Demetrios Matheou

Film critic, the Sunday Herald, the Independent on Sunday

UK

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

2001: A Space Odyssey

1968

Stanley Kubrick

Bicycle Thieves, The

1948

Vittorio de Sica

Breathless

1960

Jean-Luc Godard

Citizen Kane

1941

Orson Welles

Days of Heaven

1978

Terrence Malick

Godfather: Part I, The

1972

Francis Ford Coppola

His Girl Friday

1939

Howard Hawks

Raging Bull

1980

Martin Scorsese

Tokyo Story

1953

Ozu Yasujirô

Vertigo

1958

Alfred Hitchcock

Comments

My principle criterion was that the films should not only be masterfully made (a given) but in some way remain as relevant and as exciting as when they were produced. Thus Citizen Kane (of course) and Breathless embody an attitude – a spirit of adventure and invention, a certain shameless ego – that is utterly of the here and now; YouTubers may not know these films, but they are in the filmmaking DNA. 2001: A Space Odyssey is cinema at its most visionary, Days of Heaven its most poetic, Bicycle Thieves its most enduringly moving. In hugely contrasting ways, The Godfather and Tokyo Story are without peer in the way that they speak of family and society; Vertigo and Raging Bull in their exposure of our darkest selves. I also wanted to acknowledge the contribution of actors, hence my choice of The Godfather over its sequel, and of His Girl Friday, because of the presence respectively of Brando and Grant, the two greatest performers in the medium. Hawks’ film also represents a joyous period in film history, when the sexes were most romantically and entertainingly well matched.

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