Tom Charity

Year-round film programmer, Vancouver International Film Festival

Voted for

Beau travail1998Claire Denis
Close-up1989Abbas Kiarostami
Les Enfants du paradis1945Marcel Carné
Man with a Movie Camera1929Dziga Vertov
OHAYO1959Yasujirō Ozu
Once upon a Time in America1983Sergio Leone
SUBARNAREKHA1965Ritwik Ghatak
A Woman under the Influence1974John Cassavetes
Yi Yi1999Edward Yang


Beau travail

1998 France

There is no more vital and exhilarating illustration of the female gaze in all of cinema.


1994 Hong Kong

Wong has made more sumptuous, elaborate and perhaps more beautiful films. But Chungking Express has the virtue of simplicity and the excitement of an improvisational artist* hitting his groove... It's movie jazz.

*and I'm combining Wong with Christopher Doyle and William Chang, here, and the actors too


1989 Iran

Of all the movies about the movies, this neo-realist non-fiction work throws the gate wide open

Les Enfants du paradis

1945 France

Classical perfection. Over the course of three hours and ten minutes, Jacques Prévert's scintillating, poetic screenplay reconciles tragedy and farce, body and soul to create an extraordinarily rich tapestry bursting with life and love.

Man with a Movie Camera

1929 Ukrainian SSR, USSR

Because it will always be the most modern film ever made


1959 Japan

Ozu's comedic mode should be treasured on a par with his more melancholic films

Once upon a Time in America

1983 USA, Italy

The American Dream unravelling... Leone's reverie is as close to Gatsby and it is to The Godfather.


1965 India

The American filmmaker has not been born who can match Ritwik Ghatak for the cinematic expression of utter, unadultered anguish. His dynamic compositional sense articulates the power relations inherent within all social modes, including, most ambivalently, family relationships, but he's particularly sensitive to the plight of the marginalised: women, children, the old, the insane. The sense of powerlessness in the face of modern decadence at the tragic cliamax of Subarnarekha is overwhelming, even if the director does extend a shimmering ray of hope in the postscript. The Golden Thread remains the most grievous omission in the established cinematic canon that I know of.

A Woman under the Influence

1974 USA

Gena Rowlands

Yi Yi

1999 Taiwan, Japan

According to a character here we live three times longer since the invention of the movies – the idea being that we experience so much more vicariously than we ever could have before. Certainly few films speak so profoundly to life at the onset of the twenty first century as this intimate epic from Taiwanese director Edward Yang.

Further remarks

Orson Welles and Jean Luc Godard. Murnau and Vigo. Chaplin. Keaton. John Ford and Howard Hawks. Ray and Ray. Dolan and Demy. Hitchcock, all alone. Agnes Varda, for so long the uncrowned queen of the nouvelle vague. Gone but not forgotten.

The critics and curators cast their nets further afield, the canon expands and diversifies, cinema is enriched and hopefully replenished.

This is the third time I have been lucky enough to contribute to this poll. I don't think any title has featured in all three lists and I'm glad of that: how tedious would it be to arrive at a definitive top ten?

The movies parade and shuffle, elbowing each other to catch our distracted eye. Something sticks: a smile, a sliver of the sublime. And then it fades.