The Current -

Christopher Radcliff and Lauren Wolkstein’s Top10

Christopher Radcliff and Lauren Wolkstein are New York City–based filmmakers best known for their award-winning short films, including The Strange Ones, Jonathan’s Chest, Social Butterfly, and Cigarette Candy, which have screened at hundreds of film festivals worldwide, such as Sundance, SXSW, Rotterdam, Clermont-Ferrand, and AFI Fest. Their first feature film, The Strange Ones (an adaptation of their short film of the same name), has been released theatrically and was one of John Waters’s favorite films of 2017.


Photo by Seth Lind

Sep 7, 2017
  • 1 (tie)

    Tampopo

    Juzo Itami

    I think because this film is so much fun and the food in it is so great, it’s easy to miss how brilliant the actual filmmaking is. The more I watch it, the more amazed I am by Itami’s craft and how he created such a hugely varied, multifaceted set of stories that add up to a beautifully cohesive and fluid film that is so incredibly funny, warmhearted, and wise. —CR

  • Paris, Texas

    Wim Wenders

    No film has left a deeper impression on me than this portrait of a wandering lost soul stuck in between deserted American landscapes, surrounded by neon lights. It shows us that while we can never truly escape our past, we can at least try to confront it head-on with the goal of forgiving ourselves a little bit in the process. This is such a heartfelt, melancholic, and humanist film, one that I never tire of revisiting. —LW

  • 2 (tie)

    Picnic at Hanging Rock

    Peter Weir

    I really love the enigmatic, haunting approach of this film—how it presents this all-girls boarding school, repressed and rife with secret undercurrents of sexual longing, that then ruptures upon colliding with the mysterious and raw natural world. It’s such a fascinating film to puzzle over, and I find it inspiring how the writer of the original novel, Joan Lindsay, by not providing a solution to the mystery and instead allowing the mystery itself to be the focus, upended narrative expectations and created something so beguiling and unforgettable. —CR

  • The Double Life of Véronique

    Krzysztof Kieślowski

    Some things in life are beyond explanation. Kieślowski reminds us that film is a spiritual and transcendent experience that taps into the metaphysical realms of our existence. Irène Jacob is absolutely mesmerizing in her portrayal of two women who are doppelgängers and share a mysterious and unspeakable bond. The experience of watching The Double Life of Véronique is ever-healing, like soaking in a warm bath surrounded by candles at night. —LW

  • 3 (tie)

    Still Walking

    Hirokazu Kore-eda

    This film is so well observed and humane, like all of Kore-eda’s work. I love how it presents a rather mundane premise—a routine family get-together—then gradually reveals the immense emotional complexity that exists beneath its surface. There is such intense subtext that accompanies every interaction between each member of this family; every tiny moment of casual cruelty and guarded warmth carries huge emotional power. It’s all so specific to Kore-eda and simultaneously totally universal. I feel like he’s one of the world’s greatest filmmakers. —CR

  • Vagabond

    Agnès Varda

    Agnès Varda is my cinema hero. Vagabond presented a new way of thinking about film form for me. Varda took a very bold approach to the way that she told this story, mixing forms and styles to create a fuller picture of a human being who is invisible to the world, a stranger to everyone, even to herself—begging the ultimate question of how well we ever really know someone. —LW

  • 4 (tie)

    A Brighter Summer Day

    Edward Yang

    This movie and Criterion’s other Edward Yang release, Yi Yi, really show what a master he was at creating incredibly personal and nuanced character studies that are both sprawling and multifaceted. A Brighter Summer Day is so immensely heartbreaking to me for how it depicts Si’r, an awkward, withdrawn kid who is under siege from all sides—at school, at home, with his friends and rival gangs, and with his first crush—battling his way through it all as best he can but spiraling inexorably toward tragedy. Also, the restoration of this film is seriously amazing—so thankful for this release. —CR

  • Stalker

    Andrei Tarkovsky

    Every single frame of this gorgeous film is seared into my brain forever. Tarkovsky’s Stalker urges us to take notice of the ever-changing environments surrounding us. What is our purpose in this natural world and how do we not destroy it all during our journey here on earth? I constantly return to this film as a meditation on time and life, and it always makes me re-examine my true desires and goals. I guess you could say that I am forever searching for the Zone. —LW

  • 5 (tie)

    High and Low

    Akira Kurosawa

    High and Low is my personal favorite Kurosawa movie. I love everything about it: the chamber piece of the first half, the sprawling police hunt that follows, the fact that Toshiro Mifune’s character is so committed to making high-quality women’s shoes. And there are so many great moments throughout: the pink smoke, the train sequence, the amazing ending scene. I find it so stunning and effective, and I love the way the film gets at themes of class and social inequality in the form of such an exciting procedural crime thriller. —CR

  • Personal Shopper

    Olivier Assayas

    Assayas is one of my favorite living filmmakers, and this film is a testament to why that is. To me, it is the most effective film on grief and loneliness in the twenty-first century, when everyone views their electronic devices as extra appendages. It’s a genre-pushing investigation into the unknowable ways in which we communicate with one another through devices and airwaves, which we are still only just beginning to understand. —LW

  • 6 (tie)

    Hoop Dreams

    Steve James

    I love that the Criterion release of this includes all the times this film was talked about on Siskel & Ebert. That show was where I first heard about this film, and seeing how pissed off they were about it being snubbed by the Oscars made me seek it out. It resonated with me so deeply, and still does, the way it presents these two kids and their families, and their struggle to pursue their dreams while dealing with all the practical hardships of working-class life. It’s become kind of a foundational piece of work for me, because it was one of the first films I saw that demonstrated that if you look closely, great stories and great characters are all around us. —CR

  • Red Desert

    Michelangelo Antonioni

    It was hard to choose one Antonioni film, but Red Desert feels like the perfect summation of Antonioni’s work. Antonioni used color for the first time in order to show psychological imbalance and subjectivity. He depicted the modern alienation surrounding the industrial fog that’s imposed upon our lives in urban environments, and he shows how these forces can threaten our sanity. The film also has the most freakishly uncomfortable sex scene, which turns an entire room pink. Only Monica Vitti has that power. —LW

  • 7 (tie)

    Empire of Passion

    Nagisa Oshima

    I’m a huge fan of Nagisa Oshima, and Empire of Passion and Violence at Noon are two of my favorites of his that Criterion has released. They give a good example of both his shifting stylistic capabilities as well as his consistently provocative and trenchant thematic tendencies. While both these films deal with elements of sexual obsession, predation, and social hegemony, on the surface they are totally distinct, Empire being a gorgeous, classically styled ghost story and Violence at Noon being a fractured, modernist New Wave masterpiece. —CR

  • Violence at Noon

    Nagisa Oshima

  • Close-up

    Abbas Kiarostami

    We’ve all wanted to be someone else at one point or another, but what if you took it to the extreme and made others believe you were that person? This is hybrid cinema at its best, showing that real life is truly stranger than fiction. Close-up has so many layers that I see something new each time I watch it. It’s a profound commentary on the power of cinema and the hold that it has on the outcome of our lives. —LW

  • 8 (tie)

    The Silence of the Lambs

    Jonathan Demme

    I remember this movie winning everything right around the time I was starting to pay attention to film. Seeing it as a little kid, I thought it was scary and thrilling and very “adult.” Now that I’m an actual adult, I find that the film remarkably hasn’t aged at all, and that there are new things to appreciate each time I return to it. The filmmaking is so masterful it’s become a kind of blueprint, and the way Demme is able to use his craft to transform the pulpy, lurid material at the core of the film into something so serious and artful is really incredible. —CR

  • Mulholland Dr.

    David Lynch

    Mulholland Dr. and Blue Velvet were the two films that had the most impact on me during my college years. This was the first time I realized how cinema can depict our dreams and nightmares. This film represents our deepest fears of celebrity, fame, and identity—and how ambition, greed, and jealousy can make our realities a nightmare. I see it as a cautionary tale of Hollywood, blurring the lines between reality and dreams. —LW

  • 9 (tie)

    Fat Girl

    Catherine Breillat

    This movie is really painful to watch but I love how intensely it explores the dark, private corners of a child’s mind. It really sinks you into this girl’s subjectivity and allows you to witness things that feel secretive and uncomfortably private. It’s a devastating film, and I really admire Catherine Breillat’s fearlessness as a filmmaker. —CR

  • 3 Women

    Robert Altman

    Robert Altman really deserves his own number and section, so I am tying three of his films. He was one of the rare filmmakers experimenting with form within the Hollywood system. He infused his work with fluid zooms to easily enter in and out of spaces and made social interactions feel more organic. He also used sound in experimental ways, pushing the form with overlapping dialogue. It’s so impressive that a studio funded an entire film based on a fever dream he had, starring two of my favorite actresses, Shelley Duvall and Sissy Spacek. —LW

  • McCabe & Mrs. Miller

    Robert Altman

  • Nashville

    Robert Altman

  • 10 (tie)

    Rumble Fish

    Francis Ford Coppola

    I’m a big fan of S. E. Hinton and her handful of early young-adult novels. Rumble Fish is a great adaptation, and I really love the approach that Coppola took with it—he shot it immediately after shooting The Outsiders, and by comparison Rumble Fish is much smaller, bolder, and more esoterically artsy while still being true to the spirit of the book. You get the sense that he really enjoyed making it. Also, the Stewart Copeland soundtrack is great. —CR

  • Through a Glass Darkly

    Ingmar Bergman

    My uncle was a paranoid schizophrenic for his whole life, and I always strived to understand him through works of art. When I first saw Bergman’s depiction of schizophrenia and how it affects family members, I knew I was not alone in my quest to understand the human brain. Then when Lodge Kerrigan came along with Clean, Shaven, it was the first film that I believe truly depicted the honest horror of what it feels like to be imprisoned in a brain that is not yours to control. —LW

  • Clean, Shaven

    Lodge Kerrigan