As for everybody, my personal Best/Favourite/Top list changes from year to year, depending on whim, circumstance, and expanded experience; I have no absolutely fixed, definitive aggregation. Presented below are two different attempts, from two different moments of my cinephile life, at provisionally defining such a list. A more general reflection from a 2001 panel on the making of canons and lists can be found here.


The first began as a magazine article in 1991, and was lightly revised in 1996. The second was prompted by another magazine’s poll in 2012. I leave these lists just as they are, as documents: I have not noted, or in any way amended, the overlaps between the lists; nor have I reasoned any logic as to what appears and disappears between them.


But I will occasionally add to this second list now that it sits on this website, as I remember or encounter extra titles.


Specific entries to films discussed elsewhere on this website are linked.



1. Diary For My Loves (1996)


I tend to agree with the French critic Gérard Legrand, who suggested in 1963 that there’s something rather delicate and difficult about revealing one’s list of favourites – as if one were a sexual fetishist suddenly caught in a spotlight, hopelessly having to rationalise to a vast, uncomprehending and merciless audience the inscrutable logic of one’s private, surreal obsessions.


Who can say, really, why they love a particular something or somebody? Such object choices (as Freud called them) formulate themselves in the course of a long and twisted personal history – a history of passions, accidents, polemics, allegiances, revelations, surrenders. In short, I believe that films are never ‘great’ in themselves – they are only made great by virtue of what people personally invest in them.


I feel more and more that critics who try to establish objective standards of evaluation – the kind who endlessly, ferociously debate which movies are the classics and the ‘masterpieces’, the overrated and the underrated – are simply elaborating an extraordinary cover for their own naked desire for particular films, film-experiences and filmmakers. So, my selection has almost everything to do with subjective love, desire and madness, and almost nothing to do with so-called critical objectivity.


There are a number of considerations that went into the devising of this list:


(1) Sacred Principle. I have a low tolerance for those cinephiles or critics who claim to “love the cinema” but spend their time only with commercially released, feature length, narrative films. To love the cinema is to love all cinema: short, long, fictional, avant-garde, ‘art film’ (whatever that is) and exploitation. Naturally, I have my own biases and blind spots, derived from a particular brand of cinephilia; many of the films on this list are American or French, with many national cinemas and genres receiving no representation whatsoever. But I have tried to remain true to the sacred principle of valuing cinema – at base, the fusion of image with sound – wherever it can be found.


(2) Public Service. In the November-December 1976 issue of Film Comment, Jonathan Rosenbaum introduced his wonderful assemblage “My Favourite Films/Texts/Things” (a poll of 29 “British filmpersons”) by recalling the important role that an earlier ‘best films’ poll (Sight and Sound, Winter 1961-2) had in his own formation as a critic and cinephile. I was 17 when I bought this issue of Film Comment, and it had a powerful formative effect on me – at least a dozen of the titles I greedily sought out are on the list you are about to read. I can only hope that, in turn, some budding cinephile is able to use my list as a map for discovering at least one future favourite. Thus, the incurable pedagogue in me could not stop at a mere Ten Best list (can any true film lover?) – there has to be a hundred, at least.



(3) Fetishistic Ritual. My sense of a previous generation of cinephiles (those who were formed in the 1950s and ‘60s) is that their appreciation of cinema – especially mise en scène cinema – was somewhat abstract and holistic, based on the aura of films when viewed in their entirety in theatres or film society grottos. My ‘70s generation, equipped with video machines first in media courses and then at home, partook of a different form of religious worship: textual analysis. Raymond Bellour was correct in seeing frame-by-frame, forwards-backwards analysis as not the basis of a science (a foolish thought) but an “apprenticeship in magic”. Almost no matter the film, if you study it minutely enough, freeze it often enough, stare at its very dissolving grain hard enough … eventually you will discover the trace of all cinema (and perhaps the entire cosmos as well) in there.


There are several such films on my list – films I know so well that the slightest contact with the tiniest cut or movement in them can send me into unutterable raptures of jouissance (as we liked to call it in the ‘70s). This is one of the properly fetishistic rituals lived regularly by text-head cinephiles like myself. My list reflects another taste, equally fetishistic in character: a taste not for whole films (a strange, idealist fallacy, leading to the vain search for impossible masterpieces), but for sublime bits or passages of films. Some titles on this list are there for five, ten, twenty minutes in them – which is, for me at least, quite enough jouissance already.


(4) Autobiography/Archaeology. In formulating this list, I have tried especially hard to be true to all my previous cinema-selves – all those different cinephiles in me who liked different films at different times. These are not necessarily always the films I love or value now – but I’m not convinced that the critic I am now is any wiser, deeper, more passionate or better formed than the rookie I was at 15. So, I have included on the list some films I can hardly remember (beyond the fact that they were once crucially important to me), and some others that, presently, I cannot even bring myself to watch. But I won’t be telling you which is which.


As well as a personal autobiography, there is a cultural archaeology to be read between the lines of my list – a necessarily corrupted document of some of the sea changes that my generation of cinephiles went through. It is worth, I think, laying out schematically the four main phases of this development.


Like many film lovers, I started out on a consciously cinephiliac life by embracing art movies (or ‘foreign films’ as they were usually called then) and disowning whatever Hollywood muck I had happened to hitherto randomly encounter. Art, at that time, equalled Bergman, Fellini, Buñuel, Truffaut. One must recall the possibilities open to a young cinephile in the early-to-mid-‘70s in Melbourne, Australia: there was a Bergman festival running at a city cinema, a season of La Maman et la putain at the Playbox, a Godard retro at Melbourne University’s Union Cinema … all of which would be unthinkable today. As well, there was – and what a strange sensation it is to remember this now – an extraordinary number of dubbed ‘foreign films’ on late-night commercial TV: my ‘Diary of the Cinema’ from 1974-6 records precocious first impressions of Ugetsu Monogatari, Boccaccio 70, Rocco and His Brothers, Alphaville, The Bride Wore Black, The Soft Skin, The Gospel According To Matthew, The Cousins, A Man Escaped, The Witches (including Pasolini’s sublime “The Earth Seen From the Moon”), Ten Days Wonder, Juliet of the Spirits, Visions of Eight, The Sleeping Car Murders, The Virgin Spring, The Magician,Tristana 


Unsurprisingly, I quickly learnt, like most people, that there was more to cinema than its sanctioned, highbrow pleasures. Yet I wonder whether a saturation in high art cinema is not such a bad place for a cinephile to start. When I survey the far less rigorous servings of middle-of-the-road quality fare and cult material served up by the art-houses and repertory theatres today, I fear for the young … And I believe that many cinephiles phobically overreact to the memory of their first loves: there’s probably scarcely a media course in this country that uses a Bergman film, and that’s plain crazy.


Then I went into a deep Hollywood phase. With SarrisThe American Cinema virtually memorised, I tracked the great auteurs of this cinema (Hitchcock, Hawks, Sirk, Preminger, Ray…) and derided (in my diary, at least) the hacks, the mere metteurs en scène (Wilder, Wyler, Frankenheimer). And I discovered other, even more passionate paths that were not exactly pointed out in my auteurist guidebooks: the wild, gag comedy of Tashlin and Lewis; the surreal vision of Peter Ibbetson; the buried, fugitive epiphanies in the comedies of Leo McCarey, Ernst Lubitsch and Preston Sturges. Almost of legal age, I joined the National Film Theatre or NFT (another Shangri-La from long ago and far away) and watched – twice – the unforgettable season of ‘Paramount in the 30s’ with rare, shimmering films by Arzner and Lubitsch.



So far, I had been flying solo – a lone (and lonely) cinephile. Then I went to film class, and a new wave hit me: the radical theory historically associated with Screen magazine (but in fact circulating via a very complex and diverse cultural network), embodied in this country by a number of exceptionally charismatic writer/teacher/speakers. I fell into a very deep, very real crisis: all of a sudden, Hawks’ Rio Bravo, hitherto my favourite film, made me want to puke, for it epitomised in my mind all the illusionist-spectacular-sexist-racist-capitalist-imperialist-repressive sins of horrible, mainstream cinema.


I needed a purifying tonic. I found it in the experimental narratives of Jon Jost, Jacques Rivette, Margeurite Duras, Chantal Akerman, Yvonne Rainer, Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, Babette Mangolte and Mark Rappaport (formative NFT experiences: the Akerman retro and the ‘No Wave New York’ season) and in the local super-8 scene. Even more zealously, I embraced the hardcore avant-garde cinema of Hollis Frampton, Werner Nekes, Stan Brakhage, Robert Beavers, Michael Snow and Michael Lee. Much of this material doesn’t have the same value for me today as it did then; I’m more inclined, at this moment, to experience the anti-spectacle of India Song as surreal gagology than as the ultimate deathblow to narrative-representational-industrial cinema. But, in keeping with the spirit of this list and my sacred cinema principle, I disown none of it. The films and filmmakers I discovered in this phase instilled in me an everlasting sense of the gravity and severe majesty of cinema form – and that’s a gift you certainly can’t get anywhere in the mainstream.


At a point approaching the mid ‘80s, my different cinema phases and successive empires of taste started to merge, leaving me more or less where I am today, mapping the connections, echoes and resonances between different kinds of film. Like the critics of Cahiers, I returned home to cinephilia, but in a new and expanded way. Some of my most beloved areas of cinema were expanding at the same moment, exploring new directions and revitalising previous forms. Experimental narrative and essay films were suddenly less purist, more lyrical and subjective (a move marked by Wim WendersThe State of Things, Chris Marker’s Sunless, Corinne Cantrill’s In This Life’s Body and Agnès Varda’s Vagabond); while exploitation and genre cinema, in the hands of Brian De Palma, David Cronenberg, Bigas Luna, Sam Raimi and the Coen brothers became more intensely, fantastically formal.


My relation to Godard is the best indication of this archaeology. I swooned over Anna Karina and the sweet sadness of life in Bande à part when I was a foreign film freak at 15. As a participant in the radical film culture of the late ‘70s, I embraced the funky Brechtianism of his collaboration with Gorin, Tout va bien. In 1980, I was all shook up by the nihilism and avant-garde severity of Numéro deux. In 1983, Passion seemed (as it still does) the most extraordinarily free and lyrical of films. And finally, in 1986, after various cycles in experimental super-8 and video art had altered my cultural landscape a little further, the tape Soft and Hard (made with Anne-Marie Miéville) struck me as the most impossibly intimate of audiovisual gestures.


By the late ‘80s, the great formative, polemical upheavals to my system had ceased. But not the major artistic revelations – for me, over the last few years, these have been John Cassavetes, Sergei Parajanov, Raúl Ruiz, Philippe Garrel, Abel Ferrrara and popular Hong Kong cinema.  I have not entirely come to terms with – and my list does not accurately reflect – areas of cinema that have more recently consumed me in a pervasive, daily fashion: genres like teen and horror movies (arriving en masse via VCR culture), and all the tiny but crucial shifts and swirls in contemporary, mainstream filmmaking.


These newer areas have little to do with any auteur policy, but the following list is predominantly the phantasm of a deep-dish, unrepentant auteurist: a cinephile who projects into certain divinely charged names the almost entire responsibility for that illusion we call cinema.


stills above are from Les Sièges de l’Alcazar (Sieges of Alcazar, 1989, Luc Moullet)




Love Streams

1  John Cassavetes

I discovered Cassavetes late – in my mid-20s – and no experience of cinema before or since has even approached the profondity and force of this revelation. For me, there are almost no words that can be spoken, even in the most deferential and intimate homage, about this angel: quite simply, I believe (with Thierry Jousse) that “it is through him that life entered the cinema”.


Love Streams (1984)

Gloria (1980)

Opening Night (1978)

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976/1978)


2  Robert Bresson

It is through Bresson that many cinephiles discover – in a totally felt, physical way – the purity of cinematic form. Virtually all his films have that unique, chiselled, Bressonian perfection, but these two are special to me – for the shattering truthfulness of their themes, and the deep emotional effects they engender.


Au hasard Balthazar  (1966)

L’Argent  (1983)


3  Philippe Garrel

Delicate, hushed, austere, painfully truthful – Phillipe Garrel’s autobiographical films are like some magical cross between the severe minimalism of Straub & Huillet and the emotional intensity and authenticity of Cassavetes. Raul Ruiz called his friend Garrel “the professional of sadness – sad and proud of it”.


Les Baisers de secours (Emergency Kisses, 1989)

La Naissance de l’amour (The Birth of Love, 1993)


The Awful Truth

4  Comedy (Profound)

The mise en scène passions of the Cahiers cinephiles of the ‘50s (plus all those later influenced by them) left little possibility for the proper appreciation of another kind of filmmaker: the kind whose art was concentrated in the script, the performances and theatrical staging rather than camera pyrotechnics or kinetic montage. Leo McCarey and Preston Sturges are, however, far more than just fine filmmakers to me; their stories of love, community, society, and the painful getting of wisdom about oneself and others, are as profound as they are vital.


The Awful Truth (Leo McCarey, 1937)

Hail the Conquering Hero (Preston Sturges, 1944)

The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (Sturges, 1944)

The Lady Eve (Sturges, 1941)


5 Male Melancholia

Films of male melancholia, based around the subjectivities of men variously repressed, paralysed, impotent, distant, contemptuous, mournful or tragically, ineffectually violent, have a special importance and poetry for me. It as if the cinema, so often pegged as a patriarchal apparatus designed to flatter, glorify and arouse the male viewer, found one of its rendezvous with destiny by in fact describing (with indelible, heartrending accuracy) the breakdown of that very apparatus.


Once Upon a Time in America (Sergio Leone, 1984)

Two-Lane Blacktop (Monte Hellman, 1971)

La Maman et la putain [The Mother and the Whore] (Jean Eustache, 1973)

Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)

Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992)

Fingers (James Toback, 1978)


6  Love and Death

This is a broad category, but necessarily so. In fact, just about my entire list could go under this heading. I’m a sucker for films that embody missed encounters, mad dreams, tragic misunderstandings, oceanic desires, fleeting epiphanies, secret sorrows, quaking personal revelations and massive personal repressions. In short, I’m a romantic. This grouping contains monuments of cinema, a few personal fetishes, and even an especially sad Shirley Temple movie.


La Rayon vert

L’Atalante (Jean Vigo,1934; restored version 1990)

Letter From an Unknown Woman (Max Ophuls, 1948)

La Rayon vert [The Green Ray, aka Summer] (Éric Rohmer, 1986)

Peter Ibbetson (Henry Hathaway, 1935)

Angel Face (Otto Preminger, 1953)

Partie de campagne (Jean Renoir, 1936)

Himmel über Berlin [Wings of Desire] (Wim Wenders, 1987)

A Walk with Love and Death (John Huston, 1969)

A Passion (Ingmar Bergman, 1969)

Stromboli (Roberto Rossellini, 1950)

Now and Forever (Henry Hathaway, 1934)

La Vérité (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1960)

Nuit et jour (Chantal Akerman, 1991)

New York, New York (Martin Scorsese, 1978)


7  Ernst Lubitsch

To discover Lubitsch is to discover the power and poignancy of what has been called the indirect aim of much popular, mainstream cinema. For underneath all the formulae, the clichés, the stereotypes, the obligatory happy endings and condoned conservative values in Lubitsch, there stir other feelings and ideas: not only withering irony, but extraordinary longing.


Trouble in Paradise (1932)

Design for Living (1933)

Heaven Can Wait (1943)


8  Gagology

Gagology is the reverse side of the Profound Comedy coin; where the latter is deep and fragile, the former is shamelessly, liberatingly superficial, knockabout, cardboard. The gag is one cinema’s truest art forms, extending from classic silent comedians (Keaton, Chaplin, Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy) through to Tashlin and Lewis, cartoons, Blake Edwards and Philippe de Broca, and the most excessive practitioners of exploitation filmmaking like Russ Meyer and Sam Raimi.


Seven Chances (Buster Keaton, 1925)

Artists and Models (Frank Tashlin, 1955)

The Ladies’ Man (Jerry Lewis, 1961)

Rock-a-Bye Baby (Tashlin, 1958)

Red Hot Riding Hood (Tex Avery, 1948)

Chow Hound (Chuck Jones, 1955)

Supervixens (Russ Meyer, 1975)

L’Homme de Rio [That Man From Rio] (Philippe de Broca, 1964)

Hexed (Alan Spencer, 1993)


Touch of Evil

9  Orson Welles

Welles is the supreme and eternal embodiment of cinematic modernism. Everything about both his films and his legend – the unfinished works, the restless, relentless formal experimentation, the increasing professional marginalisation – attests to his troubling, agitational greatness. There can be no ‘one’ Welles masterpiece; I have simply picked my favourites from four successive decades.


F For Fake (1975)

The Trial (1963)

Touch of Evil (1958)

The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)


10  Experimental Narrative

A mere selection of the supposedly ‘difficult’ films which have moved, provoked and excited me more than operationally strait-laced ‘classical’ movies ever can.


The Tom Blair Trilogy (Jon Jost): Last Chants for a Slow Dance (1977), Sure Fire (1991) &The Bed You Sleep In (1993)

Je Tu Il Elle (Chantal Akerman, 1974)

Céline et Julie vont en bateau (Jacques Rivette, 1974)

In This Life’s Body (Corinne Cantrill, 1984)

The Scenic Route (Mark Rappaport, 1978)

Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967)

Sirokko [Winter Wind] (Miklós Jancsó, 1970)

Muriel (Alain Resnais, 1963)

India Song (Marguerite Duras, 1975)

Les Enfants du placard [The Children in the Cupboard] (Benoît Jacquot, 1977)


11  Jean-Luc Godard

Godard is the most ephemeral (and the most hyped) of all filmmakers; a film of his that one loves in the white heat of a cultural moment can evaporate into nothingness almost immediately. But his practice – as “the director who re-invents cinema for us every four years”, as Serge Daney once put it – is still one of the most invigorating games in town.


Soft and Hard (co-director Anne-Marie Miéville, 1986)

Passion (1982)

Numéro deux (1975)

Tout va bien (co-director Jean-Pierre Gorin, 1972)

Bande à part (1964)



12  Around Fifteen Minutes

Possibly the ugliest word in the entire lexicon of the cinema business is shorts. It is so deeply ingrained into so many people that the very definition of film is ‘feature length’ that some of the medium’s greatest achievements almost always go unhonoured. The following are, to me, perfectly formed, cystalline, astonishing films – maybe even masterpieces. Most are between ten and twenty minutes long.


Amor (Robert Beavers, 197?)

La Terra vista dalla Luna [The Earth Seen From the Moon] (episode of Le Streghe [The Witches], Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1967)

Moment (Stephen Dwoskin, 1968)

Wild Night In El Reno (George Kuchar, 1977)

Murder Psalm (Stan Brakhage, 1980)

Gare du Nord (episode of Paris vu par…, Jean Rouch, 1965)

Critical Mass (Hollis Frampton, 1971)

Passage à l’acte (Martin Arnold, 1992)


13 Action

Action cinema – like, for me, the honoured gag comedies and musicals and horror films – exists in some deliriously impure space between ‘formalism’ and convention, experimentation and the mainstream. The greatest action clinch by Woo makes me weep with joy; and the apocalyptic jamming of the ‘action apparatus’ by Ferrara makes me tremble.


King of New York (Abel Ferrara, 1990)

Hard Boiled (John Woo, 1992)


14  Magic

Even when they are not especially religious people, most cinephiles hold one of the highest places in their pantheon for their preferred visionary, choosing from an elect company of austere, spiritually transcendental directors: Bresson, Ozu, Dreyer, Tarkovsky, Rossellini. Although for the most part I have no idea what his films are referring to, my visionary is Sergei Parajanov. The other magic films here are, in various voluntary and involuntary ways, under the sign of surrealism and a marvellous imaginary which lifts the film off the ground in the first frame and never sets it back down.


Nran Gouyne [The Colour of Pomegranates] (Sergei Parajanov, 1969)

Belle de jour (Luis Buñuel, 1967)

Kaos (Paolo & Vittorio Taviani, 1986)

Excalibur (John Boorman, 1981)

The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)


La Ville des pirates

15  Raúl Ruiz

Ruiz is heir to Welles: excess, speed, incompletion, improvisation are his trademarks. Plus the legacies of surrealism, magic realism, hyperreal documentary and French ‘poetic realism’ of the 30s and 40s all mangled, mixed and put into loony overdrive …  a gagological Welles?


La Ville des pirates [City of Pirates] (1983)

Les Trois couronnes du matelot [The Three Crowns of the Sailor] (1982)

Manoel et l’île des merveilles [Manuel on the Island of Marvels] (3 part TV series, 1985)


16  1915-1936

Teaching cinema was, once upon a time, an adventure for me: I made it a personal rule for many years to book only films I had never seen. Once, wandering fairly blind into running a course on cinema history either side of the coming of sound, I discovered what I still regard as the unsurpassably richest, most fertile aesthetic period of the medium, roughly between the mid-tens and the mid ‘30s.


The Cheat (Cecil B. De Mille, 1915)

Foolish Wives (Erich Von Stroheim, 1922)

Freaks (Tod Browning, 1932)

The Scarlet Empress (Josef Von Sternberg, 1934)

Umarete wa Mita Keredo [I Was Born, But …] (Yasujiro Ozu, 1932)

Tabu (F.W. Murnau and Robert Flaherty, 1931)

Seventh Heaven (Frank Borzage, 1927)


17  Classic Cinephilia

If there’s any truth in Paul Willemen’s assertion that the “object of cinephilia par excellence” is “the look of a particular kind of narrative cinema made in Hollywood in the ‘40s and ‘50s” or between “Pearl Harbor and the Bay of Pigs”, here’s the list to prove it. It’s pretty much (except for Michael Powell) the classic cinephiliac inventory of fetishised American cinema directors (minus John Ford). And there are plenty of other films by the same directors which shadow this selection: All That Heaven Allows, Shadow of A Doubt, Johnny Guitar, Only Angels Have Wings, The Fountainhead, Shock Corridor, I Walked With a Zombie, Ride Lonesome


Scarlet Street (Fritz Lang, 1945)

Black Narcissus (Michael Powell, 1946)

The Tarnished Angels (Douglas Sirk, 1958)

Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)

Gun Crazy (Joseph H. Lewis, 1949)

The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963)

Vera Cruz (Robert Aldrich, 1954)

The Seventh Victim (Mark Robson, producer Val Lewton, 1943)

The Tall T (Budd Boetticher, 1957)

In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)

Ruby Gentry (King Vidor, 1952)

Underworld, U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller, 1961)

Splendor In the Grass (Elia Kazan, 1961)


The Band Wagon

18  Show Biz

Watching them on TV in my early teens, Hollywood musicals (and Lewis’ The Ladies’ Man) introduced me to the absolute rapture of pure cinema-theatre spectacle. I’ve listed three ‘straight’ (and American) musicals and one florid (non-American) mutant.


The Pajama Game (Georg Abbott & Stanley Donen, 1957)

On the Town (Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen, 1949)

The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953)

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (Jacques Demy, 1967)


19  Blake Edwards

Cinephiles often have one special favourite who is, against all reason, argument and evidence of the eyes, loved unconditionally, like an incurably sick child. My feeling for Blake Edwards is perhaps unaccountable, but I do agree with Gérard Legrand: “The director seems to say: it is up to the spectator to be attentive if s/he wishes to be truly, profoundly touched”.


Victor/Victoria (1982)

That’s Life! (1986)


20  Nuts

I have a special fondness for films set inside the consciousness of quietly but grandly crazy protagonists – in part because of the immense problems this ends up posing for any clear reading of either the character or the film.  It is as if the filmmaker, in a salutary embrace of ‘otherness’, had strategically absorbed some of the madness of the hero. (The nut in River’s Edge, by the way, is Crispin Glover.)


Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973)

The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 1982)

River’s Edge (Tim Hunter, 1986)


21  The 1980s & ‘90s

As indicated in my preamble, I feel unable yet to place, in this grandiose list, the many and varied viewing highlights of the last fifteen or so years. But these titles indicate at least a few of the major shifts, mutations and breakthroughs in the mainstream and sub-mainstream filmmaking of the period.


The Fly (David Cronenberg, 1986)

Breathless (Jim McBride, 1983)

Mixed Blood (Paul Morrissey, 1985)

Evil Dead II (Sam Raimi, 1987)

La Belle noiseuse (Jacques Rivette, 1991)

Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (Leos Carax, 1991)

The Age of Innocence (Martin Scorsese, 1993)

Caro Diario (Nanni Moretti, 1994)

Ed Wood (Tim Burton, 1994)

Underground (Emir Kusturica, 1995)

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

22  Teen

Since around 1987, my central generic obsession has been the teen movie (internationally). It has proved to be an inexhaustible research topic, but here’s my off-the-cuff favourites.


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (John Hughes, 1986)

Light of Day (Paul Schrader, 1987)

The Legend of Billie Jean (Matthew Robbins, 1985)

The Typhoon Club (Shinji Somai, 1985)


© Adrian Martin, November 1991 (introduction), list revised 1996



2. Infinite Best Films List (2012, with continual additions)


À l’aventure! (Brisseau)

Adam’s Rib (Cukor)
Les amants du pont-neuf 

Angel (Lubitsch)

Angel Face

Anna (Grifi & Sarchielli)

Another Day in Paradise (Clark)

Artists and Models

Au hasard Balthazar 

The Awful Truth


Bande à part
The Band Wagon 
The Barefoot Contessa

Beau travail

Behindert (Dwoskin)
The Birth of Love

Black Narcissus

The Blackout

The Blind Owl

Blow Out

Body Snatchers (Ferrara)


By the Bluest of Seas (Barnet)

A Canterbury Tale (Powell/Pressburger)

Capitalism: Child Labor (Jacobs)
The Captive

Carlito’s Way

Casino (Scorsese)

Center Stage (Nicholas Hytner)

Certified Copy

Cinemascope Trilogy (Tscherkassky)

City of Pirates

The Clock (Minnelli)

The Cloud-Capped Star

Cluny Brown (Lubitsch)

Cold Water (Assayas)

College (Keaton)
The Comedy of Work

The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (Minnelli)

Crash (Cronenberg)


Days of Heaven
Le départ

Design for Living

Detention (Joseph Kahn)

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
The Disorderly Orderly
Le Divorce (Ivory)

Drifting Clouds (Kaurismaki)

Emergency Kisses
L’Enfant secret

Eyes Wide Shut

F for Fake

Femme Fatale

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


Floating Clouds (Naruse)
The Fly (Cronenberg)

Gare du Nord


Gloria (Cassavetes)

Go Go Tales (Ferrara)

Hail the Conquering Hero

Heaven Can Wait

Hiroshima, mon amour


Holy Motors

House by the River
The House on Trubnaya
Les Idoles

I Know Where I’m Going!

I Walked with a Zombie

I Was a Male War Bride

I Was Born, But

I’m Going Home

In This Life’s Body

India Song
The Insider

Irma Vep

Johnny Guitar (Ray)

Jon Jost’s Tom Blair Trilogy

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

King Kong (1933)
The King of Comedy

King of New York
The Lady Eve

Letter From an Unknown Woman

Lost Highway

 Love Streams
La Luna (Bertolucci)

Mad Max

Madame De …

The Man I Killed (Lubitsch)

The Man in the Moon

Marnie (Hitchcock)

Martha (Fassbinder)

The Member of the Wedding (Zinneman)

Mia madre (Moretti)
The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek


Mother (Bong)
The Mouth Agape

Mysteries of Lisbon (Ruiz)
The Mystical Rose

Naked Kiss

Night and Day
The Night of the Hunter


Notre musique

O sangue (Blood, Costa)


On a Clear Day You Can See Forever

On Dangerous Ground

Once Upon a Time in America

Other Men’s Women

Our Beloved Month of August

Our Lady of the Turks (Bene)

Out of the Past



The Patsy (Lewis)

The Patsy (Vidor)

Peter Ibbetson



Punch-Drunk Love

Regular Lovers

Remember the Night

Ride Lonesome

Rio Bravo
The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond
The River (Tsai)

Rock-a-Bye Baby


Ruby Gentry

Salomé (Bene)
Les savates de bon dieu

Scarface (De Palma)

Scarlet Street
The Searchers

Secret Beyond the Door

Shadow of a Doubt


Shock Corridor

Single White Female

Sixteen Candles (Hughes)

The Smell of Us (Larry Clark)
The Smiling Lieutenant


Splendor in the Grass

Stars in My Crown

Stealing Beauty (Bertolucci)
The Stendhal Syndrome
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Miss Osbourne  (Borowczyk)

Summer with Monika

Suspiria (Argento)

Sweet Dreams (Bellocchio)

Sylvia Scarlett (Cukor)

The Tarnished Angels

Taste of Cherry
That Day (Ruiz)

Theme (Panfilov)

There’s Always Tomorrow

They Live By Night

Three Lives and Only One Death

Three Times (Hou)

To Be or Not to Be

Too Late Blues
The Tree of Life


Trouble in Paradise

Two Lovers (Gray)

Two-Lane Blacktop
The Typhoon Club

Vivre sa vie

A Walk with Love and Death

The Wayward Cloud

What Time Is It There?


White Nights (Visconti)

Wild Grass

Winter Wind (Jancsó)
The Woman on the Beach

You Only Live Once (Lang)

Zero for Conduct


© Adrian Martin 2012-2017

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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