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2020's 2010's 2000's 1990's 1980's 1970's 1960's 1950's 1940's 1930's 1920's

"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 appears in eight listed films: five leading roles (one of which earned him an Oscar), and three supporting roles (one of which earned him another Oscar).
  • The Most Celebrated Leading Lady - Surprise surprise: There is a tie between Diane Keaton and Ellen Burstyn, both with four films: two leads and two supporting roles. Film divas Faye Dunaway and Audrey Hepburn both have three leading roles on the list
  • New Films and Revisions: The annual revision of the list, together with the selected films for 2022 (if there are any), will be online April 2023.

    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 Diane Keaton films
    The Godfather (1972)
    The Godfather Part II (1974)
    Annie Hall (1977)
    Manhattan (1979)
    The Ellen Burstyn films
    The Last Picture Show (1971)
    The Exorcist (1973)
    Requiem for a Dream (2000)
    Interstellar (2014)

    The Faye Dunaway films
    Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
    Chinatown (1974)
    Network (1976)
    The Audrey Hepburn films
    Roman Holiday (1953)
    Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
    Charade (1963)

    The 2021 Films
    Dune (Denis Villeneuve)
    Nomadland (Chloe Zhao)

    This list will never be finished. What is considered a classic now might not be considered a classic tomorrow (Brian De Palma earned a Razzy nomination as Worst Director for Scarface). Since I want this list to reflect the classics today (instead of being a relic of ages past), regular updates are inevitable and infinite.

    December 7 2022:
    Added: Throne of Blood (1961), Don't Look Now (1973), Beau Travail (2000), Moonlight (2016)
    Deleted: L'Atalante (1934), A Man Escaped (1957), Viridiana (1962), Contempt (1964)

    November 15 2022:
    Added: The Lives of Others (2005), Gone Girl (2014)
    Deleted: Another Round (2020), Drive My Car (2021)

    October 12 2022:
    Added: Another Round (2020), Nomadland (2020), Promising Young Woman (2020)
    Deleted: Y tu mama tambien (2001), The White Ribbon (2009), The Worst Person in the World (2021)

    May 16 2022:
    Added: Charade (1963)
    Deleted: Ace in the Hole (1951)

    May 13 2022:
    Added: The Crowd (1928), The Lady Eve (1941), Ace in the Hole (1951), Umberto D. (1956), Jules & Jim (1962), The Truman Show (1998)
    Deleted: Hud (1963), The Odd Couple (1968), Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), The Power of the Dog (2021), Spider-Man: No Way Home (2018)

    April 25 2022:
    Added: The Elephant Man (1980), The Power of the Dog (2021)
    Deleted: MASH (1970), Nomadland (2021)

    April 3 2022: Annual Revision
    Added: Imitation of Life (1959), Hud (1963), Ivan's Childhood (1963), Night of the Living Death (1968), The Odd Couple (1968), M*A*S*H (1970), Solaris (1976), Amadeus (1984), Nostalgia (1984), Jean de Florette (1987), Grave of the Fireflies (1989), Groundhog Day (1993), Leon: The Professional (1994), Princess Mononoke (1999), Memories of Murder (2005), The White Ribbon (2009), The Intouchables (2012), Drive My Car (2021), Dune (2021), Nomadland (2021), Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), The Worst Peron in the World (2021)

    Deleted: The Crowd (1928), A nous la liberte (1931), The Lady Eve (1941), Black Narcissus (1947), In a Lonely Place (1950), Ace in the Hole (1951), The Naked Spur (1953), Umberto D. (1956), Written on the Wind (1956), Rocco and His Brothers (1961), Jules & Jim (1962), Vivre sa vie (1963), Faces (1968), Z (1969), Murmur of the Heart (1972), Being There (1979), Witness (1985), The Lives of Others (2006), Drive (2011), Boyhood (2014), Moonlight (2016), The Shape of Water (2017)

    January 14 2022:
    Added: Halloween (1978)
    Deleted: Nomadland (2020)

    January 11 2022:
    Added: Being There (1979)
    Deleted: Strangers on a Train (1951)

    December 21 2021:
    Added: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
    Deleted: Another Round (2021)

    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)