Amy Heller


Voted for

Killer of Sheep1977Charles Burnett
Madame de...1953Max Ophuls
The Connection1961Shirley Clarke
Portrait of Jason1967Shirley Clarke
I Am Cuba1964Mikhail Kalatozov
Losing Ground1982Kathleen Collins
Sorry to Bother You2018Boots Riley
Cooley High1975Michael Schultz
Gas Food Lodging1992Allison Anders
A Day on the Grand Canal with the Emperor of China or Surface Is Illusion but So Is Depth1988Philip Haas


Killer of Sheep

1977 USA

Is there a kinder, funnier, sadder, more humane film? Charles Burnett's masterpiece is unforgettable.

The Connection

1961 USA

Shirley Clarke's film boldly lampoons cinéma vérité and reinvents it.

Portrait of Jason

1967 USA

Who but renegade filmmaker Shirley Clarke would devote an entire feature film to a black gay hustler who may be lying with every breath? And who else could pitch the film as a battle between subject and filmmaker… and be willing to lose that contest. This film is not just transgressive, it explodes the conventions of filmmaking.

I Am Cuba

1964 USSR, Cuba

Kalatozov and his DP Sergei Urusevsky exploded the limitations of cinematography, using mad, soaring, swirling camera movement, short lenses and infrared film.

Losing Ground

1982 USA

It has taken four decades for Losing Ground to begin to get the attention and respect this brainy and beautiful film deserves.

Sorry to Bother You

2018 USA

Boots Riley's brilliant and raucous film deftly skewers American racism and corporate greed with a great music soundtrack and amazing performances.

Cooley High

1975 USA

A really great film.

A Day on the Grand Canal with the Emperor of China or Surface Is Illusion but So Is Depth

1988 USA

Philip Haas's documentary with David Hockney is a perfect film — eloquent, thought-provoking, and unbelievably beautiful.

Further remarks

It is time for us to get past mere auteurism!

Films are NOT the creations of single artists but are the result of collaborations. Writers, cinematographers, editors, actors and others all contribute to the final film. A narrow auteurist view of cinema diminishes the work of all these other artists and in the process devalues the contributions of women, people of colour and members of other marginalised groups.

Auteurism (as exemplified by Sight and Sound's request that films nominated to this poll include only title, director and year) also devalues non-feature filmmaking — again diminishing the accomplishments of non-white, non-male filmmakers.

We need to actively work to challenge and expand our 'best-of' lists to include documentaries, short films, avant-garde cinema and other non-mainstream filmmaking and to create a cinematic canon that fully embraces the complicated histories and cultures of the last 120+ years.