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.
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.
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.
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.
4. All the brilliance and laughter of any Sturges film, but with romance too.
5. Desperate men who will do anything to earn a buck. It’s the tensest film I know.
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.
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!
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.
10. My favorite Fellini—maybe because it’s one of his most modest and endearing. The depiction of friendship always touches me.