Beauty and the Beast
A glorious version of the French fairy tale that puts others to shame. The imagery is powerful and fantastic, and Cocteau’s screenplay dramatically illustrates the transformative power of love.
There’s no other film quite like it: an unsettling vision of a dystopic future, something like 1984 but with wildly funny touches, including one of Robert De Niro’s most unforgettable roles. A great ride.
If you’re worried that you’re crazy and want to feel sane, watch this riveting documentary about artist R. Crumb and his relatives. His family defines dysfunctional. He alone found a way to channel the dysfunctionality into creativity as a unique form of visual art.
House of Games
My favorite David Mamet film, with endless and unexpected twists of plot that leave you stunned and entertained. Has a deliciously perverse ending.
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
A riveting art film that chronicles the dramatic life and death of the great twentieth-century Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima, and also brings to life three of his fictional works. The real-life story is as dark and surprising as any of the novels. Philip Glass’s original score works perfectly with the striking imagery.
Nights of Cabiria
An early Fellini masterpiece and a deeply engaging story about the triumph of the human spirit over adversity and betrayal. You will fall in love with Giulietta Masina. Her last scene is one of the most emotionally moving film sequences I have ever watched.
Paths of Glory
This very early work by Stanley Kubrick is the most powerful antiwar film I know. Its emotional impact is overwhelming. Few people can watch the last scene without shedding tears. (The singer in it became Kubrick’s second wife, and they remained together until his death.)
A meditation on the nature of reality by Akira Kurosawa, one of greatest of all Japanese films, with magnificent performances by Toshiro Mifune. Is there such a thing as “objective reality”? Or, as Kurosawa suggests, is it all in the eye of the beholder?
This Is Spinal Tap
If you haven’t seen Spinal Tap, it’s your loss. The best mockumentary ever, with lines that made me fall out of my seat the first time I watched it, laughing so hard I couldn’t catch my breath. I’ve watched it countless times since and still crack up. Christopher Guest as Nigel is too good for words.
The Wages of Fear
A one-of-a-kind film that will have you on the edge of your seat. The suspense is overwhelming, as men attempt to haul truckloads of nitroglycerin along a hellish South American road. It’s a delight to watch Yves Montand sweat it out.
Kevin Macdonald’s Top 10
Kevin Macdonald is the grandson of the filmmaker Emeric Pressburger. 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…
Andrew Haigh’s Top 10
Andrew Haigh worked as an assistant editor on Hollywood blockbusters, including Gladiator and Black Hawk Down, before striking out on his own to make more personal films, including his breakthrough 2011 love story, Weekend.
Matt Dentler’s Top 10
Matt Dentler is the producer of the South by Southwest Film Conference & Festival, in Austin, Texas (sxsw.com), as well as a curator for American distributor Film Movement and Canadian distributor Films We Like. He also hosts the weekly local PBS ser…