José Teodoro

Freelance critic

Canada

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Double Life of Veronique, The

1991

Krzysztof Kieslowski

In The Mood For Love

2000

Wong Kar Wai

Paris, Texas

1984

Wim Wenders

Persona

1966

Ingmar Bergman

Pickpocket

1959

Robert Bresson

Sans Soleil

1982

Chris Marker

Spirit of the Beehive, The

1973

Víctor Erice

Stalker

1979

Andrei Tarkovsky

Vertigo

1958

Alfred Hitchcock

Woman Under the Influence, A

1974

John Cassavetes

Comments

You don’t finish a list like this so much as abandon it. A friend, catching me in a moment of paralysis engendered by this task (which requires a mind-boggling combination of examined sentiment, ruthlessness and caprice), suggested that I narrow down my sprawling shortlist by selecting those films that might function as paragons of some genre, movement, national cinema or other larger body of work. But as I narrowed away I saw rather the opposite tendency emerge: I was compelled toward selecting those films that seemed above all singular, films that didn’t fit well in their ostensible niches, films that didn’t easily lend themselves to comparisons, that didn’t necessarily stand for anything greater — films that seemed to be the greatest at nothing so much as just being themselves. These are the films that stain the psyche, speak both to history and to their respective moment, that break something open that can’t be repaired. I like very much that so many of these films are, to an unusual extent, dependent on a central performance of some utterly peculiar, mutant kind of genius: Irène Jacob, Harry Dean Stanton, Gena Rowlands, little Ana Torrent (perhaps most of all). Perversely, because it stings me to think of it, I also like that these ten films do not represent the work of my most beloved directors, nor those directors whose names would appear on an analogous top ten of all time list. (Many such directors have a body of work that’s far more important and interesting than any single, ‘perfect’ film – the best example of this, and for me the most painful absence from my list, being Luis Buñuel. Likewise, no single film noir is as fascinating as the whole of film noir.) All of these films continue to give me pleasure and to offer discoveries. All are exceedingly personal. All remain deeply strange to me.

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