|Josef von Sternberg
|ENSAYO DE UN CRIMEN
|The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
|À NOS AMOURS
|DO MA DAN
|A Perfect World
It would be foolish to claim these are the ten greatest movies ever made, and I wouldn’t even go so far as to claim they are my favourite movies, as I’m not sure I could pick just ten favourites. What I can say is that they are a group of movies that speak very deeply to me and my experiences as a filmgoer: films of exploration in one way or another that allow a group of artists to arrive at a place of discovery and share those with us.
As is often the case, this list is very much a snapshot of the moment I composed it; ten years ago it included seven different titles that I still rank every bit as high as I did back then; if it was two months ago it might have included, let’s sa,y Earth, The Young Girls from Rochefort or Love Streams; in a few months – who knows?
One of my few certainties is that cinema contains far too many beautiful movies, which is why I’ve long practised a cinephilia of gluttony and believe film critics should operate as bridge-builders rather than gatekeepers. Film canons have their problems, but they are useful as benchmarks against historical amnesia and as objects to be constantly questioned, two ideas which are far from mutually exclusive, as one needs to seriously engage with history in order to put it in crisis.
If there was some guiding principle when I picked these ten films, it was limiting myself to 20th-century movies, not because the past 20 years lack great movies – far from it: I could easily put together a worth list made only from work by Pedro Costa, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Claire Denis, Hong Sangsoo, James Gray, Rita Azevedo Gomes, Apichatpong Weerasethakul or Emmanuel Mouret ,as well as veteran filmmakers who still keep contributing essential vital movies such as Marco Bellocchio, Philippe Garrel, Frederick Wiseman, Paul Vecchiali or the late Manoel de Oliveira, Agnès Varda, Raúl Ruiz, Jonas Mekas or Chantal Akerman.
But the movie industry, in its more populist but also smaller-scale incarnations, seems determined to find ways to exclude the past, its commitment to the big, intoxicating now more perversely disconnected than ever from what came before; so I decided to curate a list that shut up shop in the 1990s, with great apologies to all the wonderful movies made since. Cinema is far too vast anyway and every list, personal or collective, will have to reckon with how much richer it is than any list of ten, a hundred, even a thousand films.