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100 Greatest Jewish Films

Tablet Magazine
December 05, 2011

From as early as 1918, when Lazar Meir moved to California and changed his name to Louis B. Mayer, the Jewish contribution to cinema has been broad and deep, with Jewish directors, writers, producers, and actors helping to invent the nascent art form and create some of its most memorable milestones. Our definitive if subjective list of the 100 Greatest Jewish Films of all time celebrates many of these titans, but it is also far from predictable.

So, what is a Jewish film?

There’s no scientific algorithm by which to arrive at this answer, and we did not pretend to invent one. Instead, we—the Tablet Magazine staff, along with our pal and contributing editor Jody Rosen—brought to the table our individual notions of Jewishness (and film-ishness). Some choices were based on the identity of their creators, others for their themes, quite a few for their sheer influence on pop culture, and others because of some elusive sensibility that is impossible to define and yet feels instantly familiar. Our answers cut across genre lines: Some stories of robots or ghosts or spies had as much of a Jewish heart as movies focused on more solemn, obvious subject matters. Also, while many of our selections come from Hollywood, others don’t. From neo-realist Italy to postmodern Israel, we did our best to look at filmmaking across nations and across time.

93. Top Hat

88. Cocoon

81. X-Men

61. Bananas

52. Rififi

51. Network

50. Exodus

46. Munich

23. Zelig

21. Yentl

17. Shoah

From the editors at Tablet Magazine