Top 10s

Kevin Macdonald’s Top 10

Kevin Macdonald’s Top 10

Kevin Macdonald is the grandson of the filmmaker Emeric Pressburger (A Canterbury Tale, The Red Shoes). Macdonald’s directorial credits include 2000’s Academy Award–winning One Day in September, about the killing of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and 2003’s Touching the Void, which tells the story of two climbers’ disastrous attempt to scale the Siula Grande, in the Andes, in 1985, and 2006’s The Last King of Scotland, for which Forest Whitaker won a Best Actor Oscar.

  • Gimme Shelter

    1.
    Gimme Shelter

    David Maysles, Albert Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin

    1. Perhaps my favorite documentary. In its thematic consistency and sense of narrative it works almost like an ancient myth, but with the added bonus of utter spontaneity—and Mick Jagger in a ridiculously long scarf.

  • I Know Where I’m Going!

    2.
    I Know Where I’m Going!

    Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

    2. My wife fell for me when she realized that my grandfather wrote this one. Some of that romantic spirit must have been genetic, she hoped.

  • Murmur of the Heart

    3.
    Murmur of the Heart

    Louis Malle

    3. I don’t quite understand how this film does what it does—make you understand the powerful, quasi-incestuous relationship between mother and son, without making it seem the least bit abnormal or reprehensible—but that’s what I love about it. That and the jazz soundtrack and the semipsychotic older twin brothers.

  • The Lady Eve

    4.
    The Lady Eve

    Preston Sturges

    4. All the brilliance and laughter of any Sturges film, but with romance too.

  • The Wages of Fear

    5.
    The Wages of Fear

    Henri-Georges Clouzot

    5. Desperate men who will do anything to earn a buck. It’s the tensest film I know.

  • The Complete Mr. Arkadin

    6.
    The Complete Mr. Arkadin

    Orson Welles

    6. A film that could have been as good as The Third Man—if Welles had had a bit more money and a more charismatic leading man. But the unpolished nature of the endeavor gives it a certain mystique.

  • Walkabout

    7.
    Walkabout

    Nicolas Roeg

    7. The best British film of the 1970s. I love the symbolism and camera work.

  • 8. I love to luxuriate in this film and imagine what it would be like to be part of this extraordinary extended family. A great double bill with The Royal Tenenbaums!

  • The Battle of Algiers

    9.
    The Battle of Algiers

    Gillo Pontecorvo

    9. The way that Gillo Pontecorvo makes his political points without resorting to propaganda—while always being truthful to the characters—is utterly brilliant. It’s a true-life thriller that doesn’t resort to a single cliché. The music is also unequaled in film.

  • I vitelloni

    10.
    I vitelloni

    Federico Fellini

    10. My favorite Fellini—maybe because it’s one of his most modest and endearing. The depiction of friendship always touches me.