Skip to main content

Main Area

Main

100 greatest foreign-language films of all time

  • 100 greatest foreign-language films of all time
    1/ Riama Film

    100 greatest foreign-language films of all time

    A refreshing alternative to standard Hollywood fare, the best foreign-language films represent cinema as a medium of undiluted expression. Since the turn of the 20th century, these films have challenged thematic and stylistic conventions with fearless panache. What's more, specific films and movements from countries like Japan, Italy, and France have profoundly influenced a legion of American filmmakers, including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, and David Lynch.

    Using data from a recent BBC poll, Stacker presents the 100 greatest foreign-language films of all time, as of Oct. 30, 2018. When compiling the initial list, BBC polled 209 critics from 43 countries, asking each to rank his or her top ten foreign-language (i.e. non-English-language) films. To throw out some quick examples, Alisha Harris of the New York Times considers Jean-Luc Godard's “Breathless” to be the greatest foreign-language film ever made. For Jon Frosch of The Hollywood Reporter, that honor goes to Jean Renoir's “The Rules of the Game.” After all the votes came in, BBC worked off a point system (#1 spot = 10 points, #2 spot = 9 points, and so on) to rank the top 100 films accordingly, breaking any ties by placing the title with more overall votes higher on the list.

    In total, there are 67 directors and 21 languages represented among the 100 top foreign-language films. To break things down by decade, there are four titles from the 1920s, five from the 1930s, four from the 1940s, 20 from the 1950s, 20 from the 1960s, 12 from the 1970s, nine from the 1980s, 13 from the 1990s, 11 from the 2000s, and two from the 2010s. Without further ado, here are the 100 greatest foreign-language films of all time.

    You may also like: Best animated films of all time

  • #100. Landscape in the Mist (1988)
    2/ Paradis Films

    #100. Landscape in the Mist (1988)

    - Language: Greek
    - Director: Theo Angelopoulos
    - Total votes: 4
    - Top 5 votes: 3
    - #1 votes: 1

    Greek director Theo Angelopoulos' first film to find U.S. distribution follows two children as they search for their father in Germany. Traveling by train, car, and boat, the children are constantly interrupted by tender and brutal experiences. The movie won a slate of awards, including the Silver Lion at the 1988 Venice Film Festival.

  • #99. Ashes and Diamonds (1958)
    3/ Zespól Filmowy "Kadr"

    #99. Ashes and Diamonds (1958)

    - Language: Polish
    - Director: Andrzej Wajda
    - Total votes: 5
    - Top 5 votes: 3
    - #1 votes: 1

    Capping off a trilogy of war-themed movies from director Andrzej Wajda, “Ashes and Diamonds” takes place in communist Poland on the last day of World War II. As the German occupation ends, two hapless Polish soldiers are tasked with assassinating a Russian commissar as part of a broader fight for power. The film was a major influence on director Martin Scorsese, among others.

  • #98. In the Heat of the Sun (1994)
    4/ China Film Co-Production Corporation

    #98. In the Heat of the Sun (1994)

    - Language: Mandarin
    - Director: Jiang Wen
    - Total votes: 4
    - Top 5 votes: 2
    - #1 votes: 0

    Set during the Cultural Revolution in Beijing, this romantic drama marks the directorial debut of actor Jiang Wen. It chronicles the adventures of a boy named Ma Xiaojun—nicknamed Monkey—who roams the streets with his small group of friends. After spying on an older woman from under her bed, Monkey experiences the thrill and torment of his first crush.

  • #97. Taste of Cherry (1997)
    5/ Abbas Kiarostami Productions

    #97. Taste of Cherry (1997)

    - Language: Farsi
    - Director: Abbas Kiarostami
    - Total votes: 7
    - Top 5 votes: 2
    - #1 votes: 0

    Written and directed by Abbas Kiarostami, this Iranian drama tells the story of a depressed middle-aged man named Mr. Badii (Homayoun Ershadi). Determined to commit suicide, Badii searches for someone who will bury his dead body under a cherry tree. Although the movie co-won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, critic Roger Ebert was among the few dissenting opinions, describing it as “an emperor without any clothes.”

  • #96. Shoah (1985)
    6/ British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

    #96. Shoah (1985)

    - Language: German | Hebrew | Polish | Yiddish | French | English | Greek | Italian
    - Director: Claude Lanzmann
    - Total votes: 4
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 0

    Claude Lanzmann's award-winning documentary delivers 566 minutes of Holocaust stories, as told by the men and women who lived through the ordeal. Interviewing victims, spectators, and perpetrators alike, Lanzmann reveals harrowing confessions and excruciating details as he brings the past back to life. In 2016, Time Out Magazine dubbed “Shoah” the best documentary of all time.

  • #95. Floating Clouds (1955)
    7/ Toho Company

    #95. Floating Clouds (1955)

    - Language: Japanese
    - Director: Mikio Naruse
    - Total votes: 4
    - Top 5 votes: 3
    - #1 votes: 1

    A single woman (Hideko Takamine) returns from French Indochina to post-World War II Japan in this social drama from prolific director Mikio Naruse. Jumping between past and present, the movie chronicles the woman's rekindled love affair with a former flame. While searching for a sense of purpose, she grapples with extreme bouts of loneliness and despair.

  • #94. Where Is the Friend's Home? (1987)
    8/ Farabi Cinema Foundation

    #94. Where Is the Friend's Home? (1987)

    - Language: Farsi
    - Director: Abbas Kiarostami
    - Total votes: 6
    - Top 5 votes: 3
    - #1 votes: 0

    Cast and shot in the Italian neorealist tradition, Abbas Kiarostami's compelling drama centers on an eight-year-old boy named Ahmed, who goes to great lengths to return his classmate's notebook. Like so many of the best Iranian films, this one uses a relatively simple premise to explore a range of broader cultural themes.

  • #93. Raise the Red Lantern (1991)
    9/ China Film Co-Production Corporation

    #93. Raise the Red Lantern (1991)

    - Language: Mandarin
    - Director: Zhang Yimou
    - Total votes: 7
    - Top 5 votes: 2
    - #1 votes: 0

    Legendary Chinese director Yimou Zhang helmed this taut historical drama, which takes place during the Warlord Era in 1920s China. After being forced to marry a wealthy lord, a young woman (Li Gong) must adapt to the rules of his compound while vying against his three other wives. Due to its perceived critiques of authoritarianism, the acclaimed work was banned in China for a period of time.

  • #92. Scenes from a Marriage (1973)
    10/ Cinematograph AB

    #92. Scenes from a Marriage (1973)

    - Language: Swedish
    - Director: Ingmar Bergman
    - Total votes: 6
    - Top 5 votes: 2
    - #1 votes: 0

    Iconic Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman makes his first appearance on the list with this award-winning drama, which was originally a six-part mini-series. Set over the course of 10 years, it chronicles the disintegration of a marriage between Marianne (Liv Ullmann) and Johan (Erland Josephson). Bergman's depiction was so impactful that it reportedly caused an increase in Sweden's divorce rate.

  • #91. Rififi (1955)
    11/ Pathé Consortium Cinéma

    #91. Rififi (1955)

    - Language: French
    - Director: Jules Dassin
    - Total votes: 6
    - Top 5 votes: 2
    - #1 votes: 1

    Widely considered one of the greatest heist films ever made, this French noir follows four criminals as they try to execute the perfect crime. Can the robbers pull off the job or will inevitable human error prevail? With its gritty aesthetic, “Rififi” helped pave the way for latter-day classics such as “Reservoir Dogs.”

  • #90. Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)
    12/ Argos Films

    #90. Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)

    - Language: French | Japanese
    - Director: Alain Resnais
    - Total votes: 5
    - Top 5 votes: 3
    - #1 votes: 0

    Alain Resnais' directorial debut endures as one of the most influential works to come out of the French New Wave movement. Straddling past and present, it centers on the intense love affair between a French actress and a Japanese architect in postwar Hiroshima.

  • #89. Wild Strawberries (1957)
    13/ Svensk Filmindustri (SF)

    #89. Wild Strawberries (1957)

    - Language: Swedish
    - Director: Ingmar Bergman
    - Total votes: 5
    - Top 5 votes: 2
    - #1 votes: 1

    This 1957 drama interweaves stark reality with vivid hallucination. In "Wild Strawberries," an aging professor (Victor Sjöström) confronts the emptiness of existence. Director Ingmar Bergman originally conceived the main character as a way to justify himself to his parents, until lead actor Sjöström injected his own personal struggles into the role. Like much of Bergman's work, the movie features powerful symbolism and a range of poignant themes.

  • #88. The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (1939)
    14/ Shochiku

    #88. The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (1939)

    - Language: Japanese
    - Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
    - Total votes: 4
    - Top 5 votes: 3
    - #1 votes: 2

    This romantic drama introduced the sweeping long takes and graceful camera movements that would come to define director Kenji Mizoguchi's legacy. Set in Tokyo circa 1888, it follows the adopted son of a noted kabuki actor as he tries to break out on his own. Ultimately, the movie endures as a deft examination of the sacrificial relationship between life and art.

  • #87. The Nights of Cabiria (1957)
    15/ Dino de Laurentiis Cinematografica

    #87. The Nights of Cabiria (1957)

    - Language: Italian
    - Director: Federico Fellini
    - Total votes: 4
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 2

    No list of the best foreign-language films is complete without multiple entries from Italian master Federico Fellini, who makes his first appearance with this 1957 drama. It stars Fellini's wife and muse Giulietta Masina as Maria “Cabiria” Ceccarelli, a naive prostitute with a trail of disappointing romances behind her. Upon marrying a man who appears to love her, Cabiria is pained to discover his ulterior motives during their honeymoon.

  • #86. La Jetée (1962)
    16/ Argos Films

    #86. La Jetée (1962)

    - Language: French
    - Director: Chris Marker
    - Total votes: 5
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 1

    The inspiration for Terry Gilliam's “12 Monkeys,” this classic French short film takes place in the wake of World War III. As a man travels back and forth in time, his memories and experiences are depicted by way of harrowing still images. Meanwhile, the fate of the world is resting on his shoulders.

  • #85. Umberto D (1952)
    17/ Rizzoli Film

    #85. Umberto D (1952)

    - Language: Italian
    - Director: Vittorio de Sica
    - Total votes: 5
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 0

    True to the Italian neorealist tradition, Vittorio de Sica's visceral drama stars a number of non-professional actors. It follows an elderly Roman man (Carlo Battisti) as he tries to survive on a government pension in a cruel and modernized world. When things go from bad to worse, the man ends up on the street with only his beloved dog for a companion.

  • #84. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
    18/ Greenwich Film Productions

    #84. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)

    - Language: French
    - Director: Luis Buñuel
    - Total votes: 9
    - Top 5 votes: 3
    - #1 votes: 0

    Skewering the upper class as only Luis Buñuel can, this surrealist comedy depicts a series of dinner parties involving six friends and no host. As a string of absurd events continue to get between the group and their meal, the carefully constructed persona of each guest begins to fall apart. Long before directors like David Lynch or Christopher Nolan wove dream worlds within dream worlds, “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” did the very same thing.

  • #83. La Strada (1954)
    19/ Ponti-De Laurentiis Cinematografica

    #83. La Strada (1954)

    - Language: Italian
    - Director: Federico Fellini
    - Total votes: 5
    - Top 5 votes: 3
    - #1 votes: 1

    Federico Fellini drew upon his own experiences in the circus when crafting this 1954 drama, in which a carefree waif (Giulietta Masina) falls under the ownership of a brutish carnival performer (Anthony Quinn). After experiencing all sorts of physical and emotional abuse, she tries to flee from her vicious captor to no avail. Fellini once described the film as the “complete catalogue of [his] entire mythological world.”

  • #82. Amélie (2001)
    20/ Union Générale Cinématographique (UGC)

    #82. Amélie (2001)

    - Language: French
    - Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
    - Total votes: 6
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 0

    Jean-Pierre Jeunet's colorful style springs to life in 2001's “Amélie,” about an eccentric Parisian woman (Audrey Tautou) with lots of wisdom but little experience. Empowered by her own particular brand of justice, Amélie changes the lives of all those she meets. In addition to being a major financial and critical success, the film was nominated for five Academy Awards.

  • #81. Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974)
    21/ Action Films

    #81. Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974)

    - Language: French
    - Director: Jacques Rivette
    - Total votes: 5
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 1

    What begins as a conscious riff on “Alice in Wonderland” becomes a much broader meditation on sisterhood, magic, strange fiction, and mundane reality. Upon entering a haunted house, Celine and Julie witness the same Victorian drama being played out over and over again. For fans of Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry, this one's a must-see.

  • #80. The Young and the Damned (1950)
    22/ Ultramar Films

    #80. The Young and the Damned (1950)

    - Language: Spanish
    - Director: Luis Buñuel
    - Total votes: 6
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 1

    Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel has no fewer than five entries on the list of greatest foreign-language films, including this one from 1950. Set in the slums of Mexico City, it follows a reform school runaway as he teams up with his former gang and looks for the man who betrayed him. As the drama unfolds, his young and unwitting accessory gets pulled into a world of violence and corruption.

  • #79. Ran (1985)
    23/ Greenwich Film Productions

    #79. Ran (1985)

    - Language: Japanese
    - Director: Akira Kurosawa
    - Total votes: 6
    - Top 5 votes: 3
    - #1 votes: 1

    Japan's Akira Kurosawa is among the most influential filmmakers of the 20th century, whose shadow continues to loom large over Hollywood. His 1985 masterpiece combines Shakespeare's “King Lear” with stories of the Mōri samurai clan in medieval Japan. When an elderly warlord retires, his three sons battle for control of his empire.

  • #78. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
    24/ Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia

    #78. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

    - Language: Mandarin
    - Director: Ang Lee
    - Total votes: 10
    - Top 5 votes: 2
    - #1 votes: 0

    Taiwanese director Ang Lee was well into his Hollywood career when he decided to helm this Mandarin Chinese martial arts epic. Set in 19th century Qing Dynasty China, it finds two warriors on the hunt for a missing sword. Winner of four Academy Awards, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is the top-grossing foreign-language film of all time.

  • #77. The Conformist (1970)
    25/ Mars Film

    #77. The Conformist (1970)

    - Language: Italian
    - Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
    - Total votes: 7
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 0

    The film that put Bernardo Bertolucci on the cultural map reimagines the political thriller through his unconventional visual style. Based on a novel, it takes place in Italy during Mussolini's rise to power. At the dictator's behest, a weak-willed man (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is tasked with assassinating a political dissident with whom he shares a past.

  • #76. Y Tu Mamá También (2001)
    26/ Anhelo Producciones

    #76. Y Tu Mamá También (2001)

    - Language: Spanish
    - Director: Alfonso Cuarón
    - Total votes: 6
    - Top 5 votes: 5
    - #1 votes: 0

    With “Roma” still fresh on everyone's minds, now is the perfect time to revisit this unforgettable masterwork from Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón. It follows two best friends and an older female companion as they hit the road in search of a mysterious beach. By the time the journey ends, each character's life has changed forever.

  • #75. Belle de Jour (1967)
    27/ Paris Film Productions

    #75. Belle de Jour (1967)

    - Language: French | Spanish
    - Director: Luis Buñuel
    - Total votes: 7
    - Top 5 votes: 3
    - #1 votes: 0

    French actress Catherine Deneuve stars as bored housewife Séverine Serizy in this kinky comedy-drama from Luis Buñuel. Unable to fulfill her physical desires at home, Serizy leads a salacious double life as a high-class prostitute. Critic Roger Ebert claimed that “Belle de Jour” was “possibly the best-known erotic film of modern times, perhaps the best.”

  • #74. Pierrot Le Fou (1965)
    28/ Société Nouvelle de Cinématographie (SNC)

    #74. Pierrot Le Fou (1965)

    - Language: French
    - Director: Jean-Luc Godard
    - Total votes: 9
    - Top 5 votes: 3
    - #1 votes: 0

    French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard enters the list with this edgy crime drama from 1965. No longer satisfied by his bourgeoisie lifestyle, Ferdinand Griffon (Jean-Paul Belmondo) and his ex-girlfriend (Anna Karina) hop in a dead man's car and embark on a crime spree. A recent music video from Selena Gomez paid tribute to the movie by recreating some of its scenes.

  • #73. Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
    29/ Vseukrainske Foto Kino Upravlinnia (VUFKU)

    #73. Man with a Movie Camera (1929)

    - Language: Russian
    - Director: Dziga Vertov
    - Total votes: 8
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 0

    Decades ahead of its time, Dziga Vertov's experimental film employs a range of groundbreaking visual techniques as it chronicles a day in the Soviet Union. More than a silent documentary, the movie constantly draws attention to both itself and the audience. Subsequent eras of documentary filmmaking wouldn't be the same without this seminal work.

  • #72. Ikiru (1952)
    30/ Toho Company

    #72. Ikiru (1952)

    - Language: Japanese
    - Director: Akira Kurosawa
    - Total votes: 7
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 1

    One of Akira Kurosawa's most compassionate portrayals, this meditative drama centers on aging civil servant Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura). Upon learning that he has less than a year to live, Watanabe embarks on a quest to find meaning in life. Don Druker of the Chicago Reader called it Kurosawa's “greatest film.”

  • #71. Happy Together (1997)
    31/ Block 2 Pictures

    #71. Happy Together (1997)

    - Language: Mandarin | Cantonese | Spanish
    - Director: Wong Kar-wai
    - Total votes: 8
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 1

    Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai's poppy visual style and humane storytelling instincts earned him three spots on BBC's list of the greatest foreign-language films. In this 1997 effort—which won Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival—two men find their romance drifting apart during a trip to Argentina. As they engage in a cycle of break-ups and reconciliations, the movie itself becomes a treatise on the nature of toxic relationships.

  • #70. L'Eclisse (1962)
    32/ Cineriz

    #70. L'Eclisse (1962)

    - Language: Italian | English
    - Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
    - Total votes: 8
    - Top 5 votes: 3
    - #1 votes: 0'

    The final installment in Michelangelo Antonioni's trilogy on modernity and its discontents, this 1962 romantic drama centers on the doomed relationship between a young woman and a materialistic man. Presented as an engaging love story, the movie is also an exploration of how modernity affects the human condition. In his documentary “My Voyage to Italy,” director Martin Scorsese said the film's unexpected conclusion suggested to his younger self that the “possibilities in cinema were absolutely limitless."

  • #69. Amour (2012)
    33/ Les Films du Losange

    #69. Amour (2012)

    - Language: French
    - Director: Michael Haneke
    - Total votes: 8
    - Top 5 votes: 3
    - #1 votes: 0

    Acclaimed director Michael Haneke's only film to make the list is this understated Oscar winner from 2012. At the heart of the story is devoted elderly couple Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva), whose routine-oriented life is uprooted when Anne has a stroke. As with much of Haneke's work, the movie unfolds at a gradual pace before reaching its jarring climax.

  • #68. Ugetsu (1953)
    34/ Daiei Studios

    #68. Ugetsu (1953)

    - Language: Japanese
    - Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
    - Total votes: 6
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 2

    Infusing socio-political realism with supernatural elements, this 1953 film helped popularize Japanese cinema on the world stage. It takes place during the Japanese civil wars of the sixteenth century, and follows two peasant craftsman as they leave their families behind in pursuit of great fortune. The story is derived from two tales by legendary writer, scholar, and poet Ueda Akinari.

  • #67. The Exterminating Angel (1962)
    35/ Barcino Films

    #67. The Exterminating Angel (1962)

    - Language: Spanish
    - Director: Luis Buñuel
    - Total votes: 7
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 0

    A full decade before he made “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie,” Luis Buñuel released this similarly themed absurdist drama. It's also set during an upper-class dinner party, where the elitist guests find themselves unable to leave. As reality shatters around them, each guest is slowly reduced to behaving like an animal.

  • #66. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1973)
    36/ Filmverlag der Autoren

    #66. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1973)

    - Language: German | Arabic
    - Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
    - Total votes: 9
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 0

    Reimagining the 1953 drama “All That Heaven Allows” through a racial lens, this prescient film depicts the love affair between a German woman and a much younger Moroccan migrant worker. When the two abruptly decide to get married, it causes knee-jerk hostility and cold indifference among their peers. Director Rainer Werner Fassbinder shot the work quickly on a shoestring budget, but Roger Ebert thinks it just “may be the best of his 40 or so films.”

  • #65. Ordet (1955)
    37/ Palladium Film

    #65. Ordet (1955)

    - Language: Danish
    - Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer
    - Total votes: 6
    - Top 5 votes: 5
    - #1 votes: 2

    Based on a play by Lutheran priest and martyr Kaj Munk, Carl Theodor Dreyer's acclaimed drama examines the role of faith within a Danish family. When various religious convictions threaten to tear the family apart, an unexpected tragedy brings them back together. Winner of the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival, “Ordet” continues to be admired for its stunning cinematography and deft drama.

  • #64. Three Colours: Blue (1993)
    38/ MK2 Productions

    #64. Three Colours: Blue (1993)

    - Language: French
    - Director: Krzysztof Kieślowski
    - Total votes: 7
    - Top 5 votes: 5
    - #1 votes: 0

    Cinephiles might be surprised to discover that the first film in Krzysztof Kieślowski's famous “Three Colours” trilogy was the only one to make BBC's list. When her husband and son are killed in a car accident, a woman (Juliette Binoche) attempts to sever all ties with society. The overarching trilogy took loose inspiration from France's national motto of “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity,” with this particular installment tackling the theme of emotional liberty.

  • #63. Spring in a Small Town (1948)
    39/ Wenhua Film Company

    #63. Spring in a Small Town (1948)

    - Language: Mandarin
    - Director: Fei Mu
    - Total votes: 7
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 1

    In this masterfully subtle Chinese drama, a lonely housewife is torn between her marital obligations and her carnal desires for a former flame. The story takes place on the heels of the Second Sino-Japanese War, in a small town that's still recovering from Japanese bombings. A major influence on subsequent directors like Wong Kar-wai and Zhang Yimou, “Spring in a Small Town” is widely considered one of the greatest Chinese films ever made.

  • #62. Touki Bouki (1973)
    40/ Cinegrit

    #62. Touki Bouki (1973)

    - Language: Wolof | Arabic | French
    - Director: Djibril Diop Mambéty
    - Total votes: 9
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 1

    Hailing from Senegal, this 1973 drama follows a motorcycle-riding cowherd and female university student as they concoct various schemes in hopes of fleeing to Paris. Incorporating a French New Wave influence, Mambéty blends naturalism and surrealism to superb effect. Beyoncé and Jay-Z recently paid tribute to the African film through a promo video and poster art for their On the Run II tour.

  • #61. Sansho the Bailiff (1954)
    41/ Daiei Studios

    #61. Sansho the Bailiff (1954)

    - Language: Japanese
    - Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
    - Total votes: 7
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 1

    Soon after the release of “Ugetsu,” Kenji Mizoguchi churned out this acclaimed historical drama. Set in medieval Japan, it sees an idealistic governor sent into exile and separated from his wife and children. What follows is a harrowing tale of human perseverance in the face of grueling obstacles.

  • #60. Contempt (1963)
    42/ Rome Paris Films

    #60. Contempt (1963)

    - Language: French | English | German | Italian
    - Director: Jean-Luc Godard
    - Total votes: 7
    - Top 5 votes: 5
    - #1 votes: 2

    Jean-Luc Godard's foray into big-budget filmmaking stars iconic French actress Brigitte Bardot, and deals with a troubled screen adaptation of Homer's “The Odyssey.” In the eye of the storm is young screenwriter Paul Javal (Michel Piccoli), who must appease various personalities while reworking the script. German director Fritz Lang appears as himself.

  • #59. Come and See (1985)
    43/ Belarusfilm

    #59. Come and See (1985)

    - Language: Belarusian | Russian | German
    - Director: Elem Klimov
    - Total votes: 8
    - Top 5 votes: 5
    - #1 votes: 0

    Winner of the Grand Prix at the 1985 Moscow Film Festival, this brutal WWII drama takes place in Belarus in the midst of a Nazi invasion. After finding an old rifle, a young boy trades innocence for experience when he joins the Soviet resistance movement. Critic Roger Ebert called it “one of the most devastating films ever about anything.”

  • #58. The Earrings of Madame de... (1953)
    44/ Franco London Films

    #58. The Earrings of Madame de... (1953)

    - Language: French | Turkish
    - Director: Max Ophüls
    - Total votes: 8
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 1

    In this heralded drama from Max Ophüls, a pair of diamond earrings constantly changes hands and reveals all sorts of romantic shenanigans along the way. The end result is what critic Andrew Sarris dubbed “the most perfect film ever made.” Italian neorealist director Vittorio De Sica (who appears twice on this list) stars as a baron named Fabrizio Donati.

  • #57. Solaris (1972)
    45/ Mosfilm

    #57. Solaris (1972)

    - Language: Russian | German
    - Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
    - Total votes: 9
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 1

    Andrei Tarkovsky is a perennial favorite among film buffs, with no fewer than four works on the list. Among them is this adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's classic sci-fi novel about a psychologist who visits a space station above a distant planet. As he tries to determine what's making various crew members go insane, the psychologist's own sense of reality gets distorted by a mysterious planetary source.

  • #56. Chungking Express (1994)
    46/ Jet Tone Production

    #56. Chungking Express (1994)

    - Language: Cantonese | English | Japanese | Hindi | Mandarin
    - Director: Wong Kar-wai
    - Total votes: 9
    - Top 5 votes: 3
    - #1 votes: 2

    Divided into two parts, Wong Kar-wai's impressionistic comedy-drama depicts the romantic misadventures of two lovesick policemen. One pines over a mysterious criminal in a blonde wig, while the other engages with a kindhearted snack bar employee. Enhancing the movie's distinct visual palette is Wong's deft use of recurring musical themes.

  • #55. Jules and Jim (1962)
    47/ Les Films du Carrosse

    #55. Jules and Jim (1962)

    - Language: French | German | English
    - Director: François Truffaut
    - Total votes: 10
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 1

    French New Wave icon François Truffaut served up a string of masterpieces in his relatively short lifetime, including this acclaimed drama. Taking place from 1912 to 1931, it chronicles the exploits of two men in love with the same woman. As war and depression threaten to destroy the world around them, the trio seeks happiness and refuge through their shared relationship.

  • #54. Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)
    48/ Ang Lee Productions

    #54. Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)

    - Language: Mandarin | French
    - Director: Ang Lee
    - Total votes: 7
    - Top 5 votes: 7
    - #1 votes: 0

    The final film in Ang Lee's informal “Father Knows Best” trilogy explores the dynamic between an aging chef and his three daughters, who all live under one roof. No matter what their current problems or differences, the family makes it a point to convene every Sunday for dinner. A critical and financial success, the movie received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

  • #53. Late Spring (1949)
    49/ Shôchiku Eiga

    #53. Late Spring (1949)

    - Language: Japanese
    - Director: Yasujirô Ozu
    - Total votes: 8
    - Top 5 votes: 6
    - #1 votes: 1

    One of two films from Yasujirô Ozu to make the list, “Late Spring” centers on 27-year-old Noriko (Setsuko Hara). Facing pressure to marry from family and friends, Noriko instead insists on staying home to take care of her widowed father. What results is an exquisitely rendered study of love and loss in postwar Japan.

  • #52. Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)
    50/ Argos Films

    #52. Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)

    - Language: French
    - Director: Robert Bresson
    - Total votes: 9
    - Top 5 votes: 5
    - #1 votes: 0

    Reportedly inspired by a passage in Dostoyevsky's “The Idiot,” renowned filmmaker Robert Bresson crafted this unforgettable minimalist tragedy. Seen as a companion piece to 1967's “Mouchette,” it tells the story of a pet donkey and his young owner. After being separated from one another, the donkey and young girl continually fall victim to the torturous whims of others.

  • #51. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
    51/ Parc Film

    #51. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

    - Language: French | English
    - Director: Jacques Demy
    - Total votes: 11
    - Top 5 votes: 5
    - #1 votes: 0

    Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo headline Jacques Demy's musical drama, in which every single line of dialogue is sung. The romance between Geneviève Emery (Deneuve) and Guy Foucher (Castelnuovo) is put to the test when Foucher is drafted to fight in the Algerian War. Featuring music from composer Michel Legrand, the film won the Palme d'Or at Cannes and received several Oscar nominations.

  • #50. L'Atalante (1934)
    52/ Argui-Film

    #50. L'Atalante (1934)

    - Language: French | Russian
    - Director: Jean Vigo
    - Total votes: 7
    - Top 5 votes: 5
    - #1 votes: 2

    Before passing away at the young age of 29, filmmaker Jean Vigo helped create a poetic visual style that would later influence the French New Wave. His final film was also his only full-length feature, about the wife of a ship captain who sneaks off their boat and into Paris. In a review for The Guardian, critic Peter Bradshaw wrote that the movie “manages to be more modern than anything being made today.”

  • #49. Stalker (1979)
    53/ Mosfilm

    #49. Stalker (1979)

    - Language: Russian
    - Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
    - Total votes: 13
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 0

    Brothers Boris and Arkady Strugatsky loosely adapted their own futuristic sci-fi novel when co-writing the script for this Tarkovsky classic. It's set in a vague and nameless city, where a reality-bending area known only as The Zone has been declared off-limits by the government. With help from a seasoned guide—a “stalker”—two men enter The Zone to confront a range of psychological and philosophical dilemmas.

  • #48. Viridiana (1961)
    54/ Unión Industrial Cinematográfica (UNINCI)

    #48. Viridiana (1961)

    - Language: Spanish | English
    - Director: Luis Buñuel
    - Total votes: 9
    - Top 5 votes: 5
    - #1 votes: 1

    Luis Buñuel's highest-ranking film on the list tells the story of Viridiana (Silvia Pinal), an aspiring nun about to take her final vows. Upon visiting a relative, Viridiana is robbed of her ascetic purity. Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival, the movie was initially banned in Spain and declared “blasphemous” by the Vatican.

  • #47. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)
    55/ Mobra Films

    #47. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)

    - Language: Romanian
    - Director: Cristian Mungiu
    - Total votes: 11
    - Top 5 votes: 5
    - #1 votes: 0

    This award-winning film takes place in 1980s Romania, where a communist regime has ruled that second-term abortion is a crime punishable by death. Determined to end her pregnancy, a woman and her roommate embark down a dangerous path. Between the claustrophobic premise and stark execution, Cristian Mungiu’s taut drama moves at the pace of a modern-day thriller.  

  • #46. Children of Paradise (1945)
    56/ Société Nouvelle Pathé Cinéma

    #46. Children of Paradise (1945)

    - Language: French
    - Director: Marcel Carné
    - Total votes: 8
    - Top 5 votes: 6
    - #1 votes: 2

    France’s answer to “Gone With the Wind” takes place in the world of 19th-century Parisian theater, and unravels over the course of many years. At the heart of the story is a beautiful and mysterious courtesan (Arletty), who grapples with the affections and desires of four different suitors. Miraculously filmed during the Nazi occupation of 1945, “Children of Paradise” endures as one of the greatest French movies ever made.

  • #45. L’Avventura (1960)
    57/ Cino del Duca

    #45. L’Avventura (1960)

    - Language: Italian | English | Greek
    - Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
    - Total votes: 11
    - Top 5 votes: 6
    - #1 votes: 1

    When this enigmatic drama premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1960, certain audience members were emphatically turned off by Antonioni’s challenging narrative and unconventional style. Nowadays, “L’Avventura” is considered a seminal work of groundbreaking distinction and importance. When a wealthy woman goes missing during an island getaway, her close friend and boyfriend spark up a romance in her absence.

  • #44. Cleo From 5 to 7 (1962)
    58/ Ciné Tamaris

    #44. Cleo From 5 to 7 (1962)

    - Language: French
    - Director: Agnès Varda
    - Total votes: 11
    - Top 5 votes: 5
    - #1 votes: 1

    This French New Wave classic from Agnès Varda has only grown more prescient and enviable with time, according to critic Roger Ebert. It follows young pop singer Cleo (Corinne Marchand) during the most important two hours of her life, as she awaits the results of a biopsy. Revealed through Cleo's journey is an intimate and revealing snapshot of Paris in the early 1960s.

  • #43. Beau Travail (1999)
    59/ S.M. Films

    #43. Beau Travail (1999)

    - Language: French | Italian | Russian
    - Director: Claire Denis
    - Total votes: 14
    - Top 5 votes: 5
    - #1 votes: 0

    Loosely based on Herman Melville's “Billy Budd,” this riveting war drama explores male identity against a backdrop of military service. Most of the action takes place at a French Foreign Legion outpost in the Gulf of Djibouti, where officer Galoup (Denis Lavant) retains a favorable relationship with his superior. When a promising new recruit (Grégoire Colin) enters the picture, jealousy and hostility ensues.

  • #42. City of God (2002)
    60/ O2 Filmes

    #42. City of God (2002)

    - Language: Portuguese
    - Directors: Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund
    - Total votes: 16
    - Top 5 votes: 3
    - #1 votes: 1

    Spanning the 1960s through the 1980s, this Brazilian tour de force takes viewers deep into the slums of Rio de Janeiro. As aspiring photographer Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues) comes of age, he bears witness to the ongoing rivalry between two violent gangs. Co-directors Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund reunited to create a wildly popular TV spin-off called “City of Men,” which yielded its own feature-length film in 2007.

  • #41. To Live (1994)
    61/ ERA International

    #41. To Live (1994)

    - Language: Mandarin
    - Director: Zhang Yimou
    - Total votes: 10
    - Top 5 votes: 5
    - #1 votes: 1

    Zhang Yimou interweaves the domestic life of a small family with China's broader socio-political upheavals in this gripping drama. Set over the course of decades, it chronicles the family's struggle to survive in the face of constant disruption and tragedy. Despite its inclusion on the BBC list, a number of major American critics don't seem too eager to classify this work as one of the greatest foreign-language films ever made.

  • #40. Andrei Rublev (1966)
    62/ Mosfilm

    #40. Andrei Rublev (1966)

    - Language: Russian | Italian | Tatar
    - Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
    - Total votes: 11
    - Top 5 votes: 7
    - #1 votes: 1

    Andrei Tarkovsky uses the life of 15th-century painter Andrei Rublev as a means to explore themes of artistic freedom and religious faith in this harrowing arthouse film. Playing out in a series of dreamlike sequences, the movie presents an unfiltered portrait of political oppression. As a result, it was censored in Russia for more than two decades.

  • #39. Close-Up (1990)
    63/ Kanun parvaresh fekri

    #39. Close-Up (1990)

    - Language: Farsi | Azerbaijani
    - Director: Abbas Kiarostami
    - Total votes: 11
    - Top 5 votes: 6
    - #1 votes: 2

    This Iranian drama tells the true story of Hossain Sabzian, who impersonated a popular movie director to earn the good graces of a well-to-do family. While technically not a documentary, director Abbas Kiarostami cast actual participants from the event and incorporated real trial footage. It all amounts to a stunning examination of human identity and the effects of entertainment culture.

  • #38. A Brighter Summer Day (1991)
    64/ Yang & His Gang Filmmakers

    #38. A Brighter Summer Day (1991)

    - Language: Mandarin | Min Nan | Shanghainese
    - Director: Edward Yang
    - Total votes: 11
    - Top 5 votes: 6
    - #1 votes: 2

    The extended version of this Edward Yang epic clocks in at nearly four hours, but critics and audiences don't seem to mind. Set in 1960s Taiwan, it finds a disillusioned teenager and his girlfriend getting swept up in the conflict between two warring gangs. This crime story is based on real events, giving the bone-chilling finale all the more resonance.

  • #37. Spirited Away (2001)
    65/ Studio Ghibli

    #37. Spirited Away (2001)

    - Language: Japanese
    - Director: Hayao Miyazaki
    - Total votes: 12
    - Top 5 votes: 7
    - #1 votes: 1

    The only fully animated film to make the list is this virtually unrivaled masterpiece from Japan's Hayao Miyazaki, which won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It follows a young girl into a mystical parallel world, where powerful gods roam the sky and humans are turned into beasts. Miyazaki's storytelling instincts and his hand-drawn aesthetic are in top form.

  • #36. La Grande Illusion (1937)
    66/ Réalisation d'art cinématographique (RAC)

    #36. La Grande Illusion (1937)

    - Language: French | German | English | Russian
    - Director: Jean Renoir
    - Total votes: 9
    - Top 5 votes: 7
    - #1 votes: 2

    The first foreign-language film to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination, Jean Renoir's “La Grande Illusion” directly influenced subsequent Hollywood classics such as “The Great Escape.” Set during World War I, it chronicles two French soldiers' repeated attempts to escape from a German POW camp. Renoir's masterful control over camera movement and mise-en-scene remains the stuff of cinematic legend.

  • #35. The Leopard (1963)
    67/ Société Générale de Cinématographie (S.G.C.)

    #35. The Leopard (1963)

    - Language: Italian | Latin | French
    - Director: Luchino Visconti
    - Total votes: 11
    - Top 5 votes: 6
    - #1 votes: 2

    Italy's Luchino Visconti is reportedly a descendant of the ruling class he depicts in this sprawling period drama. Set in the 1860s, “The Leopard” finds Sicilian aristocracy struggling to retain power in the wake of constant socio-political turmoil. American actor Burt Lancaster stars in a leading role.

  • #34. Wings of Desire (1987)
    68/ Road Movies Filmproduktion

    #34. Wings of Desire (1987)

    - Language: German | English | French | Turkish | Hebrew | Spanish | Japanese
    - Director: Wim Wenders
    - Total votes: 12
    - Top 5 votes: 7
    - #1 votes: 2

    In this romantic fantasy from Wim Wenders, guardian angels hover over the city of Berlin and observe or protect the lives therein. After falling in love with a mortal, one of the angels embarks on a quest to become human. Claire Denis worked as an assistant director on the film, just one year before the release of her breakout hit “Chocolat.”

  • #33. Playtime (1967)
    69/ Specta Films

    #33. Playtime (1967)

    - Language: French | English | German
    - Director: Jacques Tati
    - Total votes: 10
    - Top 5 votes: 8
    - #1 votes: 1

    French comic legend Jacques Tati reprises his role as Monsieur Hulot for this brilliantly choreographed classic, which features plenty of sound but little dialogue. On his way to contact an American official, Hulot joins a group of tourists and gets lost in the labyrinth of modern Paris. Overflowing with clever details, the film took three years to complete and went way over budget.

  • #32. All About My Mother (1999)
    70/ El Deseo

    #32. All About My Mother (1999)

    - Language: Spanish | Catalan
    - Director: Pedro Almodóvar
    - Total votes: 14
    - Top 5 votes: 5
    - #1 votes: 1

    Representing some of Pedro Almodóvar's best work, this 1999 drama grapples with a range of resoundingly prescient themes. After the untimely death of her son, a single mother tries to locate the boy's transgender second mother. This sends her on an eventful journey to Barcelona, where she crosses paths with a number of unforgettable characters.

  • #31. The Lives of Others (2006)
    71/ Wiedemann & Berg Filmproduktion

    #31. The Lives of Others (2006)

    - Language: German
    - Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
    - Total votes: 15
    - Top 5 votes: 4
    - #1 votes: 0

    Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's first full-length feature would go on to win Best Foreign Language Film at the 2007 Academy Awards. It takes place in 1984 East Berlin, where the communist regime rules with an iron fist. While spying on a potentially radicalized playwright and his lover, a secret police agent (Ulrich Mühe) inserts himself into their lives.

  • #30. The Seventh Seal (1957)
    72/ Svensk Filmindustri (SF)

    #30. The Seventh Seal (1957)

    - Language: Swedish | Latin
    - Director: Ingmar Bergman
    - Total votes: 12
    - Top 5 votes: 7
    - #1 votes: 0

    According to critic Elliot Stein, this “visually striking medieval morality play [was] the work that gained [Ingmar Bergman] an international reputation.” As the Black Plague sweeps through the Swedish countryside, it invokes all sorts of desperate and tragic behavior. Taking his knack for symbolism to extremes, Bergman includes a life-or-death chess match between a knight (Max von Sydow) and Death himself.

  • #29. Oldboy (2003)
    73/ CJ Entertainment

    #29. Oldboy (2003)

    - Language: Korean
    - Director: Park Chan-wook
    - Total votes: 13
    - Top 5 votes: 6
    - #1 votes: 2

    Park Chan-wook's “Vengeance” trilogy arguably peaked with this second installment, later remade by director Spike Lee. After being abducted and held prisoner for fifteen years, a man has just five days to track down his tormentor. In his review for the Wall Street Journal, critic Joe Morgenstern called the film “Shakespearean in its violence.”

  • #28. Fanny and Alexander (1982)
    74/ Svenska Filminstitutet (SFI)

    #28. Fanny and Alexander (1982)

    - Language: Swedish | German | Yiddish | English | French
    - Director: Ingmar Bergman
    - Total votes: 13
    - Top 5 votes: 7
    - #1 votes: 0

    The most expensive Swedish production of its time, “Fanny and Alexander” follows two wealthy siblings as they come of age at the turn of the 20th century. It was originally a five-part mini-series, which Bergman eventually pared down to one feature-length film. While more lighthearted than the director's standard fare, the movie still emanates with poignant symbolism and heavy themes.

  • #27. The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)
    75/ Elías Querejeta Producciones Cinematográficas S.L.

    #27. The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)

    - Language: Spanish
    - Director: Victor Erice
    - Total votes: 12
    - Top 5 votes: 8
    - #1 votes: 0

    In this 1973 drama, a young girl views reality through a different lens after seeing “Frankenstein” for the first time. Frequently cited as the best Spanish movie of its era, “The Spirit of the Beehive” takes place as the country recovers from a destructive civil war. Despite its political themes, the film is ultimately a testament to the power of a child's imagination.

  • #26. Cinema Paradiso (1988)
    76/ Cristaldifilm

    #26. Cinema Paradiso (1988)

    - Language: Italian
    - Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
    - Total votes: 13
    - Top 5 votes: 6
    - #1 votes: 0

    Giuseppe Tornatore's semi-autobiographical ode to the power of cinema makes for terrific movie-going in its own right. When a famous director returns to his small Sicilian village, he reminisces about his adventures at the local cinema as a young boy. The movie tied for the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes and won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

  • #25. Yi Yi (2000)
    77/ 1+2 Seisaku Iinkai

    #25. Yi Yi (2000)

    - Language: Mandarin | Min Nan | Hokkien | English | Japanese | French
    - Director: Edward Yang
    - Total votes: 14
    - Top 5 votes: 5
    - #1 votes: 3

    A middle class Taipei family grapples with a range of conflicts in this epic drama from Edward Yang. Over the course of its nearly three-hour runtime, multiple storylines are connected through the narrative and its themes of psychological distress. "Yi Yi" won Yang the prestigious Palme d'Or at the 2000 Cannes Festival.

  • #24. Battleship Potemkin (1925)
    78/ Goskino

    #24. Battleship Potemkin (1925)

    - Language: Russian
    - Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein
    - Total votes: 12
    - Top 5 votes: 8
    - #1 votes: 0

    Inspired by the Russian Revolution of 1905, this groundbreaking masterpiece follows the crew of a battleship as they stage a mutiny against their tyrannical superiors. The ongoing revolt leads to a famously rendered massacre in the streets of Odessa, better-known as “The Odessa Steps Sequence.” Eisenstein's deft use of montage and violent imagery endures as a vital cinematic benchmark to this day.

  • #23. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
    79/ Société générale des films

    #23. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

    - Language: French
    - Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer
    - Total votes: 10
    - Top 5 votes: 8
    - #1 votes: 4

    Carl Theodor Dreyer's second entry on the list is considered one of the best and most important silent films ever made. Carried by Maria Falconetti's expressive performance of the title character, the movie employs candid lighting and close-up shots to foster a sense of intimacy. Set in 1431, it depicts Jeanne d'Arc as she stands trial for heresy.

  • #22. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
    80/ Estudios Picasso

    #22. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

    - Language: Spanish
    - Director: Guillermo del Toro
    - Total votes: 12
    - Top 5 votes: 8
    - #1 votes: 2

    "The Shape of Water" director Guillermo del Toro released this award-winning fairy tale in 2006. It takes place in the wake of the Spanish Civil War, and pits a bookish young girl against her ruthless stepfather. Desperate to escape the dreariness of her existence, the girl flees into a fantasy realm over which a mythical faun presides.

  • #21. A Separation (2011)
    81/ Asghar Farhadi Productions

    #21. A Separation (2011)

    - Language: Farsi
    - Director: Asghar Farhadi
    - Total votes: 19
    - Top 5 votes: 5
    - #1 votes: 1

    Filmmaker Asghar Farhadi captures both the disintegration of a marriage and the broader norms of contemporary Iran in this harrowing drama. Winner of Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, it chronicles a woman's attempt to leave the country with her husband and daughter. When her husband refuses to abandon his sick father, the woman sues for divorce.

  • #20. The Mirror (1974)
    82/ Mosfilm

    #20. The Mirror (1974)

    - Language: Russian | Spanish
    - Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
    - Total votes: 12
    - Top 5 votes: 7
    - #1 votes: 4

    The vivid memories of a dying man encapsulate a slew of broader meditations in this semi-autobiographical masterpiece from Andrei Tarkovsky. Blending flashbacks, dreams, symbols, real-life newsreels, color palettes, and his father's poetry, the director taps into a virtually unparalleled and arguably indecipherable stream of consciousness. It's for this reason that fellow director Ingmar Bergman called Tarkovsky “the greatest of them all.”

  • #19. The Battle of Algiers (1966)
    83/ Casbah Film

    #19. The Battle of Algiers (1966)

    - Language: French | Arabic | English
    - Director: Gillo Pontecorvo
    - Total votes: 15
    - Top 5 votes: 7
    - #1 votes: 1

    Hailed as one of the most influential political movies ever made, Gillo Pontecorvo's war drama depicts the Algerian Revolution of 1957 from both the French and Algerian perspectives. While not a documentary, the film's realistic style and sense of urgency were directly inspired by newsreel footage and the cinema verité tradition. It won three awards at the Venice Film Festival, including the Golden Lion.

  • #18. A City of Sadness (1989)
    84/ 3-H Films

    #18. A City of Sadness (1989)

    - Language: Mandarin | Min Nan | Japanese | Cantonese | Shanghainese
    - Director: Hou Hsiao-hsien
    - Total votes: 16
    - Top 5 votes: 9
    - #1 votes: 0

    This epic family saga was the first to portray the “White Terror” that befell Taiwanese people in the mid-to-late 1940s. It was also the first Taiwanese film to win the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival. Set during a fateful Feb. 28, 1947 incident—which saw thousands of people massacred—the film follows members of a family coping with the surge in violence.

  • #17. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)
    85/ Werner Herzog Filmproduktion

    #17. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)

    - Language: English | Quechua | Spanish | German
    - Director: Werner Herzog
    - Total votes: 2
    - Top 5 votes: 1
    - #1 votes: 0

    Representing one of numerous collaborations between director Werner Herzog and actor Klaus Kinski, this historical drama follows 16th-century explorer Don Lope de Aguirre (Kinski) on his hunt for El Dorado. As he and a Spanish expedition search for treasure in the heart of the Amazon jungle, Aguirre's grip on reality begins to crumble. Herzog's fearless pursuit of wild terrain lends the film an air of constant danger, but it's Kinski's menacing performance that makes “Aguirre, the Wrath of God” one for the history books.

  • #16. Metropolis (1927)
    86/ Universum Film (UFA)

    #16. Metropolis (1927)

    - Language: German
    - Director: Fritz Lang
    - Total votes: 15
    - Top 5 votes: 10
    - #1 votes: 5

    Here's a sci-fi movie so ingrained in the American consciousness that some folks might not even realize it came from Germany. As visionary now as it ever was, “Metropolis” depicts a future society in which elitists roam free throughout the city while workers toil underground. When an architect's son falls for a working-class heroine, it sparks a revolution.

  • #15. Pather Panchali (1955)
    87/ Government of West Bengal

    #15. Pather Panchali (1955)

    - Language: Bengali
    - Director: Satyajit Ray
    - Total votes: 20
    - Top 5 votes: 7
    - #1 votes: 3

    Indian director Satyajit Ray's debut film earned him a worldwide reputation, and served as the first installment in what would later be known as the “Apu Trilogy.” Made on a shoestring budget, it chronicles the struggles of young Apu and his destitute family in a small Indian village. Sitar player Ravi Shankar provided the music.

  • #14. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels (1975)
    88/ Paradise Films

    #14. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels (1975)

    - Language: French
    - Director: Chantal Akerman
    - Total votes: 19
    - Top 5 votes: 11
    - #1 votes: 1

    Some viewers might grow bored with this experimental French film and its persistent documentation of a widow's daily chores, but that's kind of the point. The widow's name is Jeanne Dielman (Delphine Seyrig) and there's a pervasive sense of dread underscoring her every action, even when she turns the occasional trick. Her monotonous routine is presented by way of Chantal Akerman's methodically sparse technique, which influenced a slate of American directors.

  • #13. M (1931)
    89/ Nero-Film AG

    #13. M (1931)

    - Language: German
    - Director: Fritz Lang
    - Total votes: 21
    - Top 5 votes: 12
    - #1 votes: 3

    This 1931 thriller from German filmmaker Fritz Lang is a cinematic benchmark of both sight and sound. It stars Peter Lorre as crazed murderer Hans Beckert, who whistles a classical tune while luring young girls to their grisly deaths. When the city police fail to catch Beckert, a number of local criminals join in on the hunt.

  • #12. Farewell My Concubine (1993)
    90/ Beijing Film Studio

    #12. Farewell My Concubine (1993)

    - Language: Mandarin
    - Director: Chen Kaige
    - Total votes: 17
    - Top 5 votes: 14
    - #1 votes: 11

    Straddling two narratives at once, Chen Kaige's award-winning drama parallels 50 years of Chinese history with the tale of two opera performers and the woman who comes between them. While these two worlds don't exactly make for obvious counterparts, Roger Ebert notes that the “film flows with such urgency that all its connections seem logical.” The Chinese government initially banned the film due to its sexual content, but then lifted the ban after minor edits were made.

  • #11. Breathless (1960)
    91/ Société Nouvelle de Cinématographie (SNC)

    #11. Breathless (1960)

    - Language: French | English
    - Director: Jean-Luc Godard
    - Total votes: 25
    - Top 5 votes: 16
    - #1 votes: 4

    Written by François Truffaut and directed by Jean-Luc Godard, this quintessential French New Wave classic helped kick off the modern cinematic era. On the run from the authorities, a small-time thief tries to convince a hip American girl to flee with him to Italy. Radically untethered from any given formula, the movie's innovative style would inspire legions of subsequent filmmakers around the globe.

  • #10. La Dolce Vita (1960)
    92/ Riama Film

    #10. La Dolce Vita (1960)

    - Language: Italian | English | French | German
    - Director: Federico Fellini
    - Total votes: 30
    - Top 5 votes: 16
    - #1 votes: 3

    Equal parts satirical and endearing, Fellini's comedy-drama is all about the sweet life of a promiscuous Italian journalist named Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni). Frequently hailed as one of the director's finest achievements, it follows Rubini and his upper-class companions on a variety of hedonistic adventures throughout Rome. The words “paparazzi” and “Felliniesque” wouldn't exist without this film.

  • #9. In the Mood for Love (2000)
    93/ Paradis Films

    #9. In the Mood for Love (2000)

    - Language: Cantonese | Shanghainese | French | Spanish
    - Director: Wong Kar-wai
    - Total votes: 37
    - Top 5 votes: 15
    - #1 votes: 7

    Two married neighbors are in the mood for love in this electrifying film from Wong Kar-wai. Determined not to go the way of their cheating spouses, the neighbors agree to maintain a purely platonic relationship. This was the second installment in Kar-wai's acclaimed informal “Love Trilogy.”

  • #8. The 400 Blows (1959)
    94/ Les Films du Carrosse

    #8. The 400 Blows (1959)

    - Language: French | English
    - Director: François Truffaut
    - Total votes: 35
    - Top 5 votes: 20
    - #1 votes: 3

    A full year before Godard's “Breathless" came François Truffaut's massively influential debut. Considered one of the earliest and most important French New Wave films, it follows a neglected young boy into his life of petty crime. The movie won two awards at the Cannes Film Festival—including Best Director—and kicked open the doors for new modes of narrative and technique.

  • #7. 8 1/2 (1963)
    95/ Cineriz

    #7. 8 1/2 (1963)

    - Language: Italian | French | English | German
    - Director: Federico Fellini
    - Total votes: 26
    - Top 5 votes: 21
    - #1 votes: 7

    Federico Fellini practically turns the camera on himself in this autobiographical drama, which chronicles the exploits of a movie director named Guido (Marcello Mastroianni). As he struggles to come up with his next big idea, Guido's mind journeys through a realm of memory and fantasy. Among other things, “8 ½” is a testament to the struggle and salvation of filmmaking itself.

  • #6. Persona (1966)
    96/ American International Pictures (AIP)

    #6. Persona (1966)

    - Language: Swedish | English
    - Director: Ingmar Bergman
    - Total votes: 34
    - Top 5 votes: 21
    - #1 votes: 3

    Ingmar Bergman's intense study of duality and identity may be the most influential work of his career, as there is no shortage of films and videos directly in its debt. What begins as the story of a young nurse (Bibi Andersson) and her mute patient (Liv Ullmann) becomes something far more surreal when the women partake in a subconscious exchange. Film scholars are still trying to figure this one out.

  • #5. The Rules of the Game (1939)
    97/ Nouvelles Éditions de Films (NEF)

    #5. The Rules of the Game (1939)

    - Language: French | German | English
    - Director: Jean Renoir
    - Total votes: 28
    - Top 5 votes: 23
    - #1 votes: 12

    Offering a thinly veiled critique of upper-class society, Jean Renoir's comedy of errors takes place on the brink of World War II at a lavish French chateau. As a group of elitists and their servants engage in games of every conceivable variety, their weaknesses and ugly desires are laid bare for all to see. Widely maligned (and even banned) upon its release, the film was later resurrected and restored to massive acclaim.

  • #4. Rashomon (1950)
    98/ Daiei Motion Picture Company

    #4. Rashomon (1950)

    - Language: Japanese
    - Director: Akira Kurosawa
    - Total votes: 31
    - Top 5 votes: 25
    - #1 votes: 3

    Virtually every movie that plays with multiple points of view and unreliable narrators can trace its roots to this psychological thriller from Akira Kurosawa. Based on a short story, it examines a shocking crime from the alternating perspectives of those who were there. In addition to its groundbreaking narrative style, “Rashomon” is the film that introduced Japanese cinema to much of the Western world.

  • #3. Tokyo Story (1953)
    99/ Shôchiku Eiga

    #3. Tokyo Story (1953)

    - Language:
    - Director: Yasujirô Ozu
    - Total votes: 34
    - Top 5 votes: 28
    - #1 votes: 9

    Examining generational differences in postwar Japan, this minimalist drama follows an old provincial couple as they visit their children and grandchildren in Tokyo. When it turns out that the children are too busy to entertain them, the couple begrudgingly heads off to a nearby resort. Simple and delicate in its execution, Yasujirô Ozu's utterly humane movie is often hailed as one of the best ever made.

  • #2. Bicycle Thieves (1948)
    100/ Produzioni De Sica (PDS)

    #2. Bicycle Thieves (1948)

    - Language: Italian
    - Director: Vittorio de Sica
    - Total votes: 39
    - Top 5 votes: 27
    - #1 votes: 6

    Set in post-World War II Italy, Vittorio de Sica's neorealist masterpiece offers a painfully effective glimpse into the life of poverty. When a working man's bicycle is stolen, he and his son must retrieve it or suffer extreme financial consequences. 

  • #1. Seven Samurai (1954)
    101/ Toho Company

    #1. Seven Samurai (1954)

    - Language: Japanese
    - Director: Akira Kurosawa
    - Total votes: 41
    - Top 5 votes: 28
    - #1 votes: 7

    Before the countless remakes and reimaginations, there was Akira Kurosawa's original 1954 epic. Besieged by ruthless bandits, a small village hires a veteran samurai and his six cohorts for protection. A masterclass in storytelling, character, and structure, “Seven Samurai” cast a wide and influential net over scores of movies to come.

2018 All rights reserved.