You talk about films being a product of a culture, but you also included some very old films on your list. Is 1930's America less foreign to someone today then a 1990's French film? Different cultures exist, and some are very radically different, but one of the great things about art is that it tells us the similarities between such seemingly difficult barriers. Take Tokyo Story from my list. 1950's Japan is a world away, but the story is something anyone can understand: the difficulty of aging parents in staying in their busy adult children's lives.
I still haven't seen any Ozu yet. So Tokyo Story
could end up there for me when I see it. I'm not saying some stories don't cross barriers. I made a list of stuff that would be in my top 30 or so. That's the top 2% of all the movies I've ever seen (I'm right around 2,000 right now). But even those movies I find most universal have a disconnect I will never entirely bridge unless I develop a better knowledge of the culture. If I understand most
of what a Japanese audience gets out of Ikiru
, it stills stands with the all-time great movies. But it doesn't change the fact that I'm only understanding most
But, yes, I would absolutely say I'm markedly more familiar with 20th century American culture than even more recent events in Poland or Italy.