I was quite honored, this spring, to receive an invitation to participate in the British Film Institute/Sight & Sound "Greatest Films Of All Time" poll. Now that the results of that poll are being unveiled online, I figure it would not be improper for me to put up my own ballot, along with the note I attached to it.
1) Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
2) Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960)
3) Anatomy of a Murder (Preminger, 1959)
4) Céline et Julie vent en bateau (Rivette, 1974)
5) Stalker (Tarkovsky, 1979)
6) Belle de jour (Buñuel, 1967)
7) Boudu sauvé des eaux (Renoir, 1932)
8) Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (Lang, 1922)
9) Singin' in the Rain (Donen & Kelly, 1952)
10)The Searchers (Ford, 1956)
Thanks so much for the invitation to participate in the poll. It's true; the task is not an easy one at all. I arrived at this particular list, one out of perhaps dozens of other entirely different ones, by splitting he difference between honoring convention and saying to hell with it. As it happens, the four films on the list which might conceivably be seen as "consensus" picks—Kane, Psycho, Singin' in the Rain, Searchers—are also ones close to "my heart" or at least the formation of my sensibility. The other six films came to me after a lot of debate with myself over whether I was being different for the sake of being different, or whether these were not in fact truly GREAT films that, when the time came for surveys along the lines of this one, did not get the proper recognition for being the imaginatively prodigious, paradigm-shifting, galvanic works that I believe they in fact are. OF COURSE I regret that my list cannot be longer, because surely Sansho Dayu, The General (not to mention Sherlock Jr.), The Last Temptation of Christ, and a lot more ought to have a place, and the more I think about the films and filmmakers I am leaving off (Yang! Naruse!...and, yep, Godard; what am I thinking?) the more I can twist a long knife inside both my guts and brain. And for all that this is a list that in its way satisfies me. If anybody asks me "What IS cinema," yeah, I can show them any one of these pictures and say "This is."