Dennis Lim’s Top 10

Dennis Lim’s Top10

Dennis Lim is the director of programming at Film at Lincoln Center and the author of the critical biography David Lynch: The Man From Another Place. He has contributed to the New York Times, Artforum, Film Comment, and other publications, and taught film studies and arts criticism at Harvard and NYU. Summer of Film at Lincoln Center, a season of expansive programming featuring special double-feature pricing and free double bills every Thursday, is currently underway. In the spirit of that series, Lim has put together ten pairings that highlight thematic and stylistic parallels throughout our collection.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Jul 25, 2019
  • 1 (tie)

    Chronicle of a Summer

    Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin

  • Close-up

    Abbas Kiarostami

    Two crossroads films about human nature and the nature of truth. Viewed from a certain angle, they seem to hold all the possibilities—even as they acknowledge all the limits—of cinema.

  • 2 (tie)

    Love Streams

    John Cassavetes

  • Punch-Drunk Love

    Paul Thomas Anderson

    Maximalists of affect, Cassavetes and Anderson are always asking versions of the same question: How much emotion can a movie contain? Or maybe: How many emotions? These two films run the gamut, moving in surges of joy and sorrow, erasing the line between tragedy and comedy.

  • 3 (tie)

    A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

    Hollis Frampton

  • News from Home

    Chantal Akerman

    Frampton’s structural riddle (nostalgia) and Akerman’s city symphony News From Home are brilliant experiments in self-portraiture and sound-image relationships that both derive their power from paradox. His film enacts a tug of war between memory and anticipation; hers conjures an indelible sense of both place and displacement.

  • 4 (tie)

    The Exterminating Angel

    Luis Buñuel

  • La Ciénaga

    Lucrecia Martel

    Dramas of entrapment and enervation—sly, haunting, eternally strange—from two of the most singular and most class-conscious directors the cinema has seen.

  • 5 (tie)

    Death by Hanging

    Nagisa Oshima

  • Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder

    Oshima is often likened to Godard, but I think the true kindred spirit is Fassbinder—for the restless intellect and furious productivity, and the rage, wit, and lucidity with which they probed their respective national psyches. These are also two of the most devastating films ever made about racism.

  • 6 (tie)

    Late Spring

    Yasujiro Ozu

  • Colossal Youth

    Pedro Costa

    Decades and cultures apart, these two masters invented languages of their own, reshaping our sense of filmic space and time, all in the service of a deceptively modest domestic cinema of the everyday.

  • 7 (tie)

    Bigger Than Life

    Nicholas Ray

  • Blue Velvet

    David Lynch

    The defining patriarchs of American cinema—as embodied by James Mason and Dennis Hopper in these towering performances—are, fittingly, also the most monstrous.

  • 8 (tie)

    Red Desert

    Michelangelo Antonioni

  • Safe

    Todd Haynes

    Enigmatic portraits of anomic drift and modern soul-sickness that are also crystalline dissections of their moments (postwar industrialization, the AIDS era), featuring two master classes in screen acting by Monica Vitti and Julianne Moore.

  • 9 (tie)

    Symbiopsychotaxiplasm

    William Greaves


  • Schizopolis

    Steven Soderbergh

    Self-reflexive absurdist psychodramas, overflowing with big ideas and confrontational energy. The failings of independent American cinema, embattled from the start and struggling to remain relevant, are too numerous to list. But one thing it could use is more films like these.

  • 10 (tie)

    Wanda

    Barbara Loden

  • Vagabond

    Agnès Varda

    Antiheroines on anti-odysseys: Two bracing films that find freedom in refusal, rejecting both the strictures of the social world and the romance of the open road.