My Top Filmsby tartanllama | created - 25 Aug 2011 | updated - 11 Nov 2015 | Public
My favourite films. In only a vague order.
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1. It's Such a Beautiful Day (2012)
Not Rated | 62 min | Animation, Comedy, Drama
Bill struggles to put together his shattered psyche, in this new feature film version of Don Hertzfeldt's animated short film trilogy.
An achingly profound and beautiful film about the ordinary and extraordinary. If you are a human being, you owe it to yourself to watch this film. If you are a robot, then you might enjoy it anyway.
2. Stalker (1979)
Not Rated | 162 min | Drama, Sci-Fi
A guide leads two men through an area known as the Zone to find a room that grants wishes.
Votes: 80,983 | Gross: $0.23M
The cinematography is near-perfect and the imagery is surreal and affecting. The amazing style is complemented by incredibly profound substance, exploring faith, art and science in a fragmented world.
3. Andrei Rublev (1966)
Not Rated | 205 min | Biography, Drama, History
The life, times and afflictions of the fifteenth-century Russian iconographer.
Art and faith are explored very deeply with the most wonderful eye for beauty. The historical setting is perfectly realised and adds to the dark, oppressive nature of the film, which requires the wonder of art and faith to truly escape.
4. The House Is Black (1963)
20 min | Documentary, Short
Set in a leper colony in the north of Iran, The House is Black juxtaposes "ugliness", of which there is much in the world as stated in the opening scenes, with religion and gratitude.
This is poetry in film version. The disturbing images of a leper colony are offset by such an intense humanism and joy of life. At this length, it should be required viewing for anyone who says they enjoy art.
5. Come and See (1985)
Not Rated | 142 min | Drama, War
After finding an old rifle, a young boy joins the Soviet resistance movement against ruthless German forces and experiences the horrors of World War II.
A brutal, but totally engrossing journey which is the best war film I've seen. I will remember a number of the scenes for the rest of my life, but the masterful execution keeps me watching the film again and again. Hypnotic and disturbing.
6. Persona (1966)
Not Rated | 83 min | Drama, Thriller
A nurse is put in charge of a mute actress and finds that their personas are melding together.
This is the film which really got me in to art cinema and it is still one of my favourites. The haunting imagery, fractured narrative, surrealistic tendencies and amazing cinematography go together to create a true masterpiece.
7. Out 1, noli me tangere (1971)
Not Rated | 729 min | Drama
"Out 1" is a very precise picture of post May 1968 malaise - when Utopian dreams of a new society had crashed and burned, radical terrorism was starting to emerge in unlikely places and a ... See full summary »
Votes: 851 | Gross: $0.03M
Completely dispenses with the idea of efficiency in storytelling, resulting in a languid, sprawling masterpiece which will never have an analogue.
9. Mother and Son (1997)
73 min | Drama
A slow and poignant story of love and patience told via a dying mother nursed by her devoted son. The simple narrative is a thread woven among the deeply spiritual images of the countryside... See full summary »
The most beautiful film I've seen. The exploration of the relationship between mother and son is incredibly tender and poetic. The visual style is unique and very painterly, helping pile on the amazement.
10. Pastoral Hide and Seek (1974)
104 min | Drama, Fantasy
A young boys' coming of age tale set in a strange, carnivalesque village becomes the recreation of a memory that the director has twenty years later.
It's a crime that this film is not more readily available. It is a brutally honest study of film-making and viewing life through rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia. It is also delightfully strange and visually stunning.
11. The Hourglass Sanatorium (1973)
124 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Józef visits his dying father at a remote mental institution, where time itself doesn't seem to exist, and the line between dreams and memories becomes indistinguishable.
The best depiction of a dream on film I have seen, easily. Not only that, it is also very funny, profound and contemplative. A totally singular experience.
12. Red Desert (1964)
Not Rated | 117 min | Drama
In an industrial area, Giuliana, an unstable woman, attempts to cope with life by starting an affair with a co-worker at the plant her husband manages.
Although most people prefer the films in his alienation trilogy, I believe this to be Antonioni's masterpiece. Colour is used in a very original way and the exploration of mental instability is subtle and deep. The seaside story is one of my favourite film scenes.
13. The Double Life of Veronique (1991)
R | 98 min | Drama, Fantasy, Music
Two parallel stories about two identical women; one living in Poland, the other in France. They don't know each other, but their lives are nevertheless profoundly connected.
Votes: 32,350 | Gross: $2.00M
My favourite film score. Kieslowski was a master at using music and colour to their full potential and both are on magnificent display here. Add in some very interesting themes on identity and relational bonds and you have one of the best films ever made.
14. Last Year at Marienbad (1961)
Not Rated | 94 min | Drama, Mystery
In a strange and isolated chateau, a man becomes acquainted with a woman and insists that they have met before.
Votes: 16,023 | Gross: $0.14M
Sacha Vierny is undoubtedly one of the best cinematographers to live and this is not only his best work, but one of the best-shot films ever. The content is deliberately opaque, but if one lets oneself get carried away in the atmosphere, none of that matters.
15. Le soulier de satin (1985)
410 min | Drama
During the century of the Spanish Gold, Doña Prouhèze, wife of a nobleman, deeply loves Don Rodrigo, who is forced to leave Spain and go to America. Meanwhile Prouhèze is sent to Africa to ... See full summary »
A 7-hour-long film has no business being this philosophically dense, but somehow it maintains an incredibly deep level of insight while telling a suitably epic story.
105 min | Animation, Drama
A young man goes to a school for servants run by a brother and sister. In the dreamlike and surreal world that he enters, how will his presence impact the people there and possibly even the school itself?
An incredibly oneiric and immersive experience which defies categorisation. The imagery is unsettling, but strangely beautiful, and the material is incredibly dense and intelligent.
17. The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (I) (1959)
Not Rated | 208 min | Drama, War
A Japanese pacifist, unable to face the dire consequences of conscientious objection, is transformed by his attempts to compromise with the demands of war-time Japan.
Sweeping, beautiful, ugly and masterful. 10 hours of pure cinematic excellence and a vicious attack against war.
18. The Human Condition II: Road to Eternity (II) (1959)
Not Rated | 181 min | Drama, History, War
As a conscript in war-time Japan's military, a pacifist struggles to maintain his determination to keep his ideals.
19. The Human Condition III: A Soldier's Prayer (1961)
Not Rated | 190 min | Drama, History, War
His ideals challenged by life as a conscript in war-time Japan's military, a pacifist faces ever greater tests in his fight for survival.
20. Soy Cuba (1964)
108 min | Drama, Music, War
Four vignettes about the lives of the Cuban people set during the pre-revolutionary era.
Votes: 6,590 | Gross: $0.16M
Although the cinematography in other films may be more beautiful, that in Soy Cuba is undoubtedly the most technically impressive I have seen by a long shot.
21. O-bi, O-ba - Koniec cywilizacji (1985)
88 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Set in an underground dungeon inhabited by bundled, ragged human beings, after the nuclear holocaust. The story follows the wanderings of a hero through the situations of survival. People ... See full summary »
Gah, why don't more people know about this film? It's one of the best Science Fiction films I've seen, containing an incredibly believable vision of the future and great parallels about authority and human needs.
22. Solaris (1972)
PG | 167 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
A psychologist is sent to a station orbiting a distant planet in order to discover what has caused the crew to go insane.
The best film I have seen about memory. It also carries all the Tarkovsky trademarks, such as the visual style, honesty and being one of the best films ever made.
23. Juliet of the Spirits (1965)
Not Rated | 137 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Visions, memories, and mysticism all help a 40-something woman to find the strength to leave her cheating husband.
Votes: 9,425 | Gross: $0.08M
25. Ordet (1955)
Not Rated | 126 min | Drama, Fantasy
Follows the lives of the Borgen family, as they deal with inner conflict, as well as religious conflict with each other, and the rest of the town.
One of the most affecting explorations of faith I have seen. It is also deeply humanistic, beautifully composed and delicately paced.
26. Through a Glass Darkly (1961)
Not Rated | 89 min | Drama
Recently released from a mental hospital; Karin rejoins her emotionally disconnected family and their island home, only to slip from reality as she begins to believe she is being visited by God.
I find this to be one of Bergman's most optimistic films. It is also one of his most accomplished, thematically and visually. The final scene is one which I recall frequently and is forever etched onto my memory.
27. Fireworks (1997)
103 min | Crime, Drama, Romance
Nishi leaves the police in the face of harrowing personal and professional difficulties. Spiraling into depression, he makes questionable decisions.
Votes: 23,004 | Gross: $0.23M
One of my favourite film scores. The whole work just oozes with aching beauty, I almost forget how violent it is. The sense of distance and longing is, in my mind, unparalleled.
28. The Red Shoes (1948)
Not Rated | 134 min | Drama, Music, Romance
A young ballet dancer is torn between the man she loves and her pursuit to become a prima ballerina.
Votes: 22,229 | Gross: $10.90M
Just thinking about the ballet scene in this makes me want to watch the film again. It's easily one of the most magical and visually stunning scenes I've seen. If that weren't enough, the rest of the film is also full of eye candy and intelligent musings on obsession.
29. Black Narcissus (1947)
Not Rated | 101 min | Drama
After opening a convent in the Himalayas, five nuns encounter conflict and tension - both with the natives and also within their own group - as they attempt to adapt to their remote, exotic surroundings.
Powell & Pressburger and Jack Cardiff really work wonders together. The themes on nature, repression and temptation are very well explored and the technicolour images are simply beautiful. The "I couldn't hide the mountain" speech is one of my favourite in cinema history.
30. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
G | 149 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi
Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest.
Votes: 481,561 | Gross: $56.95M
Strauss, Space, Stanley and Supercomputers. Still one of the most visually impressive films ever made, with an interesting story and intelligent themes to boot.
31. The Holy Mountain (1973)
R | 114 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
In a corrupt, greed-fueled world, a powerful alchemist leads a Christ-like character and seven materialistic figures to the Holy Mountain, where they hope to achieve enlightenment.
Votes: 27,309 | Gross: $0.06M
I believe this to be far superior to the intriguing, but fairly empty El Topo (I realise I'm in the minority here). The combination of the intense colour palate, great photography and plain craziness make this truly a one-of-a-kind film.
32. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
R | 136 min | Crime, Drama, Sci-Fi
In the future, a sadistic gang leader is imprisoned and volunteers for a conduct-aversion experiment, but it doesn't go as planned.
One of the films which was responsible for my delving further into cinema. Not much to be said that hasn't been already. Kubrick and McDowell are both phenomenal.
33. Samurai Rebellion (1967)
Not Rated | 128 min | Drama
The mother of a feudal lord's only heir is kidnapped away from her husband by the lord. The husband and his samurai father must decide whether to accept the unjust decision, or risk death to get her back.
Kobayashi is one of the most underrated classical Japanese directors in my mind. I would go so far as to put him above Kurosawa, Ozu and Mizoguchi. Don't let the title put you off, instead of a generic Chanbara romp, this is an incredibly effective examination of family, love and authority. The ending is one of the best I've seen.
34. Kwaidan (1964)
Not Rated | 183 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror
A collection of four Japanese folk tales with supernatural themes.
More Kobayashi. This is the film which really got me into Japanese cinema and remains one of my favourites. The imagery and hand-drawn backdrops are stunningly beautiful. I love the slow pacing and atmospheric music, which help you drift along, caught up in the dreamlike nature of the film.
35. Nostalgia (1983)
Not Rated | 125 min | Drama
A Russian poet and his interpreter travel to Italy to research the life of an 18th-century composer.
Votes: 15,641 | Gross: $0.01M
Great performances and lots of thought-provoking musings on poetry, art, faith, belonging and more. Of course, this being a Tarkovsky film it also has some of the most achingly beautiful and meaningful images committed to film. The final shot in particular is one of the best I've seen.
36. Eraserhead (1977)
Not Rated | 89 min | Horror
Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child.
Votes: 80,606 | Gross: $7.00M
The combination of great sound design, unsettling imagery and plain Lynchian weirdness make this his best film IMHO. Creepy, funny and dreamlike.
37. The Seventh Seal (1957)
Not Rated | 96 min | Drama, Fantasy
A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.
Classic Bergman. Near flawless acting, direction, cinematography, emotion and meaning. I find it not quite as impactful as some of his other films, however.
38. Diamonds of the Night (1964)
63 min | Drama, War
Diamonds in the night is the tense, brutal story of two Jewish boys who escape from a train transporting them from one concentration camp to another. Ultimately, they are hunted down by a ... See full summary »
Contains some of the best editing work I have seen. One of the rare films which instead of telling a story, expresses the fears, hopes, thoughts and anguishes of the characters in a raw, direct fashion.
39. Spalovac mrtvol (1969)
95 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama
Set in World War II, a demented cremator believes cremation relieves earthly suffering and sets out to save the world.
One of the best films in the wonderful output of Czech(oslovak) cinema. It manages to be both very funny and deeply chilling without sacrificing impact on either side. The central performance is pitch-perfect and the cinematography is a joy to watch.
40. The Sacrifice (1986)
PG | 149 min | Drama
At the dawn of World War III, a man searches for a way to restore peace to the world and finds he must give something in return.
Votes: 16,923 | Gross: $0.30M
Can't go wrong with Tarkovsky. As usual, it's a stunningly shot examination of faith and humanity. The scene where Alexander tells about his mother's garden is one of the most perfect I have seen.
41. Happy End (1967)
71 min | Comedy, Crime
A dark comedy about a murder and its consequences presented in a backwards manner, where death is actually a rebirth. The film starts with an "execution" of the main protagonist and goes ... See full summary »
It's a crime that this film isn't better known; it's undoubtedly one of the most clever and funniest comedies around. The whole film is played backwards with a narration over it which pretends this is how things happened.
42. Amer (2009)
Not Rated | 90 min | Horror, Thriller
As a young girl Ana was a rebellious child. She was also tormented by images of death and a shadowy, ominous figure in black. Now an adult, she is once again tormented by shadowy, other-worldly forms.
43. The Ascent (1977)
111 min | Drama, War
In a freezing cold World War II winter, two pro-Soviet partisans - Sotnikov and Rybak - head off to find food for themselves and their compatriots. They find a goat at the home of a German ... See full summary »
War film by the wife of Elem Klimov of Idi I Smotri fame. This one is almost as good; it is a very detailed, harrowing, but beautiful study of brotherhood, honour and war.
44. Woman in the Dunes (1964)
Not Rated | 123 min | Drama, Thriller
An entomologist on vacation is trapped by local villagers into living with a woman whose life task is shoveling sand for them.
One of the most visually beautiful films around. It is also a wonderfully enigmatic, surreal and sensual view into existence and the human condition.
Not Rated | 95 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Returned home to his long-estranged mother upon a request from her deathbed, a man raised by his parents in an orphanage has to confront the childhood memories that have long haunted him.
Votes: 3,014 | Gross: $0.23M
A perfect combination of style and substance. Maddin's wildly experimental and silent-film-influenced signature is perfected alongside some very interesting ideas on childhood, repression and memory.
46. Tanin no kao (1966)
Not Rated | 124 min | Drama, Sci-Fi
A businessman with a disfigured face obtains a lifelike mask from his doctor, but the mask starts altering his personality.
A phenomenal exploration of identity with masterful cinematography, direction and music.
47. La ville des pirates (1983)
Not Rated | 111 min | Drama, Fantasy
A surreal odyssey in which a melancholic maidservant crosses paths with a homicidal little boy, travels to a tiny island of pirates and encounters a man with multiple personalities.
49. Blade Runner (1982)
R | 117 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller
A blade runner must pursue and try to terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space and have returned to Earth to find their creator.
Votes: 548,804 | Gross: $27.00M
One of the more standard films on my list, but that doesn't make it any less amazing. The exploration of existentialist themes is up there with Teshigahara in terms of effectiveness and the world is incredibly well thought out. Also, the Tears in Rain monologue is still unsurpassed in my book.
50. The Color of Pomegranates (1969)
Not Rated | 79 min | Biography, Drama, History
A super-stylized, surreal biography of Armenian troubadour Sayat Nova, whose life is depicted through non-narrative amalgamations of poetic images.
I can't pretend to understand most of it, but it's easily one of the most beautiful films I've seen. The mise en scène and compositions are striking, unique and masterful.
51. Sherlock Jr. (1924)
Unrated | 45 min | Action, Comedy, Romance
A film projectionist longs to be a detective, and puts his meagre skills to work when he is framed by a rival for stealing his girlfriend's father's pocketwatch.
I'm not sure I've laughed as hard during a film as when Keaton jumps through that window. The stunts are incredible and everything is designed with startling imagination.
52. Nuit noire (2005)
90 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Like a modern day Eraserhead; incredibly strange, but somehow hypnotic and extremely unnerving.
53. Mother Joan of the Angels (1961)
110 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery
A priest is sent to a small parish in the Polish countryside which is believed to be under demonic possession and there he finds his own temptations awaiting.
A sadly overlooked masterpiece which is wonderfully shot, dark and has some very profound ideas on love and religion.
54. Satantango (1994)
450 min | Drama
Plotting on a payment they are about to receive, residents of a collapsing collective farm see their plans turn into desolation when they discover that Irimiás, a former co-worker who they thought was dead, is coming back to the village.
Incredibly atmospheric, well shot and immersive. The fact that it can hold one's attention for 7 hours with barely anything happening is a feat in itself.
55. Ai no mukidashi (2008)
Unrated | 237 min | Action, Comedy, Drama
A bizarre love triangle forms between a young Catholic upskirt photographer, a misandric girl and a manipulative cultist.
Mixes comedy, drama, poingancy, kung-fu up-skirt photography, cultists with budgies and much more in a way that somehow comes off as effortless.
56. Mistérios de Lisboa (2010)
Not Rated | 272 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance
Follows a jealous countess, a wealthy businessman, and a young orphaned boy across Portugal, France, Italy and Brazil where they connect with a variety of mysterious individuals.
Votes: 2,734 | Gross: $0.11M
57. Manoel dans l'île des merveilles (1984– )
130 min | Drama, Fantasy
Manuel's fantasy travel through Time goes from Long Ago (Episode 1 - O jardim proibido / Le Jardin interdit) through Now (Episode 2 - O pique-nique dos sonhos / Le Pique-nique des rêves), ... See full summary »
59. Faces (I) (1968)
R | 130 min | Drama
A middle-aged man leaves his wife for a younger woman. Shortly after, his ex-wife also begins a relationship with a younger partner. The film follows their struggles to find love amongst each other.
60. Scenes from a Marriage (1973)
TV-PG | 283 min | Drama
Ten years of Marianne and Johan's relationship are presented. We first meet them ten years into their marriage. He is a college professor, she a divorce lawyer. They say that they are ... See full summary »
Very dense and depressing, but contains moments of real beauty and an incredibly deep insight into relationships. I think that the ending is one of Bergman's best and most optimistic.
61. On the Silver Globe (1988)
Unrated | 166 min | Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
A small group of cosmic explorers, including a woman, leaves Earth to find freedom and start a new civilization. They do not realize that within themselves they carry the end of their own ... See full summary »
Equal doses of insanity, existentialism, philosophy, beauty and incomprehensibility. The visuals in themselves are worth the 2.5 hour runtime.
62. Farewell to the Summer Light (1968)
96 min | Drama, Romance
A spontaneous romance blooms between Kawamura, a professor touring Europe, and Naoko, a married woman living in Paris, scarred by the Nagasaki atomic bombings. The two protagonists travel around Europe trying to find themselves.
Some of the best colour photography I have seen coupled with a huge thematic range and scope. Yoshida is Japan's most criminally underseen director for my money.
63. Sånger från andra våningen (2000)
Not Rated | 98 min | Comedy, Drama
Where are we humans going? A film poem inspired by the Peruvian poet César Vallejo. We meet people in the city. People trying to communicate, searching compassion and get the connection of small and large things.
Votes: 14,230 | Gross: $0.00M
Cuts right to the core of the human condition. Amazing image composition and attention to detail. Manages to be quite funny despite the incredibly sterile environments and characters.
64. Mimi wo sumaseba (1995)
G | 111 min | Animation, Drama, Family
A love story between a girl who loves reading books, and the boy who has previously checked out all of the library books she chooses.
Very poetic and touching with a ton of complex themes about childhood, growing up and confusion in a strange world.
65. Magnolia (1999)
R | 188 min | Drama
An epic mosaic of interrelated characters in search of love, forgiveness, and meaning in the San Fernando Valley.
Votes: 255,764 | Gross: $22.46M
Gets straight to the core of the human condition in a way which few films manage. The direction and acting performances are both stellar.
66. Upstream Color (2013)
Not Rated | 96 min | Drama, Sci-Fi
A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.
Votes: 26,178 | Gross: $0.44M
69. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)
R | 116 min | Action, Crime, Drama
An African American mafia hit man who models himself after the samurai of old finds himself targeted for death by the mob.
Votes: 75,435 | Gross: $3.31M
70. The Big Lebowski (1998)
R | 117 min | Comedy, Crime
"The Dude" Lebowski, mistaken for a millionaire Lebowski, seeks restitution for his ruined rug and enlists his bowling buddies to help get it.
Votes: 600,771 | Gross: $17.45M
71. The Duke of Burgundy (2014)
Unrated | 104 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance
A woman who studies butterflies and moths tests the limits of her relationship with her lesbian lover.
Votes: 9,162 | Gross: $0.03M
72. The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears (2013)
Not Rated | 102 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Following the disappearance of his wife, a man finds himself on a dark and twisted trail of discovery through the labyrinthine halls of his apartment building. Led on a wild goose chase by ... See full summary »
Votes: 2,720 | Gross: $0.01M
73. Silent Light (2007)
136 min | Drama, Romance
In a Mennonite community in Mexico, a father's faith is tested when he falls in love with a new woman.
Votes: 4,889 | Gross: $0.05M
Incredibly real emotions with a meditative and metaphysical atmosphere. Loved the references to Ordet. The cinematography is standard Reygadas, i.e. out of this world.
74. City Lights (1931)
G | 87 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
With the aid of a wealthy erratic tippler, a dewy-eyed tramp who has fallen in love with a sightless flower girl accumulates money to be able to help her medically.
Votes: 125,651 | Gross: $0.02M
It may be somewhat overly sentimental, but it's a touching story and the comedic elements are near-perfect.
75. Some Like It Hot (1959)
Not Rated | 121 min | Comedy, Romance
When two male musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all-female band disguised as women, but further complications set in.
Votes: 195,982 | Gross: $25.00M
It's just so damn funny. The ending especially is one of the best comedic moments in film history.