Leo Robson

Film reviewer

Voted for

Wonderland1999Michael Winterbottom
La Règle du jeu1939Jean Renoir
Festen1998Thomas Vinterberg
Written on the Wind1956Douglas Sirk
A City of Sadness1989Hou Hsiao-Hsien
My Dinner with André1981Louis Malle
Velvet Goldmine1998Todd Haynes
The Godfather Part II1974Francis Ford Coppola
Céline and Julie Go Boating1974Jacques Rivette



1999 United Kingdom

I think this is more or less the greatest British film, uniting many of the native virtues, avoiding the pitfalls, but with a romanticism (utterly different from the Powellian or Russellian kinds) I don't believe exists elsewhere, at least outside Winterbottom's work during his glorious first ten years.

La Règle du jeu

1939 France

I could have chosen The Crime of Monsieur Lange or French Cancan or The River – perhaps an outmoded view, but he still seems the greatest practitioner of the first decades of sound.


1998 Denmark

I am fairly sure I haven't seen this since the evening of March 6 1999 (at the Chelsea Cinema), an electrifying, indelible, probably scarring experience. Its inclusion stands for Dogme '95, for the genius of von Trier, and, I suppose, for the whole of northern European cinema, otherwise unrepresented here.

Written on the Wind

1956 USA

A product of Hollywood's most fruitful decade as notably as any other, if not especially typical, and a beneficiary of an inspiring critical intervention, or series of them (mise-en-scene analysis of the 50s and 60s, which more or less missed Sirk and melodrama, helped out by Marxism and feminism in 1970s).

A City of Sadness

1989 Taiwan

An overwhelming film, not quite arbitrarily chosen to represent a great body of work.

My Dinner with André

1981 USA

The wonderful critic Peter Wollen, who did a lot to encourage British appreciation of film as a director's art – and who died since the last Bfi poll – memorably argued that “whereas Godard is Godard and Truffaut is Truffaut, Malle is the nouvelle vague.” I'm not sure it meant all that much in 1965 – he emphasised that Maller's early films were characterised by the chief nouvelle-vague attributes, though almost by definition this would have needed to be true of others. But it seems even less true now, when we associate the nouvelle vague with two camps (the Cahiers gang and the rive gauche group identified by Richard Roud in Sight and Sound) to neither of which Malle belonged, and when we know that Malle flourished so beatifully after les événements, or whenever the vague crested or crashed, with work in different forms (quasi-autobiography, documentary, meta-fiction, farce, historical reckoning) on three continents.


1966 Spain, Switzerland

Maybe not the greatest Shakespeare film, or the greatest Welles film, but near enough in both cases, and I needed one of each.

Velvet Goldmine

1998 United Kingdom, USA

Perhaps I am just over-susceptible to the mix of novelistic voiceover, literary allusion, Welles homage, London nostalgia, English archness, and wonderful music, but I have loved this film more or less since it came out, am convinced – or nurse the delusion – I have only found more virtuosity, intricacy, and tenderness with successive viewings, and don't yet understand why at the time anyone, or nearly everyone, thought it was rubbish.

The Godfather Part II

1974 USA

Arguably more characteristic of the previous studio era in many of its strengths or attributes, but this is surely the standout achievement of the 'New Hollywood'.

Céline and Julie Go Boating

1974 France

I'm not entirely convinced I would watch this again but the memory is where films spend most of their time and I always love thinking about Rivette (it might be fair that *he* was the nouvelle vague) and the actresses and the house – the pinnacle moment for many traditions and genres of cinema.

Further remarks

I learned a lot about my taste and – I think – the movies while reflecting on this list and felt a renewed surge of love for the medium, or anyway its history.