Bergman must always be at the top for me. This particular list choice was picked by dart while blindfolded. Feel free to substitute. It is a work of art to service an entire lifespan. Mystery endures. A human life can’t. Yet somehow through the mystical forces of memory and film, it does.
La dolce vita
Again, this is one of many possible choices. But this was my first. All that we think we want, we don’t know and can’t control. The dark circus of life, the visual power. Moral force, savage indictment. Intoxicating on every level.
Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
This film will always be vital and current. It is as perceptive and chilling as any made about the conjoined twins of man and war. And the funniest.
Children of Paradise
No matter how many times I watch this film, there is always something new. When I learned it was shot during the occupation, I concluded that film is the ultimate liberator.
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
Watching this for the first time took every muscle in my appreciation mechanism. The satire is sharp, the tone startling, the humor cathartic.
This must be included because it changed how we perceive film as well as human behavior. For us subjective creatures, the truth is constantly elusive.
Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday
At a film festival conference a few decades past, I was asked by a solemn journalist which French director has had the most influence on me. I expressed undying appreciation of Truffaut, Godard, Renoir, but stated that the most accurate answer was that Jacques Tati left an indelible mark when I saw this film as a boy. The French hated that answer—Tati was out of favor at the time. Funny how that works. This film remains one of the most hilarious, affectionate, politely barbed creations. For me it’s a cinematic standard for human comedy.
McCabe & Mrs. Miller
A transformative film experience. History with mystery. Beautiful, inexact, evocative, humorous, wise, wicked. A turning point in film music.
Day for Night
The most satisfying, insightful film about filmmaking by a great filmmaker.
The Spirit of the Beehive
One of the most haunting films I have ever seen. So simple and pure and quiet and dreamlike and stimulating. A fantasy that makes more sense than what passes as reality.
Nathan Lee’s Top 10
Nathan Lee is a critic, curator, and unrepentant champion of Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. A former film critic for the New York Times, the Village Voice, and NPR, he is a contributing editor of Film Comment and member of the National Society of…