1941 Citizen Kane, Directed by Orson Welles.
1968 2001, A Space Odyssey. Directed by Stanley Kubrick.
1975 Barry Lyndon. Directed by Stanley Kubrick.
1979 Apocalypse Now, Final Cut. Directed by Francis Coppola.
1984 Once Upon a Time in America. Directed by Sergio Leone.
1992 The Long Day Closes. Directed by Terence Davies.
1998 The Thin Red Line. Directed by Terrence Malick.
2004 The Lord of the Rings, Extended Cut. Directed by Peter Jackson.
2011 The Tree of Life. Directed by Terrence Malick.
Some greatest hits and usual suspects up there? Hell yes. Idiosyncratic? I certainly hope so! After all, it is MY list. One of these days I’ll probably issue an expanded version with commentary about each one. That’s a hope, not a promise or threat.
The list is not set in stone. Not even paper, for that matter. It is what I think today, and that may change. “The General,” for instance, has been off and on, for I am suspicious of any movie that might seem to romanticize the Old Confederacy. Right now it is back on. The list is ordered by date, which I prefer. If a movie was released in different years, as “Lord of the Rings,” I have used the date of the last one out.
The following list of Runners-Up includes a number that have from time to time dropped in or out of the Top List. Some may cycle through it again one of these days. If a director appears more than once in the list above (Kubrick, Malick), take that to mean The Collected Works, and additional movies of theirs are not listed below. In some cases below I will allow one movie to stand for many, choosing ones that have been most important to me. Example: Bergman, Hitchcock, Del Toro. For all directors who appear in the list below, please assume that I admire and possibly love others of their works. There are what might seem glaring omissions although they have been important in my life. I think of Antonioni and Fellini. I’m still thinking about them. Others are conscious choices, for in general I simply don’t like their movies even though they are considered great directors. Big examples Buñuel and Godard. There are no women in the list, something that I expect will be soon changing, but there are a couple of transgendered people.
Other lists that may turn up one of these days:
Directors I Love.
Movies I Abhor.
Pleasers About Which I Feel No Guilt Whatsoever.
19741938 Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks)
1942 Cat People (Jacques Tourneur)
1942 The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles)
1950 All about Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
1955 The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton)
1957 Night of the Demon (Jacques Tourneur)
1957 The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman)
1960 Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock)
1962 Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean)
1962 Long Day’s Journey into Night (Sidney Lumet)
1962 The Manchurian Candidate (John Frankenheimer)
1963 The Leopard, the uncut Italian version (Luchino Visconti)
1967 War and Peace (Sergei Bondarchuk)
1968 Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone)
1971 Death in Venice (Luchino Visconti)
1974 Chinatown (Roman Polanski)
1975 Jaws (Steven Spielberg)
1978 The Deer Hunter (Michael Cimino)
1979 Alien (Ridley Scott)
1980 Heaven's Gate (Michael Cimino)
1981 Wolfen (Michael Wadleigh)
1982 Blade Runner (Ridley Scott)
1983 Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward . . . (Andrew Dominik)
1987 Empire of the Sun (Steven Spielberg)
1988 Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar)
1990 The Godfather Triloby (Francis Coppola)
1993 The Age of Innocence (Martin Scorsese)
1997 Starship Troopers (Paul Verhoeven)
2001 A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg)
2001 Moulin Rouge (Baz Luhrmann)
2001 The Devil’s Backbone (Guillermo del Toro)
2002 Heaven (Tom Tykwer)
2003 Angels in America (Mike Nichols)
2003 Matrix Trilogy (Wachowski Siblings)
2007 Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee)
2008 Of Time and the City (Terence Davies)
2009 Avatar (James Cameron)
2009 Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
2010 Inception (Christopher Nolan)
2010 The Social Network (David Fincher)
2012 Cloud Atlas (Wachowski Siblings, Tom Tykwer)
2012 Dark Knight Trilogy, The (Christopher Nolan)
2012 Life of Pi (Ang Lee)
2014 Interstellar (Christopher Nolan)
2016 Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
2017 Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino)