Peter Howell

Movie Critic, The Toronto Star

Voted for

2001: A Space Odyssey1968Stanley Kubrick
Apocalypse Now1979Francis Ford Coppola
Do the Right Thing1989Spike Lee
La dolce vita1960Federico Fellini
In the Mood for Love2000Wong Kar Wai
Metropolis1927Fritz Lang
Mulholland Dr.2001David Lynch
Playtime1967Jacques Tati
Tokyo Story1953Yasujirō Ozu
Vertigo1958Alfred Hitchcock


2001: A Space Odyssey

1968 USA, United Kingdom

My personal favourite film of all time. It never fails to show me something new, despite more than 55 lifetime viewings (and counting). Leaping from the Stone Age to the Space Age, it opened my young mind to the limitless possibilities of film. It retains its power to fill the mind with mystery and wonder, your head forever tilted skywards.

Apocalypse Now

1979 USA

Coppola's magnum opus continues to mature as a statement of war's futility, more cogent today than ever.

Do the Right Thing

1989 USA

Spike Lee’s movies never get old because his theme of racial injustice never loses its urgency. Nowhere is this truth more searing than in “Do the Right Thing,” his third feature and assured masterpiece, released in 1989 but even more resonant in 2022.

La dolce vita

1960 Italy, France

Fellini's greatest film knows that "the sweet life" is more of the mind than the body.

In the Mood for Love

2000 Hong Kong, France

As wonderful to gaze upon as it is to contemplate, Wong's triumph makes romantic longing so incredibly sexy.


1927 Germany

Lang saw the dehumanized future long before it arrived.

Mulholland Dr.

2001 France, USA

In Lynch’s wondrously sad and sinister Hollywood tale, the road to hell is paved with ambition and lit by twinkling lights. Take it all literally or symbolically, but everything leads to a lonely heart at the end of a very long road — and a movie to savour.


1967 France

Tati's most astute film about modern life understands how it can be both fun and frantic at the same time.

Tokyo Story

1953 Japan

Ozu's eternal statement on the cruelty of life and aging captures stillness and contemplation that achieves screen perfection.


1958 USA

Hitchcock's greatest work never gets old, rewarding endless viewings and inducing rapture with its suspenseful swooning.

Further remarks

I foolishly thought my 2022 list of all-time greatest films for Sight and Sound would be easier than my 2012 one, since I had already done the heavy mental lifting and soul-searching in compiling the earlier Top 10 list. I didn't reckon on how my taste and perceptions would evolve over the past decade, not to mention my guilty feelings about omissions from the list. I've attempted to rectify the latter by swapping in two films — David Lynch's Hollywood fever dream Mulholland Drive and Spike Lee's cultural conscience-tweaker Do The Right Thing — but this necessitated swapping out F.W. Murnau's Sunrise and Terrence Malick's The Tree Of Life. I still value both, although now more of the mind than the heart; I want the films on my list to represent an emotional response as well as a critical one. I've grown to appreciate the work of Lynch and Lee more over the years and I'm delighted to place their personal bests on my tally of masterful movies. One thing that hasn't changed in the past 10 years is my unalloyed devotion to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, which I have now seen more than 55 times since a first viewing as a 13-year-old space freak in January 1969. It remains for me the definition of cinema's capacity to amaze and enlighten. I fervently hope 2001 tops this year's Sight and Sound list, although how will I cope with the guilt of wanting to topple from the summit another cherished film, Hitchcock's Vertigo?