Martin Scorsese’s Top 10 Criterion Films


Martin Scorsese Criterion Collection Top TenThe Criterion Collection has just released a new filmmaker top ten and this time it’s Martin Scorsese getting the honors and he has quite a lot to say about each. The list includes obvious titles such as The Red Shoes, 8 1/2, The Leopard, Ashes and Diamonds and others as they were all on his list of Top 12 Films of All-Time from back in 2012. Nevertheless, it remains fascinating to read his words and reasoning.

For example, I find it interesting to see him placing Roberto Rossellini‘s Paisan at #1. So often Rome Open City is the most talked about of Rossellini’s fabulous War Trilogy (read my review) and so infrequently you hear about Paisan or Germany Year Zero, the latter of which is an absolute stunner.

I’ve never sen Jean Renoir‘s The River or Francesco Rosi‘s Salvatore Giuliano, but the rest I’ve viewed. I’m not a huge fan of The Leopard, but I am a big fan of 8 1/2 (read my review).

But enough about me, here’s the list along with a few snippets from Scorsese. You can find the complete list right here.

  1. Paisan (dir. Roberto Rossellini) [BUY IT HERE] – “I saw it for the first time on television with my grandparents, and their overwhelming reaction to what had happened to their homeland since they left at the turn of the century was just as present and vivid for me as the images and the characters.”
  2. The Red Shoes (dirs. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger) [BUY IT HERE] – “[T]here’s no other picture that dramatizes and visualizes the overwhelming obsession of art, the way it can take over your life.”
  3. The River (dir. Jean Renoir) [BUY IT HERE] – “[A] film without a real story that is all about the rhythm of existence, the cycles of birth and death and regeneration, and the transitory beauty of the world.”
  4. Ugetsu (dir. Kenji Mizoguchi) [BUY IT HERE] – “There are moments in the picture, famous ones, that I’ve seen again and again and that always take my breath away.”
  5. Ashes and Diamonds (dir. Andrzej Wajda) [BUY IT HERE] – “[I]t shocked me. It had to do with the look, both immediate and haunted, like a nightmare that won’t stop unfolding; the sense of maddening insanity and absurdity, the tragedy of political infighting on the brink of peace and coming of age during wartime…”
  6. L’avventura (dir. Michelangelo Antonioni) [BUY IT HERE] – “It’s difficult to think of a film that has a more powerful understanding of the way that people are bound to the world around them, by what they see and touch and taste and hear.”
  7. Salvatore Giuliano (dir. Francesco Rosi) [BUY IT HERE] – “[I]t’s also a picture made from the inside, from a profound and lasting love and understanding of Sicily and its people and the treachery and corruption they’ve had to endure.”
  8. 8 1/2 (dir. Federico Fellini) [BUY IT HERE] – “8 1/2 has always been a touchstone for me, in so many ways–the freedom, the sense of invention, the underlying rigor and the deep core of longing, the bewitching, physical pull of the camera movements and the compositions (another great black-and-white film: every image gleams like a pearl–again, shot by Gianni Di Venanzo).”
  9. Contempt (dir. Jean-Luc Godard) [BUY IT HERE] – “[I]t is a profound cinematic encounter with eternity, in which both the lost marriage and the cinema seem to dissolve. It’s one of the most frightening great films ever made.”
  10. The Leopard (dir. Luchino Visconti) [BUY IT HERE] – “When I got to see the whole thing, I was astonished by the picture and by Lancaster, who gives all of himself to the role and to the world of the film.”

Oh, one final note, Ashes and Diamonds is truly a great film. If you haven’t seen it seek it out and if you have a Hulu account, watch it right now.