Johannes Lõhmus

Film journalist / teacher

Voted for

TIREZ SUR LE PIANISTE1960François Truffaut
Cries and Whispers1972Ingmar Bergman
Mirror1975Andrei Tarkovsky
The Shining1980Stanley Kubrick
Rashomon1950Akira Kurosawa
Spirited Away2001Hayao Miyazaki
An Autumn Afternoon1962Yasujirō Ozu
Magnolia1999Paul Thomas Anderson
Star Wars1977George Lucas
Libahunt (Werewolf)1968Leida Laius



1960 France

A somewhat perfect film as it keeps constantly contradicting, reinventing and overwhelming itself. Always keeping the viewer in its clutches of being thrilling, absurdly funny, musically bold and heartbreakingly honest all at the same time. The film preceding and eclipsing everything Quentin Tarantino has been doing in the neo-noir genre to make a name for himself in the past 30 years or so. Entertainment full of class and heart that succeeds in showing that most people are better in the inside than they seem on the outside.

Cries and Whispers

1972 Sweden

A completely devastating piece of filmmaking that makes you disgusted by the characters on screen and looking for solace in your personal life. A film so disturbing that it makes you want to be more kind and open to other people. An emotional masterpiece about the dark depths of the human condition that pushes some very painful buttons that you hope no one in your real life will ever push.


1975 USSR

Probably the greatest personal film of all time. A true toolbox of cinematic mastery that creates a beautiful feeling that if one genuinely-and-truly-from-the-bottom-of-their-heart-wishes then time can actually be under our own control while also creating a feeling that one can never ever live up to that wish. All life encompassed in one film as they like to say about this one.

The Shining

1980 USA, United Kingdom

Probably the greatest film out there on societal and personal paranoia ever made. Making you uncomfortable from the get-go while being prophetic on the fragile state of mind of the homo sapiens. It's domestic violence, male abuse, historical neglicence and a deeply human fear of ending up alone without no one to care for you all put into the blender of Kubrickian sorcery of genius by showing the downward spiral of a man who most of all needs to put his mark on the world. And while doing so, he neglects everything dear and near him while all the world around him descends into chaos. I truly hope that the 21st century won't end up as the Overlook Hotel of the human race.


1950 Japan

Probably the greatest testament of what film as an art form can do. It gives you the gift of perspective and the power to choose your interpretation methods. And 72 years after its release "Rashōmon" is still the best that cinema has to offer at giving the viewer the tools to pick your own bullshit to believe or make-believe in.

Spirited Away

2001 Japan

This is the genius loci of fantasy and magic in cinema.

An Autumn Afternoon

1962 Japan

Oh, what beauty lies in this picture. It's like being moved by canvases painted on top of each other. All of them being rich with cultural and emotional microflora. Everything happens in this film! And it happens with good humour mixed with personal drama and inner shortcomings and fears. It's eternal questions and relationships of society composed into 113 minutes of cinematic greatness built into the traditions of old men working their socks off in sake-houses to marry off their daughters. We need to see and cherish this so we can move forward to these greater times when one hopefully has more possibilities to choose her path and not be overly wound up by your dad's great plans for your future.


1999 USA

To pull off making a film running 188 minutes in the Hollywood studio system while being a 29-year-old filmmaker is a stroke of genius worthy of a place in the Sight and Sound's Greatest Films of All Time poll. His filmography is a testament that this was not upon luck, but a unique vision that is equally playful and profound.

Star Wars

1977 USA

This is where it all started for me and it hasn't ended yet. An original cinematic universe that was the stepping stone to Hollywood taking the plunge into the downward spiral of spin-off's and Marvel phases that no one can split the difference between nowadays. A film made at a time when creating an universe was an experiment not a business model. A world so rich in diversity that the 21st century still hasn't gotten hold of it yet. It's the ultimate blockbuster not created in the mold of a blockbuster, but as a slow and kind-hearted adventure made to make the world seem as a fascinating place for a four-year-old kid. A place where all are equal to fight againt an overwhelming darkness lurking in the communal space. Without this film I probably wouldn't be taking part in this poll and couldn't imagine what life might be like so it just has to be here.

Libahunt (Werewolf)


An Estonian take on the horrifice of word-of-mouth slandering and the way your average jealousy can ruin a person or relationship. A beautiful film about a village micro model existence being turned upside down by a girl who just wouldn't belong and isn't willing to be or live the way that the village hierarchy requires. Probably more relevant in 2022 (the age of information and social media where cancelling is becoming a cultural thing) than when it was originally released as a Soviet Estonian picture. It's a miracle that this film ever got made. Leida Laius is worth a BFI Southbank retrospective.

Further remarks

Some remarks for my future self for a more balanced film diet in the next 10 years:

- please make sure to watch all of these films at least once but hopefully more than that in the next decade;

- work harder to include more female-directed films in your watchlists;

- hopefully there will be more 21st century films if you reassess this list in the next decade.

The ten films I have chosen are films that I can't get by without, but also films that I have been rediscovering in the past few years whenever there's been a chance to watch them on a big screen. The global diversity is here, but I feel really let down by my taste/rating skills/watching habits so that the only film directed by a She in my list is an Estonian all-time classic (but actually not the greatest Estonian film of all time, that would actually be Grigori Kromanov's "Põrgupõhja uus Vanapagan"/"The Misadventures of the New Satan" from 1964) worth every minute of its short running time. I included this film because of its great artistic and thematic value and because it has been haunting me for the past year or so while being a film directed by one of the very few Estonian female filmmakers from the very much male-oriented Soviet times.

This is a top 10 of wonderful cinema that I'm sure many will be present if I should compile another list in the next decade, but surely many of these films can and will change as nothing is set in stone either in art nor life. All of these films can occupy the nr. 1 spot on this list on any given day depending on the current life cycle and moodiness of the undersigned. Yes, I am an emotional film journalist and I'm sticking to it. And all of these films have my heart pump and pupils dilated with emotions that will probably stick with me until the oldest age.

Thank you for the invitation and for going through all that I've been watching, rating and writing down for me in these past ten years. It's been an honour!