Leigh Singer

Film Journalist, Video Essayist, Programmer

Voted for

The Spirit of the Beehive1973Víctor Erice
The Third Man1949Carol Reed
This Is Spinal Tap A Rockumentary by Martin Di Bergi1983Rob Reiner
Raging Bull1980Martin Scorsese
2001: A Space Odyssey1968Stanley Kubrick
Fearless1993Peter Weir
I for India2005Sandhya Suri
Seven Samurai1954Akira Kurosawa
Portrait of a Lady on Fire2019Céline Sciamma
Singin' in the Rain1951Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen


The Spirit of the Beehive

1973 Spain

Victor Erice’s quietly miraculous memento mori is forever my spiritual guide to cinema’s power to haunt and enchant the real with its magic. Soy Ana.

The Third Man

1949 United Kingdom

Karas's zither score. Welles' insouciant cameo. Vienna's impossible shadows. Naïve American romanticism extinguished by shattered European cynicism in the perfect film noir. So long, Holly(wood).

This Is Spinal Tap A Rockumentary by Martin Di Bergi

1983 USA

Still as hilarious, quotable and influential as ever, but as I get older, it's the heartfelt, enduring relationship between two friends doing - badly - what they love that amps this film all the way to eleven.

Raging Bull

1980 USA

The pinnacle of movie actor-director partnerships, DeNiro and Scorsese out on a limb, pushing each other beyond their emotional, physical and creative limits. That’s entertainment?

2001: A Space Odyssey

1968 USA, United Kingdom

Still the monolith of sci-fi cinema, pointing the way with a cool, inscrutable guidance that now looks more than our species deserves. Dave... I’m afraid.


1993 USA

The only time I’ve stumbled out of a cinema mentally and physically disorientated, is after Peter Weir’s symphonic, soul-searching exploration of a near-death experience. Life-changing.

I for India

2005 Italy, Germany, Finland, South Africa, United Kingdom

Stories we retell: using her immigrant father’s old home movies, Suri’s underseen documentary is a nimble, worldly wise, emotionally devastating reclamation of identity and filmmaking.

Seven Samurai

1954 Japan

As a kid, a TV programme that analyzed this film’s framing, movement, editing, scene-by-scene, blew my mind. Decades on, Kurosawa’s dynamism still leads the way.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

2019 France

A new, radical way of looking at art and love from a touchstone voice. The climax’s marriage of sound and image is cinema on fire.

Singin' in the Rain

1951 USA

Classical Hollywood’s greatest musical might be its best meta-comedy too. The first “old” film our young daughter fell in love with, it's transcendent, timeless joy.

Further remarks

I’ve pored over these lists since my dog-eared, Tim Roth-cover issue of the 1992 edition, so it’s both an honour and exquisite torture to try and encapsulate what you love in just 10 films. Honestly, it would've been easier to list my favourite 1000.

The only way I can define cinema’s “greatest” is by trying to identify the films that have made the deepest personal impact on me. I also happen to think they’re all standout examples of what the medium can do.

Yet, scanning my selection, the inevitable omissions hit nearly as hard: no silent films, no animation; no Archers or David Lynch; no Preston Sturges or Charlie Kaufman; no Carole Lombard or Paul Newman; no Marty McFly or Ellen Ripley, no Jesse and Celine nor Ines Conradi and “Toni Erdmann”; no Persona or Three Colours: Blue, brilliant films about women, that perhaps should cede their positions to films made by them; and, somehow, no Coen Brothers, the filmmakers who began making films once I became aware of films being actually made by individuals, whom I most admire. Ultimately, their masterly evasive body of work was too tricky to nail down to one representative. Accept the mystery, I guess.