Monthly Archives: December 2013

The 100 Films Every Film Lover Should See, and Every Filmmaker Must See

This post came about in response to some horrid bucket list of film that everyone should see that was circulating on Facebook a few weeks back.  It was mostly commercial garbage.  And in many case movies that weren’t even worth wasting time on.

I felt the need to come up with a real list for film lovers and film makers.

I gave myself some initial rules: only one film per director, no animation (that’s a whole separate list), no films costing a hundred million dollars or more (no film needs to cost that much, it’s supposed to be a story, not a theme park amusement ride), nothing crazy obvious (Taxi Driver, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Godfather, Night of the Living Dead, something from the Coen Brothers – because if you haven’t seen those films, then you shouldn’t even be reading this).

The hardest was the first of those rules.  How to pick only one film from Hitchcock (and if my choice surprises you, it’s only because I’m surprised by how few people today have ever seen it), one from Chaplin, one from Woody Allen.  But the hardest was picking between Kurosawa’s Rashomon and The Seven Samurai.  The latter redefined a genre, while the former redefined story-telling.  You can probably guess my choice.

I tried to run the gamut from early silent masterpieces right up to a hauntingly beautiful masterpiece from 2012, with a little bit of everything in between.  The strongest year seemed to be 1962 with 5 titles on this list.  In second place was 1984 with 4.  And all of the films are easily available on DVD.

I’m not saying these are the greatest films ever made, and I’m sure there are some I’ve missed that really should be here.  I’m sure I’ll think of great alternatives 30 seconds after hitting “publish.”  But these are certainly all in contention.  And they will give you an amazing overview of the medium. They will allow you to understand what film can do, how a story can be told a hundred different ways, and how film is the greatest of all art forms.

These are films to me that made a difference, to the medium, to story-telling, to me.  They made me sit on the edge of my seat and go wow.  Sometimes I’d tear up not at anything sad, but by their sheer power and brilliance.

And if you’re a filmmaker, or you want to be a filmmaker, then you really should see these films, you should see as many films as you can, whenever you can.  You should be over-dosing on film, as if it were a drug.  You really should intimately know what came before you (pre-Tarantino, that is).

Here now, my bucket list of must-see films, in order of release:

1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

2. The Phantom Carriage (1921)

The Phantom Carriage (1921)

The Phantom Carriage (1921)

3. Greed (1924)

4. Sherlock Jr. (1924)

5. Battleship Potemkin (1925)

6. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

7. Pandora’s Box (1929)

Pandora's Box (1929)

Pandora’s Box (1929)

8. Un Chien Andalou (1929)

9. City Lights (1931)

10. M (1931)

11. Trouble in Paradise (1932)

12. Duck Soup (1933)

13. The Grand Illusion (1937)

14. Stagecoach (1939)

15. His Girl Friday (1940)

16. Sullivan’s Travels (1941)

17. Children of Paradise (1945)

18. Detour (1945)

19. Beauty and the Beast (1946)

20. Gilda (1946)

21. The Bicycle Thieves (1948)

22. The Third Man (1949)

23. Rashomon (1950)

Rashomon (1950)

Rashomon (1950)

24. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

25. High Noon (1952)

26. Singing in the Rain (1952)

27. Tokyo Story (1953)

28. Diabolique (1955)

29. Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

30. On the Bowery (1956)

On the Bowery (1956)

On the Bowery (1956)

31. The Seventh Seal (1957)

32. The Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

33. Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

34. Some Like It Hot (1959)

35. Breathless (1960)

36. Psycho (1960)

37. Last Year at Marienbad (1961)

38. Carnival Of Souls (1962)

Carnival of Souls (1962)

Carnival of Souls (1962)

39. Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962)

40. The Exterminating Angel (1962)

41. La Jetee (1962)

42. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

43. 8 ½ (1963)

44. A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

45. Dr. Strangelove (1964)

46. Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)

Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)

Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)

47. Blow Up (1966)

48. Salesman (1968)

49. Duel (1971)

50. The French Connection (1971)

51. Harold and Maude (1971)

52. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)

53. Beware of a Holy Whore (1972)

Beware of a Holy Whore (1972)

Beware of a Holy Whore (1972)

54. Last Tango in Paris (1972)

55. Day For Night (1973)

56. Nashville (1973)

57. The Conversation (1974)

58. A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

59. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

60. Network (1976)

61. My Dinner with Andre (1981)

62. Burden of Dreams (1982)

63. Zelig (1983)

64. Paris, Texas (1984)

Paris, Texas (1984)

Paris, Texas (1984)

65. Stop Making Sense (1984)

66. Stranger Than Paradise (1984)

67. This is Spinal Tap (1984)

68. Betty Blue (1986)

69. She’s Gotta Have It (1986)

70. The Decalogue (1988)

71. The Thin Blue Line (1988)

The Thin Blue Line (1988)

The Thin Blue Line (1988)

72. The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1989)

73. Roger and Me (1989)

74. Sex, Lies & Videotape (1989)

75. El Mariachi (1992)

76. Clerks (1994)

77. Exotica (1994)

78. Heavenly Creatures (1994)

79. Before Sunrise (1995)

80. Trainspotting (1996)

81. The Celebration (1998)

82. Happiness (1998)

83. Run Lola Run (1998)

84. Audition (1999)

85. The Girl on the Bridge (1999)

The Girl on the Bridge (1999)

The Girl on the Bridge (1999)

86. Battle Royale (2000)

87. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

88. Amelie (2001)

89. Mulholland Drive (2001)

90. Personal Velocity (2002)

91. Lost in Translation (2003)

92. Swimming Pool (2003)

93. The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)

The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)

The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)

94. Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)

95. Once (2006)

96. Let the Right One In (2008)

97. Dogtooth (2009)

98. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

99. Turn Me On, Dammit! (2011)

100. Starlet (2012)

Starlet (2012)

Starlet (2012)

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Filed under best films of all time, best movies, filmmaking