The 39 Steps
Prototypical Hitchcock innocent-man-on-the-run thriller—it could be the Hitchcock I’m still most partial to.
Seven Samurai goes without saying. But Stray Dog is the best Japanese film noir I know, with two powerhouse stars: Takashi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune.
When we reopened Film Forum in a new theater, in 1990, this is the one I chose as the opening attraction for the repertory screen. One viewing will explain why.
Trouble in Paradise
“I’ve been to Paris, France and Paris, Paramount. I prefer Paris, Paramount,” Ernst Lubitsch once famously remarked. This is Lubitsch and Paris, Paramount, at their absolute peak.
The 400 Blows
Watch this and Breathless together and you’ll understand what the big deal about the new wave was.
À nous la liberté
As delightful as any other film of the early thirties. Their influence on sound films in general, and musicals in particular, is underestimated.
Big Deal on Madonna Street
Divorce Italian Style
La crema della crema of Italian comedies. Honorable mention: Fellini’s The White Sheik.
The most perfect literary adaptation ever (can anyone come up with a better one?).
The Honeymoon Killers
Very little of what’s called “independent” today really is. The Honeymoon Killers is a real independent; made on a shoestring, this is the most chilling movie of its decade.
Night and the City
A quintessential film noir by a master of the genre. In style and theme, it resembles a later favorite of mine, Sweet Smell of Success.
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.
Michael Atkinson’s Top 10
Michael Atkinson writes film criticism for IFC.com, Sight & Sound, and Moving Image Source. His books include Exile Cinema: Filmmakers at Work Beyond Hollywood and the novel Hemingway Deadlights.