Michael Hayden

Festival programmer, BFI London Film Festival

UK

Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Atalante, L'

1934

Jean Vigo

Billy Liar

1963

John Schlesinger

Breathless

1960

Jean-Luc Godard

Chinatown

1974

Roman Polanski

Do The Right Thing

1989

Spike Lee

Godfather: Part I, The

1972

Francis Ford Coppola

Searchers, The

1956

John Ford

Stranger than Paradise

1982

Jim Jarmusch

Sunset Blvd.

1950

Billy Wilder

Taxi Driver

1976

Martin Scorsese

Comments

Sight & Sound polls have inspired such conflicting feelings for me in the past. As much as I’ve been reverent and intrigued at times, I’ve been just as baffled or irritated by them. Making my list has been a fraught and anxious exercise; I confess that it has been emotional. I’ve ended up with a personal list of ten films that I am frequently drawn to revisit. Each has changed the way I think about cinema and what it can achieve. All are directed by men, they come from just three different countries and two continents, and the most recent is more than 20 years old. I’ve not been able to acknowledge many of my heroes, which makes me less fretful in the cases of the always well-supported Welles, Hitchcock, Altman, Kubrick and Kurosowa than it does when it comes to, say, John Cassavetes, Hal Ashby, Wong Kar Wai, Charles Burnett, Alexander Mackendrick, Errol Morris, J. Lee Thompson, Ken Loach, Jafar Panahi, Tony Richardson, Nic Roeg, Mel Brooks or Laurel and Hardy. And a self-imposed rule of only including one film by each director has meant I’ve ditched films I cherish as much as I do Raging Bull, My Darling Clementine, The Godfather: Part II, Weekend and Hail Mary. So, I’m sending my contribution with a furrowed brow and sweating palms. I wait to see the final list eagerly, as keen as ever to devour it, debate it and, in all likelihood, disagree with it. If the other contributors have endured anything like the angst that I have in putting their lists together, well, that is enough reason to think that the Sight & Sound poll should not be taken lightly.

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