100 best French films of all time, ranked

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Few film industries in the world can match the quality and breadth of French cinema over the past 120 years. From the sleight of hand of Georges Méliès and the innovations of the Lumière brothers to current tyros like Julia Ducournau and Ladj Ly, French cinema is an organism in constant evolution, in search of new stories and new ways of telling them. It is not for nothing that it is the cradle of the New Wave and the homeland of geniuses such as Jean Renoir, Agnès Varda and Francois Truffault.

This makes assembling the creme de la creme of great French films a tricky task. But whether you’re a fluent poetic realist weirdo new wave or just a follower of ‘Amelie’, you will find something to tickle your Francophile fantasy in this count of the best French films released between 1902 and 2022.

The French, especially Parisians, are big movie buffs, so if you have more than one weekend in the City of Lights, grab a drink at one of the cinema barsbefore getting comfortable in a independent cinema. And if you want to do some actual scouting on your trip, check out the top 50 films shot in Paris.

Written by Tom Huddleston, Geoff Andrew, Dave Calhoun, Cath Clarke, Trevor Johnston, Joshua Rothkopf and Keith Uhlich

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