The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen

Taxi Driver

Long ago, I’ve been obsessed with making lists and memorizing them, whether it be knowing the capitals of every country in the world in first grade, or the name of every damn Best Picture Oscar winner in high school, I was nutty for lists. I don’t know why it is. I just love a good list. In my recent turn as a cinephile, I’ve come to appreciate a great many bloggers, film critics and historians, and artists, mostly by coming across their lists for greatest films ever. These lists have become my source for what films to go see in my annual movie list. Lists like the Sight and Sound Top 250 or the 1001 Movies You Need to See Before You Die or the AFI Top 100 American films are just the basic bread and butter of all beginner cinephiles, I think. But sprinkle in there lists by specific bloggers, like my personal favorites Nathaniel Rogers and Nick Davis, professional film critics I admire, like Guy Lodge or Mike d’Angelo and of course Roger Ebert, and then by random searches for Greatest (Insert region) films ever, and you get a wide range of films that will take years to find and tackle. So what’s a cinephile to do? Well start digging in.

This year, I’ve reached a personal milestone: I’ve watched 1,500 movies in my lifetime (according to my handy dandy letterboxd). A small fraction compared to my favorite people’s film count, but an accomplishment to myself nevertheless. And back when I was still reading through all of these Greatest-film lists and dreaming of just watching all these films, I’ve long made a promise to myself that I will make my own Greatest Movie List and put it out there.

Sherlock Jr. - 11

Making a list of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen proved challenging. How on earth do I narrow down a list of some 190 films that I think are the absolutely best movies in history to just 100? What criteria do I set to compare one movie to another, especially when I think they’re both impressive? Most importantly, what do I want this film list to represent? I imagine many people who’ve done such an impossible task  have come across the same questions I had. Nonetheless, I want this list to represent me and my thoughts and my personal taste. When I finished the list, I was surprised by just how much the films I chose reflect my preoccupations, my worldview, and ultimately my life. Such is the nature of the beast.

Anyway, I’m going to be emulating my favorite film blogger’s method of disseminating his best-of list: by writing just 100 words about what I love about the movie and why I think it deserves to be on this list. But unlike Nick Davis, I want to add on similar films that my finalist reminds me of and that are worth watching.

Without further ado, my picks for the 100 Greatest Movies Ever:

100. Raise the Red LanternZhang Yimou (1991)

99. Irma VepOlivier Assayas (1996)

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

97. The Terrorizers, Edward Yang (1986)

96. BreathlessJean-Luc Godard (1960)

95. SopyonjeIm Kwon-Taek (1993)

94. Talk to HerPedro Almodovar (2002)

93. HolidayGeorge Cukor (1938)

92. The Docks of New YorkJosef von Sternberg (1928)

91. InsiangLino Brocka (1976)

breathless

90. The Red Shoes, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (1948)

89. Gun Crazy, Joseph H. Lewis (1950)

88. There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson (2007)

87. The Housemaid, Kim Ki-young (1960)

86. Killer of SheepCharles Burnett (1978)

85. The Thin Blue LineErrol Morris (1988)

84. Yi YiEdward Yang (2000)

83. A Star is BornGeorge Cukor (1954)

82. Rear WindowAlfred Hitchcock (1954)

81. Hiroshima mon Amour, Alain Resnais (1959)

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80. Rome, Open CityRoberto Rossellini (1945)

79. A City of SadnessHou Hsiao Hsien (1989)

78. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Michel Gondry (2004)

77. Castle in the Sky, Hayao Miyazaki (1986)

76. The Battle of AlgiersGillo Pontecorvo (1966)

75. Stop Making Sense, Jonathan Demme (1984)

74. The Big CitySatyajit Ray (1963)

73. CarolTodd Haynes (2015)

72. The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola (1972)

71. White MaterialClaire Denis (2009)

Carol

70. The Ballad of NarayamaShohei Imamura (1983)

69. The AscentLarisa Shepitko (1977)

68. ViridianaLuis Bunuel (1961)

67. City LightsCharlie Chaplin (1931)

66. The Wages of FearHenri-Georges Clouzot (1953)

65. The Third ManCarol Reed (1949)

64. HyenasDjibril Diop Mambety (1994)

63. The Lady EvePreston Sturges (1941)

62. Dog Day AfternoonSidney Lumet (1975)

61. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick (1968)

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60. Sherlock, Jr., Buster Keaton (1924)

59. Chinatown, Roman Polanski (1974)

58. Close-UpAbbas Kiarostami (1990)

57. My Darling ClementineJohn Ford (1946)

56. DodsworthWilliam Wyler (1936)

55. ShoahClaude Lanzmann (1985)

54. Daisy KenyonOtto Preminger (1947)

53. SafeTodd Haynes (1995)

52. The Umbrellas of CherbourgJacques Demy (1964)

51. Bicycle ThievesVittorio de Sica (1948)

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50. ShameIngmar Bergman (1968)

49. Belle de Jour, Luis Bunuel (1967)

48. The Night of the HunterCharles Laughton (1955)

47. Oasis, Lee Chang-dong (2002)

46. Days of Heaven, Terrence Malick (1978)

45. Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles, Chantal Akerman (1975)

44. All About Eve, Joseph Mankiewicz (1950)

43. The Green Ray, Eric Rohmer (1986)

42. Taxi Driver, Martin Scorsese (1976)

41. The Earrings of Madame de…, Max Ophuls (1953)

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40. Brief Encounter, David Lean (1945)

39. Cries and Whispers, Ingmar Bergman (1972)

38. Floating Weeds, Yasujiro Ozu (1959)

37. Casablanca, Michael Curtiz (1942)

36. Bonnie and Clyde, Arthur Penn (1967)

35. Imitation of Life, Douglas Sirk (1959)

34. Crimes and Misdemeanors, Woody Allen (1989)

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

32. Sans Soleil, Chris Marker (1983)

31. The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum, Kenji Mizoguchi (1939)

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30. Le Samourai, Jean-Pierre Melville (1967)

29. Himala, Ishmael Bernal (1982)

28. The Conversation, Francis Ford Coppola (1974)

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

26. Out of the Past, Jacques Tourneur (1947)

25. Harakiri, Masaki Kobayashi (1962)

24. Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock (1960)

23. His Girl Friday, Howard Hawks (1940)

22. Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola (1979)

21. The Crowd, King Vidor (1928)

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20. High and Low, Akira Kurosawa (1963)

19. Citizen Kane, Orson Welles (1941)

18. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Luis Bunuel (1972)

17. Singin’ in the Rain, Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly (1952)

16. Sansho the Bailiff, Kenji Mizoguchi (1954)

15. Seven Chances, Buster Keaton (1925)

14. Only Angels Have Wings, Howard Hawks (1939)

13. Nashville, Robert Altman (1975)

12. La Dolce Vita, Frederico Fellini (1960)

11. Persona, Ingmar Bergman (1966)

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10. Rocco and His Brothers, Luchino Visconti (1960)

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

8. The Travelling Players, Theo Angelopoulos (1975)

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

6. The Passion of Joan of Arc, Carl Th. Dreyer (1928)

5. Diary of a Country Priest, Robert Bresson (1951)

4. A Brighter Summer Day, Edward Yang (1991)

3. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, F.W. Murnau (1927)

2. Mirror, Andrei Tarkovsky (1975)

1. In the Mood for Love, Wong Kar-wai (2000)

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