A 100 Best Films List

Peter RisT


I humbly submit my latest attempt at making a "100 Best Films" list. I understand why most intelligent film scholars reject list-making and canon formation altogether. I do it mainly because I'm appalled at all of the lists I see in print. The AFI Best 100 American Films is, of course, the worst of the well-known examples because it was a totally corrupt exercise at promoting Hollywood (Major) studio films that were already available on video. It did nothing to help preserve and distribute worthy and lesser-known titles.


I also have problems in producing a list of only 100 films. The BFI idea of creating a repertory of 360 films for every (non-holi)day of the year is a great one, but unfortunately, theirs is much too heavily weighted towards Hollywood product -- over one third of the titles are American (139).


My own film studies formation (at Concordia and NYU) led me to see more American and French films than any other, and most people would agree that in the historical development of film style, they are the two key nations. But the Hollywood dominance of "best films" lists has become unacceptable. (And, I am sure that if FSAC were to do a compilation of their own members' choices, we would see a similar trend.) My list reflects a choice of films which, for me, represents the development of "Film as Art" whatever that might mean. I regret the exclusion of animated films÷I considered including one or two titles, but in the end decided it was best for me to stay away from a field I know very little about. I didn't deliberately exclude "entertainment" -- approximately a quarter of my list could classify here -- but this was not a major consideration.


Peter Rist
Concordia University



The List

Le voyage dans la lune 1902 Le voyage dans la lune (France) Georges Méliès (photo at right)

1913 Juve contre Fantômas (France) Louis Feuillade
1916 Intolerance (USA) D. W. Griffith
1917 The Immigrant (USA) Charles Chaplin
1918 The Blue Bird (USA) Maurice Tourneur/Ben Carré
1919 Herr Arnes Pengar [Sir Arne's Treasure] (Sweden) Mauritz SJulius Jaenzon

1921 Häxan [Witchcraft Through the Ages] (Sweden) Benjamin Christensen
1922 Nanook of the North (USA/Canada) Robert Flaherty
1923 Die Nibelungen -- ein Deutsches Heldenlied (Germany) Fritz Lang

Our Hospitality (USA) Buster Keaton
1924 Ballet Mécanique (France) Fernand Leger

Stachka [Strike] (USSR) Sergei M. Eisenstein
1926 Ménilmontant (France) Dimitri Kirsanov

Zvenigora (USSR÷Ukraine) Alexander Dovzhenko
1927 Sunrise (USA) F. W. Murnau (photoSunrise at right)

Oktyabr' [October] (USSR) Eisenstein

Napoléon (France) Abel Gance
1928 Chelovek S Kinoapparatom [Man With A Movie Camera] (USSR) Dziga Vertov

Potomok Chingis-khan [Storm Over Asia] (USSR) V. I. Pudovkin

Docks of New York (USA) Joseph von Sternberg
1929 Un chien andalou (France) Luis Bu–uel/Salvador Dali

1930 Limite (Brazil) Mario Peixoto
1931 Kameradschaft (Germany) G. W. Pabst
1932 Love Me Tonight (USA) Rouben Mamoulian
Trouble in Paradise (USA) Ernst Lubitsch

Scarface (USA) Howard Hawks/Lee Garmes

Ye Meigui [Wild Rose] (China) Sun Yu
1934 L'Atalante (France) Jean Vigo (photo L'Atalanteat right)
Ukigusa Monogatari [The Story of Floating Weeds] (Japan) Ozu Yasujiro
1937 Malu Tianshi [L'ange du boulevard] (China) Yuan Muzhi
1938 Gion No Shimai [Sisters of Gion] (Japan) Mizoguchi Kenzi
1939 La Regle du Jeu (France) Renoir

1941 Citizen Kane (USA) Orson Welles/Gregg Toland
Listen to Britain (UK) Humphrey Jennings
1943 Meshes of the Afternoon (USA) Maya Deren (photo at rMeshes of the Afternoonight)
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (UK) Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger
Vredens Dag [Day of Wrath] (Denmark) Carl Theodor Dreyer
1946 Paisà (Italy) Roberto Rossellini
1947 Out of the Past (USA) Jacques Tourneur/Nicholas Musuraca
1948 La Terra Trema (Italy) Luchino Visconti

1950 Los Olvidados (Mexico) Bu–uel/Gabriel Figueroa
Rashomon (Japan) Kurosawa Akira
Gun Crazy (USA) Joseph H. Lewis
Victimas Del Pecado [Victims of the Slums] (Mexico) Emilio Fernandez/Figueroa
1951 Awara (India-Hindi) Raj Kapoor
1953 Madame de ... (France) Max Ophuls
Ugetsu Monogatari (Japan) Mizoguchi
1958 Vertigo (USA) Alfred Hitchcock (photo at Vertigoright)
Man of the West (USA) Anthony Mann
Anticipation of the Night (USA) Stan Brakhage
Ajantrik [Mechanical Man, aka Pathetic Fallacy] (India--Bengali) Ritwik Ghatak

Popiol Y Diament [Ashes and Diamonds] (Poland) Andrzej Wajda
1955-59 The "Apu" Trilogy (India--Bengali) Satyajit Ray

1960 Tirez Sur Le Pianiste (France) Franois Truffaut
1961 L'année Dernière À Marienbad (France) Alain Resnais/Alain Robbe-Grillet
Chronique D'un Été (France) Jean Rouch
1962 L'Eclisse [The Eclipse] (Italy) Michelangelo Antonioni
Samma No Aji [An Autumn Afternoon] (Japan) Ozu
1963 Vidas Sêcas [Barren Lives] (Brazil) Nelson Pereira dos Santos
La jetée (France) Chris Marker
Pour La Suite du Monde (Canada) Pierre Perrault/Michel Brault
1966 Deux Ou Trois Choses Que Je Sais D'elle (France) Jean-Luc Godard
Persona (Sweden) Ingmar Bergman
1967 Playtime (France) Jacques Tat (photo at right)
Dix-septième Parallèle (Vietnam/France) Joris Ivens
1966-68 La Hora De Los Hornos [The Hour of the Furnaces] (Argentina) Fernando E. Solanas/Octavio Getino
1968 Lucia (Cuba) Humberto Solas
2001, A Space Odyssey (UK/USA) Stanley Kubrick
Csend Es Kiáltás [Silence and Cry] (Hungary) Jancs— Mikl—s
LBJ (Cuba) Santiago Alvarez - short
1969 Macunaíma (Brazil) Joaquim Pedro de Andrade
 O Drag‹o Da Madalde Contra O Santo Guerreiro [Antonio das Mortes] (Brazil) Glauber Rocha
El Chacal De Nahueltoro [The Jackal of Nahueltoro] (Chile) Miguel Litt’n
Il Conformista [The Conformist] (Italy) Bernardo Bertolucci

1970 Emitai (Senegal) Sembene Ousmane (photo at right)
La Région Centrale (Canada) Michael Snow
1971 WR -- Misterije Organizma [WR: Mysteries of an Organism] (Yugoslavia) Duûan Makavejev
 Land Des Schweigens Und Der Dunkelheit [Land of Silences and Darknesses] (Federal Republic of Germany) Werner Herzog
1969-72 Hsia Nu [A Touch of Zen] (Taiwan) King Hu
1972 Die Bitteren TrŠnen Der Petra von Kant [The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant] (F. R. Germany) Rainer Werner Fassbinder
1973 Badlands (USA) Terrence Malick
1974 Lancelot du Lac (France) Robert Bresson
1975 Salo O Le Centiventi Giornate Di Sodoma (Italy) Pier Paulo Pasolini
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Belgium) Chantal Akerman
1976 Ai No Corrida [In the Realm of the Senses] (Japan) Oshima Nagisa
1969-77 Sayat Nova (USSR-Armenia) Sergo Paradjanov
1974-77 De Cierta Manera [One Way or Another] (Cuba) Sara G—mez
1979 Stalker (USSR) Andrei Tarkovsky (photo at right)
Hungerjahre (F. R. Germany) Jutta BrŸckner

1982 Kharij (India-Bengali) Mrinal Sen
Wend Kuuni (Burkina Faso) Gaston Kaboré (photo at right)
1985 Daoma Zei [Horse Thief] (P.R.China) Tian Zhuang-zhuang
1986 Dao Ma Dan [Peking Opera Blues] (Hong Kong) Tsui Hark
1987 Hai Zi Wang [King of the Children] (P. R. China) Chen Kaige
Nag nen n Kires do Shiji Anh nda [The Man With Three Coffins] (Republic of Korea) Yi Chang-ho
1989 Distant Voices, Still Lives (UK) Terence Davies

1990 Siddheshwari (India -- Hindi) Mani Kaul
1992 Zendegi Va Digar Hich [Et la vie continue] (Iran) Abbas Kiarostami
1993 Ximeng Rensheng [The Puppet Master] (Taiwan) Hou Hsiao-hsien
1994 Dung Che Sai Duk [Ashes of Time] (Hong Kong) Wong Kar-wai

Editor's Note: It's interesting to see that Meshes of the Afternoon is the only film that appears on both this list and the Top Ten Experimental Films list from Bill Wees. There are also films by Stan Brakhage and Michael Snow on both lists.