160. Inception (2010) Dir. Christopher Nolan, 148 mins.
The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a professional thief who steals information by infiltrating the subconscious and is offered a chance to have his criminal history erased as payment for the implantation of another person’s idea into a target’s subconscious. DiCaprio holds the piece together even if Nolan does get frustratingly carried away with the effects in his dream structures. Watch
159. Network (1976) Dir. Sidney Lumet, 121 mins.
Network is a satirical film written by Paddy Chayefsky about a fictional television network, UBS, and its struggle with poor ratings. Watch
158. Sansho the Bailiff (1954) Dir. Kenji Mizoguchi, 124 mins.
Based on a short story of the same name by Mori Ōgai, it follows two aristocratic children who are sold into slavery. Watch
157. Manhattan (1979) Dir. Woody Allen, 96 mins.
Woody Allen’s love letter to cinema, Manhattan sees him co-star as a twice-divorced 42-year-old comedy writer who dates a 17-year-old girl (Mariel Hemingway) but falls in love with his best friend’s mistress (Diane Keaton). Watch
156. Viridiana (1961) Dir. Luis Bunuel, 90 mins.
A woman visits her rich uncle before taking her vows as a nun. When he dies, he leaves his estate to her and his son. She becomes a nun and opens up the estate to house some wretched derelicts. Watch
155. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Dir. Steven Spielberg, 115 mins.
Spielberg’s marvellously crafted action adventure pits Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) against a group of Nazis who are searching for the Ark of the Covenant, which Adolf Hitler believes will make his army invincible. Watch
154. 12 Monkeys (1995) Dir. Terry Gilliam, 129 mins.
Inspired by Chris Marker’s La Jetee, the film follows James Cole (Bruce Willis), a prisoner of the state in the year 2035 who can earn parole if he agrees to travel back in time and thwart a devastating plague. The virus has wiped out most of the Earth’s population and the remainder live underground because the air is poisonous. It’s a cerebral time travelling tale from Gilliam, with Willis at the peak of his powers. Watch
153. Close-Up (1990) Dir. Abbas Kiarostami, 90 mins.
The film tells the story of the real-life trial of a man who impersonated film-maker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, conning a family into believing they would star in his new film. Watch
152. North by Northwest (1959) Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 136 mins.
North by Northwest is a tale of mistaken identity, with an innocent man (Cary Grant) pursued across the United States by agents of a mysterious organisation trying to prevent him from blocking their plan to smuggle out microfilm that contains government secrets. Watch
151. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) Dir. Guillermo del Toro, 119 mins.
The film is set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and details the strange journeys of an imaginative young girl who may be the mythical princess of an underground kingdom. Watch
150. The Elephant Man (1980) Dir. David Lynch, 124 mins.
The Elephant Man is a historical drama about Joseph Merrick (whom the script calls John Merrick), a severely deformed man in late 19th century London. Watch
149. Napoleon (1927) Dir. Abel Gance, 330 mins.
The film begins in Brienne-le-Château with youthful Napoleon attending military school where he manages a snowball fight like a military campaign, yet he suffers the insults of other boys. It continues a decade later with scenes of the French Revolution and Napoleon’s presence at the periphery as a young army lieutenant. He returns to visit his family home in Corsica but politics shift against him and put him in mortal danger. He flees, taking his family to France. Serving as an officer of artillery in the Siege of Toulon, Napoleon’s genius for leadership is rewarded with a promotion to brigadier general. Jealous revolutionaries imprison Napoleon but then the political tide turns against the Revolution’s own leaders. Napoleon leaves prison, forming plans to invade Italy. He falls in love with the beautiful Joséphine de Beauharnais. The emergency government charges him with the task of protecting the National Assembly. Succeeding in this he is promoted to Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Interior, and he marries Joséphine. He takes control of the army which protects the French–Italian border, and propels it to victory in an invasion of Italy. Buy
148. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeosie (1972) Dir. Luis Bunuel, 102 mins.
The narrative concerns a group of upper middle class people attempting, despite continual interruptions, to dine together. Buy
147. Nashville (1975) Dir. Robert Altman, 159 mins.
The film takes a snapshot of people involved in the country music and gospel music businesses in Nashville, Tennessee. The characters’ efforts to succeed or hold on to their success are interwoven with the efforts of a political operative and a local businessman to stage a concert rally before the state’s presidential primary for a populist outsider running for President of the United States on the Replacement Party ticket. Watch
146. La Strada (1954) Dir. Federico Fellini, 108 mins.
The film that first brought Fellini international fame and began his break with neo-realism, follows a naive young woman, Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina), who is bought from her impoverished mother by a brutish circus strongman, Zampanò (Anthony Quinn) to be his wife and partner. She loyally endures his coldness and foul abusive behaviour while he takes her with him to perform across a bleak Italian countryside. Inspired by the writer/director’s own circus background, the production had many problems, including insecure finance, casting issues, delays and Fellini suffering a nervous breakdown. However, despite this and a harsh critical reaction on release, the film is now recognised for its simple, yet strikingly original narrative, the breakthrough performance of Fellini’s wife and muse, Masina and for its great influence on Italian cinema such as the filmmaker’s own future masterpieces, La Dolce Vita (1960), 8 1/2 (1963) and Amarcord (1974). More…
145. The Wild Bunch (1969) Dir. Sam Peckinpah, 145 mins.
The Wild Bunch is an epic Western about an ageing outlaw gang on the Texas–Mexico border, trying to exist in the changing modern world of 1913. The once controversial violence now seems tame by modern standards. Watch
144. My Life to Live (1962) Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 85 mins.
Nana (Anna Karina), a beautiful Parisian in her early twenties, leaves her husband and infant son hoping to become an actress. Without money, beyond what she earns as a shopgirl, and unable to enter acting, she elects to earn better money as a prostitute. Buy
143. Le samourai (1967) Dir. Jean-Pierre Melville, 105 mins.
Melville’s stylish crime thriller follows a hitman (Alain Delon), on his last assignment, which leaves him under the surveillance of the police. Learning that his boss now has him marked for death, he must now try to take him out first. Watch
142. The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Dir. Irvin Kershner, 127 mins.
Set three years after Star Wars, the Galactic Empire, under the leadership of the villainous Darth Vader and the Emperor, is in pursuit of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and the rest of the Rebel Alliance. While Vader relentlessly pursues Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, and otheir companions, Luke studies the Force under Jedi Master Yoda preparing to go to aide of his friends. Arguably the best of the Star Wars franchise and featuring one of cinema’s most famous plot twists. Watch
141. The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (1959) Dir. Masaki Kobayashi, 208 mins.
Drawing from his own experiences, Kobayashi weaves the tale of a Japanese pacifist, trying to get by as best he can during World War II. Buy