100. Cría Cuervos (dir. Carlos Saura, 1975)
99. Ratcatcher (dir. Lynne Ramsay, 1999)
98. Pather Panchali (dir. Satyajit Ray, 1955)
97. Daisy Kenyon (dir. Otto Preminger, 1948)
96. The Swimmer (dir. Frank Perry, 1968)
95. Purple Noon (dir. René Clément, 1960)
94. Head (dir. Bob Rafelson, 1968)
93. Here Comes Mr. Jordan (dir. Alexander Hall, 1941)
92. World on a Wire (dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1973)
91. The Young Girls of Rochefort (dir. Jacques Demy, 1967)
90. Secret Sunshine (dir. Lee Chang-dong, 2007)
89. Orlando (dir. Sally Potter, 1992)
88. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (dir. Chuck Russell, 1987)
87. La Bête Humaine (dir. Jean Renoir, 1938)
86. Before Sunset (dir. Richard Linklater, 2004)
85. Diary of a Lost Girl (dir. G.W. Pabst, 1929)
84. Desert Hearts (dir. Donna Deitch, 1985)
83. Twentieth Century (dir. Howard Hawks, 1934)
82. The Draughtsman’s Contract (dir. Peter Greenaway, 1982)
81. High Hopes (dir. Mike Leigh, 1988)
80. Murder My Sweet (dir. Edward Dmytryk, 1944)
79. Branded to Kill (dir. Seijun Suzuki, 1967)
78. Faust (dir. F.W. Murnau, 1926)
77. the Man Who Laughs (dir. Paul Leni, 1928)
76. Raise the Red Lantern (dir. Zhang Yimou, 1991)
75. the Fallen Idol (dir. Carol Reed, 1948)
74. Night and the City (dir. Jules Dassin, 1950)
73. the Gleaners and I (dir. Agnès Varda, 2000)
72. Margaret (dir. Kenneth Lonergan, 2011)
71. Gate of Hell (dir. Teinosuke Kinugasa, 1953)
70. Lonesome (dir. Pal Fejos, 1928)
69. Kuroneko (dir. Kaneto Shindo, 1968)
68. Klute (dir. Alan J. Pakula, 1971)
67. Umberto D. (dir. Vittorio de Sica, 1952)
66. the Birdcage (dir. Mike Nichols, 1996)
65. Senso (dir. Luchino Visconti, 1954)
64. Something Wild (dir. Jonathan Demme, 1986)
63. Cluny Brown (dir. Ernst Lubitsch, 1946)
62. Modern Romance (dir. Albert Brooks, 1981)
61. My Man Godfrey (dir. Gregory La Cava, 1936)
60. Z (dir. Costa-Gavras, 1969)
59. Meek’s Cutoff (dir. Kelly Reichardt, 2010)
58. Aparajito (dir. Satyajit Ray, 1956)
57. I Knew Her Well (dir. Antonio Pietrangeli, 1965)
56. the Last Command (dir. Josef von Sternberg, 1928)
55. the Cat and the Canary (dir. Paul Leni, 1927)
54. Real Life (dir. Albert Brooks, 1979)
53. 20th Century Women (dir. Mike Mills, 2016)
52. A Nightmare on Elm Street (dir. Wes Craven, 1984)
51. Red Road (dir. Andrea Arnold, 2004)
50. the More the Merrier (dir. George Stevens, 1943)
49. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (dir. Philip Kaufman, 1978)
48. Remember the Night (dir. Mitchell Leisen, 1940)
47. the Heartbreak Kid (dir. Elaine May, 1972)
46. the Informer (dir. John Ford, 1935)
45. Closely Watched Trains (dir. Jiri Menzel, 1966)
44. Peeping Tom (dir. Michael Powell, 1960)
43. Germany Year Zero (dir. Roberto Rossellini, 1948)
42. Celine & Julie Go Boating (dir. Jacques Rivette, 1974)
41. Friendly Persuasion (dir. William Wyler, 1956)
40. Soy Cuba (dir. Mikhail Kalatazov, 1964)
39. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring
38. Dr. Mabuse: the Gambler (dir. Fritz Lang, 1924)
37. Defending Your Life (dir. Albert Brooks, 1991)
36. Paris Is Burning (dir. Jennie Livingston, 1990)
35. After Life (dir. Hirokazu Koreeda, 1999)
34. Phantom of the Paradise (dir. Brian de Palma, 1974)
33. Night and Fog (dir. Alain Resnais, 1955)
32. the Celebration (dir. Thomas Vinterberg, 1998)
31. Eat Drink Man Woman (dir. Ang Lee, 1994)
30. Rome, Open City (dir. Roberto Rossellini, 1945)
29. the Magician (dir. Ingmar Bergman, 1958)
28. Testament of Orpheus (dir. Jean Cocteau, 1960)
27. Apur Sansar (dir. Satyajit Ray, 1958)
26. Kicking and Screaming (dir. Noah Baumbach, 1995)
25. HESTER STREET (dir. Joan Micklin Silver, 1975)
One of the greatest American immigrant stories ever told. Deserves a place as one of the best American film achievements of the 1970s.
24. VAGABOND (dir. Agnès Varda, 1985)
Varda’s direction shines in this brilliant character study masquerading as a road movie.
23. SANSO THE BAILIFF (dir. Kenji Mizoguchi, 1954)
One of the most human movies ever made.
22. IL SORPASSO (dir. Dino Risi, 1962)
Much like its opposites-attract leads, this film is as funny as it is sad.
21. JE T’AIME, JE T’AIME (dir. Alain Resnais, 1968)
Nobody understands memory like Resnais.
20. ONIBABA (dir. Kaneto Shindô, 1964)
The rain. The reeds. The wind.
19. LOST IN AMERICA (dir. Albert Brooks, 1985)
Nobody is funnier than Albert Brooks.
18. WILD RIVER (dir. Elia Kazan, 1960)
Few people are as skilled as Elia Kazan at mixing the political with the personal.
17. AFTER HOURS (dir. Martin Scorsese, 1985)
It’s like I always say—the best movies take place over only a day.
16. LE TROU (dir. Jacques Becker, 1960)
There is a long take in this in which four men break through a concrete floor in real time. That happens near the beginning, and the film does not let up for the rest of its nearly 2 and a half hour runtime.
15. THE CRANES ARE FLYING (dir. Mikhail Kalatazov, 1957)
I say I’m not a fan of war films, but this is the first of four on this list about or directly related to World War II. This one features some of the most innovative camera work I’ve ever seen.
14. THE ASCENT (dir. Larisa Shepitko, 1977)
The most harrowing war film from start to finish.
13. THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE… (dir. Max Ophüls, 1953)
Ophüls expertly tells of the story of Countess Louise using only a pair of earrings that changes hands.
12. LÉON MORIN, PRIEST (dir. Jean-Pierre Melville, 1961)
There is nothing more thrilling than watching two people with very strong convictions debate each other calmly and civilly.
11. ONE, TWO, THREE (dir. Billy Wilder, 1961)
In a career of funny movies, One, Two, Three is by far Wilder’s funniest. Full of so many zingers you’ll roll on the floor laughing. Over the laughter there’s an astute cold war satire that’s as smart as it is funny.
10. MABOROSI (dir. Hirokazu Koreeda, 1995)
Hirokazu Koreeda’s debut film is quiet. It’s slow. If you blink—or if you lose attention—you’ll miss it slowly digging under your skin until the end, when you sob without realizing.
9. FORBIDDEN GAMES (dir. René Clément, 1952)
For me, the best war movies focus on the real people affected. In the case of Forbidden Games, viewing World War II through the lens of two children makes it all the more impactful.
8. PORT OF SHADOWS (dir. Marcel Carné, 1938)
Movies should never make their location arbitrary. With Port of Shadows, Carné makes Le Havre as much a character as Jean and Nelly.
7. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (dir. Jean Cocteau, 1946)
If only all of Disney’s current “live-action” fairy-tales were as bold and imaginative in their set design, camera work, and costuming as Jean Cocteau’s, which is the greatest fairy tale put on film.
6. BITTER RICE (dir. Giuseppe de Santis, 1949)
There are very few movies that are able to balance many themes and styles. With Bitter Rice, de Santis accomplishes this, mixing romance, melodrama, crime, nature, and a societal case-study.
5. MAURICE (dir. James Ivory, 1987)
For me, this is Ivory’s peak. His detached camera suits the subject way more so than his other costume dramas. By making his protagonist gay, he is able to pull more romance, emotion, and heartbreak than in any of his other efforts.
4. SAFETY LAST! (dirs. Fred C. Newmeyer & Sam Taylor, 1923)
To think that Safety Last! is nearly 100 years old is astonishing—especially when considering this film is more thrilling, more funny, and more stirring than anything else in years.
3. LOLA MONTÈS (dir. Max Ophüls, 1955)
When I think of Lola Montes I think of two things: Martine Carol sitting in the middle of that circus in blue light, and her hands, inches from her lovers, as the carriages are pulled apart.
2. CHILDREN OF PARADISE (dir. Marcel Carné, 1945)
At over three hours, Children of Paradise is the longest movie on this list. While that sounds daunting, it is a film brimming with life, love, and loss. The film follows a romantic pentangle—one woman and the four men who obsess over her. Children of Paradise is large in scope, yet narrow in narrative. It is everything the cinema should be, and everything it can be.
1. RED DESERT (dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964)
Red Desert is many things—enigmatic, evocative, emotional. For a filmmaker as hard to pin down and dig into as Antonioni, Red Desert is perhaps his least accessible work. He throws the audience into the life of Monica Vitti’s Giuliana, complete with smoke-pluming factories, foggy ports, and sterile interiors. The film is an exploration into her character’s emotional state, and Vitti’s tender performance mixed with Antonioni’s delicate writing created one of the most visceral responses in me. I sob for Giuliana; I feel that a part of me is with her. Or is her. There are movies that connect to your senses, but Red Desert connects straight to your soul.