Nick Chen

Film Editor-at-Large, Dazed / Freelance journalist

Voted for

Being John Malkovich1999Spike Jonze
Do the Right Thing1989Spike Lee
The Lady Eve1941Preston Sturges
Az EN XX. SZAZADOM1989Ildikó Enyedi
Ninotchka1939Ernst Lubitsch
On connaît la chanson1997Alain Resnais
Speed Racer2008Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski
The Squid and the Whale2005Noah Baumbach
Tropical Malady2004Apichatpong Weerasethakul



1995 Japan

A mind-bending mix of sci-fi, teen angst, and ecological concerns, August in the Water remains criminally underseen due to criminally expensive music rights. That most viewers discover it on YouTube only heightens the personal connection with a genuine oddity – and that’s before taking into account that the protagonist is a lonely schoolgirl who can communicate with dolphins.

Being John Malkovich

1999 USA

The fame-skewering concept and the ensuing hijinks blew my mind when I was a teenager. Upon rewatch, though, I recognised the commentary on loneliness, being born in the wrong body, and how funny it is to hear John Malkovich’s name uttered on repeat.

Do the Right Thing

1989 USA

Still relevant, still powerful.

The Lady Eve

1941 USA

You’re so in awe of the pitch-perfect performances and once-in-a-lifetime chemistry, you almost forget to laugh. Like comic lighting captured in a bottle, albeit one that lasts, in this metaphor, for 94 never-dull minutes.


1989 Hungary, Federal Republic of Germany

In the absence of any silent films, Enyedi’s tribute to the history of cinema hopefully fills in a few gaps. If not the best film of my twentieth century, then at least the best one called “My Twentieth Century”.


1939 USA

The Lubitsch touch has never been more touching.

On connaît la chanson

1997 France, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Italy

The musical element of Parisians lip-syncing to snippets of pop songs is so funny and moving, the emotions break through the screen and are practically 3D.

Speed Racer


An exhilarating, sometimes maddening explosion of colour, CGI, and gleeful storytelling that slyly critiques the Hollywood hand that feeds it. So ahead of its time, it might not be fully appreciated until the 2032 poll.

The Squid and the Whale

2005 USA

It was between Frances Ha (the film I’ve watched most) or The Squid and the Whale (the film I’ve watched second-most), and I went for the latter, an acidic, razor-sharp comedy that, at 81 minutes, squeezes in more quotable lines than seems mathematically possible.

Tropical Malady

2004 France, Thailand, Germany, Italy, Switzerland

I could have picked any film by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. I went for the one I thought doesn’t receive enough attention.

Further remarks

When you’re at a party, it’s customary for someone to hear what you do for a living, and ask for your favourite film. (At the Sight & Sound Christmas party, I assume they ask for 10 – as well as an overall comment on your selection process.) Anyway, I now have a go-to answer, and I’d be happy to have this list on my gravestone – well, as happy as one can be if they’re under a gravestone.

For this ballot, I looked into my gut, not just because that’s how I position my laptop, but I believe that great films imprint themselves like a tattoo on the viewer. I knew immediately that August in the Water, Being John Malkovich, Do the Right Thing, Same Old Song, and The Squid and the Whale would make my picks. I then selected two films that transported me at 35mm rep screenings (Friday Night, Tropical Malady) and two more that broke storytelling rules I didn’t know existed (My Twentieth Century, Speed Racer). I also wanted two out-and-out comedies, which went to Ninotchka and The Lady Eve – narrowly beating Youth, Metropolitan, and Toni Erdmann. When I realised that’s 11 films, I rewatched all the maybes, and said goodnight to Friday Night – sorry, Claire Denis.