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 Fear IV: San Francisco

The Fear struck again in early 1986. This time it would stay with me for quite some time. I flew to California with my girlfriend. We were to spend half the time in the Bay Area for a few Grateful Dead concerts and a couple of university interviews at Stanford and San Francisco State for my intended M.A. program in film, and the other half in Burbank for an interview I had scheduled for my thesis at Walt Disney Studios. I felt off from the moment I stepped on the plane and found myself incredibly agitated while renting our car.

We got to a hotel in Oakland and walked to the concert hall. The show was all right; it would have been a lot better if I had avoided drugs. The notion of trying anything again – this was my first attempt since that dreadful night in Columbia – was a source of great worry for me, but as my belief in confronting fears was a bit of a mantra, I had no other choice. I suffered through waves of intense fear and doubt, but felt quite calm and somewhat relieved by the end.

I had a bath and found was horrified by the blue tiles. They were too even and clean, too polished for a sane person to consider. Panic descended. The worst part of it was I couldn’t corner it, couldn’t explain it; it was a shadow cast from nothing. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing with my life. All of my writing belittled human existence. I was always trying to get outside of the human context. Who the hell did I think I was to do that? The notion was asinine. I had just something called Bare Cage which reduced humanity to a seventeen page one-act play with a naked man and woman, a dead bear and a machine housed in an impenetrable cage, while I was at work on a screenplay entitled Home which featured a house as the main character and the people that moved through as incidentals, while thirdly, I was writing notes for a proposed novel I had entitled Popo Know, the piece from my cat’s perspective. It was as if I didn’t think I was human, like I was above it all, like my vision was beyond the grasp of any other. It was totally fucked.

The next day when I went to the corner bakery, I felt as bad as ever. I was panic-stricken when a stranger asked me a question. I had no idea what he said. I just looked away and pretended he didn’t exist. I pointed to some buns and left as quickly as I could. I was supposed to get ice as well, but didn’t feel up to it. The rest of the day went fairly well. I looked at a couple of the sights in San Francisco, visited San Francisco State University – they had a decent program even if the campus was horrendously ugly – and went to the beach. We went to our second show; it was Chinese New Year’s and, for the event, the Dead had lined up the San Francisco Chinese Orchestra as the back-up. I weaved my way to the front and then thoughts of death and suicide crashed upon me. I wasn’t about to commit suicide, but my understanding of the notion was extremely precise. The gun, the knife, the rope, they were all emblems of clarity. Life was a waste; anybody with a mind could see that. Why the hell not wipe it out? All was blackness and doom. Concepts such as love and freedom were lies to make the imminent collapse of the universe digestible. The wise and loving gods were salesmen speculating on preferential stock. Music was a waste of time; life was a waste of time.

“Shit.” I lost my balance. The last thing I saw was a girl blacking out; I collapsed on top of her. I desperately tried to stand. I opened my eyes to find them clouded and the stadium shrouded in blackness. The houselights had gone out. The band was coming on. Some people helped guide me from the floor and out into the concourse area where I listened to the music float through the halls and watched the crazies and their children dance.

The next day I drove down to Stanford. I fought the feeling all the way down. It was pushing me very hard. We came onto the main, palm-tree-lined avenue into the campus. Sunshine blazed onto the impeccable scene of lush beauty. Hordes of happy cyclists crowded the paths…and then it assaulted me. What was stopping me from swerving the car and plowing through these joyous curs? What the hell was the point of staying on the road? The road was a fucking waste of time. These self-satisfied fuckers needed to understand the precious gift of life…and so did I. This was a farce. My little role in this pathetic jumble was a wasteful pursuit. All the cloaks and masks…why was I supposed to value this mass of conceit?

I slowed the car, forced simple thoughts of hockey and sex into my head and parked. We visited the film faculty, found out my program had been cancelled and left.

A couple of days later I had my interview at Walt Disney studios. I asked the woman my prepared questions and, as she answered, thought what a waste of time her and my life really were. Amazingly, I managed to ask her all of my questions and, a few hours later, when the necessity of the answers returned, wrote them down. I learned to control the feeling over the next few months until early that summer, when I went tree planting, and it finally went away.

“Saving Mr. Banks”: Paving the Road to Hell

We know what to expect from a Walt Disney film, everything from the adorable creatures to the clear delineation between good and evil. DisneyAnimals1The latest Magic Kingdom offering, Saving Mr. Banks  is no exception, giving a Disneyfied version of the media giant’s acquisition of P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins. saving-mr-banksWalt is a simple man – so the story goes – who has promised his daughters to get Mary Poppins on the screen, while Travers is cast as a lonely, psychologically damaged spinster who only gets in the way.screen_shot_2013-08-02_at_12.31.50_amTravers’ intense dislike of musicals and cartoons is the challenge to be overcome, and while they failed to convince her in real life – Travers so furious with the butchering of her work that she refused to work with Disney ever again – a different story is told in the film, Travers tearful in her epiphany of the Wonderful World of Disney in the end. PL Travers cryingAs banal as some might see this change, we need to remember that the pixie dust from this manicured perception is in fact ashes of the dead.