Film Critic (Variety, RogerEbert.com)
|Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
|In a Lonely Place
|Au hasard Balthazar
|It Happened One Night
Going into this intimidating task of listing ten--only ten--films as the greatest cinematic achievements of all time, I was sure of three things only: 1. An understated, pressure-cooker thriller concealed in the mundanity of an everyday woman's routine with the hypnotizing precision of a metronome, Jeanne Dielman would claim my top stop. 2. I would make room for a movie by James Cameron, a filmmaker, innovator and dreamer who knows exactly how to make every penny of a titanic-sized budget count towards something sweepingly epic and entertaining. 3. As soon as I would be done with my list, I would nitpick it, disagree with it, lose sleep over it and interrogate myself to no end. (I imagine I am not alone on this last point.)
But what's the use of torturing oneself? Or rather, is a list of this sort even worth making if it doesn't cause the slightest bit of pain and regret? I would think not, as nothing truly worthwhile in life should be that easy. In that regard, take this list with generous grains of salt or heaps of any other pungent seasoning of your choosing. I do confess I could have made this list hundreds of different ways, finding room for deservingly time-honored staples...like the Kanes and Vertigos and Potemkins and Searchers and Odysseys of the world... But even then, I suspect I wouldn't have come close to a definitive "The 10 Greatest Movies Ever Made" conclusion, even if such a thing actually and objectively existed. (It doesn't.)
So instead, I decided to represent me and all the things that turn my mind, body and spirit on; all the things that make me FEEL: feel heartache, joy, terror, confusion, excitement, sense of justice, empathy, chills, heat, desire, anger, and heartache heartache and heartache, if I have somehow failed to mention that earlier. And these ten make a representative group for all those feelings, reactions and emotions I yearn to experience in front a movie. There are family dramas and tragedies here; there are love stories, mysteries; there is plenty of melodrama; there is sex and desire; there is laughter; there are deeply flawed characters like each one of us; there is style and craft and mind-bending journeys that defy logic. And finally, there is one unwaveringly dignified honoring of the endurance of a four-legged creature whose existence I will eternally be grateful for.
I can't guarantee that you will love, or even like everything on this list. But I can guarantee that anyone who watches all ten of these films will somehow change and maybe even grow a little as a human being. This is why I'm proud to share my final ten, however imperfect it might be...