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The Best French New Wave (La Nouvelle Vague) Movies Of All-Time

The Best French New Wave Movies

“What are the best French New Wave Movies?” We looked at 87 of the top La Nouvelle Vague films, aggregating and ranking them so we could answer that very question!

The top 40 films, all appearing on 2 or more “Best French New Wave” movie lists, are ranked below by how many times they appear. The remaining 40+ movies, as well as the sources we used, are in alphabetical order on the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



Top 40 French New Wave Movies



40 .) And God Created Woman (Et Dieu… Créa la Femme,1956) directed by Roger Vadim

Lists It Appears On:

  • Indie Wire
  • New Wave Film

Juliette Hardy is sexual dynamite, and has the men of a French coastal town panting. But Antoine, the only man who affects her likewise, wouldn’t dream of settling down with a woman his friends consider the town tramp.

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39 .) Céline and Julie Go Boating (1974) directed by Jacques Rivette

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Indie Film Hustle

A mysteriously linked pair of young women find their daily lives pre-empted by a strange boudoir melodrama that plays itself out in a hallucinatory parallel reality.

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38 .) La collectionneuse directed by Éric Rohmer

Lists It Appears On:

  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

A bombastic, womanizing art dealer and his painter friend go to a seventeenth-century villa on the Riviera for a relaxing summer getaway. But their idyll is disturbed by the presence of the bohemian Haydée, accused of being a “collector” of men.

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37 .) Le Samourai (1967) directed by Jean-Pierre Melville

Lists It Appears On:

  • New Wave Film
  • The Cinemaholic

Hitman Jef Costello is a perfectionist who always carefully plans his murders and who never gets caught.

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36 .) Muriel, or The Time of Return directed by Alain Resnais

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • MUBI

A chamber drama about a widow and her son who live in an antique shop in Boulogne. The widow invites a man whom she loved twenty-two years earlier to visit. Her son is haunted by Muriel, a young woman whose death he may have caused while serving as a soldier in Algeria. As in Resnais’ earlier films, memory is deflected, fragmented, enshrined, and imagined.

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35 .) My Night With Maud (Ma Nuit Chez Maud,1969) directed by Éric Rohmer

Lists It Appears On:

  • New Wave Film
  • Taste Of Cinema

The rigid principles of a devout Catholic man are challenged during a one-night stay with Maud, a divorced woman with an outsize personality.

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34 .) The Bakery Girl of Monceau directed by Éric Rohmer

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • MUBI

Early new wave effort from Rohmer which was the first of his six moral tales. It concerns a young man who approaches a girl in the street, but after several days without seeing her again, he becomes involved with the girl in the local bakery. Eventually he has to choose between them when he arranges dates with them on the same day.

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33 .) The Young Girls of Rochefort directed by Jacques Demy

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • MUBI

Delphine and Solange are two sisters living in Rochefort. They are both looking for love, without being aware that their ideal partner is very close… A film where the scenario is much less important than its feeling of euphory, according to the director Jacques Demy.

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32 .) Zazie dans le métro directed by Louis Malle

Lists It Appears On:

  • Taste Of Cinema
  • The Culture Trip

A brash and precocious ten-year-old (Catherine Demongeot) comes to Paris for a whirlwind weekend with her rakish uncle (Philippe Noiret); he and the viewer get more than they bargained for, however, in this anarchic comedy from Louis Malle, which rides roughshod over the City of Light. Based on a popular novel by Raymond Queneau that had been considered unadaptable, Malle’s audacious Zazie dans le métro, made with flair on the cusp of the French New Wave, is a bit of stream-of-consciousness slapstick, wall-to-wall with visual gags, editing tricks, and effects.

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31 .) A Woman Is a Woman (1961) directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • IMDB
  • MUBI

Exotic dancer Angéla attempts to have a child with her unwilling lover Émile. In the process, she finds herself torn between him and his best friend Alfred.

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30 .) Bob the Gambler (Bob le Flambeur,1955) directed by Jean-Pierre Melville

Lists It Appears On:

  • Indie Film Hustle
  • Indie Wire
  • New Wave Film

In Paris, Bob Montagne is practically synonymous with gambling — and winning. He is kind, classy and well-liked by virtually everyone in town, including police inspector Ledru. However, when Bob’s luck turns sour, he begins to lose friends and makes the most desperate gamble of his life: to rob the Deauville casino during Grand Prix weekend, when the vaults are full. Unfortunately, Bob soon learns that the game is rigged and the cops are on to him.

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29 .) Elevator to the Gallows (Ascenseur Pour l’Échafaud,1958) directed by Louis Malle

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 2
  • New Wave Film
  • The Cinemaholic

The feature-film debut of famed director Louis Malle is an interesting, modern film noir with the classic theme of lovers plotting to kill the husband and make it look like suicide (reminiscent of The Postman Always Rings Twice). Jeanne Moreau gives an astonishing performance, perverse but naive as she leads her young lover down a path that can only lead to doom for both of them.

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28 .) Eyes Without a Face (Les Yeux sans Visage,1960) directed by Georges Franju

Lists It Appears On:

  • Indie Film Hustle
  • New Wave Film
  • The Cinemaholic

Professor Genessier is guilt-stricken after his daughter’s face is disfigured in a car accident. He intends to rebuild his daughter’s face via grafting skin tissue; he only needs a supply of donors to experiment on.

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27 .) Goodbye Phillipine (Adieu Philippine,1962) directed by Jacques Rozier

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • IMDB
  • New Wave Film

Michel is a young technician in the fledgling TV industry and is due for military service in two months at the time of the Algerian War. Juliette and Liliane are inseparable best friends, and aspiring actresses, who hang around outside the TV studio. Michel invites them in to watch, flirts with them both, and dates them separately and together. When Michel goes on a holiday to Corsica, just before he is drafted, the girls follow.



26 .) Masculin Féminin directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • Criterion 2
  • MUBI

The film stars French New Wave icon Jean-Pierre Léaud as Paul, a romantic young idealist and literary lion-wannabe who chases budding pop star, Madeleine (Chantal Goya, a real life Yé-yé girl).

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25 .) My Life to Live (Vivre Sa Vie,1962) directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • New Wave Film
  • The Culture Trip

Twelve episodic tales in the life of a Parisian woman and her slow descent into prostitution.

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24 .) Suzanne’s Career directed by Éric Rohmer

Lists It Appears On:

  • MUBI
  • Criterion 1
  • Indie Wire

In the second of Rohmer’s moral tales, he examines the relationship between two friends and a girl who at first appears easily exploited. It is a complex tale of feelings and misconceptions, acted out within the head of the main character, as part of Rohmer’s attempt to more easily simulate the mindscape quality of literature within a film.

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23 .) The Soft Skin (1964) directed by François Truffaut

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • Criterion 2
  • IMDB

Pierre Lachenay is a well-known publisher and lecturer, married with Franca and father of Sabine, around 10. He meets an air hostess, Nicole. They start a love affair, which Pierre is hiding, but he cannot stand staying away from her.

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22 .) Alphaville (1965) directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • MUBI
  • New Wave Film
  • The Script Lab

An American private-eye, arrives in Alphaville, a futuristic city on another planet which is ruled by an evil scientist named Von Braun, who has outlawed love and self-expression.

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21 .) Claire’s Knee (1970) directed by Éric Rohmer

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Indie Film Hustle
  • MUBI
  • The Script Lab

On the eve of his wedding, on holiday on the Lake Annecy shore, a career diplomat visits an old acquaintance, perhaps a former girlfriend. Through her he meets an intense teenager, Laura, and then lusts after her sister, Claire. Whilst Laura attempts to flirt with him, his fantasy becomes focused on wanting to caress Claire’s knee.

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20 .) Le Beau Serge (1958) directed by Claude Chabrol

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • IMDB
  • Indie Wire
  • Taste Of Cinema

Francois (Jean-Claude Brialy) returns to his village after a long absence. He finds his friend Serge (Gérard Blain) who has married Yvonne, and has developed an alcohol problem after the death of their stillborn child. Serge has become an angry, bitter figure not unlike the roles of James Dean, refusing to face reality and adulthood and Francois must help him.

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19 .) Les Cousins (1959) directed by Claude Chabrol

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • IMDB
  • Indie Film Hustle
  • The Culture Trip

Charles is a young provincial coming up to Paris to study law. He shares his cousin Paul’s flat. Paul is a kind of decadent boy, a disillusioned pleasure-seeker, always dragging along with other idles, while Charles is a plodding, naive and honest man. He fell in love with Florence, one of Paul’s acquaintances. But how will Paul react to that attempt to build a real love relationship ? One of the major New Wave films.

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18 .) Lola (1961) directed by Jacques Demy

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Criterion 1
  • Indie Film Hustle
  • New Wave Film

Lola, is a 1961 film, the debut film directed by Jacques Demy as a tribute to director Max Ophüls and is described by Demy as a “musical without music”. Anouk Aimée starred in the title role. The film was restored and re-released by Demy’s widow, French filmmaker Agnès Varda.

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17 .) Last Year at Marienbad (L’Année Derniere à Marienbad,1961) directed by Alain Resnais

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • Indie Film Hustle
  • MUBI
  • New Wave Film
  • The Cinemaholic

Takes place in a chateau, an ambiguous story of a man and a woman who may or may not have met last year at Marienbad.

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16 .) Paris Belongs to Us (Paris Nous Appartient, 1961) directed by Jacques Rivette

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • IMDB
  • Indie Film Hustle
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • The Culture Trip

A young woman joins a theatrical troupe where she slowly believes that the director is involved with a secret group and that he is in grave danger.

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15 .) Pierrot le Fou (1965) directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • IMDB
  • MUBI
  • New Wave Film
  • Taste Of Cinema

Pierrot escapes his boring society and travels from Paris to the Mediterranean Sea with Marianne, a girl chased by hit-men from Algeria. They lead an unorthodox life, always on the run.

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14 .) The Fire Within (Le Feu Follet,1963) directed by Louis Malle

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • Criterion 2
  • New Wave Film
  • The Cinemaholic
  • The Script Lab

Alain Leroy is a recovering alcoholic who decides to end his life, but first decides to visit his friends in Paris one last time, in an attempt at finding a reason to continue living.

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13 .) The Good Girls (Les Bonnes Femmes,1960) directed by Claude Chabrol

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • IMDB
  • Indie Film Hustle
  • New Wave Film
  • Taste Of Cinema

Ginette, Rita, Jacqueline and Jane try to find fulfillment and love in their lives. Rita has a fiancé whose family is obsessed with social distinction; Jane has a boy-friend in the army, but does not hesitate to enjoy herself with chance encounters; Ginette has a mysterious passion that keeps her away from her colleagues at nights. Jacqueline is lonely; but who is that mysterious bike-rider who is

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12 .) The Pier (La Jetée,1962) directed by Chris Marker

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 2
  • MUBI
  • New Wave Film
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • The Cinemaholic

Time travel, still images, a past, present and future and the aftermath of World War III. The tale of a man, a slave, sent back and forth, in and out of time, to find a solution to the world’s fate. To replenish its decreasing stocks of food, medicine and energies, and in doing so, resulting in a perpetual memory of a lone female, life, death and past events that are recreated on an airport’s viewing pier.

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11 .) Contempt (Le Mépris,1963) directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • Fashionista
  • IMDB
  • Indie Film Hustle
  • MUBI
  • New Wave Film

A philistine in the art film business, Jeremy Prokosch is a producer unhappy with the work of his director. Prokosch has hired Fritz Lang (as himself) to direct an adaptation of “The Odyssey,” but when it seems that the legendary filmmaker is making a picture destined to bomb at the box office, he brings in a screenwriter to energize the script. The professional intersects with the personal when a rift develops between the writer and his wife.

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10 .) The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg,1964) directed by Jacques Demy

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • MUBI
  • New Wave Film
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • The Cinemaholic
  • The Script Lab

This simple romantic tragedy begins in 1957. Guy Foucher, a 20-year-old French auto mechanic, has fallen in love with 17-year-old Geneviève Emery, an employee in her widowed mother’s chic but financially embattled umbrella shop. On the evening before Guy is to leave for a two-year tour of combat in Algeria, he and Geneviève make love. She becomes pregnant and must choose between waiting for Guy’s return or accepting an offer of marriage from a wealthy diamond merchant.

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9 .) Vivre sa vie (1962) directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • Criterion 2
  • Fashionista
  • Indie Film Hustle
  • MUBI
  • The Culture Trip

Twelve episodic tales in the life of a Parisian woman and her slow descent into prostitution.

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8 .) Le Bonheur (1965) directed by Agnès Varda

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • Indie Wire
  • MUBI
  • New Wave Film
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • The Cinemaholic
  • The Script Lab

Though married to the good-natured, beautiful Thérèse, young husband and father François finds himself falling unquestioningly into an affair with an attractive postal worker.

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7 .) Band of Outsiders (Bande à Part,1964) directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • Criterion 2
  • IMDB
  • Indie Film Hustle
  • MUBI
  • New Wave Film
  • The Culture Trip
  • The Script Lab

Cinephile slackers Franz and Arthur spend their days mimicking the antiheroes of Hollywood noirs and Westerns while pursuing the lovely Odile. The misfit trio upends convention at every turn, be it through choreographed dances in cafés or frolicsome romps through the Louvre. Eventually, their romantic view of outlaws pushes them to plan their own heist, but their inexperience may send them out in a blaze of glory — which could be just what they want.

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6 .) Cleo from 5 to 7 (Cléo de 5 à 7,1962) directed by Agnès Varda

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Criterion 1
  • Criterion 2
  • Indie Film Hustle
  • MUBI
  • New Wave Film
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • The Culture Trip

Agnès Varda eloquently captures Paris in the sixties with this real-time portrait of a singer set adrift in the city as she awaits test results of a biopsy. A chronicle of the minutes of one woman’s life, Cléo from 5 to 7 is a spirited mix of vivid vérité and melodrama, featuring a score by Michel Legrand and cameos by Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina.

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5 .) Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959) directed by Alain Resnais

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Criterion 1
  • Criterion 2
  • France This Way
  • Indie Film Hustle
  • MUBI
  • New Wave Film
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • The Cinemaholic

The deep conversation between a Japanese architect and a French actress forms the basis of this celebrated French film, considered one of the vanguard productions of the French New Wave. Set in Hiroshima after the end of World War II, the couple — lovers turned friends — recount, over many hours, previous romances and life experiences. The two intertwine their stories about the past with pondering the devastation wrought by the atomic bomb dropped on the city.

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4 .) The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups,1959) directed by François Truffaut

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • Criterion 2
  • France This Way
  • IMDB
  • Indie Film Hustle
  • New Wave Film
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • The Culture Trip
  • The Script Lab

For young Parisian boy Antoine Doinel, life is one difficult situation after another. Surrounded by inconsiderate adults, including his neglectful parents, Antoine spends his days with his best friend, Rene, trying to plan for a better life. When one of their schemes goes awry, Antoine ends up in trouble with the law, leading to even more conflicts with unsympathetic authority figures.

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3 .) Breathless (À Bout De Souffle,1960) directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Criterion 1
  • Criterion 2
  • Fashionista
  • France This Way
  • IMDB
  • Indie Film Hustle
  • Indie Wire
  • MUBI
  • New Wave Film
  • The Culture Trip

A young car thief kills a policeman and tries to persuade a girl to hide in Italy with him.

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2 .) Shoot the Piano Player (Tirez Sur Le Pianiste,1960) directed by François Truffaut

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Criterion 1
  • Criterion 2
  • IMDB
  • Indie Film Hustle
  • Indie Wire
  • MUBI
  • New Wave Film
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • The Cinemaholic
  • The Culture Trip

Charlie Kohler is a piano player in a bar. The waitress Lena is in love with him. One of Charlie’s brother, Chico, a crook, takes refuge in the bar because he is chased by two gangsters, Momo and Ernest. We will discover that Charlie’s real name is Edouard Saroyan, once a virtuose who gives up after his wife’s suicide. Charlie now has to deal wih Chico, Ernest, Momo, Fido (his youngest brother who lives with him), and Lena…

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1 .) Jules and Jim (Jules et Jim,1962) directed by François Truffaut

Lists It Appears On:

  • Criterion 1
  • Criterion 2
  • Fashionista
  • IMDB
  • Indie Film Hustle
  • Indie Wire
  • MUBI
  • New Wave Film
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • The Cinemaholic
  • The Culture Trip
  • The Script Lab

In Paris, before WWI, two friends, Jules (Austrian) and Jim (French) fall in love with the same woman, Catherine. But Catherine loves and marries Jules. After the war, when they meet again in Germany, Catherine starts to love Jim… This is the story of three people in love, a love which does not affect their friendship, and about how their relationship evolves with the years.

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The 40+ Additional Best French La Nouvelle Vague Movies



 

# Film Director Lists
(Titles Appear On 1 List Each)
41 A bout de souffle Jean-Luc Godard
Taste Of Cinema
42 A Girl Cut in Two Claude Chabrol MUBI
43
A Man and a Woman (Un Homme et une Femme,1966)
New Wave Film
44 All the World’s Memories Alain Resnais MUBI
45 Antoine and Colette François Truffaut MUBI
46 At the End of Breath
The Script Lab
47 Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)
The Cinemaholic
48 Bay of Angels Jacques Demy Criterion 1
49 Brigitte et Brigitte (1966) IMDB
50 Chronicle of a Summer Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin Criterion 1
51 Day for Night François Truffaut MUBI
52 Donkey Skin Jacques Demy MUBI
53 Film Socialisme Jean-Luc Godard MUBI
54
Four by Agnes Varda Adieu Philippine
Indie Film Hustle
55 L’enfer Claude Chabrol MUBI
56 L’ Atalante (1934)
The Cinemaholic
57 L’Année dernière à Marienbad Alain Resnais
Taste Of Cinema
58 La cérémonie Claude Chabrol MUBI
59 La chinoise Jean-Luc Godard MUBI
60 La réligieuse Jacques Rivette
Taste Of Cinema
61 Le bel âge (1960) IMDB
62 Le mépris Jean-Luc Godard
Taste Of Cinema
63 Le Mépris (1963) BFI
64 Le petit soldat Jean-Luc Godard MUBI
65 Le signe du lion (1962) IMDB
66 Leda (1959) IMDB
67 Les biches Claude Chabrol MUBI
68 Les demoiselles de Rochefort Jacques Demy
Taste Of Cinema
69 Les Enfants terribles Jean-Pierre Melville
France This Way
70 Lift to the Scaffold Louis Malle
Indie Film Hustle
71 Love in the Afternoon Éric Rohmer MUBI
72 My Night at Maud’s Éric Rohmer MUBI
73 Nadja in Paris Éric Rohmer MUBI
74 Night and Fog Alain Resnais MUBI
75 Playtime (1967)
The Cinemaholic
76 Statues Also Die Chris Marker MUBI
77 The Girl at the Monceau Bakery Eric Rohmer: Indie Wire
78 The Good Time Girls Claude Chabrol MUBI
79 The Jetty
The Script Lab
80 The Lovers Criterion 2
81 The Mother & The Whore (1973)
The Cinemaholic
82 Une Femme Mariée (1964) IMDB
83 Van Gogh Alain Resnais MUBI
84 Violette Nozière Claude Chabrol MUBI
85 Weekend Jean-Luc Godard Criterion 1
86 Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? William Klein Criterion 1
87 Wild Grass Alain Resnais MUBI


14 Best La Nouvelle Vague Film Sources/Lists



Source Article
BFI 10 great French new wave films
Criterion 1 French New Wave
Criterion 2 Top 10 Best of the French New Wave
Fashionista THE MOST INFLUENTIAL FRENCH NEW WAVE FILMS IN FASHION
France This Way Nouvelle vague – films of France and the New wave
IMDB The 20 best French new wave films
Indie Film Hustle What is the French New Wave?
Indie Wire Stream Them Now: Get Your French New Wave Education with 9 Films Available to Stream on Hulu Plus
MUBI 30 HAND PICKED FILMS. A NEW ONE EVERY DAY
New Wave Film FRENCH NEW WAVE: WHERE TO START
Taste Of Cinema 20 Essential French New Wave And Left Bank Films
The Cinemaholic 15 Best French New Wave Films That You Must See
The Culture Trip 10 French New Wave Films to Make You Fall in Love With Paris
The Script Lab The Top 10 French New Wave Films

 

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