Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Film critic

Voted for

KURUTTA IPPEIJI1926Teinosuke Kinugasa
Meshes of the Afternoon1943Maya Deren, Alexander Hackenschmied
The Exterminating Angel1962Luis Buñuel
Le BOUCHER1970Claude Chabrol
Suspiria1977Dario Argento
Possession1981Andrzej Zulawski
I Was a Teenage Serial Killer1993Sarah Jacobson
Morvern Callar2001Lynne Ramsay


The definition of 'greatness' necessarily shifts from person to person, its historical and cultural understanding long-governed by the privileging of certain filmmakers achieved through the active exclusion of others. Thus, in terms of my own criteria, I indulged and focused solely on movies that have left me in a near-divine state of feeling completely untethered in a way that remains, even after so many subsequent viewings, something verging on spiritual. A great film, to me, should leave one feeling simultaneously drunk and sober at the same time. These films, then, remain unwaveringly, unrelentingly, seductively and often infuriatingly difficult to describe in relation to my own experience of watching them. In this spirit, there are no 'comfort movies' here, nor films I consider 'great' in a purely critical sense - rather, I have let my emotions and that precious sense of awe be the central factor that has guided my decisions.

So what else would I have added? Well, a lot – even just scratching the surface I find myself saddened I haven't included films including but not limited to John Parker's Dementia (1955), Ingmar Bergman's The Magician (1958), George Franju's Eyes Without a Face (1960), Samuel Fuller's Shock Corridor (1963), Věra Chytilová's Daisies (1966), Juraj Herz's The Cremator (1969), Alan Arkin's Little Murders (1971), Jess Franco's A Virgin Among the Living Dead (1973), Francesco Barilli's The Perfume of the Lady in Black (1974), Pupi Avati's The House with Laughing Windows (1976), R.W. Fassbinder's The Third Generation (1979), Lucio Fulci's The Beyond (1981), Robert Harmon's The Hitcher (1986), Shinya Tsukamoto's Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989), Jörg Buttgereig's Der Todesking (1990), Tracey Moffatt's Night Cries – A Rural Tragedy (1990), Laurie McInnes's Broken Highway (1993), Michele Soavi's Cemetery Man (1994), Claire Denis's Trouble Every Day (2001), Nacho Vigalondo's 7:35 in the Morning (2003), Jessica Hausner's Hotel (2004), Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani's The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears (2013), Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi's The Tribe (2014), Peter Strickland's The Duke of Burgundy (2014), Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead's Spring (2014), George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), László Nemes's Son of Saul (2015), Alice Waddington's Disco Inferno (2015), Amanda Kramer's Ladyworld (2018), Mati Diop's Atlantics (2019), Sandra Wollner's The Trouble with Being Born (2021), pretty much everything by Abel Ferrara, Lynne Ramsay and Elaine May… the list goes on…