Jordan King

Freelance Film Critic

Voted for

Little Shop of Horrors1986Frank Oz
Vertigo1958Alfred Hitchcock
Singin' in the Rain1951Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
Tokyo Story1953Yasujirō Ozu
City Lights1931Charles Chaplin
It's Such A Beautiful Day2012Don Hertzfeldt
Nattvardsgästerna1962Ingmar Bergman
2001: A Space Odyssey1968Stanley Kubrick
Portrait of a Lady on Fire2019Céline Sciamma
El ESPINAZO DEL DIABLO2001Guillermo del Toro


Little Shop of Horrors

1986 USA

On release, Warner Bros’ most expensive film, and to date arguably still one of its most bold and daring, this sci-fi B-movie monster musical encapsulates the limitless imaginative potential of the medium. An eight-foot tall, tonne-weighing extraterrestrial Venus flytrap is brought gloriously to life by Oz, the maverick puppeteers of the Jim Henson Company, and Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s extraordinary music as a Faustian tale of love and fate plays out, grand melodrama and incisive satire entwining, encircling the meek florist Seymour (Rick Moranis) and his would-be lover Audrey (Ellen Greene). Filled with wickedly inventive in-camera effects, an offbeat yet undeniably cinematic verve that’s given it enduring cult appeal, and serving still as quite possibly the greatest display of practical effects in cinema history, Oz’s opus has the ingenious spirit of early Méliès adventures, music that thrums with the beat of mid-century America, and a tale that’s at once classical in structure and totally subversive in formulation. It’s a behemoth-like paean to cinema’s pioneers and their derring-do as they sought to expand our understanding of what cinema could be and mean.


1958 USA

The most devastating portrayal of woman in Hitchcock is that of the spectral one. She is damned to a self-destructive cycle of possession and repossession, breaking the women whose identities she assumes just to continue her name. And what for? To defeat the fear of losing herself in a patriarchal world that destroyed her body, to prove that the will and designs of a man could never silence her soul. The spectral woman haunts her own languid feast, a victim to the voyeur and the assailant of her own freedom. Hitchcock’s Vertigo is a frighteningly personal, tremendously ambitious symphony of technicolour and strings, a recreation of the Pygmalion myth that to this day defines and deconstructs the ‘Male Gaze’ in a manner unparalleled and impossible to match.

Singin' in the Rain

1951 USA

Singin’ in the Rain is a film of impossibilities made true. The cast sing with their feet, dance with their voices, and act with such veracity and intensity that it’s as if reality reshapes around the stars rather than the stars reshaping reality through the creation of cinema. Not a foot wrong, not a note missed in 103 minutes, each of which fly by in a beautiful explosion of colour, song, love and life. Singin’ in the Rain is Hollywood as it never was, always has been, wishes it could be, and should never have tried not to be. It is the greatest exemplar of the razzle dazzle wonder of Hollywood’s Golden Age, and in its trifecta of effervescent leads – Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor – you find an unparalleled chemistry that reminds you what a movie star really is… really was. If you want to experience cinema at its most joyous, then Singin’ in the Rain is essential – it is happiness itself etched in celluloid.

Tokyo Story

1953 Japan

A masterwork in minimalism and character, Ozu’s exploration of generational divides and family bonds has a specificity to its time and place that achieves a universality in the film’s resonance with each of us and our own reckonings with the passage of time, the metamorphosis of our relationships with our blood. It’s quiet, contemplative, no setpieces nor conventionally quotable lines – though each rings with an eloquent elegance almost unrivalled – and yet it is gripping, and to watch it and feel its effect is in its way exciting. It’s an invitation extended to know ourselves better as we invest in the final act of the Hariyama family’s story. It’s extraordinary.

City Lights

1931 USA

Simply put, this is the funniest film ever made. The fact that it is also one of the most touching, and also one of the most tear-jerking, is just a reminder of Chaplin’s own belief that “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.” Coming so soon after the advent of sound in film, the production of City Lights – a film that embodies silent cinema’s voice and spirit – seems almost poetic.

It's Such A Beautiful Day


A stick figure’s unravelling psyche becomes a microcosmic, masterful exploration of the essential nature of existence and the eternal struggle we face to understand and grapple with it in Don Hertzfeldt’s It’s Such a Beautiful Day. Elegiac, euphoric, bleak, funny, sincere, sardonic, messy, meticulous, singular, and utterly stunning, this superlative hand-drawn effort – shot gorgeously on 35mm stock – is a miraculous thing to behold. Its universality and specificity of meaning fill and overwhelm you with sheer awe. Animation at its greatest has the unique capacity to speak truth without realism, and this achieves that in a way which feels timeless already, destined to provide hope and meaning to those who find themselves lost in the maelstrom of human life and its infinite messiness.


1962 Sweden

The epitome of the ‘crisis of faith’ narrative archetype, Bergman’s Winter Light presents a gorgeous, elegiac, deeply human diegesis on the living hell that results when one’s mortal pains and eternal longings feel further apart than ever before. A masterclass in the art of using silence to communicate that which reaches beyond words.

2001: A Space Odyssey

1968 USA, United Kingdom

This film is the ultimate in science fiction, its science utterly conceivable, and its fiction utterly fantastical, and its refusal to divine one from the other irresistible. A piece of cinema that will always work and connect no matter the canvas on which its indelible mark is felt – it changed the medium forever, and personally, it has changed the way I look at cinema forever too. Pure magic courses through every frame, sound, and syllable of 2001 A Space Odyssey’s existence, and from an auteur as slavish and laborious in the pursuit of his passion, no component dared be anything but divine. Truly the ultimate trip, from the very dawn of man to the great beyond past the stargate’s horizon. Few films’ influence have been as crucial to the cinematic canon and pop culture simultaneously as 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

2019 France

The poet’s story, the lover’s film. We are compelled to look because to deprive ourself of its artful beauty would be too much to bear, and we are condemned to wallow in its memory because the explosion of feelings it brings about can never be equalled when we are forced to turn our backs and search for something new. Héloïse and Marianne’s is a love of fleeting touch and lasting impressions, the sort that makes lovers’ fingers entwine more tightly for having been witness to it, and makes poets’ minds soar with the desire to find the words to catch the sensations’ essence like a butterfly entombed in glass. Portrait of a Lady on Fire is as beautiful as film gets, and as beautiful as a film can be, an extraordinary reflection on love and desire, womanhood and the bonds – platonic and otherwise – that exist between women. This is the film that solidified Sciamma’s status as one of the most important filmmakers of the 21st century.


2001 Spain, Mexico

There’s little as monstrous as man, and in Del Toro’s work it is often the literal monsters that provide odd pockets of comfort in a cold, uncaring world. Never is that truer than here in The Devil’s Backbone, a gorgeously crafted ghost story whose spectres seek to bring peace and find comfort in a time of war and violence. Exquisitely atmospheric, beautifully written, and delivered with the blend of magical realism and historical context that Del Toro has always commanded so superlatively, this may not be the auteur’s best-loved or best-known masterwork, but it persists as his most personal feeling and elegiac work to date.

Further remarks

Decade on decade, Sight & Sound’s Greatest Films of All Time poll endures as the yardstick by which the evolution of the cinematic medium and the progression of cinema in canonic and cultural terms is charted. In the decade since the last poll, so much has changed in the world as once-dystopian fantasies have become grim realities, and the world has found itself bearing witness to declarations of war – and of love – on a scale hitherto unseen in most of our lifetimes. As pandemics, political scandals, protests, and reckonings with power dynamics in the film industry and society at large have raged on, cinema has continued to do what it always has done – reflecting the world in which we live, the world we aspire to live in, and the world we strive to escape back at us through a kaleidoscopic lens of perspectives from all backgrounds of gender, sex, sexuality, race, class, country, and faith. I’m excited to see how this ever-changing landscape looks a decade – and what feels like a lifetime’s worth of cinematic and societal history – later. Thank you for letting me be a part of this history.