Directors' Top Ten Poll
1. Citizen Kane (Welles)
Dazzlingly inventive, technically breathtaking, Citizen Kane reinvented the way stories could be told in the cinema, and set a standard generations of film-makers have since aspired to. An absorbing account of a newspaper tycoon's rise to power, Orson Welles' debut film feels as fresh as tomorrow's headlines. And he was only 26 when he made it.
2. The Godfather and The Godfather part II (Coppola)
Few films have portrayed the US immigrant experience quite so vividly as Coppola's Godfather films, or exposed the contradictions of the American Dream quite so ruthlessly. And what a cast, formidable talent firing all cylinders: Brando, De Niro, Pacino, Keaton, Duvall, Caan. Now that's an offer you can't refuse.
3. 8 1/2 (Fellini)
Wonderfully freefloating, gleefully confusing reality and fantasy, 8 1/2 provides a ringside seat into the ever active imaginative life of its director protagonist Guido, played by Fellini's on-screen alter-ego Marcello Mastroianni. The definitive film about film-making - as much about the agonies of the creative process as the ecstasies - it's no wonder the movie is so popular with directors.
4. Lawrence of Arabia (Lean)
Filmed in the desert in lavish widescreen and rich colours, Lawrence of Arabia is David Lean at his most epic and expansive. You can almost feel the waves of heat glowing from the cinema screen
5. Dr. Strangelove (Kubrick)
A black comedy about impending nuclear annihilation that was made at the height of the cold war, Dr. Strangelove is perhaps Kubrick's most audacious movie and certainly his funniest. Peter Sellers has never been better, and provides good value playing three roles.
6. Bicycle Thieves (De Sica)
Mixing melodrama, documentary and social commentary, De Sica follows an impoverished father and son treading the streets of post-war Rome, desperately seeking their stolen bicycle. Deeply compassionate, this poignant film is one of the outstanding examples of Italian neorealism.
6. Raging Bull (Scorsese)
An unblinkingly honest biopic of Jake La Motta - a great prizefighter but a deeply flawed human being - this catches Scorsese in fighting fit form. The boxing sequence are both brutal and beautiful, and De Niro, who famously put on weight to play the middle-aged La Motta, gives one of the performances of modern cinema.
6. Vertigo (Hitchcock)
A gripping detective story or a delirious investigation into desire, grief and jealousy? Hitchcock had a genius for transforming genre pieces into vehicles for his own dark obsessions, and this 1958 masterpiece shows the director at his mesmerising best. And for James Stewart fans, it also boasts the star's most compelling performance.
9. Rashomon (Kurosawa)
Offering four differing accounts of a rape and murder, all told in flashbacks, Kurosawa's 1951 film is a complex meditation on the distortive nature of memory and a gripping study of human behaviour at its most base. Mifune Toshiro is magnetic as the bandit Tajomaru.
9. La Règle du jeu (Renoir)
Tragedy and comedy effortlessly combine in Renoir's country house ensemble drama. A group of aristocrats gather for some rural relaxation, a shooting party is arranged, downstairs the servants bicker about a new employee, while all the time husbands, wives, mistresses and lovers sweetly deceive one another and swap declarations of love like name cards at a dinner party.
9. Seven Samurai (Kurosawa)
The blueprint for The Magnificent Seven was Kurosawa's magnificent swordplay epic of self-sacrifice about a band of hired samurai who come together to protect a helpless village from a rapacious gang of 40 thieves who descend every year to steal the harvest and kidnap women. The final sequence of the fight in the mud and rain has never been bettered.