Cahiers du cinéma’s 100 Greatest Films

French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma have compiled a list of the 100 greatest films of all time.

It is published this month in an illustrated book and was put together by 76 French film directors, critics and industry executives.

Here are the 100 films:

  1. Citizen Kane – Orson Welles
  2. The Night of the Hunter – Charles Laughton
  3. The Rules of the Game (La Règle du jeu) – Jean Renoir
  4. Sunrise – Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
  5. L’Atalante – Jean Vigo
  6. M – Fritz Lang
  7. Singin’ in the Rain – Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly
  8. Vertigo – Alfred Hitchcock
  9. Children of Paradise (Les Enfants du Paradis) – Marcel Carné
  10. The Searchers – John Ford
  11. Greed – Erich von Stroheim
  12. Rio Bravo – Howard Hawkes
  13. To Be or Not to Be – Ernst Lubitsch
  14. Tokyo Story – Yasujiro Ozu
  15. Contempt (Le Mépris) – Jean-Luc Godard
  16. Tales of Ugetsu (Ugetsu monogatari) – Kenji Mizoguchi
  17. City Lights – Charlie Chaplin
  18. The General – Buster Keaton
  19. Nosferatu the Vampire – Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
  20. The Music Room – Satyajit Ray
  21. Freaks – Tod Browning
  22. Johnny Guitar – Nicholas Ray
  23. The Mother and the Whore (La Maman et la Putain) – Jean Eustache
  24. The Great Dictator – Charlie Chaplin
  25. The Leopard (Le Guépard) – Luchino Visconti
  26. Hiroshima, My Love – Alain Resnais
  27. The Box of Pandora (Loulou) – Georg Wilhelm Pabst
  28. North by Northwest – Alfred Hitchcock
  29. Pickpocket – Robert Bresson
  30. Golden Helmet (Casque d’or) – Jacques Becker
  31. The Barefoot Contessa – Joseph Mankiewitz
  32. Moonfleet – Fritz Lang
  33. Diamond Earrings (Madame de…) – Max Ophüls
  34. Pleasure – Max Ophüls
  35. The Deer Hunter – Michael Cimino
  36. The Adventure – Michelangelo Antonioni
  37. Battleship Potemkin – Sergei M. Eisenstein
  38. Notorious – Alfred Hitchcock
  39. Ivan the Terrible – Sergei M. Eisenstein
  40. The Godfather – Francis Ford Coppola
  41. Touch of Evil – Orson Welles
  42. The Wind – Victor Sjöström
  43. 2001: A Space Odyssey – Stanley Kubrick
  44. Fanny and Alexander – Ingmar Bergman
  45. The Crowd – King Vidor
  46. 8 1/2 – Federico Fellini
  47. La Jetée – Chris Marker
  48. Pierrot le Fou – Jean-Luc Godard
  49. Confessions of a Cheat (Le Roman d’un tricheur) – Sacha Guitry
  50. Amarcord – Federico Fellini
  51. Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête) – Jean Cocteau
  52. Some Like It Hot – Billy Wilder
  53. Some Came Running – Vincente Minnelli
  54. Gertrud – Carl Theodor Dreyer
  55. King Kong – Ernst Shoedsack & Merian J. Cooper
  56. Laura – Otto Preminger
  57. The Seven Samurai – Akira Kurosawa
  58. The 400 Blows – François Truffaut
  59. La Dolce Vita – Federico Fellini
  60. The Dead – John Huston
  61. Trouble in Paradise – Ernst Lubitsch
  62. It’s a Wonderful Life – Frank Capra
  63. Monsieur Verdoux – Charlie Chaplin
  64. The Passion of Joan of Arc – Carl Theodor Dreyer
  65. À bout de souffle – Jean-Luc Godard
  66. Apocalypse Now – Francis Ford Coppola
  67. Barry Lyndon – Stanley Kubrick
  68. La Grande Illusion – Jean Renoir
  69. Intolerance – David Wark Griffith
  70. A Day in the Country (Partie de campagne) – Jean Renoir
  71. Playtime – Jacques Tati
  72. Rome, Open City – Roberto Rossellini
  73. Livia (Senso) – Luchino Visconti
  74. Modern Times – Charlie Chaplin
  75. Van Gogh – Maurice Pialat
  76. An Affair to Remember – Leo McCarey
  77. Andrei Rublev – Andrei Tarkovsky
  78. The Scarlet Empress – Joseph von Sternberg
  79. Sansho the Bailiff – Kenji Mizoguchi
  80. Talk to Her – Pedro Almodóvar
  81. The Party – Blake Edwards
  82. Tabu – Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
  83. The Bandwagon – Vincente Minnelli
  84. A Star Is Born – George Cukor
  85. Mr. Hulot’s Holiday – Jacques Tati
  86. America, America – Elia Kazan
  87. El – Luis Buñuel
  88. Kiss Me Deadly – Robert Aldrich
  89. Once Upon a Time in America – Sergio Leone
  90. Daybreak (Le Jour se lève) – Marcel Carné
  91. Letter from an Unknown Woman – Max Ophüls
  92. Lola – Jacques Demy
  93. Manhattan – Woody Allen
  94. Mulholland Dr. – David Lynch
  95. My Night at Maud’s (Ma nuit chez Maud) – Eric Rohmer
  96. Night and Fog (Nuit et Brouillard) – Alain Resnais
  97. The Gold Rush – Charlie Chaplin
  98. Scarface – Howard Hawks
  99. Bicycle Thieves – Vittorio de Sica
  100. Napoléon – Abel Gance

The reaction from some outlets in this country is surprise that there are no British films on the list.

The Telegraph say:

The list in the publication Les Cahiers du Cinema features films from the USA, Germany, Russia, Italy and Sweden but there is no place for some of the biggest British directors including David Lean, Ken Loach and Peter Greenaway.

British-born Alfred Hitchcock and Charlie Chaplin are both mentioned but only for the movies that they made in Hollywood.

The nearest the British cinema industry comes to a mention is the 17th (equal) place given to 2001: A Space Odyssey, made in 1968, by the American director, Stanley Kubrick, partly with British money and with British technicians.

The 1962 classic Lawrence of Arabia came seventh in a recent list of the best 100 movies drawn up by the American Film Institute in Hollywood but is perhaps the highest profile omission.

Jean-Michel Frodon, the editor of Les Cahiers du Cinema, has pointed out that the lack of British-made films was “striking” but not part of any Gallic conspiracy:

“It does not reflect an anti-British bias. It is simply the result of the individual choices of 76 people in the French industry. Each was asked to name their 100 best films and this was the result.

Yes, it is surprising, maybe, that there is no Lawrence of Arabia, or no film by Ken Loach or Stephen Frears (The Queen).

But there are many other national film industries which are also missing. There are no Brazilian films, for instance.”

Some British films that should have made the list would surely include:

That said, if you were to ask me what are the truly great British films of the last 20 years, then I would struggle to come up with one.

In May 1957 a former editor of Cahiers (and later director) Francois Truffaut once remarked:

“The British cinema is made of dullness and reflects a submissive lifestyle, where enthusiasm, warmth, and zest are nipped in the bud. A film is a born loser just because it is English.

Maybe nothing has changed in 50 years.

> The Telegraph on the list
> Official site for Cahiers du Cinema
> Geoffrey MacNab of The Guardian in 2001 on Cahiers du Cinema

98 thoughts on “Cahiers du cinéma’s 100 Greatest Films”

  1. It doesn’t really matter where films come from, but really there should be some Powell & Pressburger on this list. It’s a howling omission. The lack of Herzog is also ludicrous.

    Moonfleet!? That’s the first time I’ve ever seen that on a list of this kind.

  2. That was, by far, the most pointless top 100 list ever created. Most of those films, including Citizen Kane, more overrated than Abraham Lincoln…

    It doesn’t include:
    Pulp Fiction
    Fargo
    Star Wars
    Halloween
    Suspiria
    Dawn of the Dead (1978)
    The Shawshank Redemption
    The Departed
    Titanic
    No Country for Old Men
    Goodfellas
    Casino

    What the Hell, people? Have you all been living under a rock for the past 25 years? If you put the Godfather, you HAVE to put the Godfather Part II, which was substantially better than its predecessor.

  3. im sorry, we all rolled over the crass notion that ‘billy elliot’ should be enrolled in the top 100 films of all time. i can only conceive that this was a drunken error, and not possibly considered ever a contender. i can agree that ‘freaks’ is an oversight, it may have been arguably groundbreaking but certainly not great cinema. maybe the list should be more perceived as ‘cinema’ and not ‘movies’, in which case, contemporary ‘cinema’ if we can call it that, does not really deserve to have as many entries within the last 20 yrs as people would like. as much as it is a good movie, ‘pulp fiction’ cannot be classed in the same vein as something a well delivered as ‘dr. strangelove’, or ‘sunset boulevard’; ‘godfather’ notably deserves its place, i would argue higher, but in an uncomprehensibly large and diverse medium, i dont think anyone could ever collectively define the 100 greatest films of all time. film and cinema is greatly personal. its also generational. i could argue that the coens ‘blood simple’ and ‘fargo’ are works of exceptional depth and poignancy, im incredibly impressed with nolan, coppola and kubrick, but thats my opinion, and to think that would carry to the hoi polloi would be inherently facetious. i personally have no love for as many chaplin films on this list, and i personally hate woody allen. nor will anyone ever collectively be truly truly satisfied with a complete and definitive list as short as 100 ‘films’, its silly to try. each film you have ever seen has moved you in a different way, this is why we have even bothered to view this list. cinema is personal, and each person will find different qualities in every film. but hopefully, we can all rally round and collectively argue that billy elliot is shit? :)

  4. A Top-100 Movies list that leaves out The Lord Of The Rings is one I can’t get on board with. I love older movies too, but you’ve completely skewed their representation. You’re honestly telling me that “Freaks” is a far better movie than any part of the Lord Of The Rings saga or Chinatown? Are you out of your mind?

  5. no bunuel, no eisenstein? no iranian films? what kind of top 100 list is this? whatever happened to the refined french sensibilities?

  6. “what about The Dark Knight or the Shawshank Redemption? they both rank so high on the imdb. is that site just full of fanboys and college sophomores who eat that crap up?”

    Yes, it is. The Dark Knight is a good movie. Best movie ever made? It hasn’t even come out on DVD yet, just relax. Shawshank is a good movie. Inspirational? Life-changing? There are subtler ways to do things other than blatant voice-over narration. Literacy rates are down and masturbation rates are up. Coincidence?

  7. Where is Werner Herzog?? ‘Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes’ and ‘Fitzcarraldo’ are among two of the most influential pieces of cinema in the past 30 years–definitely some of the most honest. As for great British movies: ‘Withnail & I’. Surely makes my top 10!

  8. A list is just a list is just a list, and a list today would be a different list tomorrow. I think I’ve seen 80 of the films. If you think about the films left out then it’s easy to see that there’s not much room for British films – I certainly wouldn’t want anything by Ken Russel there, and I’d rather a Mike Leigh than a David Lean. Anyway, you could add a few from Imamura and Kurosawa and Ozu. No Bergman. Tarkovsky under represented. No Terry Malick, no Wajda, no Johnny To, no Buñuel. And why would anyone leave out Pather Panchali? I suppose it just proves that I’m not a French cinema critic.

  9. That was, by far, the worse top 100 list ever created.

    It doesn’t include:
    Fight Club
    Jaws
    Pulp Fiction
    Star Wars
    Batman The Dark Night
    Lord of Rings
    City of God
    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    Blade Runner

    They don’t know nothing about films.

  10. Speaking as a Brit, i’m not in the least bit offended that there aren’t any British films on the list – it just reflects the persepective with which one should view these lists (it’s 70-odd French writers for God’s sake!). Speaking of which, however, the complete lack of contemporary film hints that this list is useful only for nostalgists. I’m a 26 year-old who’s grown up, for better or worse, on Fincher, Gondry, the Coen Brothers and PT Anderson, so this list does not speak for me.

    Still, the general order of the list is striking. ‘Seven Samura’, ‘Bicycle Thieves’ and ‘Fanny & Alexander’ so low down?! Please…

  11. where’s Gone with the Wind??? Casablanca??? The Wizard of Oz??? and 2001: A Space Odyssey should be at least in the top 20!

  12. I was relieved to see Kazan on the list, but the choice is inexplicable. Streetcar, Baby Doll and On the Waterfront are his masterworks, more influential than most other directors’ work, not only among filmmakers but in life as we perceive it, as we live it, as we interact with each other. Is this not the dream of all serious artists and should we not reflect seriously on the influence of that great triumvirate — Williams, Kazan and Brando — who show us the light and the way there?

  13. A shockingly bad list. I echo the shock at the omission of films like Gone with the Wind, Rashomon, Lawrence of Arabia, All About Eve, Sunset Boulevard, Casablanca, Wizard of Oz,
    The Third Man, Brief Encounter, etc., and add newer masterpieces like City of God, The Pianist, Brokeback Mountain, Spring Summer Fall Winter…Spring, Water, Satantango, Breaking the Waves, Network, etc. And France’s own greatest Grand Illusion only at #68? They also forgot their own Au Hasard Balthazar, L’Atalante, Le Million and Napoleon, among others. Wow, bad.

  14. I can easily see leaving Star Wars off the list, if one wants the list to be based on filmmaking skill. For all of its economic influence it’s a pretty clumsily made movie. Perhaps that is the true source of its unending popularity: It is so poorly written and acted that it fairly invites viewers to reshape it as a more complex, nuanced film in their heads/fanfiction/cosplay.

    Nor do I get the love for Pulp Fiction. It’s diverting, sure, but remove its cavalcade of references to other films and television programs and you don’t have a lot. Tarantino writes eminently quotable dialogue but he’s not a particularly insightful filmmaker; his films are like term papers from a student is better read than he is educated.

    But yeah, Godfather II, Lawrence of Arabia and Peeping Tom deserve spots on the list.

  15. 2001 is definitely an American film. Two films which are definitely British and should be on this list: Don’t Look Now and The Wicker Man.

    I don’t know what’s more depressing: that the Cahiers du Cinema people seem to think good cinema ended in about 1963; or that so many people on here seem to think that they know a lot about cinema when clearly they’ve seen next to nothing that was made in a language other than English or before 1977. If you haven’t seen The General, Battleship Potemkin, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, M, La Regle du jeu or L’Avventura (to name but a few) then you have no right whatsoever to comment on this list.

  16. There are far more superior lists and examinations of movies than this. Take a look at the theyshootpicturs.com’s 1000 greatest, which pulls together top 10s from every industry person they can find. thependragon.co.uk’s top 1000 films are voted on by contributors aged from 19-76 years old and thus the list does not discriminate on the age of the film.

  17. I have learned to distrust French film critics…any British film on the list would be a concession, if not a kind of betrayal.

    The list can hardly be considered objective, it is full of French directors who have made no better films than the British or Indians. Personally, almost any early film by the Bengali director Satyajit Ray is better than most of the films by Renoir, Vigo, Godard, Resnais, Bresson, Cocteau, Rohmer or even the great Truffaut.

    Any list of this kind must ultmately be qualified as subjective- ‘A List of the greatest films of all time by a bunch of French intellectuals that get their tickets free and think that Truffaut is God…etc, etc,’

    The greatest film is the one that you like the most, period.

  18. At 49th I found Mr.Guitry……Amazed…..
    It’ s quite bizarre I dont’ find any Bunuel or Herzog ! ! ! ! ! !
    If you pretend to rank the ideal movies as a suggestion for cinema lovers there’s something wrong ! ! ! ! ! !
    Peace.

  19. I have to refute the idea that 2001 is not a (primarily at least) British film. Made at Shepperton and Elstree with a British crew and supporting cast, and a screenplay co-written by Arthur C Clarke based on his short story. Fair enough, MGM put up the money and Kubrick (who spent most of his career In Britain anyway) directed it, but Leonard Rossiter’s in it for goodness sake, how more British can you get?

    I won’t comment on the omissions as you will always leave out deserving films in a list of only 100, but some of the inclusions are truly bizarre. Moonfleet? Not exactly the First fritz Lang film to spring to mind. I quite like The Party, but i’ve never seen it on any kind of list like this before, but perhaps the french like it because it’s so Tati-esque.

  20. Those who don’t see films of Eisenstein, Bergman, Gance or Bunuel have to buy glasses. The fact that you have forgotten them means that you haven’t watched well the list. So, how can you criticize it ?
    I think there is two defaults in this list : first, there isn’t recent movies enough (Wong Kar-Wai, Lars von Trier, Abbas Kiarostami,…) ; and there is too much occidental movies (above all American and French).
    A French friend.
    PS : thank you Georges Fercalli for your very, very great suggestions. At least, we can say that you are a great specialist in cinema !

  21. The good list has turned out. Only in it not 100, but only 86 pictures. There are no English pictures? And it is true, as an English cinema mediocre enough. It is much weaker American, French, German, Russian and Italian. Who watches English film? On the whole Englishmen. Not in France, not in Russia it isn’t popular. So that Truffaut of the rights!

    P.S. Thus Englishmen extremely aren’t attentive, as it is possible not to notice a film Buñuel
    in the list.

  22. where are taxi driver, goodfellas, raging bull, rashomon, m*a*s*h, casablanca, schindler’s list, godfather II, chinatown, once upon a time in west, ran, pulp fiction, starwars, fargo, annie hall, treasures of sierra madre, psycho, graduate, blow up, rosemary’s baby, tenant, conversation, jaws, wild strawberries, persona, lawrence of arabia, third man, dr.strangelove, ordet, last year in marienbad, Solyaris, a clockwork orange, the good the bad and the ugly, high noon, L’avventura , seventh seal, the red shoes, The Maltese Falcon, Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie, His Girl Friday , Le notti di Cabiria , Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes , shadows and …
    no scorsese!
    films on the list are great but so many better movies are outta list. nat a bad list, but not a good list either. I’ve seen better. a disappointment for french critics.

  23. It is hard to argue with the top 10 films in this list. I’m glad to see that they included “The Night of the Hunter” and “The Searchers” in the top 10. To me that gives the list a great deal of credibility, as both are masterpieces of the highest order, and reward repeated viewings. Overall very good and informative list.

  24. i think each one of us is free to make his own list of best movies but personaly i don’t like this list it’s unfaire there are lots of great movies that should have been in this ranking like raging bull, fargo, goodfellas, e.t., shindler list,on the water front, dr. strangelove, the dekalog, three color, pulp fiction, aguirre the wrath of god, do the right thing,…. i think lots of great movies that are better than movies like talk to her or mullholand drive are not in this ranking that’s why i think it’s unfaire

  25. Not a great list, but the outrage over not including films like The Dark Knight, Lord of the Rings, The Shawshank Redemption.. is just preposterous.

  26. I laugh at these silly americans calling for their films to be on this list. No wonder everyone hates you. The dark knight? Really? casablanca? Should that even be considered a film?
    Probably Pulp Fiction should have made it.
    But don’t be stupid americans, your ‘films’ aren’t that great. Films from Japan, France, Germany, set the standard for the generation of filmmaking. You guys just have the money.

  27. I like this list, not because I think it’s the most consummate list of the “most beautiful/greatest films ever”, but because it’s a little bit different. AFI has it’s list, and it’s all American and pretty poppy in comparison. Sight and Sound do their list, which is more eclectic and international, and more concerned with historical and influential films.

    Here, The Night of the Hunter is at number 2, a strong statement and I think a justified one. This list gives love to Lubitsch and Hawks — placing To Be Or Not To Be and Rio Bravo in the top 20 — which polls of these kind rarely do, as many consider those two masters to be pure genre, Hollywood-assembly-line entertainers, which they were. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t great.

    By not picking the obvious choices — Music Room but not Pather Panchali, Notorious but not Psycho, Pickpocket but not Au Hasard Balthazar, Fanny and Alexander but not Persona or The Seventh Seal — this lists inspires readers to go out and see the lesser known great films out there, the “second tier” work of great filmmakers. This list suggests that these films are just as worthy if not more worthy than their more acclaimed brethren.

    After seeing this list, I went out and watched Contempt and Laura and The Scarlet Empress and the work of Max Ophuls. You don’t often see these pieces on Greatest Movies lists, but they deserve to be watched none the less. And because the main purpose of polls like these is really to recommend great movies to young film lovers, this list is perfectly adequate. Let’s not get hung up on all the omissions, cause honestly, we each could do our own Top 100 and they would all be completely different. There is NO perfect Greatest Movies List.

  28. Of British films of the last 20 years, Trainspotting is one worthy of a list that appears to have been taken hostage by nostalgia.

  29. At the risk of playing the “Emperor’s clothes” boy, I will say that there are about 10 films here that I consider to be nearly unwatchable. Inscrutably, tediously pretentious. Or saccharine/hokey beyond belief. Or downright kitsch. Besides the unwarranted snub to British directors, I get the impression that Bergman is not exactly beloved to the CAHIERS crowd…

  30. The French have that cornball, “Pierrot” sense of humor… which in 2014 looks quite creaky.

  31. I wouldn’t take lists like this too seriously. They are basically a snapshot of tastes at a particular time, designed to provoke debate.
    There is no ‘Top 10′ or ‘Top 100′ films of all time.

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