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In 1988, renegade filmmaker Robert Altman and Pulitzer Prize–winning Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau created a presidential candidate, ran him alongside the other hopefuls during the primary season, and presented their media campaign as a cross between a soap opera and TV news.
Based on the original play by Donald Freed and Arnold M. Stone, and starring Philip Baker Hall in a tour de force solo performance, Robert Altman’s Secret Honor is a searing interrogation of the Richard Nixon mystique and an audacious depiction of unchecked paranoia.
Epic in scale yet meticulously observed, maverick director Robert Altman’s Short Cuts interweaves the lives of twenty-two characters struggling to find solace and meaning in contemporary Los Angeles.
This cornerstone of 1970s American moviemaking from Robert Altman is a panoramic view of the country’s political and cultural landscapes, set in the nation’s music capital.
Charlie Chaplin’s masterful drama about the twilight of a former vaudeville star is among the writer-director’s most touching films. Chaplin plays Calvero, a once beloved musical-comedy performer, now a washed-up alcoholic who lives in a small London flat.
An intensely felt film that is one of Bergman’s most striking formal experiments, Cries and Whispers (which won an Oscar for the extraordinary color photography of Sven Nykvist) is a powerful depiction of human behavior in the face of death.
A masterpiece from Nicolas Roeg, Don’t Look Now, adapted from a story by Daphne du Maurier, is a brilliantly disturbing tale of the supernatural.
A pulse-pounding political thriller, Greek expatriate director Costa-Gavras’s Z was one of the cinematic sensations of the late sixties, and is a technically audacious and emotionally gripping masterpiece.
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Set during the final week of the Spanish Civil War, The Devil’s Backbone tells the tale of a twelve-year-old boy who, after his freedom-fighting father is killed, is sent to a haunted rural orphanage full of terrible secrets.
With clarity, subtlety, and a dose of wicked humor, Academy Award–winning director Ang Lee renders Rick Moody’s acclaimed novel of upper-middle-class American malaise as a trenchant, tragic cinematic portrait of lost souls.
A quintessential cult film of the 1980s, Alex Cox’s singular sci-fi comedy stars the always captivating Harry Dean Stanton as a weathered repo man in a desolate Los Angeles, and Emilio Estevez as the nihilistic middle-class punk he takes under his wing.
A French comedy master whose films went unseen for decades as a result of legal tangles, director-actor Pierre Etaix is a treasure the cinematic world has rediscovered and embraced with relish.
Four years after Breathless, Jean-Luc Godard reimagined the gangster film even more radically with Band of Outsiders. In it, two restless young men (Sami Frey and Claude Brasseur) enlist the object of both of their fancies (Anna Karina) to help them commit a robbery—in her own home.
In this beautifully shot, psychologically complex western, Van Heflin is a mild-mannered cattle rancher who takes on the task of shepherding a captured outlaw (played with cucumber-cool charisma by Glenn Ford) to the train that will deliver him to prison.
This invigorating film from Mike Leigh was his first international sensation. Melancholy and funny by turns, it is an intimate portrait of a working-class family in a suburb just north of London.
It’s 1968, and the whole world is watching. With the U.S. in social upheaval, famed cinematographer Haskell Wexler decided to make a film about what the hell was going on. Medium Cool, his debut feature, plunges us into the moment.
Traveling to accept an honorary degree, Professor Isak Borg—masterfully played by veteran director Victor Sjöström—is forced to face his past, come to terms with his faults, and make peace with the inevitability of his approaching death.
The comic genius of silent star Harold Lloyd is eternal. Chaplin is the sweet innocent, Keaton the stoic outsider, but Lloyd—the modern guy striving for success—is us. And with its torrent of perfectly executed gags and astonishing stunts, Safety Last! is the perfect introduction to him.
Over a decade in the making, Claude Lanzmann’s nine-hour-plus opus is a monumental investigation of the unthinkable: the murder of more than six million Jews by the Nazis.
Considered by many to be the finest British film ever made, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, is a stirring masterpiece like no other.
Badlands announced the arrival of a major talent: Terrence Malick. His impressionistic take on the notorious Charles Starkweather killing spree of the late 1950s uses a serial-killer narrative as a springboard for an oblique teenage romance.
Charlie Chaplin plays shockingly against type in his most controversial film, a brilliant and bleak black comedy about money, marriage, and murder.
With the simplest of concepts and sparest of techniques, Robert Bresson made one of the most suspenseful jailbreak films of all time in A Man Escaped.
Suffused with dread and paranoia, this Fritz Lang adaptation of a novel by Graham Greene is a plunge into the eerie shadows of a world turned upside down by war.
One of the great cult classics, The Blob melds ’50s schlock sci-fi and teen delinquency pics even as it transcends these genres with strong performances and ingenious special effects. The Blob helped launch the careers of superstud Steve McQueen and composer Burt Bacharach.
A cornerstone of the French New Wave, the first feature from Alain Resnais is one of the most influential films of all time.
The fascinating result of a collaboration between filmmaker-anthropologist Jean Rouch and sociologist Edgar Morin, this vanguard work of what Morin would term cinéma verité is a brilliantly conceived and realized sociopolitical diagnosis of the early sixties in France.
An epic on the grandest possible scale, Visconti’s opulent masterpiece stars Burt Lancaster as an aging prince watching his culture and fortune wane in the face of a new generation during the tumultuous years of Italy’s Risorgimento.
The debut feature by the great Andrei Tarkovsky, Ivan’s Childhood is a poetic journey through the shards and shadows of one boy’s war-ravaged youth.
The Tin Drum, is Volker Schlöndorff’s visionary adaptation of Nobel laureate Günter Grass’s acclaimed novel, characterized by surreal imagery, arresting eroticism, and clear-eyed satire.
With its gorgeous widescreen compositions and sophisticated look at American male obsession, this stripped-down narrative from maverick director Monte Hellman is one of the artistic high points of 1970s cinema, and possibly the greatest road movie ever made.
In the early 1970s, the great Italian poet, philosopher, and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini brought to the screen a trio of masterpieces of medieval literature.
This fleet and gripping film is the first of the early thrillers the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, made during the fertile phase of his career spent at the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation.
In the dystopian masterpiece Brazil, Jonathan Pryce plays a daydreaming everyman who finds himself caught in the soul-crushing gears of a nightmarish bureaucracy.
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Based on the novel by Rumer Godden, the film eloquently contrasts the growing pains of three young women with the immutability of the Bengal river around which their daily lives unfold.
Considered one of the greatest films ever made, The Rules of the Game (La règle du jeu), by Jean Renoir, is a scathing critique of corrupt French society cloaked in a comedy of manners.
Near the end of his long and celebrated career, master filmmaker Jean Renoir indulged his lifelong obsession with life-as-theater and directed three majestic films infatuated with the past, love, and artifice.
America, 1976. The last day of school. Bongs blaze, bell-bottoms ring, and rock and roll rocks. Among the best teen films ever made, Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused eavesdrops on a group of seniors-to-be and incoming freshmen.
The Last Days of Disco, from director Whit Stillman, is a cleverly comic look at the early 1980s Manhattan party scene from the vantage point of the late nineties.
One of the great American independent films of the 1990s, the surprise hit Metropolitan, by writer-director Whit Stillman, is a sparkling comedic chronicle of a young man’s romantic misadventures while trying to fit in to New York City’s debutante society.
Though little known outside of France, Jean Grémillon was a consummate filmmaker from his country’s golden age.
Director Jim Jarmusch followed up his brilliant breakout film Stranger Than Paradise with another, equally beloved portrait of loners and misfits in the American landscape
The Samurai Trilogy, directed by Hiroshi Inagaki and starring the inimitable Toshiro Mifune, was one of Japan’s most successful exports of the 1950s, a rousing, emotionally gripping tale of combat and self-discovery.
In the decades of occult cinema that Polanski’s ungodly masterpiece has spawned, it has never been outdone for sheer psychological terror.
Sunday Bloody Sunday depicts the romantic lives of two Londoners, a middle-aged doctor and a prickly thirtysomething divorcée—played with great sensitivity by Peter Finch and Glenda Jackson—who are sleeping with the same handsome young artist.
During the 1940s, realism reigned in British cinema—but not at Gainsborough Pictures. The studio, which had been around since the twenties, found new success with a series of pleasurably preposterous costume melodramas.
With its aching musical soundtrack and exquisitely abstract cinematography by Christopher Doyle and Mark Lee Ping-bin, this film has been a major stylistic influence on the past decade of cinema, and is a milestone in Wong’s redoubtable career.
This multilayered, noirish descent into one man’s personal hell is also a surreal, metacinematic journey that, two years after the phenomenon Se7en, further demonstrated that director David Fincher was one of Hollywood’s true contemporary visionaries.
Poetic realism reached sublime heights with Children of Paradise, widely considered one of the greatest French films of all time.
This neorealist masterpiece by Vittorio De Sica follows an elderly pensioner as he strives to make ends meet during Italy’s postwar economic recovery.
Norman Mailer is remembered for many things— his novels, his essays, his articles, his activism, his ego. one largely forgotten chapter of his life, however, is his late-sixties kamikaze-style plunge into making experimental films.
The Belgian filmmaking team of brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne turned heads with Rosetta, an intense vérité drama that closely follows a poor young woman struggling to hold on to a job to support herself and her alcoholic mother.
Wes Anderson’s hilarious, touching, and brilliantly stylized study of melancholy and redemption centers around a dysfunctional family of geniuses.
A surreal fever dream, or perhaps a nightmare, Last Year at Marienbad, written by the radical master of the New Novel, Alain Robbe-Grillet, gorgeously fuses the past with the present in telling its ambiguous tale of a man and a woman who may or may not have met a year ago.
Charlie Chaplin’s comedic masterwork—which charts a prospector’s search for fortune in the Klondike and his discovery of romance (with the beautiful Georgia Hale)—forever cemented the iconic status of Chaplin and his Little Tramp character.
A heart-racing spy story by Alfred Hitchcock, The 39 Steps follows Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) as he stumbles upon a conspiracy that thrusts him into a hectic chase across the Scottish moors.