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Top 50 films of all time
(limit one film per director) (updated January 2013) 
1.  Viaggio in Italia
    (Roberto Rossellini, 1953)
An elusive film - difficult to categorise and strange to watch. Its levels of thematic meaning are multifarious, and its stylistics are typically (for Rossellini) "styleless". A film about crisis - the couple's, but also cinema's (what is cinema? what is narrative?). An undiscovered film (despite Cahiers' praise).

2.  Au Hasard, Balthazar
    (Robert Bresson, 1966)
A donkey's journey - from beautiful birth, to suffering at the hands of humans, to a lonely but peaceful death. Bresson is not Spielberg - there is no artificial anthropomorphisation going on here. But we certainly feel for the animal. Sharp and stylised, Balthazar is a luminous and profound film, and incredibly moving.

3.  Je Vous salue, Marie
    (Jean-Luc Godard, 1984)
Far from blasphemous, this film is possibly Godard's sincerest and most spiritual work. It feels like he was inspired making this film - every nature shot is sublime, every human interaction is sweet (for Godard), and the music (Bach and Dvorak) just soars. Directed with a light touch, this film is a blessing.

4.  Seventh Heaven 
    (Frank Borzage, 1927)
The most ambitious of Borzage's love stories featuring Gaynor and Farrell, and the loveliest. Gaynor especially is extraordinary, whether vulnerable, warm or distraught. Despite some tedious war sequences near the end, Seventh Heaven is a masterpiece of transcendental love in the face of separation.

5.  Salò
    (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1975)
An artistic gamble, but the horror that Salò presents is salutary. A gamble because Pasolini knew he would be attacked by all sides, and also because it is risky throwing everything into a film. Salutary because cinema is too often fanciful - sometimes the images need to be harsh, violent, shocking.

6.  Les Parapluies de Cherbourg
    (Jacques Demy, 1964)
A stunning formal experiment, a delightful piece of whimsy, and a profound tear-jerker all at the same time. Deneuve shines as Demy pulls out all the stops in this beautiful tale of lost love. It is Nouvelle Vague-free, but also disciplined and controlled. Of its kind, it is the original and the best.

7.  Toute une nuit
    (Chantal Akerman, 1982)
A somewhat neglected work in Akerman's oeuvre, Toute une nuit is a singular masterpiece of experimental narrative and heightened states of love. Far from a cold or theoretical work, the film magically penetrates the everyday to reveal the seismic forces of passion lurking underneath. A physically moving film.. 

8.  Love Streams
      (John Cassavetes, 1983)
In a career of many wonderful films, it is hard to choose one of Cassavetes' films above the others, but Love Streams stands out as the bravest of the films - mature, rough, loose, moving, wild, precious, and thought-provoking. It has the added poignancy of being the last (proper) film of this great actor-director.

9Happy Together
    (Wong Kar-wai, 1997)
Wong uses Astor Piazzola's music as a kind of emotional glue, as fragments of a triangle relationship disappear into the neon lights of the strange and beautiful world Wong creates. This is a wild cinema - low light, wide angles, sharp editing - but also a poignant cinema, one of desire, regret, empathy.

10 Rush It 
    (Gary Youngman, 1976)
A modest but miraculous film about a New York bicycle courier (Judy Kahan, in a great performance) who discovers love. It starts as a feel-good portrait of urban life, with screwball touches, then develops into a beautifully-shaded study of the emotions. Funny, perceptive, uplifting, Rush It is an absolute joy.

11.  L'Age d'or      (Luis Buñuel, 1930)
12.  Identificazione di una donna      (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1982)
13.  La Règle du Jeu       (Jean Renoir, 1939)
14.  Elle a passé tant d'heures sous les sunlights ...      (Philippe Garrel, XXXX)
15.  Tokyo Story       (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)
16.  Le maman et la putan      (Jean Eustache, 1973)
17.  Le rayon vert        (Eric Rohmer, 1986)
18.  Gertrud           (Carl Dreyer, 1964)
19.  It's a Wonderful Life         (Frank Capra, 1946)
20.  Taste Of Cherry       (Abbas Kiarostami, 1998)
21.  Celine et Julie vont en bateau       (Jacques Rivette, 1974)
22.  Peter Ibbetson     (Henry Hathaway, 1935)
23.  Le Plaisir          (Max Ophüls, 1951)
24.  Punch-Drunk Love           (PT Anderson, XXXX)
25.  Vertigo        (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
26.  L'Oeil du malin         (Claude Chabrol, 1962)
27.  The Railway Children       (Lionel Jeffries, 1970)
28.  Make Way For Tomorrow     (Leo McCarey, 1937)
29.  Tombstone for Fireflies        (Isao Takahata, 1987)
30.  Squareworld         (Kenji Onishi, 1996)
31.  The King of Comedy         (Martin Scorsese, 1983)
32.  Playtime         (Jacques Tati, 1968)
33.  Girlfriends        (Claudia Weill, 1978)
34.  Umberto D.        (Vittorio De Sica, 1952)
35.  Landscape in the Mist       (Theo Angelopoulos, XXXX)
36.  The Night of the Hunter       (Charles Laughton, 1955)
37.  Scorpio Rising       (Kenneth Anger, 1963)
38.  Zorn's Lemma        (Hollis Frampton, 1970)
39.  Christine       (Alan Clarke, 1987)
40.  Family Life        (Ken Loach, 1972)
41.  Naked            (Mike Leigh, 1993)
42.  Gone to Earth        (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1950)
43.  L'Atalante       (Jean Vigo, 1934)
44.  La Jetée          (Chris Marker, 1962)
45.  There's Always Tomorrow         (Douglas Sirk, 1956)
46.  Tropical Malady        (AAAAA, XXXX)
47.  Wavelength       (Michael Snow, 1967)
48.  Alone        (Stephen Dwoskin, 1963)
49.  Turnaround      (Michael Lee, 1984)
50.  Twentynine Palms      (Bruno Dumont, 2004)

See also      Top 50 directors of all time