8 1/2 (1963)

In one Italian filmmaker’s struggle with creative block, shame, and overwhelming pressures, Federico Fellini crafts a surrogate representation of himself, and with elusive grace traverses a wildly surreal sea of memory and dreams that stands 8 ½ up as a compelling piece of self-reflexive cinema, seeking to examine the arduous processes of its own construction.

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Alphaville (1965)

Futuristic visual designs do not always mesh so well with low-budget location shooting, but for a postmodern master of cinematic form like Jean-Luc Godard, such delightful incongruity only strengthens his deconstruction of film noir and science-fiction genres in Alphaville, which both examines and becomes an act of rebellion against artistic censorship in its very construction.

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Black Girl (1966)

In its acute examinations of racial oppression, Black Girl stands proudly as a tentpole of both African cinema and Ousmane Sembène’s directorial career, evoking the stylistic sensibilities of the French New Wave while forming a sensitive, post-colonial allegory that leads us through one Senegalese woman’s memoirs into her traumatic experience as a domestic slave.

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Playtime (1967)

Jacques Tati’s bizarre, elaborate vision of Paris in Playtime is an intricately stacked construction of modernist architecture and comedic set pieces, sending up the soulless conformity of commercial society with a cinematic vision as monumentally ambitious as it is methodically delicate.

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Planet of the Apes (1968)

In drawing a series of parallels between humans and their primate cousins in Planet of the Apes, Franklin J. Schaffner exposes both our inherently primitive psychology and our unique propensity for self-destruction, though not without framing his anthropological questions within a richly constructed world of great mysteries and thrills.

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My Night at Maud’s (1969)

My Night at Maud’s isn’t ready to deliver firm answers to its philosophical quandaries, and yet in this narrative built on a series of unlikely happenstances and cerebral discussions, Eric Rohmer also crafts an absorbing examination of fate, romance, and hypocritical egos as they fall under theological and secular perspectives.

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