Jane Campion's The Piano has topped a BBC list naming the best films directed by women.

368 film critics from 84 different countries picked the list of 100 films.

The 1993 film starring Holly Hunter, Sam Neill, and Anna Paquin received the prestigious Palme d'Or award at Cannes Film Festival, sharing the honour with Chen Faige's Farewell My Concubine.

Campion's film is set in the 1850's and tells the story of Ada (Hunter), a selectively mute Scottish woman who is sent to New Zealand with her daughter Flora (Paquin) to marry a man named Alisdair Stewart (Sam Neill). Playing the piano and using sign language is how Ada communicates.

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Kimberely Jones, a critic for The Austin Chronicle, explained why The Piano was her top pick.

"The Piano's sexual politics and artless depiction of indigenous people have aged uncomfortably. And yet, the film has lost none of its potency - not in despite of, but because of it's unruliness."

Other top-ranked films in the list included Sofia Coppola's 2003 film Lost In Translation and Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker.

Jane Campion won the top prize at Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award for The Piano. Photo / File
Jane Campion won the top prize at Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award for The Piano. Photo / File

The Piano won three Academy Awards out of eight nominations: Holly Hunter won Best Actress, and Campion won Best original screenplay. Paquin was just 11 years old when she won for Best Supporting Actress.

Campion has gone on to direct several more critically acclaimed films, including the 2009 film Bright Star and the TV miniseries Top of the Lake starring Elisabeth Moss.

She was the second of five women to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director.

Her next film Power of The Dog starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst will commence filming in New Zealand next year, according to reports.

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