Sean Baker’s Top 10

Sean Baker’s Top10

Sean Baker is a writer-director and cocreator of the television show Greg the Bunny. His movies include Prince of Broadway (2008), Starlet (2012), and Tangerine (2015). He says, “Writing this list was a little like Sophie’s choice for me. And I’m surprised that my picks are for the most part contemporary. I feel oddly guilty for not including older titles that shaped cinema as a whole, but in the end, I decided to go with those films that have the strongest impact on my own work.”

Jul 10, 2015
  • 1 (tie)

    John Cassavetes


  • John Cassavetes


  • John Cassavetes

    A Woman Under the Influence

  • John Cassavetes

    The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

  • John Cassavetes

    Opening Night

  • Charles Kiselyak

    A Constant Forge

    My favorite Cassavetes film, Husbands, is not in this set . . . but nonetheless, his films mean everything to me. And I find his way of making films just as fascinating and inspirational as the films themselves. So that is why I adore A Constant Forge. Out of all the films in this collection, Charles Kiselyak’s documentary is the film I revisit the most.

  • 2

    Mike Leigh


    Although Mike Leigh’s family dramas, such as High Hopes and Secrets & Lies, have had a more apparent influence on my work, Naked is my favorite film of Leigh’s. It’s in my top ten favorite films ever made. It’s an exhausting odyssey that never gets the characters (or the viewer) home again. “Tell me, love, are you aware of the effect you have on the average mammalian, Mancunian, XY-ly chromosome, slavering, lusty male member of the species?” Now, that’s dialogue!

  • 3

    Maurice Pialat

    À nos amours

    For some reason, Maurice Pialat doesn’t get the same attention here in the States as his contemporary Cassavetes. But I feel he deserves just as much. Without this film, we wouldn’t have Sandrine Bonnaire, and the complexity of the family dynamic is like nothing I’ve ever seen before on film. I’m proud to be neighbors with Tom Stevens, the actor who played the young American tourist. We were speaking in our New York City apartment building stairwell, and Tom told me that he had been in “a little film that you probably never heard of called À nos amours”—I nearly fell down the stairs. The extras are fantastic on the release, including an interview with Catherine Breillat.

  • 4 (tie)

    Eric Rohmer

    The Bakery Girl of Monceau

  • Eric Rohmer

    Suzanne’s Career

  • Eric Rohmer

    My Night at Maud’s

  • Eric Rohmer

    La collectionneuse

  • Eric Rohmer

    Claire’s Knee

  • Eric Rohmer

    Love in the Afternoon

    It’s really about Claire’s Knee for me. Not only do I consider it the best of this series . . . but it was my introduction to La Nouvelle Vague while in my teens.

  • 5

    Lee Chang-dong

    Secret Sunshine

    Lee Chang-dong is a living master. (I hope that Criterion puts out Oasis eventually—nudge, nudge.) Jeon Do-yeon delivers such a powerful performance. I wish I knew Korean, because I’m sure I would appreciate the film even more . . . which seems almost impossible because I adore it so.

  • 6

    Hal Ashby

    Harold and Maude

    Not going out on a limb with this one. A perfect film, and one that has obviously been a major influence (Starlet). My friend and producing partner Darren Dean gave me this Blu-ray as a Christmas gift two years ago.

  • 7

    Paul Verhoeven


    Simply one of the best films ever made. An art-house film disguised as a Hollywood blockbuster. Although Criterion’s version isn’t a Blu-ray, the extras on this DVD are unparalleled.

  • 8

    Ingmar Bergman

    Scenes from a Marriage

    One of the first Criterion discs I purchased . . . back when it was laserdisc. I much prefer Bergman’s original five-hour, six-part television version to the U.S. cut . . . both of which are in this DVD set. When people tell me I should get married, I ask, “Have you seen Scenes from a Marriage?”

  • 9

    Luc Dardenne and Jean-Pierre Dardenne


    This was almost a coin toss. I could just have easily chosen La promesse. Both films are perfection. But it’s the final scene in Rosetta that made me choose this film, the relentless muffler noise of that moped that had me begging for relief and yet wanting more.

  • 10

    Lars von Trier

    Breaking the Waves

    So I was in a crowded New York City cinema in 1997 watching Breaking the Waves in absolute awe as my girlfriend talked through the entire film, joked with her friends, and continually jumped up and down for cigarette breaks. I realized at that moment that I was dumping her. Thank you, Lars, for helping me see the light.