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15 Great Current Directors’ Top 10 Criterion Film Lists

18 November 2012 | CC Lists, Features | by David Zou

If you are a big Criterion fan as I am,you know there is a section on their site called “Top 10 Lists”,it is a selection of lists made by directors,actors,screenwriters,film critics and even pop icons.This list roundup,like the famous “Sight&Sound” directors’ top 100 film poll,displays some of the greatest living directors’ top 10 Criterion films,most of the directors have their films in the collection,and most of them wrote long testimonials for his favorite Criterion titles,as you can see,some of them don’t include exact 10 films,but who cares? The more,the better,right?

These lists worth a dig for several reasons:

1.For those art film fans who would like to get themselves familiarize with Criterion’s arsenal in a quick way,you can’t find a better way to start.

2.For those fans who only care certain directors’ selections,you would be satisfied because those directors are not on the “Sight&Sound” poll lists.

3.For cinephiles who likes to do research on directors’ influence on each other,here is a great chance for you to do so,you can certainly find something you want here.

4.For those bloggers who likes making lists,there is no better place than here to learn how to write capsule reviews of films you liked(I will only link to those lists which has capsule reviews).

No matter which group you are in,I hope these lists would be useful to you and have fun digging!


Wes Anderson’s Top 10

1. The Earrings of Madame de . . .
2. Au hasard Balthazar
3. Pigs and Battleships
(tie) The Insect Woman
(tie) Intentions of Murder
4. The Taking of Power by Louis XIV
5. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
6. The Friends of Eddie Coyle
7. Classe tous risques
8. L’enfance nue
9. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
10. The Exterminating Angel

Read full lists with capsule reviews


Jane Campion’s Top 10

jane campion
1. Seven Samurai
2. The Night Porter
3. The Firemen’s Ball
4. That Obscure Object of Desire
5. Contempt
6. Tokyo Story
7. La strada
8. Scenes from a Marriage
9. Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto

Read full lists with capsule reviews


Pedro Costa’s Top 10

pedro costa
1. The River
2. Playtime
3. Late Spring
4. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
5. The Exterminating Angel
6. Heaven Can Wait
7. Notorious
8. Young Mr. Lincoln
9. Vampyr
10. Diary of a Country Priest

Read full lists with capsule reviews


Guillermo del Toro’s Top 10

guillermo del toro
1. Throne of Blood
(tie) High and Low
2. The Seventh Seal
(tie) Fanny and Alexander — The Theatrical Version
3. Beauty and the Beast
(tie) Eyes Without a Face
4. Great Expectations
(tie) Oliver Twist
5. Time Bandits
(tie) Brazil
6. Onibaba
(tie) Kuroneko
7. Spartacus
(tie) Paths of Glory
8. Sullivan’s Travels
(tie) Unfaithfully Yours
9. Vampyr
(tie) Häxan
10. The Spirit of the Beehive
(tie) The Night of the Hunter

Read full lists with capsule reviews


Xavier Dolan’s Top 10

1. Pierrot le fou
2. Cries and Whispers
3. Forbidden Games
4. The 400 Blows
5. Taste of Cherry
6. The Cranes Are Flying
7. Au revoir les enfants
8. Beauty and the Beast
9. Mala Noche
10. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

Read full lists with capsule reviews


William Friedkin’s Top 10

william friedkin
1. The Night of the Hunter
2. Night and Fog
3. Last Year at Marienbad
4. Diabolique
5. Ordet
6. The Red Shoes
7. Paths of Glory
8. Le Samouraï
9. Vengeance Is Mine
10. Belle de jour

Read full lists with capsule reviews


Aki Kaurismäki’s Top 10

1. Casque d’or
(tie) Au hasard Balthazar
2. Tokyo Story
(tie) Late Spring
(tie) An Autumn Afternoon
3. Ikiru
(tie) Red Beard
4. Written on the Wind
(tie) Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
5. Shadows
(tie) Faces
(tie) A Woman Under the Influence
(tie) The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
(tie) Opening Night
6. À propos de Nice
(tie) Zéro de conduite
(tie) L’Atalante
(tie) Nanook of the North
7. 49th Parallel
(tie) The Small Back Room
8. Army of Shadows
(tie) Le deuxième souffle
9. Port of Shadows
(tie) Bicycle Thieves
10. The Night of the Hunter
(tie) Ace in the Hole
(tie) Simon of the Desert
(tie) Jimi Plays Monterey & Shake! Otis at Monterey
11. This Is Spinal Tap

Read full lists with capsule reviews


Richard Linklater’s Top 10

richard linklater
1. Andrei Rublev
2. Au hasard Balthazar
3. The Flowers of St. Francis
4. Day of Wrath
5. Tokyo Story
6. The Last Temptation of Christ
7. Unfaithfully Yours
8. Fanny and Alexander — The Television Version
9. Pickpocket
10. I Know Where I’m Going!


Guy Maddin’s Top 10

guy maddin
1. Forbidden Games
2. Day of Wrath
3. Umberto D.
4. Grey Gardens
5. Pandora’s Box
6. I vitelloni
7. Ivan the Terrible, Part II
8. Black Narcissus
9. Written on the Wind
10. Häxan

Read full lists with capsule reviews


Nicolas Winding Refn’s Top 10

Nicholas Refn
1. Tokyo Drifter
2. The Battle of Algiers
3. Vampyr
4. The Night of the Hunter
5. Videodrome
6. Flesh for Frankenstein
7. Sweet Smell of Success
8. My Life as a Dog
9. Beauty and the Beast
10. Branded to Kill

Read full lists with capsule reviews


Nicolas Roeg’s Top 10

nicholas roeg
1. L’avventura
2. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
3. Beauty and the Beast
4. Wild Strawberries
5. 8½
6. Children of Paradise
7. Schizopolis
8. Contempt
9. Straw Dogs
10. The Leopard

Paul Schrader’s Top 10

paul schrader
1. The Spirit of the Beehive
2. Wings
3. Death of a Cyclist
4. The Face of Another
5. The Furies
6. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
7. Mala Noche
8. Berlin Alexanderplatz
9. Hands over the City
10. Street of Shame


Whit Stillman’s Top 10

whit stillman
1. The 400 Blows
2. The Lady Vanishes
3. The Harder They Come
4. The Seventh Seal
5. The Lady Eve
6. Big Deal on Madonna Street
7. My Man Godfrey
8. Black Orpheus
9. Notorious
10. Children of Paradise

Read full lists with capsule reviews


Johnnie To’s Top 10

1. Seven Samurai
2. High and Low
3. Straw Dogs
4. Harakiri
5. Le Samouraï
6. Le cercle rouge
7. In the Mood for Love
8. Brazil
9. The Last Emperor
10. Yojimbo

Read full lists with capsule reviews


Edgar Wright’s Top 10

edgar wright
1. Blow Out
2. Brazil
3. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
4. Eyes Without a Face
5. Head
6. Peeping Tom
7. Rushmore
8. Le Samouraï
9. This Is Spinal Tap
10. Walkabout
11. Two-Lane Blacktop

Read full lists with capsule reviews


It’s Your Turn

OK,the fun part is over,here are some questions for discussions,whose list made you say something like:

1.WOW,this director chooses some of my favorite films.

2.Um,it’s the type of the films he/she would like.

3.What?? He/She makes these selections?? Maybe I don’t know him/her too well.

4.This director has such great taste/writes so well,I would like to check out more of his/her films!

Or maybe you’d like to make a top 10 Criterion film list of your own here?


Check out another great list roundup titled “Director’s Choice:19 Great Directors’ Top 10 Favorite Films




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  • Steven Flores

    This is why I love Criterion. The filmmakers’ lists.

    • David Zou

      Yep,probably the second best part of their site,after those sensational essays.

  • michaelgsmith

    I think all of these lists are pretty much what I would’ve expected based on the director – with the possible exception of William Friedkin’s, which is a little “artier” than I would’ve thought. The lists on here that are probably closest to my own taste are Pedro Costa’s and Richard Linklater’s.

    • David Zou

      Yeah,one would expect William Friedkin’s list to be something similar to Johnny To’s,but surprisingly he has Last Year at Marienbad and Ordet on it.

  • http://Website Steve Barnett

    1. I expected to agree more with William Friedkin, but instead I agreed most with Guillermo del Toro.
    2. I would have expected Wes Anderson to choose films that are completely foreign to my collection, because Anderson’s own films are foreign to my collection.
    3. One of Edgar Wright’s favorite films is Head?!
    4. If I had to pick one, maybe Johnnie To.

    • David Zou

      Thanks for the comments,Steve.Anderson’s own films are foreign to your collection? That’s interesting. If you pick To,I assume you love samurai and gangster films :-P