While Best of lists can be useful, fun keepsakes, Best of Film lists are usually boring and repetitive. There are hundreds of places where you can read about the brilliance of Citizen Kane. And while we agree that the movie is indeed brilliant and one of cinemas finest, we wont be regurgitating the same ol list of critics picks here. Compiled below is a highly subjective list of films that we, the film critics at PW, feel are best. These films are personal favorites that we think are important, great motion pictures.

Aguirre, The Wrath of God (1972) Werner Herzogs first collaboration with legendary madman Klaus Kinski follows foolhardy conquistadors on a doomed quest for El Dorado. The jungle swallows them up alive, while the directors stunning location work kickstarts a career primarily devoted to the maddening, deadly indifference of Mother Nature. (S.B.)

Airplane! (1980) The ZAZ (David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams) teams inaugural effort is so ingrained in the cultural psyche its difficult to admire what an amazing feat it is. Such herculean displays of technique and tone must have been exhausting: None of the filmmakers have made anything watchable since The Naked Gun . (M.P.)

All That Jazz (1979) Bob Fosse filmed his demise several years before he got around to dying. This nakedly confessional, breathtakingly edited Broadway riff on Fellinis 8 stars Roy Scheider as the pill-popping, hard-driving choreographer. Approached at the opening by Jessica Langes Angel of Death, he naturally spends the rest of the movie hitting on her. (S.B.)

American Graffiti (1973) The first film of a career George Lucas never had, this very funny and deeply humane nostalgia trip follows a handful of hot-rodding teens on one long last night before adulthood. The template for a thousand coming-of-age stories since, its all cool cars, vintage rock n roll and the blonde who got away. (S.B.)

Annie Hall (1977) The pivot point between Woody Allens loosey-goosey slapstick period and more serious later efforts, Annie Hall is a heartbroken cartoon of blackout comedic sketches with a weirdly formidable cumulative impact. Alvy and Annie were never meant to stay together, and all good things must come to an end. But we keep going, because we need the eggs. (S.B.)

Barry Lyndon (1975) Stanley Kubricks finest three hours calmly observe the rise and fall of a lout (Ryan ONeal, well-used), whose comeuppance arrives only after hes gained some character. A uniquely calibrated period piece that simulates a leisurely stroll through a fine museum, and more. (M.P.)

Blue Velvet (1986) Jeffrey Beaumont found a severed ear while walking through a field, and so begins David Lynchs searingly personal, phantasmagoric glimpse at the seamy underside of this American life. Tethered to classical structures the filmmaker later disavowed, its his most potent distillation of a sunny worldview infested with psychosexual rot. (S.B.)

Breakaway (1966) The experimental shorts of Bruce Connersome of them proto-music videosare as pioneering as they are fun. Cosmic Ray is concentrated happiness; this is even better. Here, the frgging and stripping of future Mickey singer Toni Basil is diced into near-dust. Its human movement as assault on the senses. (M.P.)

Bride of Frankenstein (1935) High camp or deep feeling? Why not both? James Whales tricky sequel veers from the silly (Dr. Pretorius and his jars of miniature royalty) to the existential, with Boris Karloffs Monster now smart enough to wonder why he need exist at all. (M.P.)

Bringing Up Baby (1938) More chaotic than the Marx Brothers, Howard Hawks exercise in subtly controlled insanity spirals from one inspired absurdity to the next. The funniest film ever also features the greatest screen duo ever: Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, with glasses. (M.P.)

Casablanca (1942) As my old Shakespeare professor once said about Hamlet : This is nothing but one famous line after another. In this apex of Old Hollywood studio filmmaking, whats not to love? Bogie as a brokenhearted idealist? The rogues gallery of great character actors showing up for single scenes? Pure joy. (S.B.)

Cold Water (1994) The unfocused anger of teenage years is perfectly bottled up in the breakthrough of handheld master Olivier Assayas (late of Carlos ). It also boasts cinemas greatest party: A half-hour mash of wanton destruction, hashish-smoking and 70s rock. (M.P.)

Daisy Kenyon (1947) Otto Preminger studied to be a lawyer, a fact never more apparent than in this soberly observed love triangle. Torn between cad Dana Andrews and wholesome Henry Fonda, Joan Crawford treats romance like a lawyer would a murder trial, revealing a messiness most films leave tidy . (M.P.)

Dirty Harry (1971) Dirty Harry and the homicidal maniac, read the original poster. Harrys the one with the badge. Unlike the increasingly comedic sequels, Don Siegels rough, lean 1971 original oozes ambivalence regarding its vigilante hero. Repurposing the Zodiac case into a (sorta?) happy ending, this is one seriously unsettling cop picture. (S.B.)

Do The Right Thing (1989) Spike Lees twisted, angry-as-hell take on Our Town exploded into movie theaters with its striking use of blinding colors, broad theatricality and long stretches of endlessly quotable social commentary disguised as comedy. Watching it today still blows my mind. (S.B.)

Dog Day Afternoon (1975) Maybe the greatest New York movie ever made, Sidney Lumets sweaty hostage drama eerily predicts the tabloid future, as a never-better Al Pacino flounders around as an incompetent would-be bank robber with sordid secrets. Few films have captured a time and a place with such tactile, you-are-there grit. (S.B.)

Down By Law (1986) A jailbreak picture in which you never even see the jailbreak, Jim Jarmuschs enchanting fairy tale pits Tom Waits against John Lurie in a battle of hipster gravel-voicing. Then Roberto Begnini arrives (before he was annoying), effusively bringing out the best in these very unpleasant men on a journey of full dead space contrasted with startling beauty. (S.B.)

The Godfather (1972) Duh. The Corleone saga has been absorbed into our national bloodstream by now. There are so many catchphrases that have become shorthand, particularly when attempting to communicate with adult men of a particular demographic. Still, what a picture! So sweeping, so absurdly entertaining! And yet in the end, so ruthlessly pessimistic. (S.B.)

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) Chantal Akermans study of a single mom (Delphine Seyrig) is three and a half hours of menial house chores: Four-minute takes of potatoes being peeled are par for the course. Time evaporates and the mundane becomes fascinating; when she drops a spoon late in, audiences gasp in unison. (M.P.)

Husbands (1970) Three guys go to their best friends funeral, and then dont go home for three days. Writer-director John Cassavetes most rambunctious, off-putting picture stars Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara and the filmmaker himself as lifelong pals on a ridiculous bender clowning, boozing, talking trash and picking up broads. Anything to keep from confronting the inevitable. (S.B.)

In the Loop (2009) I could watch this profane, His Girl Friday-type shit for the rest of recorded time. Let them eat cock! (M.P.)

In the Mood for Love (2000) The apex of Wong Kar-Wais brooding romanticism is this Brief Encounter -ish tale of furtive love between two wallflowers (Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung) whose spouses are having an affair. Chris Doyles towering cinematography depicts 60s Hong Kong as a hermetic prison closing in on our would-be lovebirds. (M.P.)

La Dolce Vita (1960) It begins with a statue of Jesus dangling from a helicopter and ends with a sea monster washed up onshore. In between are three hours of self- contained anecdotes in which we see Marcello (Mastroianni, in his most iconic role) slowly losing his soul to the decadence of Romes lush life. Beautiful, and almost unbearably sad. (S.B.)

Louisiana Story (1948) Nanook of the North and Man of Aran may be more famous, but Robert Flahertys docufiction about a Cajun boy living in oil country is his most ravishing. The B&W photography is so high contrast, the blacks look like oil. Like all of Flahertys work, it creates beauty out of the natural. (M.P.)

Love Me Tonight (1932) The Ernst Lubitsch musical Ernst Lubitsch never quite made, Rouben Mamoulians spunky shape-shifter finds dazzling ways to shoot each moony number. These range from the restlessly ambitious Isnt it Romantic? to a song that plays out entirely over Maurice Chevaliers face as he sleeps. (M.P.)

Man With a Movie Camera (1928) After a spell cranking out quasi-experimental news documentaries, Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov decided to cram all his progressive ideas about cinema into one film. Thus, this peerless whirling dervish, set amidst the chaos of urban Ukraine and a feature-length test reel for the exciting things cameras and editing can do. (M.P.)

A Matter of Life and Death (1946) Started as Britains answer to The Wizard of Oz, this idiosyncratic spectacular from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, with David Niven as a WWII pilot left accidentally alive after a battle, became its own beast. Rich and strange. (M.P.)

My Darling Clementine (1946) The squarest and loveliest of John Fords westerns stars Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp, arriving in Tombstone and forging an unexpected alliance with Victor Matures tubercular Doc Holliday, just before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Weve seen this story a dozen times since, but never again with such quiet, unassuming grace. (S.B.)

Modern Romance (1981) Stanley Kubrick was reportedly a massive fan of Albert Brooks pitch-black comedy, in which a monstrous film editor breaks up with his girlfriend, freaks out, gets her back, then suspects her of infidelity. Its the anti-Woody Allen film, in which neurosis is evil, not cute, though still funny. (M.P.)

Nashville (1975) Every time I watch Robert Altmans sprawling, kaleidoscope of American life at the bicentennial, I always discover something new bustling in the background. Not sure I can even tell you what the movie is even about, save for a glimpse at the entirety of human experience simultaneously disappointing and rising to unexpected occasions. Its that massive. (S.B.)

The Naked Spur (1953) For five westerns with Director Anthony Mann, Jimmy Stewart was an asshole. The finest finds Stewart duplicitous, ruthless and sweatily pathetic as he tries to nab the bounty for a bandit (Robert Ryan) who, compared to Stewart, is reasonable. (M.P.)

Out of Sight (1998) After three years in DIY exile (yielding the incredible Schizopolis ), Steven Soderbergh returned to Hollywood with a vengeance. His idiosyncratic interpretation of an Elmore Leonard mediocrity is digression-heavy, character-driven and lousy with tonal shifts, color changes and flashbacksand then theres that Dont Look Now-inspired sex scene. (M.P.)

Pierrot le fou (1965) With his marriage to Anna Karina on the rocks, Jean-Luc Godard made this survey of an impossible love thats by turns silly, colorful and broodingly romantic. Karina and Jean-Paul Belmondo run off to the South of France, creating a bubble thats bound to spectacularly pop. (M.P.)

Raging Bull (1980) The ultimate expression of Martin Scorseses tortured Catholicism, Robert De Niros Jake La Motta takes vicious beatings in the ring, because he understands how much he earned them in real life. This is a punishing experience, two exceedingly violent hours spent with a sick man spiraling downward. But its impossible to shake Scorseses empathy. (S.B.)

Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981) Steven Spielberg at his most playful, but Lawrence Kasdans screenplay is the secret weapon. Every character arrives with a complicated backstory and prior relationships more hinted at than explained. Their entire lives have been building up to this adventure, which is why other movies feel so anemic in comparison. (S.B.)

Rocky (1976) Above all else, a great love story. Forget the steroidal sequels and watch how our lonely palooka latches on to pet shop wallflower Adrian. Theyre both banished to the far corners of the frame, growing in stature as the picture progresses. I love how even after that final fight, hes concerned because she lost her hat. (S.B.)

The Rules Of The Game (1939) The awful thing about life is this, everybody has their reasons. So goes Jean Renoirs immortal, heartbreaking farce set on a lavish French country chateau on the eve of World War II. Pitiless, yet oddly sympathetic at the same time, Renoir proves that clear-eyed humanism need not be an oxymoron. (S.B.)

Stntang (1994) Bla Tarrs seven-and-a-half-hour albatross expands on the work of Andrei Tarkovsky, treating a Communist-era Hungarian farming collective to some of the slowest and most gorgeous shots ever lensed. Miserablist, although sporadically hilarious, it gained an acolyte in Susan Sontag, who said, Id be glad to see it every year for the rest of my life. Ditto. (M.P.)

Saturday Night Fever (1977) Harder-edged and more profane than you probably remember, boasting a combustible turn by John Travolta as a Brooklyn mook mired in a dead-end milieu of casual racism and Cro-Magnon sexual politics. But one night a week on the dance floor, thuggish drudgery is transcended by grace. Watch it again. (S.B.)

The Last Laugh (1924) F.W. Murnau ( Nosferatu , Sunrise ) was one of cinemas first great show-offs. In this heartbreaking tragedy of the common man, his camera moves, spins, shakes, even glides to and fro on a rope. Had he not perished in a car accident seven years later, who knows what other wonders he would have done with the medium? (M.P.)

The Third Man (1949) Orson Welles so commandeers this movie by sheer force of personality, its hard to remember hes barely in it. Director Carol Reed, working from Graham Greenes spectacularly cynical scenario, puts old friendships to the test on the shadowy streets of Vienna. The catchy zither music and world-weariness cast a lingering spell. (S.B.)

To Live and Die In L.A. (1985) The nastiest thriller of the 1980s pins that decades selfish, coked-up illusions to the wall. Director William Friedkins relentlessly brutal and exceedingly unpleasant attempt to one up The French Connection boasts the best car chase of the past 30 years. Youll want to wash your hands when its over. (S.B.)

Unforgiven (1992) Clint Eastwood has spent his entire career questioning and reflecting upon the dubiousness of his role as cinemas righteous avenger. But for some reason he didnt get credit until this diamond-hard 1992 masterpiece, which forever demolished whatever lingering romantic notions anybody still might hold about the Old West. (S.B.)

U.S. Go Home (1994) This rarely seen miniature from Claire Denis finds three youths attending an adult party. There, theyre faced with a variety of new experiences and emotions, and, eventually Vincent Gallo. The film runs only an hour and is perfect. (M.P.)

Virile Games (1988) In Jan vankmajers funniest Czech animation, a working stiff calmly watches as football players have their clay heads massacred by plungers, corkscrews, model trains and cookie cutters. This may not be exactly what nonsports fans think of sports fans, but such gleeful mayhem is hard to resist. (M.P.)

Violence at Noon (1966) Nagisa Oshima was roughly the Godard of the Japanese New Wave: a busy bee who constantly changed as he learned new tricks. His most thrilling work in his most prolific decade studies an irredeemable cretina rapistthrough the eyes of the women who love him, namely his wife and one of his victims. Manic editing (more than 2,000 cuts in 99 minutes) makes it exciting and mirrors the films fragmented gaze. (M.P.)

The Wild Bunch (1969) For my money, the greatest movie ever made. Director Sam Peckinpah called it: What happens when men go to Mexico. William Holden and a cast of craggy-faced character actors make a run for the border, fleeing their outlaw obsolescence in the face of a more civilized age, going out in a blaze of stupid, awesome glory. (S.B.)

Withnail And I (1987) The best-ever onscreen depiction of a never-ending hangover stars Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann as two boozy, unemployed actors living in unspeakable squalor while staring down the end of the 1960s on a diet of cheap wine and witty repartee. Heartbreaking, and all too true. (S.B.)

Zodiac (2007) Less a true crime docudrama than an eerily accurate embodiment of OCD, David Finchers masterwork follows bum leads, hits dead ends and, most disturbingly, has dates for every scene, all in search for truth in the realm of the unknowable. All that, plus Robert Downey Jr. (M.P.)

Zorns Lemma (1970) The most incredible of Hollis Framptons avant-garde works rewires your brain, slowly translating the alphabet into images, thus creating a visual language. Ernie Gehr has said that when one gets Lemma, a small light, possibly a candle, will light itself inside your forehead. (M.P.)


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