Lynne Ramsay

film director

Voted for

Persona1966Ingmar Bergman
Full Metal Jacket1987Stanley Kubrick
Mulholland Dr.2001David Lynch
Stalker1979Andrei Tarkovsky
1963Federico Fellini
The Wizard of Oz1939Victor Fleming
The Passion of Joan of Arc1927Carl Th. Dreyer
Killer of Sheep1977Charles Burnett
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles1975Chantal Akerman
Don't Look Now1973Nicolas Roeg



1966 Sweden

A stunning film, deceptively simple on the surface.

An actress (Liv Ullman) experiencing profound stage fright has suddenly stopped talking – convalescing under the care of a young nurse (Bibi Anderson) through summer on a remote Swedish island.

To fill the silence the nurse speaks more freely and trustingly, as the actress absorbs her every move.

The scene where the nurse describes an unexpected sexual encounter on a beach is one of the most erotically charged on film. All played in a monologue – no need for a supporting image. Her words recalling a moment of true abandon are the power.

As the nurse learns her deepest confessions are merely an amusing ‘study’ for the vampirish actress the film becomes more complex and fractured, an experimental delve into the subconscious as the two woman blur and merge. Who is who? And whose story belongs to whom? The stark black and white images are indelible as are the mysteries in the act of constructing an identity, a history and a film in itself.

Its relevance now is uncanny.

Full Metal Jacket

1987 USA, United Kingdom

The beauty of the two parts – the war starts before the war, in the madness of indoctrination.

The Mickey Mouse song at the end, men as boys clinging to familiar phony idealism – an ingenious counterpoint to the horror of the inexplicable present.

Yet brutally entertaining as it floors you.

Mulholland Dr.

2001 France, USA

The perfect L.A horror story – a naive and ambitious young actress’s downfall as the dark forces present in the city spit her out.

Through the prism of David Lynch and bathed in California sunlight this transcends into the savage, surreal and terrifying – seeing what goes on underneath like no other.

L.A. has never been same since, the darkness lurking under its shiny facade and behind a dumpster.

Echoes Bergman's Persona in the blurred identities of two woman.


1979 USSR

I don't know how it is or appears but there is no other filmmaker who so evokes memory and spirituality through his own particular language.

Every film he made was a masterpiece – I was stunned by Mirror and Andrei Rublev but this one in particular is a hypnotic and cryptic journey to the meaning of existence.

1963 Italy, France

La strada always floors me but this is his masterpiece.

The ultimate film about making a film, the act of creating and the self doubt.

Fellini captures the circus with virtuosity, breaking all the rules.

It's so beautifully realised, modern, funny and surreal.

The Wizard of Oz

1939 USA

Follow the yellow brick road. This film has inspired so many others… Stalker, Mulholland Dr.?

Seeing my daughter watch it over and over. It's wondrous.

The Passion of Joan of Arc

1927 France

Maria Falconetti's face as Jean of Arc is so luminous and expressive in Dreyer's silent masterpiece, so modern and mindblowing.

Jean's male inquisitors surrounding her as they force her to renounce her faith in her holy visions and sentence her to her death is devastating, yet she endures with such humility.

It inspired the gorgeous sequence with Anna Karina watching Falconetti in the cinema in Jean-Luc Godard's Vivre sa vie.

Incredibly moving.

Killer of Sheep

1977 USA

Such a beautiful examination of everyday life. I was so moved watching it at film school.

It reminded me of where I grew up and it provoked something in me – I could film what I knew, and that beauty can be found in the smallest of details and the poorest of places.

So gorgeous and human.

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

1975 Belgium, France

Three days in the life of a middle aged widow in minutiae.

Banal acts of cooking, cleaning, shopping and occasional prostitution to make ends meet build a creeping tension, twisting the fine line between order and disorder, sanity and madness.


Don't Look Now

1973 United Kingdom, Italy

Nic Roeg redefined modern editing. The opening sequence, like the incredible opening of Walkabout is a jolting, unexpected and shocking collage of images and sound.

I remember the opening from being a child, watching when I wasn't supposed to and getting sent to bed with the first five minutes seared into my mind forever. Donald Sutherland’s silent scream.

The amazing and tender sex scene remains one of the best ever on screen and is all the more poignant for being between a grieving married couple.

Further remarks

Ah… Lists are difficult and many of my favourite filmmakers of all time – Varda, Bresson, Godard, Truffaut – are not here, which feels plain wrong.

My criteria was breakthrough films pushing cinema to new realms.