Nick James

Editor, Sight & Sound


Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

"I Know Where I'm Going!"


Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger

Andrei Rublev


Andrei Tarkovsky

Brighter Summer Day, A


Edward Yang

In The Mood For Love


Wong Kar Wai

Out of the Past


Jacques Tourneur

Passion of Joan of Arc


Carl Theodor Dreyer

Singin' in the Rain


Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly

Taxi Driver


Martin Scorsese



Nuri Bilge Ceylan



Alfred Hitchcock


As usual, it’s about what you leave out but also – crucially for me this time – it was important that my list did not make me feel stifled. I dumped from my 2002 list three fabulous films that I love slightly less than I did perhaps because I’ve seen them too often: Barry Lyndon, The Conformist and Hotel Terminus. I did an auterist swap, I Know Where I’m Going! for Black Narcissus (pure favouritism), and I replaced L’Herbier’s L’Argent with The Passion of Joan of Arc simply because Falconetti got under my skin completely when I saw Dreyer’s film again recently. Having seen how traditional so many of our voters have been, I feel more passionately than ever that the cinema of the last three decades is hugely undervalued. This is probably because consensus is harder to reach in an era when so much is available for us to watch. In that vein, most of the films it has pained me to leave out are relatively contemporary. Lucrecia Martel’s The Headless Woman is one of the most psychologically subtle films ever made. Either Hidden or The White Ribbon from modern master Michael Haneke could or should have been there. I can’t believe I’ve left out Kiarostami’s magnificent Life and Nothing But, and Béla Tarr’s Sátántangó. And I’ve retained a deep affection and reverence for Michael Mann’s Heat. But my last nod is for a film that I immersed myself in preparation for talking about it last year at Finland’s Midnight Sun Film Festival: Carol Reed’s The Third Man. In so many ways it’s as corny as they come, but so rich in tragic irony it can still make you shiver. And yes, looking over it now it’s done, my list is obviously that of a hopeless romantic.

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