Wes Anderson Names 12 of His Favorite Art Films

Image by Raf­fi Asdouri­an, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

Asked to list their favorite films of all times, most direc­tors tend towards the canon. And why not? 8 1/2–loved by Scors­ese and Lynch and many others–is an indis­putable mas­ter­piece, for exam­ple. So is The God­fa­ther, Rashomon, Ver­ti­go, and any num­ber of movies that make top film lists over and over. The point is, most of the time, these lists are samey.

That’s why this list from Wes Ander­son is a hoot. Here he’s not asked to list his favorites of all time, but rather to cre­ate a Top 10 list of Cri­te­ri­on titles. Yet here’s his M.O.: “I thought my take on a top-ten list might be to sim­ply quote myself from the brief fan let­ters I peri­od­i­cal­ly write to the Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion team,” he says.

A lot of these films are rar­i­ties, and Ander­son admits he’s only just seen some of them for the first time. Mar­tin Ritt’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is one. Rober­to Rossellini’s The Tak­ing of Pow­er by Louis XIV is anoth­er. Of the lat­ter, he says, “This is a won­der­ful and very strange movie. I had nev­er heard of it. The man who plays Louis can­not give a con­vinc­ing line read­ing, even to the ears of some­one who can’t speak French—and yet he is fas­ci­nat­ing.”

Anderson’s com­ments are often ques­tions, not defin­i­tive state­ments. Like us, he is just as mys­ti­fied by a film, and that feel­ing is prob­a­bly why he likes them in the first place.

Of that Rosselli­ni film he won­ders “What does good act­ing actu­al­ly mean?” And of Claude Sautet’s Classe tous risques he asks, “Who is our Lino Ven­tu­ra?” refer­ring to the Ital­ian-born French actor who was once described as “The French John Wayne.” (So, the real ques­tion is this: who is our mod­ern day John Wayne?)

We’ll leave the rest for you to read, but for a direc­tor so invest­ed in arti­fice and nos­tal­gia it was a sur­prise to hear how much he loves sur­re­al­ist Luis Buñuel:

“He is my hero. Mike Nichols said in the news­pa­per he thinks of Buñuel every day, which I believe I do, too, or at least every oth­er.”

Wes Ander­son­’s Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion Top 10

1. The Ear­rings of Madame de… (dir. Max Ophuls)
2. Au hasard Balt­haz­ar (dir. Robert Bres­son)
3.Pigs and Battleships/The Insect Woman/Intentions of Mur­der (dir. Shohei Ima­mu­ra)
4. The Tak­ing of Pow­er by Louis XIV (dir. Rober­to Rosselli­ni)
5. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (dir. Mar­tin Ritt)
6. The Friends of Eddie Coyle (dir. Peter Yates)
7. Classe tous risques (dir. Claude Sautet)
8. L’enfance nue (dir. Mau­rice Pialat)
9. Mishi­ma: A Life in Four Chap­ters (dir. Paul Schrad­er)
10. The Exter­mi­nat­ing Angel (dir. Luis Buñuel)

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Wes Anderson’s Charm­ing New Short Film, Castel­lo Cav­al­can­ti, Star­ring Jason Schwartz­man

Wes Ander­son from Above. Quentin Taran­ti­no From Below.

Stan­ley Kubrick’s List of Top 10 Films: The First and Only List He Ever Cre­at­ed

Wes Ander­son & Yasu­jiro Ozu: New Video Essay Reveals the Unex­pect­ed Par­al­lels Between Two Great Film­mak­ers

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

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