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Top 100

Posted by martinteller on August 20, 2012

Here is it, at long last.  Notes and comments at the end of this post….

1. Scenes From a Marriage (1973, Ingmar Bergman)

2. Mahanagar (1963, Satyajit Ray)

3. Casablanca (1942, Michael Curtiz)

4. The Hole (1998, Ming-liang Tsai)

5. A Woman Under the Influence (1974, John Cassavetes)

6. Fanny and Alexander (1982, Ingmar Bergman)

7. Time of the Gypsies (1988, Emir Kusturica)

8. Taxi Driver (1976, Martin Scorsese)

9. Eraserhead (1977, David Lynch)

10. Charulata (1964, Satyajit Ray)

11. Rear Window (1954, Alfred Hitchcock)

12. Seven Samurai (1954, Akira Kurosawa)

13. Goodfellas (1990, Martin Scorsese)

14. Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972, Werner Herzog)

15. The Shining (1980, Stanley Kubrick)

16. Jules and Jim (1962, Francois Truffaut)

17. Double Indemnity (1944, Billy Wilder)

18. Revenge of a Kabuki Actor (1963, Kon Ichikawa)

19. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981, Steven Spielberg)

20. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Stanley Kubrick)

21. All That Jazz (1979, Bob Fosse)

22. Werckmeister Harmonies (2000, Bela Tarr)

23. The Seventh Seal (1957, Ingmar Bergman)

24. Network (1976, Sidney Lumet)

25. What Time Is It There? (2001, Ming-liang Tsai)

26. The Trial (1962, Orson Welles)

27. The Blues Brothers (1980, John Landis)

28. The Exterminating Angel (1962, Luis Bunuel)

29. Nights of Cabiria (1957, Federico Fellini)

30. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966, Sergio Leone)

31. Stop Making Sense (1984, Jonathan Demme)

32. Pather Panchali (1955, Satyajit Ray)

33. Apocalypse Now (1979, Francis Ford Coppola)

34. House (1977, Nobuhiko Obayashi)

35. Play Time (1967, Jacques Tati)

36. 8½ (1963, Federico Fellini)

37. An Angel at My Table (1990, Jane Campion)

38. El Norte (1983, Gregory Nava)

39. The Scent of Green Papaya (1993, Anh Hung Tran)

40. Innocence (2004, Lucile Hadzihalilovic)

41. The Tree of Life (2011, Terrence Malick)

42. Airplane! (1980, Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker)

43. Drugstore Cowboy (1989, Gus Van Sant)

44. The Wicker Man (1973, Robin Hardy)

45. Vertigo (1958, Alfred Hitchcock)

46. Winter Light (1962, Ingmar Bergman)

47. Do the Right Thing (1989, Spike Lee)

48. The Vertical Ray of the Sun (2000, Anh Hung Tran)

49. High and Low (1963, Akira Kurosawa)

50. Mulholland Drive (2001, David Lynch)

51. Yojimbo (1961, Akira Kurosawa)

52. Last Year at Marienbad (1961, Alain Resnais)

53. The Turin Horse (2011, Bela Tarr)

54. Safe (1995, Todd Haynes)

55. Sweet Smell of Success (1957, Alexander Mackendrick)

56. Underground (1995, Emir Kusturica)

57. The Night of the Hunter (1955, Charles Laughton)

58. Woman in the Dunes (1964, Hiroshi Teshigahara)

59. The Long Day Closes (1992, Terence Davies)

60. American Movie (1999, Chris Smith)

61. Red Beard (1965, Akira Kurosawa)

62. The Wayward Cloud (2005, Ming-liang Tsai)

63. Songs from the Second Floor (2000, Roy Andersson)

64. Syndromes and a Century (2006, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

65. Secrets & Lies (1996, Mike Leigh)

66. Amélie (2001, Jean-Pierre Jeunet)

67. All About My Mother (1999, Pedro Almodovar)

68. I Fidanzati (1963, Ermanno Olmi)

69. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975, Peter Weir)

70. Devils on the Doorstep (2000, Wen Jiang)

71. Blue Velvet (1986, David Lynch)

72. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966, Mike Nichols)

73. The Dead (1987, John Huston)

74. Visage (2009, Ming-liang Tsai)

75. The Story of Qiu Ju (1992, Zhang Yimou)

76. Devi (1960, Satyajit Ray)

77. Sita Sings the Blues (2008, Nina Paley)

78. A Moment of Innocence (1996, Mohsen Makhmalbaf)

79. Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970, Werner Herzog)

80. The Lineup (1958, Don Siegel)

81. Love and Death (1975, Woody Allen)

82. Linda Linda Linda (2005, Nobuhiro Yamashita)

83. The New World (2005, Terrence Malick)

84. Three Colors: Blue (1993, Krzysztof Kieslowski)

85. In the Loop (2009, Armando Iannucci)

86. The Burglar (1957, Paul Wendkos)

87. Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982, Alan Parker)

88. Pratidwandi (1972, Satyajit Ray)

89. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001, Wes Anderson)

90. Sátántangó (1994, Bela Tarr)

91. The Graduate (1967, Mike Nichols)

92. Shame (1968, Ingmar Bergman)

93. Cairo Station (1958, Youssef Chahine)

94. Blade Runner (1982, Ridley Scott)

95. Drowning by Numbers (1988, Peter Greenaway)

96. A Page of Madness (1926, Teinosuke Kinugasa)

97. The Wizard of Oz (1939, Victor Fleming)

98. The Cloud-Capped Star (1960, Ritwik Ghatak)

99. Thirst for Love (1966, Koreyoshi Kurahara)

100. The Beautiful Washing Machine (2004, James Lee)

Okay, let’s talk methodology first.  I used my list from last year as a starting point (that list is not on this blog, but you can find it at the Filmspotting Forum, a fine group of movie-minded folk).  Over the past few weeks I’ve been rewatching “borderline” movies… ones that I thought could be either added or eliminated.  When I had my final list of 100, it was time to start ranking.  This process is extremely arbitrary, and more and more I’m of the mind that putting numbers on movies is a ridiculous thing to do.  But I also love doing it, so I guess I’m a hypocrite or conflicted or something.  But I didn’t take these numbers too seriously.  I went through my list and thought “Which ten do I care about the least?” and made those my 91 through 100, then repeated that process in groups of ten until there were 20 left.  I thought about the top 20 a little more carefully, but honestly… it’s all really arbitrary.  I think any movie in my top 20 could be my #1.

You may notice that some films on this list I have rated/scored lower than other films which did not make the list.  Again, this speaks to the foolishness of putting numbers on movies.  It’s the old “best vs. favorite” argument.  And there are movies I really loved but am not particularly interested in seeing again.  I just tried to make this a list of the films that are most precious to me.

There are 15 new entries on my list, meaning that 15 also dropped out.  The Bride Wore Black dropped so far out that it didn’t even make my top 250 (though I still think it’s a very fine movie).  The two highest-ranked new entries are also the two newest: The Turin Horse and The Tree of Life.

The biggest drop while still remaining on the list: Shame (down 66 places).  The biggest leap: Drugstore Cowboy (up 31 places).

Satantango is the only film on the list that I have not seen at least twice.  I really wanted to rewatch it, but I also wanted to get this list done and it’s hard to carve out a 7.5 hour chunk of time (especially when you haven’t been in the mood to watch movies).  I also have to say it’s hard to work up enthusiasm to watch such a shoddy DVD release.

As a self-proclaimed film noir buff, it’s probably odd that I have only six noirs on the list (and a couple of those are debatable).  Only one in the top 40.  I don’t know really how to explain this, except that perhaps I love the genre as a whole more than individual films.  Or maybe I judge them a little harsher.  At any rate, there is a substantial number of noirs I adore (I also have a top 100 film noir list at the Filmspotting forum) and more of them may make the list after future rewatches.

Directors appearing the most: Bergman and Ray with 5 each, Kurosawa and Tsai with 4 each, Tarr and Lynch with 3 each.  Scorsese and Kubrick each only have two, but all are in the top 20.

Directors who I consider “favorites” and yet do not appear on the list at all: Bresson, Kaurismaki, Mizoguchi, Coens, Brakhage, Dardennes.

Breakdown by decade:

1920’s – 1
1930’s – 1
1940’s – 2
1950’s – 11
1960’s – 23
1970’s – 14
1980’s – 15
1990’s – 14
2000’s – 17
2010’s – 2

What’s surprising to me here is that I have so many more from the 60’s than the 50’s, and so many from the 21st century.  Some may consider it shameful that I only have two from before the 40’s, but it doesn’t bother me.  It’s not like I’m totally ignorant about the era (I could see more, of course) there just aren’t many films from that period that have worked their way into my heart.

Well, that’s all I have to say for now.  Again, please don’t overanalyze the exact rankings… all of these films are special to me.  Thanks for letting me ramble, and thanks for reading!


28 Responses to “Top 100”

  1. AAAutin said


    5. A Woman Under the Influence (1974, John Cassavetes)
    8. Taxi Driver (1976, Martin Scorsese)
    13. Goodfellas (1990, Martin Scorsese)
    15. The Shining (1980, Stanley Kubrick)
    20. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Stanley Kubrick)
    24. Network (1976, Sidney Lumet)
    33. Apocalypse Now (1979, Francis Ford Coppola)
    35. Play Time (1967, Jacques Tati)
    51. Yojimbo (1961, Akira Kurosawa)
    85. In the Loop (2009, Armando Iannucci)
    87. Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982, Alan Parker)
    89. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001, Wes Anderson)
    94. Blade Runner (1982, Ridley Scott)

    Really want to see:

    52. Last Year at Marienbad (1961, Alain Resnais)
    54. Safe (1995, Todd Haynes)
    56. Underground (1995, Emir Kusturica)
    73. The Dead (1987, John Huston)
    82. Linda Linda Linda (2005, Nobuhiro Yamashita)

  2. Sandy said

    What a list! Because of your extensive viewing and seeing what interests you in your reviews, I can’t think of anyone’s list I’d be more interested in studying. I’ll start with #2 since I’ve already taken care of #1. 🙂

    • Sandy, so flattering! Thank you! MAHANAGAR isn’t easy to find (at least not in decent quality) but I hope you do manage to see it. I think you’d love it!

      • Sandy said

        It’s at my library! I think it is a VHS tape though, oh well. There is probably a lot I will relate to in this movie, but hope it won’t be quite as gut wrenching as SFaM. I’m not sure I’m ready for another experience like that yet. 🙂

      • I first saw it on a VHS from the library as well, and that was sufficient for me to fall in love with it. Not gut-wrenching at all!

      • Sandy said

        That’s a relief. I’ll report back in review format!

  3. JamDenTel said

    A fine list. I’ve only seen 38.65 of these (I’ve seen the second two-thirds of AMERICAN MOVIE), but I definitely want to see more of these…SATANTANGO is VERY high on my want-to-see list, and I need badly to change the fact that I have never seen a Satyajit Ray film.

    Particular props for THE BLUES BROTHERS, IN THE LOOP, and GOODFELLAS, all of which would make my own Top 10. And many of the other ones I’ve seen would be potential Top 100 material for me, too…although that’s a ways off.

    • BLUES BROTHERS is a movie that has delighted me for 30 years… I’d be very surprised if that or AIRPLANE! ever dropped off my list. Likewise, GOODFELLAS is a movie I’ve seen a bunch of times, and it hard to decide whether to place that or TAXI DRIVER higher on my list. I am a little on the fence about IN THE LOOP, but it’s certainly the funniest movie I’ve seen in ages.

      THE MUSIC ROOM is a fine starting point for Ray, and the only one with a decent DVD/Blu-Ray release in this country.

      • JamDenTel said

        Yeah, I think it’s the dearth of good Ray DVDs that provides the biggest stumbling block for me (that and the obscene amount of films I own that I haven’t seen yet…shame, shame), but I should try and tackle THE MUSIC ROOM one of these days, along with more Asian cinema in general.

  4. Danny said

    Knowing how down you are about Wilder most of the time, I was pleasantly surprised to see Double Indemnity rate so high. I’m sorry that you took Nightmare Alley off– I just watched that a few weeks ago and it’s a gem of a movie, with Helen Walker just destroying it there. Either way, now I’ve got a bunch of stuff to add to my ‘to see’ list. Thanks!

    • I’m not entirely down on Wilder. THE APARTMENT made my top 101-250 list, and I count SUNSET BLVD is one of my top 100 noirs, even though I don’t consider it very noir. I also enjoy SOME LIKE IT HOT, and a few others.

      Yeah it was tough to cut NIGHTMARE ALLEY, that was one of the last decisions I made. But… that doesn’t mean I like it any less, it’s just hard to squeeze enough stuff into an arbitrary round number.

  5. Chin said

    Forgive me, I haven’t read your other writings, but I was curious about the absence of any of Andrei Tarkovsky’s films from your list. And what about Sergei Parajanov? I know it’s all opinion, I’m just curious.

    • Chin said


    • Tarkovsky: STALKER is on my 101-250 list, and I very much like THE MIRROR and NOSTALGHIA too. Others I need to rewatch. Parajanov: I like his stuff, but not enough for my listss. Only SHADOWS OF FORGOTTEN ANCESTORS comes close. Godard: I’ve been pretty open about my dislike for him, but BAND OF OUTSIDERS did make the 101-250 list.

      Thanks for reading!

      • Chin said

        Thanks for your reply. I have only seen 38 of the movies in your list, which I’m eager to rectify based on your apparent sensibilities,and thank you for exposing me to them. I would personally though (if it matters) place at least two Tarkovsky movies over any of the ones you listed that I have seen. Andrei Rublev and The Mirror. Stalker is also quite amazing to me. His movies changed my perception of the scope and possibilities of cinema more than anyone else’s, apart from being otherworldly gorgeous while somehow also firmly rooted in life. I would have to say Godard opened my eyes about film this as well through other means which I admit are less profound than A.T. but the man understands and abuses film conventions masterfully… I forgot to ask about Antonioni too. Anyway thanks for letting me spew my opinions, and for the really intriguing list!

      • ANDREI RUBLEV is one I desperately need to revisit, still waiting to see if Criterion will upgrade their release. Godard,,, I’ve given him more than a fair chance, he just irritates me too much for me to enjoy. I like Antonioni a lot (RED DESERT might have made this list a few years ago) but he isn’t someone precious to me.

        Spew anytime! 🙂 Always nice to get comments and feedback!

  6. What an interesting list. Some of these films I’ve saw and they are truly masterpieces.

  7. I’ve seen 61 of your favorites. Thanks for posting this list!

  8. JC said

    I went looking for the Top 100 Film Noir list on the filmspotting forum and was unsuccessful. Could you post a link or possibly put the list up on your site?

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