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)

    Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin

    Chronicle of a Summer

  • Abbas Kiarostami

    Close-up

    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)

    John Cassavetes

    Love Streams

  • Paul Thomas Anderson

    Punch-Drunk Love

    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)

    Hollis Frampton

    A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

  • Chantal Akerman

    News from Home

    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)

    Luis Buñuel

    The Exterminating Angel

  • Lucrecia Martel

    La Ciénaga

    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)

    Nagisa Oshima

    Death by Hanging

  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder

    Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

    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)

    Yasujiro Ozu

    Late Spring

  • Pedro Costa

    Colossal Youth

    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)

    Nicholas Ray

    Bigger Than Life

  • David Lynch

    Blue Velvet

    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)

    Michelangelo Antonioni

    Red Desert

  • Todd Haynes

    Safe

    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)

    William Greaves

    Symbiopsychotaxiplasm


  • Steven Soderbergh

    Schizopolis

    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)

    Barbara Loden

    Wanda

  • Agnès Varda

    Vagabond

    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.