Best Experimental and Avant-Garde Films of All Time

I collected over 15 lists of best experimental films and best avant-garde films and compiled them into a single meta-list.  The results are below: every film that is on at least three of the original source lists, organized by rank (that is, with the films on the most lists at the top).  I have accepted the listmakers’ definitions of what is an experimental or avant-garde film, even though I may not always agree with them.  For example, some of the films on this list appear to be mainstream films with experimental or avant-garde elements.  I am surprised by the absence of Matthew Barney’s Cremaster cycle (1995-2002) and Christian Marclay’s The Clock (2010) and disappointed that two of my favorite short films – Bruce Conner’s Cosmic Ray (1962) and Arthur Lipsett’s 21-87 (1963) – did not make the meta-list.

NOTE: Some of the films are available online.  I  have added links where available. Please note that not all of the soundtracks are original.

On 15 lists
Meshes of the Afternoon (US, 1943) Dir: Maya Deren & Alexander Hammid

On 12 lists
Un Chien Andalou (France, 1929) Dir: Luis Buñuel

On 10 lists
Dog Star Man (US, 1961-1964) Dir: Stan Brakhage

On 9 lists
La Jetée (France, 1962) Dir: Chris Marker

On 7 lists
Man With a Movie Camera (USSR, 1929) Dir: Dziga Vertov

Eraserhead (US, 1977) Dir: David Lynch

On 6 lists
Ballet Mécanique (France, 1924) Dir: Fernand Léger & Dudley Murphy

Wavelength (Canada/US, 1967) Dir: Michael Snow

(US, 1982) Dir: Godfrey Reggio

On 5 lists
The Seashell and the Clergyman (France, 1928) Dir: Germaine Dulac

L’Age d’Or (France, 1930) Dir: Luis Buñuel
Rose Hobart (US, 1936) Dir: Joseph Cornell

Window Water Baby Moving (US, 1959) Dir: Stan Brakhage

Last Year at Marienbad (France/Italy, 1961) Dir: Alain Resnais
Mothlight (US, 1963) Dir: Stan Brakhage

Chelsea Girls (US, 1966) Dir: Andy Warhol & Paul Morrissey
The Color of Pomegranates (USSR, 1969) Dir: Sergei Parajanov
Blue (UK, 1993) Dir: Derek Jarman

On 4 lists
Anémic Cinéma (France, 1926) Dir: Marcel Duchamp

(US, 1947) Dir: Kenneth Anger

Scorpio Rising (US, 1963) Dir: Kenneth Anger

Pierrot le Fou (France, 1965) Dir: Jean-Luc Godard
F for Fake (France/Iran/West Germany/US, 1973) Dir: Orson Welles
Jeanne Dielman 23, Quai Du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles (Belgium/France, 1975) Dir: Chantal Akerman
Sans Soleil (France, 1983) Dir: Chris Marker
Gummo (US, 1997) Dir: Harmony Korine
As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty (US, 2000) Dir: Jonas Mekas
Waking Life (US, 2001) Dir: Richard Linklater
Decasia: The State of Decay (US, 2002) Dir: Bill Morrison
Inland Empire (France/Poland/US, 2006) Dir: David Lynch

On 3 lists
Entr’acte (France, 1924) Dir: René Clair

A Page of Madness
(Japan, 1926) Dir: Teinosuke Kinugasa

Ménilmontant (France, 1926) Dir: Dimitri Kirsanoff

The Blood of a Poet
(France, 1930) Dir: Jean Cocteau
At Land (US, 1944) Dir: Maya Deren

Anticipation of the Night
(US, 1958) Dir: Stan Brakhage
A Movie (US, 1958) Dir: Bruce Conner

Flaming Creatures (US, 1963) Dir: Jack Smith
Empire (US, 1964) Dir: Andy Warhol
Daisies (Czechoslovakia, 1966) Dir: Věra Chytilová
Report (US, 1967) Dir: Bruce Conner

Weekend (France/Italy, 1967) Dir: Jean-Luc Godard
Zorns Lemma (US, 1970) Dir: Hollis Frampton

Serene Velocity (US, 1970) Dir: Ernie Gehr
The Hart of London (Canada, 1970) Dir: Jack Chambers

(Nostalgia) (US, 1971) Dir: Hollis Frampton

La Région Centrale (Canada, 1971) Dir: Michael Snow
The Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes (US, 1971) Dir: Stan Brakhage
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (France/Italy/Spain, 1972) Dir: Luis Buñuel
The Mirror (USSR, 1975) Dir: Andrei Tarkovsky
The Last of England (UK/West Germany, 1987) Dir: Derek Jarman
Begotten (US, 1989) Dir: E. Elias Merhige
Tetsuo: The Iron Man (Japan, 1989) Dir: Shin’ya Tsukamoto
Pi: Faith in Chaos (US, 1998) Dir: Darren Aronofsky
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (US, 1998) Dir: Terry Gilliam
Histoire(s) du cinéma (France, 1989-1999) Dir: Jean-Luc Godard
Outer Space (Austria, 1999) Dir: Peter Tscherkassky
Russian Ark (Russia, 2002) Dir: Alexander Sokurov
At Sea (US, 2007) Dir: Peter Hutton
Enter the Void (France/Germany/Italy/Canada/Japan, 2009) Dir: Gaspar Noé
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Thailand, 2010) Dir: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Goodbye to Language (France, 2014) Dir: Jean-Luc Godard