Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991 Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991

Spike Lee's Essential Film List (VIDEO)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood July 29, 2013 at 4:10PM

My fellow NYU alumnus Spike Lee, now a grad school professor, has posted on Kickstarter the list of films that he considers to be essential viewing for any aspiring filmmaker. He gives it out to his students on the first day of class. It's a fabulous list! He's right. Any proper cinephile should have seen all these films.
8
Spike Lee

My fellow NYU alumnus Spike Lee, now a grad school professor, has posted on Kickstarter the list of films that he considers to be essential viewing for any aspiring filmmaker. He gives it out to his students on the first day of class. It's a fabulous list! He's right. Any proper cinephile should have seen all these films. Have you? (Remember, I'm the one who called my college boyfriend a "movie moron" for not having seen "2001: A Space Odyssey"--which isn't on Lee's list.) Your Netflix queue awaits. True confession: I am ordering up "Cooley High," "Dead End," "Kung Fu Hustle," "I Am Cuba," "Miracle in Milan" and "Paisan."

Lee's list includes three films each by masters Akira Kurosawa (the filmmaker at the top of my personal pantheon of directors), Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, John Huston, and Federico Fellini. He also includes Arthur Penn's "Bonnie and Clyde," Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Conformist," Billy Wilder's "Ace in the Hole" and "Some Like It Hot," Charles Burnett's "Killer of Sheep," Charles Laughton and James Agee's "The Night of the Hunter" (which influenced Lee's "Do the Right Thing"), David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" (number one on my top 20 on Flickchart), Elia Kazan's "On the Waterfront" and "Face in the Crowd," Francis Coppola's "The Godfather" I and II, Martin Scorsese's "Mean Streets" and "Raging Bull," and Francois Truffaut's "Day for Night" and "The 400 Blows."

"The Seven Samurai"
"The Seven Samurai"

The full alphabetical list by director's first name is posted below the jump. Lee wants us to give him any films he missed: "Send me films you think should be on my list." He's got the right directors on the list, including Mel Gibson ("Apocalypto") but predictably not John Ford and Quentin Tarantino (with whom he has issues), Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah (he may not be a western fan) and John Lasseter and Hayao Miyazaki (no animation) as well as Kathryn Bigelow (the list has no women). Lee also leaves off Frank Capra, Ang Lee, F.W. Murnau, Mike Nichols, Joseph Mankiewicz ("All About Eve"), Preston Sturges ("The Lady Eve"), Howard Hawks, Ingmar Bergman, Jean Renoir and silent masters Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.



This article is related to: Spike Lee


E-Mail Updates








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.