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In retrospect, perhaps not. A film that manages the gargantuan task of goosing both the Darwinian proving ground of high-school USA and the Byzantine machinations of the American political system, Election is satire masquerading as quirky comedy. A canny adaptation of a Tom Perrotta novel, it was initially inspired by the Bush-Clinton election of and the infamous case of a pregnant prom queen denied her title after staff rigged the vote. Regarding the latter, it's possible to view Election - in which teacher Matthew Broderick attempts to sabotage monstrously ambitious student Reese Witherspoon's bid for student body president - as not merely bang on target but also, in the light of the Florida fiasco, remarkably prescient.

If the late Minghella's best film is ladled with a Dullsville, awards-bait reputation, it shouldn't be, as it is a complex, ferociously intelligent, hugely emotional work - a true testament to a lost talent. The best film about a slickster and his autistic brother ever made, the unsung hero here is Levinson, who tells the tale in crisp, confident beats. Tom Cruise also knocks it out of the park. A critics' favourite, this classic Spaghetti Western sees Jean-Louis Trintignant's mute gunfighter take on Klaus Kinski's bounty hunters. Also boasts one of the bleakest endings ever mounted.

Billy Wilder gives free reign to his legendary cynicism in this, his first film as writer-producer-director, a caustic tale of media exploitation with Kirk Douglas on top, sleazy form as ruthless journo Chuck Tatum.

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It's a film that gets more relevant with every passing year. The inspiration for You've Got Mail. Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart fall for each other via letters in a wry, winning rom-com that stays just the right side of sentimental. One of the best from the grandmaster Lubitsch.

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Out of the ashes of Firefly came Serenity, a great space-cowboy romp. Its appearance on the list speaks volumes about the loyalty of those Browncoats. Haneke's clinging paranoid thriller is that rare beast - an arthouse crowdpleaser. Austere but virtuoso, the real achievement is exploring issues of guilt and complacency without stinting on the suspense.

If nothing else, see it for the barnstorming single-take action sequence. Pixar's rat-in-the-kitchen masterwork combines perfectly orchestrated slapstick with a self-portrait about the challenges of being an artist in a sea of mediocrity.

In an age of fast-food animation, this is a three-Michelin-star experience. Every generation has a film that will always be carried in its heart. This madcap, Spielberg- produced adventure about a gaggle of treasure-hunting brats stuck in booby-trapped mazes is that film for anyone born around You're watching the start of a new cinematic era. How do you turn the serial-killer thriller on its head? Never catch the killer. Fincher's true-life tale is not about grabbing the bad guy; it's about the nature of obsession.

The film that established Richard Curtis as a brand is often unfairly mocked. The truth is that all rom-com writers are aiming for this mix of sly wit, genuine feeling and farce. Wright's skill is in taking the gloss and whizz-bang illogic of Hollywood and applying it to quintessentially English situations. But we'll never understand his affection for Bad Boys II.

Pixar's bravest picture is virtually a silent movie, a showcase of perfect sound design and peerless animation. It pushed the boundaries of not just style but storytelling technique as well. The third, and silliest, in Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy is notable for completely letting Bruce Campbell off the chin, sorry, chain.

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And that is a glorious sight to behold. Remember when the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise wasn't misguidedly obsessed with character depth and darkness, and was just plain old fun? One of the finest ever sporting movies, a celebration of the can-do spirit - all the more important when it becomes clear that he can't.

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To anyone who was a teen in the '80s, this will forever be the "Oh my God, someone understands me! Kudos to Hughes for giving a generation a voice that felt true. All the more ingenious in comparison to the lame mess of sketches that is 'spoof' today. Fosse's Oscar-winner is about as far from the MGM tradition as you can get. The wartime Berlin setting and flawed characters makes the swaggering desperation of the tunes all the more powerful. Is it a triumph of subtle technique? Is it one of the most quotable, ridiculously macho, unashamedly populist good times you'll have with a killer alien?

You bet your ass. Liman's kick-off to the excellent Bourne series wasn't quite as accomplished as the sequels, but it was a morally murkier film and set up the mood that Paul Greengrass so rewardingly continued. What do you get when you cross combustible provocateur Oliver Stone and the then enfant terrible of Hollywood Quentin Tarantino? The film is all the more fascinating for being a product of its time, strobing through the mid-'90s zeitgeist from daytime soaps to news docs , and populated with such as of then wild children as Robert Downey Jr.

The mystical mumbo-jumbo harks back to Stone's predilection for '60s motifs, making it half-crazed, but iconic all the same. Robin Williams off the Richter scale, as his jabber-mouthed DJ stirs up the Vietnam troops until the authorities pull the plug. The political framework at least gives more purpose to the freeforming comedian's verbal torrents. Easily Lynch's most sympathetic and outwardly 'gettable' movie tells the tragic 19th-century tale of John Merrick, hideously disfigured by a congenital disease, and taken in by a kindly doctor who sees the human beneath the freakshow.

Family drama in the Russian wilds as an estranged father returns to his two teenage sons: this simple premise emerges as a stunning, near-mythic tale of emergent manhood in the hands of a director fast becoming Russia's premier filmmaker. The irrepressible Sturges takes another bow in the , with this familiar mix of rich characters and madcap plotting, as spurned con-woman Barbara Stanwyck disguises herself as an English lady to romantically torment dotty professor Henry Fonda. The film that famously involves one single shot, floating through the halls of the Hermitage in St.

Petersburg during 19th century Russia. It's a virtuoso piece of directing, but can't quite escape the nagging sensation of stunt over content. Robert Altman's languid, freeform version of Raymond Chandler's last great novel relocates the story to , critiquing the out-of-time values of Elliott Gould's Philip Marlowe - a slobby, unshaven, chain-smoking all-time loser introduced in a brilliant sequence which has him try to pass off inferior pet food on his supercilious cat.

John Williams' superb score plays endless variations on a title tune and many sequences are astonishing: a violent gangster making a point by smashing a Coke bottle in his mistress' face "That's someone I love; you I don't even like" and an invigoratingly cynical punchline " Altman puts vital action into the corners of the frame, almost unnoticed, and highlights tiny moments of weirdness in a sun-struck tapestry of Los Angeles sleaze. Arnold Schwarzenegger, no less, has an unbilled cameo as a minor thug. At its restored length, Gance's silent masterpiece runs to five-and-a-half hours.

It was designed as a gigantic biopic in six minute parts, but ended up this magnificent giant about a shortarse with groundbreaking visuals, literate captions and pulsating energy. Boyle followed his re-invention of zombie horror in 28 Days Later with this visually enthralling space shocker, gesturing heavily and successfully to , Alien, even Event Horizon. The wacky ending, however, divides people. It sounds ghastly - a gangster-themed musical populated entirely by kids - but care of Parker's natty visuals, decent songs, splurge guns, pedal-powered sedans and, most remarkably, a non-revolting gaggle of kids, it remains a favourite.

Sturges, it transpires, has fared well in this top Justly so. He's on sparkling form again with this pacy mix of literate dialogue and bold slapstick, with Rex Harrison's troubled symphony conductor contemplating the murder of his possibly philandering wife, Linda Darnell. In the face of much parody, it is easy to forget how stirring Zulu actually is. Glorious to gaze upon, the battle scenes have an almighty clamour, but never at the expense of the characters, which include a posh Michael Caine. This trippy piece of new-Hollywood sci-fi mixes in issues of race, science, even politics, with its tetchy dystopian thrills and Charlton Heston's bronzed chest.

The twist ending alone lands it on this list. This daft odd-couple routine - boozy aristo Dudley Moore romances flighty Liza Minnelli, while John Gielgud's starchy butler makes acidic comments - proves surprisingly resilient. The answer could be in the delightful chemistry that all three very diverse actors cook up.

It's proof of Bresson's power as a filmmaker that this, the tale of a donkey albeit paralleled with that of a girl , says more about humanity - our vices, our trials, our self-examination - than a dozen Hollywood pictures. A smart, flashback-driven noir-melodrama charting a marriage swept to hell on a dark wave of jealousy. Championed by Scorsese, who discovered it on TV after a midnight asthma attack. The movie that gave us the phrase "bunny-boiler", Lyne's cautionary anti-romance was a phenomenon at the time.

It's not aged too well terrible ending , but its influence is still felt.

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If Woodstock co-directed by Scorsese marks the beginning of an era, The Last Waltz appropriately and sensitively captures its end, as Scorsese documents the last gig by former Dylan backing-act The Band. Another Pixar charmer that zips along on a buddy-movie premise, most notable for the novel concept that the horrors slithering under your bed are nothing more than regular working schmoes. Masterfully recreating the freezing wastes of Alaska on his Hollywood backlot, Chaplin keeps his notorious sentimentality in check and offers up one of the most durable gems of the silent era, following the.

Many would argue that Jack Nicholson has yet to better his lead performance in Michelangelo Antonioni's complex, disquieting thriller as a frazzled reporter who assumes the identity of a dead gun-runner. Kurosawa's contemporary crime thriller is one of his relatively lesser-known efforts. Don't let the absence of swords and samurai armour put you off - abetted once again by Toshiro Mifune here a businessman whose son is kidnapped , Kurosawa proved himself a master of any genre he deigned to tackle.

For too many, this was an overdue introduction to the crazy-beautiful delights of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli - and also a reminder of the wonderful mythologies that thrive far beyond the boundaries of Disney's magic kingdom. Truffaut's deeply affecting love-triangle drama came at or rather, helped form the crest of the revolutionary French New Wave, and its zest remains untainted. Falling just 37 places short of its ideal spot, Snyder's buff, beefy comic adaptation slammed Sparta onto the cinematic map.

With help, of course, from Gerard Butler's very shouty grasp of the obvious "This… is Of course, he proved us all wrong, the clever bastard. Bergman's challenging medieval masterpiece is one of cinema's most satisfying works - visually, intellectually, spiritually. It also showcases movies' greatest ever chess game Welles' family drama is of the greats somehow, despite the fact that it was infamously molested by the studio while Welles holidayed.