100 Most Important Films Ever Made

There are hundreds of Top 100 Film Lists, most of which are dated (Citizen Kane atop the list) or populist (Paddington 2). These flawed lists use algorithms (film critics and/or everyday viewers) rather than focus on the remarkable visuals, sounds and scenes that make a film memorable and, dare I say, crack open our collective subconscious. These are the 100 most important films ever made:

100. It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, US, 1946)

99. The Blair Witch Project (Eduardo Sanchez & Daniel Myrick, US, 1999)

98. Open Hearts (Susanne Bier, Denmark, 2002)

97. Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, US, 1957)

96. Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, US, 1992)

95. La La Land (Damien Chazelle, US, 2016)

94. Nosferatu (FW Murnau, Germany, 1922)

93. City of God (Fernando Meirelles/Kátia Lund, Brazil, 2002)

92. Midsommer (Ari Aster, US, 2019)

91. Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, US, 2020)

90. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, US, 1977)

89. 56 Up (Michael Apted, UK, 2005)

88. Howl’s Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 2004)

87. Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, US, 1989)

86. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Dryer, France, 1928)

85.Capernaum (Nadine Labaki, Lebanon, 2018)

84. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Walt Disney, US, 1937)

83. MASH (Robert Altman, US, 1970)

82. The Adventures of Robin Hood (Michael Curtiz, US, 1938)

81. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, US, 1977)

80. Memento (Christopher Nolan, US, 2000)

79. Pinocchio (Matteo Garonne, Italy, 2019)

78. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, US, 2016)

77. Superbad (Greg Mottola, US, 2007)

76. L’Aventurra (Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy, 1960)

75. Rushmore (Wes Anderson, US, 1998)

74. Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, US, 1967)

73. A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, UK, 1973)

72. Amadeus (Milos Forman, US, 1985)

71. A Wedding (Pavel Lungin, Russia, 2000)

70. Elephant (Gus Van Sant, US, 2003)

69. Star Wars (George Lucas, US, 1977)

68. 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, Italy, 1965)

67. The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, Italy, 1966)

66. All the President’s Men (Alan Pakula, US, 1976)

65. Irreversible (Gaspar Noe, France, 2002)

64. Dirty (Bruce Sweeney, Canada, 1998)

63.Gilda (Charles Vidor, US, 1946)

62. Singin’ in the Rain (Gene Kelly, US, 1952)

61. American Graffiti (George Lucas, US, 1973)

60. Her (Spike Jonze, US, 2013)

59. Through a Glass Darkly (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1961)

58. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (Sergio Leone, Italy, 1965)

57. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, US, 1976)

56. Alien (Ridley Scott, USA, 1979)

55. Burden of Dreams (Les Blanc, US, 1979)

54. M (Fritz Lang, Germany, 1931)

53. The Godfather II (Francis Ford Coppola, US, 1975)

52. The Exterminating Angel (Luis Bunuel, Spain, 1962)

51. Pather Panchali, The Apu Trilogy (Satyajit Rao, India, 1955)

50.Stroszek (Werner Herzog, Germany, 1977)

49.Honeyland (Tamara Kotevska/Ljubomir Stefanov, Macedonia, 2019)

48. Secrets and Lies (Mike Leigh, UK, 1996)

47. La Regle de Jeu (Jean Renoir, France, 1939)

46. Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze, US, 2002)

45. Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger, US, 1969)

44.Planes, Trains and Automobiles (John Hughes, US, 1987)

43. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, US, 2007)

42. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, US, 1960)

41. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, US, 1974)

40. Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton, US, 1926)

39. Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, USSR, 1927)

38. Tokyo Story (Yasujirō Ozu, Japan, 1953)

37. Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, US, 1980)

36.Loveless (Andrey Zvyagintsev, Russia, 2017)

35.Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, USSR, 1966)

34. Gommorah (Matteo Garonne, Italy, 2008)

33. The Florida Project (Sean Baker, US, 2017)

32. Shoplifters (Hirokai Kore-eda, Japan, 2018)

31. Heaven’s Gate (Michael Cimino, US, 1980)

30. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, US, 1976)

29. Cleo from 5 to 7 (Agnes Varda, France, 1962)

28. Castaway (Robert Zemeckis, US, 2001)

27. Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, US, 1989)

26. Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, US, 1995)

25. Being There (Hal Ashby, US, 1979)

24. Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, US, 1993)

23. Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, US, 1983)

22.The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, US, 1939)

21. Short Cuts (Robert Altman, US, 1993)

20. Adaptation (Spike Jonze, US, 2002)

19. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, US, 2006)

18. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, UK/US, 1968)

17. Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet, US, 1973)

16. Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, US, 2002)

15. Taxi (Jafar Pahani, Iran, 2015)

14. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, US, 1976)

13.Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1950)

12. The Sacrifice (Andrei Tarkovsky, USSR, 1986)

11. The Graduate (Mike Nichols, US, 1967)

10. The Celebration (Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark, 1998)

9. The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, USSR, 1957)

8. The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, US, 1998)

7.Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, Italy, 1946)

6. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, US, 1941)

5. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, US, 1973)

4. The Deerhunter (Michael Cimino, US, 1980)

3. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 2001)

2. No Country for Old Men (Joel & Ethan Coen, US, 2007)

1. Aguirre, Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, Germany, 1972)

Please post comments. Feedback is appreciated.

The Edge: Of Good Writing

Screenwriting is a most inconsistent proposition. While there are many films that have great scenes and characters, the work is often lacking in its overall story. Paul Thomas Anderson‘s films, including The Master, fall into this category as does the work of many modern screenwriters/filmmakers, such as Gaspar Noe, Terence Malick, Pedro Almodavar, Jim Jarmusch, and that other Anderson, Wes.  I posted recently on Andrei Tarkovsky’s film The Sacrifice, and his struggle with story-telling.  This too is an issue for many of the great auteurs: Francois Truffaut, Ingmar Bergman, Michelangelo Antonioni and, even my favorite, Werner Herzog; it’s the image, the motion, the atmosphere first and everything else after that. This is not say that the story arc of Hollywood should be subscribed to in any way. There is nothing so painfully innocuous as to be dragged along through the introduction, conflict, rising action, climax, denouement and all the pain-in-the-ass red herrings in the films of Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, Jimmy Cameron or Clint Eastwood.But there is a middle ground out there, something between the poetic image and the Hollywood ride. It’s as hit and miss as the rest, although there are diamonds in the rough. One film that comes to mind is Greg Motolla’s Superbad (written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg); as stupid as this movie can be, the story is true, the characters honest. Another surprising film is Lee Tamahori’s The Edge, written by David Mamet. This film is typical Hollywood, “Jaws with claws” as it was dubbed; however it is well-written. The story structure is effective – except for a weird denouement/climax #2 – and the arc is clear. The characters are engaging, even as types, and interact in an interesting way with both each other and their environment. The message is loud – We must face our demons! – but it’s a good film. And the bear is great. Really.