Edgar Wright

Shaun of the Dead; Hot Fuzz

UK

Voted in the directors’ poll

Voted for

2001: A Space Odyssey

1968

Stanley Kubrick

American Werewolf in London, An

1981

John Landis

Carrie

1976

Brian de Palma

Dames

1934

Busby Berkeley

Don't Look Now

1973

Nicolas Roeg

Duck Soup

1933

Leo McCarey

Psycho

1960

Alfred Hitchcock

Raising Arizona

1987

Joel & Ethan Coen

Taxi Driver

1976

Martin Scorsese

Wild Bunch, The

1969

Sam Peckinpah

Comments

2001 is the closest I come to a religious experience with cinema. I don’t necessarily believe in God or intelligent design, but I, like Kubrick, want to believe in symmetry. The image of all the planets in our solar system aligning with a black rectangle asks as many questions as it answers – and is all the more glorious for it.

Many films have married two genres, but none get the recipe as right as John Landis’s 1981 passion project An American Werewolf in London. That it not only straddles so many tones, but also nails them all, is sheer alchemy. A postmodern classic that continues to roar.

In Carrie, Brian De Palma takes Stephen King’s horror of adolescence and turns it into a full-blown and full-blooded teenage pop opera. They didn’t need to turn it into a musical. It already was one.

Busby Berkeley lifted the musical into the stratosphere with his oft imitated but never equalled set pieces. By taking dance out of the confines of the proscenium arch, he created sequences that are beyond dazzling in their construction. He’s only responsible for about 30 minutes of Dames, but what a half-hour of geometric heaven it is.

Don’t Look Now is the most affecting and shattering horror film ever made. The brutal beauty of its self-fulfilling prophecy is brilliantly constructed by Nicholas Roeg. Its montage has never been bettered.

Duck Soup is a movie that isn’t just irreverent about politics, war and economic crisis, but seems infectiously flippant about the filmmaking process itself. The Marx Brothers create the anarchic feeling of tearing down the conventions of film as they were still being built.

Whether it’s playing at 109 minutes or 24 hours, Psycho is a work of art. That this gleeful subversion of conventions was both a creative triumph and an enormous box-office hit is quite extraordinary. He may not have won an Oscar, but this film canonised Hitchcock as one of the greatest filmmakers and most evil of puppetmasters.

Raising Arizona is not just structurally perfect, not just brilliantly written, but enormously funny. The Coens took verbose screwball and thick-ear slapstick and married them in high style. Comedy perfection.

A film so vivid, hypnotic and corrosive that it feels forever seared onto your eyeballs, Taxi Driver turns a city, a time and a state of mind into a waking nightmare that’s somehow both horribly real and utterly dreamlike.

The shock of the new erupts in a film about the death of the Old West. The Wild Bunch blurs the traditional black and white hats into an avant-garde explosion of red, with a startling, head-on collision between old values and new cynicism, classic traditions and utter rebellion.

Latest from the BFI

  • Latest from the BFI

    Latest news, features and opinion.

More information

Films, TV and people

  • Films, TV and people

    Film lists and highlights from BFI Player.

More information

Sight & Sound magazine

  • Sight & Sound magazine

    Reviews, interviews and features from the international film magazine.

More information

Back to the top