Peter Hoskin

Daily Mail critic

Voted for

The Docks of New York1928Josef von Sternberg
City Lights1931Charles Chaplin
The Roaring Twenties1939Raoul Walsh
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp1943Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
My Darling Clementine1946John Ford
Black Narcissus1947Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
MIDARERU1964Mikio Naruse
Daisies1966Věra Chytilová
Out 11990Jacques Rivette
RUSSKI KOVCHEG2002Aleksandr Sokurov


The Docks of New York

1928 USA

An entire film of blends, not least of silent-era expressionism and muscular, American realism. Film noir begins here.

City Lights

1931 USA

Like Chaplin’s Tramp himself, both preposterous and wonderful. And it might just have the finest final shots in all cinema.

The Roaring Twenties

1939 USA

A masterpiece of concision. Across 106 minutes, we have the rise, fall and redemption of the gangster Eddie Bartlett, but also the story of an entire decade. A studio-era classic in the same vein as, say, Casablanca (Curtiz, 1942), though, puzzlingly, not nearly as well known.

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

1943 United Kingdom

A totemic monument to those who have been swept up by modern history and then swept aside.

My Darling Clementine

1946 USA

All of Ford is in here. Sentimentalism. Heroism. Violence. Rambunctious humour. But, above all, a clear-eyed concern for people and the communities they create.

Black Narcissus

1947 United Kingdom

Officially, it’s some combination of culture shock and sexual repression that sends Kathleen Byron’s Sister Ruth over the edge. But, really, it has to be the Technicolor and its shocking greens and purples. Dangerously synaesthetic.


1964 Japan

Like Ozu, Naruse takes the simple, everyday actions of simple, everyday people and puts them at the centre of the universe. Yearning is his defining statement.


1966 Czechoslovakia

Like an explosion in a glitter factory. Wooh! This is fun! But also: did anyone get hurt? Because Daisies’ brand of fun is also a very serious form of rebellion.

Out 1

1990 France

As Jean-Pierre Léaud’s Colin discovers, as he tries to unpick a conspiracy that might not be real, there are no answers nor resolutions. Perhaps not even any meaning. It’s as close as films get to human life.


2002 Russian Federation, Germany, Japan, Canada, Finland

A purposeful reminder of the richness of Russia’s culture and past. There’s far more to that country than just one gangster in the Kremlin.

Further remarks

First, the rules. I’ve imposed a restriction on myself for this list, to have a different director for each film. Otherwise, I’d have started with ten John Fords – and struggled to go any further.

Then the exception. There are two Powell & Pressburger movies because, well, they were themselves exceptional – and, besides, there were two of them.

The honourable mentions. I wish there’d been space for Sunrise (Murnau, 1927), Stray Dog (Kurosawa, 1949), Stromboli (Rossellini, 1950), Singin’ in the Rain (Donen & Kelly, 1952), Track of the Cat (Wellman, 1954), The Night of the Hunter (Laughton, 1955), Barry Lyndon (Kubrick, 1975), Killer of Sheep (Burnett, 1978), Tree of Life (Malick, 2011), Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Ceylan, 2011), and plenty more.

And, finally, the confession. As with any list of this kind, you end up thinking as much about the films you haven’t seen as those you have. In my case, there’s a yawning gap when it comes to African cinema, where I’ve watched the obvious stuff (Touki Bouki, Ousmane Sembène’s work, etc.) but not much else. That’s something I’ll be looking to rectify. Just give me – I dunno – another ten years or so?