101 Hidden Gems: The Greatest Films You’ve Never Seen

Last year, the British Film Insti­tute’s Sight and Sound mag­a­zine con­duct­ed its once-a-decade poll to deter­mine the great­est films of all time. As usu­al, the results were divid­ed into two sec­tions: one for the crit­ics’ votes, and the oth­er for the film­mak­ers’. The lat­ter put Stan­ley Kubrick­’s 2001: A Space Odyssey at the top, dis­plac­ing Yasu­jirō Ozu’s Tokyo Sto­ry, which itself had dis­placed Orson Welles’ Cit­i­zen Kane. The for­mer had their own reign of Kane, which came to an end in 2012 with the rise of Alfred Hitch­cock­’s Ver­ti­go. All these pic­tures are well-known clas­sics of cin­e­ma, and even if you haven’t seen them, you may feel as if you have. But did you have the same reac­tion to Chan­tal Aker­man’s Jeanne Diel­man, 23, quai du Com­merce, 1080 Brux­elles when it came out num­ber one in the crit­ics poll last year?

This month, the BFI pub­lished a new list of 101 films that make Jeanne Diel­man look like Home Alone. Léontine’s Elec­tric Bat­tery, My Sur­vival as an Abo­rig­i­nal, The 8 Dia­gram Pole Fight­er, Qabyo 2, and all the rest of these “hid­den gems” received just one vote in the lat­est S&S poll, mean­ing that just one par­tic­i­pat­ing crit­ic or film­mak­er ranks it among the ten best films ever made.

“Hail­ing from every con­ti­nent but Antarc­ti­ca and span­ning more than 120 years, this selec­tion is, in its way, as rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the rich­es of cin­e­ma his­to­ry as that oth­er list we released at the end of last year,” writes con­trib­u­tor Thomas Flew. “Fic­tion rubs shoul­ders with non­fic­tion, films made by col­lec­tives sit along­side hand-craft­ed ani­ma­tion, and a healthy dose of com­e­dy sidles up to heart­break­ing dra­ma — and then there are the films that defy all cat­e­go­riza­tion.”

On this list you’ll find less­er-known works from brand-name direc­tors like Oliv­er Assayas, whose Cold Water is to cin­e­ma “what The Catch­er in the Rye is to lit­er­a­ture,” or Kathryn Bigelow, whose The Love­less, “set in a gener­ic 1950s Amer­i­cana land­scape, is sat­u­rat­ed with libido, can­did charm and for­mal inven­tion.” Oth­er films come rec­om­mend­ed by major auteurs: Apichat­pong Weerasethakul describes Bruce Bail­lie’s Quick Bil­ly as “Muybridge’s horse res­ur­rect­ed, expe­ri­enc­ing death, rebirth and death once more”; Guy Maddin picks Desire Me, which had four dif­fer­ent direc­tors, and “all of them were fool­ish enough to take their names off this thing because it’s pret­ty wild”; the late Ter­ence Davies prais­es Cur­tis Bern­hardt’s Pos­sessed as a film in which “Amer­i­ca has nev­er seemed bleak­er or less roman­tic.”

Per­haps you’re the type of cinephile who can imag­ine no more com­pelling rec­om­men­da­tion than “David Lynch cites it as the first movie he remem­bers watch­ing,” which Beat­rice Loy­aza writes of Hen­ry King’s Wait till the Sun Shines, Nel­lie. Or per­haps you’re more intrigued by Hen­ry Blake’s endorse­ment of Rolf de Heer’s Bad Boy Bub­by: “If you can get past the incest and vio­lence in the first 45 min­utes of this film, it is an aching­ly pow­er­ful sto­ry about love and it urges the audi­ence to nev­er give up on any­one.” This is not to say that all of the BFI’s hid­den gems are har­row­ing spec­ta­cles, though it’s a safe bet that none of them offer a view­ing expe­ri­ence quite like any you’ve ever had before — except, per­haps, the ear­li­est one, Le chat qui joue by cin­e­ma pio­neers Auguste and Louis Lumière, a “cat video” avant la let­tre.

Explore the BFI’s list of hid­den gems here.

via Metafil­ter

Relat­ed con­tent:

480 Film­mak­ers Reveal the 100 Great­est Movies in the World

The 100 Great­est Films of All Time Accord­ing to 1,639 Film Crit­ics & 480 Direc­tors: See the Results of the Once-a-Decade Sight and Sound Poll

The Nine Great­est Films You’ve Nev­er Seen

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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