I'm not really that big on lists, but I figure having a 'top ten' on here can help you see where I'm coming from as a film fan. It's not written in stone and wasn't pored over for weeks on end, it's not even in any particular order, just a summation of ten movies that have absolutely floored me at some point. I'm sure there are plenty more out there that I've yet to see or have yet to be made that could just as easily be included...
2001: A Space Odyssey
USA, 1968. Director: Stanley Kubrick
"I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do."
Once 2001 blows your mind, you're never quite the same again. Evolution, God, extra terrestrials, the perfect silent movie intro, unequalled cinematic advancements, man vs. machine, the dichotomy of synthetic intelligence and then: Through The Stargate. What a trip. God bless you Mr Kubrick.
Also ran: Citizen Kane, Apocalypse Now, Dr Strangelove
France/USA, 2002. Director: David Lynch
"Now, you will see me one more time if you do good. You will see me two more times if you do bad. Good night."
With Mulholland Drive, Lynch takes us to the dark heart of The City of Dreams and into the fractured mind of Naomi Watt's starlet (whose own dream has become a living nightmare). Lynch at his most mystifying and elliptical. Hats off to ABC for their lack of vision, and Studio Canal for their prescience.
Also ran: Inland Empire, Hidden, Taxi Driver
I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang
USA, 1932. Director: Mervyn LeRoy
"How do you live?" "I steal"
Pre-'Code' Hollywood perfection. Compelling, risqué and brilliantly inventive.
Also ran: Mother (1926), Man With a Movie Camera, Kiss Me Deadly
Man On Wire
UK/USA, 2008. Director: James Marsh
"If I die, what a beautiful death! "
Man on Wire is quite simply one of the most stunning and life-affirming documentaries ever. Fascinating from start to finish. Philippe Petite is a crazy, beguiling inspiration, James Marsh a legend for bringing his story to the screen.
Also ran: When We Were Kings, The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black Black Oil, Grizzly Man
USA, 1973. Director: William Friedkin
"I can't cut it anymore. I need out. I'm unfit. I think I've lost my faith."
The Exorcist is so much more than just a horror movie - a perfectly crafted study of faith, science and religious practice, with a heart-wrenching mother-and-daughter drama at its core. The legendary effects are just window dressing, William Friedkin proved himself to be one of the most intensely creative directors ever with this film.
Also ran: The Haunting, Rosemary’s Baby, Spoorloos (The Vanishing)
La Double Vie de Véronique (The Double Life of Veronique)
France/Poland/Norway, 1991. Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
"The realm of superstitions, fortune-telling, presentiments, intuition, dreams, all this is the inner life of a human being, and all this is the hardest thing to film."
The Double Life of Véronique is Kieslowski's finest moment, a beautifully poetic and emotional tale of two women who share the same soul. As heartbreaking and tender as only Kieslowski could be, the whole film is suffused with a heavenly golden hue. Pure cinematic class.
Also ran: Three Colours Trilogy, The Hairdresser’s Husband, Betty Blue
USA, 1990. Director: Martin Scorsese
"Business bad? Fuck you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? Fuck you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning, huh? Fuck you, pay me."
Corrupt, brutal and immoral Goodfellas' characters may be, but Scorsese’s mastery of cinema still manages to draws you into, and empathise with, their plight. This is Scorsese’s opus, a painstakingly realised epic that keeps you engrossed from the off with its richness and energy.
Also ran: Jackie Brown, No Country For Old Men, To Live and Die in LA
La Graine et Le Mulet (The Secret of the Grain, aka Couscous)
France, 2007. Director: Abdel Kechiche
"Love takes everyday maintenance. It's getting along. But you have to earn it"
Couscous is modern European cinema at its finest; a graceful, meditative study of a working class Tunisian family in Marseilles. Deceptively simple and yet thoroughly engrossing, the film doggedly sticks to its own pace and draws you in so deeply that the finale resonates all the more powerfully.
Also ran: Naked, Volver, Let The Right One In
Meshes Of The Afternoon
USA, 1943. Directors: Maya Deren & Alexander Hammid
I am a salmon in the ring-shaped river
Meshes Of The Afternoon is a playful and mesmerising short film with an unmatched dreamlike quality and some truly unsettling images (the mirror-faced Reaper is seared into my mind forever). A unique, captivating and disquieting piece of experimental film art.
Also ran: Eraserhead, The Headless Woman, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Bread and Roses
UK/France/Germany/Spain/Italy/Switzerland, 2000. Director: Ken Loach
"We want bread! But we want roses too!"
Bread and Roses finds Ken Loach at his most polemic in this story of Mexican immigrants in Los Angeles. As only Loach can, human struggle and suffering is wrenched wide open in a drama that engages like no other. Like Sinclair Lewis’s The Jungle, it’s the kind of work that inspires you to make a positive change.
Also ran: Rashômon, Paths of Glory, Into The Wild