Top 10s

Zola Jesus’s Top 10

Zola Jesus’s Top 10

Zola Jesus, née Nika Roza Danilova, is an internationally celebrated crafter of haunting electronic pop. She has released three LPs (The Spoils, Stridulum II, and Conatus) and a series of EPs; an album of orchestral reimaginings of her songs comes out August 20, 2013. Her Criterion selections reflect her love for science fiction and the surreal.

  • World on a Wire

    1.
    World on a Wire

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder

    Fassbinder’s sci-fi epic. I live for movies like this, when brave directors take their shot at a truly theoretical universe. I was lucky enough to see a new print of this recently in theaters, and it was vibrant! A mind-bending, riddling science fiction drama that will make your brain spin for weeks after. Visually, it’s hypnotizing in a manner you’d only expect from Fassbinder himself.

  • Solaris

    2.
    Solaris

    Andrei Tarkovsky

    Solaris is not just a movie to me. It feels like an entire language. The more I watch it, the more I learn about the genius of Tarkovsky’s vision. I still have yet to read the original story by Stanislaw Lem, but it’s next on my list to understanding the puzzle that is this wonderful film.

  • Woman in the Dunes

    3.
    Woman in the Dunes

    Hiroshi Teshigahara

    A surrealist landscape . . . It manages to feel both expansive and claustrophobic. I love the photography of the dunes, and most of all the score, by Toru Takemitsu. It’s tense and dissonant, a perfect sonic counterpart to the falling sands and the push-pull struggle of the two main characters.

  • Ariel

    4.
    Ariel

    Aki Kaurismäki

    Kaurismäki has a brilliant way of holding a completely silent shot that speaks more than anyone could ever communicate with words.

  • Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom

    5.
    Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom

    Pier Paolo Pasolini

    I’ll never forget the first time I finally got my hands on a copy of Salò . . . I kind of felt like I was holding a snuff film. I didn’t know what to expect, really. But as I watched it, I felt Pasolini’s honesty and ingenuity in what he was creating. This wasn’t just some shock horror, it was a resilient commentary, and an ode to the Marquis de Sade’s transgressions. Both Pasolini and Sade were steadfast in their artistic beliefs, and I think that’s what makes both Salò and The 120 Days of Sodom so timelessly formidable.

  • Black Moon

    6.
    Black Moon

    Louis Malle

    Such a fantastical film . . . I love how even at its most bizarrely surreal moments it feels firmly rooted in a stark alternate reality.

  • Videodrome

    7.
    Videodrome

    David Cronenberg

    I’ve never been shy about my faith in Cronenberg as a screenwriter and director. I feel he always thrives when he’s in complete control of both story and direction. Here he is in perfect form. Videodrome is a masterpiece, a great flare to the perils of an ever-growing desensitized and technophilic world. Long live the new flesh!

  • Wise Blood

    8.
    Wise Blood

    John Huston

    This movie solidified my love for and devotion to Brad Dourif. Through thick and thin, I will follow that man’s work. His stellar performance in Wise Blood nearly left me broken by the end.

  • The Virgin Spring

    9.
    The Virgin Spring

    Ingmar Bergman

    Such a haunting, penetrating film. It feels undoubtedly ahead of its time, as potentially one of the first films to explore themes of rape/revenge in its narrative.

  • Daisies

    10.
    Daisies

    Věra Chytilová

    I love this movie so much. It feels a little sociopathic at times. It’s very unfortunate that the director, Vera Chytilová, was so heavily censored by the Czechoslovakian government after the making of this film, which was banned nearly instantly after it was released.