Head of Acquisitions, Picturehouse Entertainment + BFI LFF Programme Advisor & International Consultant at KVIFF
|Brian De Palma
|Enter the Void
|Once upon a Time in America
|Portrait of Jennie
What an honour to be asked. But what torture compiling my list was.
There are many examples of perfect films from around the world and across the massive history of cinema that would comfortably fit into my personal Top 10. Films that I would drop everything to rewatch at the cinema. Films that I've owned on every conceivable home entertainment format. Films which excite me just to think about in terms of what they do to push cinema and its possibilities forward. So it was psychologically painful to remove fifty or more films from my final list. But such was the task.
In the end what I settled on was a list of ten films that floored me on first viewing and continue to do so every time I revisit them. Films which in different and exciting ways move and stir something in my soul. Films that feel somehow as though they are a part of me now as a cinephile and as a human being. I also, I hope, resisted the temptation to be obvious.
There's a lot of thematic and narrative darkness in the films I've chosen. And that's to be expected. We live in a fucked up, unfair and horrible world and I think good art should reflect and comment on that. But I don't find any of these films especially depressing. Far from it. For me there is nothing more thrilling and positive than the choice a group of people made to make a great film for whatever reason at whatever time - from the noblest of artistic intentions to the shrewdest of commercial interests, from a mood of optimism and empathy to one of anger and frustration with the world. And the fact we get the pleasure of experiencing the beauty, intelligence, and narrative and thematic complexity they produced, deliberately or accidentally - after decades of debate on the subject who cares at this point? - is one of the purest joys in life.
A special shout out to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974), The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949), Tenebrae (Dario Argento, 1983), Singing' in the Rain (Stanley Donen, 1952) and Vera Cruz (Robert Aldrich, 1954), all of which I found agonising to not include on my final list, and all of which are expressions of total cinematic beauty, fury and formal rigour. Long live cinema and long live film.