FTS Faculty Top Films List

102 Top Films

The films listed below have been selected by the Film and Television Studies (FTS) professors for each major to watch by the time they graduate.

Each film is representative of a movement or a director that had a lasting impact on the field of film and television. This list is just the begining--we encourage you to see far more than one film in these designed areas. Each film on the list is of equal importance (the first being as important as the 100th).


1. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941, DVD 1342)

Citizen Kane cover artThis film follows an ambitious poitician whose pursuit of power slowly corrupts him over the course of his career. Citizen Kane is often considered the greatest film of all time and is known for its strong narrative style, music, and innovative cinematography.


Length: 119 minutes (1 hour and 59 minutes)

Country: United States of America

2. Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925, DVD 5161)

This silent film explores a dramatized version of a mutiny that took place in 1905 on board a Russian battleship. Despite being banned in several countries, Batteship Potemkin was named the greatest film of all time at the Brussles World's Fair in 1958.

Length: 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes)

Country: Soviet Union

3. Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953, DVD 3386)

This Japanese drama uncovers the family dynamics of an older couple who travel to visit their grown children in Tokyo. The film was originally considered "too Japanese" to be marketable, but later received great praise from film critics around the world.

Length: 136 minutes (2 hours and 16 minutes)

Country: Japan


4. Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio de Sica, 1948, DVD 684)

This film takes place post-World War II and follows a poor father searching Rome for his stolen bicycle. With no way of getting to work unless he finds it, much is at stake for him and his young family. This film is widely regarded as a masterpiece of Italian neorealism.

Length: 93 minutes (1 hour and 33 minutes)

Country: Italy

5. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly, 1951, DVD 1834)

Singing in the Rain is an American musical-romantic comedy that takes place during the 1920s. This playful portrayal of Hollywood during the transition from silent films to "talkies" has gained recognition over the years. It is now considered considered one of the best movie musicals ever made and the fifth-greatest film of all time.

Length: 103 minutes (1 hour and 43 minutes)

Country: United States of America

6. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974, DVD 2028)

This film follows the life of a surveillance expert and explores the moral dilemmas he faces when a potential murder is recorded. Released shortly after Richard Nixon resigned from the Presidency, many viewers felt the movie was a commentary on Watergate, although this was never confirmed.

Length: 113 minutes (1 hour and 53 minutes)

Country: United States of America

7. Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961, DVD 732)

This film is known for its mysterious nature and complex dreamlike structure. The characters are unnamed, the narration is crafted in a puzzling manor, and several ambiguous flashbacks challenge and disorient the audience. Many consider the work to be a masterpiece while others find it hard to follow.

Length: 94 minutes (1 hour and 34 minutes)

Country: France and Italy

8. Do The Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989, DVD 174)

This comedy-drama was directed, produced, written, and performed by Spike Lee (who plays the role of Mookie). It explores the racial tensions of a Brooklyn neighborhood and what happens when they reach a boiling point on the hottest day of summer. The film received a great deal of recognition and awards; in 1999 the Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”

Length: 120 minutes (2 hours)

Country: United States of America

9. Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954, DVD 6)

The story of Seven Samurai is set in 1586 during the Sengoku Period of Japan, and follows a village of farmers who hire seven ronin, or masterless samurai, to defend their crops from bandits. This historical epic is considered by critics to be a technical and creative milestone in the field of film and Japanese cinema.

Length: 207 minutes (3 hours and 27 minutes)

Country: Japan

10. Cleo from 5 to 7 (Angès Varda, 1962, DVD 763)

This film looks at two hours in the day of a young woman as she awaits the results of a cancer test. The plot line follows her reaction and explores themes of existentialism, mortality, despair, and how to lead a meaningful life. Cleo is also notable for engaging with issues surrounding French society and feminism.

Length: 90 minutes (1 hour and 30 minutes)

Country: France and Italy

11. Time (Ki-Duk Kim, 2006)

This film follows the relationship of Seh-hee and Ji-woo, a young couple of two years who struggle with jealousy and doubt. Seeking peace of mind See-hee takes drastic action and invasive plastic surgery to save her relationship. Critics call this haunting film “a tale of love and plastic surgery” that “is both wryly comic and disturbing.”

Length: 97 minutes (1 hour and 37 minutes)

Country: South Korea and Japan

12. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931, DVD 5690)

This pre-Code silent romantic comedy follows the misadventures of Tramp, one of Charlie Chaplin’s most memorable on-screen characters, as he falls in love with a blind woman and befriends an unstable millionaire with a drinking problem. Many critics consider this the highlight of Chaplin’s cinematic career.

Length: 87 minutes (1 hour and 37 minutes)

Country: United States of America

13. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958, DVD 3047)

Based on the novel D’entre les morts (From Among the Dead), this American noir/psychological thriller follows a retired police detective with a severe phobia of heights as he attempts to investigate the life of a mysterious woman. This film pioneered the dolly zoom effect, an in-camera technique that distorts perspective, and was named the greatest film of all time by  the Sight and Sound critics' poll in 2012.

Length: 128 minutes (2 hours and 8 minutes)

Country: United States of America

14. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956, DVD 4622)

The Searchers, set during the Texas-Indian wars (1820-1875), is based on a 1954 novel of the same name by Alan Le May. The film follows Civil War veteran Ethan as he searches for his abducted niece with the help of his adopted nephew. The film was named the greatest American western by the American Film institute.

Length: 119 minutes (1 hour and 59 minutes)
Country: United States of America

15. A Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997, DVD 692)

This minimalist film is about a man planning to commit suicide. Over the course of the film, he drives throughout a city suburb looking for someone who can bury him after he commits the deadly act. The film touches on many themes of religion, existentialism, life, and death. It was awarded the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival the same year of its debut.

Length: 95 minutes (1 hour and 35 minutes)
Country: Iran

16. Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929, DVD 722)

This experimental silent film highlights the urban life of four major cities in the Soviet Union. There are no actors; the “characters” are arguably the camera man, the film editor, and the nation captured on film. This movie is famous for the cinematic techniques used such as split screen, slow motion, and Dutch angles--to name a few.

Length: 68 minutes (1 hour and 8 minutes)
Country: Soviet Union

17 Contempt (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963, DVD 2225)

This drama is based on the Italian novel Il disprezzo by Alberto Moravia, and follows a producer who is creating a film adaptation of Homer’s epic Odyssey. Conflict arises on set between the director’s artistic expression and the playwright’s commercial goals. This film was celebrated by critics and has been called "the greatest work of art produced in postwar Europe."

Length: 101 minutes (1 hour and 41 minutes)
Country: France and Italy

18. Nanook of the North (Robert Flaherty, 1922, DVD 325)

This silent film is a documentary that captures the life and struggles of Inuk man Nanook and his family, who live in the Canadian Artic. Later, this film would be cited as one of the best examples of salvage ethnography, where film makers record practices and folklore of cultures that are threatened with extinction or modernization.

Length: 79 minutes (1 hour and 19 minutes)
Country: United States

19. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Dreyer, 1927, DVD 38)

This silent film is based on the life of Joan of Arc and her recorded trial. Thanks to its unique and engaging production, the film is considered a cinematic landmark. The cinematography is known for a radical emphasis on facial features and close ups, which were highly unconventional at the time.

Length: 110 minutes (1 hour and 50 minutes)
Country: France

20. L’Avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960, DVD 1596)

Originating as a story by the director, L'Avventura is about a young woman’s disappearance during a boating trip in the Mediterranean sea. Her lover and best friend search for her, all the while  unintentionally becoming attracted to one another. This film is known for its unusual narrative structure and visual composition.

Length: 143 minutes (2 hours and 23 minutes)
Country: Italy

21. To Be Or Not To Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942, DVD 8663)

This dark comedy follows a troupe of actors in Nazi-occupied Warsaw who use their skills in disguise and acting to fool the occupying troops, with the title a reference to the famous soliloquy from Hamlet. To Be or Not To Be is considered one of the best films of both its director and two stars (Jack Benny and Carole Lombard), and was considered controversial at the time of its release. Infamously, the film was released two months after Lombard was killed in a plane crash.

Length: 99 minutes (1 hour and 39 minutes)
Country: United States of America

22. Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964, DVD 1522)

Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, commonly known as Dr. Strangelove, is a cult classic political satire. This black comedy takes place during the Cold War, as American politicians and a Royal Air Force officer attempt to recall a rouge attack on the Soviet Union and prevent nuclear war. It was selected by the Library of Congress to be one of the first films perserved in the National Film Registry in 1989.

Length: 94 minutes (1 hour and 34 minutes)
Country: United Kingdom and the United States of America

23. Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1961, DVD 5333)

Loosely inspired by a newspaper article about the murder of a motorcycle cop, Breathless follows a meandering criminal and his American girlfriend whose crime spree take a sudden turn when they kill a police officer. This film is one of the earliest and most influential examples of French New Wave cinema.


Length: 87 minutes (1 hour and 27 minutes)
Country: France

24. Night and Fog (Alain Resnais, 1955, DVD 1802)

This short documentary was made ten years after the liberation of Nazi concentration camps. The title is derived from the notorious program that began in December 1941 where members of the resistance were quietly abducted, imprisoned, or killed. Night and Fog investigates the conditions of the concentration camps, often juxtaposing the past and present.


Length: 32 minutes
Country: France

25. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1948, DVD 4498)

Double Indemnity is a film noir that was based on a novella of the same name by James M. Cain. The film is told primarily in flashbacks about an unhappily married couple. In hopes to better her situation, the wife plans to take advantage of double indemnity, a clause in some life insurance policies where an unexpected death results in a large settlement. It is viewed as a highly influential example of noir, creating a paradigm for future works in the genre.


Length: 107 minutes (1 hour and 47 minutes)
Country: United States of America

26. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960, DVD 931)

Pyscho set a new standard for violence, sexuality, and deviant behavior in American cinema and is widely considered the first example of the slasher film genre. Hitchcock often struggled with the board of Production Code over risky scenes, including both the infamous shower scene and the first ever toilet flush in mainstream U.S. media. The box-office hit eventually received critical acclaim and is considered one of Hitchcock’s best films. 

Length: 109 minutes (1 hour and 49 minutes)
Country: United States of America

27. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974, DVD 2221)

This film centers on the story of an unlikely relationship between an elderly woman and a Moroccan migrant worker during post-war Germany. Ali was originally planned as an exercise for the filmmaker, with shooting completed in under two weeks. Despite these humble beginnings, the film received incredible praise, including several awards for its acclaimed performances and radical exploration of romance, age, and immigration.

Length: 93 minutes (1 hour and 33 minutes)
Country: West Germany

28. The General (Buster Keaton, 1927, DVD 924)

This silent comedy was inspired by the Great Locomotive Chase, a true story of a military raid that happened during the American Civil War. Buster Keaton directed, produced, wrote, and starred in The General. The film was originally met with poor reviews and mediocre box office return, significantly impacting Keaton’s career. Later audiences and critics would agree The General is a major classic of the silent era.

Length: 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes)
Country: United States

29. All That Heaven Allows (Douglas Sirk, 1955, DVD 1587)

This romantic drama follows an affluent widow from the suburbs of New England and her young landscape designer as they fall in love. The film explores the social dynamics and conventions that pressure the two as their relationship grows. All That Heaven Allows has received positives reviews since its release and was later selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1995.

Length: 89 minutes (1 hour and 29 minutes)
Country: United States of America

30. Fitzcarraldo (Werner Herzog, 1982, DVD 1064)

This adventure-drama follows the main character Carlos Fitzcarraldo, a rubber baron determined to haul his steamship over a steep hill in order to access rich rubber territory in the Amazon Basin. Notably, director was accused of exploiting indigenous people during the making of his film, paralleling the main characters' exploitation of goods. A band of local Aguaruna men burned down the film set in 1979 as retaliation.

Length: 157 minutes (2 hours and 37 minutes)
Country: West Germany

31. The Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir, 1939, DVD 3351)

Taking place just before the start of World War II, Rules of the Game showcases members of  upper-class society in a thoughtful “comedy of manners.” The film depicts the callousness with which the characters treat one another and their servants. Rules was a box-office flop and, with an eccentric budget of 2.5 million, a huge financial lost. The French government banned the film in 1939 for “having an undesirable influence over the young,” before it was later recognized as one of the greatest films in the history of cinema.

Length: 110 minutes (1 hour and 50 minutes)
Country: France

32. Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927, DVD 3752)

This silent film is an expressionist epic set in a futuristic dystopia. We follow the story of Freder, the privileged son of the city’s ruler, and Maria, a poor worker,  as they attempt to navigate the class divide of Metropolis. The first feature-length film of the genre, Metropolis is considered a pioneer for science-fiction movies. It is also known for a series of complex special effects and artistic direction influenced by Bauhaus, Cubist and Futurist design.

Length: 153 minutes (2 hours and 33 minutes)
Country: Germany

33. The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949, DVD 563)

This film noir takes place during post-World-War-II Vienna and follows the story of an American who moves to the city for work. Once he arrives, however, he finds himself investigating the suspicious death of a friend. The Third Man is famous for its application of expressionist cinematography and strong camera techniques, such as Dutch angles, harsh lighting, and an atmospheric use of black and white. The film is also celebrated for its iconic theme music and acclaimed performances.

Length: 108 minutes (1 hour and 48 minutes)
Country: United Kingdom

34. The Five Obstructions (Lars Von Trier, 2004, DVD 2847)

The Five Obstructions is a documentary that integrates several lengthy sections of experimental film by the filmmakers. Director Lars von Tier challenges his friend, mentor, and co-director Jorgen Leth to remake Leth's film The Perfect Human five different ways with five different obstacles. The film received high praise from both critics and audiences alike.

Length: 90 minutes (1 hour and 30 minutes)
Country: Denmark

35. Sunrise (F. W. Murnau, 1927, DVD 5444)

Sunrise (also known as Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans) is a silent romantic drama that follows the story of a man who is considering an affair. Murnau opted to use the then-revolutionary Fox Movie tone sound-on-film system, making Sunrise one of the first feature films with both a sound effects soundtrack and a synchronized musical score. Sunrise received a great deal of praise upon its release and is considered to be the greatest film of the silent era.

Length: 95 minutes (1 hour and 35 minutes)
Country: United States

36. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958, DVD 1344)

This film is one of the last examples of film noir in the genre’s classic era (from early 1940s to the late 1950s). Whit Masterson loosely based this noir crime drama on the novel Badge of Evil. The premise of the film revolves around the investigation of a bomb that exploded just outside the Mexican border. Orson Welles wrote, directed, and co-starred in the Touch of Evil, now considered to be one of Welles’ best films.

Length: 95 minutes (1 hour and 35 minutes)
Country: United States

37. Code Unknown (Michael Haneke, 2000, DVD 4810)

Code Unknown (also known as Code Unknown: Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys) is mainly set in Paris, France, where the storylines of several different characters intersect. One event acts as a catalyst and sets into motion a shift in each character's fate. The film is known for its long, unedited shots filmed in real time, which were only ended when switching to another character's point of view.

Length: 117 minutes (1 hour and 57 minutes)
Country: France, Germany, Romania

38. Sans Soleil (Chris Marker, 1983, DVD 5143)

Sans Soleil is a documentary that explores how the understanding of history is tainted by an imperfect human memory. The film is set across many parts of the world, including Cape Verde, Iceland, Paris, and San Francisco, and is considered an essay-film. The director uses sequences and clips from other films.

Length: 100 minutes (1 hour and 40 minutes)
Country: France

39. Ugetsu (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953, DVD 4696)

This romantic fantasy film is based on a book of the same name that explores. It is a period drama that explores the forbidden. It won the Silver Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival in 1953. It is widely considered to have popularized Japanese cinema in the West.

Length: 94 minutes (1 hour and 34 minutes)
Country: Japanese

40. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990, DVD 3225)

Goodfellas, widely-regarded as the greatest crime film ever made, tells the story of mob associate Henry Hill from 1955 to 1980. Director Martin Scorsese wrote a script largely based on the actor’s improvisation in initial rehearsals. It was nominated for six Academy Awards. Since 2000, it has been a part of the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for its importance “culturally, historically and aesthetically.”

Length: 145 minutes (2 hours and 25 minutes)
Country: United States

41. Fargo (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1996, DVD 611)

Fargo is a Coen Brothers’ film that won two Academy award in 1996. It is a black comedy-crime film about a pregnant police chief kidnapped by order of her husband in order to extort money from her wealthy father. The fictional film was based on a true story that occurred in 1987 in Minnesota.

Length: 98 minutes (1 hour and 98 minutes)
Country: United States

42. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001, DVD 1534)

Given the tagline: “A love story in the city of dreams," by its director David Lynch, this neo-noir mystery tells the story of an amnesic woman in Los Angeles who is helped by an aspiring actress, later revealed to be her existential parallel and lover. This psychological thriller is known for the large space it leaves up for interpretation.

Length: 146 minutes (2 hours and 26 minutes)
Country: United States

43. The Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1974, DVD 1310)

This film, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, is a nonlinear narrative told through the eyes of a dying poet. The movie is partially autobiographical; following the story of a life, the film depicts Russia throughout the twentieth century. 

Length: 106 minutes (1 hour and 46 minutes)
Country: Soviet Union

44. Ashes of Time (Wong Kar-Wai, 1994, DVD 778)

This film was written as a prequel of the novel The Legend of Condor Heroes. It turns the most hated characters into protagonists. The film won awards for best cinematography and best art direction at the Hong Kong film awards in 1995.

Length: 100 minutes  (1 hour and 40 minutes)
Country: China

45. Olympia (Leni Riefenstahl, 1938, DVD 6287)

Olympia is the first documentary of the Olympic games, shot in 1936 at Olympic Stadium and released in 1938. The film was known for its groundbreaking motion pictures techniques. Because of the political context, the film remains controversial.

Length: 226 minutes (3 hours and 46 minutes)
Country: Germany

46. Bamboozled (Spike Lee, 2000, DVD 1127)

This satirical cartoon directed by Spike Lee is about a modern minstrel show that includes black actors with blackface makeup. The movie starred many well-known black actors, and at the time was considered a blockbuster bomb. The film has since been reviewed as a film that critiques  and reclaims the film industry’s portrayal of black folks and images.

Length: 135 minutes (2 hours and 15 minutes)
Country: United States

47. Band of Outsiders (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964, DVD 1743)

In this film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, three people commit a robbery. It is light-hearted and widely considered to be Godard’s most accessible film. It is part of the New Wave French films of the 50’s and 60’s. The film has a dance scene that has become a cultural reference, and influenced future films such as Pulp Fiction in 1994.

Length: 97 minutes (1 hour and 37 minutes)
Country: France

48. L’Atalante (Jean Vigo, 1934, DVD 1981)

First released in 1934, this film tells the story of newlyweds living on a barge with two members of the crew. It did not receive its status until 1940. It is often referred to as the greatest film of all time.

Length: 89 minutes (1 hour and 29 minutes)
Country: France

49. The Godfather, Part I (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972, DVD 1155)

This American crime film, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, tells the story of a mafia family over the decade. It was the highest-grossing film ever and received Oscars for best picture, best actor, and best supporting actor, best director and best screenplay.

Length: 177 minutes (2 hours and 57 minutes)
Country: United States

50. Chocolat (Claire Denis, 2000, DVD 4467)

Chocolat tells the story of a mother who opens a small chocolate shop in a French village and has a huge impact on the community. The mother meets and becomes romantically intertwined with an outsider, creating a dramatic rift between her and the town. It was nominated for five Academy Awards in 2001 and won many Golden Globe Awards.

Length: 121 minutes (2 hours and 1 minute)
Country: United States/United Kingdom

51. Sleeping Beauty (Clyde Geronimi, 1959, DVD 2569)

52. Holy Smoke (Jane Campion, 2000, DVD 1233)

This film, directed by Jane Campion, examines sexual taboos as a woman is seduced by her exit counselor only to turn the tables on him, breaking through his macho persona. Critics have called it a “feminist parable” of empowered female sexuality. Campion was the second woman to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director.

Length: 155 minutes (2 hours and 35 minutes)
Country: Australia

53. Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966, DVD 2763)

Based on events that occurred during the Italian-Algerian war in the 50s and 60s, this film was shot in newsreel style and edited like a documentary. It is considered an important comment on urban guerilla warfare. 

Length: 120 minutes (2 hours)
Country: Italy/Algeria

54. Talk to Her (Pedro Almodovar, 2002, DVD 1829)

Two men form a friendship while they care for their wives, who are both in comas. The film explores loneliness, love and communication. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 2002.

Length: 112 minutes (1 hour 52 minutes)
Country: Spain

55. What Time Is It There? (Ming-liang Tsai, 2001, DVD 4806)

This film tells the story of two parallel lives: one, a street vendor whose father has recently died, and the other, a woman whom he meets briefly and travels to Paris. It won many awards worldwide including the Chicago Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, Best Director, and Best Cinematography. 

Length: 116 minutes (1 hour and 56 minutes)
Country: Taiwan

56. The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970, DVD 5437)

57. Seven Beauties (Lina Wertmuller, 1975, DVD 4550)

This Academy and Golden Globe nominated film tells the story of an Italian army runaway who is captured and sent to a prison camp by Germans. The protagonist is slowly revealed through various flashbacks he has at the camp. The film was directed by Lina Wertmuller who became the first woman to be nominated for an Academy Award.

Length: 115 minutes (1 hour and 55 minutes)
Country: Italy

58. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940, DVD 248)

This 1940 comedy tells the story of an editor’s attempt to sabotage his ex-wife and star reporter’s marriage. It is often considered to be one of the funniest movies ever made.

Length: 92 minutes (1 hour and 32 minutes)
Country: United States

59. Le Samourai (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967, DVD 4572)

This film is known for its worldwide influence on many other future films. It tells the story of a contract killer who is caught in an investigation. It is considered a cult classic.

Length: 105 minutes (1 hour and 45 minutes)
Country: France/Italy

60. 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963, DVD 1601)

8 ½ is a surrealist, semi-autobiographical film by filmmaker Federico Fellini. Its contemporary critics acclaimed it as a cinematic parallel to James Joyce’s Ulysses. It was screened at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival, won multiple Academy Awards and awards at the Cannes Film Festival. 

Length: 138 minutes (2 hours and 18 minutes)
Country: Italy/France

61. Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962, DVD 2105)

This historical drama is based of the life of a 20th century British archeologist, T.E. Lawrence. It was nominated for ten Oscars and won seven, including best picture. It is widely considered to be one of the most influential films in history.

Length: 222 minutes (3 hours and 42 minutes)
Country: United Kingdom/United States

62. Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980, DVD 475)

This American biographical sports drama stars Robert DeNiro as the Italian-American boxer, Jake LaMotta. At the time of its release in 1980, it received many mixed reviews but is now considered one of the best films ever made.

Length: 129 minutes (2 hours and 9 minutes)
Country: United States

63. Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1958, DVD 1684)

Rashomon is a 1950 Japanese period film based off the short story “In the Grove.” It is known for its plot device of illustrating various versions of the same event in order to understand the story through multiple perspectives. It won several awards at award ceremonies across the globe.

Length: 88 minutes (1 hour and 22 minutes)
Country: Japan

64. It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934, DVD 1854)

This 1934 romantic comedy is often considered one of the first romantic comedies. It was the first movie to win all five major Academy Awards and sits in preservation at the United States National Film Registry.

Length: 105 minutes (1 hour and 45 minutes)
Country: United States

65. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975, DVD 6717)

Deemed by the New York Times to be the “first masterpiece of the feminine in the history of cinema,” this film premiered at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival. It is often understood as the most accurate depiction of European woman at that time. 

Length: 201 minutes (3 hours and 21 minutes)
Country: Belgium/France

66. Ten (Abbas Kiarostami, 2002, DVD 3837)

This American romantic comedy made Dudley Moore and Bo Derek famous. It depicts the story of a man in love with a young women he has never met, leading him to a comedic chase into Mexico. It opened number one in the U.S. and became the top-grossing movie of 1979.

Length: 89 minutes (1 hour and 19 minutes)
Country: United States

67. The Gleaners and I (Agnes Varda, 2002, DVD 1448)

This 2000 French documentary examines the role of gleaners in the French countryside who subside on recycled and reused items. It was a part of the Cannes Film Festival in 2000 and won awards around the world.

Length: 82 minutes (1 hour and 22 minutes)
Country: France

68. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968, DVD 49)

This Stanley Kubrick film depicts a voyage to Jupiter after the discovery of a black monolith affecting human evolution. It examines existentialism, evolution, technology, and life in space. It was named the greatest film of all time by The Moving Arts Film Journal.

Length: 161 minutes (2 hours and 41 minutes)
Country: United States

69. Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979, DVD 40)

This science-fiction horror movie tells the story of aggressive extraterrestrials. It won academy awards for its visuals, direction and acting. It also gained wide commercial success with novels, comic books, video games and toys. 

Length: 117 minutes (1 hour and 57 minutes)
Country: United Kingdom/United States

70. Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999, DVD 1390)

This film is based off Herman Melville’s 1888 novella Billy Budd. It is set in Djiobouti and follows the lives of soldiers training in the French Foreign Legion. It is best known for its cinematography, screenplay, and opera-esque film score. Rolling Stone called Beau Travaille "unique and unforgettable," giving it the magazine’s highest rating.

Length: 90 minutes (1 hour and 30 minutes)
Country: France

71. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001, DVD 1773)

This Japanese animated film tells the story of a ten-year old who enters the spirit world. It became the most successful film in Japanese history and overtook Titanic to become the highest grossing film in Japanese history. The film went on to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

Length: 125 minutes (2 hours and 5 minutes)
Country: Japan

72. Memories of Underdevelopment (Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, 1968)

This Cuban film is based off the novel Inconsolable Memories by Edmundo Desnoes. The film was screened at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival as a part of a Cannes Classic segment of films. The major themes of the movie are alienation, underdeveloped countries, the Cuban revolution, and the bourgeoisie. The New York Times ranked this as on of the 10 best films of 1968.

Length: 96 minutes (1 hour and 36 minutes)
Country: Cuba

73. Still Life (Zhang Ke Jia, 2006)

This film tells the story of a caseworker that looks for the families of those found dead and alone. It is known for its representations of humanity, empathy, grace and solitude and won multiple awards around the world.

Length: 92 minutes (1 hour, 32 minutes)
Country: United Kingdom/Italy

74. Harlan County U.S.A. (Barbara Kopple, 1976)

This Oscar winning documentary tells the story of the Brookside coal miners strike. It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Length: 103 minutes (1 hour, 43 minutes)
Country: United States

75. Bowling for Columbine (Michale Moore, 2002, DVD 1526)

This documentary explores the causes of the mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999 and other incidents of gun violence. Michael Moore, the filmmaker, focuses on the background of the event. It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary.

Length: 119 minutes (1 hour and 59 minutes)
Country: United States

76. In a Year of Thirteen Moons (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1978, DVD 4588)

This film recounts the final days of transsexual women. She is beat up for trying to solicit a prostitute in a park and returns to an abusive lover while trying to come to terms with her sex change.

Length: 124 minutes (2 hours and 4 minutes)
Country: West Germany

77. Germany Year Zero (Roberto Rossellini, 1948, DVD 7234)

This is the final film in a neorealist war trilogy; it takes place German-occupied Rome when the Allies invaded Italy. It is known for its innovative cinematography.

Length: 78 minutes (1 hour and 18 minutes)
Country: Italy

78. Blowup (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966, DVD 2633)

This movie tells the story of a fashion photographer who catches a murder on film. It is part of a counterculture-era in American film and broke the Production Code at the time of its release in 1966.

Length: 111 minutes (1 hour and 51 minutes)
Country: United Kingdom, United States, and Italy

79. The Dante Quartet (Stan Brakhage, 1987, DVD 1984)

This Dante-inspired experimental short film took six years to produce and was created by painting images directly onto the film. Filmmaker Stan Brakhage read every English translation of the Divine Comedy.  It is divided in four parts

Length: 8 minutes
Country: English

80. The Thin Blue Line (Errol Morris, 1988, DVD 3848)

This documentary examines the story of a man, Randall Dale Adams, who is falsely convicted of murder and sentenced to death. After the film's release, Adams's case was reviewed and he was released from prison. The film is known as a cornerstone of political film of the 20th century.

Length: 103 minutes (1 hour and 43 minutes)
Country: United States

81. Black Girl (Ousmane Sembène, 1966, DVD 5349)

This movie chronicles the life of a young Senegalese woman who moves to France. The film provides parallel flashes of her current life in France and a previous life in Senegal. It is considered to be a sub-Saharan African film.

Length: 55 minutes
Country: France/Senegal


82. 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (Michael Haneke, 1994, DVD 5505)

This drama includes fragmented storylines that are in some way connected. It is the final movie in director Haneke’s trilogy.

Length: 96 minutes (1 hour and 36 minutes)
Country: Austria/Germany


83. Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959, DVD 1520)

This American western film is about a sheriff who arrests the brother of a   powerful rancher to aid his friend. It is widely considered to be a response to the film, High Noon, which was a critique of McCarthyism.

Length: 141 minutes (2 hours and 21 minutes)
Country: United States


84. Strike (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925, DVD 2816)

This silent film depicts a 1903 worker’s strike in pre-communist Russia. It infamously ends in a violent suppression of the strike crosscut with the slaughter of cattle.  It juxtaposes collectivism and individualism.

Length: 82 minutes (1 hour and 12 minutes)
Country: United States


85. The Insider (Michael Mann, 1999, DVD 256)

This drama is based on a magazine article chronicling tobacco industry whistleblower, Jeffrey Wigand during the 90’s.

Length: 157 minutes (2 hours and 37 minutes)
Country: United States


86. The Piano (Jane Campion, 1993, DVD 524)

This film tells the story of a mute piano player who searches for her piano after it is sold. It won director Jane Campion an Academy Award for best original screenplay, the second for a woman in history.

Length: 117 minutes (1 hour and 57 minutes)
Country: New Zealand/ Australia/ France


87. When We Were Kings (Leon Gast, 1996, DVD 590)

This Academy Award-winning documentary film depicts the heavyweight championship match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in 1974. It took director Leon Gast 22 years to edit the documentary before its 1996 release. It is widely regarded as one of the best boxing documentaries ever.

Length: 89 minutes (1 hour and 29 minutes)
Country: United States


88. Sherlock, Jr. (Buster Keaton, 1924, DVD 5277)

This silent comedy chronicles a projectionist in his pursuit of a beautiful woman who comes into the theater. The film is known for its editing techniques.

Length: 45 minutes
Country: United States


89. Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966, DVD 3630)

This psychological drama tells the story of two women who eventually have trouble distinguishing them from the other. It explores themes of insanity and identity. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and influenced many directors such as David Lynch and Robert Altman.

Length: 84 minutes (1 hour and 24 minutes)
Country: Sweden

90. Romance (Katherine Breillat, 1999)

This film tells the story of a woman who seeks love after her boyfriend refuses to sleep with her. The movie explores sexual limitations imposed by society and the subsequent effect of liberation from those limitations. It was directed by Catherine Breillat, who is known for her depictions of frank explorations of sexual themes.

Length: 99 minutes (1 hour and 33 minutes)
Country: France


91. Trois Couleurs: Blue (Kieslowski 1993, DVD 2077)

This is the first film in a trilogy that mirrors the themes of the French Revolution: liberty, equality and fraternity. The film deals with personal liberty after a woman’s husband and child are killed in a car accident. It won awards at the Venice Film Festival and the Golden Globe Awards in 1993. 

Length: 94 minutes (1 hour and 34 minutes)
Country: France/Poland/Switzerland


92. Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955, DVD 2724)

This film is based off of the 1929 book of the same name.  It looks at poverty, youth, and happiness in early twentieth century India. It premiered at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. It was hailed "the best human document" at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival.

Length: 126 minutes (2 hours and 6 minutes)
Country: India

93. Within Our Gates (Oscar Micheaux, 1919, DVD 1266)

This silent film explores race in the 1920’s. It is the oldest known film made by an African American director. A black woman goes to the North trying to raise money for a rural school in the Deep South for black children. It documents Jim Crow, the revival of the Klu Klux Klan, and the Great migration of the 1990’s.

Length: 79 minutes (1 hour and 19 minutes)
Country: United States

94. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977, DVD 1511)

A true modernist film, this romantic comedy, directed by Woody Allen, chronicles a complicated relationship. It is known for introducing an element of seriousness to the romantic comedy genres, exploring themes such as gender stereotypes and American Jewish identity.  It won the Academy Award for Best Picture and was nominated in three other categories.

Length: 93 minutes (1 hour and 13 minutes)
Country: United States

95. Fight Club (David Fincher, 1999, DVD 977)

Fight Club is widely considered one of the best films of the 1990’s. Based off the 1996 novel of the same name, the movie tells the story of two men, bored with their jobs, who start a fight club. It was one of the most controversial films and recognized as a trailblazer in cinematic form and style.

Length: 139 minutes (2 hours and 29 minutes)
Country: United States/Germany

96. Lost in Translation (Sophia Coppola, 2003, DVD 3004)

This film is about a friendship between a movie star and a young woman and the miscommunication mishaps in their lives around the time they meet while in Tokyo.  Written and directed by Sofia Coppola, this film was nominated for four academy awards. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson won BAFTAs for Best Actor and Actress in a Leading Role respectively.

Length: 101 minutes (1 hour and 41 minutes)
Country: United States

97. Short Cuts (Robert Altman, 1993, DVD 3431)

This 1993 American comedy-drama film was inspired by a collection of poems and short stories by Raymond Carver. It follows the storylines of 22 characters played by Julianne Moore, Andie MacDowell, Lily Tomlin, Robert Downey Jr. and 18 others. The cast won a Golden Globe Award for their ensemble acting.

Length: 188 minutes (3 hours and 8 minutes)
Country: United States

98. Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987, DVD 1785)

This film tells the story of angels who listen to the thoughts of humans living in Berlin. One angel becomes mortal so he can experience love. The film won awards for Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival and European Film Awards. It has been interpreted as a statement of the importance of German unity.

Length: 127 minutes (2 hours and 7 minutes)
Country: West Germany/France

99. Silverlake Life (Tom Joslin, 1993, DVD 2418)

This 1993 documentary depicts the impact of AIDS through the lens of the relationship between partners Tom Joslin and Mark Massi, as they both struggle with the disease. It received the 1994 Peabody Award and the 1993 Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Length: 99 minutes (1 hours and 39 minutes)
Country: United States

100. Don’t Look Back (D. A. Pennebaker, 1967, DVD 2117)

This documentary covers Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour of England. It is considered to be the ninth best documentary of all time. It gives a look into who Dylan was and is frequently referenced in pop-culture.

Length: 96 minutes (1 hour and 36 minutes)
Country: United States

101. Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, 1991, DVD 1223)

This film was the first film directed by an African American woman to be distributed in the United States. It tells the story of three generations of Gullah women who live on St. Simon’s island off the coast of South Carolina in the early 1900s. It is known for its use of language, song and imagery.  It was selected for the Sundance 1991 dramatic competition.

Length: 112 minutes (1 hour and 42 minutes)
Country: United States

102. The Birth of a Nation (D. W. Griffith, 1915, DVD 1205)

This early 20th century silent film was a commercial success during its time, but is now infamous for its controversial depiction of racist stereotypes, use of blackface, and the heroic portrayal of the Klu Klux Klan. Originally called The Clansman, this epic drama follows the relationship of two families during several key points in American history; the American Civil War, the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, and the Reconstruction era. Despite the highly controversial nature of the film, The Birth of a Nation was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress.

Length: 193 minutes (3 hours and 13 minutes)
Country: United States

Visit the Library!

The University of Vermont Libraries--The Bailey/Howe Library, the Dana Medical Library, and the Special Collections--are a rich resource for students. All three libraries are home to robust collections in both literature and film.

Media Collections is now in a new renovated space in The Bailey/Howe Library where students can check out equipment and media in the facility, and have access to the Multimedia Lab to work on projects. Use the DVD # to correspond with their collection when reserving or checking out a movie.