that seems to cover all the great themes of classical drama.

— Philip Molloy

With The Godfather: Part II, Coppola may be the only director who surpassed his own masterpiece. Even without Marlon Brando.

— Balint Szaloky

The Godfather: Part II because it is the best family film, a Greek tragedy set in a 20th-century Mafia clan. That’s why it wins over Martin Scorsese’s Mafia films: it balances organised crime against the Corleone family tragedy, which enables us to identify that much more with the characters – and wonder at our own morals.

— Sabine Niewalda

See all 38 votes for The Godfather Part II


Taxi Driver (1976)

31=Taxi Driver

Martin Scorsese, USA 1976

In this searing portrait of urban paranoia one man’s search for redemption ends in a violent showdown. 

Taxi Driver is a ferociously raw exploration of isolation and a modern classic with which many people feel a deep and personal connection.

— Trevor Johnston

See all 38 votes for Taxi Driver


Bicycle Thieves (1948)

33. Bicycle Thieves

Vittoria De Sica, Italy 1948

The theft of a bicycle becomes the catalyst for a father and son’s odyssey through the poverty-stricken streets of post-war Rome. One of the defining classics of Italian neorealism.

It’s a touching story that engages the audience’s emotions and has them rooting for the protagonists all the time. And it is told in the neorealist style that makes it very affecting. Such a film will always remain a great example for new filmmakers without large funds. It proves that a simple premise and characters that we can care about are all you need to make a story work.

— Alby James

Bycicle Thieves’ mix of traditional dramatic structures with an unprecedented representation of city, characters and social condition is still effective and enormously touching in its depiction of contradictory ethical and political issues.

— Francesco Pitassio

Bicycle Thieves is neo-social realist melodrama that verges on tragedy, a document of devastated post-war Italy. Its delicate treatment of the (cinematic) space is recognised both in Bazin’s and Deleuze’s writings.

— Nevena Dakovic

See all 37 votes for Bicycle Thieves


The General (1926)

34. The General

Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman, USA 1926

Set during the American civil war, Buster Keaton’s most ambitious film combines spectacular action sequences and hilarious comedy aboard the runaway locomotive of the title. 

From the golden age of silent comedy, The General is as funny as it gets, with ingenious storytelling and filmmaking.

— Patrick McGilligan

Orson Welles described The General as “the greatest comedy ever made, the greatest Civil War film ever made, and perhaps the greatest film ever made”, and he wasn’t wrong. The vision, clarity and economy with which Keaton tells his story are remarkable.

— Paul Whitington

See all 35 votes for The General


Metropolis (1927)

35=. Metropolis

Fritz Lang, Germany 1927

Lang’s pioneering work of science-fiction depicts a dystopian future in which a privileged elite rule over the futuristic city of Metropolis until one day the workers rise up from underground to rebel against their masters.

I’ve recently (re)saw Metropolis (the restored version, at the Transylvania International Film Festival in 2010) with live and very modern, industrial-sounding music performed by Antonio Bras – the effect was astonishing: everything that cinema means was there: editing, tension, (melo)drama, acting, music… everything! Simply remarkable.

— Florin Barbu

See all 34 votes for Metropolis


Psycho (1960)

35=. Psycho

Alfred Hitchcock, USA 1960

Often imitated but never bettered, Hitchcock’s low budget “shocker” paved the way for the modern horror film.

There has never been a more influential horror film than Psycho and everything since has referenced it somehow.

— Alan Jones

Psycho takes the Hitchcock slot just like City Lights takes the Chaplin one, because every great Hitchcock movie testifies to his masterful blending of entertainment and psychological depth.

— Eric Kohn

See all 34 votes for Psycho


Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)

35=. Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

Chantal Akerman, Belgium/France 1975

In precise detail Akerman observes the daily routines of a single mother in her apartment and the consequences that transpire when things begin to unravel.

Jeanne Dielman, first seen at college, shocked me with a new language and showed me the power of a form that could make me literally shout out just because someone hadn’t flicked a light switch.

— Briony Hanson

An essential inclusion for its aesthetically and politically groundbreaking qualities.

— Annette Kuhn

Akerman filmed Jeanne Dielmann, 23 quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles at a lower camera height than one is used to – her own height (she is quite short) – and a feeling of claustrophobia seems to follow from that, pervading the film and, despite its dramatic ending, never fully abating.

— Melissa Gronlund

See all 34 votes for Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles


35=. Sátántangó

Béla Tarr, Switzerland/Germany/Hungary 1994

An epic seven-hour evocation of life in an isolated Hungarian village told in Tarr’s slow-moving meditative style.

Satantango is an artistically unforgettable experience by the Hungarian master that deals with a part of his country’s history in a very unconventional way.

— Ludmila Cvikova

Satantango is the most ambitious film of the greatest of contemporary classics.

— Jurica Pavicic

See all 34 votes for Sátántangó


Les Quatre Cents Coups (1959)

39=. The 400 Blows

François Truffaut, France 1959

Truffaut drew inspiration from his own troubled childhood for this classic account of a troubled adolescent looking for an escape route from an unhappy life.

My favourite Truffaut film and my favourite coming-of-age movie, Les Quatre cent coups is comparable to James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in its insightful depiction of the awakening of an artistic sensibility.

— Paul Whitington

The Four Hundred Blows is the epitome of a personal film, the kind of film I found, to my chagrin, that Hollywood doesn’t want.

— Joseph McBride

See all 33 votes for The 400 Blows


La dolce vita (1960)

39=. La dolce vita

Federico Fellini, France/Italy 1960

Marcello Mastroianni is the paparazzi journalist whose life is an endless round of hedonistic parties and superficial liaisons as he searches for meaning amidst the crumbling grandeur of Rome’s once imperial city. 

The superbly thorough study that Fellini makes of a world characterised by the loss of moral values remains intact. But La Dolce Vita is not only about moral denunciation; it’s a film that has managed to leave for posterity sequences that work in the collective imaginary in an autonomous way.

— Juan Antonio Garcia Borrero

La Dolce Vita captures (in tabloid snapshot) the ambivalence of the modern age by exulting in the very decadence and excess that it also decries…

— Anton Bitel

A wonderful snapshot of Roman society at the time, a sneering look at hedonism and at the same time an exploration of human emptiness.

— Naman Ramachandran

See all 33 votes for La dolce vita


Journey to Italy (1954)

41. Journey to Italy

Roberto Rossellini, France/Italy 1954

Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders play a middle-aged English couple whose marriage falls apart during a journey through Italy. A pioneering work of modernism that links Italian neo-realism with the French new wave.

See all 32 votes for Journey to Italy


Pather Panchali (1955)

42=. Pather Panchali

Satyajit Ray, India 1955

The first part of Satyajit Ray’s acclaimed Apu Trilogy is a lyrical, closely observed story of a peasant family in 1920s rural India.

Made for half-nothing, Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali is among the most seamless and graceful movies ever made, the best of the Apu Trilogy and a stunning achievement.

— Paul Whitington

See all 31 votes for Pather Panchali


Some Like It Hot (1959)

42=. Some Like It Hot

Billy Wilder, USA 1959

On the run from Chicago mobsters, two musicians don drag to join an all-girl jazz band fronted by Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe) in Billy Wilder’s hugely popular comedy.

Some Like It Hot is quite simply the funniest film ever made. Wilder’s farce educated me and my generation about the strange nuances of adult sexuality and provided the sex craze of my youth, Marilyn Monroe, with her most iconic role.

— Joseph McBride

See all 31 votes for Some Like It Hot


Gertrud (1964)

42=. Gertrud

Carl Dreyer, Denmark 1964

The conflict of a woman between her husband, her lover, and the lover of her youth, and her failure to find happiness with any of them.

Gertrud is a stream of poetic hypnosis, and includes one of the best performances in the history of cinema by Nina Pens Rode.

— David Lipkes

Dreyer’s Gertrud, in my opinion, makes a persuasive case of how magnificent an art form cinema can be. Jonathan Rosenbaum once confessed he had been writing an article about it for over a year, so granted, I don’t believe my tiny blurb would do the film justice.

— Boris Nelepo

See all 31 votes for Gertrud


Pierrot le fou (1965)

42=. Pierrot le fou

Jean-Luc Godard, France/Italy 1965

Riffing on the classic couple-on-the run movie, enfant terrible Jean-Luc Godard took the narrative innovations of the French New Wave close to breaking point.

For me Pierrot Le Fou was the first really postmodern movie. The colourful story (a couple on the run) is covered by pure cinematic invention and references to all kinds of arts and culture.

— Zuzana Gindl-Tatarova

See all 31 votes for Pierrot le fou


Playtime (1967)

Credit: Les Films de Mon Oncle

42=. Play Time

Jacques Tati, France 1967

Jacques Tati directs and stars in this fun account of the bumbling M Hulot’s day in Paris.

Play Time shows the beauty and power of subtlety in both cinema and comedy. The nuances of performance and craft create a world that feels like no other but whose effect is universal to audiences.

— Charlotte Cook

Radical in every facet, Tati’s anarchic magnum opus Play Time breaks every narrative rule, and is built on a stunning mise en scène that remains unmatched nearly half a century later. Most imperative of all, Play Time is a wondrous film that compels you to observe the world in a way you never have before.

— Joseph Fahim

See all 31 votes for Play Time


Close-Up (1990)

42=. Close-Up

Abbas Kiarostami, Iran 1990

Drama-documentary, based on the true story of an unemployed movie buff who passes himself off as the celebrated movie director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, to a woman he meets on a bus. He leads her cinephile family to believe that they will appear in his next film. Eventually he ends up in jail where his trial is filmed by Kiarostami…

In Tehran some years ago it was reported, perhaps apocryphally, that Jean-Luc Godard had said, “Cinema is Griffith to Kiarostami.” My list certainly reflects that idea, and I’m particularly glad to include Kiarostami’s Close-up as a way of extending the purview of the poll beyond the 1970s and Europe/America.

— Godfrey Cheshire

Close-Up completely obliterates the boundary between fiction and documentary in order to turn the most seductive aspect of cinema upside down. And it also shows how solemn and painful it can be (to want) to be a filmmaker.

— Vlastimir Sudar

See all 31 votes for Close-Up


The Battle of Algiers (1996)

48=. The Battle of Algiers

Gillo Pontecorvo, Algeria/Italy 1966

Gillo Pontecorvo’s masterpiece about the turbulent last years of French colonial rule in Algeria, seen from the perspective of both the guerrilla revolutionaries and the French authorities.

A seminal political film of the 1960s and 1970s, and banned in France as well! Although directed by an Italian director, the film was made in collaboration with the Algerian government and presents an African perspective on events, marking it an important work in the naissance of African cinema. Its neutral perspective and documentary-style vérité cinematography allegedly made it a manual for armed insurrection, as well as a guide for counter-insurgency. Morricone’s driving score combine with the film’s sly visual style and Pontecorvo’s passion for the cause to produce a lasting impression.

— Michael Koller

See all 30 votes for The Battle of Algiers


Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988-1998)

48=. Histoire(s) du cinéma

Jean-Luc Godard, France/Switzerland 1998

Godard’s dense, sprawling essay meditation on cinema and its relationship to the political history of the twentieth century.

As for Godard’s Histoire(s), while ostensibly about cinema’s past it is also, in its extraordinary collage of forms, very much about its future.

— Chris Darke

See all 30 votes for Histoire(s) du cinéma


City Lights (1931)

50=. City Lights

Charlie Chaplin, USA 1931

The Tramp wins the affections of a blind flower seller (Virginia Cherrill) in this hilarious but heartbreaking comedy – one of Charlie Chaplin’s uncontested masterpieces.

No one merged emotional mush with slapstick brilliance in quite the same way at Chaplin in City Lights – you can be angry at the movie for tugging at your heartstrings, but you stand no chance of resisting its pull.

— Michal Oleszczyk

City Lights is one of the highlights of film history, where lofty classical melodrama happily coexists with brilliant humour.

— Peter Shepotinnik

See all 29 votes for City Lights


Ugetsu (1953)

50=. Ugetsu monogatari

Mizoguchi Kenji, Japan 1953

In war-torn 16th-century Japan, two men leave their wives to seek wealth and glory in Kenji Mizoguchi’s tragic supernatural classic.

Via several dramatic and fantastic stories set in 16th century feudal Japan, Ugetsu monogatari is a film of extraordinary power and accuracy about the human condition. The greatest of Japanese filmmakers, in his films Mizoguchi expresses perfectly the universality of an art that is however rooted in Japanese culture and history. It is the apogee of film classicism.

— Olivier Pere

See all 29 votes for Ugetsu monogatari


La Jetée (1962)

50=. La Jetée

Chris Marker, France 1962

This science-fiction short directed by Chris Marker is composed almost complete of still images. Its story, about time travel following a nuclear apocalypse, inspired Terry Gilliam’s 1995 feature 12 Monkeys. 

La Jetée is still the short film that best embodies what short film can do better than feature-length films: it tells a complex story in a condensed way that leaves much to our imagination, uses a visual style that you could never uphold over feature length (at least not without getting boring) but which is perfectly employed here, and at 28 minutes it is exactly the right length.

— Sabine Niewalda

See all 29 votes for La Jetée


Cary Grant in North by Northwest (1959)

53=. North by Northwest

Alfred Hitchcock, USA 1959

Cary Grant’s ad exec falls foul of a mysterious crime plot and a low-flying cropduster in Hitchcock’s witty, cross-country thriller co-starring Eva-Marie Saint.  

See all 28 votes for North by Northwest


Rear Window (1954)

53=. Rear Window

Alfred Hitchcock, USA 1954

Hitchcock’s fascination with voyeurism reached its apotheosis in this mystery thriller, in which James Stewart suspects he has witnessed a murder in a neighbouring apartment. 

See all 28 votes for Rear Window


Raging Bull (1980)

53=. Raging Bull

Martin Scorsese, USA 1980

Starring Robert De Niro as the middleweight boxer Jake La Motta, Scorsese’s biopic is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest films of the 1980s.

See all 28 votes for Raging Bull


M (1931)

56. M

Fritz Lang, Germany 1931

For his first sound film Fritz Lang turned to the story of a child killer (Peter Lorre), who is hunted down by police and underworld alike.

See all 27 votes for M


The Leopard (1963)

57=. The Leopard

Luchino Visconti, France/Italy 1963

Sumptous adaptation by Luchino Visconti of Lampedusa’s classic novel, set in Sicily during the Risorgimento of the 19th century. Burt Lancaster plays the Prince of Salina, Alain Delon his nephew, and Claudia Cardinale the beautiful woman they both fall for. 

See all 26 votes for The Leopard


Touch of Evil (1958)

57=. Touch of Evil

Orson Welles, USA 1958

Orson Welles’ return to Hollywood after ten years working in Europe is a sleazy border tale in which he takes centre stage as gargantuan detective Hank Quinlan.

See all 26 votes for Touch of Evil


Sherlock Jr (1924)

59=. Sherlock Jr

Buster Keaton, USA 1924

Keaton’s third feature is a breathtakingly virtuosic display of every silent comedy technique imaginable, from his own formidable physical skills to some then-groundbreaking camera trickery.

See all 25 votes for Sherlock Jr


Barry Lyndon (1975)

59=. Barry Lyndon

Stanley Kubrick, UK/USA 1975

Stanley Kubrick’s exquisitely detailed adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel about the picaresque exploits of an 18th century Irish adventurer.

See all 25 votes for Barry Lyndon


La Maman et la Putain (1973)

59=. La Maman et la putain

Jean Eustache, France 1973

Deals with the relations, largely sexual, between an anarchic young man and his two mistresses, one seemingly permanent, who keeps him, the other seemingly casual.

See all 25 votes for La Maman et la putain


Sansho Dayu (1954)

59=. Sansho Dayu

Mizoguchi Kenji, Japan 1954

This sweeping historical tragedy about two children separated from their parents and sold into slavery continued a run of late masterpieces from Kenji Mizoguchi.

See all 25 votes for Sansho Dayu


Wild Strawberries (1957)

63=. Wild Strawberries

Ingmar Bergman, Sweden 1957

On a road trip to receive an honorary degree, an elderly academic (Victor Sjöstrom) looks back over his life in Ingmar Bergman’s art-cinema classic.

See all 24 votes for Wild Strawberries


Modern Times (1936)

63=. Modern Times

Charles Chaplin, USA 1936

The final outing for Charlie Chaplin’s beloved Tramp character finds him enduring the pratfalls and humiliations of work in an increasingly mechanised society.

See all 24 votes for Modern Times


Sunset Blvd. (1950)

63=. Sunset Blvd.

Billy Wilder, USA 1950

The most caustic of European émigré directors, Wilder explored the movie industry and the delusions of stardom in Hollywood’s great poison pen letter to itself.

See all 24 votes for Sunset Blvd.


The Night of the Hunter (1955)

63=. Night of the Hunter, The

Charles Laughton, USA 1955

Actor Charles Laughton’s only film as a director is a complete one-off, a terrifying parable of the corruption of innocence featuring a career-best performance from Robert Mitchum.

See all 24 votes for The Night of the Hunter


Pickpocket (1959)

63=. Pickpocket

Robert Bresson, France 1959

Robert Bresson chronicles the life of a petty thief in this philosophical film, with a screenplay inspired by Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and a cast featuring several non-professional actors. 

See all 24 votes for Pickpocket


Rio Bravo (1959)

63=. Rio Bravo

Howard Hawks, USA 1958

A decade after Red River (1947), Howard Hawks reteamed with John Wayne for this rambling western riffing on the director’s usual themes of friendship and professionalism.

See all 24 votes for Rio Bravo


Blade Runner (1982)

69=. Blade Runner

Ridley Scott, Hong Kong/USA 1982

Loosely adapted from a novel by Phillip K. Dick, Ridley Scott’s dark, saturated vision of 2019 Los Angeles is a classic of popular science-fiction cinema.

See all 23 votes for Blade Runner


Blue Velvet (1986)

69=. Blue Velvet

David Lynch, USA 1986

In David Lynch’s idiosyncratic drama, a young man’s curiosity draws him into the twisted criminal sub-culture operating beneath the placid surface of his cosy hometown.

See all 23 votes for Blue Velvet


Sans Soleil (1983)

69=. Sans Soleil

Chris Marker, France 1982

A veteran cameraman who has travelled throughout the world relays his impressions on the different countries and life in general to a female commentator.

See all 23 votes for Sans Soleil


A Man Escaped (1956)

69=. A Man Escaped

Robert Bresson, France 1956

True story of the hazardous and daring wartime escape of a French officer from the condemned cell of a Nazi prison, with action set to Mozart’s Great C-Minor Mass.

See all 23 votes for A Man Escaped


The Third Man (1949)

73=. The Third Man

Carol Reed, UK/USA 1949

An American abroad in post-war Vienna pursues his missing friend down a rabbit hole of intrigue and moral corruption in Carol Reed’s masterpiece of European noir.

See all 22 votes for The Third Man


L'eclisse (1962)

73=. L’eclisse

Michelangelo Antonioni, France/Italy 1962

Antonioni’s film charts the hot and cold relationship of a young couple in bustling Rome.

See all 22 votes for L’eclisse


Les Enfants du paradis (1945)

73=. Les enfants du paradis

Marcel Carné, France 1945

Made during the Nazi occupation of France, Marcel Carne’s romantic epic of the 19th-century theatre world is a life-affirming tribute to love, Paris and the stage.

See all 22 votes for Les enfants du paradis 


La Grande Illusion (1937)

73=. La grande illusion

Jean Renoir, France 1937

Jean Renoir’s pacifist classic is set in a German prisoner-of-war camp during WWI, where class kinship is felt across national boundaries.

See all 22 votes for La grande illusion


Karen Black filming Nashville (1975)

73=. Nashville

Robert Altman, USA 1975

Made to celebrate the bicentennial of American Independence, Robert Altman’s footloose epic blends the lives of 24 characters in the capital of country music.

See all 22 votes for Nashville


78=. Chinatown

Roman Polanski, USA 1974

Roman Polanski’s brilliant thriller stars Jack Nicholson as a private eye uncovering corruption in 1930s Los Angeles, a desert town where water equals power.

See all 21 votes for Chinatown


Beau Travail (1999)

78=. Beau Travail

Claire Denis, France 1998

Loosely based on Herman Melville’s Billy Budd but with the action transferred to contemporary Djibouti, and the French Foreign legion, Claire Denis’s film is balletic, oblique and photographically stunning. 

See all 21 votes for Beau Travail


Once upon a Time in the West (1968)

78=. Once Upon a Time in the West

Sergio Leone, Italy/USA 1968

The railroad rushes westward, bringing power and progress with it, in Sergio Leone’s grandest spaghetti western, an operatic homage to Hollywood’s mythology of the Old West.

See all 21 votes for Once Upon a Time in the West


The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

81=. The Magnificent Ambersons

Orson Welles, USA 1942

Among the most famous of broken films, Orson Welles’ masterful follow-up to Citizen Kane was taken out of his control and re-edited by the studio.

See all 20 votes for The Magnificent Ambersons


Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

81=. Lawrence of Arabia

David Lean, UK 1962

An eccentric English officer inspires the Arabs to unite against the Turks during WWI in David Lean’s seven Oscar-winner, an epic in every sense.

See all 20 votes for Lawrence of Arabia


The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)

81=. The Spirit of the Beehive

Víctor Erice, Spain 1973

In the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, two small sisters live in a remote village in Castille. A mobile cinema screening of Frankenstein captures Ana’s imagination vividly, and is still in her mind when she finds a wounded soldier in the barn.

See all 20 votes for The Spirit of the Beehive


Fanny and Alexander (1982)

84=. Fanny and Alexander

Ingmar Bergman, France/Sweden 1984

The grand summation of Ingmar Bergman’s career, this epic family drama drew on the director’s own childhood experiences in early 20th century Sweden.

See all 19 votes for Fanny and Alexander 


Casablanca (1942)

84=. Casablanca

Michael Curtiz, USA 1942

Everybody comes to Rick’s bar, including expat Rick’s (Humphrey Bogart) former lover Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), in one of Hollywood’s most-loved romantic melodramas.

See all 19 votes for Casablanca


The Colour of Pomegranates (1968)

84=. The Colour of Pomegranates

Sergei Parajanov, USSR 1968

Parajanov’s lyrical evocation of the life of the 18th century Armenian poet Harutyan Sayatyan uses symbolic imagery patterned after Armenian icons and the folk theatre traditions of masque and mime, and is told through a series of titled episodes. 

See all 19 votes for The Colour of Pomegranates


Greed (1924)

84=. Greed

Erich von Stroheim, USA 1925

Silent cinema’s most famous ‘lost’ film, Von Stroheim’s monumental study of three ordinary lives destroyed by avarice was ruinously edited down by the studio.

See all 19 votes for Greed


A Brighter Summer Day (1991)

84=. A Brighter Summer Day

Edward Yang, Taiwan 1991

Through a focus on one central male protagonist, an idealistic student who refuses to compromise his moral standards, Edward Yang’s historical memoir looks at growing up in Taiwan during the 1960s and the problems of military dictatorship, unemployment and immigration from mainland China.

See all 19 votes for A Brighter Summer Day


The Wild Bunch (1969)

84=. The Wild Bunch

Sam Peckinpah, USA 1969

A gang of outlaws goes out in a blaze of violence and glory in Sam Peckinpah’s elegiac film about the dying days of the wild west.

See all 19 votes for The Wild Bunch


Partie de campagne (1936)

90=. Partie de campagne

Jean Renoir, France 1936

This featherlight, 40-minute romance directed by Jean Renoir and based on a Guy de Maupassant story follows a love affair over the course of a summer afternoon in the countryside outside Paris. 

See all 18 votes for Partie de campagne


Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972)

90=. Aguirre, Wrath of God

Werner Herzog, Federal Republic of Germany 1972

Klaus Kinski stars as a megalomaniacal soldier leading a group of conquistadores down river in search of El Dorado on Werner Herzog’s oblique study of madness. 

See all 18 votes for Aguirre, Wrath of God


A Matter of Life and Death (1946)

90=. A Matter of Life and Death

Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger, UK 1946

In Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s audacious Technicolor fantasy, WWII airman David Niven finds himself summoned to heaven after surviving a plane crash that should have killed him.

See all 18 votes for A Matter of Life and Death


The Seventh Seal (1957)

93=. The Seventh Seal

Ingmar Bergman, Sweden 1957

During the plague-ravaged middle ages, a knight buys time for himself by playing chess with Death in Bergman’s much-imitated arthouse classic.

See all 17 votes for The Seventh Seal


Un chien andalou (1929)

93=. Un chien andalou

Luis Buñuel, France 1928

Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali collaborated in this surrealist silent short, notorious for its eye-slashing opening scene, its perplexing Freudian imagery and dream-logic narrative flow. 

See all 17 votes for Un chien andalou


Mae Marsh in Intolerance (D.W. Griffith, 1916)

93=. Intolerance

D.W. Griffith, USA 1916

Responding to criticisms of racism for his record-breaking The Birth of a Nation, filmmaking pioneer D.W. Griffith made this epic drama depicting intolerance through the ages.

See all 17 votes for Intolerance


A One and a Two (Yi Yi, 2000)

93=. A One and a Two

Edward Yang, Japan/Taiwan 1999

Edward Yang’s second film in our top 100 films offers a lucid, novelistic tapestry of contemporary Taiwanese anomie through the layers of multiple generations of a Taipei family.

See all 17 votes for A One and a Two


The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)

93=. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger, UK 1943

Deborah Kerr and Roger Livesey star in this wondrous British Technicolor classic – one of cinema’s greatest studies of ‘Englishness’.

See all 17 votes for The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp


Touki Bouki (1973)

93=. Touki Bouki

Djibril Diop Mambéty, Senegal 1973

A young boy and a girl decide to emigrate from Senegal to France in search of a better life. They travel around the country on a motorbike trying various schemes to raise the money for the trip.

See all 17 votes for Touki Bouki


Fear Eats the Soul (1974)

93=. Fear Eats the Soul

Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Federal Republic of Germany 1974

Fassbinder’s international breakthrough is an unconventional love story with devastating emotional power.

See all 17 votes for Fear Eats the Soul


Imitation of Life (1959)

93=. Imitation of Life

Douglas Sirk, USA 1959

Lana Turner shines in Douglas Sirk’s moving rags-to-riches tale.

See all 17 votes for Imitation of Life


Madame de... (1953)

93=. Madame de…

Max Ophüls, France/Italy 1953

Tragic consequences ensue when a society woman pawns the earrings her husband gave her, in Max Ophuls’ graceful and opulent period drama.

See all 17 votes for Madame de…

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