Alastair Phillips

Professor of Film Studies (University of Warwick)

Voted for

Touki Bouki1973Djibril Diop Mambéty
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans1927F.W. Murnau
I Know Where I’m Going!1945Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Tokyo Story1953Yasujirō Ozu
Volver2005Pedro Almodóvar
All That Heaven Allows1955Douglas Sirk
Mahanagar1963Satyajit Ray
Cléo from 5 to 71962Agnès Varda
Yi Yi1999Edward Yang
Where Is the Friend's House?1987Abbas Kiarostami


I can't quite go for 'the greatest', but here are ten titles that definitely feel 'among' the greatest from ten very different directors and locations. All have opened important doors and windows for me. As a creative medium, cinema is inherently about space, time, movement and transition. Looking at my choices, I seem interested in films that represent these aspects figuratively in narratives involving intense moments of transformation or realisation, whether this be a glance in a mirror, an encounter in a street, or simply the decision to visit the other side of the hill. I'm struck by how many of these films also hold a relationship between two spaces or two identities and find new ways of making you feel about what this might mean to the people involved. Clearly, many of these filmmakers have themselves made important life journeys and this definitely accounts for the ways they therefore link place and emotion with growth, loss and memory. But, above all, these are simply 'great' films because of their unique aesthetic and affective impact. In this sense, not only do they move in every way possible, but the list could just go on and on.