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.
"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.