It's a refinement of the list I've carried in my head since NYU Cinema Studies. And I might add that playing Flickchart, a diabolically addictive site that forces you to choose between films across the decades, has reminded me of how my tastes have changed. How many films would I be willing to rank above "Lawrence of Arabia"? Damned few. Here's my Flickchart Top Ten of All Time--an equally valid list. (It's an algorithm based on which films they throw at you.)
Movies that used to be on my top ten that are now in my top 20 include 11. Alfred Hitchcock's "Notorious," 12. Buster Keaton's "The General," 13. Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane," and 14. George Stevens' "Swingtime." Somehow, as much as I love Astaire/Rogers, "Meet Me in St. Louis" feels right as the best musical ever made. And under-appreciated Sam Peckinpah gets one western slot with "The Wild Bunch"; John Ford's "Rio Grande" gets the other.
One could think in terms of which movie from any given director is most likely to be on everyone else's top ten to push certain titles up the list. I did not consider this at all.
I recently watched Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange" on Blu-ray, and it now replaces "2001: A Space Odyssey."
I include two classic romantic comedies, from Preston Sturges and Howard Hawks, who sadly seems to be falling from favor among critics. As for my new number one, I'm highlighting Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger'sblack-and-white romance "I Know Where I'm Going," starring Roger Livesey as a Scottish Laird and Wendy Hiller as a young woman of ambition who is determined to marry a rich businessman--if she can cross the storm-tossed water to reach him. She thinks she knows what she wants, but nature and strong ties to the earth prove more powerful than her careerist desires. See it.
And where are the women directors? Well...Gillian Armstrong's "High Tide," Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" and Jane Campion's "The Piano" are farther down my list.
1. "I Know Where I'm Going" (Powell)
2. "Lawrence of Arabia" (Lean)
3. "High and Low" (Kurosawa)
4. "Rio Grande" (Ford)
5. "The Lady Eve" (Sturges)
6. "Bringing Up Baby (Hawks)
7. "The Apartment" (Wilder)
8. "The Wild Bunch" (Peckinpah)
9. "Meet Me in St. Louis" (Minnelli)
10. "A Clockwork Orange" (Kubrick)
Trailers for the top ten below: