Directors’ top 100

Once a decade Sight & Sound asks critics to select the Greatest Films of All Time. We’re proud that, thanks to its longevity and critical reach, this poll has come to be regarded as the most trusted guide there is to the canon of cinema greats, not to mention a barometer of changing critical tastes. Famously, Citizen Kane topped our poll every decade from 1962 to 2002…

1Tokyo Story (1953)

Ozu Yasujirô

1Tokyo Story (1953)

Ozu Yasujirô

The final part of Yasujiro Ozu’s loosely connected ‘Noriko’ trilogy is a devastating story of elderly grandparents brushed aside by their self-involved family.

22001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Stanley Kubrick

22001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick took science fiction cinema in a grandly intelligent new direction with this epic story of man’s quest for knowledge.

2Citizen Kane (1941)

Orson Welles

2Citizen Kane (1941)

Orson Welles

Given extraordinary freedom by Hollywood studio RKO for his debut film, boy wonder Welles created a modernist masterpiece that is regularly voted the best film ever made.

48½ (1963)

Federico Fellini

48½ (1963)

Federico Fellini

Federico Fellini triumphantly conjured himself out of a bad case of creative block with this autobiographical magnum opus about a film director experiencing creative block.

5Taxi Driver (1976)

Martin Scorsese

5Taxi Driver (1976)

Martin Scorsese

Martin’s Scorsese’s unsettling story of disturbed New York cab driver Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is a classic of 70s cinema.

6Apocalypse Now (1979)

Francis Ford Coppola

6Apocalypse Now (1979)

Francis Ford Coppola

Transplanting the story of Joseph Conrad’s colonial-era novel Heart of Darkness to Vietnam, Francis Ford Coppola created a visually mesmerising fantasia on the spectacle of war.

7Vertigo (1958)

Alfred Hitchcock

7Vertigo (1958)

Alfred Hitchcock

A former detective with a fear of heights is hired to follow a woman apparently possessed by the past, in Alfred Hitchcock’s timeless thriller about obsession.

7Godfather: Part I, The (1972)

Francis Ford Coppola

7Godfather: Part I, The (1972)

Francis Ford Coppola

The first of Francis Ford Coppola’s epic trilogy about the Corleone crime family is the disturbing story of a son drawn inexorably into his father’s Mafia affairs.

9Mirror (1974)

Andrei Tarkovsky

9Mirror (1974)

Andrei Tarkovsky

Andrei Tarkovsky drew on memories of a rural childhood before WWII for this personal, impressionistic and unconventional film poem.

10Bicycle Thieves, The (1948)

Vittorio de Sica

10Bicycle Thieves, The (1948)

Vittorio de Sica

Vittorio De Sica’s story of a father and son searching for a stolen bicycle on the streets of Rome is a classic of postwar Italian cinema.

11Breathless (1960)

Jean-Luc Godard

11Breathless (1960)

Jean-Luc Godard

12Raging Bull (1980)

Martin Scorsese

12Raging Bull (1980)

Martin Scorsese

Starring Robert De Niro as the middleweight boxer Jake La Motta, Scorsese’s biopic is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest films of the 1980s.

13Persona (1966)

Ingmar Bergman

13Persona (1966)

Ingmar Bergman

A nurse (Bibi Andersson) and an actress who refuses to speak (Liv Ullmann) seem to fuse identities in Ingmar Bergman’s disturbing, formally experimental psychological drama.

13400 Blows, The (1959)

François Truffaut

13400 Blows, The (1959)

François Truffaut

The directorial debut of film critic François Truffaut, this autobiographical story of a wayward child marked a fresh start for French cinema.

13Andrei Rublev (1966)

Andrei Tarkovsky

13Andrei Rublev (1966)

Andrei Tarkovsky

The life of a 15th century icon painter takes centre stage in Andrei Tarkovsky’s epic meditation on the place of art in turbulent times.

16Fanny and Alexander (1984)

Ingmar Bergman

16Fanny and Alexander (1984)

Ingmar Bergman

The grand summation of Ingmar Bergman’s career, this epic family drama drew on the director’s own childhood experiences in early 20th century Sweden.

17Seven Samurai (1954)

Akira Kurosawa

17Seven Samurai (1954)

Akira Kurosawa

Rice farmers hire a band of samurai to defend them against marauding bandits in Akira Kurosawa’s influential epic, a touchstone for action movies ever since.

18Rashomon (1950)

Akira Kurosawa

18Rashomon (1950)

Akira Kurosawa

Credited with bringing Japanese cinema to worldwide audiences, Akira Kurosawa’s breakthrough tells the story of a murder in the woods from four differing perspectives.

19Barry Lyndon (1975)

Stanley Kubrick

19Barry Lyndon (1975)

Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick’s exquisitely detailed adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel about the picaresque exploits of an 18th century Irish adventurer.

19Ordet (1955)

Carl Theodor Dreyer

19Ordet (1955)

Carl Theodor Dreyer

The penultimate film by the Danish master Carl Theodor Dreyer is a parable on the power of faith, set in a remote religious community.

21Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)

Robert Bresson

21Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)

Robert Bresson

Robert Bresson’s distinctive pared down style elicits extraordinary pathos from this devastating tale of an abused donkey passing from owner to owner.

22Modern Times (1936)

Charles Chaplin

22Modern Times (1936)

Charles Chaplin

The final outing for Charlie Chaplin’s beloved Tramp character finds him enduring the pratfalls and humiliations of work in an increasingly mechanised society.

22Atalante, L' (1934)

Jean Vigo

22Atalante, L' (1934)

Jean Vigo

Newly-weds begin their life together on a working barge in this luminous and poetic romance, the only feature film by director Jean Vigo.

22Sunrise (1927)

F. W. Murnau

22Sunrise (1927)

F. W. Murnau

Lured to Hollywood by producer William Fox, German Expressionist filmmaker F.W. Murnau created one of the silent cinema’s last and most luminous masterpieces.

22Règle du jeu, La (1939)

Jean Renoir

22Règle du jeu, La (1939)

Jean Renoir

Made on the cusp of WWII, Jean Renoir’s satire of the upper-middle classes was banned as demoralising by the French government for two decades after its release.

26Touch of Evil (1958)

Orson Welles

26Touch of Evil (1958)

Orson Welles

Orson Welles’ return to Hollywood after ten years working in Europe is a sleazy border tale in which he takes centre stage as gargantuan detective Hank Quinlan.

26Night of the Hunter, The (1955)

Charles Laughton

26Night of the Hunter, The (1955)

Charles Laughton

Actor Charles Laughton’s only film as a director is a complete one-off, a terrifying parable of the corruption of innocence featuring a career-best performance from Robert Mitchum.

26Battle of Algiers, The (1966)

Gillo Pontecorvo

26Battle of Algiers, The (1966)

Gillo Pontecorvo

Gillo Pontecorvo’s masterpiece about the turbulent last years of French colonial rule in Algeria, seen from the perspective of both the guerrilla revolutionaries and the French authorities.

26strada, La (1954)

Federico Fellini

26strada, La (1954)

Federico Fellini

A brutish travelling strongman (Anthony Quinn) acquires a waif-like young assistant (Giulietta Masina) before taking to the road in Federico Fellini’s acclaimed neo-realist fable.

30Stalker (1979)

Andrei Tarkovsky

30Stalker (1979)

Andrei Tarkovsky

30City Lights (1931)

Charles Chaplin

30City Lights (1931)

Charles Chaplin

The Tramp wins the affections of a blind flower seller (Virginia Cherrill) in this hilarious but heartbreaking comedy – one of Charlie Chaplin’s uncontested masterpieces.

30Avventura, L' (1960)

Michelangelo Antonioni

30Avventura, L' (1960)

Michelangelo Antonioni

In Michelangelo Antonioni’s groundbreaking and controversial arthouse milestone, the mystery of a woman’s disappearance from a Mediterranean island is left unresolved.

30Amarcord (1972)

Federico Fellini

30Amarcord (1972)

Federico Fellini

Federico Fellini returned for inspiration to his own childhood in 1930s Rimini for this colourful comedy-drama about life in a small seaside town under Fascist rule.

30Gospel According to St Matthew, The (1964)

Pier Paolo Pasolini

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s third feature abandons the profane in favour of the sacred in a documentary-like retelling of the story of Christ.

30Godfather: Part II, The (1974)

Francis Ford Coppola

30Godfather: Part II, The (1974)

Francis Ford Coppola

The expansive second part of Francis Ford Coppola’s Mafia saga continues the Corleone family story, charting in parallel young Vito’s earlier rise to prominence.

30Come And See (1985)

Elem Klimov

30Come And See (1985)

Elem Klimov

37Close-Up (1989)

Abbas Kiarostami

37Close-Up (1989)

Abbas Kiarostami

37Some Like It Hot (1959)

Billy Wilder

37Some Like It Hot (1959)

Billy Wilder

On the run from Chicago mobsters, two musicians don drag to join an all-girl jazz band fronted by Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe) in Billy Wilder’s hugely popular comedy.

37dolce vita, La (1960)

Federico Fellini

37dolce vita, La (1960)

Federico Fellini

Federico Fellini’s epic charts a week in the life of a tabloid journalist (Marcello Mastroianni) as the excesses of modern Roman life go on around him.

37Passion of Joan of Arc (1927)

Carl Theodor Dreyer

37Passion of Joan of Arc (1927)

Carl Theodor Dreyer

Silent cinema at its most sublimely expressive, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s masterpiece is an austere but hugely affecting dramatisation of the trial of St Joan.

37Playtime (1967)

Jacques Tati

37Playtime (1967)

Jacques Tati

37Man Escaped, A (1956)

Robert Bresson

37Man Escaped, A (1956)

Robert Bresson

37Viridiana (1961)

Luis Buñuel

37Viridiana (1961)

Luis Buñuel

In Luis Buñuel’s controversial masterpiece, a novice nun gets more than she bargains for when she turns her dead uncle’s estate into a home for beggars.

44Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Sergio Leone

The railroad rushes westward, bringing power and progress with it, in Sergio Leone’s grandest spaghetti western, an operatic homage to Hollywood’s mythology of the Old West.

44mépris, Le (1963)

Jean-Luc Godard

44mépris, Le (1963)

Jean-Luc Godard

Working with his biggest budget to date, Jean-Luc Godard created a sublime widescreen drama about marital breakdown, set during pre-production on a film shoot.

44Apartment, The (1960)

Billy Wilder

44Apartment, The (1960)

Billy Wilder

In Wilder’s Oscar-winning comedy, Jack Lemmon plays an office worker who lends his apartment to adulterous superiors in order to get ahead.

44Hour of the Wolf (1968)

Ingmar Bergman

44Hour of the Wolf (1968)

Ingmar Bergman

48Searchers, The (1956)

John Ford

48Searchers, The (1956)

John Ford

John Ford created perhaps the greatest of all westerns with this tale of a Civil War veteran doggedly hunting the Comanche who have kidnapped his niece.

48Psycho (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock

48Psycho (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock

48Man with a Movie Camera (1929)

Dziga Vertov

An impression of city life in the Soviet Union, The Man with a Movie Camera is the best-known film of experimental documentary pioneer Dziga Vertov.

48Shoah (1985)

Claude Lanzmann

48Shoah (1985)

Claude Lanzmann

48Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

David Lean

An eccentric English officer inspires the Arabs to unite against the Turks during WWI in David Lean’s seven Oscar-winner, an epic in every sense.

48eclisse, L' (1962)

Michelangelo Antonioni

48eclisse, L' (1962)

Michelangelo Antonioni

48Pickpocket (1959)

Robert Bresson

48Pickpocket (1959)

Robert Bresson

48Pather Panchali (1955)

Satyajit Ray

48Pather Panchali (1955)

Satyajit Ray

The first part of Satyajit Ray’s acclaimed Apu Trilogy is a lyrical, closely observed story of a peasant family in 1920s rural India.

48Rear Window (1954)

Alfred Hitchcock

48Rear Window (1954)

Alfred Hitchcock

48Goodfellas (1990)

Martin Scorsese

48Goodfellas (1990)

Martin Scorsese

59Blow Up (1966)

Michelangelo Antonioni

59Blow Up (1966)

Michelangelo Antonioni

The refined visual style of Italian maestro Michelangelo Antonioni collides with swinging 60s London in this story of a man who may have unwittingly photographed a murder.

59Conformist, The (1970)

Bernardo Bertolucci

59Conformist, The (1970)

Bernardo Bertolucci

Bernardo Bertolucci’s stylish period thriller stars Jean-Louis Trintignant as a repressed bureaucrat in Mussolini’s Italy who is assigned to kill his former professor.

59Gertrud (1964)

Carl Theodor Dreyer

59Gertrud (1964)

Carl Theodor Dreyer

59Blue Velvet (1986)

David Lynch

59Blue Velvet (1986)

David Lynch

In David Lynch’s idiosyncratic drama, a young man’s curiosity draws him into the twisted criminal sub-culture operating beneath the placid surface of his cosy hometown.

59grande illusion, La (1937)

Jean Renoir

Jean Renoir’s pacifist classic is set in a German prisoner-of-war camp during WWI, where class kinship is felt across national boundaries.

67Badlands (1973)

Terrence Malick

67Badlands (1973)

Terrence Malick

67Blade Runner (1982)

Ridley Scott

67Blade Runner (1982)

Ridley Scott

Loosely adapted from a novel by Phillip K. Dick, Ridley Scott’s dark, saturated vision of 2019 Los Angeles is a classic of popular science-fiction cinema.

67Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Billy Wilder

67Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Billy Wilder

The most caustic of European émigré directors, Wilder explored the movie industry and the delusions of stardom in Hollywood’s great poison pen letter to itself.

67Ugetsu Monogatari (1953)

Mizoguchi Kenji

67Ugetsu Monogatari (1953)

Mizoguchi Kenji

In war-torn 16th-century Japan, two men leave their wives to seek wealth and glory in Kenji Mizoguchi’s tragic supernatural classic.

67Singin' in the Rain (1951)

Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly

67Singin' in the Rain (1951)

Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly

Hollywood’s troubled transition from silent to talking pictures at the end of the 1920s provided the inspiration for perhaps the greatest of movie musicals.

67Journey to Italy (1954)

Roberto Rossellini

67Journey to Italy (1954)

Roberto Rossellini

This devastating study of a marriage coming apart during a holiday in Italy is the best known of the films Roberto Rossellini made with his wife Ingrid Bergman.

67Vivre Sa Vie (1962)

Jean-Luc Godard

67Vivre Sa Vie (1962)

Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard’s fourth feature – his third with wife and muse Anna Karina – charts in 12 tableaux a would-be actress’s descent into prostitution.

75Seventh Seal, The (1957)

Ingmar Bergman

75Seventh Seal, The (1957)

Ingmar Bergman

During the plague-ravaged middle ages, a knight buys time for himself by playing chess with Death in Bergman’s much-imitated arthouse classic.

75Hidden (2004)

Michael Haneke

75Hidden (2004)

Michael Haneke

75Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Sergei M Eisenstein

75Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Sergei M Eisenstein

A fixture in the critical canon almost since its premiere, Sergei Eisenstein’s film about a 1905 naval mutiny was revolutionary in both form and content.

75M (1931)

Fritz Lang

75M (1931)

Fritz Lang

For his first sound film Fritz Lang turned to the story of a child killer (Peter Lorre), who is hunted down by police and underworld alike.

75There Will Be Blood (2007)

Paul Thomas Anderson

75There Will Be Blood (2007)

Paul Thomas Anderson

This operatic portrait of a diabolical oil baron is a formal tour de force and a compelling portrait of all-American 20th century sociopathy.

75Shining, The (1980)

Stanley Kubrick

75Shining, The (1980)

Stanley Kubrick

75General, The (1926)

Buster Keaton

75General, The (1926)

Buster Keaton

Train driver Buster Keaton gives chase when Union agents steal his locomotive in this classic silent comedy set at the time of the American Civil War.

75Mulholland Dr (2003)

David Lynch

75Mulholland Dr (2003)

David Lynch

75Clockwork Orange, A (1971)

Stanley Kubrick

75Clockwork Orange, A (1971)

Stanley Kubrick

A dystopian future London is the playground of a teenage gang leader in Stanley Kubrick’s stylish, controversial take on Anthony Burgess’s novel about violence and free will.

75Fear Eats the Soul (1974)

Rainer Werner Fassbinder

75Fear Eats the Soul (1974)

Rainer Werner Fassbinder

75Kes (1969)

Ken Loach

75Kes (1969)

Ken Loach

The tough, touching story of a northern schoolboy and the kestrel that brings hope to his hardscrabble life remains the most widely admired of Ken Loach’s films.

75Husbands (1970)

John Cassavetes

75Husbands (1970)

John Cassavetes

75Wild Bunch, The (1969)

Sam Peckinpah

75Wild Bunch, The (1969)

Sam Peckinpah

A gang of outlaws goes out in a blaze of violence and glory in Sam Peckinpah’s elegiac film about the dying days of the wild west.

75Jaws (1975)

Steven Spielberg

75Jaws (1975)

Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg laid the template for the modern summer blockbuster with this expert thriller about the hunt for a man-eating great white shark.

75Los Olvidados (1950)

Luis Buñuel

75Los Olvidados (1950)

Luis Buñuel

91Pierrot le Fou (1965)

Jean-Luc Godard

91Pierrot le Fou (1965)

Jean-Luc Godard

Riffing on the classic couple-on-the run movie, enfant terrible Jean-Luc Godard took the narrative innovations of the French New Wave close to breaking point.

91chien andalou, Un (1928)

Luis Buñuel

91chien andalou, Un (1928)

Luis Buñuel

91Chinatown (1974)

Roman Polanski

91Chinatown (1974)

Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski’s brilliant thriller stars Jack Nicholson as a private eye uncovering corruption in 1930s Los Angeles, a desert town where water equals power.

91Beau Travail (1998)

Claire Denis

91Beau Travail (1998)

Claire Denis

91Opening Night (1977)

John Cassavetes

91Opening Night (1977)

John Cassavetes

91Gold Rush, The (1925)

Charles Chaplin

91Gold Rush, The (1925)

Charles Chaplin

91Deer Hunter, The (1977)

Michael Cimino

91Deer Hunter, The (1977)

Michael Cimino

Along with Apocalypse Now, Michael Cimino’s brutal but ultimately contemplative war movie is a key American cinematic take on the Vietnam conflict.

91argent, L' (1983)

Robert Bresson

91argent, L' (1983)

Robert Bresson

Robert Bresson’s last film turns a Tolstoy novella about a forged banknote into a formidably focused meditation on the supposed root of all evil.

91Sans Soleil (1982)

Chris Marker

91Sans Soleil (1982)

Chris Marker

91Don't Look Now (1973)

Nicolas Roeg

91Don't Look Now (1973)

Nicolas Roeg

Set in off-season Venice, British director Nicolas Roeg’s tragedy combines an acute study of grief with a supernaturally charged thriller plot, to beautiful and devastating effect.

91I am Cuba (1964)

Mikhail Kalatozov

91I am Cuba (1964)

Mikhail Kalatozov

91Last Year At Marienbad (1961)

Alain Resnais

In Alain Resnais’ infamous art-house teaser, from a screenplay by Alain Robbe-Grillet, a male guest at a chateau claims he met a woman there the year before.

91Samouraï, Le (1967)

Jean-Pierre Melville

91Samouraï, Le (1967)

Jean-Pierre Melville

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