Film Canons

I have not even finished doing the links in my previous post and here I am doing another post. The excuse that I am offering, besides being lazy, is that I am trying to find the best links for the objects in the post and by merely going through the links, one can assemble a list of good (hopefully) world cinema related links.

This post is on film canons. If you have been following this blog for some time, you will probably have picked up that I am not really fond of definitives, e.g. one has to do this and that and that to become a good and complete human being, lists of top 10 or 100 films that one must watch, list of books, music etc. etc. Actually, a confession, I am quite fond of lists because at least it is a starting point for someone who is interested to become a complete human being or interested in watching more movies etc. to rely on.

What I dislike about it has more to do with the nature of lists, i.e. it has to exclude some good stuffs because lists cannot go on forever and as such, will lead people to think that the list is all there is and the rest of the stuffs not in the list are not really worth looking at. The second weakness of lists is that lists are compiled by people and the composition of the group of people that decides on the list will be biased towards their own knowledge, culture and tastes. Therefore, people relying merely on lists will find themselves missing a lot of other good stuffs.

That said, I still like lists and will continue to seek them out and in case you do not know yet, there used to be a site that lets you list your top 20 movies and share that list with other people. What is beautiful about that site is that it shows you people that has a strong affinity to your list and therefore shows you people that has similar tastes and interests. With this, you can continue to explore the movie world and seek out more movies to watch based on this. The site’s name is Your Internet Movie Database but it has mysteriously been missing from the web recently and when you type the URL,, it takes you to, i.e. the famous Internet Movie Database.

The truth on how this post came about was when I was re-reading the September 06 issue of Film Comment where there is a long article on film canons. It is interesting, no doubts, and here is the list of top 20 movies listed:

1. THE RULES OF THE GAME, Jean Renoir 1939
2. TOKYO STORY, Yasujiro Ozu 1953
3. CITY LIGHTS, Charles Chaplin 1931
4. PICKPOCKET, Robert Bresson 1959
5. METROPOLIS, Fritz Lang 1927
6. CITIZEN KANE, Orson Welles 1941
7. ORPHÉE, Jean Cocteau 1950
8. MASCULIN-FEMININ, Jean-Luc Godard 1966
9. PERSONA, Ingmar Bergman 1966
10. VERTIGO, Alfred Hitchcock 1958
11. SUNRISE, F.W. Murnau 1927
12. THE SEARCHERS, John Ford 1956
13. THE LADY EVE, Preston Sturges 1941
14. THE CONFORMIST, Bernardo Bertolucci 1970
15. 8 1/2, Federico Fellini 1963
16. THE GODFATHER, Francis Coppola 1972
17. IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, Wong Kar Wai 2000
18. THE THIRD MAN, Carol Reed 1949
19. PERFORMANCE, Donald Cammell/Nicolas Roeg 1970
20. LA NOTTE, Michelangelo Antonioni 1961

For the record, I have watched 16 of the 20 films above.

Here’s another list from They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They?. Top 20:

1. CITIZEN KANE, Orson Welles 1941
2. THE RULES OF THE GAME, Jean Renoir 1939
3. VERTIGO, Alfred Hitchcock 1958
4. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, Stanley Kubrick 1968
5. 8 1/2, Federico Fellini 1963
6. THE SEVEN SAMURAI, Akira Kurosawa 1954
7. THE GODFATHER, Francis Ford Coppola 1972
8. TOKYO STORY, Yasujiro Ozu 1953
9. THE SEARCHERS, John Ford 1956
10. SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly 1952
11. SUNRISE, F.W. Murnau
12. BATTELSHIP POTEMKIN, Sergei Eisenstein 1925
13. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, David Lean 1962
14. THE PASSION OF JOAN ARC, Carl Dreyer 1928
15. RASHOMON, Akira Kurosawa 1950
16. L’ATALANTE, Jean Vigo 1934
17. THE BICYCLE THIEF, Vittoro De Sica 1948
18. THE GODFATHER PART II, Francis Ford Coppola 1974
19. RAGING BULL, Martin Scorsese 1980
20. THE THIRD MAN, Carol Reed 1949

For the record again, I have watched 18 of the 20 films. The second list has a 45% affinity with the first list.

If you are still interested, here’s the National Society of Film Critics’ 100 Essential films: I have only watched 58 of the movies listed. I scored better on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? list, scoring 72 films out of the top 100. Long way to go but very exciting!

Asian movie fans, don’t vomit blood just because your great Asian movies are not listed in these Mat Salleh lists. If you feel you must, just bang your head on the wall for a while, but not too hard ya. You still need your head to watch movies.

Your list?


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