This month we asked critic Robin Wood—whose books include Hitchcock’s Films and Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan and who recently wrote essays for the Criterion releases The Furies and Le plaisir—to pick his ten favorite films in the collection. Newly retired from teaching, Wood told us he intends to spend the remainder of his life enjoying himself with movies, operas, and concerts on DVD, while writing books and articles on Michael Haneke, Tsai Ming-liang, Satyajit Ray, and others, and spending a happy old age with his partner, Richard Lippe, and their cats.
1. A strong candidate for Greatest Film Ever Made. A perfect and profound masterpiece, rivaled only by its near companion Ugetsu.
2. Tati invites the spectator into a game of which one never tires, every viewing revealing fresh nuances and discoveries.
3. The critics of Cahiers du cinéma once chose this over Citizen Kane for their “Ten Best Ever” list. I am inclined to agree. The three versions suggest an endless, fascinating “work in progress.”
4. For me, three films stand out in Kurosawa’s uneven career (the other two being Ikiru and High and Low): one of the cinema’s greatest “action” movies, thrilling and sublime. (Beware the dread Hollywood remake!)
5. Mistakenly seen as a crude anticommunist movie, Pickup juxtaposes the commies with an America in which the only characters are criminals or dropouts. The death of Moe, sacrificing herself for a country that abandoned her, is heartbreaking. Arguably Fuller’s best film.
6. Sturges’s masterpiece, from the long buildup to the most hilarious and brutal payoff in the history of Hollywood comedy.
7. Influenced by (but in some respects transcending) Leo McCarey’s Make Way for Tomorrow, this is perhaps the greatest film about the Family and its degeneration under the stresses of capitalism.
8. My favorite Powell and Pressburger movie. It’s eternally fresh, unpredictable, yet perfect in its apparent digressions.
9. Godard at his freshest, most spontaneous and improvisatory. Inexhaustably captivating.
10. Arguably Hitchcock’s most perfect (but not necessarily most profound) movie, in which every shot, every look counts, and Grant and Bergman achieve sublimity.