Olivier Joyard


Voted for

Vertigo1958Alfred Hitchcock
Imitation of Life1959Douglas Sirk
Diaries, Notes & Sketches: Walden1969Jonas Mekas
Wanda1970Barbara Loden
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles1975Chantal Akerman
Flowers of Shanghai1998Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Histoire(s) du Cinéma1988Jean-Luc Godard
Artificial Intelligence A.I.2001Steven Spielberg
Elephant2003Gus Van Sant
Twin Peaks : The Return 2018David Lynch



1958 USA

No other film has made more people simultaneously understand why they love cinema, and why they came too late, after the age of innocence.

Imitation of Life

1959 USA

Minnelli’s Tea and Sympathy was a close contender, but Sirk’s heatrbreaking masterpiece has the special ability to deal with the imperious question of emotion. As Louis Skorecki once put it : « Violins are always right ».

Diaries, Notes & Sketches: Walden

1969 USA

Everytime I encounter the beauty and melancholy of this landmark « experimental » film, I don’t remember what cinema should be, or even what it is. Which is essential to my loving it.


1970 USA

This film made of anger and despair was a scream in the desert in 1970. Somehow, more and more of us seem to hear that scream today - a distinctive mark of great movies.

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

1975 Belgium, France

This portrait of a woman slowly burning down her everyday prison while the filmmaker burns down mainstream storytelling defines a standard for artistic ambition and political relevance of form.

Flowers of Shanghai

1998 Taiwan, Japan

A cleansing of my eyes is what I felt when watching the Taiwanese master’s lavish take on a 19th century Shanghai whorehouse. After some time, I also admired the way it ties together male domination and the economics of inequality.

Histoire(s) du Cinéma

1988 France, Switzerland

Eight sumptuous episodes: cinema’s tombstone according to JLG, in the most vivid and poetic way. I can’t wait for the zombies that will arise from that tombstone one day.

Artificial Intelligence A.I.

2001 USA

The perfect exemple of a film so pure in its form and intentions that many could easily walk past it without noticing its greatness. A poignant vision of childhood as a city of regrets is forever printed in Spielberg’s frames.


2003 USA

Making a sweet movie about a terrifying massacre: who else than Gus Van Sant could have pulled up such an impossible task? Despite a Palme d’Or, Elephant was not seen enough. What a scandal.

Twin Peaks : The Return


Neither a long movie, nor a television series - maybe one constantly morphing into the other? We will never be done defining Lynch’s exceptional odyssey, filled with the unbearable violence of our times and constantly fighting to suppress it.

Further remarks

With no film dated earlier than 1958, I’m surprising myself. I have to admit that what critics called the 'modernity' of cinema has informed my taste and my experience, although I consider my vision of 'modernity' to stand as a refusal of any norms associated to it.

That means Vertigo and Walden can play on the same ground – embracing together the sweet/terrifying power of ghosts – without actually belonging to the same world. They are lonely planets, as most of my favorite films are: Wanda, Jeanne Dielman…, Histoire(s) du cinéma, Elephant, A.I. of course. I like when estranged planets collide, and that’s always how I feel when facing beauty on screen. I become a lonely planet myself, searching for a galaxy to live in.

This list is more an invitation to travel through unknown regions than the description of a country we should call cinema. In my opinion, 125 years after it was invented, cinema should not be considered a home we can return to, but a territory we know little of and are welcome to explore - and even get lost in. Twin Peaks: The Return embodies that search, full of terror, love and mystery.