Duncan Hannah’s Top 10

Duncan Hannah’s Top10

Duncan Hannah is a New York City–based artist whose paintings have been featured in over seventy solo exhibitions around the world since his debut in 1980. His work has been collected by both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Mick Jagger. Hannah has occasionally acted, and his filmography includes Amos Poe’s Unmade Beds (1976), Jennifer Montgomery’s Art for Teachers of Children (1995), and Michael Bilandic’s Hellaware (2013).

Jul 20, 2016
  • 1

    Jean-Luc Godard


    This has to be number one because it’s the film that opened the door to foreign cinema for me. I first saw it at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1967. I was stunned by the playful mix of romance, jazz, gangsters, and Paris. I must have seen it fifteen times since. In 1976, I played the lead in an homage to Breathless, Amos Poe’s Unmade Beds—though my connection to Belmondo sadly ends there.

  • 2

    François Truffaut

    The Soft Skin

    It’s impossible to pick just one Truffaut, but I keep going back to this, partly for the luminous performance by the late Françoise Dorléac. Truffaut’s adoration of his leading ladies always translated beautifully to film. The story is of the adulterous-homicidal type that Simenon favored.

  • 3

    Louis Malle

    Lacombe, Lucien

    This film is another touchstone for me, and I have based several paintings on it (as well as on many other films on my list). Toulouse, France, during the German occupation. A very odd romance blooms between the mismatched young couple. Aurore Clément is fabulous. Pierre Blais died soon after. Great Django Reinhardt soundtrack.

  • 4

    Víctor Erice

    The Spirit of the Beehive

    This Spanish film is so dreamy, so poetic, so haunting. Exquisite cinematography. Possibly the finest acting by a child I’ve ever seen. You’ll never watch Frankenstein the same way again.

  • 5

    Luis Buñuel

    Belle de jour

    One of the classiest erotic films ever. The austere Deneuve sleepwalking her way through a Parisian “maison close.” Essential for Pierre Clémenti’s indelible turn as an extremely feral, super-cool criminal.

  • 6

    Antonio Pietrangeli

    I Knew Her Well

    A cautionary tale of a sexy girl on the go in swinging Rome. Nineteen-year-old Stefania Sandrelli imbues her bubbly ingenue with undertones of desolation. The camera stays very close to her and records every nuance of her passing moods in a palpable way, as she is exploited over and over while managing to maintain a fragile dignity.

  • 7

    Alfred Hitchcock

    The 39 Steps

    This classic adaptation of John Buchan’s book is one of Hitchcock’s last British features and is filled with brilliant and funny set pieces. Dapper Robert Donat and plucky blonde Madeleine Carroll on the run from the good guys and the bad guys, moving from London to the Scottish highlands.

  • 8

    Stanley Donen


    The best Hitchcock film Hitchcock never made. Stanley Donen’s pitch-perfect romantic thriller is a movie I can watch over and over again. Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn at their peak, with Parisian locations.

  • 9

    Jean-Pierre Melville

    Bob le flambeur

    A superlative French gangster movie, beautifully shot around Pigalle. Melville creates in Bob an ethical, mysterious crook with loads of style. Supporting actress Isabelle Corey plays a bar girl you don’t want to get involved with.

  • 10 (tie)

    Stuart Cooper


    This film knocked me out. A quiet tale of a likable young Englishman, it charts his course from signing up for the army to participating in the Allied invasion on D-Day. His story is brilliantly intercut with footage of the actual war in Europe from the Imperial War Museums’ archives. Devastating.

  • Michelangelo Antonioni


    No Criterion ten-best list would be complete without an Antonioni. L’eclisse has his signature combination of modern and ancient Italy, architecture, desire, sports cars, and alienation, and perhaps the most photogenic of all screen couples, Monica Vitti and Alain Delon. Accompanied by a fragile bit of music by Giovanni Fusco, the last few minutes are almost Japanese in their Zen-like minimalism.