Critics' 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. 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.
3. La Règle du jeu (Rules of the Game) (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.
4. 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.
5. Tokyo Story (Ozu)
A poignant story of family relations and loss, Ozu's subtle mood piece portrays the trip an elderly couple make to Tokyo to visit their grown-up children. The shooting style is elegantly minimal and formally reticent, and the film's devastating emotional impact is drawn as much from what is unsaid and unshown as from what is revealed.
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick)
One of the most ambitious Hollywood movies ever made, 2001 crams into its two-hour plus running time a story that spans the prehistoric age to the beginning of the third millennium, and features some of the most hypnotically beautiful special effects work ever committed to film. After seeing this, you can never listen to Strauss' Blue Danube without thinking space crafts waltzing against starry backdrops.
7. Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein)
Eisenstein's recreation of a mutiny by sailors of the battleship Potemkin in 1905 works as daring formal experiment - which pushed the expressive potential of film editing to its limit - and rousing propaganda for the masses. The Odessa Steps sequence remains one of the most memorable set-pieces in cinema.
7. Sunrise (Murnau)
Having left his native Germany for the US, F.W. Murnau had all the resources of a major Hollywood studio at his disposal for this, his American debut. What he produced was a visually stunning film romance that ranks as one of the last hurrahs of the silent period.
9. 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.
10. Singin' In the Rain (Kelly, Donen)
Impossible to watch without a smile on your face, this affectionate tribute to the glory days of Hollywood in the 1920s is pleasure distilled into 102 minutes. With Gene Kelly dance sequences that take your breath away and a great score by Brown and Freed, this is the film musical at its best.