Martin Stollery


Voted for

Intolerance1916D.W. Griffith
Man with a Movie Camera1929Dziga Vertov
Duck Soup1933Leo McCarey
Casablanca1942Michael Curtiz
Andrei Rublev1966Andrei Tarkovsky
Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie1972Luis Buñuel
HADUTHA MASRIYYA1982Youssef Chahine
Come and See1985Elem Klimov
Beau travail1998Claire Denis
Gravity2013Alfonso Cuarón


How can a list include no Lubitsch, no Hitchcock, no Rossellini, no Bresson, no Sembene, no Godard, no Varda, no Fassbinder, no Almódovar, no films featuring Asta Nielsen or Marlon Brando, and so few films from outside the global North? The agony of selection was compounded by the unreliability of memory and a painful awareness of how little I have seen. If I fulfil my viewing ambitions for the next ten years and the editors of Sight and Sound are kind enough to invite me to contribute to the 2032 poll, my list might be very different. To help me a little bit with this one, I deliberately excluded documentaries, having contributed to the 2014 Greatest Documentaries of All Time poll, although Man with a Movie Camera also appears here because it is more than a documentary. And as a British cinema specialist, I surprised myself by not including any British films, although some early Hitchcocks, several Powell and Pressburgers, Brief Encounter, Kind Hearts and Coronets, Performance and Trainspotting all came close.

Of those I chose, Intolerance is the most enduring monument to Griffith’s problematic genius and a reminder of how much had already been achieved during the first twenty years of film history. Man with a Movie Camera emerged from a conception of cinema that will always be ahead of its time and is a perfect synthesis of the great filmmaking talents of Vertov, Kaufman and Svilova. Between them, Duck Soup and Casablanca epitomise so much that is extraordinary and immensely pleasurable about the many dimensions of classical Hollywood. Andrei Rublev is a mesmerising experience, part of the amazing 1960s efflorescence of art cinema, slow cinema before the term was coined, speaking to the compulsion to create timeless art and to faith, self-doubt and self-belief. Surrealism and cinema were made for each other, and of all the fantastic films Buñuel directed, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie remains the one for which I retain the most affection. Come and See is another testament to the Soviet Union’s indelible contribution to world cinema, the greatest (anti)war film ever, closely followed by Shepitko’s The Ascent. Youssef Chahine is a giant of world cinema; I vote for An Egyptian Story, the second in his semi-autobiographical Alexandria trilogy, because it offers a fascinating window into a playful yet intensely political oeuvre every serious cineaste should know about. I include Gravity because contemporary Hollywood also has its classics, and it is a reminder of how visceral and immersive the experience of going to the cinema can be. And Beau Travail is a languorous delight, a compelling but almost plotless feature film, with one of the greatest endings in the entire history of cinema.