With garlands and glamour, cinema’s spirit of self-congratulation has long fascinated, allowing great works to gain recognition and reach wide audiences.
The famous example is Kurosawa’s Rashomon, which astounded Venice and thrust Japanese cinema on the world stage. But awards still have the power to elevate films and help secure their place in the pantheon. Our collection highlights the films that have won the praise of peers over the years, from Palme d’Or recipients to prize-winners from the BFI London Film Festival.
Drama2013100 minsDirector: Alain Guiraudie
A young man witnesses a violent crime at a gay cruising ground and becomes obsessed with the killer in Alain Guiraudie’s acclaimed mystery-thriller.
Drama1998101 minsDirector: Thomas Vinterberg
A family reunion turns both incredibly dark and unexpectedly hilarious, in the infamous first film of the Dogme 95 movement initiated by director Thomas Vinterberg and Lars von Trier.
Period drama1975107 minsDirector: Peter Weir
The film that established Peter Weir as a major filmmaker remains one of the most chillingly atmospheric and beautifully enigmatic films ever made.
Drama1960137 minsDirector: Michelangelo Antonioni
Antonioni’s masterpiece of modern alienation, with Monica Vitti as the young woman searching for her friend who's inexplicably disappeared.
Drama194889 minsDirector: Vittorio De Sica
Vittorio De Sica’s story of a father and son searching for a stolen bicycle on the streets of Rome is a classic of post-war Italian cinema.
Musical200787 minsDirector: John Carney
The unique, charming musical about the whirlwind romance between an Irish street musician and a Czech immigrant; winner of an Oscar® and a major prize at Sundance Film Festival.
Documentary1999101 minsDirector: Wim Wenders
Cuba’s rich and colourful past comes vividly to life in this legendary, Oscar-nominated documentary from director Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas, Wings of Desire).
Drama1984145 minsDirector: Wim Wenders
The late, great Harry Dean Stanton's finest role came as the near-mute Travis, on a journey across America to reunite his family, in Wim Wenders' moving tale of loss and redemption.
Crime195088 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa
Credited with bringing Japanese cinema to worldwide audiences, Akira Kurosawa’s breakthrough tells the story of a murder in the woods from four differing perspectives.
Biopic198884 minsDirector: Terence Davies
Terence Davies' debut feature is a remarkable evocation of working-class family life in the 40s and 50s and a visionary exploration of memory.
Drama200993 minsDirector: Yorgos Lanthimos
Yorgos Lanthimos' scary, witty tale of a dysfunctional Greek family is original, ingenious and sadly relevant as a study of parent-child relationships
Crime2011151 minsDirector: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
A modern masterpiece from major filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan, following police and prosecutors as they escort a murderer through the bleak Anatolian steppes in search of a buried body.
Crime200893 minsDirector: Courtney Hunt
Nominated for two Oscars (Best Actress – Melissa Leo - and Best Original Screenplay) Frozen River is a riveting thriller that raises questions about the borders we construct, between countries, communities and each other.
Biopic201090 minsDirector: Clio Barnard
Clio Barnard's film about Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar mixes reconstruction, interviews (performed by actors) and scenes from the plays.
Thriller2006110 minsDirector: Andrea Arnold
Andrea Arnold’s highly acclaimed film, winner of top prizes at Cannes and the BFI London Film Festival, is a haunting drama about a woman confronting past demons.
Drama2012111 minsDirector: Thomas Vinterberg
Mads Mikkelsen stars in a distressing examination of a false indictment, and the collective hysteria that ensues, in this electrifying drama from Festen director Thomas Vinterberg.
Thriller2010107 minsDirector: Im Sang-soo
An enigmatic housemaid and her wealthy, totalitarian employer begin an affair that will have disastrous consequences for them both.
Comedy2004114 minsDirector: Tsai Ming-liang
Ming-Liang Tsai's outrageous blend of sex, comedy, musical and drama is a daring, controversial and hilarious smorgasbord from one of Taiwan's most acclaimed directors.
Comedy199495 minsDirector: David O. Russell
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) made his feature debut in 1994 with this biting black comedy, which caused a stir with its incestuous subplot and portrayal of adolescent restlessness.
Drama1953136 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu
A constant fixture in critics' polls, Yasujiro Ozu's most enduring masterpiece is a beautifully nuanced exploration of filial duty, expectation and regret.
Period drama1978186 minsDirector: Ermanno Olmi
Ermanno Olmi’s Palme d’Or-winner, about the hardships faced by peasants in late 19th-century Lombardy, is a masterpiece of neorealism.
Comedy196497 minsDirector: Vittorio De Sica
Sophia Loren and Marcelo Mastroianni are irrepressible as a long-married couple in this exquisite and timeless comedy of our all-too-human foibles.
Drama1955125 minsDirector: Carl Th. Dreyer
Carl Theodor Dreyer’s beautifully photographed tale explores the religious intolerance and familial tensions within a Danish farming family.
Drama2010113 minsDirector: Susanne Bier
Susanne Bier’s sumptuous, Oscar-winning drama explores the duality of a doctor working in a Sudanese refugee camp and his troubled family life in rural Denmark.
Drama1977106 minsDirector: Ettore Scola
Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni deliver the finest and most nuanced performances of their careers in this understated masterpiece from director Ettore Scola.
Drama201699 minsDirector: Shubhashish Bhutiani
This gentle, tender and award-winning Indian comedy follows the ordeal of an over-worked modern son forced to accompany his 77-year-old father to the holy city of Varanasi, where he plans to end his days.
Biopic198693 minsDirector: Derek Jarman
Derek Jarman’s unique biopic of the 17th century Italian artist Michelangelo da Caravaggio is a powerful meditation on sexuality, criminality and art.
Drama198999 minsDirector: Ildikó Enyedi
Ildikó Enyedi's magical tale of twin girls born in Budapest at the very moment that Edison’s wondrous electric light-bulb is unveiled to the world.
Fantasy1987128 minsDirector: Wim Wenders
In director Wim Wenders' (Paris, Texas) most metaphysical work, a guardian angel desires nothing more than to be human. Presented in a stunning new restoration.
Comedy196896 minsDirector: Juraj Herz
This story of a professional cremator whose increasingly deranged impulses are given free reign during Prague's Nazi occupation, is a brilliantly chilling mix of Dr Strangelove and Repulsion.
Drama1960175 minsDirector: Federico Fellini
Federico Fellini’s masterpiece depicting seven hedonistic days in the life of a tabloid journalist (Marcello Mastroianni) as he searches for the sweet life.
Drama1963138 minsDirector: Federico Fellini
Fellini triumphantly conjured himself out of writer's block with this magnum opus about a film director experiencing his own creative crisis.
Drama1961122 minsDirector: Michelangelo Antonioni
Michelangelo Antonioni's masterpiece stars Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau as a couple re-examining their emotional bonds.
Drama2002121 minsDirector: Park Chan-wook
Acclaimed director Park Chan-wook (The Handmaiden, Oldboy) kicks off his celebrated ‘Vengeance trilogy’ with this dazzling, shocking tale of kidnapping, organ transplants and revenge.
Drama2009100 minsDirector: Stéphane Brizé
When a happily married man decides to volunteer at his son’s school, he begins to form a romantic bond with a teacher in this intimate French drama.
Historical drama1981157 minsDirector: Werner Herzog
One of Werner Herzog's most acclaimed and audacious films, Fitzcarraldo tells the incredible story of Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, an opera-loving fortune hunter who dreams of bringing opera to the heart of the Peruvian jungle.
Drama1977144 minsDirector: John Cassavetes
John Cassavetes’s emotionally charged film stands as one of the great American movies about theatre and the art of performance.
Biopic2007136 minsDirector: Peter Greenaway
Martin Freeman’s hearty turn as Rembrandt anchors one of Peter Greenaway’s most accessible films, charting the creation of the Dutch master’s key work, ‘The Night Watch’.
Drama2016106 minsDirector: Anocha Suwichakornpong
Anocha Suwichakornpong's mesmerising and innovative treatise on memory, politics and cinema.
Drama1966121 minsDirector: Gillo Pontecorvo
Gillo Pontecorvo’s masterpiece about the last years of French colonial rule in Algeria, seen from the perspective of both the revolutionaries and the French authorities.
Drama1974146 minsDirector: John Cassavetes
John Cassavetes's powerful drama stars Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk as a blue-collar couple struggling to cope with the wife's slide into mental illness.
Drama1987140 minsDirector: James Ivory
Merchant Ivory’s landmark adaptation of E M Forster’s classic LGBTQ+ novel and a precursor to the James Ivory-scripted Call Me By Your Name, starring Hugh Grant, James Wilby and Rupert Graves.
Comedy2008237 minsDirector: Sion Sono
Japanese cinema's enfant terrible, Sion Sono, unleashes this demented, whirlwind tale of cults, love, violence and perversion.
Comedy1963118 minsDirector: Vittorio De Sica
Irrepressible Vittorio De Sica (Bicycle Thieves) directs this Oscar-winning film of three comic tales of love and sex in three cities.
Drama2012107 minsDirector: Sally El Hosaini
Sally El Hosaini's feature debut tells of the love and disenchantment of two British-Egyptian brothers. Gangs, drugs and sexuality come between them
Drama201581 minsDirector: Jafar Panahi
Following a personally difficult but artistically rewarding spell making films under house arrest, Jafar Panahi is back on the streets of Tehran.