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My Favorite Criterion Films of All Time

by Craig J. Clark

Created 07/11/12

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I should note that I've culled this list from the Criterion titles in my personal collection. And it could easily be twice as long, or three times as long, or five times as long... You get the idea.

  • Not just my favorite Criterion film, but my favorite film, period. Gilliam creates a world no sane man would want to live in.

  • The only film that comes close to challenging Brazil for the title. I still hold out hope that Soderbergh has a Son of Schizopolis in him before he retires.

  • An amazing film, an amazing score, all wrapped up in the most gorgeous package imaginable.

  • Buñuel at his best. My first exposure to this film was through the Modern Film Scripts series, which was more than enough to entice me into its world.

  • I agree with Marlene Dietrich. Give me back my beautiful Beast!

  • De Palma at his most duplicitous. The film that showed he had studied the Master well and had a few tricks of his own up his sleeves.

  • Just about any Kurosawa film could go in this slot, but I have to tip my hat to this killer noir.

  • Lang was one of the few directors who made masterpieces in the both silent age and the sound era. M proves that, with his first sound film, he had thoroughly thought through what he could do with it.

  • One of the great rediscoveries. Even if it took 37 years to reach our shores, it was definitely worth the wait.

  • After two and a half years of searching, my new favorite Fassbinder.

  • Bonus! I was so tickled when I found out this film is going to be in the Criterion Collection, I just had to throw it onto the pile.

22 comments

  • By The Narrator Returns
    July 13, 2012
    12:57 PM

    I'm proud to say that I own nine out of ten of these (and two of them are on my Top 11 list). I really need to pick up World on a Wire.
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  • By Manish M.
    August 06, 2012
    03:48 PM

    Belle de jour and Beauty and the Beast are in my top 12. I haven't seen the others, dying to see Brazil and High and Low. great list
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    • By Craig J. Clark
      August 07, 2012
      10:34 AM

      High and Low is an amazing film. I got to see it on the big screen during a Kurosawa/Mifune retrospective and it totally blew me away.
  • By Renaton
    August 25, 2012
    12:52 AM

    Brazil is fantastic! I also love the inclusions of Cocteau, Lang and "Sisters".
    Reply
  • By Jason Andrews
    August 25, 2012
    10:33 PM

    Brazil and Sisters! Excellent list! Brazil was my first CC;bought for me as a wedding anniversary gift.
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    • By Craig J. Clark
      August 26, 2012
      08:14 AM

      I'm pretty sure my first Criterion DVD was either Life of Brian or Time Bandits. With Brazil, I had to save up a bit to get the three-disc set.
  • By endo
    August 28, 2012
    02:40 AM

    Thanks for alerting me to the release of The X From Outer Space. I'll also have to check out the Mishima; for some reason I've stayed away.
    Reply
  • By Unreliable
    August 29, 2012
    12:29 PM

    Great list Craig. I discovered WOAW earlier this year and Belle de jour has always been a fave. Thanks for the other recs.
    Reply
  • By Shaun
    August 31, 2012
    05:37 PM

    Lang, but also Bunuel, Hitchcock, Ford, Borzage, Ozu, Dreyer, Mizoguchi, Sjostrom, and many more did so as well - pretty much any great director who, through accident of birth, happened to live during the transition to sound made great films in both eras. Uh, in my opinion.
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    • By Shaun
      August 31, 2012
      05:38 PM

      von Sternberg
  • By Shaun
    August 31, 2012
    05:40 PM

    Chaplin
    Reply
  • By Hal
    September 08, 2012
    10:43 AM

    You might want to read Soderbergh's book about making and promoting Schizopolis, Getting Away With It.
    Reply
  • By Brian Camp
    September 26, 2012
    01:15 PM

    I wouldn't classify HIGH AND LOW as a "killer noir." It's a drama about corporate politics that turns into a police procedural in its second half. Excellent film, but not "noir" by any stretch.
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    • By Craig J. Clark
      September 30, 2012
      01:04 AM

      Well, as far as I'm concerned, a film like High and Low defies any and all attempts to pigeonhole it. Is it a true film noir? No, absolutely not. But calling it a "killer drama about corporate politics that turns into a police procedural in its second half" doesn't have quite the same ring.
  • By Gail Parksion
    September 28, 2012
    05:04 PM

    I wonder if Criterion has plans to rerelease Touch of Evil. That's my favorite "noir" from their collection. Sisters is right behind it--still scary every time I watch it. The Honeymoon Killers and Island of Lost Souls are two I added recently that I love to quote until my husband yells "enough!" Brazil is a wonderfully weird film. I don't have it my collection, but the Encore Channel shows it frequently enough with the "on demand" viewing, I get my fix at least three times a year. Sometimes, I watch it four or five nights in a row. Something about it compels me to do it. Have you ever had a reaction to a film like that before?
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    • By Craig J. Clark
      October 05, 2012
      04:18 PM

      When Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas came out, I saw it three times on the big screen, figuring there was little chance I would get to do so again. I spaced them out, though.
  • By Kevin Green
    October 04, 2012
    07:27 PM

    Nice list!
    Reply
  • By thenoah
    March 25, 2013
    08:56 PM

    LEAVE A COMMENT
    Reply
  • By thenoah
    March 25, 2013
    08:56 PM

    brazil is the best criterion
    Reply
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    • By Craig J. Clark
      March 28, 2013
      05:48 PM

      I agree. I just shelled out for the Blu-ray, even though I already had the 3-disc DVD release. So worth it.
  • By EDWARD RODRIGUEZ
    July 13, 2013
    12:38 PM

    Love your list!
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    • By Craig J. Clark
      July 13, 2013
      09:34 PM

      Thanks. I'm rather fond of it myself.

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