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1975 movie Jeanne Dielman is chosen by critics as the best movie ever made


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Jeanne Dielman surpasses Citizen Kane and Vertigo as critics' choice for best movie ever

Chantal Akerman's 1975 drama marks the first film by a female director to top the prestigious Sight & Sound poll, which happens once a decade..

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Critics have reached a new consensus about the greatest films of all time.

 

Every 10 years the British Film Institute, via its magazine Sight & Sound, organizes an international poll of critics to list the 100 best movies ever made. The first winner was Bicycle Thieves in 1952. For the next several decades, Orson Welles' masterpiece Citizen Kane reigned as the undisputed top pick, only to be finally surpassed by Alfred Hitchock's Vertigo in 2012. Those two films are still among the top three finishers on the 2022 list, which finally arrived this week, but a new favorite has shot past them to the No. 1 spot.

 

Cinephiles, say hello to the newly crowned greatest film of all time: Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles.

 

The 1975 drama was directed by Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman, and this marks the first time that a female director's film has topped the Sight & Sound ranking. (Akerman died in 2015, at 65.) Jeanne Dielman also clocks in at 201 minutes, making it the longest film to ever top the list.

 

Delphine Seyrig plays the title character, a single mother, and the film portrays three days in her life as she goes about her daily routine. She cooks, cleans, and cares for her son — which includes sex work to pay for their subsistence. All these activities are portrayed at length, with repetition building until things start to go awry.

 

Jeanne Dielman, which ranked 35th in the 2012 poll, wasn't the only film by a female director to rise dramatically in 2022. Claire Denis' Beau Travail also jumped into the top 10 after previously coming in at No. 78. Agnes Varda's Cléo From 5 to 7 just missed the top 10, coming in at No. 14.

 

Also shocking was the performance of Celine Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which now ranks 30th despite premiering in 2019. It is by far the highest-ranked film of the past decade, although Moonlight (tied at 60) and Get Out (tied at 95) also made the list.

 

In addition to a critics' poll, Sight & Sound also polls directors on the greatest films of all time. Jeanne Dielman performed well there too, coming in at No. 4. But the overall winner of that list was Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, unseating 2012 winner Tokyo Story.

 

Jeanne Dielman is currently available to stream on the Criterion Channel, along with many other films on the list.

Source: https://ew.com/movies/jeanne-dielman-voted-best-movie-of-all-time/

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I've heard of it but never saw it. Imagine that, a Belgium film is the best movie ever made! I'm so proud! JWFan will finally respect me!

 

But that's just the critics, 480 directors from all over the world say 2001: A Space Odyssey is the greatest movie movie of all time.

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Indeed, and if you believe Rotten Tomatoes, PADDINGTON 2 is the greatest film ever ;)

I'm sure it's an admirable film, and not having seen it, I cannot assess it, but I can't seem to think that there's a bit of wokeness going on, here.

An obscure Belgian film, from 1975? I smell fresh ink, boys 

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With how much I've been used to seeing Shawshank Redemption at the top of IMDB for the longest time, is there really any real criteria for this type of thing at any point?

 

That being said: I assumed it was my gen Z-ness that made me not recognize this film whatsoever, as I certainly wouldn't have heard of it in any film related things I've seen or been a part of. So it's quite curious seeing someone older also not understand the sudden pick. Maybe it's a precursor to things more famous films at the same time pioneered.

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The film jumped from 36th place on last year's list to 1st now. Definitely wokeness going on. Whether it is any good or not, I can't say. Never seen it, but no doubt will now -- which I presume is a goal they strive for in this case.

 

Previously, Claire Denis is the other woman who has entered the top 10, with her excellent BEAU TRAVAIL. Makes more sense, that one.

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Dielman also jumped from 73 to 36 between 2002-2012 so it's been on the rise. I haven't seen it either to be fair, always seemed like something I'd struggle to focus on but has been in my watchlist forever. Ideally I'd like to find an arthouse revival screening and lock myself in a theater with it, I imagine somewhere in Chicago will be playing it next year. 

 

Incidentally Goodfellas made the 100 for the first time jumping 108 places from last year which is also very woke.

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1 hour ago, mrbellamy said:

Dielman also jumped from 73 to 36 between 2002-2012 so it's been on the rise.

 

But then people here probably said it was due to political correctness, right?

 

The running time of Jeanne Dielman is 200 minutes. That's too long for me these days. 

 

jeanne-dielman.jpg

 

The film ranked 4 on the director's list.

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Increasing awareness and availability of the film over the last couple of decades are likely to have been elevating it up the list. And Chantal Akerman died between the last Sight & Sound poll and this one, which is also likely to have given her work a bit of a boost. The poll organisers have been striving to make the electorate larger and more diverse in the last two polls, which may be another factor in the changing profile of the results.

 

It's evident from the full top hundred that voters have been making an effort to give recognition to films other than those by white male film-makers. The prominent targets for this recognition constitute a fairly small proportion of the well-known repertoire, which makes it possible for them to accumulate a significant number of votes and hence for many of them to break through into the top hundred and the top ten.

 

As for Jeanne Dielman..., I have seen it and agree that it has a degree of accomplishment and distinctiveness worthy of a winner of the top spot. I certainly think it's a better choice than Vertigo. I would still put Citizen Kane above it, but (apart from the fact that it's not 2001: A Space Odyssey, the real Best Film Ever) I'm happy to see it win.

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3 hours ago, mrbellamy said:

...always seemed like something I'd struggle to focus on but has been in my watchlist forever.

 

I know the feeling. I was aware of the film for a long time before I saw it and was never very enthusiastic about sitting through it; it felt like homework. But, when I eventually resolved to take the plunge, it was hypnotic.

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Just now, Disco Stu said:

Vertigo is a better choice

 

But more boring and predictable. Goes for the whole top 10, I suppose, so in that respect the Ackerman is a refreshing choice. 

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4 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

...self-hating...

 

Can you explain how this comes into it?

 

4 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

Because it's amazing and everything good about movies.

 

It has some brilliance, and one of the best scores ever, but it's far too corny and cringeworthy (like much of Hitchcock's work).

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36 minutes ago, Glóin the Dark said:

I've never understood how Vertigo gets ranked so highly.

 

Me neither. I mean, it's fine, but not that level of quality for me. And -- sacrilege, I know -- I've never cared much for Herrmann's score. But that's a different discussion.

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Anyone who can sit through Jeanne Dielman, especially more than once, it's only through a lack of self-regard.

 

If you think Vertigo is corny I can't help you.  It's riveting and perfect.  It's not sacrilege to dislike it, just lack of taste.

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5 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

Anyone who can sit through Jeanne Dielman, especially more than once, it's only through a lack of self-regard.

 

Hey, I've sat through Bela Tarr's SATANTANGO (7 hours, 30 minutes), and loved it, so I can sit through anything if it's good enough. Remains to be seen if JEANNE DIELMAN is. Certainly on my watch list now.

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Like I said the other day, people vote in these things for what makes them feel like good people and how they want to be seen.  These critic assholes want to be seen as putting some Belgian professor who once made shitty avant-garde movies above Hitchcock, Renoir, Kubrick, Ford, etc.  So brave!  Chantal Akerman yaaaasss queen.

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CITIZEN KANE and VERTIGO have been battling it out for "greatest film ever made", for the longest time, and quite rightly so, as they are two truly remarkable films.

Now, after 60 years, or so, along comes this film, that people in a magazine think should be #1.

I really don't get it.

I'd like to see what position it is in, in 2032.

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Just now, Naïve Old Fart said:

Now, after 60 years, or so, along comes this film, that people in a magazine think should be #1.

 

It isn't accurate to say that people in a magazine think it should be #1. This is the result of a poll of about 1600 people in which (I presume) each voter gets to pick ten films. Most of those 1600 will not have put Jeanne Dielman in their top ten; of the ones who did, many would not have chosen it as their #1. It just happens to have been picked by the largest number of people. The same goes for Citizen Kane and Vertigo in previous polls.

 

Also, Jeanne Dielman didn't just come out of nowhere. Its prominence has been increasing for at least the last two decades, including in the Sight & Sound poll.

 

Lastly, things (and tastes) change over time! It hasn't been a battle between Citizen Kane and Vertigo for the top spot for sixty years; I think the latter only reached the top two in the 2002 poll. Other films have also been in contention; some still are, some have fallen away, and others have come into play.

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Did PATHER PANCHALI ever top it? I ask because a) I know it's frequently on these best of lists, b) it's one of my favourite films of all time and c) I've just written a long article about it for an upcoming magazine.

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2 minutes ago, Thor said:

Did PATHER PANCHALI ever top it?

 

Never at #1, but it has been in the top ten at least once (the 1992 poll, the first I was aware of when it came out, had Pather Panchali in joint 6th place). This year it's at #35.

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1 hour ago, Naïve Old Fart said:

CITIZEN KANE and VERTIGO have been battling it out for "greatest film ever made", for the longest time, and quite rightly so, as they are two truly remarkable

 

Surely they can't all have the same taste? Maybe if you're a critic you better put these two movies in your top 10 if you want other critics to take you seriously? Where are the rebels amongst the critics? 

 

Citizen Kane

 

- The first couple of times I didn't like Citizen Kane

- Then, in my early 30s, I thought it was great!

- 10 or 15 years later I failed to see why it was great again.

- Was I in my prime when I was in my early thirties?

 

Vertigo

 

- Never cared for it.

- End of discussion

 

 

 

2 hours ago, Disco Stu said:

 Jeanne Dielman is the perfect choice for self-hating pseudo-intellectuals.

 

2 hours ago, Glóin the Dark said:

 

Can you explain how this comes into it?

 

 

You know Disco, when it's not about American presidents, he'll give it two thumbs down.

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8 minutes ago, AC1 said:

Maybe if you're a critic you better put these two movies in your top 10 if you want other critics to take you seriously? Where are the rebels amongst the critics?

 

They're mostly "rebels" in that sense. I don't think the 2022 numbers are available yet, but in 2012 Vertigo was chosen by 190 of the voters (there were around 850 altogether), while Citizen Kane was picked by something like 150. So a majority of them voted for neither of the top two. 

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29 minutes ago, Tallguy said:

This just reminds me that The Best Years of Our Lives is on HBO Max and I've never seen it.

 

Great film. I use the airplane graveyard scene in lectures all the time. An old FSM thread I did:

 

https://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=5&forumID=1&archive=1

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To me, Vertigo is so obviously a masterpiece, Hitchcock's greatest work, Stewart's (the greatest movie star) greatest performance, the greatest film of its era, etc. etc.  I don't even know how to defend it, its greatness seems so self-evident to me.  It's a movie that grabbed hold of me from the first time I saw it, it felt like I didn't breathe for the span of its duration.  And then I (and my sister, who also became obsessed with it) watched it over and over and over.  Every frame, every choice by every collaborator, is as close to perfect as you get in the real world.

 

A great movie is not an intellectual decision, it's a visceral experience, a revelation (which isn't to say that only intense movies can qualify, clearly, since a lot of people seem to think Vertigo is boring and slow :lol:).

 

This is a list I did on the forum what feels like a century ago.  It's a personal list, and I'd say at least 3 of the movies are ones I wouldn't pick now (Eternal Sunshine, Almost Famous, and Empire, though important to me as a teen, aren't movies I'd pick in my mid-30s), but most I would say are still what I would consider among the Great Movies.

 

(three frenchmen but not a belgian in sight....)

On 04/10/2017 at 7:01 PM, Disco Stu said:

I saw a list of this kind mentioned in another thread and thought about the fact that I have never posted such a list on JWFan.

 

 

The Age of Innocence (1993; Martin Scorsese)

Almost Famous (2000; Cameron Crowe)

Amadeus (1984; Milos Forman)

Au revoir les enfants (1987; Louis Malle)

Double Indemnity (1944; Billy Wilder)

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982; Steven Spielberg)

The Empire Strikes Back (1980; Irvin Kershner)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004; Michel Gondry)

Fargo (1996; Joel & Ethan Coen)

The Godfather Part II (1974; Francis Ford Coppola)

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986; Woody Allen)

Howards End (1992; Merchant-Ivory)

It's a Wonderful Life (1946; Frank Capra)

Moonrise Kingdom (2012; Wes Anderson)

Ran (1985; Akira Kurosawa)

La règle du jeu (1939; Jean Renoir)

The Shining (1980; Stanley Kubrick)

The Shop Around the Corner (1941; Ernst Lubitsch)

Short Cuts (1993; Robert Altman)

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962; Robert Mulligan)

Vertigo (1958; Alfred Hitchcock)

Winter Light (1963; Ingmar Bergman)

 

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Oh, no ...

 

For seventy years the SIGHT AND SOUND POLL has been a reliable if somewhat incremental measure of critical consensus and priorities. Films moved up the list, others moved down; but it took time. The sudden appearance of "Jeanne Dielman" in the number one slot undermines the S&S poll's credibility. It feels off, as if someone had put their thumb on the scale. Which I suspect they did. As Tom Stoppard pointed out in Jumpers, in democracy it doesn't matter who gets the votes, it matters who counts the votes. By expanding the voting community and the point system this year's S&S poll reflects not a historical continuum but a politically correct rejiggering. Ackerman's film is a favorite of mine, a great film, a landmark film but it's unexpected number one rating does it no favors. "Jeanne Dielman" will from this time forward be remembered not only a important film in cinema history but also as a landmark of distorted woke reappraisal.

 

Paul Schrader

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It's certainly true that for decades the most common context in which I would hear Citizen Kane brought up was for someone to say something like "It's supposed to be the best film of all time but I thought it was boring."  so topping all those lists probably didn't do it any favors.

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1 hour ago, Disco Stu said:

It's certainly true that for decades the most common context in which I would hear Citizen Kane brought up was for someone to say something like "It's supposed to be the best film of all time but I thought it was boring."  so topping all those lists probably didn't do it any favors.

 

Citizen Kane is like Avatar. When Avatar came out all my friends said "Well, no, it's not a good movie. But you HAVE to see it for the groundbreaking effects!" I said "Well, then I'll just wait until those effects are used in movies I'll like better."

 

An imperfect analogy because Kane is a good movie. But most or all of its groundbreaking qualities were used later in other movies that most people like more.

 

But what do I know? I think the best movie is Casablanca. Or Lawrence of Arabia. Kane did feel like homework. But Casablanca was the "timeless classic" that lived up to its hype. For me.

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2 hours ago, Tallguy said:

An imperfect analogy because Kane is a good movie. But most or all of its groundbreaking qualities were used later in other movies that most people like more.

 

Maybe, but I think it still does them better than many. I still find it a marvel to watch.

 

That said, if the complaint about changes in rankings is that the group of voters has become too diverse, what does that say about the supposedly incontestable greatness of the previous lists which were created by a much less diverse group? Either their qualities don't stand out as universally as they thought - or only a very specific, elite (i.e. mainly heterosexual white men) are allowed to judge the greatness of films?

 

For what it's worth, I hadn't even heard of Jeanne Dielman until today. And by the way, one Austrian commentator who welcomed the changes to the list wrote that she personally voted for Jaws.

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8 hours ago, Disco Stu said:

A great movie is not an intellectual decision, it's a visceral experience...

 

Absolutely, but what stimulates one person's viscera may leave another's untickled. For instance, Antonioni's films do little for me on that level, which leaves them mostly as cold cerebral exercises, but I'd wager that Thor (for one) would strenuously disagree.

 

This is a list I started what feels like a century ago but was actually about an hour ago and now my beer's gone flat. I consider them all to be among the great films:

 

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey  (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
  2. Taxi Driver  (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
  3. Citizen Kane  (Orson Welles, 1941)
  4. Raging Bull  (Martin Scorsese, 1980)
  5. Dr. Strangelove...  (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
  6. Napoleon  (Abel Gance, 1927)
  7. Psycho  (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
  8. There Will Be Blood  (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
  9. Andrei Rublev  (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966)
  10. The Red Shoes  (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1948)
  11. Mulholland Dr.  (David Lynch, 2001)
  12. Sunrise  (F.W. Murnau, 1927)
  13. La Règle du jeu  (Jean Renoir, 1939)
  14. Apocalypse Now  (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
  15. Jeanne Dielman...  (Chantal Akerman, 1975)
  16. A Matter of Life and Death  (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1946)
  17. Jaws  (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
  18. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind  (Michel Gondry, 2004)
  19. The Night of the Hunter  (Charles Laughton, 1955)
  20. Amadeus  (Milos Forman, 1984)
  21. Unforgiven  (Clint Eastwood, 1992)
  22. MASH  (Robert Altman, 1970)
  23. Kind Hearts and Coronets  (Robert Hamer, 1949)
  24. L'Atalante  (Jean Vigo, 1934)
  25. Wild Strawberries  (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)
  26. Blade Runner  (Ridley Scott, 1982)
  27. Oh, Mr. Porter!  (Marcel Varnel, 1937)
  28. The Big Lebowski  (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1998)
  29. Midnight Run  (Martin Brest, 1988)
  30. Uncut Gems  (Josh and Bennie Safdie, 2019)
  31. Pather Panchali  (Satyajit Ray, 1955)
  32. Double Indemnity  (Billy Wilder, 1944)
  33. Hannah and Her Sisters  (Woody Allen, 1986)
  34. Lawrence of Arabia  (David Lean, 1962)
  35. Ran  (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)
  36. Journey to Italy  (Roberto Rossellini, 1954)
  37. The Last of the Mohicans  (Michael Mann, 1992)
  38. Pulp Fiction  (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
  39. The Leopard  (Luchino Visconti, 1963)
  40. Black Swan  (Darren Aronofsky, 2010)
  41. A Woman under the Influence  (John Cassavetes, 1974)
  42. The Wicker Man  (Robin Hardy, 1973)
  43. Nashville  (Robert Altman, 1975)
  44. Fargo  (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1996)
  45. Bicycle Thieves  (Vittorio de Sica, 1948)
  46. On the Waterfront  (Elia Kazan, 1954)
  47. The Silence of the Lambs  (Jonathan Demme, 1991)
  48. In Bruges  (Martin McDonagh, 2008)
  49. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly  (Sergio Leone, 1966)
  50. Picnic at Hanging Rock  (Peter Weir, 1975)
  51. Whisky Galore!  (Alexander Mackendrick, 1949)
  52. Secrets and Lies  (Mike Leigh, 1996)
  53. The Master  (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)
  54. Hiroshima mon amour  (Alain Resnais, 1959)
  55. The Godfather, Part II  (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
  56. Inland Empire  (David Lynch, 2006)
  57. Tokyo Story  (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)
  58. Winter Sleep  (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2014)
  59. This Is Spinal Tap  (Rob Reiner, 1984)
  60. Meek's Cutoff  (Kelly Reichardt, 2011)
  61. Dog Day Afternoon  (Sidney Lumet, 1975)
  62. Caché  (Michael Haneke, 2005)
  63. Phantom Thread  (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017)
  64. The Graduate  (Mike Nichols, 1967)
  65. Man with a Movie Camera  (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
  66. Withnail & I  (Bruce Robinson, 1987)
  67. Z  (Costa-Gavras, 1968)
  68. Monty Python's Life of Brian  (Terry Jones, 1979)
  69. You Were Never Really Here  (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)
  70. Watership Down  (Martin Rosen, 1978)
  71. Werckmeister Harmonies  (Béla Tarr, 2000)
  72. The General  (Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman, 1926)
  73. Margaret  (Kenneth Lonergan, 2011)
  74. The Remains of the Day  (James Ivory, 1993)
  75. 12 Angry Men  (Sidney Lumet, 1957)
  76. Days of Heaven  (Terrence Malick, 1978)
  77. City Lights  (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
  78. Cléo from 5 to 7  (Agnes Varda, 1962)
  79. Shiva Baby  (Emma Seligman, 2021)
  80. Ugetsu monogatari  (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953)
  81. Touch of Evil  (Orson Welles, 1958)
  82. Portrait of a Lady on Fire  (Céline Sciamma, 2019)
  83. Deconstructing Harry  (Woody Allen, 1998)
  84. Don't Look Now  (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)
  85. The Lord of the Rings  (Peter Jackson, 2001-2003)
  86. Leave No Trace  (Debra Granik, 2018)
  87. To Be or Not to Be  (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942)
  88. Seven  (David Fincher, 1995)
  89. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days  (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
  90. In a Lonely Place  (Nicholas Ray, 1950)
  91. Archipelago  (Joanna Hogg, 2010)
  92. Gettysburg  (Ronald F. Maxwell, 1993)
  93. The Searchers  (John Ford, 1956)
  94. Lost in Translation  (Sofia Coppola, 2003)
  95. His Girl Friday  (Howard Hawks, 1940)
  96. Museum Hours  (Jem Cohen, 2012)
  97. The Player  (Robert Altman, 1992)
  98. Back to the Future  (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
  99. Planet of the Apes  (Franklin J. Schaffner, 1968)
  100. 35 Shots of Rum  (Claire Denis, 2008)

 

There are several dozen more that were supposed to go on but the number has already reached 100; must be some bug in the automatic counter.

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