Peter Machen

Arts journalist and film writer; film critic, Sunday Tribune in Durban; programmer, Durban International Film Festival

South Africa

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

2001: A Space Odyssey


Stanley Kubrick

Brokeback Mountain


Ang Lee

Children of Heaven


Majid Majidi



Joel & Ethan Coen



Djibril Diop Mambéty



Lars von Trier



Ben Sharpsteen

Tree of Life, The


Terrence Malick

Wings of Desire


Wim Wenders

Wizard of Oz, The


Victor Fleming


These are my ten favourite films rather than my suggestions for the ten greatest films of all time (which I feel unqualified to pronounce on). If you asked me in a year’s time, I imagine that the list might be quite different. Although maybe not… Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey changed everything I thought I knew about cinema, while Terrence Malick’s transformation of pure human feeling into light and sound in Tree of Life did it again. These two films, together with Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, form an incredible triad of slow and painful epic beauty that, for me, function as a single transcendent work. Walt Disney’s Pinocchio was the last film to truly terrify me, while Brokeback Mountain provides one of the most honest accounts of human relationships in cinema, as well as having the best kiss. Children of Heaven is easy proof that you can tell a deeply sentimental story without resorting to sentimentality, and Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Hyenas made me reconsider the limits of film. I love Fargo for Frances McDormand and the woodchipper. As for Wings of Desire, if angels see in black and white and humans see in colour, Wim Wenders sees in another spectrum of light altogether. Finally, The Wizard of Oz was pure magic when I was a child and it remains astonishingly good as an adult viewer.

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