Richard Propes

Publisher/Film Critic, The Independent Critic

Voted for

1963Federico Fellini
Seven Samurai1954Akira Kurosawa
City Lights1931Charles Chaplin
The 400 Blows1959François Truffaut
Shoah1985Claude Lanzmann
Grave of the Fireflies1988Isao Takahata
Cléo from 5 to 71962Agnès Varda
25th Hour2002Spike Lee
Magnolia1999Paul Thomas Anderson
Sátántangó1994Béla Tarr


1963 Italy, France

Except for those films you work hard to forget, you remember films for different reasons. It can be a singular performance, a wonderful ensemble, exquisite production values, or simply one absolutely stunning scene. With Fellini's "8 1/2," every moment I remember brings me back to Fellini's mastery of filmmaking. There are so many magnificent moments here that I've simply never forgotten. "8 1/2" is one of the finest examples of the balance between the art and the craft of filmmaking.

Seven Samurai

1954 Japan

75 years after its release, Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" still defines everything that I want an action film to possess - a meaningful story with deep characterizations, beautiful shot and purposeful action, and a rhythm that immerses me in its every moment. There are very few action films that achieve this tapestry and "Seven Samurai" remains the best of them all.

City Lights

1931 USA

This one is personal for me. I've seldom experienced both laughter and tears in a motion picture and "City Lights" manages to elicit both from me without a single word uttered. I will likely always and forever consider the final scene of "City Lights" to be one of the finest closing scenes ever shot. It's been nearly 100 years since "City Lights" was released and I still can't think of a single thing I'd change.

The 400 Blows

1959 France

It has been only in the past month that I've been able to see "The 400 Blows" in an actual movie theatre. It only magnified my deep love for this debut from Truffaut. It's a gift to be able to make a deeply personal film that never feels weighted down by that personal connection. "The 400 Blows" offers a perfect combination of emotional resonance and astounding filmmaking.


1985 France

There are a handful of documentaries I consider to be masterpieces. "Shoah" is the best of them all.

Grave of the Fireflies

1988 Japan

I consider this to be the greatest animated film ever made and it's not even close.

Cléo from 5 to 7

1962 France, Italy

This film is a highlight of the French New Wave yet Varda infuses it with originality and her own directorial voice.

25th Hour

2002 USA

I knew that I wanted to include Spike Lee on my list. The question was "What film?" I opted for what I consider to be his most underrated film, a quiet masterpiece with what I consider to be Edward Norton's finest performance.


1999 USA

Anderson is by far my favorite of this generation's filmmakers. "There Will Be Blood" is the more obvious pick, but "Magnolia" is the film that has lingered in my heart and mind more vividly.


1994 Hungary, Germany, Switzerland

Bold, ambitious, unforgettable, and a film that constantly reminds me of the transformative power of cinema.

Further remarks

Is it really possible to select the greatest films of all-time? This process was maddening. I have intentionally keyed in on the word "greatest" to select those films that for me transformed who I am and the world around me. I have also very intentionally attempted to contribute a list representing more diverse filmmakers. I would not, in all cases, say these are my "favorite" films. These are the films that for me achieved true greatness. A film like "Shoah" I may never watch again, yet I don't really need to because it is so vividly immersed within me that I still remember every image. All of my selections remind me why I absolutely love being a film critic.