Anton Bitel

Freelance critic

UK

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Apocalypse Now

1979

Francis Ford Coppola

Assassination

1964

Shinoda Masahiro

dolce vita, La

1960

Federico Fellini

Eraserhead

1976

David Lynch

Falls, The

1980

Peter Greenaway

Holy Mountain, The

1973

Alejandro Jodorowsky

Koyaanisqatsi

1983

Godfrey Reggio

Last Year At Marienbad

1961

Alain Resnais

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring…

2003

Kim Ki-Duk

Synecdoche, New York

2008

Charlie Kaufman

Comments

Last Year in Marienbad, Spring Summer Autimn Winter... and Spring and Synecdoche, New York achieve their timelessness precisely by concerning themselves with time’s endless, echoing repetitions. The Holy Mountain, Eraserhead and The Falls push auteurism to ecstatically unhinged extremes, along the way defying all definition. Apocalypse Now and Koyaanisqatsi expand the possibilities of cinematic sound and spectacle to unfold grand narratives in innovative ways. La Dolce Vita captures (in tabloid snapshot) the ambivalence of the modern age by exulting in the very decadence and excess that it also decries, while the time-serving antihero of Assassination is a slippery avatar for any era of shifting allegiances and identities. All of these films are amenable to, and indeed benefit from repeated watchings, maturing along with the viewer, while several also offer a near-encyclopedic vision of life in cross-section. Of course many, many other titles would meet these criteria – but if these ten are not perhaps the greatest films (whatever that might mean), each at least offers a template of greatness.

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