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Christopher Nolan's Top Ten Films for Criterion: Lang, Welles, Malick Make the Cut [Video]

Thompson on Hollywood By Maggie Lange | Thompson on Hollywood January 30, 2013 at 6:57PM

Director Christopher Nolan has selected his Top Ten films for Criterion. His choices are varied, and the themes unsurprising: morality, mortality, life-or-death decisions, larger-than-life situations, and characters pushed to their total limits. The films he selected -- from Erich von Stroheim in 1924 and Orson Welles in 1955 to Terrence Malick in 1998 -- share ambition. Watch the trailers and clips from Nolan's selections below. The full list is here, published in the Criterion newsletter.
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Christopher Nolan

Director Christopher Nolan has selected his Top Ten films for Criterion.  His choices are varied, and the themes unsurprising: morality, mortality, life-or-death decisions, larger-than-life situations, and characters pushed to their total limits.  The films he selected -- from Erich von Stroheim in 1924 and Orson Welles in 1955 to Terrence Malick in 1998 -- share ambition.  Watch the trailers and clips from Nolan's selections below. The full list is here, published in the Criterion newsletter.

"The Hit" | 1984 | Dir. Stephen Frears
Starring John Hurt, Tim Roth, Terence Stamp, and Laura Del Sol, this breakthrough 1984 feature has music by Eric Clapton.  The gangster flick was famously difficult to find until Criterion claimed it. Nolan says: "That Criterion has released this little-known Stephen Frears gem is a testament to the thoroughness of their search for obscure masterworks. Few films have gambled as much on a simple portrayal of the dynamics between desperate men…"

"12 Angry Men" | 1957 | Dir. Sidney Lumet
Nolan praises this black-and-white classic and Frears' "The Hit" for exploring the actions of "desperate men."  This hour and half film takes place almost entirely in one room-- allowing the focus to remain on group dynamics and moral deliberations.  The whole film is available on YouTube here.
 

"The Thin Red Line" | 1998 | Dir. Terrence Malick
With an exceptional cast including Sean Penn, James Caviezel, Ben Chaplin, Elias Koteas, and Nick Nolte, and gorgeous cinematography, Nolan calls this World War II movie an "extraordinary vision of war."
 

"The Testament of Dr. Mabuse" | 1933 | Dir. Fritz Lang
The clip shows disorienting Expressionist imagery and heady themes that characterize German director Lang's wild 1933 follow-up to his silent 1922 feature, "Dr. Mabuse the Gambler."  The movie is all hallucinatory horror and dramatic realizations - clear influences for Nolan.  The whole film is available on YouTube here.

This article is related to: Christopher Nolan, Christopher Nolan, Criterion Collection, Stephen Frears, Terrence Malick, Lists, Classics


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.