Molly Manning Walker’s Top 10

Molly Manning Walker’s Top10

Molly Manning Walker is a writer, director, and cinematographer based in London. How to Have Sex, the first feature film she has written and directed, won the Un Certain Regard Prize at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. Her work as a cinematographer includes Scrapper and Mood.

Mar 21, 2024
  • 1

    Andrea Arnold

    Fish Tank

    Fish Tank was a big reference for my film How to Have Sex. I was particularly inspired by the style of Robbie Ryan’s cinematography. For me, the tricky thing about making my first feature was figuring out how to visually root the story in one character’s perspective while also capturing the chaos going on around her. Fish Tank does this so beautifully through portraits and close-ups of the actors’ faces that allow you to track emotion through their eyes, as well as by shooting over a character’s shoulder, which creates a shallow depth of field that favors texture over small details.

    I also love the colors in Fish Tank, especially the shade of blue we see so frequently throughout the film. It inspired me to use natural light and a strong color palette to create bold imagery.

  • 2

    Wes Anderson

    The Royal Tenenbaums

    This is my favorite Wes Anderson film. When I first got to university and was studying film production, I loved documentaries, and I got mocked for not having watched very many narrative films. I told my mom this, and that year she got me a ton of DVDs for Christmas. One of them was a copy of The Royal Tenenbaums. I became immediately obsessed with it and watched it so many times. The world in it is so heightened, which was a big contrast to the documentaries I had been watching—but I loved how it never felt like style over substance. In this film, the style helps move the story along.

  • 3

    Catherine Breillat

    Fat Girl

    I saw Fat Girl for the first time when I was in the development process for How to Have Sex, and it became an important writing inspiration. Like my film, it’s a coming-of-age story about the pressure placed on young girls to have sex and the competitiveness that exists between young women. The characters are amazing and so well-crafted, and Catherine Breillat’s casting of these actors was really great.

    Perhaps I’m so drawn to films about people at these crucial times in their lives because I feel like I’ve had multiple coming-of-age periods and am always living in different skins. I’m fascinated by how we all go through these phases.

  • 4

    Carol Reed

    The Third Man

    When I was sixteen, I broke my leg and had to be in the hospital for a long time, so I ended up watching a lot of movies. This is when I first saw The Third Man. It’s just a timeless piece of filmmaking. I was so excited by Robert Krasker’s cinematography—those long shadows! There is such amazing tension in the film.

    It’s often difficult for me to turn off my feelings as a director and a cinematographer when I’m watching a movie, to not be thinking about how they set up the camera or where the lighting is. When I can just be totally immersed in something, as I am when I watch The Third Man, that’s when I know it’s a great film.

  • 5

    Carol Reed

    The Fallen Idol

    I saw The Fallen Idol around the same time that I saw The Third Man and was starting to get into watching older films. I love the little kid in the movie; his performance captures how we perceive things when we’re kids and how that changes or unravels as we get older and acquire more knowledge of the world around us.

    The cinematography in the film is very classic and striking, and it’s so effective in furthering the storytelling. I love how tension is created through the use of static frames shot from the kid’s perspective, which means you’re forced to figure out what’s going on with him rather than just observing him.

  • 6

    Wim Wenders

    Paris, Texas

    What a film. It’s one that I revisit all the time. The colors and the cinematography by Robby Müller are just insane. The opening sequence featuring Harry Dean Stanton walking alone in the desert is so amazing and hooks you in very quickly. I also love watching the relationship between the boy and his father and how it grows over the course of the film.

    I see so many references to Paris, Texas in contemporary films, commercials, or music videos—its imagery, including the shot of Nastassja Kinski’s reflection in the two-way mirror, has become iconic. But no matter how often it’s referenced, the impact of its visual style cannot be entirely replicated.

  • 7

    Paul Thomas Anderson

    Punch-Drunk Love

    Punch-Drunk Love contains one of Adam Sandler’s best performances, if not the best. It’s such a weird and wonderful film. It reminds me of Frank Lebon, a director I’ve worked with for years. He’s a total genius, but he always suggests doing crazy things that you initially think are totally mad. In Punch-Drunk Love, the mad ideas are so well executed that they don’t take away anything from the story or throw you out of the feeling of the film—in fact, they only add to it.

    When we were making How to Have Sex, we always ran an experimental take in which we’d shoot something that wasn’t scripted. I feel like those exercises come from being inspired by films like this, films that give you the courage to take risks.

  • 8

    Joachim Trier

    The Worst Person in the World

    This may just be my favorite film of all time. I love Joachim Trier’s work, and I think he’s a genius. I had such a visceral reaction the first time I saw this in the cinema. I’d never before seen a central character on-screen like Renate Reinsve’s Julie. She felt so modern and fresh, yet so chaotic, and Renate gives such an outstanding performance. I particularly love the party sequence—that toilet scene!—when she and Eivind, the man she’s just met, are trying their best not to get together. It’s so wonderfully real.

  • 9

    Wong Kar Wai

    In the Mood for Love

    In the Mood for Love is simply intoxicating. Cinema should always feel like this all-encompassing experience where the visuals, sound, and other elements come together to take you on a journey. I saw this for the first time after I got out of university, and I watched it again recently at the Prince Charles Cinema in London. I’m always struck by the cinematography, which is so gorgeous—those wide 16 mm lenses and long exposures. As a cinematographer, I’m inspired when I see how you can use camera techniques to convey different moods and build the emotional world of a film.

  • 10

    Wes Anderson

    Fantastic Mr. Fox

    Fantastic Mr. Fox is my ultimate feel-good movie. It’s amazing how it gives you the opportunity to escape into this fantastical world and yet still recognize yourself in the characters. There’s something magical about cinema that allows you to put yourself in someone else’s hands.

    In my own films, I like to reflect on the reality around me and the things I can see. But I really admire filmmakers, like Wes, who are able to build such vivid worlds from their imaginations. I wish I had that ability to concoct a beautiful and crazy vision in my mind and then translate it in a way that lets others escape into it.