Cristina Formenti

Assistant Professor

Voted for

Man with a Movie Camera1929Dziga Vertov
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs1937David Hand
It's a Wonderful Life1947Frank Capra
Playtime1967Jacques Tati
Pas De Deux1968Norman McLaren
BELLISSIMA1951Luchino Visconti
Forgotten Silver1996Peter Jackson, Costa Botes
Shrek2001Andrew Adamson, Victoria Jenson
My Neighbour Totoro1988Hayao Miyazaki



1926 Germany

Created by animating paper cut-out silhouettes against hand-tinted colorful backgrounds, Reiniger's "The Adventures of Prince Achmed" is a piece of artisanal mastery. Its carefully composed shots, choreographed to perfection, and its elaborately cut silhouettes ,whose design immediately plunges viewers into an Arabic fairytale world, are only two of the many traits that make this a masterpiece of animation that stands the test of time.

Man with a Movie Camera

1929 Ukrainian SSR, USSR

This dynamic documentary is much more than a great city symphony. It is an ode to cinema and its infinite possibilities as well as the clearest example of how even the reality that nonfiction films return to us is always constructed, the outcome of manipulation.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

1937 USA

Highly novel for its times and a historical milestone for animation that has set standards, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a timeless and highly influential masterpiece.

It's a Wonderful Life

1947 USA

This meticulously crafted celebration of the American dream showcases such a perfect balance of drama and comedy that it can delve into themes as dark as suicide and poverty and still see its status as light-hearted Christmas movie par excellence grow. Even if it was conceived for a post-World War II audience, its philosophy and message keep resonating with contemporary audiences and it has the rare ability to move its viewers to tears even after the umpteenth rewatch.


1967 France

There are plenty of films that, like Playtime, offer a critique of technology and modernity. Yet, with his distinctive, meticulous mise en scène that exploits the depth-of-field in an unparalleled way, and his peculiar 'downgrading' of dialogues to a sound like any other, boosting the communicative role of the image, Tati does so in a unique and radical fashion.

Pas De Deux

1968 Canada

Although not one of McLaren's most renowned films, this Oscar-nominated cinematic study of the choreography of ballet is, as McLaren itself defined it, "a river of human motion" which, in my view, encapsulates at best the essence and potential of animation, and more broadly, of cinema as an artform.


1951 Italy

Undeservedly overlooked, Bellissima is a female-led film that offers a biting vision of the film industry still reminiscent of the neorealist approach (even if it marked Visconti's turn away from it). Its main character, Maddalena Cecconi, is magisteriallly played by Anna Magnani, who managed to infuse her with a deeply affecting humanity.

Forgotten Silver

1996 New Zealand

Peter Jackson and Costa Botes crafted the life and career of non-existent film pioneer Colin McKenzie with such attention to detail and care that many viewers believed he had actually existed, despite the presence of clues to the fictionality of what was narrated. This mockumentary, however, is much more than just an exercise in style. Not only does it have a well-written narrative, but it is also a celebration of cinema and its history.


2001 USA

With its sharp satire and its appropriation and subversion of the conventions and clichés of fairytales as well as of both classical fictional animation and romantic comedy, Shrek is a timeless production of its time which has succeeded in bringing new life to animation as a whole and setting new standards. One could very well say that in its own way Shrek has done for contemporary animation what Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs did for the classical version.

My Neighbour Totoro

1988 Japan

An enchanting and unique animated film that was created at one of the greatest studios in animation history (ie, Studio Ghibli) and can be rewatched endlessly.

Further remarks

Originally, I considered including only animated films, because often, when identifying the pinnacles of cinematic achievements, they are unfairly given marginal consideration (if any), and yet many of them have been as important to the development of cinema as live-action movies have. However, I ultimately decided to opt for a balance between animated and live-action titles. Nailing it down to just 10 was, however, quite challenging. Among those that almost made it into the list were Nanook of the North (Robert J. Flaherty), Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica), Annie Hall (Woody Allen), The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick), The Gleaners and I (Agnes Varda), and WALL-E (Andrew Stanton).

My choices ended up being inevitably influenced, at least in part, by my research interests, even if I tried to avoid picking the films that were most significant to me in favour of titles that I believe to be timeless works which, at different levels, encapsulate the essence of cinema.