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The 100 best French films: 30-21

Our definitive countdown of the finest French films – as chosen by industry experts


Claire’s Knee (1970)

Director: Eric Rohmer

The fifth and most accessible of Rohmer's six 'moral tales', Claire's Knee is the story of the temptation of an affianced diplomat (Brialy) while on holiday, and its successful suppression...

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Beau travail (1999)

Director: Claire Denis

Denis' extraordinary movie centres on Galoup (Lavant) who, while holed up in Marseille, recalls his time as a sergeant-major in the Foreign Legion. In the desert, he drilled raw recruits...

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Belle de jour (1966)

Director: Luis Bunuel

Marlene Dietrich had Sternberg. Anna Karina had Godard. Catherine Deneuve had Buuel, as the revival of 1967’s Belle de Jour reaffirms; the film is a perverse valentine to this coolest of Gallic beauties...

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Le Corbeau (1943)

Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot

David Thomson calls Clouzot's a 'cinema of total disenchantment'. This exposé of a malicious small town in France must be one of the most depressed films to emerge from the period of the German Occupation...

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A Trip to the Moon (1902)

Director: Georges Méliès

A former magician, Georges Méliès created his silent film ‘A Trip to the Moon’ in 1902, just six years after the Lumière Brothers’ legendary first projection. ‘A Trip to the Moon’ is a cinematic legend in its own right...

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Le Samouraï (1967)

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville 

Melville's hombres don't talk a lot, they just move in and out of the shadows, their trenchcoats lined with guilt and their hats hiding their eyes. This is a great movie, an austere masterpiece, with Delon as a cold, enigmatic contract killer who lives by a personal code of bushido...

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Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962)

Director: Agnès Varda

‘Cléo from 5 to 7’ was French new waver Agnès Varda’s second feature and is filled with the beauty of Paris’s natural light. ‘Hold on, pretty butterfly!’ says Cléo (Corinne Marchand, pictured), a fretful and fame-occupied singer...

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Last Year in Marienbad (1961)

Director: Alain Resnais 

Something of a key film in the development of concepts of cinematic modernism, simply because - with a script by nouveau roman iconoclast Alain Robbe-Grillet - it sets up a puzzle that is never resolved: a man meets a woman in a rambling hotel and believes he may have had an affair with her the previous year at Marienbad...

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Buffet froid (1979)

Director: Bertrand Blier 

Rigorously absurd contemporary film noir which presents every character, incident and situation known to the genre, but none of the customary explanations, motivations or consequences. A blackly surreal procession of amoral and/or illegal acts...

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Santa Claus is a bastard (1982)

Director: Jean-Marie Poiré

A cult classic with French audiences, ‘Santa Claus is a Bastard’ was adapted from a play of the same name, co-written by its actors. A black comedy packed with sharp and politically incendiary dialogue...

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This list is the height of arrogance and stupidity. It was only made to bring in readers.  Timeout cares nothing about art or art criticism, only about making money. "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" not even in the top 50.  That's laughable.

hugo french
hugo french

Si peu de comédies..qui a voté? Jeunet amelie pour le farfelu, jean de florette de Berri, pour la beaute B13 pour l'action, Haute tension pour la terreur, trois hommes et un couffin pour la tendresse, incroyable tout dernierement Aucun dans les 100 meilleurs films.... plutot une liste de film francais qu'un valide classement