Critic, programmer and lecturer
|Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman
|His Girl Friday
|Ma nuit chez Maud
|Le VENT NOUS EMPORTERA
|La Morte Rouge
Hard to choose Keaton's greatest – Our Hospitality and Steamboat Bill, Jr are the other most obvious contenders – but The General edges the others out thanks to its formal perfection.
One of the greatest films about the trials and tribulations of love, it is funny, moving, erotic, suspenseful, lyrical and profoundly imaginative.
His Girl Friday
Hawks made a number of great films but this is surely the fastest, funniest and most breathlessly inventive.
A film which amply reviews repeated viewings, revealing new depths, new nuanced details, new mysteries. There is no greatest film, but if there were, for me this would strongly be the strongest contender.
Almost impossible to select one film from a body of work generally so consistent in theme, style and tone, but this extraordinary study of ageing, mortality and family life (among other things) has that unforgettable moment: "Isn't life disappointing?" – "Yes" (with a smile).
The words I wrote about Citizen Kane might also be applied to this, arguably the most remarkable film of Bergman's remarkable career.
Ma nuit chez Maud
As with Ozu, it's almost impossible to select a single film from an extraordinarily consistent body of work, but this philosophical comedy manages to make the metaphysical physical and vice versa, edging out such contenders as Perceval le gallois, The Green Ray and An Autumn Tale.
Le VENT NOUS EMPORTERA
Another difficult choice from one of the most original, intriguing and satisfying bodies of work of recent times. Close-Up and And Life Goes On were probably the closest contenders, but this amazingly imaginative, beautiful, witty and wise film remains the one I come back to the most.
An astonishing reworking of themes and characters from Billy Budd – both Melville's book and Britten's opera – balletic, visceral, primeval, elemental and utterly distinctive.
La Morte Rouge
Despite its low budget, short duration and modest mode of production, this is as richly rewarding as anything in Erice's small but marvellous body of work. One of the greatest films about the magic, the power, and the deceptions of that thing we call cinema.
Seventy years after the poll started, we surely need more than ten choices to deal with the sheer volume, range and diversity of cinema. With the exception of Erice's half-hour essay film, I restricted myself to fiction features (so, sadly, no documentary, no animation, no experimental film, no shorts, no TV, etc) and have myself a cut-off date of 2010; it takes time for a film to reveal its strengths and shortcomings. Even so I had to forget about great films by the likes of Dreyer, Renoir, Hitchcock, Ray, Bresson, Varda, Demy, Davies, Haneke, Sissako, Ramsay, Ceylan and Grisebach, all of whom would have been strong contenders for inclusion in a top 20. But enough grumbling. My 10, listed in chronological order, are all films I have revisited often, with increasing rather than diminishing rewards.