Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The BBC has released its list of the 100 greatest foreign-language films of all time

A Japanese movie poster for Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai
Photo: Movie Poster Image Art (Getty Images)

Because nothing brings opinions out of the woodwork like a ranked list—and nothing makes those opinions extra, uh…passionate”…like picking a topic that requires a lot of specialized knowledge and individual effort to have a well-informed feeling on—we’re happy to report that the BBC has just essentially committed arson on its own social media presence for the next few days, releasing its Top 100 list of the best non-English-language films of all time.

For those keeping track, French is apparently the best language for making non-English movies, with 27 films to its name. Mandarin came in second, although Japanese scored the top slot, thanks to Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. Kurosawa made the list four times (tying Federico Fellini, and dipping behind Ingmar Bergman by one), despite the fact that none of the Japanese critics polled apparently included him on their ballots. (Rashomon, for instance, sits at number 4, although your take on that may vary.)


BBC Culture assembled its list by polling 209 critics from 43 different countries, attempting to get an international feel for which movies have best captured global renown. Italy’s Bicycle Thieves came in at No. 2, for instance, and 1953's Tokyo Story at number 3. The BBC itself notes that there’s a dearth of female directors represented on the list—just four films out of the hundred ranked—but says that it included an even mix of genders in the critics consulted. You can see the full ballots (and an explanation for why Seven Samurai carried the day) over on BBC Culture’s site.

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