Ten Greatest

Following on from Sight & Sound’s Critics’ Top Ten in September of this year, I thought I would have a go at one myself.  Like so many of the contributors to that poll, I found the exercise trite or arbitrary, depending on whether I went for ‘greatest’ or ‘favourite’.  Brad Stevens discusses this dilemma in his column in September’s issue, and comes to the rather unsatisfactory conclusion that there is no difference, because the films we want to watch again and again reveal untapped wonders.  And yet his example was The Beekeeper by Theo Angelopoulos, and I was unconvinced that he would want to renew acquaintance with this quite as often as I do with The Big Lebowski, say.  In any event, I am satisfied that the only meaning such an absurdly short list can have, given the wealth of great movies from which to choose, is if it becomes a uniquely personal one (indeed, the S&S contributors were divided between the les Enfants du Paradis, Seven Samurai, Au hasard Balthazar crowd, and the truly bizarre: how else to explain the presence of Death Proof, Distant Drums and Dune?).  In the present case it may provide further guidance to users of this website as to the direction of my leanings…

In alphabetical order:

The Battle of Algiers

Le bonheur est dans le pré

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

The Last of the Mohicans (Mann)

Lawrence of Arabia

The Night of the Iguana

Once upon a Time in the West

The Shining

Where Eagles Dare

Zulu

The list might change in one or two particulars if I did it again next week, but some of these titles remain secure, firmly rooted as they are in my filmgoing past.  As will be noted, I relish well-scripted stories featuring strong male characters against dramatic natural backdrops.  All these films have memorable dialogue, and I never want them to end.