10 Directors, 10 Favorite Criterions

by David Jones

Created 07/13/12

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To avoid doing a top-10 list that just has a bunch of Ingmar Bergman and Terrence Malick films on it, I've decided to make a list of 10 films with 10 of my favorite directors whose work is available through the Criterion Collection.

  • The television version is, for me, the summation of Bergman's entire career, and probably the most vibrant of any film he ever made.

  • When I first watched this film in 1999--after hearing many negative reviews from friends who obviously were expecting something very different--I was immediately drawn into the sublime visual poetry on display. Watching this film forever changed my expectations regarding cinema, as it forever changed my life.

  • My favorite Godard. I find some of his work a bit pretentious and overrated, but this one really captures that sense of freedom that Godard seems to be searching for in all his films.

  • Is it the best silent film ever made? I'm not sure--but it's definitely the one that unlocked the mystery of silent cinema for me, when I first watched it some nine years ago.

  • I'm not that big of a Bunuel fan, actually. I think many of his most celebrated works are too clever by half, but for me Viridiana is the director's best takedown of his main targets--religious authority and the bourgeoisie.

  • It is hard to pick this over The Double Life of Veronique, but the bookends to this trilogy certainly rank as two of the most moving films that I've ever seen. Now Criterion just needs to add the Decalogue to the collection.

  • The most horrifying film I've ever seen, by a wide margin. Yet it is also, without a doubt, a great film. What Pasolini achieves here is the deployment of shock value in service not of titillation or scandal, but rather to a larger commentary on the nature of pornography in the Western world.

  • I think Antonioni's aesthetic is put to its best use in this film, with an ending that still stays in the mind, years after it is first encountered. I hope the Collection can add La Notte at some point in the future.

  • It's a cliche at this point, but, man, Louise Brooks. Probably my favorite acting performance of any film in the Collection.

  • Everything inessential has been taken out of this film. Bresson at his very finest, although I easily could have gonne with Au Hazard Balthazar here. Similar movies in many respects.

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