Michael Atkinson

Critic, The Village Voice

Voted for

Citizen Kane1941Orson Welles
La Règle du jeu1939Jean Renoir
The Conformist1970Bernardo Bertolucci
Sherlock Jr.1924Buster Keaton
Vertigo1958Alfred Hitchcock
Aguirre, Wrath of God1972Werner Herzog
Céline and Julie Go Boating1974Jacques Rivette
L'avventura1960Michelangelo Antonioni
Blue Velvet1986David Lynch
TOPIO STIN OMICHLI1988Theo Angelopoulos


Citizen Kane

1941 USA


La Règle du jeu

1939 France

Hands down the greatest film featuring a gorilla suit.

The Conformist

1970 Italy, France, Federal Republic of Germany

Adieu, Jean-Louis.

Sherlock Jr.

1924 USA

A world of understanding about the dreamy dogfight between cinema and consciousness, packed into 45 minutes. My favorite broken-vertebrae movie.


1958 USA

Hardly number one, but still a movie with perverse poisoned quills all over it. A masterpiece of toxic masculinity.

Aguirre, Wrath of God

1972 Federal Republic of Germany

Daredevil time-travel bedevilment. Herzog's bid for sainthood.

Céline and Julie Go Boating

1974 France

Rivette's sisterhood version of Road to Morocco, and just the right length.


1960 Italy, France

The first film that redefined narrative as a plastic passage of time-space that never truly ends.

Blue Velvet

1986 USA

The perfect, perfectly shaken-not-stirred Lynchtini. Simultaneously a Freudian Mother of All Bombs, a satire on the Hardy Boys, a psychosexual audience crucifixion, an elegy for lost innocence, and a genuine mystery. It’s everything.


1988 Greece, France, Italy

An epiphany of loneliness, and Angelopoulos' sweet-spot world-beater. Hold your breath.

Further remarks

My list's order -- not necessarily the films themselves -- might change tomorrow. Ah well; look all that I left out, including filmmakers -- Godard, Bunuel, Ozu, etc. -- whose films shine best as part of their aggregate oeuvres. In fact, that's probably a more fecund, and more rewarding Top Ten poll strategy: life's work in toto. Half of the films I listed would be on that list. Other art forms do it that way; nobody votes for Best Painting or Best Poem. Why not a Nobel Prize for Cinema?