Apocalypse Now (Coppola)
Coppola made the ephemeral dynamics of the mass psyche's celebratory nihilism, its self-destructive urges and transience, concrete and operatic. A fabulous picture.
Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein)
Eisenstein invented not just film form, but a dialectical theory of the construction of cinematic narrative. He laid the theoretical foundation in 1924 and embodied it in cinema's greatest classic. Its influence in British, Weimar and American cinema is extraordinary.
Citizen Kane (Welles)
A watershed that perceives and expresses content in a grand way, never done before.
Dr. Strangelove (Kubrick)
The whole picture is a third act. It codifies and presents as outrageous satire the totality of American foreign and nuclear policy and political/military culture from 1948 to 1964. And it's more effective for being wicked ridicule than any number of cautionary fables.
Invented what had never been done before and delivered magic in both its human pathos and visual effects. (My selection is based on having viewed an excellent 35mm print.)
Last Year at Marienbad (Resnais)
A defining film. It's almost the end of modernism when counterposed against Godard.
My Darling Clementine (Ford)
Possibly the finest drama in the classic Western genre, with a stunningly subjective Wyatt Earp (Henry Fonda). And it achieves near-perfection as cinematic narrative in its editing and shooting.
The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer)
Human experience conveyed out of the abstract elements of the human face and pure compositions. No one else has shot and realised human beings quite like Dreyer in this film.
Raging Bull (Scorsese)
We are so sucked into the failing and besotted life of La Motta and his need for and pursuit of redemption. The humanity of the picture is as extraordinary as Marty's execution, with its near-perfection in the economy, staging, blocking and compositions.
The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah)
No other picture captures the poignancy of 'the last of', a fin-de-siècle sense of the West, of ageing, of the pathos of twilight.