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BBC’s 100 Greatest Foreign-Language Films Ever: 209 Film Critics Crown ‘Seven Samurai,’ ‘In the Mood for Love,’ and More

Akira Kurosawa and Federico Fellini both land two films in the top ten.

Block 2 Pics/Jet Tone/Kobal/Shutterstock

“In the Mood for Love”

Block 2 Pics/Jet Tone/Kobal/Shutterstock

The BBC Culture annual critics’ poll has become one of the most anticipated film lists over the last three years. After asking critics to weigh in on the best American films (“Citizen Kane” topped the list), the best films of the 21st century (“Mulholland Drive” in first), and the best comedy movies (“Some Like It Hot” crowned the best), the BBC Culture has turned this year to the 100 greatest achievements in foreign-language film.

This year’s list was curated from top 10 lists from 209 film critics across 43 countries, including IndieWire’s own Kate Erbland and Christian Blauvelt. BBC Culture awarded 10 points to each critics’ first-ranked film, 9 for the second-ranked, and so on down to one. The finalized top 100 list was curated based on this point system.

Sitting on the top of the BBC Culture list is Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai.” The film’s breathtaking scope and intimate character work has made it a regular on numerous best films ever made list, including Sight & Sound’s, and the film has become part of the DNA of film history, spawning a famous English-language remake with “The Magnificent Seven” and influencing everything from “Star Wars” to “A Bug’s Life.” Kurosawa has two movies in the top five, as “Rashomon” lands in the fourth spot. Federico Fellini is the only other director with two titles in the top 10: “La Dolce Vida” and “8½.”

While the top 10 is largely dominated by films from the 1950s and 1960s, Wong Kar-wai’s 2000 sensual romance “In the Mood for Love” managed to break into top tier, the most recent film to manage the feat. Other more recent films to rank in the top 100 include Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation” (#22), Michael Haneke’s “Amour” (#69), and Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth.”

Check out the full top 100 list here. The top 25 movies are below.

25. “Yi Yi” (Edward Yang, 2000)
24. “Battleship Potemkin” (Sergei M Eisenstein, 1925)
23. “The Passion of Joan of Arc” (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928)
22. “Pan’s Labyrinth” (Guillermo del Toro, 2006)
21. “A Separation” (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
20. “The Mirror” (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1974)
19. “The Battle of Algiers” (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966)
18. “A City of Sadness” (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1989)
17. “Aguirre, the Wrath of God” (Werner Herzog, 1972)
16. “Metropolis” (Fritz Lang, 1927)
15. “Pather Panchali” (Satyajit Ray, 1955)
14. “Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels” (Chantal Akerman, 1975)
13. “M” (Fritz Lang, 1931)
12. “Farewell My Concubine (Chen Kaige, 1993)
11. “Breathless” (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)
10. “La Dolce Vita” (Federico Fellini, 1960)
9. “In the Mood for Love” (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
8. “The 400 Blows” (François Truffaut, 1959)
7. “8 1/2” (Federico Fellini, 1963)
6. “Persona” (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)
5. “The Rules of the Game” (Jean Renoir, 1939)
4. “Rashomon” (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)
3. “Tokyo Story” (Yasujirô Ozu, 1953)
2. “Bicycle Thieves” (Vittorio de Sica, 1948)
1. “Seven Samurai” (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)

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