It’s time yet again for my favorite feature at TDYLF- my annual list of the 50 greatest French films of all-time. One aspect I’m starting to really enjoy about this list is how organic it is. Each year, movies rise and fall thanks to re-watches, exposure to new films, and new insights. Keeping and maintaining this list throughout the year also serves an important function for me. It motivates me to continue learning, and grow as a French film enthusiast. A few notes before we get started:
- I am not an authority on this. I’m just a Francophile with a Blu-ray player, Netflix and Facets subscriptions, and a love of movies.
- As much as I try, I am not a completist. There are a lot of films I simply haven’t seen. I’ve done my best to make it as comprehensive as I could but there’s always room to see more. There are still some relatively glaring omissions. Please feel free to recommend others, as I am always on the lookout to improve this list. It’s a labor of love for me.
- There is obviously a lot of personal preference involved. However, I’ve given a lot of weight to objective aspects like a film’s influence, importance, creativity, and how much they embody the spirit of French cinema and history.
- To qualify, the film has to be a French language film. There are non-French directors on this list but every movie is a French language film.
With that out of the way, I present to you the 50 greatest French films of all-time: Continue reading
Michaël Parent, who operates one of my favorite sites- Le Mot de Cinephiliaque– has been taking submissions for his annual “Most Influential Directors” poll. Michaël gets an impressive list of contributors each year, and I’m sure this year will be no different. Today is the final day for submissions, and my ballot is going to beat the buzzer, just barely. Here’s my ballot, along with a brief write-up on each director detailing why I chose them, along with a representative film from each director. Continue reading
Ingmar Bergman was a complex man. He spent a lifetime making emotionally and philosophically complex films. That Bergman was one of the harshest critics of his own films is simply part of his neuroses. You may not be aware, but you should not be surprised, that Bergman was equally harsh on other famous filmmakers in his lifetime. There are some quotes out there from Bergman, regarding other famous arthouse directors, that come across like two divas fighting on a runway. And yet, he also gave effusive praise to other filmmakers. It’s fascinating. Here’s some of what Bergman said about other directors. First, the negatives. Continue reading
There are many cinematic debates that have raged on for years. These debates provide two options–two icons or two tremendous films–that are strikingly similar, and yet still distinct from one another. Almost universally, they’re presented in black and white. As the title suggests, there can be only one option chosen as a favorite. There’s no room for gray area. I find that notion horribly misguided. I can love pizza and beer equally, for instance. Having said that, the debates are still a whole lot of fun and they’ve made me try to learn more about the other side far more than I would have without the debates. Here are some of my favorite debates, and my verdict. Continue reading
This week will mark Bastille Day. What better time to honor a country that’s given the world of cinema so many incredible films? In terms of both quality and quantity, I’d stack the history of French film up against any on the world scene. To pay proper homage for Bastille Day, I’ve compiled the 50 greatest French films of all-time. A few notes before we get started: Continue reading
The Criterion Collection has a very enjoyable series called Top 10s where they invite filmmakers, film critics and theorists, and just good ol’ fashioned celebrities to list their Top 10 from the Criterion Collection. It’s a really unique series because you get great insights into what has influenced these people. For instance, Steve Buscemi lists John Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence at #10, and states:
I have been under the influence of John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands and their extended family in film ever since I saw a retrospective of Cassavetes’s movies at MoMA soon after he died.
Is it any surprise at all that Steve Buscemi, a stalwart of 90’s indie cinema, would hold such reverence for John Cassavetes, the Godfather of independent cinema? Guy Maddin lists Clement’s Forbidden Games at #1 and Häxan at #10. If you’re familiar at all with Maddin’s films- silent film homages which generally place a magnifying glass on childhood trauma- you realize the imprint that these films had on him. Admittedly, I’ve only seen approximately half of the Criterion Collection, around 250 films or so in their catalogue. Here’s my stab at the Criterion Top 10. Continue reading