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"Film students should stay as far away from film schools and film teachers as possible. The only school for the cinema is the cinema."

Bernardo Bertolucci

"We all steal, but if we're smart we steal from great directors. Then, we can call it influence."

Krzysztof Kieslowski

"I'm often asked by younger filmmakers, why do I need to look at old movies -- And the response I find that I have to give them is that I still consider myself a student. The more pictures I've made in the past twenty years the more I realize I really don't know. And I'm always looking for something to, something or someone that I could learn from. I tell them, I tell the younger filmmakers and the young students that I do it like painters used to do, or painters do: study the old masters, enrich your palette, expand your canvas. There's always so much more to learn."

Martin Scorsese

Judging criteria for the selection process of the list included:

  • Feature-Length Fiction Films - narrative format typically over 60 minutes in length, theatrical released in at least three different countries, and has had an European DVD-release (with English subtitles).
  • Influence on other Filmmakers - Films that directors often cite as influence or a source for inspiration.
  • Historical Significance - a film's mark on the history of the moving image through technical innovation, visionary narrative devices or other groundbreaking achievements.
  • Films From All Around the World - Although American films dominate the list, it includes movies from all around the world.
  • Not Forgotten - No matter what year the films are from, they are still talked about regularly.
  • Nothing Personal - This list has nothing to do with my personal taste. That's the whole point.

    Facts about this list:

  • The Most Celebrated Director - Stanley Kubrick has the most films on the list: seven!
  • The Most Celebrated Star - Robert De Niro and James Stewart appear in eight listed films, but Stewart is the star of each, while De Niro has only five leading roles (one of which earned him an Oscar), and three supporting roles (one of which earned him another Oscar). Harrison Ford appears in nine films, but in two of them very briefly.
  • The Most Celebrated Leading Lady - Surprise surprise: Diane Keaton has that title with four films, but only two leads. Faye Dunaway has three leading roles on the list
  • New Films and Revisions: The annual revision of the list, together with the selected films for 2021 (if there are any), will be online April 2022.

    The Kubrick films
    Paths of Glory (1957)
    Dr. Strangelove (1964)
    2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
    A Clockwork Orange (1971)
    Barry Lyndon (1975)
    The Shining (1980)
    Full Metal Jacket (1987)

    The Robert DeNiro films
    The Godfather Part II (1974)
    Taxi Driver (1976)
    The Deer Hunter (1978)
    Raging Bull (1980)
    Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
    Goodfellas (1990)
    Heat (1995)
    Joker (2019)
    The James Stewart films
    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (39)
    The Philadelphia Story (1940)
    The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
    It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
    The Naked Spur (1953)
    Rear Window (1954)
    Vertigo (1958)
    Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (62)

    The Diane Keaton films
    The Godfather (1972)
    The Godfather Part II (1974)
    Annie Hall (1977)
    Manhattan (1979)
    The Faye Dunaway films
    Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
    Chinatown (1974)
    Network (1976)

    The 2020 Films
    Another Round (Thomas Vinterberg / Denmark)
    Nomadland (Cloe Zhao)

    August 7 2021:
    Added: Another Round (2020), Nomadland (2020)
    Deleted: Being There (1979), The White Ribbon (2009)

    May 14 2021:
    Added: King Kong (1933), Badlands (1973)
    Deleted: The Night of the Living Dead (1968), Nomadland (2020)

    May 11 2021:
    Added: Black Narcissus (1947), East of Eden (1955), Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
    Deleted: Giant (1956), Roma (2018), Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

    April 9 2021: Annual Revision
    Added: The Big Sleep (1946), In a Lonely Place (1950), The Naked Spur (1953), Rififi (1955), Written on the Wind (1956), Jules & Jim (1962), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Vivre sa vie (1962), The Dirty Dozen (1967), Being There (1979), The Fly (1986), Dead Poets Society (1989), Thelma & Louise (1991), Braveheart (1995), The Sixth Sense (1999), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Nomadland (2020)

    Deleted: The Birth of a Nation (1915), Great Expectations (1946), Black Narcissus (1947), Forbidden Games (1952), East of Eden (1955), Imitation of Life (1959), Ivan's Childhood (1962), What Ever Happened to Baby Jane (1962), Hud (1963), A Man for All Seasons (1966), Harold and Maude (1971), Aguirre, Der Zorn Gottes (1972), Solaris (1972), Carrie (1976), La cage aux folles (1978), Days of Heaven (1978), Brazil (1985), The Big Lebowski (1998)