Do the Right Thing
Heat rises off this film. Everything about it is hot: the iconic eye-searing color palette, the characters’ respective tempers, and, of course, Lee’s hyperstylized, sweltering Bed-Stuy simulacrum. But there ain’t nothing sluggish about it.
Written on the Wind
An oily, sexy, ridiculous melodrama that once seen is never forgotten. Lauren Bacall seethes, and Dorothy Malone is scrumptious as a platinum-haired nympho who just wants to get out of Hadley.
Steven Soderbergh’s most personal—and certainly most eccentric—film. Totally balls-out and unapologetic. This kind of movie is really, really hard to get made these days.
Sid & Nancy
I first saw this in 1995, when I was seventeen. My boyfriend actually left the room because it was too intense; he apparently couldn’t stomach the potent cocktail of Chloe Webb’s screeching and Gary Oldman’s rheumy-eyed menace. Even though the movie was set in a time we couldn’t remember, it mirrored our teen zeitgeist in a lot of ways. We’d just made it through the second wave of punk.
David Maysles, Albert Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin
This is documentary in the purest sense: a document. It’s real and sickening, and it feels dirty to watch. And yet there’s something weirdly redemptive about the fact that the Maysles were there. They caught it, they bronzed it like a shoe, and it can’t ever be diminished.
David Maysles, Albert Maysles, Ellen Hovde, and Muffie Meyer
Maysles double feature! I was reminded of this one the other day when I encountered a large female raccoon in the middle of Los Angeles. As she licked her paws with urbane nonchalance, I thought to myself, “Holy crap, Big Edie and Little Edie had one of those living in their wall. Hard-core.” I love how ceaselessly imaginative Little Edie is. “Staunch character” indeed. She’s like a fabulous nun in a one-woman order. And Big Edie is dry-as-a-bone hilarious. I don’t view this as a tragedy. There’s probably a Grey Gardens on every street in America.
Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.
Run! Don’t walk! I enjoy horror movies that involve fog, ooze, or anything nonhumanoid consuming humanity. You can choose to interpret them through a scholarly lens or simply enjoy the spectacle of blobitude.
G. W. Pabst
Whoever it was who said “There is only Louise Brooks” was right on. With those sad manga-heroine eyes and immaculate bob haircut, she’s become like Marilyn Monroe for nerds. This film is as full of dread and emotion as any modern-day thriller—and all without the benefit of, y’know, audible dialogue. Spectacular.
Dazed and Confused
A film that seems to get more important every year, and I don’t mean that facetiously. I don’t think it’s actually possible to make a flick about high school in the 1970s that surpasses Linklater’s. He did it. It’s done. We all got served. The characters have perfect names too: Pink, Mitch, O’Banion, etc.
The Royal Tenenbaums
This entire movie could have been about the friction between Danny Glover and Gene Hackman and it still would have been amazing. Look past the production design and darling costumes if you can; the story is oak solid behind those oxblood walls.
Steve Buscemi’s Top 10
Steve Buscemi is an actor who has appeared in such films as Mystery Train, Fargo, Reservoir Dogs, and Armageddon. He also also directed such films as Trees Lounge, Animal Factory, and Interview.
Guy Maddin’s Top 10
Canadian filmmaker and writer Guy Maddin’s Brand Upon the Brain!, featuring Isabella Rossellini as the narrator, was released on DVD from the Criterion Collection in 2008. Maddin also contributed an essay on Kirk Douglas for our release of Billy Wi…
Leanne Shapton’s Top 10
An artist, art director, illustrator, and publisher based in New York City, Leanne Shapton designed the covers of the Criterion releases Kicking and Screaming and Cría cuervos . . . , and is the author of Was She Pretty?
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…