I was writing this up elsewhere and I thought it’d be worth saving here too. This particular version is prompted by the release of the 2022 Sight and Sound poll results.
- The Master — my favorite PTA. Is it the best? Easy to argue that one, but it’s messy and sprawling which I love, and it has my favorite actor of all time, who I still mourn.
- Tokyo Story — what an incredibly heart-rending movie. The sadness lies in the stillness. It is as calm as The Master is messy.
- In the Mood for Love — the greatest visual director of our time (I kindly assume he’ll make another movie some day) and two of the best actors I’ll ever see. Nostalgia. Coincidence. Sadness.
- Crash — my favorite expression of Cronenberg’s thesis statement: mankind will evolve into something else some day and we’d best be ready for it. I love the chilly violence of the Toronto highways in this.
- Beau Travail — not just for that final scene, although I will happily explain why Denis Lavant is remarkable for hours, just ask me, see if I won’t. If there’s a common theme to these first five movies (and there is), it’s desire. Claire Denis knows how to put desire on screen.
- The Third Man — I swear I didn’t notice until I was making this post, but this list can be divided into arthouse and genre, and we’re now in the genre section. For a long time Casablanca was in this slot but The Third Man replaced it for me. Vienna as a haunted house.
- Brazil — this is the movie that taught me there was more to life than the multiplex, and I still love it for the messy excess of it all, plus it’s about rebellion and I find that still resonates with me.
- The Big Sleep — yeah, the plot makes no sense, but I’m not in it for the plot. I’m in it for Bogart and Bacall and a poisonous toxic Los Angeles and the snappy dialogue. And for Dorothy Malone.
- City of God — did you hear about the time a couple of Brazilians took the pyrotechnic effects from The Matrix and the disjointed narrative that Tarantino didn’t invent anyhow and bent them to their whims to tell a story about their homes? It’s really good.
- Lawrence of Arabia — I have been lucky enough to see this in 70mm on a high quality screen three times, and if I could only ever see one movie like that again it’d probably be this one again. For my money, there has never been a better epic. Those dunes.
Holy Motors, Hiroshima Mon Amour, 8 1/2, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, and Three Colors: Blue could very easily be on my top ten as well.