David Rooney

Critic, Hollywood Reporter


Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

400 Blows, The


François Truffaut

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore


Martin Scorsese

Bride of Frankenstein


James Whale

Godfather: Part II, The


Francis Ford Coppola

Last Picture Show, The


Peter Bogdanovich



Robert Altman

Nights of Cabiria


Federico Fellini

Pan's Labyrinth


Guillermo del Toro

Tokyo Story


Ozu Yasujirô

Wizard of Oz, The


Victor Fleming


I interpreted ‘greatest’ strictly as films that meant the most to me. I kept half of the entries from my 2002 list that I couldn’t bear to part with, but, much as it pains me, had to bump a few to make way for changes. That meant losing The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Out of the Past, Rear Window, Sans Soleil and Written on the Wind, all of which are still way up there for me in a list that I find impossible to break down into order of preference. My appreciation of American movies of the 1970s has only intensified since moving to New York ten years ago, hence the inclusion of three more titles from that decade. And while I struggled to pin down a Scorsese choice, I’ve always been especially partial to Alice – probably his least typical film after Hugo (which left me cold). I also went with an atypical Fellini because I prefer his work when it still carries a whiff of neorealism (I Vitelloni, Cabiria, La Strada, etc) to the later signature-Fellini preiod. Finally, in a spirit of optimism about the state of movies today that’s probably a little dishonest, I wanted to include one exceptional film from the last decade or so. I narrowed it down to Pan’s Labyrinth, Almodóvar’s All About My Mother (which would have fitted snugly in the spot vacated by Sirk), or Kaurismaki’s Drifting Clouds (has there been a better movie about economic recession since? I doubt it). But I went with del Toro because that movie’s commanding grasp of fantasy, horror and history makes it for me the most masterful piece of screen storytelling of the past ten years. Every frame has both beauty and purpose.

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