Easy Rider (1969)
Why It's The Best: The counter-culture classic sees hippy bikers Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) cutting a swathe through the American Southwest, meeting a disparate bunch of picaresque characters en route.
Hopper and Fonda, who direct and produce respectively, perfectly capture a cross-section of a country at a crossroads, in a film that's as thoughtful as it is freewheeling.
Defining Moment: Wyatt, Billy and two prostitutes go off on an LSD-fuelled psychedelic trip.
Why It's The Best: Ingmar Bergman's searching existential drama could be accused of pretension, but it avoids any such charge through sheer intelligence. Nurse Alma (Bibi Andersson) is charged with caring for mute actress Elisabet (Liv Ullman), and the two women's personalities slowly begin to merge.
It's not exactly light-hearted viewing, but it's made endlessly rewarding through Bergman's engaging treatises on identity, performance, art and filmmaking, and Sven Nykvist's starkly beautiful cinematography.
Defining Moment: The split screen shot in which Alma and Elisabet's faces appear to merge into one.
A Hard Day's Night (1964)
Why It's The Best: It's sensible to approach musicians' movies with more than a shred of caution, as they're often little more than shameless vanity vehicles. Not so with The Beatles, who achieved considerable results with their big-screen efforts.
A Hard Day's Night showcased the lads at their most ebullient, as Richard Lester directs them in a fictionalised 36-hour run-up to a gig. The songs are the real stars, but the musical numbers are punctuated with fun comedy moments.
Defining Moment: The fab four beat a hasty retreat from hordes of Beatlemania-stricken girls.
Planet Of The Apes (1968)
Why It's The Best: Classic sci-fi that's more highly evolved than any of the sequels, TV shows or 'reimaginings' that were spun off of it (at least until worthy prequel/reboot Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes came along).
Planet… comes loaded with political subtext and social commentary, but it also works on its own terms as an exemplary genre piece, aided by superb monkey make-up and that twist.
Defining Moment: "You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!"
The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner (1962)
Why It's The Best: A key piece in the British kitchen-sink movement, Loneliness… works just as well when viewed outside of its social and artistic context.
Tom Courtenay is Colin, a borstal lad with a gift for cross-country jogging which offers him the chance of escape: not only sprinting freely (in scenes with dynamic cinematography from Walter Lassally), but competing in a competition with a local school that could provide his ticket out.
Defining Moment: The race itself, which doesn't exactly require a photo finish. Classic '60s anti-authoritarianism.
To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)
Why It's The Best: Robert Mulligan's adaptation of Harper Lee's novel gave Gregory Peck the defining role of his career in Atticus Finch, the lawyer who defends a black man charged with rape in a fictional Alabama town in the '30s.
As well a Peck's spot-on casting, the film has another asset in Mary Badham, playing the six-year-old Scout (the novel's narrator), who brings a natural energy and innocence to the proceedings.
Defining Moment: Robert Duvall's Boo Radley reveals his true colours.
What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962)
Why It's The Best: Sibling rivalry takes a sinister turn in this tale of two sisters. Blanche (Joan Crawford) and Jane (Bette Davis) have both had various degrees of acting success throughout their lives, but in the present, they're washed up and cynical.
Unnervingly creepy throughout, the hags war, bicker and torment each other within the claustrophobic confines of their mansion.
Defining Moment: Jane revisits the old times by bursting into a rendition of 'I've Written A Letter To Daddy' only to be horrified when she glimpses herself in a mirror.
The Trial (1962)
Why It's The Best: Orson Welles wrestles a classic novel onto the big screen, in an adaptation that's both accurate to the text and uniquely stylised in its own right.
Anthony Perkins is Josef K, the unlucky bloke who wakes up one morning to find out that he has been arrested for an unnamed crime. Perfectly capturing the novel's spiralling paranoia, The Trial features some seriously striking set design, all modernist lines and ominous shadow.
Defining Moment: The opening pinscreen animation of Kafka short 'Before The Law' (pivotal to The Trial ), which is narrated by Welles.
La Dolce Vita (1960)
Why It's The Best: Marcello Mastroianni starred as the creatively-crippled film director in Federico Fellini's 8½ , but in the pair's other '60s masterpiece he's a disenfranchised journo, flitting aimlessly from scene to scene over the course of a week in Rome.
As he drifts from party to party, and woman to woman, the ambling movie takes time to examine the loftiest of themes from love to family and religion to celebrity, all in glorious style.
Defining Moment: The night-time dip in the Trevi Fountain.
The Innocents (1961)
Why It's The Best: It's a chillingly effective adaptation of Henry James' literary spooker, The Turn Of The Screw . Deborah Kerr's governess is tasked with caring for two young orphans at an idyllic country estate.
The scares come slowly and steadily, with director Jack Clayton choosing to cleave close to the source material by playing it satisfyingly ambiguous, right up to the closing frame.
Defining Moment: The flashforward opening (paired with the endlessly unsettling theme song) that hints at the unreadable events to come.
Why It's The Best: One of Akira Kurosawa's many classics, Yojimbo has, like plenty of his other flicks, been subject to remakes (including A Fistful Of Dollars and Last Man Standing ), although part of its timelessness comes from its simple story, itself inspired by various sources including Dashiell Hammett.
Kurosawa regular Toshir Mifune stars as the wandering Ronin who chances upon a village ruled by rival gangs. The katana-flinging badass sets the opposing factions off against each other in what becomes a thrilling action movie.
Defining Moment: The pistol versus sword duel.
Why It's The Best: Michelangelo Antonioni's swinging thriller captures the London of the decade in all its swinging glory, while probing beneath the surface to examine the nature of photography, art and existence.
David Hemmings' David Bailey-esque snapper goes about his glamourous business, before being drawn into a criminal plot after unwittingly commiting a dead body to film. Of its decade stylistically and thematically, Blow-Up has proved hugely influential.
Defining Moment: The much aped fashion shoot sequence in which Thomas straddles model Veruschka for her close-up.
Belle De Jour (1967)
Why It's The Best: Catherine Deneuve's bored housewife Séverine doesn't connect sexually with her perfect-on-paper doctor hubby, so she remedies it by becoming an afternoon prostitute.
Director Luis Buñuel is well known for his surrealist pictures ( Un Chien Andalou , L'Âge d'Or ) but here he plays it relatively straight, keeping the subversion in the content rather than the form (though the fantasy daydreams do become more pervasive), as he has fun playing with expectations in a surprisingly un-vulgar way.
Defining Moment: Séverine's neatly played opening daydream.
The Jungle Book (1967)
Why It's The Best: Disney's take on Rudyard Kipling's stories is a perennially popular entry in the mouse house's animated canon, thanks largely to the swinging beats and irrepressible characters.
Baloo comes with Phil Harris' distinctive voice, and he seems like such a cool friend that it's a wonder man-cub Mowgli decides to leave the jungle at all, while Shere Khan (George Sanders) exudes oily menace without having to lose his cool. 101 Dalmatians could jostle with The Jungle Book for best Disney animation of the '60s though…
Defining Moment: Baloo spouting off about 'The Bare Necessities'.
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly (1966)
Why It's The Best: The final instalment in Sergio Leone's spaghetti western trilogy sees Eastwood's nameless poncho-wearer united with Lee Van Cleef's Angel Eyes and Eli Wallach's bandit, Tuco.
Plot-wise it's nothing new, but as with the other entries in the trilogy (and, indeed, Once Upon A Time In The West ), it's really about Leone's way with set-pieces, stylish visuals and offbeat humour. And the score ain't half-bad, too…
Defining Moment: The three-way Mexican standoff.
The Italian Job (1969)
Why It's The Best: '60s superstar Michael Caine plays the superbly named Charlie Croker, a fresh out of pokey crim who sets about completing the titular heist after a friend died planning it.
If it feels a little dated in places (is there a female character in it who's not a 'fit bird'?), but not when it comes to the final Mini chase: fresh and thrilling, it can still set the sturdiest stomachs on edge.
Defining Moment: The "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!" scene typifies the sense of fun that makes a large-scale international robbery feel like a bit of lads' shenanigans.
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Why It's The Best: Roman Polanski's first US movie has remained one of his enduring successes. Don't let the air of black humour fool you, this is seriously terrifying stuff.
Mia Farrow is front and centre as the put-upon mum-to-be, and Polanski wrings every drop of fear out of the unlikeliest sources.
Defining Moment: Rosemary's bizzaro dream sequence.
Night Of The Living Dead (1968)
Why It's The Best: George Romero's first (and arguably best) zombie film redefined what would become a cinematic staple. The set-up is strikingly swift, as a couple visiting a cemetery are set upon by a mysterious old bloke with a taste for human flesh.
They seek refuge in a boarded-up house with a handful of survivors, banding together in an effort to outlive the night's onslaught. Romero cranks up the tension with some superbly-judged set-pieces and an unsentimental approach to offing his characters.
Defining Moment: The morning after, Ben (Duane Jones) is relieved to see some fellow human survivors heading his way...
Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (1969)
Why It's The Best: It's the story of the greatest chums that the western genre has ever seen. Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) are a Robin Hood and Little John of the Old West, before a train heist gone wrong sees them on the lam.
The pair, and Sundance's lover, Etta, head to South America, but their lifestyle inevitably leads them to trouble, and a legendary final shootout.
Defining Moment: Butch takes Etta for a spin on his bicycle.
Peeping Tom (1960)
Why It's The Best: A sinister thriller that all but finished Michael Powell's directing career in the UK. Initially abhorred by critics on release, Peeping Tom found new life thanks to champions like Martin Scorsese, who has since brought the movie to wider attention.
Creepy and still relevant today, Tom uncannily implicates the cinema patron in the murders, by way of Mark Lewis' passion for film and his weapon of choice: a modified video camera. Chilling stuff.
Defining Moment: That opening POV shot, following a future victim through the seedy streets of Soho.
Billy Liar (1963)
Why It's The Best: Adapted from Keith Waterhouse's novel, Billy Liar will feel all-too-familiar to anyone who has indulged too long in a daydream.
Tom Courtenay is frustrating and loveable in equal measure as the fantasy-fuelled Billy, dreaming of giving up his dreary office job to become a comedy writer, but lacking the ambition or the drive to really make a go of it. Julie Christie provides a wonderful spark as the tempting free spirit who offers the (squandered) opportunity to escape.
Defining Moment: The final will-he-won't-he train journey.
The Apartment (1960)
Why It's The Best: This romantic drama ranks up there with the greats of the genre. Sure, it has a high concept - Jack Lemmon's downtrodden everyguy CC Baxter sees his career going places when he loans out his place for his superiors' rambunctious extra-marital affairs - but it offers so much more than a snappy premise.
Lemmon and sparring partner Shirley MacLaine fizzle with sparky chemistry, and they face genuine strife before reaching a pleasingly sugar-free conclusion.
Defining Moment: The first time we see Baxter's monotous, rigidly uniform office: an ordered hive of typewriters, suits and secretaries.
Lawrence Of Arabia (1962)
Why It's The Best: Perhaps David Lean's most famous movie, Lawrence… frequently sits in lists of all-time greats. Epic in length as well as scope, this deserves credit for keeping the scale personal, despite the grand, lofty and historically specific backdrop. The film would go on to inspire many other great directors.
Lean's Doctor Zhivago , which followed a few years later and grappled equally weighty themes and events with dexterity, could equally occupy this position on the list.
Defining Moment: Lawrence blows out the match ahead of a glorious cut...
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Why It's The Best: John Schlesinger's epic bromance sees the American dream of Joe Buck (Jon Voight) become a dingy, neon-tinged nightmare. Buck heads to NYC planning to live off rich women as a well-to-do gigolo after packing in his job at a Texas diner.
Things don't go as well as planned, and before long he's forced to shack up with Ratso (an unrecognisably grimy Dustin Hoffman), and the two forge a friendship out of desperation. Midnight Cowboy comes loaded with stylistic flourishes, but it's Voight and Hoffman who really grip.
Defining Moment: The unbearably poignant bus-ride ending.
Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)
Why It's The Best: Stanley Kubrick's satire on nuclear war is by blows hilarious and terrifying. US Air Force weapons are accidentally armed, and the muddle of bureaucracy required to deactivate the world-ending strike is unconquerable by the whole of the Pentagon's 'War Room.'
Classic comedy performances abound, including wonderful turns from Stirling Hayden and George C Scott, but it's Peter Sellers, as a trio of uniquely hilarious, pitch-perfect characters, who steals it.
Defining Moment: Major TJ Kong rides the Earth-bound bomb like an explosive bronco.
The Hustler (1961)
Why It's The Best: Paul Newman is Fast Eddie Felson, a pool hustler growing in notoriety. While he has no shortage of raw talent (he can trick shot with the best of 'em), his untempered ambition and lack of control are his undoing.
Along the way, Eddie falls out with his 'stakehorse' Charlie, begins a tumultuous relationship with alcoholic Sarah (Piper Laurie, so good), and gets taken under the wing of unscrupulous gambler Bert (George C Scott). Newman gets the role of a career as he goes from cocky upstart to broken man over the course of the movie, which packs a third-act sucker punch and a surprisingly downbeat ending.
Defining Moment: Eddie's final showdown with Minnesota Fats.
Bout De Souffle (1960)
Why It's The Best: Proving the '60s were a decade of invention, the French New Wave took liberties with cinematic techniques to create snappy, cool, and, yes, breathless movies.
None are more evocative of the era or the movement than this jaunty number by Jean-Luc Godard. It flies along at a cracking pace thanks to its revolutionary jump cuts, but it's not afraid to linger over a chat between its central characters when necessary. Openly referencing earlier movies, this is an entirely new beast.
Defining Moment: That appartment-based conversation between Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) and Patricia (Jean Seberg) is sultry, free-flowing, natural and saturated with chemistry.
Why It's The Best: Any of Sean Connery's '60s Bond flicks could've made it onto this list, but it's probably Goldfinger that's the most-loved movie of his tenure as the superspy.
By this point, Bond was really starting to show the hallmarks of a great franchise, as groovy gadgets, overly ambitious villains and stylish showdowns became staples. It also scores points for Shirley Bassey's theme song, which started a trend but hasn't yet been topped. Nimbly balancing tension and action with the series' trademark lightness of touch, Goldfinger is a class act.
Defining Moment: It's a close call between the girl killed by a coating of gold paint, the laser/Bond's crotch interface, and the cheeky 7 seconds that are left on the clock when 007 diffuses the bomb.
The Graduate (1967)
Why It's The Best: Mike Nichols coming-of-ager introduced the world to the affable charms of a young Dustin Hoffman, who has rarely been better than his turn here as aimless college-completer Benjamin Braddock.
His love travails see him dating Mrs Robinson and her daughter, but the keenly observed romantic elements are counterpointed by the sharp humour and Simon and Garfunkel's jangling tunes.
Defining Moment: Benjamin takes a dip in the pool, in full diving gear. Either that or something about Mrs Robinson attempting to seduce someone...
Why It's The Best: Alfred Hitchcock's seminal slasher was released in 1960, meaning the decade peaked early. Rarely has horror been so efficient, twitchy, and downright creepy.
From the misdirection, macguffins, economic gore and killer twists (birthing the 'spoiler warning'), Hitch was wrongfooting audiences in a way that feels fresh some 50-odd years later.
Defining Moment: There are plenty to choose from - the eerily looming house overlooking the Bates motel, the Mother Bates reveal, the barely-there skeleton fade in the final moments - but it'd be utterly wrong to plump for anything other than the shower scene, wouldn't it?