This page shows you the list charts. By default, the movies are ordered by how many times they have been marked as a favorite. However, you can also sort by other information, such as the total number of times it has been marked as a dislike.
A polling of the Criterion Collection subreddit users on their top 10 films of all time.
The users submitted their top 10 films of all time ranked, with the highest ranking film at #1 given 10 points and the lowest ranking at #10 given 1 point. The films were then ranked based on total number of points.
Poll taken in January of 2016.
Films that were exclusive the Criterion Collection Hulu channel that have not appeared in the collection as a feature or as an extra for another feature prior to the move to Filmstruck.
Janus Films opened American viewers’ eyes to the pleasures of Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, and François Truffaut at the height of their artistic powers. Celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of this world-renowned distribution company with Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films, an expansive collectors’ box set featuring fifty classic films on DVD and a lavishly illustrated hardcover book that tells the story of Janus Films through an essay by film historian Peter Cowie, a tribute from Martin Scorsese, and extensive, all-new notes on all fifty films, plus cast and credit listings and U.S. premiere information.
“Tidal wave” would have been a more appropriate name for this explosion of vibrant, innovative, and highly self-conscious films by young French directors in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The informal movement was spearheaded by a handful of critics from Cahiers du cinéma—Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Eric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, and Jacques Rivette—whose incisive writings were matched by their films: bold, modern takes on classical masters that reworked genres like noir and the musical, and experimented with techniques antiquated and discovered. While Godard’s Breathless and Truffaut’s The 400 Blows remain the twin groundbreaking events of the movement, films such as Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima mon amour and Agnès Varda’s Cléo from 5 to 7 were watersheds as well, finding excited audiences hungry for a new, energetic, political cinema opposed to the stuffy “cinema of quality,” as Truffaut put it, of the old guard. Though the movement quickly dissipated, filmmakers like Godard, Rivette, Varda, and Rohmer continue to pioneer today.
Some call it a genre, others a movement, or even a fashion statement, but however one defines noir, with its signature femmes fatales, wisecracking tough guys, and dramatic, high-contrast cinematography, its appeal never seems to wane. Though its origins are in German expressionism and French crime films of the thirties, film noir has always been a distinctly American film movement, influenced and shaped as it was by American pulp fiction, wartime gender politics, and postwar nuclear anxieties. And since its forties and fifties heyday, the legacy of noir has spread everywhere—from Kurosawa (High and Low) to the French new wave (Alphaville) to the proliferation of “neonoirs” in the eighties (Coup de torchon) and nineties (Insomnia). Color may have seeped into noir’s rich gray palette over the years, but some things never change: anxiety, disillusionment, panic.
The continuing cultural fascination with World War II has ensured that it’s the conflict most represented in cinema, and the Criterion Collection indeed contains more works about that massive conflagration than any other—whether harrowing dramas made right in its crosshairs (like Rome Open City) or poetic studies produced decades later (like The Thin Red Line)—seen through the eyes of filmmakers from many nations. But there are battle cries from other epochs in the collection as well, and taken together, these films embody a history of human combat, from the brother-against-brother bloodshed of the American Civil War (Ride with the Devil) to the trench warfare of the First World War (Wooden Crosses) to the jungle skirmishes of the Cuban Revolution (Che).
“Life caught unawares”—that’s how Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov expressed the principle and art of documentary in the 1930s. But the documentary has taken so many forms over the past century that it would be oversimplifying to call it merely the recording of reality. From its anthropological origins in the works of Robert Flaherty, the documentary has come to encompass Soviet and fascist propaganda of the thirties; the Direct Cinema and cinema verité of the sixties; the populist social-reform tradition of today; and so much more. What all great documentaries have in common is the ability to capture a place and time so vividly as to equal the imagery and storytelling of the best fiction.
Coming of age isn’t easy—especially in the Criterion catalog. Not all the kids in the films below had to resort to, say, primitive savagery on a desert island following an authority-figure-obliterating plane crash, but other extreme youthful horrors abound, whether related to sex, war, poverty, or high school. Where some of these characters would end up as adults we can only speculate. One thing’s for sure: the young actors who played them—from Bicycle Thieves’ Enzo Staiola to The 400 Blows’ Jean-Pierre Léaud to Mouchette’s Nadine Nortier—gave some of the most fearless, arresting performances ever captured on-screen.
From the sparkling witticisms of the golden age of Hollywood comedy to some of the best in contemporary wisecracks, Criterion has a satisfying selection of cinema’s biggest laughs. Longing for the Lubitsch touch? We’ve got you covered. Wondering “O Sturges, where art thou?” Look no further. Want to purchase a one-way ticket to Tativille? Step right this way. Want to split your sides with some Ozu? Uh . . . okay. Whether satire or slapstick, eliciting giggles or guffaws, a vast array of farcical flicker shows await you. It’s enough to make even the sourest cinephile smile.
Though many drive-ins have been shut down, and the practice of screening midnight movies in theaters has waned considerably from its heyday in the early 1970s, the thrill of sharing boundary-testing films in the dark can now be enjoyed just as well while curled up on the couch—no accompanying cult required. From the whiff of exploitation emanating from Roger Vadim’s sensational And God Created Woman to the touch of snuff in Michael Powell’s voyeuristic Peeping Tom, these films delicately ride the line between pulp and art, always landing firmly in the latter camp. Who better to challenge cinematic standards than Samuel Fuller, with his unforgettable B melodramas Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss, or Brian De Palma, whose wonderfully nasty Sisters ushered in a new era of thrilling post-Hitchcock stylish excess? These films stubbornly refuse to be marginalized, lower budgets and lack of Hollywood gloss be damned.
A group of loosely connected daredevil filmmakers, commonly known as the Japanese New Wave, brought about the creative revitalization of Japanese cinema in the 1960s—even if the term itself was borrowed from the concurrent movement happening in France. Tired of the traditional forms of classical Japanese cinema, directors like Shohei Imamura (a lapsed Ozu acolyte), Nagisa Oshima (a former studio filmmaker whose films had finally proved too controversial), Seijun Suzuki (a bad-boy rebel increasingly uninterested in adhering to narrative logic), and Hiroshi Teshigahara (a flower artist, potter, and calligrapher as well as a filmmaker), created challenging works—both thematically, dealing with such hitherto taboo themes as sexual violence, racism, political radicalism, and the devastating aftermath of World War II, and, in some cases, formally, employing unorthodox editing strategies, shock effects, and confrontational imagery.
In the midsixties, U.S. theater attendance was declining. Bloated epics, mindless star vehicles, and juvenile musicals had become standard Hollywood fare, and the public was no longer interested. Then came the shock to the system of Bonnie and Clyde, and a renaissance was under way; radical new filmmakers, influenced by the foreign art cinema that was in vogue as well as the avant-garde and documentary techniques, rose to prominence, both within and outside of the studio system. Audiences hungry for something different, engaged, political, and raw were buying tickets (at least at first). Astonishing success stories like Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider, John Cassavetes’ Faces, and Bob Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces ushered in a new era in which the auteur was king and unlikely movie stars played rough-around-the-edges antiheroes, giving birth to the daring careers of such artists as Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, Ellen Burstyn, Brian De Palma, Shelley Duvall, Monte Hellman, Terrence Malick, Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, Gena Rowlands, and Sissy Spacek. Unfortunately, this period of experimentation wouldn’t last forever, as the bottom-line, blockbuster mentality would creep back in, leaving ambitious auteurs adrift. But the films that did get made during that time (a selection of which you can see below) remain emblems of a fertile period in American cinema.
Since its inception in 1946, cinephiles have counted on the Cannes Film Festival, the most prestigious annual film program in the world, to keep up with the medium’s most important artists and movements. Its star-studded red carpets and glorious French Riviera scenery may get as much attention as the carefully selected films in its competition showcases, but the true legacy of Cannes has always been the masterpieces that premiered there—and especially those that have emerged as winners. The festival’s top award was originally called the Grand Prix, and the trophy for it designed each year by a different artist. Then, beginning in 1955, it became the Palme d’Or, with a new trophy modeled after the city of Cannes’s coat of arms. (The festival continues to bestow a Grand Prix, although it’s a second-place honor now.) At Criterion, we’ve collected many titles that have won the festival’s highest award, hailing from many nations of the world, Russia (The Cranes Are Flying), Italy (The Leopard), Japan (Kagemusha), and the U.K. (If….) among them.
Poetic realism was a cinematic style that emerged in France during the 1930s, the peak of that nation’s classic period of filmmaking. With its roots in realist literature, this movement combined working-class milieus and downbeat story lines with moody, proto-noir art direction and lighting to stylishly represent contemporary social conditions. Julien Duvivier’s Pépé le Moko, with the iconic Jean Gabin as the titular antihero, is generally regarded as the start of this melancholic, often fatalistic brand of cinema, which in part reflected the ominous atmosphere of prewar France but also lent itself to the individual sensibilities of a wide range of brilliant directors, such as Jean Renoir (Grand Illusion, La bête humaine) and Marcel Carné (Le jour se lève), and set designers like Alexandre Trauner. Poetic realism is thought to have greatly influenced such later film movements as Italian neorealism, which was equally sympathetic to the proletariat, and the French new wave, which looked to these great masters who had retained their artistic freedom while working in the French film industry.
A list that contains every title released by Criterion during the LaserDisc era, that isn't present in the official list (https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/the+criterion+collection/).
Surreal, structural, et cetera: A handful of visionary, largely nonnarrative works belong to the collection, from some of the most important experimental film artists around the world—Jean Painlevé, Kenneth Macpherson, Stan Brakhage, and Chantal Akerman among them.
The tradition of social realism in British film is often said to have begun with the Free Cinema movement of the mid-1950s. The aim of these documentaries—shown at the National Film Theatre in London from 1956–1959, and made by the likes of Lindsay Anderson, Karel Reisz, and Tony Richardson—was to bring to the screen authentic representations of the working class, largely absent from the conservative mainstream British culture of the day. In the early sixties, this rebellious sensibility was transposed to narrative cinema in the form of rough-edged, often black-and-white character pieces, often referred to as “kitchen-sink dramas,” such as Anderson’s major success This Sporting Life. At the end of the decade, Ken Loach, a political filmmaker with a background in television, took realism even further with the groundbreaking Kes, a grimy, unsentimental portrait of a boy in a Northern England mining town, featuring nonprofessional actors. Today, the legacy of British social realism continues to be felt in the work of many filmmakers, including Mike Leigh, Lynne Ramsay, and Andrea Arnold.
Oh, those movies from the dream factory. There’s nothing quite like them. Products of a streamlined studio system, classic Hollywood films have always had a peculiar magic. With their clearly delineated cause-and-effect narratives, invisible continuity cutting style, and glamorous stars, these movies were designed to go down as easy as champagne. Yet we now recognize the directors, writers, cinematographers, and technical craftspeople behind the studios’ effervescent entertainments as artists, and the style they forged is one of the most distinct, beautiful, and important in cinema history. Here are the comedies, romances, melodramas, thrillers, and fantasies in the Criterion Collection that hail from those golden years of Hollywood, commonly defined as 1917 to 1960.
To paraphrase Tolstoy, happy families are all alike: they’re really boring to watch on-screen. Thus, cinema is besotted with deliciously unhappy families. Below, scan Criterion’s collection of miserable moms, depressed dads, and their sullen offspring, nestled as uncomfortably in the houses and yards of the suburbs of Connecticut as in the apartments of the side streets of Paris.
Joyful professions of belief, self-flagellating admissions of guilt, and heretical abnegations of religion seem to sit alongside one another a bit more easily on the shelves of cinephiles than they do in the world at large. This list includes some films that engage matters of faith as their raison d’etre and others that deal with them more glancingly or derisively, but taken as a whole, it underlines both the compulsion of humankind to ask itself the eternal questions and the paradoxical power of a visual medium to capture the intangible.
Try to think of Charade without that perfectly swoony Henry Mancini title song. Imagine Easy Rider roaring down the highway without Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” kicking it into high gear, or Dazed and Confused fading out to anything other than Foghat’s “Slow Ride”—or a zitherless The Third Man. Many movies are inextricable from their flawlessly selected soundtracks. Similarly, certain songs don’t seem to have reason to exist without the images they’ve been set to: Jeannette’s unfathomably giddy “Por que te vas” is forever tied to Ana Torrent’s bedroom dance in Cría cuervos . . . , and anyone who’s seen Chungking Express is unlikely to hear the Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin’” without dreaming of Faye Wong bopping along. Below, explore a potpourri of Criterion pop and jazz, in films featuring music from David Bowie, Nat King Cole, Miles Davis, John Lurie, Nico, the Rolling Stones, Annie Ross, Tom Waits, and more.
At Criterion, it’s clear that heist movies have stolen our hearts. What is it that makes them so compelling? The clockwork precision, the array of characters needed, the potential consequences hanging in the air, our inevitable identification with the thieves (and our frustration when they don’t get away with it)—not to mention all that shiny loot. Here are some great movies to check out in a pinch, from French (Rififi) to American (The Friends of Eddie Coyle) to Japanese (Cruel Gun Story); they’re sure to inspire your inner criminal mastermind.