Ai no corrida (Oshima)
First, because I wouldn't otherwise have been able to make Romance. It made me understand that an image is not pornographic in itself, it's the way we look at it that renders it pornographic. More generally, I'd say that the image doesn't exist in itself, but is deciphered through our emotions. It is the means through which film-makers translate their ideas. This is why I make personal films, because in the end it's my signature on the film, even though others contribute to its making.
Sawdust and Tinsel (Bergman)
Because it's the first film I saw, and it contains all cinema. The combination of beauty and ugliness is at once fascinating and embarrassing. This ambiguity of opposites provides the poetry of the next three films.
Baby Doll (Kazan)
Lost Highway (Lynch)
Because it's essential it exists and it's terrible to watch.
For Antonioni's inexpicable modernity.
Because even though I saw it 40 years ago, I know I must see it again and that Dreyer is perhaps the greatest.
Lancelot du Lac (Bresson)
There must be one Bresson.
Perfect Kiarostami, because there's no more image, no more mise en scène, just a camera and intelligence, and pure thought.