Guy Lodge

Freelance critic; screenwriter, Variety

UK/South Africa

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

400 Blows, The

1959

François Truffaut

Bonnie and Clyde

1967

Arthur Penn

Gone with the Wind

1939

Victor Fleming

Hannah and Her Sisters

1986

Woody Allen

Persona

1966

Ingmar Bergman

Red Shoes, The

1948

Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger

Spirit of the Beehive, The

1973

Víctor Erice

Three Colours: Red

1994

Krzysztof Kieslowski

Vertigo

1958

Alfred Hitchcock

White Material

2009

Claire Denis

Comments

Just this morning I was amused by a reader’s punctuation-challenged comment after a film review: “If critics cant give objective reviews what is the point?” I imagine anyone who presumes subjectivity has no place in film criticism would feel more entitled to name The Ten Greatest Films Of All Time than I do. All I can offer is ten films that, on first acquaintance, showed me something in the medium I hadn’t seen before – and that continue to surprise and excite upon multiple revisits. Whittling the list down to its present form was troubling enough; ranking them any further proved impossible. I’ve long said that Gone With the Wind, an unmatched feat of sustained storytelling, is my favourite film, though it probably has the least claim to singularly astonishing filmmaking of any title on this list. How could one rank it above or below the immaculate likes of Persona and Vertigo, an oddly ideal double-bill I arrived at only after agonising consideration of both directors’ filmographies? How can one compare the jangly candour of Truffaut’s child’s-eye view with the hushed spirituality of Erice’s? And how can one pit either of these finely tuned, eternally expanding miniatures against the novelistic bustle of Allen’s finest hour, or the gasping sensual explosion of Powell and Pressburger at their most romantic? Is it too soon to include White Material, a film whose tingly, tactile construction stunned me as much as its politics reached unnervingly into my own African childhood? Possibly, but after a handful of canon titles reached stalemate for the final spot, I reached for Claire Denis’ film as an investment pick of sorts: if I had no belief in contemporary cinema’s ability to produce films to last, I’d find another line of work.

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