Jennie Livingston


Voted for

1963Federico Fellini
Ikiru1952Akira Kurosawa
Fanny and Alexander1982Ingmar Bergman
Andrei Rublev1966Andrei Tarkovsky
Kuroi Ame1988Shohei Imamura
Princess Mononoke1997Hayao Miyazaki
All the Presidents Men1976Alan J Pakula
All That Jazz1979Bob Fosse
The Gleaners and I2000Agnès Varda
Nashville1975Robert Altman


Picking 10 best is almost impossible. Although I'm so happy to participate, it's a near-excruciating task, as there are so many films clamoring to be on this list.

I read recently that most peoples' musical taste is formed in their teens, and that we return to that work for most of our lives. Although that's not true for me where music is concerned, in noticing that so many films I selected are from the 70s and 80s, (or films I first saw in those decades) I own that that's when I fell in love with the movies. In my teens and twenties. That's when directors like Herzog and Fassbinder and Waters and Amaral (all the filmmakers who played at rep houses) were a revelation. The worlds they brought, the attitude, the way of looking.

I didn't want to make a film until I was 22, but after that, I knew that although I would love to write novels or have a rock band or spend all day in a studio painting, and even had some skills that could have allowed me to pursue those things, I HAD to make movies. It wasn't a choice. I remembered a talk by the writer Robert Penn Warren when I was at Yale: he said, you can't WANT to be a writer, to write. You have to HAVE to be a writer. That struck me, and when I got the film bug, I understood what he meant, and still do, even when the reality is that it's the most difficult and, at times, ridiculous medium to work in. (Mainly because if you can't control the means of production, which very few of us can, it's a waiting game. Even for people who are wildly more prolific than I've managed to be.)

I wish it were 20 films! ...But in any case, I've tried to pick an assortment of movies that reflect work that changed me, that changed cinema, and movies that, if I were in charge of handing down lists (which I guess I am here, for the first time, in this very small way!) I would want people to know. Even if, in the end, the film didn't turn out to be everyone's favorite.

The other struggle is: there are very recent films (three, for example, are: Memoria, Flee, and Good Luck to You, Leo Grande) that I would absolutely put on this list, if I didn't think it made more sense to focus on films that have stood the test of time, and that I myself have had the chance to see over time, and have had different experiences with, and insights about, at different points in my life.

Thanks for the invitation to participate! It's interesting to see the previous 100...some I totally agree with, and some are absolutely not on my top 10 or 20, but they all should be seen, and it's exciting how many films, even for those of us who've made it our mission to be up on film history, have NOT seen. I grew up in an era, and in a place (LA) in the 70s when, at least to most people I knew who were my age, films by directors like John Ford were considered hopelessly outmoded. I didn't see a Ford film until I was in college, and then I didn't choose to see another Ford film until I was in my 40s, and saw The Searchers, and was blown away. That was the kind of film Scorsese's generation saw, not mine. So some of these lists, if we're artists and not scholars, are also generational, and geographical, and obviously race and gender and politics come into it as well.

I want to list the next 30 films that COULD be one of the 10...but won't. Thank you, and it's been fun doing this.