How the directors and critics voted

James Mangold

Top Ten

  1. 8 1/2 (Fellini)
  2. The Palm Beach Story (P. Sturges)
  3. The Verdict (Lumet)
  4. Sweet Smell of Success (Mackendrick)
  5. The Apartment (Wilder)
  6. Shadow of a Doubt (Hitchcock)
  7. Umberto D. (De Sica)
  8. Black Narcissus (Powell, Pressburger)
  9. Great Expectations (Lean)
  10. Floating Weeds (Ozu)
  11. Sherlock Jr. (Keaton)


81/2 (Fellini)
Sex. Tragedy. Regret. Comedy. And the balls to turn the form on itself. It changed movies forever.
The Palm Beach Story (Sturges)
Sturges is one of the undeniably genius voices of American movies.
The Verdict (Lumet)
One of the best-written, most cleanly designed, beautifully shot, solidly acted and stylish courtroom dramas of all time. And who can resist a film whose villain is a corrupt archdiocese of Boston?
Sweet Smell of Success (Mackendrick)
Swinging photography. Sizzling dialogue. Dazzling operatic performances. And the courage to make a movie that spits in the face of the corrupt system which promotes them.
The Apartment (Wilder)
A comedy with a suicide in the middle. This movie is balls from beginning to end - a scathing depiction of 1950s corporate culture wrapped with a sweet comic bow. The Apartment must be seen in widescreen - who ever said anamorphic was only for big stories and action?
Shadow of a Doubt (Hitchcock)
Hitchcock's most under-rated and understated. The mirror good and evil Charlies (Cotten and Wright) are brilliant. Pressing the 'average American family' and teenage idealism and eroticism against a total psychopath, the film forms a bridge between Hitch's Selznick years and the mayhem to come. Credit Thornton Wilder with helping pedal between comedy and horror in a way many have tried (including Hitch) but often failed.
Umberto D. (De Sica)
If you haven't seen it, you've missed one of movie history's greatest cries. The best man-and-dog movie ever made.
Black Narcissus (Powell, Pressburger)
The Red Shoes may grab the limelight, but Powell's boldly lyrical film about nuns in the Himalayas wows me more. Stunningly photographed in eye-popping technicolor entirely on a stage during the war, it features a remarkable climactic chase and an amazing performance by Deborah Kerr. Lipstick has never had such power.
Great Expectations (Lean)
My favourite David Lean. Featuring a young Alec Guinness and one of the most dazzling first acts in history. A cow talks. Unforgettable images; young Pip getting grabbed in the marshes... Miss Havisham on fire...
Floating Weeds (Ozu)
Ozu is the world's greatest director film geeks have never heard of. A poet, humanitarian, stylist, innovator - and a brilliant actors' director. I would recommend the film to anyone with a heart who knows direction is about more than camera moves.
Sherlock Jr. (Keaton)
An extra. Raw and hilarious.

Last Updated: 03 Aug 2011