Ray Argall

Director, Cinematographer, Editor

Voted for

American Graffiti1973George Lucas
Two-lane Blacktop1971Monte Hellman
Pickpocket1959Robert Bresson
Proof1991Jocelyn Moorhouse
The Truman Show1998Peter Weir
The Rider2017Chloé Zhao
Samson & Delilah2009Warwick Thornton
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure1989Stephen Herek
Exotica1994Atom Egoyan
Malcolm1986Nadia Tass


American Graffiti

1973 USA

Captured the culture of an era so effectively, balancing multiple characters and storylines from dusk to dawn. For me this is the film that elevated sound design to be an integral part of the cinema experience. Walter Murch has crafted an absolutely brilliant soundtrack blending music, the ambience of cars, streets and caught atmospheres into a soundscape that immerses the audience into the world the characters inhabit and we are taken back to that time and place. It really feels like George Lucas and his cast and crew were enjoying making this film, and this team of young creative filmmakers were building the foundations of a contemporary cinema which grew into an incredible body of work.

Two-lane Blacktop

1971 USA

I can watch this film time and time again, this is the pinnacle of existential filmmaking and Monte Hellman and his crew have used the road movie format to perfection - so well suited to this story… or is it a non-story? It has natural performances, peopled with a non-professional cast (except for Warren Oates) that deliver flat one-liners that somehow resonate with the viewer. It is a cinema journey dancing between the mundane and the profound.


1959 France

Pickpocket is the finest film of it’s era, deceptively simple, using non-professional actors, it slowly creeps up on you and it’s not until you reach the end that you fully appreciate the spiritual and emotional journey you’ve been taken on. There is not a wasted second or a wasted shot, using all the basic tools of cinema storytelling with no special fx or trickery it still manages to deliver such a powerful lesson in humanity.


1991 Australia

The marriage of a simple theme about a blind photographer who can’t prove what he can’t see and the push-pull of trust and betrayal around him, is deftly directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse who never wastes a moment or look or reaction, building a web of truth and lies - a story so well constructed with her editor and the creative team. There’s not a missed beat, and the film manages a balance of humour and drama that makes it a treat till the very end.

The Truman Show

1998 USA

I could list several Peter Weir films here, but The Truman Show is a masterpiece of direction by a director who always delivers an exhilarating cinema experience laced with touches of magic and fantasy. This is a poignant and compelling story about the power and influence of media on us, made before reality TV had become such a mainstream entertainment. Peter Weir is a master of working music in films, and the music track by Burkhard Dallwitz with additions from Philip Glass is seamlessly matched with the evolving stories of the Truman character. Totally engaging and compelling cinema.

The Rider

2017 USA, Belgium

Made with non-actors and based on and around real life stories, this is a slow building and ultimately very rewarding film, beautifully shot and paced. It is a great work of cinema that surprised me in its simplicity and authenticity.

Samson & Delilah

2009 Australia

It’s a pretty tough film, but made with real soul and compassion for the characters that inhabit this story of indigenous teens. You feel like you’re inside the world of the lead characters, but also observing everything that impacts around them, at times with devastating effect. Warwick Thornton is director, cinematographer and composer and is on top of his game in all departments. Warwick is part of the new wave of First Nation storytellers working in Australian cinema, which includes his mother Freda, his sister Erica Glynn and his son Dylan River, all part of a larger family of first nation directors making some of the best cinema in Australia at the moment.

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure


Included because it’s such irreverent fun and the whole filmmaking cast and crew seem to be in on it. There are so many quotable lines and it stands up to many viewings with clever casting and the playfulness of the cliches surrounding the historical figures portrayed. The filmmaking never fails, and keeps the story spinning along with never a dull moment. I just enjoy this film every time I see it, as do my adult children!


1994 Canada

Such an evocative piece of filmmaking where the marriage of music, sound, image and story is spellbinding. Atom Egoyan has perfected the art of ethereal cinema and Exotica is one of his best films, spinning a tale that literally dances between truth and the imperfect nature of being human. Great performances all round, no character outshines another, it’s a lovely ensemble the actors have built for this world they inhabit.


1986 Australia

Wonderful cast, beautifully directed and full of wonderful gadgets. A really entertaining heist movie that is so simple, yet masterfully put together. Nadia Tass and her partner David Parker have continued to build a remarkable body work following this film and this remains one of the most entertaining and enjoyable ways to spend 90 minutes in the cinema.

Further remarks

I wish I could have another ten choices!! This was harder than I thought, there are directors with incredible bodies of work like Yasuziro Ozu, but not one film I could single out. Looking at all these directors there is a depth of cinema storytelling during the 65 years of my life that is so incredibly diverse and it keeps evolving - not just technically but creatively as well. We’re also seeing a greater diversity of cinematic storytellers as the gender imbalance starts to even out, and directors from first nations cultures are building their own unique cinematic voices. The seventh Art dances between creativity, commercialism and exploitation, and has the most profound impact on us. Definitely the Art of our times.