Ben Nicholson

Freelance critic

Voted for

Bedevil Mr. Chuck Choo Choo Choo Choo Lovin' The Spin I'm In1993Tracey Moffatt
Certain Women2015Kelly Reichardt
The Girl Chewing Gum1976John Smith
Ears, Nose and Throat2016Kevin Jerome Everson
The House Is Black1962Forough Farokhzad
In the Mood for Love2000Wong Kar Wai
Nosferatu1922F.W. Murnau
Ran1985Akira Kurosawa
The Third Man1949Carol Reed
Touki Bouki1973Djibril Diop Mambéty


As someone with an inherent distrust of ranked lists - and my own ability to compare the merits of an avant-garde short film and a sweeping classic Hollywood epic - whittling this list down to ten ended up being a slightly more calculated affair. While I had three or four films I was convinced I had to include, beyond that, my "shortlist" ran to well over 50 films and there really was nothing to choose between them. I went back and forth on my criteria and, in the end, I decided to make up my ten from a range of places, genres and modes: films hail from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, and Europe; the selection includes films that run from 11 minutes to almost three hours; there are experimental films, horror films, documentaries, and styles ranging from spare understatement to overblown bombast. I'm hopeful that these selections, which incidentally span the period from 1922 to 2016, will stand the test of time when I look back in a decade or more; I can't imagine my picks would be the same in 2032 but feeling content with this selection over time is probably the most pertinent criteria for all our lists if we're being honest with ourselves. Including two films that have only come out in the last few years - Certain Women and Ears, Nose, and Throat - felt a little risky at first, but they are both films that I think about on an almost weekly basis and that seemed better reason for their inclusion than the arbitrary gravitas of age.

Of course, this methodology meant that I had to kill some darlings and leave out a few personal favourites. That I couldn't find room for an animated film was frustrating, and that I couldn't find room for Watership Down, in particular, was heartbreaking. I'm sad not to have been able to include Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Syndromes and a Century, Michelangelo Frammartino's Le quattro volte, and Bette Gordon's Variety, all of which have had a profound influence on my tastes and, as a result, my career. There are dozens of others, but I'm hopeful - and have consoled myself with the likelihood that - films such as The Red Shoes, Daisies, Wavelength and Singin' in the Rain (the perfect film?) will have numerous other admirers.