Andrew Tracy

Managing editor, Cinema Scope


Voted in the critics’ poll

Voted for

Exterminating Angel, The


Luis Buñuel

Flowers of St Francis, The


Roberto Rossellini

How Green Was My Valley


John Ford

Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, The


Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger



Fritz Lang

Man Escaped, A


Robert Bresson

Sans Soleil


Chris Marker

Shop Around the Corner, The


Ernst Lubitsch

They Live By Night


Nicholas Ray

Vivre Sa Vie


Jean-Luc Godard


This list is, first, one of names rather than titles. With the exception of Marker’s inexhaustible master text —the first among equals on this particular roll — any of a half-dozen or more titles could have easily stood next to these names, as could any of the honourable runners-up (Pialat, Jancsó, Olmi, Pasolini, Ozu, Keaton, the Dardennes etc). Yet it is ultimately the names, rather than the works, that we assess when engaged in these exercises, I think. If the work is at least somewhat tangible, measurable and rankable, the name (as distinct from the actual person who bears it) points towards something larger: a certain idea of cinema that is concocted or wished for by us almost as much as by the bearer of that name – the work, no less so than a list of works, only fleetingly and imperfectly incarnates. If these exercises have any real purpose, it’s less to arrive at any impossible consensus than to give transitory form to those ideas we bear, or that perhaps are borne through us; after all, as one of the names on this list once remarked, we don’t think at the cinema but are thought.

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