Gemma Gracewood

Editor in Chief
New Zealand

Voted for

My Neighbour Totoro1988Hayao Miyazaki
Paddington2014Paul King
Casablanca1942Michael Curtiz
Modern Times1936Charles Chaplin
Bringing Up Baby1938Howard Hawks
In the Cut2003Jane Campion
Portrait of a Lady on Fire2019Céline Sciamma
Song of the Sea2014Tomm Moore
E.T. The Extra-terrestrial1982Steven Spielberg
Do the Right Thing1989Spike Lee


My Neighbour Totoro

1988 Japan

As blissful and pure an experience as animated narrative cinema gets. A timeless reassurance about the freedom of child-led play and the importance of a strong connection with nature. A therapeutic tool for all the forms of grief.


2014 France, United Kingdom

Paddington or Paddington 2, I don’t mind which. A triumph of sensitive adaptation, a well-crafted blend of live-action animation, perfect casting, lively action-adventure-comedy with a perfect tonal balance.


1942 USA

Still a gorgeous movie for grown-ups, which for intelligent teens provides a pathway and a gateway into rich storytelling cinema.

Modern Times

1936 USA

What film cameras were made for.

Bringing Up Baby

1938 USA

Since 1938, writers are still struggling to come anywhere close to the glorious banter of this masterpiece.

In the Cut

2003 United Kingdom, USA

The female gaze inserts herself into a gritty, messy NYC serial-killer cop procedural, with confusing, lush, erotic results.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

2019 France

Defined by its many gorgeous parts: diegetic sound, the literal gaze, the attention to the art of art, the notion of who gets to record history, the pace of life on an island, gradual romance meeting a hard deadline...

Song of the Sea

2014 Ireland, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, Denmark

Captures entire worlds in its small story of a journey away and home again. The artistry is delicious and so lovingly, deeply created by a team inspired by their own myths and legends, with native language and song and art woven through. Under-appreciated.

E.T. The Extra-terrestrial

1982 USA

Who among us cannot find something new and telling with each rewatch of this story of a single mother in the suburbs who must protect her children at all costs, while allowing them to branch out and explore the universe around them? The greatest family film.

Do the Right Thing

1989 USA

A turning point for cinematic voice.

Further remarks

What a strange thing it is to rank art! What gets to be “the greatest” is supremely objective, as we all know – and extremely systemic, too.

Access (to the tools of the job, to the funding, to audiences), availability, education and exposure, language and regional barriers, in-built assumptions, the patriarchy, capitalism – all of these play into why certain films rise to the top. And yet, somehow, consensus happens, because ultimately (for the most part) great art breaks through.

My ten submissions, like most people’s, reflect a combination of craft factors. I was thinking about underrated genres (animation, comedy, action-adventure), about films that changed things, and that magic sauce: rewatchable likeability. They're all great AND I like them! (There are so many “great” films that leave me cold.) I do not envy your job in pulling all of our submissions together!