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.
Comedy2014122 minsDirector: Damian Szifron
This Oscar-nominated, Almodóvar-produced anthology of six tales of ordinary madness is the most riotously enjoyable portmanteau film since Pulp Fiction.
Drama1958117 minsDirector: Jack Clayton
Jack Clayton directs this romantic, love-triangle drama featuring Simone Signoret in an Oscar-winning performance.
Comedy2017151 minsDirector: Ruben Östlund
From director Ruben Östlund (Force Majeure) comes a satire on the hypocrisy of the art world, starring Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss and Dominic West. Winner of the Palme d'Or.
Drama2011123 minsDirector: Asghar Farhadi
A powerful tale of a middle-class marriage in crisis, and winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
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.
Drama1989120 minsDirector: Denys Arcand
Denys Arcand's brilliant and provocative drama follows an actor whose unorthodox passion play faces accusations of blasphemy.
Drama1988124 minsDirector: Giuseppe Tornatore
A boy strikes up a friendship with a projectionist in this timeless and charming love letter to cinema from Giuseppe Tornatore.
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.
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.
Drama1953136 minsDirector: Yasujirō Ozu
A constant fixture in critics' polls, Yasujiro Ozu's most enduring masterpiece is a beautifully nuanced exploration of filial duty, expectation and regret.
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
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.
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.
Drama202090 minsDirector: Aleem Khan
In this knockout feature debut from Aleem Khan, Bafta-winner Joanna Scanlan is the woman who discovers her late husband’s secrets.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Biopic201090 minsDirector: Clio Barnard
Clio Barnard's film about Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar mixes reconstruction, interviews (performed by actors) and scenes from the plays.
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.
Thriller2010107 minsDirector: Im Sang-soo
An enigmatic housemaid and her wealthy, totalitarian employer begin an affair that will have disastrous consequences for them both.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Drama1961122 minsDirector: Michelangelo Antonioni
Michelangelo Antonioni's masterpiece stars Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau as a couple re-examining their emotional bonds.
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.
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.
War1982123 minsDirector: Nagisa Oshima
An unflinching study of brutality and resistance, fear and desire in a Japanese WWII POW camp, directed with verve by Oshima and starring David Bowie, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Tom Conti.
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
Drama201788 minsDirector: John Trengove
A traditional rite of passage ritual forms the backdrop for this tough and complex tale of closeted sexuality in South Africa.