Christopher Fowler

Author

UK

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

2001: A Space Odyssey

1968

Stanley Kubrick

Amarcord

1972

Federico Fellini

Apocalypse Now

1979

Francis Ford Coppola

Brief Encounter

1945

David Lean

demoiselles de Rochefort, Les

1967

Jacques Demy

Hugo

2011

Martin Scorsese

Innocents, The

1961

Jack Clayton

Producers, The

1968

Mel Brooks

Topsy-Turvy

1999

Mike Leigh

Y tu mamá también

2001

Alfonso Cuarón

Comments

Each choice is required to be the best example of its genre and afford the most pleasure, whether flawed or not. I’ve chosen 2001 for being the only sci-fi film to present space beyond all human scale – unknowable, inhospitable and finally incomprehensible. We require autobiographical film to open an idealised window of selective memories, and Amarcord does it better than any. Apocalypse Now is the ultimate study of war, its immeasurable depths and its most surreal horrors. It is Catch-22 for the screen. Hugo is pure cinema from start to finish – a summary of Scorsese’s obsessions and a love letter to film just as we say farewell to the process. Time will pronounce. Les Demoiselles De Rochefort is the only musical that might replace Singin’ in the Rain in the poll, featuring as it does emotional joy in real locations, without guile or irony. As much a coded warning of lost dreams, guilt and shame as a love story – Brief Encounter is gay history personified and mercifully closed. And Your Mother Too is the only film I’ve seen that really catches the wasted freedom of being young. Topsy-Turvy replaces 8½ as the best illustration of the creative process at work. Even low comedy can prove sublime if treated seriously. No finer ghost story has ever been filmed than The Innocents, or one more psychologically ambiguous. It repays further visits and has the most unnerving kiss in cinema history. With more quotable lines than any other comedy, it’s time The Producers is admitted to the pantheon. It’s worth recalling that it opened within living memory of the Holocaust.

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