120 Artists Pick Their Top 10 Films in the Criterion Collection


Some of us get our edu­ca­tion at film school. More of us get it from The Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion, that for­mi­da­bly cinephilic restor­er, cura­tor, and pack­ager of clas­sic motion pic­tures from every era. In addi­tion to their ele­gant, sup­ple­men­tary mate­r­i­al-rich home video releas­es — they’ve put them out on Laserdisc, on DVD, on Blu-ray, stream­ing over the inter­net, and will pre­sum­ably con­tin­ue to do so on whichev­er for­mats come next — they also do intrigu­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions with the var­i­ous cul­tur­al fig­ures with whom they’ve worked, such as ask­ing them to name their ten favorite Cri­te­ri­on releas­es. You may recall that, back in June, we fea­tured actor, direc­tor, and 1990s “Indiewood” icon Steve Buscemi’s Cri­te­ri­on top ten list, which includ­ed such choice pieces of film his­to­ry as Gus Van San­t’s My Own Pri­vate Ida­ho, Fran­co-Dutch hor­ror clas­sic The Van­ish­ing, and long-unre­leased “faux-doc­u­men­tary” Sym­biopsy­chotax­i­plasm.

Of the many more lists criterion.com offers, you can find this sur­pris­ing­ly clas­sic-ori­ent­ed one from Richard Lin­klater, mak­er of films like Slack­er, the Before Sun­rise/Before Sun­set/Before Mid­night tril­o­gy, and this year’s Boy­hood (and anoth­er archi­tect of Indiewood):

  1. Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky)
  2. Au hasard Balt­haz­ar (Robert Bres­son)
  3. The Flow­ers of St. Fran­cis (Rober­to Rosselli­ni)
  4. Day of Wrath (Carl Theodor Drey­er)
  5. Tokyo Sto­ry (Yasu­jiro Ozu)
  6. The Last Temp­ta­tion of Christ (Mar­tin Scors­ese)
  7. Unfaith­ful­ly Yours (Pre­ston Sturges)
  8. Fan­ny and Alexan­der — The Tele­vi­sion Ver­sion (Ing­mar Bergman)
  9. Pick­pock­et (Robert Bres­son)
  10. I Know Where I’m Going! (Michael Pow­ell and Emer­ic Press­burg­er)

Or this one by four mem­bers of the New York no-wave rock band Son­ic Youth, who turned the whole top-ten list con­cept up to twelve, giv­ing their props to Ozu like Linkater and The Van­ish­ing like Busce­mi (“It gets veeer­rry weird,” adds gui­tarist Thurston Moore):

  1. Float­ing Weeds (Yasu­jiro Ozu)
  2. Jeanne Diel­man, 23, quai du Com­merce, 1080 Brux­elles (Chan­tal Aker­man)
  3. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Rainier Wern­er Fass­binder)
  4. Mas­culin féminin (Jean-Luc Godard)
  5. Dou­ble Sui­cide (Masahi­ro Shin­o­da)
  6. The Van­ish­ing (George Sluiz­er)
  7. Mam­ma Roma (Pier Pao­lo Pasoli­ni)
  8. Black Orpheus (Mar­cel Camus)
  9. Ace in the Hole (Bil­ly Wilder)
  10. Night on Earth (Jim Jar­musch)
  11. Fat Girl (Cather­ine Breil­lat)
  12. Days of Heav­en (Ter­rence Mal­ick)

Or lists from vital cre­ators who have more recent­ly arrived on the scene, such as this one from Tiny Fur­ni­ture direc­tor and Girls cre­ator Lena Dun­ham, an invet­er­ate fan of Agnès Var­da (who “man­ages to be both deeply emo­tion­al and utter­ly in con­trol of the tech­ni­cal ele­ments of film­mak­ing [ … ] that had seemed to me to be an impos­si­ble line to strad­dle, and she does it so beau­ti­ful­ly”). She also makes room for Mal­ick­’s Days of Heav­en, (also a pick of Son­ic Youth’s Kim Gor­don), two from Fass­binder (also a direc­tor of choice for Son­ic Youth’s Lee Ranal­do), and one from Bergman (who should make every­one’s favorite-films lists, but also made Lin­klater’s):

  1. Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold)
  2. Days of Heav­en (Ter­rence Mal­ick)
  3. Broad­cast News (James L. Brooks)
  4. Week­end (Andrew Haigh)
  5. La Pointe Courte, Cléo from 5 to 7, Le bon­heur, and Vagabond (Agnès Var­da)
  6. The Mar­riage of Maria Braun and Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Rainier Wern­er Fass­binder)
  7. Pic­nic at Hang­ing Rock (Peter Weir)
  8. Straw Dogs (Sam Peck­in­pah) and Dead Ringers (David Cro­nen­berg)
  9. Through a Glass Dark­ly (Ing­mar Bergman)
  10. The War Room (Chris Hege­dus and D. A. Pen­nebak­er)

D.A. Pen­nebak­er, by the way, has his own Cri­te­ri­on top ten list, as do oth­er film­mak­ers named here, like Andrew Haigh and Mar­tin Scors­ese. But this leaves me with one burn­ing ques­tion: if direc­tors like Ozu and Fass­binder had lived to see The Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion, which vol­umes would they have put on their own DVD shelves?

Enter the com­plete col­lec­tion of Cri­te­ri­on Top Tens here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More

Steve Buscemi’s Top 10 Film Picks (from The Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion)

Quentin Taran­ti­no Lists the 12 Great­est Films of All Time: From Taxi Dri­ver to The Bad News Bears

A Young Jean-Luc Godard Picks the 10 Best Amer­i­can Films Ever Made (1963)

Mar­tin Scors­ese Reveals His 12 Favorite Movies (and Writes a New Essay on Film Preser­va­tion)

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (2)
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  • Scott Ballenger says:

    My life has been turned upside down with these movies.I have turned into a movie snob.The movies you see all over Netflix,Hulu,and oth­er places do not com­pare to these movies.All those crap­py Hol­ly­wood movies that are turned out every year are so tame com­pared to these movies.I have real­ly wok­en up to what is genius,and what is junk.I am try­ing to get my friends and fam­i­ly to get into the Cri­te­ri­on Collection,but it has been slow going.Most peo­ple just do not get it.My only com­plaint is the prices of the Cri­te­ri­on movies.I know they give you a lot for your money,but when your taste is as var­ied as mine,it can get very expensive.Is there a web site to go to where you can watch some of them for free.Please respond.Addicted to the Cri­te­ri­on Collection,please help,all my cred­it cards are maxed out because of the Cri­te­ri­on company.And with all the new releas­es com­ing out all the time,what is a per­son to do?

  • Keith says:

    You can see hun­dreds of them on Hulu for a lousy 7.99 per month. Well worth it.

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