Sabine Niewalda

Press officer, Oberhausen Film Festival


Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

2001: A Space Odyssey


Stanley Kubrick

Bluebeard's Eighth Wife


Ernst Lubitsch



Thomas Vinterberg

Godfather: Part II, The


Francis Ford Coppola

Jetée, La


Chris Marker

Lawrence of Arabia


David Lean

My Neighbour Totoro


Miyazaki Hayao



F. W. Murnau

Star Wars


George Lucas

White Ribbon, The


Michael Haneke


Star Wars because it revived a genre, ushered in the age of digital effects and is a perfect fairytale. Deliberately not listed as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, since none of the sequels, prequels or whateverquels came even remotely near its power, influence and vision. My Neighbour Totoro because it is the perfect animated film, simple without being simplistic. Because it is less aggressively manipulative than Disney’s animations and more imaginative in style. It won out against Spirited Away because the latter, while also extremely beautiful and well made, does not have its purity. Many screwball comedies seem a little like Shakespeare’s fools to me – people may have once thought they were funny, but today it’s hard to see why. Not Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife. I think this is the marriage comedy for the ages. The Godfather: Part II because it is the best family film, a Greek tragedy set in a 20th-century Mafia clan. That’s why it wins over Martin Scorsese’s Mafia films: it balances organised crime against the Corleone family tragedy, which enables us to identify that much more with the characters – and wonder at our own morals. La Jetée is still the short film that best embodies what short film can do better than feature-length films: it tells a complex story in a condensed way that leaves much to our imagination, uses a visual style that you could never uphold over feature length (at least not without getting boring) but which is perfectly employed here, and at 28 minutes it is exactly the right length. Lawrence of Arabia because it’s the epic of epics. Festen because Dogme 95, though not very long lived, was an interesting concept that reintroduced an element of simplicity into the movies, not just in Denmark, and also because I think that this is the film in which the Dogme rules were realised most perfectly. If you are going to think of the greatest films of ALL time – apart from the fact that this is an impossible task anyway – you should at least include one silent film. In Germany, this automatically leads to the expressionist films, and Nosferatu is the best. 2001: A Space Odyssey because of the match-cut from bone to orbiter, because of its soundtrack, because of the first iPad ever, because of the endless possibilities of interpretation. The White Ribbon is beautifully shot, brilliantly written and acted, but above all a moral film that proposes a theory about the roots of evil in human beings. Where does the incomprehensible cruelty of war, the Holocaust or, today, terrorism come from? The White Ribbon raises the question and is also an outstanding film. A rare combination!

Latest from the BFI

  • Latest from the BFI

    Latest news, features and opinion.

More information

Films, TV and people

  • Films, TV and people

    Film lists and highlights from BFI Player.

More information

Sight & Sound magazine

  • Sight & Sound magazine

    Reviews, interviews and features from the international film magazine.

More information

Back to the top