My Favorite Films (2007 Edition)

Inspired by a recent re-viewing of Sherlock, Jr. . . .

According to Your Movie Database, I last compiled a list of my 20 favorite films almost exactly four years ago. I’ve seen nearly 700 more since then, so I thought it was time to give it another go.

I’ve stuck to the “one film per director” rule. Otherwise, there might be a couple more from Hal Ashby (The Last Detail, Shampoo), Claire Denis (I Can’t Sleep, The Intruder), Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise/Sunset), Andrei Tarkovsky (Andrei Rublev), and Carl Dreyer (The Passion of Joan of Arc). The most difficult decision was singling out a Godard film. I have strong favorites from each of his periods but none stands clearly above the rest. Please don’t ask me to justify my choice. I can’t.

The list hasn’t actually changed as much as I’d expected. A few of the big names (Bergman and Bresson) have dropped in rank. A few others dropped off completely (Kieslowski, Egoyan, Dumont, Coppola, and Anderson). And a few sentimental favorites made the cut despite my changing tastes. I would no longer list Hitchcock and Kubrick among my favorite directors, for example, but had I never seen Rear Window and 2001 I wouldn’t be a cinephile today. Pedro Costa’s Ossos comes in at number 20 because, of the films on the list, it’s my most recent discovery. We’ll see if it’s still there in four years. I guess I should be surprised (or at least apologetic) about having chosen nine films made since 1990, but I’m not. I am a bit embarrassed by the total lack of Japanese films, which makes me think I need to spend more time with them.

  1. Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1975)
  2. Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999)
  3. Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, 1993)
  4. The Son (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2002)
  5. Faces (John Cassavetes, 1968)
  6. Sherlock, Jr. (Buster Keaton, 1924)
  7. Ordet (Carl Dreyer, 1955)
  8. Harold and Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971)
  9. The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)
  10. 2001 (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
  11. What Time Is It There? (Tsai Ming-liang, 2001)
  12. Good Men, Good Women (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1995)
  13. Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)
  14. In the Bathtub of the World (Caveh Zahedi, 2001)
  15. Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955)
  16. Close Up (Abbas Kiarostami, 1990)
  17. Cries & Whispers (Ingmar Bergman, 1975)
  18. Au Hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson, 1966)
  19. In Praise of Love (Jean-Luc Godard, 2001)
  20. Ossos (Pedro Costa, 1997)