Clare Stewart

Head of exhibition BFI


Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Beau Travail


Claire Denis

Cameraman, The


Buster Keaton

Days of Being Wild


Wong Kar Wai

Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, The


Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger

Separation, A


Asghar Farhadi

Spirit of the Beehive, The


Víctor Erice

Sullivan's Travels


Preston Sturges

Throne of Blood


Akira Kurosawa

Wake in Fright


Ted Kotcheff

Written on the Wind


Douglas Sirk


My list is led by emotion. These are the films to which I return, the films that make my heart sing, that have transformed my perception of cinema and what it can be. Films that make me want to dance with the thrill of being alive and having cinema to prove it (and the top three all have liberating solo dance sequences: Dorothy Malone, Leslie Cheung, Denis Lavant!). This list will be different tomorrow (when it will include The Night of the Hunter, Cleo from 5 to 7, Safe, Hunger, The Shop Around the Corner and Leone, Fassbinder, Ceylan, Woo and July. Lurking in the shadows of this list (and tomorrow’s) are a great many beloved films, but today I feel like giving a nod to four short films that almost made the list: Lois Weber and Phillips Smalley’s Suspense; La Jetée; Sadie Benning’s If Every Girl Had a Diary and – as the perfect ode to cinema itself – Guy Maddin’s The Heart of the World.

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