The 100 Best Films of World Cinema

by Mr_Rou | created - 19 Nov 2012 | updated - 19 Nov 2012 | Public

Films not in English as created by Empire magazine.

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1. Nochnoy dozor (2004)

R | 114 min | Action, Fantasy, Horror

58 Metascore

A fantasy-thriller set in present-day Moscow where the respective forces that control daytime and nighttime do battle.

Director: Timur Bekmambetov | Stars: Konstantin Khabenskiy, Vladimir Menshov, Mariya Poroshina, Valeriy Zolotukhin

Votes: 49,499 | Gross: $1.49M

Number 100: t's Buffy meets The Matrix meets Blade! In Moscow! Russian madman / genius Timur Bekmambetov arrived on our screens with a bang thanks to this demented, dizzily dark twist on the action movie. It seems that the world is still peopled with witches, werewolves, vampires and the rest - but they are divided into Light and Dark Others, battling it out for supremacy, and the souls of new, emerging Others, on the streets of Russia's capital. Extraordinary visuals on a shoestring budget, bravura subtitle design (it matters) and a plot that just makes sense (unlike its "Chalk of Destiny" powered sequel), this is the most visually imaginative superhero movie of the last decade.

2. Siu nin Wong Fei Hung chi: Tit ma lau (1993)

PG-13 | 85 min | Action, Crime, Drama

79 Metascore

A martial artist/doctor steals from the corrupt authorities as a masked thief to give to the poor while another martial artist/doctor is forced to hunt him down. But a major threat unites them as a powerful and traitorous shaolin monk takes over the authorities.

Director: Woo-Ping Yuen | Stars: Rongguang Yu, Donnie Yen, Jean Wang, Sze-Man Tsang

Votes: 14,080 | Gross: $14.68M

Number 99: It's the Robin Hood story transferred to the Ch'ing Dynasty, helmed by Yuen Woo-ping, the martial arts director that would go onto create such western fighting spectaculars such as Kill Bill and The Matrix Trilogy. Iron Monkey is an action romp starring the then fresh-faced Donnie Yen, so chock-a-block full of breathtaking fighting sequences that you barely have time to place the popcorn in your mouth. If it's the nuanced acting seen in Crouching Tiger you're looking for, you've come to the wrong place, but set pieces such as the knife fight, and the final balancing-on-top-of-giant-sticks rooftop battle are stone cold classics of the genre. And, it's fair enough to say, this has yet to be beaten in terms of fight skill and direction.

3. 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: 92,286 | Gross: $3.52M

Number 98: Akira Kurosawa was almost blind when he directed his biggest movie, in 1989, and yet it's possibly his most beautiful. A sumptuous and powerful epic inspired by, but not directly based on, King Lear, it tells the story of a powerful warlord whose three sons, bad eggs all, contribute to his downfall. Moving, and packed with images that sear themselves onto the brain, it's an astonishing work from an old master.

4. Farewell My Concubine (1993)

R | 171 min | Drama, Music, Romance

The story of two men, who met as apprentices in the Peking Opera, and stayed friends for over 50 years.

Director: Kaige Chen | Stars: Leslie Cheung, Fengyi Zhang, Li Gong, Qi Lü

Votes: 20,390 | Gross: $5.22M

Number 97: To fit the span of a character's entire life is no mean achievement; to do so for two (arguably three) characters and take in a swathe of tumultuous Chinese history while you're about it - taking in the Second Sino-Japanese War and Cultural Revolution for kicks - is just showing off. But Kaige's story of two childhood friends who become stars of the Beijing Opera but are torn apart by politics and unrequited love manages to make the personal its focus even against a huge backdrop, helped in huge measure by compassionate performances from Zhang Fengyi, Gong Li and the late, great Leslie Cheung. Operatic but never melodramatic, this shows a more sensitive side to Chinese cinema than we're used to.

5. Delicatessen (1991)

R | 99 min | Comedy, Crime

66 Metascore

Post-apocalyptic surrealist black comedy about the landlord of an apartment building who occasionally prepares a delicacy for his odd tenants.

Directors: Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet | Stars: Marie-Laure Dougnac, Dominique Pinon, Pascal Benezech, Jean-Claude Dreyfus

Votes: 72,148 | Gross: $1.79M

Number 96: The central character is grieving the death of his monkey (not a euphemism). The bad guy is a butcher who carves up his assistants to provide meat for his building's tenants. The heroine enlists the help of radical, violent vegetarians to bring the villain down. And it's all played out against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic Paris where all the traditional concerns (gourmet food, music, adultery) remain at the forefront of people's minds while the planet goes to hell around them. Witty, strange and quite brilliant, this is a unique view on what remains when the world ends.

6. The Way of the Dragon (1972)

R | 90 min | Action, Adventure, Crime

A man visits his relatives at their restaurant in Italy and has to help them defend against brutal gangsters harassing them.

Director: Bruce Lee | Stars: Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Nora Miao, Ping Ou Wei

Votes: 26,487

Number 95: Arguably his greatest film, it's undoubtedly the skill, charm and work ethic of Bruce Lee that steamrollered this martial arts movie into the classic it has become. It's tempting to confuse how great a martial artist Lee is with how good his films actually were, but in this case, the individual set pieces that dominate the film (notably the Chuck Norris gladiatorial fight at the end) are so well choreographed and so well delivered, that nothing else matters much. In a world now where every every fight and every punch is so full of trickery and post-production, the sheer purity of Lee's work here makes it one of the best of its kind ever made.

7. Brightness (1987)

105 min | Drama, Fantasy

A young man with magical powers journeys to his uncle to request help in fighting his sorcerer father.

Director: Souleymane Cissé | Stars: Issiaka Kane, Aoua Sangare, Niamanto Sanogo, Balla Moussa Keita

Votes: 1,675

Number 94: FACT! African films move at a funereal pace to mirror the rhythms of African life. FACT! It doesn't matter if they are all as good as Yeelen. A strange beautiful film, Yeelen weaves together elements of African folklore to tell the tale of a boy who, fleeing his jealous Shaman father, goes on a journey to reach his uncle, helping strangers on the way, all the while gaining knowledge to face his father (it's a bit like Star Wars, this). Yet what really grabs the attention is Cisse's skill with the breadth of landscapes and the simplicity of the human face. Its symbolism might not translate, but it is hypnotically ravishing.

8. The 4th Man (1983)

Unrated | 102 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

A man who has been having visions of an impending danger begins an affair with a woman who may lead him to his doom.

Director: Paul Verhoeven | Stars: Jeroen Krabbé, Renée Soutendijk, Thom Hoffman, Dolf de Vries

Votes: 5,986

Number 93: Perhaps not as controlled as Soldier Of Orange, Spetters and Black Book amongst non-Hollywood Paul Verhoeven flicks, this is the Dutch master channelling Hitchcock if Hitch had given in to every one of his warped impulses and is therefore unmissable. Jeroen Krabbe is the bisexual writer who falls into the orbit of hairdresser/femme fatale Renee Soutendjik, who may or may not have killed her previous three husbands. Cue rampant symbolism, castration images, kinky sex and dead seagulls - welcome to Verhoevenland.

9. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Not Rated | 83 min | Animation, Action, Crime

76 Metascore

A cyborg policewoman and her partner hunt a mysterious and powerful hacker called the Puppet Master.

Director: Mamoru Oshii | Stars: Atsuko Tanaka, Iemasa Kayumi, Akio Ôtsuka, Kôichi Yamadera

Votes: 107,042 | Gross: $0.52M

Number 92: The fact that both the Wachowski brothers and James Cameron are huge fans of the film should come as no surprise - it's set in a futuristic cyperpunk world where everyone is connected to a mainframe, and a cyborg by the name of Motoko Kusanagi must hunt down 'The Puppet Master' who's hacking into people's memories. Matrix, much? The film itself remains so popular because it picks up where Akira left off - delivering a grown-up, engaging, fascinating version of a future that challenges the viewer whilst wowing them with stunning animation and eye-candy visuals. Car chases, shoot-outs and existential philosophy are exquisitely mixed together to make a film that intrigues and excites, time and again.

10. Good Bye Lenin! (2003)

R | 121 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

68 Metascore

In 1990, to protect his fragile mother from a fatal shock after a long coma, a young man must keep her from learning that her beloved nation of East Germany as she knew it has disappeared.

Director: Wolfgang Becker | Stars: Daniel Brühl, Katrin Saß, Chulpan Khamatova, Florian Lukas

Votes: 124,299 | Gross: $4.06M

Number 91: Subtle and delicately delivered humour is where Goodbye Lenin is at. The main premise, that a son must pretend that the Berlin Wall is still up so that his mother, fresh out of a 9-month coma, isn't shocked into a relapse, is one that had to be deftly handled, and deftly handled it is. Though out-and-out farce could be on the cards, leading actor Daniel Bruhl delivers the script with understated aplomb, making intentional audiences wonder whether 'German comedy' was really a contradiction in terms after all.

11. Rififi (1955)

Not Rated | 118 min | Crime, Thriller

97 Metascore

Four men plan a technically perfect crime, but the human element intervenes...

Director: Jules Dassin | Stars: Jean Servais, Carl Möhner, Robert Manuel, Janine Darcey

Votes: 21,251 | Gross: $0.06M

Number 90: There's delicious irony in the fact that Rififi was made in Montmartre while American director Jules Dassin - one of Hitchcock's proteges - was on the Hollywood blacklist, as this striking crime-masterpiece has exerted a heavy influence on virtually every Hollywood heist movie since. Dealing with the set-up, execution and fall-out after a diamond-store safe-break in '50s Paris, it may sound conventional, but with a virtuoso near half-hour - the heist itself - playing out with no dialogue or score in near silence, it's anything but.

12. The Loves of a Blonde (1965)

Not Rated | 88 min | Comedy, Romance, Drama

A factory manager in rural Czechoslovakia bargains with the army to send men to the area, to boost the morale of his young female workers, deprived of male company since the local boys have... See full summary »

Director: Milos Forman | Stars: Hana Brejchová, Vladimír Pucholt, Vladimír Mensík, Josef Sebánek

Votes: 5,966

Nuber 89: Milos Forman's Loves Of A Blonde is a thing of low-key beauty. Charting the romantic hopes and disappointments of shy young factory worker Andula (a terrific Brejchova), Forman etches a tender gentle but never twee portrait of young love. A central set-piece where the hot young girls of a small town are wooed by aging soldiers (they send a bottle of booze to the wrong table) is ripe for Hollywood remake, but it is Andula's pursuit of a rakish piano player (Pucholt) that delivers true emotional wallop. Forman went onto make Oscar winners (One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus) but this stands with the best of them.

13. Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989)

PG-13 | 78 min | Comedy, Music

Siberian rock band Leningrad Cowboys go to the USA in pursuit of fame.

Director: Aki Kaurismäki | Stars: Matti Pellonpää, Kari Väänänen, Sakke Järvenpää, Heikki Keskinen

Votes: 5,819

Number 88: It's essentially a one-joke movie - blundering and incompetent rockers The Leningrad Cowboys (real band, real weirdos), having failed to make it in Russia, are told to try America "because they'll listen to any old *beep* Luckily, it's a good joke. True oddballs, the band grab themselves a Cadillac and head south into America's heartland, performing godawful show after godawful show, all with their dead frozen guitarist in a coffin alongside them. Deadpan wit is the order of the day, and with its expert location shooting, it's an off-the-wall adventure like no other, and easily the best Finnish-rock-band-travelling-across-America movie you'll ever see.

14. Andrei Rublev (1966)

Not Rated | 205 min | Biography, Drama, History

The life, times and afflictions of the fifteenth-century Russian iconographer.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky | Stars: Anatoliy Solonitsyn, Ivan Lapikov, Nikolay Grinko, Nikolay Sergeev

Votes: 34,036

Number 87: A kind of companion piece to The Seventh Seal, Andrei Tarkovsky imagines eight episodes in the life of a medieval monk (Solonitsin) with a gift for painting icons. Similar to Bergman's knight in Seal, Rublev traverses feudal Russia renouncing speech, his art and his faith in response to the horrors he witnesses. Alongside the heavy duty themes, there are stunning visual set-pieces - Tartars ransacking a cathedral, the forging of a bell - and a fresh take on artist biopic cliches, only revealing Rublev's artwork in stunning colour and Cinemascope at the very end.

15. Run Lola Run (1998)

R | 80 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

77 Metascore

After a botched money delivery, Lola has 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 Deutschmarks.

Director: Tom Tykwer | Stars: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup, Nina Petri

Votes: 172,802 | Gross: $7.27M

Number 86: On the face of it, it's a very simple premise: one woman called Lola must find 100,000 DM in 20 minutes to save the life of her drug-dealing boyfriend who's left that sum on the subway (the doofus) and whose boss is about to rock up to collect. Combining a lo-fi aesthetic with Hollywood-worthy thrills, Twyker created an extended short, repeated three times as Lola tries again and again to get it right. It's as fast-paced as you'd expect, full of likable characters, and perfectly balances arthouse sensibilities with multiplex action to create one of the most enjoyable movies Germany had made for years.

16. The Conformist (1970)

R | 113 min | Drama

100 Metascore

A weak-willed Italian man becomes a fascist flunky who goes abroad to arrange the assassination of his old teacher, now a political dissident.

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci | Stars: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Gastone Moschin, Enzo Tarascio

Votes: 21,066

Number 85: Conceived by a director at the top of his game, Il Conformista is a period piece that looks as good today as 40 years ago. Betrayals take place in dappled, sun-filtered woods and compromises are made on blue-lit Parisian streets, as a venal man, Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant), vainly tries to negotiate his way through Mussolini's Italy. Bertolucci's ornate design and Vittorio Storaro's sensual cinematography enhance a story that perfectly captures the immoral world of fascist Italy.

17. Orpheus (1950)

Not Rated | 95 min | Fantasy, Drama, Romance

A poet in love with Death follows his unhappy wife into the underworld.

Director: Jean Cocteau | Stars: Jean Marais, François Périer, María Casares, Marie Déa

Votes: 8,438

Number 84: Jean Cocteau's greatest film takes the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice (He: head over heels in love; She: also head over heels but inconveniently stuck in the netherworld) and updates it to a menacing, post-war Paris. Orpheus, played by the devilishly debonair Jean Marais, is a poet plunged helplessly into a startling world of bombed out landscapes, Rolls-Royce-riding angels of death, leather-clad outriders, and, of course, that mirror to the Underworld. Marie Dea's radiant, pregnant Eurydice is the love who awaits him there. Made by a man who laid claim to being a painter and sculptor as well as a filmmaker, this is a true work of art in every sense.

18. Xala (1975)

123 min | Comedy

It is the dawn of Senegal's independence from France, but as the citizens celebrate in the streets we soon become aware that only the faces have changed. White money still controls the ... See full summary »

Director: Ousmane Sembene | Stars: Thierno Leye, Myriam Niang, Seune Samb, Fatim Diagne

Votes: 1,305

Number 83: Just pipping Moolade and Ceddo as Sembene's best film. Xala, based on his own novel, is satire at its most subtle yet savage. A powerful business man (Leye) is taking his third wife, much to the chagrin of his exes and daughter, yet on his wedding night he is hit by a Xala or curse, rendering him impotent. Sembene turns the tale into a metaphor for Senegalese ineffectuality, skewering the pretensions and underhandedness of African politics with a quiet anger. He also creates a gallery of strong female characters, a direct contrast to the useless men.

19. Battle Royale (2000)

Not Rated | 114 min | Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi

81 Metascore

In the future, the Japanese government captures a class of ninth-grade students and forces them to kill each other under the revolutionary "Battle Royale" act.

Director: Kinji Fukasaku | Stars: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Tarô Yamamoto, Takeshi Kitano

Votes: 151,899

Number 82: A high-concept masterpiece, this controversial effort (several attempts were made to ban both film and its source novel in Japan) from Fukasaku continues to provoke discussion with its devastating premise: a class of teenagers are taken to an island, fitted with explosive collars and told to kill one another until only one remains. It's gory - but this is not violence for its own sake. Fukasaku's got something powerful to say about intergenerational distrust, modern society, our attitudes to violence and one another and modern Japan as a whole.

20. The Host (2006)

R | 120 min | Action, Drama, Horror

85 Metascore

A monster emerges from Seoul's Han River and focuses its attention on attacking people. One victim's loving family does what it can to rescue her from its clutches.

Director: Joon-ho Bong | Stars: Kang-ho Song, Hee-Bong Byun, Hae-il Park, Doona Bae

Votes: 79,387 | Gross: $2.20M

Number 81: Most monster movies spend a good hour buying you dinner and making inconsequential small-talk before unveiling their beastie (blame Jaws' limited budget, perhaps); The Host is remarkable for whipping it out before you've even said hello - and what a creation it is. Slimy, grotesque, moving like the mutant offspring of a frog, a fish, a monkey and something from Miyazaki's nightmares, it cuts a swathe through otherwise down-to-Earth characters, the sort of blue-collar family usually seen in kitchen sink dramas. See it as a critique of American foreign policy or government's oppression of the working man, but either way a film that can go from horror to humour to tragedy this fast deserves our respect.

21. 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: 6,925

Number 80: This huge crowd-pleasing blockbuster may be a bit creaky now but it has the Big Entertainment value to rival the biggest Hollywood spectacular. The plot sees a mother (Nargis, a force of nature) go through hell and high water to raise her children and keep her farm from money lenders. At nearly three hours long, it puts you through the wringer but it is a four hankie experience courtesy of heartrending songs and a devastating climax.

22. Band of Outsiders (1964)

Not Rated | 95 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

88 Metascore

Two crooks with a fondness for old Hollywood B-movies convince a languages student to help them commit a robbery.

Director: Jean-Luc Godard | Stars: Anna Karina, Claude Brasseur, Danièle Girard, Louisa Colpeyn

Votes: 18,752 | Gross: $0.04M

Number 79: Quite possibly Godard's most blissfully entertaining movie, a heist gone wrong flick where two guys (Frey, Brasseur) and a gal (Godard's muse, Karina) plan to steal a huge wad of dough and end up with a murder on their hands. This is a Hollywood thriller relocated to Paris' grey suburbs, but Godard doesn't care about plot. Instead, he focuses on putting his characters through a series of CAF (cool as *beep*) set-pieces - a minute of silence where the entire soundtrack goes silent, a world record race through the Louvre and, most famously, a sequence in which the three heroes perform an impromptu dance number in a cafe. Godard may have made more challenging and more interesting films - Le Mepris, Pierrot Le Fou - but none have Bande's sprightliness and charm.

23. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)

R | 88 min | Comedy, Drama

85 Metascore

A television actress encounters a variety of eccentric characters after embarking on a journey to discover why her lover abruptly left her.

Director: Pedro Almodóvar | Stars: Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas, Julieta Serrano, Rossy de Palma

Votes: 28,883 | Gross: $7.18M

Number 78: A neon-bright farce tinged with a healthier dollop of insanity than is usual even in that genre, and served with a bucket of drugged gazpacho, this is probably the best example of Almodovar's early, funny stuff. Carmen Maura is trying to hold it all together as Pepa, just dumped by her lover, while her apartment becomes the scene of accidental overdoses, suicide attempts, terrorist plots, police inquiries, illicit trysts and hostage situations. As is traditional, Almodovar writes great female characters, hands them to some of Spain's best actresses and shoots them beautifully as they go. It may not have the polish of a Volver, but it's zany comedy at its best.

24. House of Flying Daggers (2004)

PG-13 | 119 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

89 Metascore

A romantic police captain breaks a beautiful member of a rebel group out of prison to help her rejoin her fellows, but things are not what they seem.

Director: Yimou Zhang | Stars: Ziyi Zhang, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau, Dandan Song

Votes: 98,876 | Gross: $11.05M

Number 77: As with the director's similarly gorgeous Hero, this emphasises the eye-candy element in the reborn Wushu genre. The basic technique is this: cast gorgeous people. Have them fight each other in scenic places. The difference in the case of Flying Daggers is that the plot is a little more structured than usual: Mei (Zhang) is a blind dancer with links to the subversive House of Flying Daggers. Arrested by Leo (Lau), she escapes with the help of Jin (Kaneshiro) - but as both officers are in love with her, and Mei knows more than she lets on, it's soon tragedy time. Also, really kick-ass fight scenes.

25. Idioterne (1998)

R | 117 min | Comedy, Drama

47 Metascore

The group of people gather at the house in Copenhagen suburb to break all the limitations and to bring out the "inner idiot" in themselves.

Director: Lars von Trier | Stars: Bodil Jørgensen, Jens Albinus, Anne Louise Hassing, Troels Lyby

Votes: 26,447 | Gross: $0.01M

Number 76: A group of middle-class intellectuals come together in a commune and indulge in the practice of spazzing - the act of pretending to be mentally impaired. This is Lars von Trier at his most incendiary, allying the rough hewn, improvised qualities of Dogme with funny, disturbing, shattering scenes of intelligent people finding their inner spastic, most famously a gang bang that features unsimulated sex. Played in a completely different way, this could be a whacky edgy comedy starring Will Ferrell, but von Trier takes it in another direction, never adding easy-to-grasp motivations for behaviour and never shying from the uncomfortable ideas thrown up by the premise. Ballsy cinema with a capital B.

26. Breathless (1960)

Not Rated | 90 min | Crime, Drama

A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.

Director: Jean-Luc Godard | Stars: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Daniel Boulanger, Henri-Jacques Huet

Votes: 59,920 | Gross: $0.34M

Number 75: Godard's debut, co-written with Francois Truffaut, didn't just rewrite the movie rule book; it tore it up, threw it on the floor and did a cheeky little dance on top of it. Coursing with a love of American gangster flicks, A Bout De Souffle takes a B movie plot - a French hoodlum (Belmondo) kills a cop and goes on the run with his American girlfriend (Seberg) - and reinvigorates it with a dizzying arsenal of cinematic tricks (jump cuts, talking to camera, handheld cameras) and a fresh, fractured sense of storytelling. The chemistry between the surly Belmondo and the elfin Seberg is sex on the stick, but man of the match is Godard: playful, challenging and far too cool for l'ecole.

27. Devdas (I) (2002)

185 min | Drama, Musical, Romance

After his wealthy family prohibits him from marrying the woman he is in love with, Devdas Mukherjee's life spirals further and further out of control as he takes up alcohol and a life of vice to numb the pain.

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali | Stars: Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Jackie Shroff

Votes: 31,503 | Gross: $3.50M

Number 74: Because it's a proper Bollywood blockbuster, that's why! Featuring three of Mumbai's biggest stars (Khan! Rai! Dixit!), based on a massively popular Indian novel, with a huge budget (in Bolly-terms, at least), a three-hour running time, opulent sets and throbbing, shimmering dance numbers. Not to mention a heavy dose of melodrama as rich boy Khan becomes torn between two women: his forbidden childhood love (Rai) and a courtesan (Dixit).

28. Hidden (I) (2005)

93 min | Thriller

Deep within a dark, twisted forest, at a faraway adventure camp, a group of young 'camp leaders' play a fast and furious game of 'hide and seek'. The atmosphere is strange and thick with ... See full summary »

Director: Tim McLachlan | Stars: Luke Alexander, Dana Bernard, Daniel Betty, Ellie Cragg

Votes: 103

Number 73: Taut, arresting and unscored, Hidden is the unmistakeable work of Michael Haneke, an auteur more than a bit fascinated by the worm-like guilt that haunts the middle classes. Auteuil and Binoche are terrific as the fraying couple who start receiving voyeuristic videos in the mail, Benichou equally good as the shadowy figure from the past who Auteuil suspects is sending them. But is it him or someone else? The only thing we can say with any confidence is that it's not LoveFilm. Haneke's slowburn thriller is elliptical, oblique, frustrating and quite, quite brilliant.

29. Ten Canoes (2006)

Unrated | 90 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama

82 Metascore

A story within a story. In Australia's Northern Territory, a man tells us one of the stories of his people and his land. It's a story of an older man, Minygululu, who has three wives and ... See full summary »

Directors: Rolf de Heer, Peter Djigirr | Stars: Crusoe Kurddal, Jamie Gulpilil, Richard Birrinbirrin, Peter Minygululu

Votes: 4,017 | Gross: $0.28M

Number 72: Dutch-Australian filmmaker Rolf de Heer's movie was made in true collaboration with the Aboriginal inhabitants of the lush Arnhem Land, and proves an insightful - and entertaining - delve into their rich culture. Opening with a joke from narrator David Gulpilil that this is a //real// story, rather than one set "in a land far, far away", it unfurls in a surprisingly complex story-within-a-story fashion, each layer using the same actors, as it relates tales of forbidden love, conflict and death. With added fart jokes.

30. 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: 78,105

Number 71: Perhaps the quintessential Really Serious Euro Art House movie, Ingmar Bergman's Persona is visually stunning, intellectually challenging and emotionally wrenching. A famous actress (Ullmann) loses her speech halfway through a performance and is placed in the care of a nurse (Andersson) in a remote seaside cottage. As the women grow closer and more intimate, Bergman mounts a fascination examination of female identity, played mostly on the faces of these two actresses (Bergman fell in love with Ullmann during the shoot). If this isn't enough, Bergman consistently lays bare the artifice of filmmaking, right up to the final moments where the film burns in the projector. Mesmerising.

31. Hard Boiled (1992)

R | 128 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

A tough-as-nails cop teams up with an undercover agent to shut down a sinister mobster and his crew.

Director: John Woo | Stars: Yun-Fat Chow, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Teresa Mo, Philip Chan

Votes: 41,627

Number 70: John Woo's later work might have tailed off somewhat (see Mission Impossible II - or, if you prefer, don't), but his super-stylish Hong Kong period remains virtually untouchable, and Hard Boiled is the best of the lot. Even if it does sacrifice emotional development in Chow's kick-ass cop Tequila on the altar of gun porn, it remains a guns-a-blazing, walls-exploding, tea-room-destroying, hospital-devastating triumph, and a must-have for every action fan. It's so influential that it took Woo global and slung Chow into the big time, all whilst carrying a shotgun in one hand and a surprisingly large baby in the other.

32. Ringu (1998)

Not Rated | 96 min | Horror, Mystery

A reporter and her ex-husband investigate a cursed video tape that is rumored to kill the viewer seven days after watching it.

Director: Hideo Nakata | Stars: Nanako Matsushima, Miki Nakatani, Yûko Takeuchi, Hitomi Satô

Votes: 55,672

Number 69: The best J-horror around is a first-class exercise in mood generation, a murky, doom-laden tale of a cursed videotape that visits death, in the form of a terrifying black-haired spirit named Sadako, upon anyone who watches it. Brilliantly directed, with little emphasis on jump scares and shock moments, by Hideo Nakata, it remains enormously influential, and has spawned a veritable army of sequels and copycats. Even the death of VHS hasn't stopped it being scary.

33. Solaris (1972)

PG | 167 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

90 Metascore

A psychologist is sent to a station orbiting a distant planet in order to discover what has caused the crew to go insane.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky | Stars: Natalya Bondarchuk, Donatas Banionis, Jüri Järvet, Vladislav Dvorzhetskiy

Votes: 63,915

Number 68: The distant planet of Solaris, with its swirling oceans and hallucinatory qualities, is the setting for psychologist Kris Kelvin's (Donatas Banionis) interstellar mission. But is it malevolent or just misunderstood? The appearance of Kelvin's dead wife, a product of Solaris' mysterious powers, suggests the former, but Predators this ain't. Tarkovsky is more interested in the impact of outer space - and internal grief - on the human psyche than in Death Stars and xenomorphs.

34. The Vanishing (1988)

Not Rated | 107 min | Mystery, Thriller

Rex and Saskia, a young couple in love, are on vacation. They stop at a busy service station and Saskia is abducted. After three years and no sign of Saskia, Rex begins receiving letters from the abductor.

Director: George Sluizer | Stars: Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets, Johanna ter Steege, Gwen Eckhaus

Votes: 28,261

NUmber 67: Subverting the usual thriller structure, Sluizer apparently answers all the big questions early on - who the bad guy is, what he's doing - and then spends the rest of the running time turning the screws on our hero anyway as the latter attempts to unravel the disappearance of his girlfriend at a busy service station three years before. It's deeply unsettling, at times all-too plausible and all the more horrifying for it - and if you're not discomfited by the ending, you may want to consider a career as the hardest person in the world.

35. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

PG-13 | 120 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

93 Metascore

A young Chinese warrior steals a sword from a famed swordsman and then escapes into a world of romantic adventure with a mysterious man in the frontier of the nation.

Director: Ang Lee | Stars: Yun-Fat Chow, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang, Chen Chang

Votes: 232,239 | Gross: $128.08M

NUmber 66: The plot, involving the recovery of a stolen sword and a couple of pairs of lovers, might seem a little far fetched at times, and the subtitled dialogue a touch too stately, but the sheer scale of Crouching Tiger's setting, cinematography and fight choreography will leave all but the most stone-hearted impressed. Delicate, dialogue-heavy scenes are torn apart by Yun-Fat and Zhang as they blast up and over treetops, through the air, and into their enemies with such balletic grace you can scarcely believe your eyes. Unlike anything seen before, it's further proof that Ang Lee is a master of all trades and jack of none (apart from superhero movies, arguably. Ahem.).

36. Un Chien Andalou (1929)

Not Rated | 16 min | Short, Fantasy, Horror

Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí present 17 minutes of bizarre, surreal imagery.

Director: Luis Buñuel | Stars: Pierre Batcheff, Simone Mareuil, Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dalí

Votes: 39,320

Number 65: Try to imagine the craziest dream that David Lynch might have had after eating a plateful of cheese just before bed, and it still won't come close to the sheer bonkersosity of Un Chien Andalou. Collaborating with ol' buddy and surrealist artist Salvador Dali, first-time filmmaker Luis Bunuel throws together a series of random unconnected incidents - ants emerge from the wound in the palm of a hand, dead donkeys lie on two pianos and, in one of cinema's most shocking moments, an open eye is slashed in half with a razor in huge close up - for a shocking, blasphemous, blackly funny 17 minutes. At the first showing, Bunuel carried stones in his pocket for fear of being lynched. 80 years on and Un Chien Andalou has lost none of its power to disturb.

37. Wings of Desire (1987)

PG-13 | 128 min | Drama, Fantasy, Romance

79 Metascore

An angel tires of overseeing human activity and wishes to become human when he falls in love with a mortal.

Director: Wim Wenders | Stars: Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin, Otto Sander, Curt Bois

Votes: 53,548 | Gross: $3.21M

Number 64: The contrast of a grim West Berlin setting and the magical images of overcoat-clad angels among us is what lingers longest in the mind after watching this Wim Wenders effort - that, and maybe Bruno Ganz' beatific smile. As the angel who falls in love with a trapeze artist and starts to long for mortality, Ganz is a literally otherworldly observer, but it's only when he abandons his wings that the film leaps into colour and life, like a reverse Wizard of Oz. And any film that casts Peter Falk as a formerly divine being gets our vote.

38. A Prophet (2009)

R | 155 min | Crime, Drama

90 Metascore

A young Arab man is sent to a French prison.

Director: Jacques Audiard | Stars: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif, Reda Kateb

Votes: 85,001 | Gross: $2.08M

Number 63: Audiard's great achievement here is to bring a social truism - prison makes petty criminals into hardened ne'er-do-wells - to living, breathing life. Malik, played by the extraordinarily good Rahim, enters prison bewildered and acting tough to cover insecurity; from that point we see his evolution into veritable hard-case. The basic structure, as a man evolves into a perfect criminal, may seem familiar from The Godfather to GoodFellas and everything in between, but the addition of prison walls compresses the action, amps up the tension and increases the importance of razor blades to uncomfortable levels.

39. (1963)

Not Rated | 138 min | Drama

A harried movie director retreats into his memories and fantasies.

Director: Federico Fellini | Stars: Marcello Mastroianni, Anouk Aimée, Claudia Cardinale, Sandra Milo

Votes: 93,490 | Gross: $0.05M

Number 62: Some directors make autobiographical films. Fellini's 81/2 strays way beyond autobiography into the nakedly confessional. The first film where Fellini literally loses the plot in favour of the dream-like, this weaves in and out of the memories, fantasies and relationships of celebrated film director Guido Anselmi (Fellini alter-ego Mastroianni), as he is struggles to find inspiration for his latest (science fiction) film. Complex, sexy, endlessly imaginative and boasting moments of magic, this is one of the best films about filmmaking, cinema's greatest evocation of a creative mental block and perhaps the fullest expression of the term Fellini-esque.

40. Knife in the Water (1962)

Not Rated | 94 min | Drama, Thriller

On their way to a sailing trip, an aging husband and wife invite along an emphatic young hitchhiker out of sheer patronization.

Director: Roman Polanski | Stars: Leon Niemczyk, Jolanta Umecka, Zygmunt Malanowicz, Anna Ciepielewska

Votes: 16,693

Number 61: Polanski's first film - his only Polish feature - has a concise, assured controlled quality remarkable in a debut, as a married couple pick up a hitchhiker who joins them on a boating excursion. Already a master at using confined spaces to reveal psychological states, Polanski spins the tale of three people holed up in a small boat into an absurdist black comedy-drama of sexual jealousy and the generation gap. Taut, tense, half tongue-in-cheek, half powerfully sinister, it is debatable whether Polanski has ever made a better film. And that includes Chinatown.

41. Jean de Florette (1986)

PG | 120 min | Drama

A greedy landowner and his backward nephew conspire to block the only water source for an adjoining property in order to bankrupt the owner and force him to sell.

Director: Claude Berri | Stars: Yves Montand, Gérard Depardieu, Daniel Auteuil, Elisabeth Depardieu

Votes: 21,423 | Gross: $4.94M

Number 60: A two-part adaptation of Marcel Pagnol's L'Eau des Collines series (which the author translated into novels from his original screenplay, confusingly), this microcosmic epic of neighbourly jealousy, greed, lust and revenge somehow turns a thorough downer of a story into a compelling triumph for justice and good, thanks to an all-star Gallic cast and landscapes straight out of Van Gogh. In the first part, Gerard Depardieu's tax collector moves his family to the country to create a pastoral idyll; only to have his every effort blocked by the machinations of his neighbours; in the second, his daughter uncovers the plot.

42. Heimat - Eine deutsche Chronik (1984– )

90 min | Drama

The series (11 episodes) tells the story of the village Schabbach, on the Hunsrueck in Germany through the years 1919-1982. Central person is Maria, who we see growing from a 17 year old ... See full summary »

Stars: Marita Breuer, Kurt Wagner, Rüdiger Weigang, Eva Maria Schneider

Votes: 2,731

Number 59: Imagine The White Ribbon, Triumph Of The Will, Wings Of Desire and Goodbye Lenin sellotaped together and you'd still be nowhere near the inter-generational scope of Edgar Reitz's century-spanning German epic. And by epic, we mean EPIC. This is 15-and-a-half involving hours of human drama set in the village of Schabbach and orbiting around the Simon clan as they endure the Great War, the rise of the Nazis, post-war depression and some really stodgy cabbage dishes. With the superb Marita Breuer's matriach, Maria, the redoubtable heart of this titular homeland, and admirable support by an inexperienced but universally terrific cast, Heimat is War And Peace and all the bits in between.

43. Persepolis (2007)

PG-13 | 96 min | Animation, Biography, Drama

90 Metascore

A precocious and outspoken Iranian girl grows up during the Islamic Revolution.

Directors: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi | Stars: Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Gena Rowlands, Danielle Darrieux

Votes: 78,053 | Gross: $4.44M

Number 58: This black-and-white autobiographical tale of growing up in Iran, through revolution and war, and coming of age in Europe, is charming, funny, angry, shocking, romantic and perpetually surprising. The stark visuals, lifted in most cases directly from the comic but also referencing traditional shadow puppetry techniques, somehow make the story ring more true. Marjane may not be God's prophet, as she believed she was as a young child, but she's one of the most dynamic and feisty cinema heroines ever to threaten torture against one of her playmates.

44. Central Station (1998)

R | 113 min | Drama

80 Metascore

An emotive journey of a former school teacher, who writes letters for illiterate people, and a young boy, whose mother has just died, as they search for the father he never knew.

Director: Walter Salles | Stars: Fernanda Montenegro, Vinícius de Oliveira, Marília Pêra, Soia Lira

Votes: 31,194 | Gross: $5.60M

Number 57: An odd couple movie, in essence, Central do Brasil sees a hoary old ex-schoolmarm taking a lost child whose mother has died off for an adventure - an adventure to find his father. Over the course of their journey they bicker and fight and deal with the increasingly awful setbacks that come their way, all with such heartfelt and genuine delivery that it's easy to see why the two were showered with prizes after its release. Its simple premise belies the complexity in this beautiful pair of characters, prickly and authentic. It's touching, beautifully shot, wonderfully scored, and even has time to show the dark underside of Brazil while it's at it.

45. Belle de Jour (1967)

R | 100 min | Drama

A frigid young housewife decides to spend her midweek afternoons as a prostitute.

Director: Luis Buñuel | Stars: Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel, Michel Piccoli, Geneviève Page

Votes: 33,320 | Gross: $0.03M

Number 56: Wit. Elegance. Erotica. Subversion. Luis Bunuel wore these qualities like a medals and Belle du Jour is amongst his most highly decorated flicks. Catherine Deneuve whips up a tour de force as Severine, the bored, frigid housewife of a doctor who takes pleasure spending her afternoons working at a brothel entertaining ever more kinky clients. There is no actual sex in Belle de Jour - the key "sex" scene involves the contents of a small lacquered box - but it is hard to think of a more erotically charged film. Unsurprisngly, this became Bunuel's biggest hit at the age of 67.

46. Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001)

PG | 224 min | Adventure, Drama, Musical

84 Metascore

The people of a small village in Victorian India stake their future on a game of cricket against their ruthless British rulers.

Director: Ashutosh Gowariker | Stars: Aamir Khan, Raghuvir Yadav, Gracy Singh, Rachel Shelley

Votes: 86,027 | Gross: $0.07M

Number 55: The first glimpse most Western audiences had had of Aamir Khan, this ripping yarn had the Bollywood titan taking on the Raj with nothing more than dash, bravado and a cracking off-drive. Khan is farmer Bhuvan, the leader of a drought and tax ('lagaan')-stricken village, who challenges the British authorities to a winner-takes-all game of cricket. Subtitled 'Once Upon A Time In India', there's more than a touch of Spaghetti in the showdown that grips and turns like a Shane Warne legbreak, and throws in some very hummable tunes for good measure.

47. The Celebration (1998)

R | 105 min | Drama

82 Metascore

At Helge's 60th birthday party, some unpleasant family truths are revealed.

Director: Thomas Vinterberg | Stars: Ulrich Thomsen, Henning Moritzen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Paprika Steen

Votes: 70,820 | Gross: $1.65M

Number 54: Boasting more rules than Fight Club, the hullabaloo around the Dogme manifesto - camerawork must be handheld; sound must be diagetic; biscuits must be plain - can distract from what a terrific film Festen is. Funny yet disturbing, homemade yet highly polished, the twisted tale of a Danish patriach's 60th birthday celebrations is full of seeming contradictions that fit together perfectly. Yes, it's rare for a dinner party to feature revelations of sexual abuse, incest and rape, but then this is no ordinary dinner party. No ordinary film, either.

48. All About My Mother (1999)

R | 101 min | Drama

87 Metascore

Young Esteban wants to become a writer and also to discover the identity of his father, carefully concealed by his mother Manuela.

Director: Pedro Almodóvar | Stars: Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes, Candela Peña, Antonia San Juan

Votes: 76,911 | Gross: $8.26M

Number 53: This offbeam, heartfilled Almodovar packs the narrative zip of a soap opera and the emotional wallop of a Douglas Sirk melodrama. It also takes the Spanish auteur away from his Castilian stomping ground and on to Barcelona. There, Cecilia Roth's grieving mother connects with the father of her child, now a chick-with-a-dick prostitute, and a richly-drawn array of actresses, hookers and the odd pregnant nun. Sparkling, warm and witty, it's a fitting celebration of mums everywhere.

49. Touki Bouki (1973)

Not Rated | 85 min | Drama