Top 10s

Robin Wood’s Top 10

Robin Wood’s Top 10

This month we asked critic Robin Wood—whose books include Hitchcock’s Films and Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan and who recently wrote essays for the Criterion releases The Furies and Le plaisir—to pick his ten favorite films in the collection. Newly retired from teaching, Wood told us he intends to spend the remainder of his life enjoying himself with movies, operas, and concerts on DVD, while writing books and articles on Michael Haneke, Tsai Ming-liang, Satyajit Ray, and others, and spending a happy old age with his partner, Richard Lippe, and their cats.

  • Sansho the Bailiff

    1.
    Sansho the Bailiff

    Kenji Mizoguchi

    1. A strong candidate for Greatest Film Ever Made. A perfect and profound masterpiece, rivaled only by its near companion Ugetsu.

  • PlayTime

    2.
    PlayTime

    Jacques Tati

    2. Tati invites the spectator into a game of which one never tires, every viewing revealing fresh nuances and discoveries.

  • The Complete Mr. Arkadin

    3.
    The Complete Mr. Arkadin

    Orson Welles

    3. The critics of Cahiers du cinéma once chose this over Citizen Kane for their “Ten Best Ever” list. I am inclined to agree. The three versions suggest an endless, fascinating “work in progress.”

  • Seven Samurai

    4.
    Seven Samurai

    Akira Kurosawa

    4. For me, three films stand out in Kurosawa’s uneven career (the other two being Ikiru and High and Low): one of the cinema’s greatest “action” movies, thrilling and sublime. (Beware the dread Hollywood remake!)

  • Pickup on South Street

    5.
    Pickup on South Street

    Samuel Fuller

    5. Mistakenly seen as a crude anticommunist movie, Pickup juxtaposes the commies with an America in which the only characters are criminals or dropouts. The death of Moe, sacrificing herself for a country that abandoned her, is heartbreaking. Arguably Fuller’s best film.

  • The Lady Eve

    6.
    The Lady Eve

    Preston Sturges

    6. Sturges’s masterpiece, from the long buildup to the most hilarious and brutal payoff in the history of Hollywood comedy.

  • Tokyo Story

    7.
    Tokyo Story

    Yasujiro Ozu

    7. Influenced by (but in some respects transcending) Leo McCarey’s Make Way for Tomorrow, this is perhaps the greatest film about the Family and its degeneration under the stresses of capitalism.

  • I Know Where I’m Going!

    8.
    I Know Where I’m Going!

    Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

    8. My favorite Powell and Pressburger movie. It’s eternally fresh, unpredictable, yet perfect in its apparent digressions.

  • Band of Outsiders

    9.
    Band of Outsiders

    Jean-Luc Godard

    9. Godard at his freshest, most spontaneous and improvisatory. Inexhaustably captivating.

  • Notorious

    10.
    Notorious

    Alfred Hitchcock

    10. Arguably Hitchcock’s most perfect (but not necessarily most profound) movie, in which every shot, every look counts, and Grant and Bergman achieve sublimity.