Mark Harris

Writer and film historian

Voted for

The Godfather1972Francis Ford Coppola
2001: A Space Odyssey1968Stanley Kubrick
Bicycle Thieves1948Vittorio De Sica
The Best Years of Our Lives1946William Wyler
All about Eve1950Joseph L. Mankiewicz
La dolce vita1960Federico Fellini
Jaws1975Steven Spielberg
Fanny and Alexander1982Ingmar Bergman
Seven Samurai1954Akira Kurosawa
The Wizard of Oz1939Victor Fleming


I had to make rules for myself to make this make sense, so here’s how I’d explain my list: Nothing is included because of its historical importance. I didn’t want to use the list as a way to put forth my own attempt at an Intro to Film course, and I didn’t try to make it geographically, chronologically, politically, or aesthetically balanced. Restricted to ten movies, I felt that I had no choice but to be personal. Are these the 10 best films of all time? No, because with all due respect to the latest iteration of a list that has fascinated me since I was a teenager, “best” isn’t a thing in art, and I am not a “best” decider. I can only be who I am, a film lover, born in New York City in 1963, gay, half-Jewish, half-Catholic, with tastes bordered by my own experiences, needs, idiosyncrasies, and blind spots. So this list, if anyone cares, should be taken not as my canon but as my selfie: These are all movies that I return to again and again, that have continued to teach me things about film, about storytelling, about structure, about art, about the world, and about who I am. The fact that my list stops well before the 20th century did means only that older films had an advantage because they and I have lived with each other longer and thus our marriage has been put to the test. It does not mean that I think it’s been all downhill since 1982 any more than it means that I think movies made before 1939 were cave paintings. I applaud everyone who picked newer or older movies than I did! I am also willing to bet that Citizen Kane and Tokyo Story, Chaplin and Keaton, Hitchcock, Bunuel, Ford, Tarkovsky, and Eisenstein will all survive my leaving them off. Also, the movie you can’t believe I didn’t include came in eleventh. (It was Psycho. Or Jeanne Dielman. Or Red River. Or Taxi Driver. Or Nashville. Or The Graduate. Or Aguirre The Wrath of God. Something like that.)