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Sight & Sound Poll

It is the most respected of guides: a census of cinema’s best, as voted for by the most respected names in the business. Here's a selection.

For this poll, Scorsese, Coppola and Woody Allen joined Miranda July, Roy Andersson, Mia Hansen-Løve and 350 others to nominate the Greatest Films of All Time. This selection all feature in the Top 250.

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Red DesertRed Desert

Drama1964117 minsDirector: Michelangelo Antonioni

Antonioni's mid-career masterpiece stars Monica Vitti as an emotionally anguished young woman embarking on a tentative affair with a businessman (Richard Harris).

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Aguirre - Wrath of GodAguirre - Wrath of God

Historical drama197294 minsDirector: Werner Herzog

This early masterpiece from Werner Herzog stars Klaus Kinski as a power-crazed explorer in sixteenth-century South America who leads a band of conquistadors through the Amazon in search of El Dorado.

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The Battle of AlgiersThe Battle of Algiers

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.

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Le MéprisLe Mépris

Drama1963103 minsDirector: Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard conducts an autopsy of love and the creative process, as a boorish film producer dismantles a seemingly strong marriage.

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Tokyo StoryTokyo Story

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.

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The GeneralThe General

Comedy192679 minsSilentDirector: Buster Keaton

Buster Keaton's masterpiece is widely and rightly regarded as one of the greatest comedies ever made.

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The Passion of Joan of ArcThe Passion of Joan of Arc

Biopic192780 minsSilentDirector: Carl Th. Dreyer

An incontestable masterpiece of silent cinema, Carl Dreyer's deeply moving biopic features one of the most powerful performances ever captured on film.

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Breathless / À bout de souffleBreathless / À bout de souffle

Film noir196090 minsDirector: Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard’s extraordinary debut feature, an insouciant and iconoclastic crime film that paved the way for the French New Wave.

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Bicycle ThievesBicycle Thieves

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.

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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.

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Napoléon Pt 1Napoléon Pt 1

Biopic1927177 minsSilentDirector: Abel Gance

Abel Gance’s silent epic, one of the most magnificent spectacles in all cinema is finally restored in this stunning new digital restoration.

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Napoléon Pt 2Napoléon Pt 2

Biopic1927156 minsSilentDirector: Abel Gance

Abel Gance’s silent epic, one of the most magnificent spectacles in all cinema is finally restored in this stunning new digital restoration.

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Fanny and AlexanderFanny and Alexander

Drama1982181 minsDirector: Ingmar Bergman

Bergman’s magisterial and sumptuous portrait of a 20th-century Swedish family.

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Battleship PotemkinBattleship Potemkin

Historical drama192569 minsSilentDirector: Sergei M. Eisenstein

A fixture in the critical canon almost since its premiere, Eisenstein’s film about a 1905 naval mutiny was revolutionary in both form and content.

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MetropolisMetropolis

Science Fiction1927150 minsSilentDirector: Fritz Lang

Fritz Lang’s expressionist, dystopian vision is one of the first science fiction feature films, and is arguably the most influential.

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The Seventh SealThe Seventh Seal

Fantasy195796 minsDirector: Ingmar Bergman

Ingmar Bergman’s best-known film is a brilliant allegorical drama starring Max von Sydow as a knight trying to elude his own death.

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Shoah (First Era)Shoah (First Era)

Documentary1985274 minsDirector: Claude Lanzmann

Claude Lanzmann's monumental chronicle of the Holocaust has been acclaimed by many as the greatest documentary ever made.

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Shoah (Second Era)Shoah (Second Era)

Documentary1985293 minsDirector: Claude Lanzmann

Claude Lanzmann's monumental chronicle of the Holocaust has been acclaimed by many as the greatest documentary ever made.

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Seven SamuraiSeven Samurai

Drama1954207 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

Farmers hire a band of samurai to defend them against marauding bandits in Kurosawa’s influential epic, a touchstone for action movies ever since.

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Journey to ItalyJourney to Italy

Drama195486 minsDirector: Roberto Rossellini

Roberto Rossellini's acerbic but finally very moving masterpiece about marital crisis boasts great performances from Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders

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RashomonRashomon

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.

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Late SpringLate Spring

Drama1949108 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu

Yasujiro Ozu's influential masterpiece is a tender meditation on family politics, sacrifice and the status quo.

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Partie de campagnePartie de campagne

Period drama193639 minsDirector: Jean Renoir

On a country picnic, a young girl leaves her family for a while and succumbs to an all-too-brief romance in Jean Renoir's sensuous tribute to the countryside.

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La Règle du jeuLa Règle du jeu

Drama1939102 minsDirector: Jean Renoir

Renoir's depiction of an intransigent society teetering towards disaster was derided upon release and only later acclaimed as one of cinema’s most vital films.

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Fear Eats the SoulFear Eats the Soul

Melodrama197493 minsDirector: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Fassbinder’s international breakthrough, this unconventional love story combines lucid social analysis with devastating emotional power.

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L'Age D'OrL'Age D'Or

Animation & Artists Moving Image193063 minsDirector: Luis Buñuel

Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali unite for this masterpiece of cinematic surrealism remains as brilliantly witty and shocking as ever, more than 80 years on.

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Un Chien AndalouUn Chien Andalou

Animation & Artists Moving Image192816 minsSilentDirector: Luis Buñuel

A scabrous study of desire, the subconscious and anti-clericalism - Buñuel and Dalí’s provocative first film is a classic of Surrealist cinema.

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Celine and Julie Go BoatingCeline and Julie Go Boating

Drama1974194 minsDirector: Jacques Rivette

Jacques Rivette’s biggest commercial hit is an exhilarating combination of theatricality, paranoia and ‘la vie parisienne’, around an entrancing examination of making and watching films.

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A Canterbury TaleA Canterbury Tale

War1944125 minsDirector: Michael Powell

Powell and Pressburger's most personal film combines a Chaucer-inspired pilgrimage with a war-time celebration of English landscape and values to create a gem of British cinema.

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Spring in a Small TownSpring in a Small Town

Romance194898 minsDirector: Fei Mu

Fei Mu’s newly restored 1948 masterpiece, a piercingly poignant study of adulterous desire, was once voted the greatest Chinese film ever made.

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The Third ManThe Third Man

Thriller1949104 minsDirector: Carol Reed

Carol Reed's timeless classic, one of the greatest British films, lavishly marries a perfect script, an unforgettable theme tune and the star power of Orson Welles.

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Floating CloudsFloating Clouds

Drama1955123 minsDirector: Mikio Naruse

Mikio Naruse’s masterpiece about a wandering woman trying to find her identity amid the devastation of post-war Japan.

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FacesFaces

Drama1968130 minsDirector: John Cassavetes

Richard and his wife Maria seek solace from their disintegrating marriage in the arms of other lovers in John Cassavetes's powerful 1968 feature.

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The Life and Death of Colonel BlimpThe Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

War1943164 minsDirector: Michael Powell

Powell and Pressburger’s masterpiece follows the rise and fall of a career soldier, from dashing and brave young officer in the Boer War to a pompous and old-fashioned Colonel by the time of World War Two.

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A Matter of Life and DeathA Matter of Life and Death

Fantasy1946104 minsDirector: Michael Powell

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s timeless romantic fantasy, with David Niven as an airman trapped between life and death.

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Black NarcissusBlack Narcissus

Drama1947101 minsDirector: Michael Powell

Tensions grow when a group of nuns open a convent in the Himalayas in Powell and Pressburger’s remarkable melodrama, starring Deborah Kerr.

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Rome, Open CityRome, Open City

War1945103 minsDirector: Roberto Rossellini

Roberto Rossellini’s landmark of Italian neorealism often cited as one of the greatest films ever made.

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PaisàPaisà

War1946126 minsDirector: Roberto Rossellini

Roberto Rossellini’s ambitious and enormously moving follow-up to his breakthrough Rome, Open City.

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Germany, Year ZeroGermany, Year Zero

War194873 minsDirector: Roberto Rossellini

The concluding part of Roberto Rossellini’s celebrated War Trilogy, set amid the war-torn ruins of Berlin.

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The Red ShoesThe Red Shoes

Drama1948135 minsDirector: Michael Powell

Moira Shearer’s ballerina is torn between love and her career in Powell and Pressburger’s hugely influential melodrama.

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Distant Voices, Still LivesDistant Voices, Still Lives

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.

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Brief EncounterBrief Encounter

Romance194586 minsDirector: David Lean

Noël Coward’s tale of a love affair, thrillingly played out with tight British reserve.

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MM

Crime1931111 minsDirector: Fritz Lang

Peter Lorre is unforgettable as the compulsive child murderer on the run from both police and criminals alike, in Fritz Lang’s seminal crime film.

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The Killing of a Chinese BookieThe Killing of a Chinese Bookie

Gangster1976109 minsDirector: John Cassavetes

John Cassavetes’s uncompromising character study of a gangster, with Ben Gazzara as the small-time club owner whose life begins to spin out of control.

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Opening NightOpening Night

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.

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A Woman Under the InfluenceA Woman Under the Influence

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.

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IkiruIkiru

Drama1952143 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

Takashi Shimura is superb as a bureaucrat diagnosed with cancer in Akira Kurosawa’s lyrical and moving film about how we find meaning in our lives.

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Vivre sa vieVivre sa vie

Drama196283 minsDirector: Jean-Luc Godard

Anna Karina shines in Jean-Luc Godard’s critically acclaimed account of a Parisian woman's slow descent into prostitution.

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Madame de...Madame de...

Drama1953100 minsDirector: Max Ophuls

Max Ophuls' intricately constructed and elegantly designed drama is a searing study of fateful passion wound up in deceits, deals and desires.

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Ordet.Ordet.

Drama1955125 minsDirector: Carl Th. Dreyer

Carl Theodor Dreyer’s beautifully photographed tale explores the religious intolerance and familial tensions within a Danish farming family.

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La Dolce VitaLa Dolce Vita

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.

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L'avventuraL'avventura

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.

More Sight & Sound Poll films in our Rentals collection.