Joe Dante


Voted for

City Lights1931Charles Chaplin
Pinocchio1940Ben Sharpsteen, Hamilton Luske
1963Federico Fellini
The Grapes of Wrath1940John Ford
Citizen Kane1941Orson Welles
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb1963Stanley Kubrick
Chinatown1974Roman Polanski
The Godfather Part II1974Francis Ford Coppola
UMBERTO D.1952Vittorio De Sica
A Matter of Life and Death1946Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger


City Lights

1931 USA

A perfect movie made by a perfectionist.


1940 USA

Greatest and most timeless of the beloved animated features that put Walt Disney on the map and almost bankrupted his company. Still technically dazzling after all these years and countless remakes which continue to this very day.

1963 Italy, France

Every filmmaker's touchstone, a scintillating confessional that has fascinated me since 1963 and becomes an altogether new experience every time I revisit it.

The Grapes of Wrath

1940 USA

I admit Stagecoach was more influential, but Ford's populist revamp of Steinbeck's powerful novel is an amazing film to come from the Hollywood studio system, thanks to canny Fox mogul Darryl F. Zanuck.

The casting and performances are sheer perfection, as is Gregg Toland's incomparable cinematography.

Citizen Kane

1941 USA

By now it seems like such a textbook choice, but Welles's astonishing achievement is still one of the darkest, wittiest and modernistic of directorial debuts, and exudes such a sense of fun and discovery that it's endlessly rewatchable. Imagine his career without the interference of the humourless hierarchy.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

1963 United Kingdom, USA

Perhaps the most durable of the many (but too few) masterworks by driven ex-photographer Kubrick, which stunned audiences in 1964: I saw it on opening day at the Baronet Theater in New York...and nobody laughed. Too close to the Cuban Missile Crisis, I guess. Or too hip for the house? In any case, time has bestowed ineffable classic status on this brilliantly made satire despite the fact that the atomic fear at its core has hardly abated since.


1974 USA

The greatest of all film noirs is not only 20 years late but in widescreen and colour. But that's how Polish emigré Polanski decided to approach Robert Towne's classically oriented update of the Chandler/ Hammett private eye genre. The sordid history of Los Angeles forms the core of a bleak, even shocking murder mystery which also serves as an object lesson in how to make a 1937 period movie on real locations via great production design (Richard Sylbert). Jerry Goldsmith composed his mournful replacement score in two weeks!

The Godfather Part II

1974 USA

I know from experience how hard it is to make a sequel that tops the original and takes it in a new direction rather than just repeating the tropes from the first one. Coppola hits it out of the park here with the decision to alternate the modern story with the flashback to the European origins of the original Corleone family.

Marlon Brando elected not to reappear, but the rest of the cast is as solid as ever and the canvas is greater than before. It's right up there with Bride of Frankenstein, Terminator 2 and Mad Max 2 as a sequel that betters the original.


1952 Italy

At the tail-end of the Italian Neo-realist movement, former actor DeSica starred a compelling non-actor, Carlo Battisti, as a near-penniless retiree who's about to be evicted into the streets of Rome with his only companion, his small dog.

DeSica considered this his best work, and it is in fact one of the most moving and eventually shattering studies of old age and heartless bureaucracy ever filmed, right up there with Clement's Forbidden Games for an emotionally devastating cliimax.

A Matter of Life and Death

1946 United Kingdom

Released in the US in a slightly cut version as Stairway to Heaven, I first saw this one on a 16mm Kodachrome print and was bowled over. I had never seen a movie like it, and still haven't. My introduction to Powell/Pressburger led to more memorable discoveries like I Know Where I'm Going, Black Narcissus and more. But the sheer visual ingenuity and political savvy of this fantasy about a WW II flyer taken before his time who must face a heavenly tribunal make this a true gem in the Powell/Pressburger canon.

Further remarks

For those who haven't been asked to compile a list of the "10 Greatest" movies, let me tell you, it's no picnic.

The guilt that accrues when you realize you haven't included a single film by Wilder, Ozu, Murnau, Huston, Lumet, Lupino, Wyler, Kurosawa, Lumet, Aldrich, Fuller, or, God help me, Scorsese, is palpable! Whew!