A couple of years ago, I finally discovered Ozu’s work, starting with this film. The stories are beautiful, yes, and the filmmaking is exquisite. I’d recommend any/all of the late films and will use this one as an example. Many of the actors and crew worked with Ozu on many of these late films, so they all feel interrelated, small stories of intimate life in Japan in the fifies and sixties. Also recommended: Early Spring, Late Autumn, The End of Summer. —Lee Ranaldo
Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
This amazing, epic film put the Belgian director Akerman on the map. Three hours of static shots and Robbe-Grillet-style repetitive minimalism, revolving around a middle-aged prostitute in a suburban house. This amazing film is a landmark of seventies art cinema. —LR
Godard’s films are the ultimate (even when I have a hard time sitting through one). They are among the greatest works in cinema, and he continues to turn out provocative and amazing films. All are worth seeing; this is one of my favorites from his early years—radical filmmaking, pop culture, politics: the children of Marx and Coca-Cola, indeed. —LR
One of Shinoda’s most beautiful epics—desire, obsession, love, and death—heavy, emotional, all-or-nothing melodrama made propulsive by the amazing musical genius of Toru Takemitsu. All of Shinoda’s films are essential viewing (Pale Flower, Silence, The Assassination, Owl’s Castle). —Thurston Moore
Totally unnerving psychodrama where a man’s girlfriend is abducted and, after searching for her for three years, he begins to receive messages from the abductor. And then it gets veeerrry weird. Sluizer also directed a film called Dark Blood, which would be interesting to find. —TM
Set in the favela during Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Black Orpheus is based on a play by Vinícius de Moraes (one of the cowriters, along with Baden Powell, of one of my favorite Brazilian LPs, Os Afro-Sambas) and adapted from the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, featuring a continuous musical and percussive soundtrack by Antonio Carlos Jobim—music flows with the story and Carnival clatters and bumps along as this tragedy unfolds. This beautifully colorful masterpiece won the 1959 Academy Award for best foreign language film. —Steve Shelley
Ace in the Hole
Billy Wilder’s first film after Sunset Boulevard possibly seems more relevant in today’s tabloid news world than when it was released in 1951. Starring Kirk Douglas, the film takes place in New Mexico as a three-ring media circus develops while a man is trapped helplessly in a cave. —SS
Johnnie To’s Top 10
Prolific Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To has directed more than forty films, including Election, Exiled, and Mad Detective. His latest, Vengeance, is currently in some North American theaters, from IFC Films.
Jonathan Lethem’s Top 10
Winner of a 2005 MacArthur Foundation Fellows Program genius grant, Jonathan Lethem is one of America's premier contemporary writers. His works include the novels The Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn.
Pedro Costa’s Top 10
Portuguese director Pedro Costa is the internationally acclaimed, award-winning artist behind the films Ossos, In Vanda’s Room, and Colossal Youth, available from Criterion in the special edition four-DVD box set Letters from Fontainhas: Three Film…
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.
Anthony Bourdain’s Top 10
American chef and art-film epicure Anthony Bourdain is chef at large at New York’s Brasserie les Halles; the author of ten books, including Kitchen Confidential and No Reservations; and the host of the Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain: No Reserv…