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75 voters

The 100+ Best Movies Streaming On The Criterion Channel

Updated September 9, 2020 1.6k votes 75 voters 2.6k views102 items

If you're interested in watching some great films, you've come to the right place, because we're going to recommend the best movies on Criterion Channel. The streaming service is an offshoot of the Criterion Collection, a brand that puts out high-end DVDs and Blu-rays of "important classic and contemporary films." In other words, Criterion is associated with first-rate quality. The company has become so popular that they created this new online channel to further make these motion pictures easily available to the public.

There are well over 1,500 titles available. So how do you choose the most essential Criterion movies to watch? We've selected them based on a variety of factors. Some of the titles on this list are beloved, certified classics, like Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai or Federico Fellini's 8 1/2. The beauty of Criterion, though, is that they recognize greatness in all genres. For that reason, you will also find examples in horror, comedy, documentary, and even animation. The final factor was buzz value. Several of the films included are edgy, challenging movies worth watching and discussing. Every effort was made to give this list a nice balance. 

As for the best Criterion movies, that will be up to you to decide. Vote up the ones you think are the most vital, regardless of genre or when they were released. 

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  • 1
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    4

    Seven Samurai

    Akira Kurosawa

    ActorsToshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Eijirō Tōno, Seiji Miyaguchi, Daisuke Katō

    Released1954

    Seven Samurai is a 1954 Japanese Jidaigeki adventure film co-written, edited, and directed by Akira Kurosawa. It follows the story of a village of farmers that hire seven ronin to combat bandits who...  more
  • 2
    33
    6

    The Third Man

    Carol Reed

    ActorsOrson Welles, Trevor Howard, Joseph Cotten, Carol Reed, Alida Valli

    Released1949

    The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir, directed by Carol Reed and starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard. It is considered one of the greatest films of all time,...  more
  • 3
    34
    12

    Citizen Kane

    Orson Welles

    ActorsOrson Welles, Alan Ladd, Agnes Moorehead, Joseph Cotten, Arthur O'Connell

    Released1941

    Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film produced by, co-written by, directed by and starring Orson Welles. The picture was Welles's first feature film. The film was nominated for Academy Awards in...  more
  • 4
    24
    8

    M

    Fritz Lang

    ActorsPeter Lorre, Theo Lingen, Georg John, Theodor Loos, Gustaf Gründgens

    Released1931

    M is a 1931 German drama-thriller film directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre. It was written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou and was the director's first sound film. Now considered a...  more
  • 5
    27
    12

    The 400 Blows

    François Truffaut

    ActorsJeanne Moreau, Jean Piere Leaud, Jean-Claude Brialy, Jacques Demy, Albert Rémy

    Released1959

    The 400 Blows is a 1959 French drama film, the debut by director François Truffaut; it stars Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, and Claire Maurier. One of the defining films of the French New Wave, it...  more
  • 6
    23
    8

    Bicycle Thieves

    Vittorio De Sica

    ActorsEnzo Staiola, Lianella Carell, Lamberto Maggiorani, Fausto Guerzoni, Gino Saltamerenda

    Released1948

    Bicycle Thieves, is a 1948 film directed by Vittorio De Sica. The film follows the story of a poor father searching post-World War II Rome for his stolen bicycle, without which he will lose the job...  more
  • 7
    21
    7

    Chungking Express

    Wong Kar-wai

    ActorsTony Leung Chiu Wai, Faye Wong, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Valerie Chow, Brigitte Lin

    Released1994

    Chungking Express is a 1994 Hong Kong drama film written and directed by Wong Kar-wai. The film consists of two stories told in sequence, each about a lovesick Hong Kong policeman mulling over his...  more
  • 8
    19
    4

    Night of the Living Dead

    George A. Romero

    ActorsGeorge A. Romero, Duane Jones, Bill Hinzman, Karl Hardman, Judith O'Dea

    Released1968

    Night of the Living Dead is a 1968 American independent zombie horror film directed by George A. Romero, starring Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea and Karl Hardman. It premiered on October 1, 1968, and was...  more
  • 9
    22
    8

    The Seventh Seal

    Ingmar Bergman

    ActorsMax von Sydow, Bibi Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand, Nils Poppe, Erik Strandmark

    Released1957

    The Seventh Seal is a 1957 Swedish drama-fantasy film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. Set in Denmark it tells of the journey of a medieval knight and a game of chess, who has come to take his...  more
  • 10
    22
    9

    Hoop Dreams

    Steve James

    ActorsWilliam Gates, Arthur Agee, Emma Gates

    Released1994

    Hoop Dreams is a 1994 American documentary film directed by Steve James and written by James and Frederick Marx, with Kartemquin Films. It follows the story of two African-American high school...  more
  • 11
    21
    9

    Grey Gardens

    Albert Maysles, David Maysles

    Released1975

    Grey Gardens is a 1975 American documentary film by Albert and David Maysles. Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer also directed, and Susan Froemke was the associate producer. Although Susan Froemke is often...  more
  • 12
    19
    6

    City Lights

    Charlie Chaplin

    ActorsCharlie Chaplin, Jean Harlow, Virginia Cherrill, Hank Mann, Harry Myers

    Released1931

    City Lights is a 1931 American romantic comedy film written by, directed by, and starring Charlie Chaplin. The story follows the misadventures of Chaplin's Tramp as he falls in love with a blind girl...  more
  • 13
    19
    6

    Battleship Potemkin

    Sergei Eisenstein

    ActorsSergei Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov, Aleksandr Antonov, Andrei Fajt, Beatrice Vitoldi

    Released1925

    Battleship Potemkin, sometimes rendered as Battleship Potyomkin, is a 1925 silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein and produced by Mosfilm. It presents a dramatized version of the mutiny that...  more
  • 14
    17
    5

    Les Diaboliques

    Henri-Georges Clouzot

    ActorsSimone Signoret, Michel Serrault, Paul Meurisse, Jean Lefebvre, Charles Vanel

    Released1955

    Les Diaboliques, released as Diabolique in the United States and variously translated as The Devils or The Fiends, is a 1955 French black-and-white psychological thriller feature film directed by...  more
  • 15
    16
    5

    The 39 Steps

    Alfred Hitchcock

    ActorsAlfred Hitchcock, Madeleine Carroll, Robert Donat, Peggy Ashcroft, John Laurie

    Released1935

    The 39 Steps is a 1935 British thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll. Loosely based on the 1915 adventure novel The Thirty-Nine Steps by John...  more
  • 16
    13
    2

    ActorsMaggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Roy Cheung, Alien Sun, Rebecca Pan

    Released2000

    In the Mood for Love is a 2000 Hong Kong film directed by Wong Kar-wai, starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung. The film premiered on 20 May 2000, at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, where it was...  more
  • 17
    14
    5

    A Hard Day's Night

    Richard Lester

    ActorsPaul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Phil Collins, Ringo Starr

    Released1964

    A Hard Day's Night is a 1964 British black-and-white comedy film directed by Richard Lester and starring the Beatles—John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr—during the height of...  more
  • 18
    17
    9

    ActorsRichard Edson, Rockets Redglare, Sara Driver, Tom DiCillo, Rammellzee

    Released1984

    Stranger Than Paradise is a 1984 American absurdist/deadpan comedy film. It was written and directed by Jim Jarmusch and stars jazz musician John Lurie, former Sonic Youth drummer-turned-actor...  more
  • 19
    13
    5

    Amarcord

    Federico Fellini

    ActorsCiccio Ingrassia, Magali Noël, Pupella Maggio, Maria Antonietta Beluzzi, Gianfilippo Carcano

    Released1973

    Amarcord is a 1973 Italian comedy-drama film directed by Federico Fellini, a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale about Titta, an adolescent boy growing up among an eccentric cast of characters...  more
  • 20
    13
    5

    Stagecoach

    John Ford

    ActorsJohn Wayne, John Carradine, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine, Thomas Mitchell

    Released1939

    Stagecoach is a 1939 American Western film directed by John Ford, starring Claire Trevor and John Wayne in his breakthrough role. The screenplay, written by Dudley Nichols, is an adaptation of "The...  more
  • 21
    10
    1

    The Manchurian Candidate

    John Frankenheimer

    ActorsFrank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh, Laurence Harvey, Henry Silva

    Released1962

    The Manchurian Candidate is a 1962 American Cold War suspense thriller directed by John Frankenheimer that stars Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Janet Leigh and co-stars Angela Lansbury, Henry...  more
  • 22
    12
    4

    Babette's Feast

    Gabriel Axel

    ActorsBibi Andersson, Stéphane Audran, Jarl Kulle, Ghita Nørby, Bodil Kjer

    Released1987

    Babette's Feast is a 1987 Danish drama film directed by Gabriel Axel. The film's screenplay was written by Axel based on the story by Isak Dinesen. Produced by Just Betzer, Bo Christensen, and Benni...  more
  • 23
    13
    5

    The Player

    Robert Altman

    ActorsJulia Roberts, Bruce Willis, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeff Goldblum, John Cusack

    Released1992

    The Player is a 1992 American satirical film directed by Robert Altman from a screenplay by Michael Tolkin based on his own 1988 novel of the same name. It is the story of Hollywood studio executive...  more
  • 24
    20
    15

    Modern Times

    Charlie Chaplin

    ActorsCharlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Edward LeSaint, Chester Conklin, Richard Alexander

    Released1936

    Modern Times is a 1936 comedy film written and directed by Charlie Chaplin in which his iconic Little Tramp character struggles to survive in the modern, industrialized world. The film is a comment...  more
  • 25
    10
    2

    Paris, Texas

    Wim Wenders

    ActorsNastassja Kinski, Sam Shepard, Dean Stockwell, Harry Dean Stanton, Bernhard Wicki

    Released1984

    Paris, Texas is a 1984 drama film directed by Wim Wenders and starring Harry Dean Stanton, Dean Stockwell, Nastassja Kinski, and Hunter Carson. The screenplay was written by L.M. Kit Carson and...  more