4. Bande à Part (Band of Outsiders) (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964)
Jean-Luc Godard’s cinematic output in the 1960s is one of the best examples of a truly great artist first reflecting and ultimately shaping the period in which they worked, up there with Shakespeare’s plays in the early 1600s and Mozart’s operas and symphonies in the late 18th century. He made so many great films in the decade, including Le Mépris (Contempt), Pierrot le fou and Week-end that it would be perfectly possible to compile a “Top 10 Godard Movies in the 1960s.” Bande à Part makes this list just ahead of those other extraordinary movies because it is the ultimate example of Godard’s crazily deconstructive energy as a filmmaker. Ostensibly the story of a small-time heist, it is really a love-letter to cinema itself, featuring, as Quentin Tarantino (who named his own production company after the movie) put it, the first great amateur (as opposed to professional) dancing in a film, and even a slightly mocking, self-referential ending that promises a sequel to the original story.