Films of my Life

I’ve stolen this idea from Prof. Henry Jenkins of USC, with whom I served on the Peabody Board, so first have to thank him for it. Henry’s idea was to list his favourite film from each year of his life (though he didn’t need to have seen the film in its year of release – pretty obvious for the first few years, at least). He shared his choices in instalments with his Facebook friends and stimulated considerable discussion and feedback – everybody loves lists and wants to make their own, so I’m going to. He restricted himself to American cinema (well, Americans do, don’t they?) but cited a number of “runners up” in each year. I intend to be a bit more rigorous – which means there will be films I love left out because of the presence of something I love even more in the same year, as well as some less deserving inclusions from years when the competition was not so hot. I’m a fan of films from everywhere, especially Europe, and my film of each year will simply be the one I like most – innovation and experiment are very important to me but the top one will be the one which I found most memorable and have had cause to revisit the most. I will also name a second film for each year on the following basis: if my film of the year is not in the English language, my second one will be, and vice versa. That way I will have a list of my favourites, a list of my favourite English language films (mostly US, with a few British and others) for comparison with those lists that are exclusively so, and a list of my favourites from that wonderful place, “the rest of the world”.

So, starting in the year of my birth, which auspiciously saw the release of one of the greatest of all time, the films of my life are:

1953 – Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, Japan);  Shane (George Stevens, USA)

1954 – Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, Japan); On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, USA)

1955 – Les Diaboliques (Henri-Georges Clouzot, France); Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, USA)

1956 – The Searchers (John Ford, USA); A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson, France)

1957 – Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden); Paths of Glory (Stanley Kubrick, USA)

1958 – Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, USA); Ashes and Diamonds (Andrzej Wajda, Poland)

1959 – Hiroshima Mon Amour (Alain Resnais, France); Room at the Top (Jack Clayton, UK)

1960 – Rocco and his Brothers (Luchino Visconti, Italy): Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, USA)

1961 – Last Year in Marienbad (Alain Resnais, France); A Taste of Honey (Tony Richardson, UK)

1962 – Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, UK); Winter Light (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden)

1963 – The Leopard (Luchino Visconti, Italy); The Servant (Joseph Losey, UK)

1964 – Dr Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, USA): The Red Desert (Michaelangelo Antonioni, Italy)

1965 – Repulsion (Roman Polanski, UK); A Blonde in Love (Milos Forman, Czechoslovakia)

1966 – Au Hasard Balthasar (Robert Bresson, France); Blow-up (Michaelangelo Antonioni, UK)

1967 – Don’t Look Back (D.A.Pennebaker, USA); Mouchette (Robert Bresson, France)

1968 – 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, USA); Shame (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden)

1969 – Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, USA); Katzelmacher (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, W.Germany)

1970 – The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy); Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson, USA)

1971 – A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, UK); Love (Karoly Makk, Hungary)

1972 – Aguirre, Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, W.Germany); The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, USA)

1973 – The Spirit of the Beehive (Victor Erice, Spain); Badlands (Terrence Malick, USA)

1974 – The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (Werner Herzog, W.Germany); The Godfather, Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, USA)

1975 – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Milos Forman, USA); Wrong Move (Wim Wenders, W.Germany)

1976 – Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, USA); Raise Ravens (Carlos Saura, Spain)

1977 – Hitler: A Film from Germany (Hans-Jurgen Syberberg, W.Germany); Eraserhead (David Lynch, USA)

1978 – Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, USA); The Tree of Wooden Clogs (Ermanno Olmi, Italy)

1979 – Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, USA); Stalker (Andrei Tarkovski, USSR)

1980 – The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, USA); My American Uncle (Alain Resnais, France)

1981 – Mephisto (Istvan Szabo, Hungary); Vernon, Florida (Errol Morris, USA)

1982 – Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, USA); Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden)

1983 – The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, USA); Nostalgia (Andrei Tarkovski, USSR)

1984 – Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders, USA); Sunday in the Country (Bertrand Tavernier, France)

1985 – My Life as a Dog (Lasse Hallstrom, Sweden); A Zed and two Noughts (Peter Greenaway, UK)

1986 – Blue Velvet (David Lynch, USA); The Green Ray (Eric Rohmer, France)

1987 – Full Metal Jacket (Stanley Kubrick, USA); Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, W.Germany)

1988 – The Thin Blue Line (Errol Morris, USA); A Short Film About Love (Krzysztof Kieslowski, Poland)

1989 – Crimes and Misdemeanours (Woody Allen, USA); Jesus of Montreal (Denys Arcand, Canada)

1990 – Life is Sweet (Mike Leigh, UK); Milou in May (Louis Malle, France)

1991 – The Double life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski, France); Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, USA)

1992 – Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino, USA); The Best Intentions (Bille August, Sweden)

1993 – Short Cuts (Robert Altman, USA); Three Colours: Blue (Krzysztof Kieslowski, France)

1994 – Three Colours: White/Red (Krzysztof Kieslowski, France); Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, USA)

1995 – Heat (Michael Mann, USA); The City of Lost Children (Marc Caro & Jean-Pierre Jeunet, France)

1996 – Fargo (Joel and Ethan Coen, USA); Pretty Village, Pretty Flame (Srdan Dragojevic, Serbia)

1997 – Lost Highway (David Lynch, USA); A Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, Iran)

1998 – The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, USA); Festen (Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark)

1999 – Wonderland (Michael Winterbottom, UK); Moloch (Alexander Sokurov, Russia)

2000 – Amores Perros (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Mexico); Gladiator (Ridley Scott, USA)

2001 – The Man Who wasn’t There (Joel and Ethan Coen, USA); Amelie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, France)

2002 – Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov, Russia); Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers (Peter Jackson, New Zealand)

2003 – Coffee and Cigarettes (Jim Jarmusch, USA); The Story of the Weeping Camel, Mongolia)

2004 – Downfall (Oliver Hirschbiegel, Germany); Dead Man’s Shoes (Shane Meadows, UK)

2005 – The Death of Mr Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, Romania); Crash (Paul Haggis, USA)

2006 – United 93 (Paul Greengrass, USA); The Lives of Others (Florian von Donnersmarck, Germany)

2007 – You, the Living (Roy Andersson, Sweden); No Country for old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, USA)

2008 – I’ve Loved You So Long (Philippe Claudel, France); Of Time and the Ciy (Terence Davies, UK)

2009 – The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, Germany); Antichrist  (Lars von Trier, Denmark)

2010 – Inland Empire (David Lynch, USA); I am Love (Luca Guadagnino, Italy)

2011 – The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, USA); A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, Iran)

2012 – Amour (Michael Haneke, France); Killer Joe (William Friedkin, USA)

2013 – Nebraska (Alexander Payne, USA); The Great Beauty  (Paolo Sorrentino, Italy)

2014 – Birdland (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, USA); Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev, Russia)

2015 – Son of Saul (Laszlo Nemes, Hungary); The Revenant (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, USA)

2016 – Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, Germany); Paterson (Jim Jarmusch, USA)


OK, I’m going no further yet, because I haven’t caught up with enough films from 2017 to make a reasonable judgement. All choices are potentially subject to amendment, if I come across something amazing from any year which I had not previously seen.