The 501 Best Damn Films Ever Made

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Welcome! The annual top 100 list has expanded to 501 films

All 501 films are phenomenal. Every single one of them. If any of the bottom 25 films were in someone else’s top 25 I’d totally understand. This list is subjective. Remembering that is key moving forward. There will be some glaring omissions and you most certainly won’t agree with the placings, but just take in the list and try to understand my taste and hopefully bring your attention to a film you’ve never seen.

A little about me before we start, I’ve been watching films religiously all my life and I self-taught myself to love them. I had a brother who brought me Alfred Hitchcock films which eventually led into my discovery and deep-seated love for Stanley Kubrick (whom will be mentioned on this list a shit load of times), then me bursting into full-blown cinephile status where I wanted to discover every piece of important cinema from any part of the Globe, in any form, structure, or mold. It’s an exhilarating journey exploring the inner depths of film past the Hollywood system and ultra rewarding as well as eye-opening

So, without further ado…

501. Gold Rush (1925)

Dir: Charlie Chaplin (1)

DP: Roland Totheroh (1)

Starring: Charlie Chaplin (1), Georgia Hale (1)

Country: USA (1)

Genre: Silent (1), Comedy (1)

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin will forever be the name that starts off my list of greatest films ever made because any omission of the late excellent silent film star would invalidate the entire list. Gold Rush isn’t the most clever entry into his illustrious filmography, but it best describes his daring prop and physical humor with the matte layering technique to create dangerous-looking situations. It’s genuinely hilarious and a great film to get things going in the right direction.

500. Life of Brian (1979)

Dir: Terry Jones (1)

DP: Peter Biziou (1)

Editor: Julian Doyle (1)

Writer: Terry Gilliam (1), Terry Jones (1), Michael Palin (1), Graham Chapman (1), John Cleese (1)

Starring: Terry Gilliam (1), Michael Palin (1), Graham Chapman (1), John Cleese (1), Eric Idle (1)

Country: England (1)

Genre: Comedy (1)

The Monty Python group needs no formal introduction. It’s the slap-happy troupe we all love, encroaching on the biblical story of Jesus (or Brian) and making it a mockery. The concept will surely make some people rage, but for the rest of us, it’s good for a few laughs and a few smirks. It’s a brilliant bit of writing and acting, even if nothing shown on the screen is intelligent.

499. Thirst (2009)

Dir: Park Chan-wook (1)

DP: Jeong Jeong-hun (1), Yu Eok (1)

Editor: Kim Sang-bum (1), Kim Jae-beom (1)

Writer: Park Chan-wook (1), Chung Seo-kyung (1), Park In-hwan (1)

Starring: Song Kang-ho (1), Kim Ok-bin (1), Shin Ha-kyun (1)

Country: South Korea (1)

Genre: Horror (1)

As I turn to the third film on the list, I realize the enormous undertaking that I have left to accomplish. Five hundred more films remain. The next one by a beloved Korean director diving into his genre sensibilities and creating a dour Vampire film with a vital performance element. It’s mainly the dark atmosphere that has made this film stick in my mind, but also the subtlety in which the subject matter is dealt with. It’s not Park’s best film but shows his pervasive methodology with his characters’ studies and plot.

498. The Killing Fields (1984)

Dir: Roland Joffe (1)

DP: Chris Menges (1)

Editor: Jim Clark (1)

Writer: Bruce Robinson (1)

Starring: Sam Waterson (1), Haing S. Ngor (1), Craig T. Nelson (1), John Malkovich (1)

Country: England (2)

Genre: War (1)

A powerful story of friendship and perseverance in the face of grave uncertainty. A war film looks at the subject through an objective journalist viewpoint but slowly loses that perspective in favor of a more personal telling of a human story. It’s less about the situation, and all about the bond shared between Sam Waterson’s character and Haing S. Ngor. See this movie entirely for Haing S. Ngor’s performance alone. He’s remarkable as the face of all this human suffrage.

497. The Dark Knight (2008)

Dir: Christopher Nolan (1)

DP: Wally Pfister (1)

Editor: Lee Smith (1)

Writer: Christopher Nolan (1), Jonathon Nolan (1), David S. Goyer (1)

Starring: Heath Ledger (1), Christian Bale (1), Michael Caine (1), Gary Oldman (1), Aaron Eckhardt (1), Maggie Gyllenhaal (1)

Country: USA (2)

Genre: CBM (1)

Truthfully, The Dark Knight wouldn’t have made a dent in the zeitgeist without the stunning Heath Ledger performance and subsequent post-mortem celebration of his life and career. It made watching his unhinged Joker feel ethereal, almost, as if it was preordained. A towering achievement from Ledger and forever the definitive version of the most beloved psychotic in film history. Awe-inspiring machinations.

496. The Babadook (2014) 

Dir: Jennifer Kent (1)

DP: Radek Ladczuk (1)

Editor: Simon Njoo (1)

Writer: Jennifer Kent (1)

Starring: Essie Davis (1), Noah Wiseman (1)

Country: Australia (1)

Genre: Horror (2)

The Babadook is the internalized struggle and grief manifesting itself on-screen. Kent’s craft doesn’t innovate the genre but executes the scares perfectly to help bring the Babadook to life. The monster’s design is bone-chilling, and there are many moments where this film leaves you gasping for air.

495. The Shape of Water (2017)

Dir: Guillermo del Toro (1)

DP: Dan Lausten (1)

Editor: Sidney Wolinsky (1)

Writer: Guillermo del Toro (1), Vanessa Taylor (1)

Starring: Sally Hawkins (1), Doug Jones (1), Octavia Spencer (1), Michael Shannon (1), Richard Jenkins (1), Michael Stuhlbarg (1)

Composer: Alexander Desplat (1)

Country: USA (3)

Genre: Fantasy (1), Romance (1)

The Shape of Water takes all the elements of Guillermo del Toro’s worldview and packs them up sweetly into a misaligned romance that’s incredibly beautiful. An imaginative look at old studio romance films fleshed out with an amphibian creature played by the great Doug Jones. The entire movie is bathed in this mystique, helped by one of the best Desplat scores and a great performance piece.

494. The Third Man (1949) 

Dir: Carol Reed (1)

DP: Robert Krasker (1)

Editor: Oswald Hafenrichter (1)

Writer: Orson Welles (1), Graham Greene (1)

Starring: Joseph Cotton (1), Alida Valli (1), Orson Welles (1), Trevor Howard (1)

Country: England (3)

Genre: Noir (1)

Expecting to get scolded for having this so low – The first noir on the list and one I’d just recently come around to after years of actively disliking the film. Carol Reed’s moody detective piece helped along with the movie’s best element by far: Anton Karas Zither’s score, which makes this film feel distinctive with its settings and characters. It’s also got gorgeous cinematography and sharp, contrasting lighting to accentuate the good and bad from these characters. Orson Welles’ late arrival in the film has become such an iconic moment in the medium’s history and a remarkable example of effective character introductions.

493. The Lady From Shanghai (1947)

Dir: Orson Welles (1)

DP: Rudolph Maté (1), Joseph Walker (1), Charles Lawton Jr (1)

Editor: Viola Lawrence (1)

Starring: Orson Welles (2), Rita Heyward (1), Everett Sloan (1)

Country: USA (4)

Genre: Noir (2)

The second noir on the list comes from one of the masters himself – Orson Welles. And Lady from Shanghai is sort of an amalgamation of his career in one film. A messy, droll, incredibly inventive, and a fascinating character study that comes together to form something unique. It’s not strong on a scene-by-scene basis, but when looking back on the film it’s easy to overlook those moments of studio interference in favor of the provocative visual element and shocking finale. Funny how often this film gets mentioned in relation to the rest of his filmography, but it’s because of the vision of its director.

492. The Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948)

Dir: John Houston (1)

DP: Ted D. McCord (1)

Editor: Owen Marks (1)

Writer: John Houston (1), B. Traven (1)

Starring: Humphrey Bogart (1), Walter Houston (1), Tim Holt (1)

Country: USA (5)

Genre: Western (1)

The first western on the list could easily be filed under noir as well. A morally dubious western with stronger ethical questions at the center of the film than almost any other film in the genre. Three incredibly strong performances starting with Bogart, but Walter Houston steals the limelight with his worn down cowboy. A fantastic performance piece that doesn’t settle for the familiar tropes and motifs of the genre and is a new approach to the genre. John Houston was one of a kind director and mind.

491. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) 

Dir: Terry Gilliam (1)

DP: Nicola Pecorini (1)

Editor: Lesley Walker (1)

Writer: Terry Gilliam (2)

Starring: Johnny Depp (1), Benicio del Toro (1), Christina Ricci (1), Tobey Maguire (1)

Country: USA (6)

Genre: Stoner Comedy (1)

Terry Gilliam overstylizes the shit out of his films and this one might be the worst offender. However, much like a film that may or may not be mentioned later (Brazil), the zany, wildly over-the-top, packed full of detailed set designs (that he learned from his time spent on Monty Python) are what gives this film life. It takes the mundanity of regular situations and makes them feel like a drug infused romp and in the process created one of the better stoner comedies that goes for full-on camp. Benicio Del Toro has *almost* never been better than he is here across Johnny Depp. A weird film, for sure. 

490. The Lobster (2015)

Dir: Yorgos Lanthimos (1)

DP: Thimios Bakatakis (1)

Editor: Yorgos Mavropsaridis (1)

Writer: Yorgos Lanthimos (1)

Starring: Colin Farrell (1), Rachel Weisz (1), John C. Reilly (1), Olivia Colman (1)

Country: England (4)

Genre: Dark Comedy (1)

Dark, uncomfortable, pervasive humor has a gravitational effect on me and Yorgos has found inspiring ways to tickle that part of my brain. The Lobster is no different. It’s not avant-garde, but it’s moving in that direction and the deadpan delivery from all these actors makes the world feel almost lived-in for how bizarre it comes across. Yorgos direction is flawless as the general tone of unease looms over every element of production. A fun film with a strange premise and even stranger characters.

489. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) 

Dir: Steven Spielberg (1)

DP: Vilmos Zsigmond (1)

Editor: Michael Kahn (1)

Writer: Steven Spielberg (1)

Starring: Richard Dreyfuss (1), Teri Garr (1), François Truffaut (1)

Country: USA (5)

Genre: Sci-fi (1)

Steven Spielberg’s magnum opus of inspiring inventiveness, grandiose approach, and the family friendly narrative that defined his blockbuster laden career. Much like Jaws or ET, this film became such a cultural phenomenon that it has permeated throughout all kinds of popular media since its release in 1977. It was an event picture that felt larger than the large movie screens and even had the likes of famous director Truffaut signing on to play a character and be a part of it all. It’s great fun, even if the experience fails to go past the next layer of exploration. 

488. Boyz N’ The Hood (1991)

Dir: John Singleton (1)

DP: Charles Mills (1)

Editor: Bruce Cannon (1)

Writer: John Singleton (1)

Starring: Laurence Fishburn (1), Cuba Gooding Jr. (1), Ice Cube (1)

Country: USA (6)

Genre: Drama (1)

John Singleton’s incisive call-to-action style of filmmaking is a mentality that is consistent throughout this film. A patient and deep look at systemic violence in the neighborhoods it endangers most. Incredibly heartfelt in its portrayal, especially from Laurence Fishburn, who is so grounded and pure in his stance on violence and takes the educational mouthpiece of the narrative. He is otherworldly good in this role and sets the stage for the massive heartbreak Singleton wants us to experience by the end. One of the most powerful and important films on the entire list.

487. Buffalo ’66 (1998)

Dir: Vincent Gallo (1)

DP: Lance Acord (1)

Editor: Curtis Clayton (1)

Writer: Vincent Gallo (1), Alison Bagnall (1)

Starring: Vincent Gallo (1), Christina Ricci (2), Ben Gazzara (1), Anjelica Houston (1)

Country: USA (7)

Genre: Romance (2), Comedy (1)

Good old drama and romance about bullshit American family practices. The importance of appearing happy being more important than actually being happy and this film circles around that idea. Vincent Gallo and Christina Ricci are great as the misaligned couple that luckily stumble into happiness. I love the grainy texture of the film and the ridiculous looking Buffalo Bills aesthetic that makes this film feel distinct in the visuals. A weird experience, to say the least.

486. Forbidden Games (1952)

Dir: Rene Clement (1)

DP: Robert Juiliard (1)

Editor: Roger Dwyer (1)

Writer: Rene Clement (1), François Boyer (1)

Starring: Brigitte Fosey (1), Georges Poujuly (1)

Country: France (1)

Genre: Drama (2)

The harsh reality of war is often told from a soldier, politicians, or adult’s perspective, but Clement’s devastating portrait of a forgotten child having to navigate this world alone is almost too much to bear. The two leads of Fosey and Poujuly make this deafening experience feel real. The unfeeling nature of the people outside their bubble is a necessary perspective and an important one. Clement essentially leaves these two to fend for themselves through his delicate framing of this narrative.

485. Lady Snowblood (1973)

Dir: Toshiya Fujita (1)

DP: Masaki Tamura (1)

Editor: Osamu Inoue (1)

Writer: Kazou Kamimura (1), Kazou Koike (1), Norio Osada (1)

Starring: Meiko Kaji (1), Toshio Kurosawa (1)

Country: Japan (1)

Genre: Samurai (1)

Lady Snowblood is an enigma, popularized by western filmmakers who almost fetishizes her gratuitous violence and unflinching attitude. She’s become a cultural icon defining cold, badass Japanese women. A Vengeance story, adapted from a famous manga, is a stylized, bloody interpretation of the original text. A film with raging energy that I love. It’s not thematically deep or emotionally resonant, but who gives a shit when Lady Snowblood is out here schlicing. 

484. (Samurai) Rebellion (1967)

Dir: Masaki Kobayashi (1)

DP: Kazou Yamada (1)

Editor: Hisashi Higara (1)

Writer: Shinobu Hashimoto (1), Yasuhiko Takiguchi (1)

Starring: Toshiro Mifune (1), Yoko Tsukaaa (1), Tatsuya Nakadai (1), Tatsuyoshi Ehara (1)

Country: Japan (2)

Genre: Samurai (2)

The first mention of Masaki Kobayashi comes in the form of his more traditional Samurai film. A film that’s anti-establishment, much like the entirety of Kobayashi’s filmography, and has a rigid moral code that the narrative and characters follow. A beautifully shot and acted that is more than the typical Samurai tropes. It’s an emotionally resonant Samurai film that hits deeper.

483. The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (1962)

Dir: Karel Zeman (1)

DP: Jiri Tarantik (1)

Editor: Vera Kutilova (1)

Writer: Karel Zeman (1), Jiri Brdecka (1)

Starring: Milos Kopecky (1), Rudolf Jelinek (1)

Country: Czechoslovakia (1)

Genre: Fantasy (1)

The Baron Munchausen story has been adapted many times to film (love the Gillian version as well), but none were handled as essential as Karel Zeman’s beyond imaginative visual mind. The Victorian etched style speaks for itself. Gorgeously designed to give the world proper eccentricities for a story overwhelmed with adventure. Only a film Karel Zeman could’ve created, as nothing looks or sounds like it.

482. The Fly (1986)

Dir: David Cronenberg (1)

DP: Mark Irwin (1)

Editor: Ronald Irwin (1)

Writer: David Cronenberg (1), Charles Edwards (1)

Starring: Jeff Goldblum (1), Geena Davis (1)

Country: USA (8)

Genre: Horror (3)

The master of practical effects (sit down, John Carpenter) got to mold Jeff Goldblum into a humanoid version of a fly for our amusement. Honor, I rest my case.

481. The Quiet Family (1998)

Dir: Kim Jee-woon (1)

DP: Chung Kwang-suk (1)

Editor: Ko Im-Pyo (1)

Writer: Kim Jee-woon (1), Ko Im-pyo (1)

Starring: Park In-hwan (2), Na Moon-hae (1), Choi Min-sik (1), Song Kang-ho (1) Loo Yoon-sung (1)

Country: South Korea (2)

Genre: Dark Comedy (2)

The Quiet Family lives in a secluded part of Korea, away from wandering or suspicious eyes, and are totally normal people as they run a quaint bed and breakfast unperturbed. If you know anything about Kim Jee-woon’s films, you’ll recognize this setup is only hiding the hilarious destructive and somewhat evil underbelly of this family. A beautifully bleak comedy with some hilarious satirical writing that is both biting and off-putting. The cast features a number of well known actors who were nobodies when this was initially released.

480. The Wind Rises (2013)

Dir: Hayao Miyazaki (1)

DP: Atsushi Okui (1)

Editor: Takashi Seyama (1)

Writer: Hayao Miyazaki (1), Tatsuo Hori (1)

Starring: Hideki Anno (1), Minori Takimoto (1), Hidetoshi Nishijima (1)

Composer: Joe Hisashi (1)

Country: Japan (3)

Genre: Animation (1), War (2), Romance (3)

Japanese animation will be a theme on this list and I’m happy to be starting off with the master making something personal to him with The Wind Rises. He fully embraces his aerodynamic disposition towards the world and explores his fascination with airplane development and technology. It’s also a fervent character study and his most grounded film. Some of Miyazaki’s best art and most vibrant settings come from this film.

479. Dial M for Murder (1954)

Dir: Alfred Hitchcock (1)

DP: Robert Burks (1)

Editor: Rudi Fehr (1)

Writer: Frederick Knott (1)

Starring: Ray Milland (1), Grace Kelly (1), Robert Cummings (1), John Williams (1)

Composer: Dimitri Tiomkin (1)

Country: USA (9)

Genre:  Thriller (1)

Here’s another film that’s likely to get my cinephile card revoked with how low this ranks. Truth is, Hitchock has done these one-room, stagey thrillers better in the past but Dial M For Murder is his most iconic. Grace Kelly alone puts this film on the list with her damsel character, but then enters John Williams playing his archetypal investigator and sends it to the stratosphere. 

478. The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)

Dir: Peter Yates (1)

DP: Victor J. Kemper (1)

Editor: Pat Jaffe (1)

Writer: Paul Monash (1), George V. Higgins (1)

Starring: Robert Mitchum (1), Peter Boyle (1), Richard Jordan (1)

Composer: Dave Grusin (1)

Country: USA (10)

Genre: Crime (2), Thriller (2)

Robert Mitchum is going to be a mainstay on this list and his performance as the aging criminal Eddie Coyle is a great place to start. A man trapped between the mob and the police looking down the barrel of a gun. Mitchum carries the experience on his long face, slow delivery, and word down expressions.

477. Judgement at Nuremberg (1961)

Dir: Stanley Kramer (1)

DP: Ernest Laszlo (1)

Editor: Frederic Knudtson (1)

Writer: Abby Mann (1)

Starring: Spencer Tracy (1), Burt Lancaster (1), Richard Widmark (1), Marlene Dietrich (1), Judy Garland (1)

Composer: Ernest Gold (1)

Country: USA (11)

Genre: Political Drama (3)

Richard Widmark, Spencer Tracy, Montgomery Clift, Burt Lancaster on the set of JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG, 1961

Featuring one of the greatest ensemble cast ever assembled, Stanley Kramer’s tribunal on the horrific acts against humanity committed by the Nazi’s is set. A saddening depiction of the evil threat being deposed by NATO, but ultimately a story that deals head-on with the devastating events of the Holocaust. A story that tries to reconcile with the cruelty but finds it impossible to understand. This struggle is captured in Burt Lancaster’s complex portrayal of a Nazi scientist, Tracy’s hardened sense of justice as the judge, and all the great side characters impacted in disconcerting ways. 

476. Trouble Every Day (2001)

Dir: Claire Denis (1)

DP: Agnes Godard (1)

Editor: Nelly Quettier (1)

Writer: Claire Denis (1), Jean-Pol Fargeau (1)

Starring: Vincent Gallo (2), Tricia Vessey (1), Beatrice Dalle (1), Alex Descas (1)

Composer: Tindersticks (1)

Country: France (2)

Genre: Horror (4)

Claire Denis went for brooding and disturbing with Trouble Every Day and successfully reaches it with a pervasive style of narrative. A troubled story hidden in secrecy and revealed slowly to enhance that gross feeling generated from Vincent Gallo’s actions. It leaves you feeling the need to take a long shower and Denis swarms the audience in a visual sense, methodically pushing the narrative to more surreal places as the mystery unravels.

475. My Own Private Idaho (1991)

Dir: Gus Van Sant (1)

DP: Joan J. Campbell (1), Eric Alan Edwards (1)

Editor: Curtiss Clayton (1)

Writer: Gus Van Sant (1)

Starring: River Phoenix (1), Keanu Reeves (1), James Russo (1)

Composer: Bill Stafford (1)

Country: USA (12)

Genre: Journey (1), Drama (3)

River Phoenix was such a gifted actor and his performance as a Gay hustler in My Own Private Idaho takes Gus Van Sant’s inquisitive character writing and makes the material sing. Coupled with Keanu Reeves best performance, this Shakespian expedition through the less desirable parts of Oregon, Idaho and ultimately Italy, is a real journey to find one’s own identity. Shot in the beautiful countryside with a hazy quality of remembrance in the craft, this is Gus Van Sant at his most eccentric. 

474. The Lower Depths (1957)

Dir: Akira Kurosawa (1)

DP: Kazuo Yamasaki (1)

Editor: Akira Kurosawa (1)

Writer: Akira Kurosawa (1)

Starring: Hideo Oguni (1), Toshiro Mifune (2)

Composer: Masaru Sato (1)

Country: Japan (4)

Genre: Drama (4)

The often adapted Maxim Gorky stage play was handled masterfully by the master himself, Akira Kurosawa. The results are a traumatizing visual representation of class disparity and is grounded in realism while maintaining its theatrical element. A understated Kurosawa film that captures the message of the original stage play.

473. Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Dir: Giuseppe Tornatore (1)

DP: Blasco Giurato (1)

Editor: Mario Morra (1)

Writer: Giuseppe Tornatore (1)

Starring: Philippe Noiret (1), Jacques Perrin (1), Marco Leonardi (1)

Composer: Ennio Morricone (1)

Country: France (3)

Genre: Drama (5)

Cinema Paradiso is a love letter to cinema itself and a touching story of friendship. Scored through Ennio Morricone’s profoundly moving piece of music, the theme has become synonymous with film scores as a genre. The music drives the drama and the image moves to its rhythms and both the crescendo of sound and character comes full-circle by the end of the story. Philippe Noiret had great chemistry with the two actors portraying Salvatore Di Vita (Salvitore Cascio, Marco Leonardo) making the friendship endearing and well earned by the end.

472. Floating Weeds (1959)

Dir: Yasujiro Ozu (1)

DP: Kazuo Miyagawa (1)

Editor: Toyo Suzuki (1)

Writer: Yasujiro Ozu (1), Kogo Noda (1), Tadao Ikeda (1)

Starring: Machiko Kyo (1), Ganjiro Nakamura (1), Chishu Ryu (1), Haruko Sugimura (1)

Composer: Takanobu Saito (1)

Country: Japan (5)

Genre: Drama (6)

A remake of Ozu’s silent film of the same name, Floating Weeds is a complex family drama that presents the question in an unfamiliar way. Tight compositions all done through the lower tatami angle that Ozu popularized, places us directly in the characters head space as this troupe of actors come to grips with the closing of their home and studio. A heartfelt drama that directly confronts the role of a parent in a child’s life.

471. A Report on the Party and the Guest (1966)

Dir: Jan Nemec (1)

DP: Jaromir Sofr (1)

Editor: Miroslav Hajek (1)

Writer: Nester Krumbachov (1), Jan Nemec (1)

Starring: Ivan Vyskocil (1)

Composer: Karel Mares (1)

Country: Czechoslovakia (2)

Genre: Black Comedy (3), Satire (1)

I don’t mention this film because of its innovative craft or narrative, but as one of the staples of the Czech New Wave that challenges the status quo so succinctly and even had Jan Nemec banned for life in his home country. Only a number of films in history have questioned the audience in this clear of terms and the discussion at the center of the film is fascinating. Bordering on Avant-garde cinema, with hints of parody and satire, A Report on the Party and the Guest is one strange get together.

470. The Petrified Forest (1936)

Dir: Archie Mayo (1)

DP: Sol Polito (1)

Editor: Owen Marks (2)

Writer: Delmer Daves (1), Charles Kenyon (1)

Starring: Leslie Howard (1), Bette Davis (1), Humphrey Bogart (2), Porter Hall (1)

Composer: Bernhard Kaun (1)

Country: USA (13)

Genre: Crime (3), Romance (4)

The Petrified Forest serves as sort of an acting renaissance for the three gifted leads that helped define the studio era. A young Bette Davis as the love interest, a poetic Leslie Howard, and then Bogey in a stick-up criminal role that he was typecast into all the time early in his career. It took years for him to break the mold, but only because he was so damn good in these types of films. The chemistry between actors is amazing, and it’s an intelligent script about leaving small towns. 

469. Secret Honor (1984)

Dir: Robert Altman (1)

DP: Pierre Mignot (1)

Editor: Juilet Weber (1)

Writer: Donald Freed (1), Arnold M. Stone (1)

Starring: Phillip Baker Hall (1)

Composer: George Burt (1)

Country: USA (14)

Genre: Political Drama (1)

The first Robert Altman on the list is his most unconventional, which says a lot. It’s Phillip Baker Hall in a room, with a few cameras for coverage, and a bottle of jack playing disgraced president Nixon in his study. It’s eccentric, foolish, and downright fun. An underappreciated performance piece.

468. Ronin (1998)

Dir: John Frankenheimer (1)

DP: Robert Fraisse (1)

Editor: Anthony Gibbs (1)

Writer: David Mamet (2), J.D. Zeik (1)

Starring: Robert De Niro (1), Jean Reno (1), Natasha McElhone (1), Stellan Skarsgard (1)

Composer: Elia Cmiral (1)

Country: USA (15)

Genre: Action (1)

The action genre is a hellscape with overflowing testosterone masquerading as simple, cheap entertainment with no baggage. John Frankenheimer uses that Michael Mann level of detail in the action sequences and turns it up another few degrees to avoid the mindless fever of modern action. The set-pieces in here are the most jaw-dropping in the genre and it doesn’t have a throwaway narrative like the other 90% of the genre. De Niro is excellent in this role and gives the film its weight alongside Jean Reno.

467. The China Syndrome (1979)

Dir:James Bridges (1)

DP: James Crabe (1)

Editor: David Rawlins (1)

Writer: James Bridges (1), Mike Gray (1), T.S. Cook (1)

Starring: Jane Fonda (1), Jack Lemmon (2), Michael Douglas (1)

Country: USA (16)

Genre: Thriller (3)

Anxiety riddled procedure and political thriller with genuine questions about nuclear power. Two great pressure cooker performances from Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon. The China Syndrome picks at deep-seated fears especially felt during the 1970s and repackages them in a terrifyingly realistic sense that makes the audience feel a dreadful sense of unease about the inevitable doom in the script.

466.  House of Games (1987)

Dir: David Mamet (1)

DP: Juan Ruiz Anchia (2)

Editor: Trudy Ship (1)

Writer: David Mamet (3), Jonathon Katz (1)

Starring: Lindsay Crouse (1), Joe Mantegna (1), Ricky Jay (1), Mike Nussbaum (1)

Composer: Alaric Jans (1)

Country: USA (17)

Genre: Mystery (1), Thriller (4)

David Mamet flexing his writing and directing chops with this calculated misdirection of a thriller that plays off the con man theme. The twist and turns are endless in House of Games and Joe Mantegna holds your attention purposely to constantly catch the audience off guard. The subversion is expected, but delivered in complex ways that are unexpected. It’s a real damn entertaining film that keeps you engaged in the guessing game and features a cast of unique con men with bizarre talents that don’t reveal a thing.

465. Battle Royale (2000)

Dir: Kinji Fukasaku (1)

DP: Katsumi Yanagjima (1)

Editor: Hirohide Abe (1)

Writer: Koushon Takami (1), Kenta Fukasaku (1), Takeshi Kitano (1)

Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara (1), Aki Maeda (1)

Composer: Masamichi Amano (1)

Country: Japan (6)

Genre: Action (2)

Pure unadulterated madness. A brutal last one survives concept and structure to the narrative that makes the majority of this film violent massacres of high school aged Japanese students. It’s got no sense of morality, nor does it care to have one. It’s a sick film for twisted individuals like myself and Quentin Tarantino

464. The French Connection (1971)

Dir: William Friedkin (1)

DP: Owen Roizman (1)

Editor: Gerald B. Greenberg (1)

Writer: Ernest Tidyman (1)

Starring: Gene Hackman (1), Roy Scheider (1), Fernando Rey (1), Marcel Bozzuffi

Composer: Don Ellis (1)

Country: USA (18)

Genre: Thriller (4), Crime (5)

The French Connection is a simple premise with high-wire, explosive, trigger-happy action sequences to flesh it out. The strength is undoubtedly coming from our friend, William Friedkin, who directs this so sharply and holds the tension so perfectly. Most directors don’t make as memorable a film with this script as Friedkin did here. And the acting of Hackman and Scheider deserve plenty of praise.

463. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Dir: Ang Lee (1)

DP: Peter Pau (1)

Editor: Tim Squyres (1)

Writer: James Schmaus (1), Du Lu Wang (1), Wang Hui-ling (1)

Starring: Michelle Yeoh (1), Chow Yun-fat (1), Zhang Ziyi (1), Chang Chen (1)

Composer: Dun Tan (1)

Country: China (1)

Genre: Martial Arts (1)

Ang Lee’s martial arts epic that breaks through the ceiling of what’s possible and goes for the impossible. Using an indomitable Wushu fighting style but flared up with wires and trampolines, it’s one of the most gloriously choreographed films ever made. The visuals are surreal and the characters reach mythological levels of strength as they fly through forest and climb up walls. It’s awe-inspiring.

462. Out of the Past (1947)

Dir: Jacques Tourneur (1)

DP: Nicholas Musuraca (1)

Editor: Samuel E Beetley (1)

Writer: Daniel Mainwaring (1), James M. Cain (1), Frank Fenton (1)

Starring: Robert Mitchum (2), Jane Greer (1), Kirk Douglas (1), Rhonda Fleming (1)

Composer: Roy Webb (1)

Country: USA (19)

Genre: Noir (3)

Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and Kirk Douglas are as good of an opener as you’re likely going to get. The acting trio stuck in a love triangle with Tourneur’s evocative direction gives this a serious edge. A perfect balance of tone between the softer romance side and the darker undertones of the noir, accentuated most by the dueling leads of Mitchum and Douglas. Achieving both tenderness and malice in the leads, it’s a daring entry.

461. La main du diable (1943)

Dir: Maurice Tourneur (1)

DP: Armand Thirand (1)

Editor: Christian Gaudin (1)

Writer: Jean-Paul Le Chanois (1), Gerard de Nerval (1)

Starring: Pierre Frenay (1)

Composer: Roger Dumas (1)

Country: France (4)

Genre: Horror (5)

Carnival of Sinners (or La Main du Diable in French) is a monkey-paw horror film that reaches surprising levels of accursed. Jean-Paul Le Chanois selling his literal soul and one penny for a talisman that grants him worldly success, while risking damnation in the process. His performance is measured in grief and intimate as were privy to an inner dialogue of his thoughts. Tourneur captures the madness, in a visual and character sense, with the surreal ending in the presence of Satan. A fantastically scary early French horror.

460. Babette’s Feast (1987)

Dir: Gabriel Axel (1)

DP: Henning Kristiansen (1)

Editor: Finn Henrikson

Writer: Karen Blixen (1), Gabriel Axel (1)

Starring: Stephane Audran (1), Bibi Andersson (1), Jarl Kulle (1), Bodil Kjer (1)

Composer: Benni Korzen (1)

Country: Denmark (1)

Genre: Food (1), Comedy (4)

Babette’s Feast is a profound and heartwarming celebration of a full-life. A film experience that takes its time to simply celebrate people and experiences. Most of the runtime is spent preparing for Babette’s famous French cuisine feast, but once the ball gets rolling at dinner, it’s an extraordinary experience all told through dialogue. Stephane Audran is a hero and the rest of the cast deserves credit too. A joyful little film.

459. Entranced Earth (1967)

Dir: Glauber Rocha (1)

DP: Luis Carlos Barreto (1)

Editor: Eduardo Escorel (1)

Writer: Glauber Rocha (1)

Starring: Jared Filho (1), Paulo Autran (1), José Lewgoy (1)

Composer: Sergio Ricardo (1)

Country: Brazil (1)

Genre: Political Drama (2), Thriller (6)

Glauber Rocha: Filmmaker, poet, intellectual, theorist, man. His creative mind had no limits and was uncompromising in his approach to the stories he wanted to tell. Entranced Earth was an exercise in civility and political dissonance told through the allegorical history of Brazil. Edited to reflect this conflict that drives the narrative to strange places. This will not be the last time Rocha shows up on this list.

458. The Act of Killing (2012)

Dir: Joshua Oppenheimer (1)

DP: Lars Skree (1), Carlos Aarngo (1)

Editor: Janus Billeskov Jansen (1)

Country: Indonesia (1)

Genre: Documentary (1)

The Act of Killing, a documentary that initially made little impact on me, has since become a film I constantly think back on as the sheer horror of these subjects is excruciating. Experiencing another human being who’s this unfeeling and nonchalant about his involvement in genocide is truly wicked. Oppenheimer grapples with Indonesia’s complicity as well as the current attitude towards this bleak period in the country’s history.

457. Into the Abyss (2011)

Dir: Werner Herzog (1)

DP: Peter Zeitlinger (1)

Editor: Joe Bini (1)

Composer: Mark De Gli Antonio (1)

Country: USA (20)

Genre: Documentary (2)

A devastating look at the full scope of one death row sentence and the utter waste of life it creates from every avenue. First time I saw this film, I felt completely lost when it ended. It had a deep emotional impact with the total loss and trying to make sense of any of the madness. 

456. The King and the Mockingbird (1980)

Dir: Paul Grimault (1)

DP: Gerard Soirant (1)

Editor: Paul Grimault (1)

Writer: Paul Grimault (1), Hans Christian (1), Jacques Prevert (1)

Starring: Jean Martin (1), Pascall Mazzotti (1)

Country: France (5)

Genre: Animation (2), Fantasy (3)

Paul Grimault, 30 years after starting production on this little animated film, was able to re-release it finished and the results were undeniable. A hugely influential picture in the animation industry and a direct influence on many of the next generation of directors. A mystical fairy tale with a mind-bending aesthetic and surreal characters. A true hidden gem of the medium that presents many ideas that were first invented in the 1950s.

455. The Social Network (2010)

Dir: David Fincher (1)

DP: Jeff Cronenweth (1)

Editor: Angus Wall (1), Kirk Baxter (1)

Writer: Aaron Sorkin (1), Ben Mezrich (1)

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg (1), Andrew Garfield (1), Justin Timberlake (1), Armie Hammer (1)

Composer: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (1)

Country: USA (21)

Genre: Drama (6)

Outside of his time spent on The West Wing, this is Aaron Sorkin’s best work and what he’ll ultimately be remembered for as a screenwriter. An insightful portrait of the man at the center of a major world development and the bodies buried to achieve that status. Honest portrayal and performance from Eisenberg as David Fincher holds nothing back in his direction. Sharp, clean and effective storytelling capturing the feeling at the heart of it all.

454. Brief Encounter (1945)

Dir: David Lean (1)

DP: Robert Krasker (2)

Editor: Jack Harris (1)

Writer: Ronald Neame (1), David Lean (1), Noel Coward (1), Anthony Havelock-Alla (1)

Starring: Celia Johnson (1), Trevor Howard (2)

Country: England (5)

Genre: Romance (5), Drama (7)

Brief Encounter beautifully illustrates the overly cautious nature of unconsummated love and leaving it all left unsaid. David Lean is incredibly restraint with his arms-length narrative approach, balancing the lustful desire with moral sensibilities. Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard are special together,  capturing the dichotomy in their performances. A unique romance that leaves the audience desperately hoping for connection

453. Band of Outsiders (1964)

Dir: Jean-Luc Godard (1)

DP: Raul Coutard (1)

Editor: Agnes Guillemot (1)

Writer: Jean-Luc Godard (1), Dolores Hitchens (1), Robert Hichens (1)

Starring: Anna Karina (1), Claude Brasseur (1), Sami Frey (1)

Composer: Michael Legrande (1)

Country: France (6)

Genre: Drama (8), Crime (7)

Godard will get some run on this list, as will the great Anna Karina, starting with his meandering crime film of a desultory nature Band of Outsiders. The narrative is driven by nothing in particular, but shows a strong sense of individualism. The editing from Guillemot captures their youthful disposition, as Godard lets the story flow but is still tied down by a singular heist that anchors the character’s together. A film from 

452. Porco Rosso (1992)

Dir: Hayao Miyazaki (2)

DP: Atsushi Okui (2)

Editor: Hayao Miyazaki (1), Takashi Seyama (2)

Writer: Hayao Miyazaki (2)

Starring: Shuichiro Moriyama (1)

Composer: Joe Hisashi (2)

Country: Japan (7)

Genre: Animation (4), War (3)

Similarly to The Wind Rises, Porco Rosso is a Miyazaki film that deals with fighter planes – as Hayao’s obsession of planes knows no bounds – but this one jumps back into flying with the flying piece of pork, Porco Rosso, as the film’s protagonist. The character of Porco is secretly one of the best as far as leads go, but don’t tell anyone I said that. Any who, the animation is gorgeous shots of clear blue skies, clouds, and endless ocean with an endless hue of blue. A pure joy to experience

451. A Cry in the Dark 

Dir: Fred Schepisi (1) 

DP: Ian Baker (1)

Editor: Jill Bilcock (1)

Writer: Fred Schepisi (1), Robert Caswell (1)

Starring: Meryl Streep (4), Sam Neill (1), David Hoflin (1)

Composer: Bruce Smeaton (1)

Country: Australia (2)

Genre: Drama (9) 

Fred Schepisi’s complex study of a mother who loses a child to a dingo and the merciless journey through maintaining her innocence as she’s attacked from every which way. Meryl Streep is unreal in this role and disappears entirely into the character, capturing the mother’s mental state at the time and her general personality that many found off-putting. She packs a wallop of an emotional punch and makes this story feel bigger.