Cahiers du Cinema 100 Greatest Films

Jan 2017
In 2007 French film magazine "Cahiers du Cinema" asked 78 film critics and film historians to list the greatest films of all time in their opinion. Most lists of this type are from English-speaking countries so it's interesting to get a perspective outside of that, also interesting to see how influential American films are on French cinema.

Here's the top 100 complete with number of votes:

  1. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941) 48
  2. Night of the Hunter (Laughton, 1955) 47
  3. Rules of the Game (Renoir, 1939) 47
  4. Sunrise (Murnau, 1927) 46
  5. L'Atalante (Vigo, 1934) 43
  6. M (Lang, 1931) 40
  7. Singin' In The Rain (Donen, Kelly, 1952) 39
  8. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958) 35
  9. Children of Paradise (Carné, 1945) 34
  10. The Searchers (Ford, 1956) 34
  11. Greed (von Stroheim, 1924) 34
  12. Rio Bravo (Hawks, 1959) 33
  13. To Be Or Not To Be (Lubitsch, 1942) 33
  14. Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953) 29
  15. Contempt (Godard, 1963) 28
  16. Ugetsu Monogatari (Mizoguchi, 1953) 27
  17. City Lights (Chaplin, 1931) 27
  18. The General (Keaton, 1926) 27
  19. Nosferatu (Murnau, 1922) 27
  20. The Music Room (S. Ray, 1958) 27
  21. Freaks ( Browning, 1932) 26
  22. Johnny Guitar (N. Ray, 1954) 26
  23. La Maman et la Putain (Eustache, 1973) 26
  24. The Dictator (Chaplin, 1940) 25
  25. The Leopard (Visconti, 1963) 25
  26. Hiroshima mon amour (Resnais, 1959) 25
  27. Pandora's Box (Pabst, 1929) 25
  28. North By Northwest (Hitchcock, 1959) 25
  29. Pickpocket (Bresson, 1959) 25
  30. Casque d’or ( Becker, 1952) 24
  31. The Barefoot Contessa (Mankiewicz, 1954) 24
  32. Moonfleet (Lang, 1955) 24
  33. Madame de... (Ophuls, 1953) 24
  34. Le Plaisir (Ophuls, 1952) 24
  35. The Deer Hunter (Cimino, 1978) 24
  36. L’Avventura (Antonioni, 1960) 23
  37. Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, 1925) 23
  38. Notorious (Hitchcock, 1946) 23
  39. Ivan The Terrible (Eisenstein, 1944) 23
  40. The Godfather (Coppola, 1972) 23
  41. Touch Of Evil (Welles, 1958) 23
  42. The Wind (Sjöström,1928) 23
  43. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968) 22
  44. Fanny & Alexander (Bergman, 1982) 22
  45. The Crowd (Vidor, 1928) 21
  46. 8 & A Half (Fellini, 1963) 21
  47. La Jetée (Marker, 1962) 21
  48. Pierrot le Fou (Godard, 1965) 21
  49. Story Of A Cheat (Guitry, 1936) 21
  50. Amarcord (Fellini, 1973) 20
  51. Beauty & The Beast (Cocteau, 1946) 20
  52. Some Like It Hot (Wilder, 1959) 20
  53. Some Came Running (Minnelli, 1958) 20
  54. Gertrud (Dreyer, 1964) 20
  55. King Kong (Schoedsack, Cooper, 1933) 20
  56. Laura (Preminger, 1944) 20
  57. Seven Samurai (Kurosawa, 1954) 20
  58. The 400 Blow (Truffaut, 1959) 19
  59. La Dolce Vita (Fellini, 1960) 19
  60. The Dead (Huston, 1987) 19
  61. Trouble In Paradise (Lubitsch, 1932) 19
  62. It's A Wonderful Life (Capra, 1946) 19
  63. Monsieur Verdoux (Chaplin, 1947) 19
  64. The Passion Of Joan Of Arc (Dreyer, 1928) 19
  65. À bout de souffle (Godard, 1960) 18
  66. Apocalypse Now (Coppola, 1979) 18
  67. Barry Lyndon (Kubrick, 1975) 18
  68. La Grande Illusion (Renoir, 1937) 18
  69. Intolerance (Griffith, 1916) 18
  70. Partie de campagne (Renoir, 1936) 18
  71. Playtime (Tati, 1967) 18
  72. Rome: Open City (Rossellini, 1945) 18
  73. Senso (Visconti, 1954) 18
  74. Modern Times (Chaplin, 1936) 18
  75. Van Gogh (Pialat, 1991) 18
  76. An Affair to Remember (McCarey, 1957) 17
  77. Andrei Rublev (Tarkovsky, 1966) 17
  78. The Scarlet Empress (von Sternberg, 1934) 17
  79. Sansho The Bailiff (Mizoguchi, 1954) 17
  80. Talk To Her (Almodovar, 2002) 17
  81. The Party (Edwards, 1968) 17
  82. Tabu (Murnau, 1931) 17
  83. The Bandwagon (Minnelli, 1953) 17
  84. A Star Is Born (Cukor, 1954) 17
  85. Mr. Hulot's Holiday (Tati, 1953) 17
  86. America America (Kazan, 1963) 16
  87. El (Buñuel, 1953) 16
  88. Kiss Me Deadly (Aldrich, 1955) 16
  89. Once Upon A Time In America (Leone, 1984) 16
  90. Le Jour se lève (Carné, 1939) 16
  91. Letter From An Unknown Woman (Ophuls, 1948) 16
  92. Lola (Demy, 1961) 16
  93. Manhattan (Allen, 1979) 16
  94. Mulholland Drive (Lynch, 2001) 16
  95. My Night At Maud's (Rohmer, 1969) 16
  96. Night And Fog (Resnais, 1956) 16
  97. The Gold Rush (Chaplin, 1925) 16
  98. Scarface (Hawks, 1932) 16
  99. The Bicycle Thieves (de Sica, 1948) 16
  100. Napoléon (Gance, 1927) 16

Dominated by French & American films, Italy & Japan have some decent representation while there are surprisingly no German films after 1931 on the list. There's a whopping 31 films from the 1950s, the 60s provided 16, the 30s 15, the 1940s had 13 entries and the 1920s managed 11. "Intolerance" was the oldest film, while "Talk To Her" and "Mulholland Drive" were the most recent films on there. Maurice Pialat's study of Van Gogh's final few months was the only film from the 1990s.
The usual suspects are there with a few unsual choices voted in (I'm looking at you Moonfleet).

Here is also the Top 50 Directors with number of votes their films received:
  1. Jean Renoir 155
  2. Alfred Hitchcock 146
  3. Fritz Lang 143
  4. Charles Chaplin 128
  5. John Ford 124
  6. Orson Welles 114
  7. Ingmar Bergman 113
  8. Luis Buñuel 110
  9. Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau 108
  10. Howard Hawks 105
  11. Jean-Luc Godard 99
  12. Federico Fellini 99
  13. Ernst Lubitsch 98
  14. Luchino Visconti 90
  15. Robert Bresson 90
  16. Kenji Mizoguchi 87
  17. Akira Kurosawa 86
  18. Max Ophuls 83
  19. Alain Resnais 82
  20. Carl Theodor Dreyer 76
  21. François Truffaut 75
  22. Stanley Kubrick 75
  23. Vincente Minnelli 73
  24. Joseph Mankiewicz 73
  25. Roberto Rosselini 73
  26. Josef von Sternberg 69
  27. Michelangelo Antonioni 67
  28. S. M. Eisenstein 65
  29. Marcel Carné 64
  30. Billy Wilder 61
  31. Buster Keaton 61
  32. Yasujiro Ozu 60
  33. Eric von Stroheim 60
  34. John Huston 59
  35. Elia Kazan 55
  36. King Vidor 53
  37. David Wark Griffith 53
  38. Maurice Pialat 52
  39. Jean Vigo 51
  40. Nicholas Ray 49
  41. Jacques Becker 48
  42. Woody Allen 48
  43. Francis Ford Coppola 47
  44. Jacques Demy 47
  45. Charles Laughton 47
  46. Jacques Tati 46
  47. Otto Preminger 45
  48. Leo McCarey 45
  49. George Cukor 44
  50. Raoul Walsh 44

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
I am surprised that there were so many English films. Most of them would have been on my list too. But there would not have been as many French films, simply because I don't know many.

I don't see any movie from Spielberg, who certainly is one of the greatest directors ever. Certainly Schindler's List, Jaws or Raider's of the Lost Ark. They are far better movies than Allen's Manhattan.

I also don't see any Cecils B. De Mille picture, no Ben Hur, Ten Commandments. Star Wars is missing too. And I think Philadelphia Story is a far better comedy than Some Like It Hot, which I always found overrated. And Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove needs to be on the list far more than his Barry Lyndon, which was nice but not a super great film.
Oct 2018
Adelaide south Australia
Although I agree that that a lot (not all) the films on the list are fine, even great films, I find such lists a bit subjective and arbitrary.

I don't have an actual list, so will list a few, some are based simply on how often I've seen them, which surprised me. In no special order, just as they came to mind, with a slight attempt to keep them in genre order.:

Lawrence of Arabia,
Schindler's List
The Pianist--a plus is Chopin's Nocturne in c sharp minor.
The Truce.
Gone With The Wind
Ben Hur (1959 version)
12 Angry Men
To Kill A Mockingbird
Casablanca; another near perfect film
To Have And To Have Not ( if only for the sizzling scene between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall; this film was made in 1944)
Singin' In The Rain
The Kid with Charlie Chaplin
Roshamon, (Kurosawa) which I think is probably the most perfect film I've ever seen
The Virgin Spring
The Seventh Seal .
Forbidden Planet
2001 A Space Odyysey
Starship Troopers, a cunning allegory about fascism (that's according to me and the director, Paul Verhoeven)
Close Encounters The Third Kind
The Searchers
The Shootist
Will Penny ( in my opinion the best thing Charlton Heston ever did)
The Wild Bunch
Once upon a Time In The West
Once upon A Time In America
The Godfather, all three parts.
Miller's Crossing
To Catch a Thief
North By North West
Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone.

This is a short list , done spontaneously. I've probably missed many which deserve to be included. I like 'small' films; small budget with often unknown actors or fading stars.

A list of great TV series would be interesting; would probably be headed by 'Games Of Thrones' my list would be topped by 'Roots' (1977) pretty sure it was the first mini series. AND; Battle Star Gallactica (2004) Arguably the best science fiction series made to date.
Feb 2017
Devon, UK
They've always been a parochial bunch at Cahiers du Cinema (vis Truffaut's remarks about British cinema) but for 2007 that's an astonishingly conservative list even for them.
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paranoid marvin

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
That's quite a list; and with some stunning ommissions. Goodfellas, Godfather part II, Close Encounters, Jaws, Casablanca, Cuckoo's Nest, Wizard of Oz, Exorcist, Psycho, The Thing, ESB, Pulp Fiction, Indy, etc etc
Also I've never quite understood the absolute love for Citizen Kane. I'm sure it was groundbreaking in it's day, and it's still enjoyable to watch; but greatest film ever? The one film I could watch over and over again? I think not. The Third Man (also starring Orson) is the better film imho.

And it's also hard to take seriously a list of directors than doesn't include Spielberg , Tarrantino, Scorcese or John Carpenter. A top 10 POSSIBLY... but none can get in the top 50???
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Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
Welsh Marches
I agree about Citizen Kane, undoubtedly a materpiece, but somehow soulless, a masterpiece of technique above all; the Magnificent Ambersosn, although it was partially wrecked in the editing, is better from that point of view.

Lists of this kind are silly because they suggest that all filmakers are competing with greater or lesser success to do the same thing, whereas in fact there are fine films of all number of different kinds; the best Hammer horrors, for instance, are very good films in their way, or many good straightforward westerns of the best period (e.g. High Noon, 3.10 to Yuma), one can go back them repeteadly. Or films like Casablanca, which has already been mentioned, unsurpassable in its way, yet somehow not the kind of 'masterpiece' that these people are seeking. The lists also show a certain provinciality, Satyajit Ray, is not included for instance, in the top 50 directors, nor any director from Eastern Europe!!

paranoid marvin

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
I guess it all depends on what criteria was laid down to define 'greatness'. It's certainly not for entertainment value, but maybe for technical ability at the time they were made, or for the advancements they helped achieve in film-making. As non-experts in film-making, we may look at the aesthetic beauty and the enjoyment we get from watching a movie, whilst a director might be looking at the techniques used to create the effects and the innovations. Would we have got Star Wars without Seven Samurai?
Oct 2018
Adelaide south Australia

I think you're right about Orson Welles. Citizen Kane was his first film and he experimented , using every technique he had learned from watching other directors. 'Rosebud" is a very funny in-joke; I only discovered the meaning about a year ago.

I was very impressed the first time I saw Citizen Kane, 'some years ago'. Have always recognised that film as masterpiece and thought Welles was a genius. He made two other brilliant films that I've actually seen;'"A touch Of Evil' and 'The Magnificent Ambersons'(which I found confusing) Welle's films can be described as 'deep', which Is fine you like deep. I do, but not in everything I watch. Sometimes I just want to be entertained. That's why I have Netflix.

As for Tarantino; a bit too self-consciously brilliant for my liking. More of a hauteur director than a auteur director. I don't even like all of his films, and think Pulp Fictions over rated wankery (but fun)--so he used an old technique of showing scenes out of sequence; very easy to get confused if you're not paying attention. I also find some of his 'wink wink' references self indulgent. I doubt many people, including me, would get a lot of them. Eg Brad Pitt as 'Lt Aldo Ray' ( second string actor from the 1950's, who made a few war films)

Tarantino's films are clever, with a sly undertone of all kinds of gags and film references. They can be can be a lot of fun but not my notion artistic films .However, that is something for the of the beholder.

Aldo Ray - Wikipedia


Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
Welsh Marches
Welles was a really bizarre, he undooubtedly had a touch of genius and should have been able to direct amazing films, and yet he hardly ever realized or properly finished any project; that cann all be put down to external difficulties. Ambersons is quite straightforward Ithink until one gets to the end, where it was up by the studio and could never be properly repaired; but ti was largely his own fault! Chimes at Midnight is worth looking out for. I don't think there need be any conflict between quality and entertainment, cinema has been a great popular art, and Hollywood was once producing really fine films that appealed to a mass audience, but that balance seems to have been lost.
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