100 Essential Movies

by jeroen_van_rossem | created - 18 Oct 2011 | updated - 09 Nov 2011 | Public

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1. Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916)

Not Rated | 197 min | Drama, History

The story of a poor young woman, separated by prejudice from her husband and baby, is interwoven with tales of intolerance from throughout history.

Director: D.W. Griffith | Stars: Lillian Gish, Robert Harron, Mae Marsh, F.A. Turner

Votes: 12,051 | Gross: $2.18M

2. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Not Rated | 67 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

Hypnotist Dr. Caligari uses a somnambulist, Cesare, to commit murders.

Director: Robert Wiene | Stars: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Feher, Lil Dagover

Votes: 46,350

3. Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Not Rated | 66 min | Drama, History

In the midst of the Russian Revolution of 1905, the crew of the battleship Potemkin mutiny against the brutal, tyrannical regime of the vessel's officers. The resulting street demonstration in Odessa brings on a police massacre.

Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein | Stars: Aleksandr Antonov, Vladimir Barskiy, Grigoriy Aleksandrov, Ivan Bobrov

Votes: 45,581 | Gross: $0.05M

4. Sunrise (1927)

Not Rated | 94 min | Drama, Romance

An allegorical tale about a man fighting the good and evil within him. Both sides are made flesh - one a sophisticated woman he is attracted to and the other his wife.

Director: F.W. Murnau | Stars: George O'Brien, Janet Gaynor, Margaret Livingston, Bodil Rosing

Votes: 39,818

5. Metropolis (1927)

Not Rated | 153 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

98 Metascore

In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge

Votes: 133,611 | Gross: $0.03M

6. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

Not Rated | 114 min | Biography, Drama, History

In 1431, Jeanne d'Arc is placed on trial on charges of heresy. The ecclesiastical jurists attempt to force Jeanne to recant her claims of holy visions.

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer | Stars: Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, André Berley, Maurice Schutz

Votes: 36,781 | Gross: $0.02M

7. Modern Times (1936)

G | 87 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

96 Metascore

The Tramp struggles to live in modern industrial society with the help of a young homeless woman.

Director: Charles Chaplin | Stars: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Tiny Sandford

Votes: 174,892 | Gross: $0.16M

8. Stagecoach (1939)

Not Rated | 96 min | Adventure, Western

A group of people traveling on a stagecoach find their journey complicated by the threat of Geronimo and learn something about each other in the process.

Director: John Ford | Stars: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine, John Carradine

Votes: 35,486

9. Citizen Kane (1941)

PG | 119 min | Drama, Mystery

100 Metascore

Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance.

Director: Orson Welles | Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead

Votes: 343,474 | Gross: $1.59M

10. Double Indemnity (1944)

Passed | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

95 Metascore

An insurance representative lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator's suspicions.

Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Byron Barr

Votes: 118,426 | Gross: $5.72M

11. Tokyo Story (1953)

Not Rated | 136 min | Drama

An old couple visit their children and grandchildren in the city; but the children have little time for them.

Director: Yasujirô Ozu | Stars: Chishû Ryû, Chieko Higashiyama, Sô Yamamura, Setsuko Hara

Votes: 39,029

12. Sansho the Bailiff (1954)

Not Rated | 124 min | Drama

In medieval Japan, a compassionate governor is sent into exile. His wife and children try to join him, but are separated, and the children grow up amid suffering and oppression.

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi | Stars: Kinuyo Tanaka, Yoshiaki Hanayagi, Kyôko Kagawa, Eitarô Shindô

Votes: 11,682

13. Mother India (1957)

172 min | Drama, Musical, Family

53 Metascore

In this melodrama, a poverty-stricken woman raises her sons through many trials and tribulations. But no matter the struggles, always sticks to her own moral code.

Director: Mehboob Khan | Stars: Nargis, Sunil Dutt, Rajendra Kumar, Raaj Kumar

Votes: 6,961

14. The 400 Blows (1959)

Not Rated | 99 min | Crime, Drama

A young boy, left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime.

Director: François Truffaut | Stars: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, Claire Maurier, Guy Decomble

Votes: 85,970

15. 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.

Director: Alain Resnais | Stars: Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi, Sacha Pitoëff, Françoise Bertin

Votes: 16,603 | Gross: $0.14M

16. L'Eclisse (1962)

Not Rated | 126 min | Drama, Romance

A young woman meets a vital young man, but their love affair is doomed because of the man's materialistic nature.

Director: Michelangelo Antonioni | Stars: Monica Vitti, Alain Delon, Francisco Rabal, Lilla Brignone

Votes: 13,769

17. Black God, White Devil (1964)

120 min | Adventure, Crime, Drama

Fictionalized account of the adventures of hired gunman Antonio das Mortes, set against the real life last days of rural banditism. The movie follows Antonio as he witnesses the descent of ... See full summary »

Director: Glauber Rocha | Stars: Geraldo Del Rey, Yoná Magalhães, Othon Bastos, Maurício do Valle

Votes: 3,220

18. The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964)

Not Rated | 137 min | Biography, Drama, History

The life of Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of Matthew. Pasolini shows Christ as a marxist avant-la-lettre and therefore uses half of the text of Matthew.

Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini | Stars: Enrique Irazoqui, Margherita Caruso, Susanna Pasolini, Marcello Morante

Votes: 8,965

19. Pierrot le Fou (1965)

Not Rated | 110 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

Pierrot escapes his boring society and travels from Paris to the Mediterranean Sea with Marianne, a girl chased by hit-men from Algeria. They lead an unorthodox life, always on the run.

Director: Jean-Luc Godard | Stars: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Anna Karina, Graziella Galvani, Aicha Abadir

Votes: 23,212

20. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965)

97 min | Drama, Music, Romance

A timeless Carpathian story - the young Ivan falls in love with the daughter of his father's killer among the Hutsul people of Ukraine.

Director: Sergei Parajanov | Stars: Ivan Mykolaichuk, Larisa Kadochnikova, Tatyana Bestayeva, Spartak Bagashvili

Votes: 4,751

21. 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.

Director: Ingmar Bergman | Stars: Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Margaretha Krook, Gunnar Björnstrand

Votes: 78,964

22. Playtime (1967)

Not Rated | 115 min | Comedy

Monsieur Hulot curiously wanders around a high-tech Paris, paralleling a trip with a group of American tourists. Meanwhile, a nightclub/restaurant prepares its opening night, but it's still under construction.

Director: Jacques Tati | Stars: Jacques Tati, Barbara Dennek, Rita Maiden, France Rumilly

Votes: 15,312

23. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

G | 149 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi

82 Metascore

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.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter

Votes: 502,809 | Gross: $56.95M

24. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

PG-13 | 164 min | Western

80 Metascore

A mysterious stranger with a harmonica joins forces with a notorious desperado to protect a beautiful widow from a ruthless assassin working for the railroad.

Director: Sergio Leone | Stars: Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards

Votes: 254,186 | Gross: $5.32M

25. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)

Not Rated | 95 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

In the 16th century, the ruthless and insane Don Lope de Aguirre leads a Spanish expedition in search of El Dorado.

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Klaus Kinski, Ruy Guerra, Helena Rojo, Del Negro

Votes: 43,790

26. The Mirror (1975)

G | 107 min | Biography, Drama

A dying man in his forties remembers his past. His childhood, his mother, the war, personal moments and things that tell of the recent history of all the Russian nation.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky | Stars: Margarita Terekhova, Filipp Yankovskiy, Ignat Daniltsev, Oleg Yankovskiy

Votes: 28,754

27. Annie Hall (1977)

PG | 93 min | Comedy, Romance

92 Metascore

Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditzy Annie Hall.

Director: Woody Allen | Stars: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts, Carol Kane

Votes: 226,865 | Gross: $39.20M

28. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Unrated | 127 min | Horror, Thriller

71 Metascore

Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.

Director: George A. Romero | Stars: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross

Votes: 98,897 | Gross: $5.10M

29. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989)

NC-17 | 124 min | Crime, Drama

62 Metascore

The wife of an abusive criminal finds solace in the arms of a kind regular guest in her husband's restaurant.

Director: Peter Greenaway | Stars: Richard Bohringer, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, Alan Howard

Votes: 29,983 | Gross: $7.72M

30. Blade Runner (1982)

R | 117 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

89 Metascore

A blade runner must pursue and terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space and have returned to Earth to find their creator.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos

Votes: 584,934 | Gross: $27.00M

31. L'Argent (1983)

Not Rated | 85 min | Crime, Drama

95 Metascore

A forged 500-franc note is passed from person to person until carelessness leads to tragedy.

Director: Robert Bresson | Stars: Christian Patey, Sylvie Van den Elsen, Michel Briguet, Vincent Risterucci

Votes: 6,423

32. Videodrome (1983)

R | 87 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

60 Metascore

When he acquires a different kind of show for his station, a sleazy cable-TV programmer begins to see his life and the future of media spin out of control in a terrifying new reality.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: James Woods, Debbie Harry, Sonja Smits, Peter Dvorsky

Votes: 69,798 | Gross: $2.12M

33. Huang tu di (1985)

89 min | Drama, History, Music

'Yellow Earth' focuses on the story of a communist soldier who is sent to the countryside to collect folk songs for the Communist Revolution. There he stays with a peasant family and learns... See full summary »

Director: Kaige Chen | Stars: Xueqi Wang, Bai Xue, Quiang Liu, Tuo Tan

Votes: 1,764

34. Ran (1985)

R | 162 min | Action, Drama

96 Metascore

In Medieval Japan, an elderly warlord retires, handing over his empire to his three sons. However, he vastly underestimates how the new-found power will corrupt them and cause them to turn on each other...and him.

Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryû

Votes: 93,163 | Gross: $3.52M

35. Blue Velvet (1986)

R | 120 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

76 Metascore

The discovery of a severed human ear found in a field leads a young man on an investigation related to a beautiful, mysterious nightclub singer and a group of psychopathic criminals who have kidnapped her child.

Director: David Lynch | Stars: Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern

Votes: 152,988 | Gross: $8.55M

36. Tetsuo, the Iron Man (1989)

Not Rated | 67 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

A businessman accidentally kills The Metal Fetishist, who gets his revenge by slowly turning the man into a grotesque hybrid of flesh and rusty metal.

Director: Shin'ya Tsukamoto | Stars: Tomorô Taguchi, Kei Fujiwara, Nobu Kanaoka, Shin'ya Tsukamoto

Votes: 16,012

37. The Big Lebowski (1998)

R | 117 min | Comedy, Crime

69 Metascore

"The Dude" Lebowski, mistaken for a millionaire Lebowski, seeks restitution for his ruined rug and enlists his bowling buddies to help get it.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen | Stars: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi

Votes: 621,964 | Gross: $17.50M

38. Code Unknown (2000)

Not Rated | 118 min | Drama

74 Metascore

A young man harasses a homeless woman, another man protests, the police arrest both and the woman has to leave the country. What were their various story-lines leading up to this event?

Director: Michael Haneke | Stars: Juliette Binoche, Thierry Neuvic, Josef Bierbichler, Alexandre Hamidi

Votes: 9,836 | Gross: $0.10M

39. In the Mood for Love (2000)

PG | 98 min | Drama, Romance

85 Metascore

Two neighbors, a woman and a man, form a strong bond after both suspect extramarital activities of their spouses. However, they agree to keep their bond platonic so as not to commit similar wrongs.

Director: Kar-Wai Wong | Stars: Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Maggie Cheung, Ping Lam Siu, Tung Cho 'Joe' Cheung

Votes: 96,323 | Gross: $2.73M

40. Werckmeister harmóniák (2000)

145 min | Drama, Mystery

92 Metascore

An innocent young man witnesses violence break out after an isolated village is inflamed by the arrival of a circus and its peculiar attractions: a giant whale and a mysterious man named "The Prince."

Directors: Béla Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky | Stars: Lars Rudolph, Peter Fitz, Hanna Schygulla, János Derzsi

Votes: 10,362 | Gross: $0.03M

41. The Tree of Life (2011)

PG-13 | 139 min | Drama, Fantasy

85 Metascore

The story of a family in Waco, Texas in 1956. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence and struggles with his parents' conflicting teachings.

Director: Terrence Malick | Stars: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken

Votes: 150,456 | Gross: $13.30M