Monday, 16 March 2015

Vic's 'Objective' Top 100 Post-1980 Films

Due to popular demand, I offer my first attempt at a list of my ‘objective’ top 100 films made after 1980. I chose this year rather than 1990 because there’s a cleaner break (in my opinion) between the films made before and after 1980 than there is at 1990. Since my notes on objective top films are back in Winnipeg, this list may change in a couple of weeks.

The first eighteen films on this list are taken from my All-Time Top 100 list (except for the late addition of number 13). The last 82 films on my list are in chronological order (for now at least), because of the time required to place the films in some kind of order.

In my next post, I will add an appendix to this list, with 22 post-1980 films that are on my list of 100 favourite films, and are critically-acclaimed, but were not good enough for the list below.

1. Schindler’s List (1993), Steven Spielberg

2. Blade Runner (1982), Ridley Scott

3. The Lord of the Rings (complete extended version) (2003), Peter Jackson 

4. Wings of Desire (1987), Wim Wenders

5. Three Colors: Red (1994), Krzysztof Kieslowski

6. The Tree of Life (2011), Terrence Malick

7. Pulp Fiction (1994), Quentin Tarantino

8. Fanny and Alexander (1982), Ingmar Bergman

9. The Lives of Others (2006), Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

10. Short Cuts (1993), Robert Altman

11. Brazil (1985), Terry Gilliam

12. Turtles Can Fly (2004), Bahman Ghobadi

13. The Great Beauty (2013), Paolo Sorrentino (should have been in my Top 100 list)

14. Secrets & Lies (1996), Mike Leigh

15. Before Sunrise/ Before Sunset/ Before Midnight (1995-2013), Richard Linklater

16. Gandhi (1982), Richard Attenborough

17. A Separation (2011), Asghar Farhadi

18. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Steven Spielberg

From 1981:

Das Boot, Wolfgang Petersen

From 1982:

E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, Steven Spielberg

Missing, Costa-Gavras

Tootsie, Sidney Pollack

The Verdict, Sidney Lumet

From 1983:

Under Fire, Roger Spottiswoode

From 1984:

Amadeus, Milos Forman

The Killing Fields, Roland Joffe

Once Upon a Time in America, Sergio Leone

This is Spinal Tap, Rob Reiner

From 1985:

The Official Story, Luis Puenzo

Witness, Peter Weir

From 1986:

Hannah and Her Sisters, Woody Allen

Jean de Florette/Manon of the Spring, Claude Berri

From 1987:

Babette’s Feast, Gabriel Axel

From 1988:

Grave of the Fireflies, Isao Takahata

Mississippi Burning, Alan Parker

A Short Film About Killing, Krzysztof Kieslowski

From 1989:

Crimes and Misdemeanors, Woody Allen

From 1990:

Dances With Wolves (extended version), Kevin Costner

From 1991:

Beauty and the Beast, Kirk Wise

Silence of the Lambs, Jonathan Demme

From 1992: 

Howard’s End, James Ivory

From 1993:

The Fugitive, Andrew Davis

From 1994:

Quiz Show, Robert Redford

The Shawshank Redemption, Frank Derebont

From 1995:

Dead Man Walking, Tim Robbins

Toy Story, John Lasseter

From 1997:

L.A. Confidential, Curtis Hanson

The Sweet Hereafter, Atom Egoyan

From 1998: 

Happiness, Todd Solondz

The Thin Red Line, Terrence Malick

The Truman Show, Peter Weir

From 1999:

American Beauty, Sam Mendes

Magnolia, Paul Thomas Anderson

The Matrix, The Wachowskis

The Straight Story, David Lynch

Topsy Turvy, Mike Leigh

Yi Yi, Edward Yang

From 2000:

Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, Zacharias Kunuk

From 2001:

Gosford Park, Robert Altman

From 2002:

Hero, Yimou Zhang

The Son, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne

Spirited Away, Hiyao Miyazaki

From 2003:

Mystic River, Clint Eastwood

From 2004:

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Michel Gondry

Shake Hands With the Devil, Peter Raymont

Sideways, Alexander Payne

From 2005:

The Constant Gardener, Fernando Meirelles

Hidden, Michael Haneke

L’enfant, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne

Sin City, Robert Rodriguez

From 2006:

The Departed, Martin Scorsese

Letters From Iwo Jima, Clint Eastwood

Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro

The Queen, Stephen Frears

From 2007:

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Christian Mungiu

The Edge of Heaven, Fatih Akin

No Country for Old Men, Joel &Ethan Coen

Once, John Carney

There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson

From 2008:

Persepolis, Vincent Paronnaud

Revanche, Goetz Spielmann

Waltz With Bashir, Ari Folman

From 2009: 

Last Train Home, Lixin Fan

From 2010:

Exit Through the Gift Shop, Banksy

The Illusionist (animated), Sylvain Chomet

Inside Job, Charles Ferguson

The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper

Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik

From 2011:

Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois

From 2012:

The Gatekeepers, Dror Moreh

Holy Motors, Leos Carax

From 2013:

All is Lost, J.C. Chandor

Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron

Her, Spike Jonze

Stories We Tell, Sarah Polley

From 2014:

Birdman, Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu 

Boyhood, Richard Linklater

The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson

Ida, Pawel Pawlikowski

Leviathan, Andrey Zvyagintsev

  1. In my previous list, I did not include any documentaries or animated films. There have been so many good documentaries and animated films in the last 25 years that I had to include them in this list (indeed, there are ten animated films and six documentaries in this list).
  2. 56 of the films on this list are from the last 16 years, while only 44 are from the previous 18 years. This suggests a clear trend towards better filmmaking since 1999. The present decade has done particularly well, with 21 films on the list in just five years.
  3. There are 32 foreign language films on this list (almost one-third), which is actually more than in the previous list, which had only 29. And the percentage of Hollywood films on this list is only a small fraction of those on the previous list. As I have written elsewhere, very few great films are coming out of Hollywood anymore. 


  1. I have just looked for Chariots of Fire (1981) in your list. It's not there! Have you not seen the film? Have you not welled up in tears? Do you know no compassion? Are you religious instincts dead?
    Oh man: repent and reform and revise your list!