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.
Drama202286 minsDirector: Jerzy Skolimowski
The joint winner of the Cannes Jury Prize and Academy Award-nominated, EO is a strangely wonderful tale where the dark and light of humanity is laid bare.
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.
Period drama202290 minsDirector: Manuela Martelli
An unnervingly brilliant portrait of the ways in which the Pinochet dictatorship realised its brute force and pervasive influence, from debut director Manuela Martelli. Winner of the 2022 BFI London Film Festival First Feature Competition.
Drama2014136 minsDirector: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Winner of Best Film at the 2014 London Film Festival, the latest film from Andrey Zvyagintsev (Elena) is a gripping study of corrupt politics in modern Russia.
Drama201482 minsDirector: Pawel Pawlikowski
The Best Film winner at the 2013 BFI London Film Festival is an exquisitely shot, moving drama about a Polish nun exploring her family past, from UK-based director Pawel Pawlikowski.
Fantasy2021136 minsDirector: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Tilda Swinton stars in the first English-language feature from master filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul; a mesmerising and beautifully immersive work.
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.
Drama2012107 minsDirector: Sally El Hosaini
Sally El Hosaini's feature debut tells of the love and disenchantment of two British-Egyptian brothers as gangs, drugs and sexuality come between them.
Drama2022147 minsDirector: Felix Van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch
An epic journey of friendship and self-discovery set against a magnificent and breath-taking Italian landscape, winner of the 2022 Cannes Jury Prize.
Drama2022128 minsDirector: Saim Sadiq
A conservative family in Pakistan is torn apart when a son falls in love with a transgender erotic dancer, in Saim Sadiq’s riveting queer drama.
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.
Biopic201090 minsDirector: Clio Barnard
Clio Barnard's film about Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar mixes reconstruction, interviews (performed by actors) and scenes from the plays.
Romance1979132 minsDirector: François Truffaut
Catherine Deneuve shines as the director and lead actor of a Parisian theatre struggling to survive under the Nazi occupation in Truffaut's wartime drama.
Drama202190 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.
Horror1981124 minsDirector: Andrzej Zulawski
Andrzej Zulawski’s out-of-control horror masterpiece is one of cinema’s most bare-souled and open-veined accounts of a broken relationship.
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.
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.
Thriller2010107 minsDirector: Im Sang-soo
An enigmatic housemaid and her wealthy, totalitarian employer begin an affair that will have disastrous consequences for them both.
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.
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
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.
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.
Fantasy2021146 minsDirector: Kirill Serebrennikov
A comic book artist contracts flu during an epidemic and subsequently embarks on a strange journey through Russian society.
Drama201997 minsDirector: Melina León
Melina León’s brutal debut feature about a young indigenous woman whose baby is stolen from her in 1980s Peru. Based on true events.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Drama2009118 minsDirector: Andrea Arnold
Andrea Arnold's BAFTA winner and coming-of-age story starring newcomer Katie Jarvis as disaffected teen Mia and Michael Fassbender in one of his earliest film roles.
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.
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.
Historical drama196264 minsDirector: Robert Bresson
The legendary story of Joan of Arc is powerfully retold in Robert Bresson’s minimalist masterpiece.
Drama1953136 minsDirector: Yasujirō Ozu
A constant fixture in critics' polls, Yasujirō Ozu's most enduring masterpiece is a beautifully nuanced exploration of filial duty, expectation and regret.
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.
Drama1958117 minsDirector: Jack Clayton
Jack Clayton directs this romantic, love-triangle drama featuring Simone Signoret in an Oscar-winning performance.