Charles Ramírez Berg

Professor of Film, The University of Texas at Austin

Voted for

Vertigo1958Alfred Hitchcock
Citizen Kane1941Orson Welles
Tokyo Story1953Yasujirō Ozu
La Règle du jeu1939Jean Renoir
1963Federico Fellini
Seven Samurai1954Akira Kurosawa
The Godfather1972Francis Ford Coppola
The Godfather Part II1974Francis Ford Coppola
The Leopard1963Luchino Visconti
Los olvidados1950Luis Buñuel



1958 USA

Hitchcock's dissection of a controlling man's abuse of a woman is powerful, horrific, and terrifying. Ironically – or maybe not – the film may be an illustration of the same pathology within the director himself.

Citizen Kane

1941 USA

The beginning of modern cinema.

Tokyo Story

1953 Japan

As you watch, it seems nothing is happening. When it's over you realise you've just seen an encyclopedia of the human condition.

La Règle du jeu

1939 France

Probably the best example of the Renoir style, combining graceful mise en scène, seamless plotting and peerless command of cinematic technique. It's a deceptive movie. It begins as a sex farce, seemingly adhering to the "grass is always greener" rules of the genre – lots of sexual hanky-panky apparently headed towards a safe and comforting ending in which everybody returns to their original partner. But midway through, during a justly famous hunting sequence, Renoir begins to abandon the comedic frivolity and converts the film into social critique. The stakes are raised to breaking point, in the hopes that his audience will realise that in the real game of life, lives are at stake.

1963 Italy, France

What do you do when you're about to make what could be your magnum opus, but haven't a clue about how to begin? In Fellini's case he created an autobiographical treatise on creativity and made a film about a director, Guido, caught in that very situation. Stumbling through a maze of memories, daydreams, nightmares, fantasies, and infidelities, Guido – and Fellini – ultimately arrive at the only viable response for creators: take a deep breath, cross your fingers, and throw yourself into your work.

Seven Samurai

1954 Japan

The best action movie ever made and a textbook on cinematic technique.

The Godfather

1972 USA

Perhaps the most influential film of the last third of the 20th century.

The Godfather Part II

1974 USA

Arguably better than the first instalment, and simultaneously the best sequel and the best prequel ever made.

The Leopard

1963 Italy, France

A portrait of power and a prince in Risorgimento-era Sicily who wields it. When the social and political realities around him begin to change, coupled with the emergence of a bright and beautiful younger generation, it becomes a moving examination of mortality. The subtle first signs of the prince's ageing and his loss of absolute control are poignantly captured in an extended and unforgettable concluding sequence at a fancy ball.

Los olvidados

1950 Mexico

This film established the mature 'Buñuel style' that characterised his later films. Its key elements were simple: a well-defined narrative repeatedly and unexpectedly sabotaged by surrealistic jolts he called 'irrational sparks'' In Los Olvidados they are few, brief, powerful, and unforgettable. That distinctive combination succeeded in making this neorealistic tale into a stinging critique of a society's neglect of its most important resource – children.

Further remarks

To All at Sight and Sound: This may sound corny, but I want to thank you for inviting me to participate in the poll. It's a lifelong dream come true and I am honoured to be part of it.