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

1968

Stanley Kubrick

Brokeback Mountain

2005

Ang Lee

Children of Heaven

1997

Majid Majidi

Fargo

1995

Joel & Ethan Coen

Hyenas

1992

Djibril Diop Mambéty

Melancholia

2011

Lars von Trier

Pinocchio

1940

Ben Sharpsteen

Tree of Life, The

2010

Terrence Malick

Wings of Desire

1987

Wim Wenders

Wizard of Oz, The

1939

Victor Fleming

Comments

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.

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