Sunday, March 05, 2023


I am not all that much invested in listmaking these days, but since this one special mega list only comes around once a decade ... here's my contribution to the 2022 Sight & Sound poll:

1. Johnny Flash (Werner Nekes, 1987)

2. Strange Days (Kathryn Bigelow, 1995)

3. Sylvie (Klaus Lemke, 1973)

4. The Smiling Lieutenant (Ernst Lubitsch, 1931)

5. A Moment of Romance (Benny Chan, 1990)

6. Danger: Diabolik (Mario Bava, 1968)

7. She Was Like a Wild Chrysanthemum (Keisuke Kinoshita, 1955)

8. History is Made at Night (Frank Borzage, 1937)

9. Vanessa (Hubert Frank, 1977)

10. Lac aux dames (Marc Allégret, 1934)

I was not part of the 2012 poll. The one time I compiled a similar list was a bit earlier, in 2011, for the by now defunct German film magazine Splatting image. This was my selection back then:

1. An Inn in Tokyo (Yasujiro Ozu, 1935)

2. Cheyenne Autumn (John Ford, 1964)

3. Europa ‘51 (Roberto Rossellini, 1952)

4. A Time to Live and a Time to Die (Hou Hsiao Hsien, 1985)

5. Death in the Land of the Encantos (Lav Diaz, 2007)

6. Obsession (Brian de Palma, 1976)

7. Orapronobis - Fight for us (Lino Brocka, 1989)

8. Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955)

9. Utopia (Sohrab Shahid Saless, 1983)

10. I Walked with a Zombie (Jacques Tourneur, 1943)

There obviously is zero overlap, not even in terms of directors (the only one of the older list I seriously considered for the new one was Lav Diaz, with Evolution of a Filipino Family this time). One might even ask if these lists were compiled by the same person. And yet, I still adore all 10 films I chose in 2011. (The only one I'm not 100% sure about anymore is EUROPA '51 - I clearly would go with a different Rossellini today; with a different de Palma too, to be sure).

So what happened? It certainly is true that to me "dark, devastating masterpieces" lost a bit of their appeal somewhere along the way, while what I might tentatively call the erotics of cinema and also the surfaces of pop filmmaking gained in importance. That's just what happened, I do not have any more thoughts about it right now. Also I'm afraid my taste for the ornamental often gets the better of me these days, because the 2022 selection had a lot to do with choosing ten film titles (rather than just ten films) that sound well together.

In fact, now that I read it again: a beautiful feature of my list is that the combination of almost any two titles promises an even better picture than the ones already on the list: "Johnny Flash - History Is Made at Night", "Danger: Diabolik. Lac aux dames" or "The Smiling Lieutenant in: A Moment of Romance" - who would not want to watch films like these?

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