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In the 1930s, Marcel Pagnol, a leading light of the Paris theater, set out for new horizons as a filmmaker in his native Provence. His early masterpieces mix theatrical stagecraft with realistic location photography to create an epic love story from the fabric of everyday life.
With his third feature film, Alfred Hitchcock took a major step toward greatness and made what he would come to consider his true directorial debut.
Legendary director Nicholas Ray began his career with this lyrical film noir, the first in a series of existential genre films overflowing with sympathy for America’s outcasts and underdogs.
Moving between the terrestrial and the otherworldly, Ugetsu reveals essential truths about the ravages of war, the plight of women, and the pride of men.
With its parade of oddball characters, quotable, Oscar-nominated script, and eclectic soundtrack of vintage obscurities, Ghost World is one of the twenty-first century’s most fiercely beloved comedies.
Searing and sensitive, this Palme d’Or–winning drama is a unique depiction of the refugee experience as a continuous crisis of identity.
Gloriously cinematic despite its tiny budget, Orson Welles’s Othello is a testament to the filmmaker’s stubborn willingness to pursue his vision to the ends of the earth.
A lighthearted take on director Yasujiro Ozu’s perennial theme of the challenges of intergenerational relationships, Good Morning tells the story of two young boys who stop speaking in protest after their parents refuse to buy a television set.
The sweet, sexy, and surreal Tampopo is a lavishly inclusive paean to the sensual joys of nourishment, and one of the most mouthwatering examples of food on film ever made.
In this deeply personal tale of estrangement and reconciliation between two rebellious brothers, set in a dreamlike and timeless Tulsa, Francis Ford Coppola gives mythic dimensions to intimate, painful emotions.
George Stevens’s Woman of the Year, conceived to build on the smashing comeback Katharine Hepburn had made in The Philadelphia Story, is a dazzling, funny, and rueful observation of what it takes for men and women to get along—both in the workplace and outside of it.
Before he stunned the cinematic world with the epic series The Decalogue and the Three Colors trilogy, the great Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski made his first work of metaphysical genius, Blind Chance.
Andrew Haigh carries the tradition of British realist cinema to artful new heights in this exquisitely calibrated film, which features Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as an English couple on the eve of an anniversary celebration.
One of Mexico’s most highly regarded works of political cinema, Canoa: A Shameful Memory is a daring commentary on ideological manipulation, religious fanaticism, and mass violence, as well as a visceral expression of horror.
A countercultural masterpiece about the act of seeing and the art of image making, Blow-Up takes the form of a psychological mystery, starring David Hemmings as a fashion photographer who unknowingly captures a death on film after following two lovers in a park.
Melodrama casts noirish shadows in this portrait of maternal sacrifice from Hollywood master Michael Curtiz, featuring an iconic performance by Joan Crawford.
Melding melodrama with screwball farce, this Academy Award–nominated black comedy was Pedro Almodóvar’s international breakthrough and secured his place at the vanguard of modern Spanish cinema.
When a suburban teacher and father (James Mason) is prescribed cortisone for a painful, possibly fatal affliction, he grows dangerously addicted to the experimental drug. This Eisenhower-era throat-grabber, shot in expressive CinemaScope, is an excoriating take on the nuclear family.
One of the fastest, funniest, and most quotable films ever made, His Girl Friday is an immortal mix of hard-boiled newsroom setting with remarriage comedy.
With astonishing location and claustrophobic interior photography by Eugene Schüfftan, an opening-title sequence by the inimitable Saul Bass, and a rhythmic score by Aaron Copland, Jack Garfein’s film is a masterwork of independent cinema.
The feature debut of the most internationally renowned African director of the twentieth century, Black Girl is a harrowing human drama as well as a radical political statement—and one of the essential films of the 1960s.
An uncommonly naturalistic view of a seamy underworld, this gritty crime classic painstakingly depicts the calm professionalism and toughness of its gangster heroes while evincing a remarkable depth of compassion for their all-too-human fragility.
Unfolding in a series of eight mythic vignettes, this late work by Akira Kurosawa was inspired by the beloved director’s own nighttime visions, along with stories from Japanese folklore.
Shot in Super 16 mm and featuring a quartet of nuanced, understated performances, this comic and poignant drama, peppered with autobiographical elements, deftly captures the heartache and confusion of a fracturing family.
This Cannes-award-winning romantic comedy channels the spirit of classic Hollywood and the whimsy of Jacques Tati into an idiosyncratic ode to the delirium of new romance.
Allowing us to watch people age on film with documentary realism while gripping us in a fictional narrative of exquisite everydayness, Boyhood has a power that only the art of cinema could harness.
Epic in scale yet meticulously observed, Short Cuts interweaves the stories of twenty-two characters as they struggle to find solace and meaning in contemporary Los Angeles.
Internationally revered Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami has created some of the most inventive and transcendent cinema of the past thirty years, and the fiction-documentary hybrid Close-up is his most radical, brilliant work.
This captivating, long-overlooked adventure—which features Paul Henreid and a clever screenplay by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat, best known for writing Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes—is a deftly concocted spy game that could give the Master of Suspense a run for his money.
This heartrending masterpiece by Kenji Mizoguchi about the give-and-take between life and art marked the first full realization of the hypnotic long takes and eloquent camera movements that would come to define the director’s films.
One of RKO Pictures’s most successful movies of the 1940s, Cat People raised the creature feature to new heights of sophistication and mystery.
Transgressive and outrageous, this big-studio version of a debaucherous midnight movie is an addictively entertaining romp from one of cinema’s great outsider artists.
With its unapologetic identification with social outcasts and its sensitive, modern approach to matters of sexuality and race, Richardson’s classic is a still startling benchmark work of realism.
Orson Welles’s first color film and final completed fictional feature, The Immortal Story is a moving and wistful adaptation of a tale by Isak Dinesen.
The crowning achievement of Orson Welles’s extraordinary cinematic career, Chimes at Midnight was the culmination of the filmmaker’s lifelong obsession with Shakespeare’s ultimate rapscallion, Sir John Falstaff.
At once a wuxia film, the tale of a spiritual quest, and a study in human nature, A Touch of Zen is an unparalleled work in Hu’s formidable career and an epic of the highest order.
Nothing else has ever looked or felt like director René Laloux’s animated marvel Fantastic Planet, a politically minded and visually inventive work of science fiction.
Stanley Kubrick’s painfully funny take on Cold War anxiety is one of the fiercest satires of human folly ever to come out of Hollywood.
This multilayered, immensely entertaining drama from the great contemporary French director Olivier Assayas is a singular look at the intersection of high art and popular culture.
After surviving Auschwitz, a former cabaret singer (Nina Hoss, in a dazzling, multilayered performance) has her disfigured face reconstructed and returns to her war-ravaged hometown to seek out her gentile husband, who may or may not have betrayed her to the Nazis.
Among the most praised and sought-after titles in all contemporary film, this singular masterpiece of Taiwanese cinema, directed by Edward Yang, finally comes to home video in the United States.
Hailed around the world as one of the greatest movies ever made, the Academy Award–winning Bicycle Thieves, directed by Vittorio De Sica, defined an era in cinema.
Italian cinema dream team Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni are cast against glamorous type and deliver two of the finest performances of their careers in this moving, quietly subversive drama from Ettore Scola.
An astounding array of talent came together for the big-screen adaptation of John Fowles’s novel The French Lieutenant’s Woman, a postmodern masterpiece that had been considered unfilmable.
Merchant Ivory Productions, led by director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant, became a household name with A Room with a View, the first of their extraordinary adaptations of E. M. Forster novels.
This comic masterpiece by Preston Sturges is among the finest Hollywood satires and a high-water mark in the career of one of the industry’s most revered funnymen.
A mix of the witty and the utterly absurd, The Palm Beach Story is a high watermark of Sturges’s brand of physical comedy and verbal repartee, featuring sparkling performances.
The Big City follows the personal triumphs and frustrations of Arati (Madhabi Mukherjee), who decides, despite the initial protests of her bank-clerk husband, to take a job to help support their family.
Based on a novella by the great Rabindranath Tagore, Charulata is a work of subtle textures, a delicate tale of a marriage in jeopardy and a woman taking the first steps toward establishing her own voice.
A wild horse saves a young boy’s life after a terrifying shipwreck and the two become unlikely friends in Carroll Ballard’s cinematic tour de force, adapted from Walter Farley’s classic children’s novel.
An island off the New England coast, summer of 1965. Two twelve-year-olds, Sam and Suzy, fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness.
A cornerstone of the French New Wave, the first feature from Alain Resnais is one of the most influential films of all time.
Gregory and Shawn’s unique contributions to the cinematic landscape are shape-shifting, challenging, and entertaining works about the process of creation.
Taking place largely over the course of one tense night, Carol Reed’s psychological noir, set in an unnamed Belfast, stars James Mason as a revolutionary ex-con leading a robbery that goes horribly wrong.
Truffaut made The Soft Skin at a time when he was immersing himself in the work of Alfred Hitchcock, and that master’s influence can be felt throughout this complex, insightful, and underseen French New Wave treasure.
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 work of meticulous journalism and gripping drama, it recounts the disturbing tale of Randall Dale Adams, a drifter who was charged with the murder of a Dallas police officer and sent to death row, despite evidence that he did not commit the crime.
The last film by Yasujiro Ozu was also his final masterpiece, a gently heartbreaking story about a man’s dignifed resignation to life’s shifting currents and society’s modernization.
This multilayered comedy from Sydney Pollack follows the elaborate deception of a down-on-his-luck New York actor who poses as a woman to get a soap opera gig.
Michelangelo Antonioni invented a new film grammar with this masterwork.