Business and Operations Manager, BFI Video Publishing
|Dawn of the Dead
|George A. Romero
|Don't Look Now
I wanted to pick it because it's quite simply my favourite film. The more I considered whether it deserved to make my Top 10, the more I realised how truly great it is. For me, it's just perfect.
There's little one can say about Psycho that hasn't already been said, so I won't try. It's the film that made so many others possible and everything about it just works. I remember seeing it on the big screen for its 50th anniversary and then like now, it still had the audience totally on edge.
Dawn of the Dead
It was a tough call between this and Night of the Living Dead, but Dawn edged it. Has any zombie film since even come close? A great story and script, a director with a clear vision and the skill to deliver it, and still some of the best make-up and practical effects you'll ever see. And Ken Foree, enough said.
Many great films about the Mafia preceded GoodFellas, but for me it was Scorsese's 1990 epic that really heralded a new era of filmmaking and filmmakers. Joe Pesci has never been better or scarier, the late great Ray Liotta is a genuine revelation and De Niro is (as he always seem to be at that time) superb. One could argue Scorsese's greatest film came before GoodFellas, but for me this film truly showcases his brilliance.
It took too long to make, it cost too much money, star Toshiro Mifune allegedly threatened his director with a gun… but my word, it all seems worth it when you watch Kurosawa's masterpiece. It never drags despite its epic runtime and the director's use of multiple cameras (for the first time in his career) allows the action to flow spectacularly. Every action director since Kurosawa owes him and this film a debt.
One of cinema's greatest characters deserved a spot in my Top 10, and of all his adventures Goldfinger is perhaps his greatest. It's got the iconic 'golden' death of Jill Masterson, the best named Bond girl in Pussy Galore, the slightly ludicrous villain in the titular Auric Goldfinger, the lethal henchman Oddjob and an Aston Martin DB5. James Bond truly burst on to the global stage and it's been front and centre ever since.
No Top 10 for me can be without some Billy Wilder in it. There are numerous contenders but having rewatched it recently, The Apartment got my vote. I.A.L Diamond's screenplay is top drawer, bringing a smile to your face despite the undercurrent of darkness. Jack Lemmon has rarely, if ever, been better than he is here and Shirley MacLaine is equally superb.
Whichever cut you prefer, sci-fi doesn't get much better than Blade Runner. I just love everything about it, the look, the sound, the actors (many of whom have never been better than they are here) and Ridley Scott cemented his reputation as one of the UK's and the world's greatest directors.
It's hard to remember a time when there weren't at least three comic book films released in cinemas each year, every year, but incredibly… there was. I've never been convinced by any actor's Clark Kent as much as I am by Christopher Reeves' portrayal here and no one gets close to Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor either. It's top quality escapism and sometimes that's the greatest thing cinema can offer.
Don't Look Now
Nic Roeg is one of the true greats whose films seem to get more acclaim with each year that passes. Don't Look Now is arguably his masterpiece. There's no film quite like it, and it's one of those where you notice different things each and every time you watch it. Pino Donaggio's haunting score and Anthony Richmond's Bafta-winning cinematography are just two of many things that elevated Don't Look Now into my 10 greatest.
This is the first time I've ever been asked to nominate my Top 10 for the Sight and Sound poll and I have honestly never procrastinated over anything more in my life! Do I have to give a place to Citizen Kane and/or Vertigo? Are my choices all too similar? Is it wrong to only include one film in a foreign language? Have I included films that aren't serious enough to be considered great? I could have written so many different Top 10s but I settled on this list and I'm happy with it.
I don't honestly know what makes a film great but for me it has to do what it set out to do, it has to be influential, it has to deliver every time I watch it so that it makes me want to watch it again, and ultimately it has to entertain me, because that's why I fell in love with films, why I studied films and why I'm now lucky enough to release them for a living.