|A Matter of Life and Death
|Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
|Kind Hearts and Coronets
|Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom
|Pier Paolo Pasolini
|The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover
|Goodbye to Language
After playing along at home for the last two polls, this is my first time to officially contribute, and it's been agony. Left to my own devices to define 'best' and 'film', and looking back over my decades-long love affair with cinema, I took an element from Beckett's Krapp as my guide, recalling the films that lit a fire in me.
Watching shorts from Chaplin, Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Laurel and Hardy on television as a child during school holidays instilled a love of silent comedy that has matured into an appreciation of just how gifted and innovative these entertainers were as visual storytellers, and I still feel that their contribution to the grammar of film is undervalued. Lynch and Greenaway opened my eyes to the deliberately constructed nature of the medium with shocking edits, vivid colour palettes, and their wonderful use of music chimed with my other life-long obsession. Mizoguchi and Powell & Pressburger showed me beauty, while Pasolini showed me the flipside in a film that I vote for here without reservation even as I acknowledge that I may never revisit it. Robert Hamer and John McTiernan created two of the most purely entertaining films I've ever seen, masterclasses in writing and characterisation, with Predator in particular having a strange alchemy that somehow keeps it fresh. Kiarostami's Escher drawing of a film reveals a new facet to itself on every viewing, and contains one of cinema's purest expressions of unbridled joy (but, like Kafka's trees, even that is only appearance). Well into the artform's second century, Godard once again put to shame any number of tyros who pretend to radicalism as he pointed to new methods and modes that show the possibilities for cinema are far from exhausted.
The deficiencies of my list are glaringly apparent to me - no Hitchcock, Kubrick, Bergman, Tarkovsky, Welles, no women directors, and any number of other omissions that proved unavoidable in choosing a list of just 10. So yes, it's been agony, but it's also been hugely rewarding to reflect and consider while compiling the list. Perhaps, with a decade to plan for the next poll, should I be asked, I can go through it all again.