March 23, 2014

The Top 10 Criterion Films According to Today's Greatest Filmmakers

The Criterion Collection offers a lot more than access to some of the best and most historically significant films from around the world (and great supplemental features, too). The site also provides studious cinephiles with its own extras, like engaging articles about these classics and their world-class filmmakers, as well as their Top 10 lists, which share the favorite Criterion films of some of the biggest creatives, who explain why they're important to them personally and professionally. Continue on to see which classics filmmakers like Jane Campion, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, and Roger Corman put in their top 10.

Granted, these lists aren't compiled of each filmmaker's top 10 favorite movies of all time -- just the ones that you can find in the collection. But, if you're a fan of Criterion -- and great directors explaining why they like certain films -- then these lists will provide you with some great insight into some of the most important pieces of cinematic history. For instance, Scorsese relates the episodic gem, Paisá by Rossellini, to one of the most thought-provoking (in my opinion) stories to hit the stage, Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.

Never has “waiting around” been so glorious. Postwar ennui meticulously staged and photographed, a fin de siècle troupe of the idle rich, such empty lives and their inconstant echoes. But Antonioni really had the last laugh, for this “adventure” film is more a solemn nod to Godot than any real outing or frolic.

At the very least, these lists will provide some entertainment and a Criterion shopping list! Check out a few films from the Top 10 lists of the following directors. (Click on each name to be taken to their full lists on Criterion's website.)

Martin Scorsese

Christopher Nolan

Jane Campion

Roger Corman

Lena Dunham

Wes Anderson

Richard Linklater

Nicolas Winding Refn

Be sure to check out each director's Top 10 page to see what they have to say about each film (some don't share anything, some share a lot). Take some time, too, to take a look through the rest of the Top 10s on Criterion's site. There are plenty more filmmakers, including producers and screenwriters, but there are also musicians, actors, and other creatives that share which films touched them.

What is your Top 10? Which films from the Criterion Collection would you recommend for filmmakers? Which films do you think should be available, but aren't? Let us know in the comments below.

[Criterion collage image by Ryan Gallagher]

Link: Top 10s -- Criterion

Your Comment

50 Comments

Why is Lena Dunham considered one of today's greatest filmmakers?

March 23, 2014 at 5:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Trevor

Lena Dunham is like pegged jeans- a horrible, overhyped fad that will fade away into oblivion.

March 23, 2014 at 11:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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LOL you guys are just mad that she got famous making her own films and you didn't.

March 24, 2014 at 3:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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john jeffries

+1

March 24, 2014 at 5:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Stu Mannion

she simply hasn't done much

March 26, 2014 at 7:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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roblabla

Lena is in this article due to affirmative action and meeting female quotas.

April 7, 2014 at 11:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pianohero

The "Thin Red Line" is basically insufferable, both from its ideological inconsistencies and Malick's self-indulgence final cut. There are better war movies, there are better action movies, there are better antiwar movies.

March 23, 2014 at 5:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

^ Lol, Jesus wept

March 23, 2014 at 6:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Binks

Get used to it. DLD is like a mouth on a stick.

March 23, 2014 at 8:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Lance

By contrast, I consider it one of the greatest films of all time.

March 23, 2014 at 10:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brian

To each is own but Kubrick, Kalatozov, Vilsmaier, Shepit'ko, Coppola, et. al. - made far superior war/antiwar movies with stronger characters, a consistent philosophy and a less meandering plot. Sure, some visuals were top rate but it was still far too indulgent for my taste, sort of like comparing the "Apocalypse Now" of 1979 with the director's cut of the same film that came out a few decades later. That extra hour ruined it.
.
PS, Shepit'ko's "The Ascent" was released on Criterion and I bet none of those guys - or anyone else here - saw it. Fortunately, Mosfilm uploaded it for free YouTube viewing
[ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEVZOj7uYps&feature=fvwrel ]

March 24, 2014 at 7:54AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

^ Zzzzzzzzzz. Stop lecturing, dude. Such a bore.

March 24, 2014 at 9:48AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Alex_R

The Shepitko films are indeed beautiful, but don't forget Tarkovski's 'Childhood Of Ivan' and Aldrich's 'Attack'. Coincidentally all monochrome.

March 28, 2014 at 8:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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alan fair

The Thin Red Line is awesome and so is Lena Dunham. Zip it haters.
P.s. TV and film are merging havent you heard? I for one am keen to hear what gen y directors are into.

P.p.s. Great to see Videodrome listed.

March 23, 2014 at 6:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Stu Mannion

The adapted script is the key. The dir. + actor created the Nolte character, not in the novel, out of whole cloth. His best performance IMO. Anti-war angst in the John Wayne role.

March 23, 2014 at 6:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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John Bean

Where the CC is online @hulu.com/ is film w/ CC cred by Kon Ichikawa, "The Makioka Sisters" - I've mentioned in previous post. An actor's dir. supreme. watch it Now.

March 23, 2014 at 6:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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John Bean

I'm totally outraged that Lena Dunham is on this list. Her films and show, while charming, don't have nearly the depth or complexity of the other directors.

March 23, 2014 at 6:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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earnestreply

Lena Dunham shouldn't be on that list. Actually, her name shouldn't be anywhere. And I was shocked and appalled when I saw her crapfest of a movie "tiny furniture" in the criterion collection. What a joke.

March 23, 2014 at 6:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Harry

It's amazing what nepotism, a well-known mom, and herd mentality can do for such an untalented filmmaker.

March 23, 2014 at 11:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Lena Dunham ?

So cheezy and full of BS in her films. No talent.

March 23, 2014 at 7:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Lisa Marks

Lena Dunham?

March 23, 2014 at 7:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Juan Lindo

i'm not a hater, i think Gina Prince-Bythewood deserves to be on the list way before Lena.

March 23, 2014 at 7:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Juan Lindo

Nice to see Shohei Imamura get a name check. Japanese cinema unfortunately tends to be reduced to a handful of Kurosawa films that influenced some celebrity American filmmakers. Japan produced the best (or at least joint first with Hollywood) classic studio cinema and easily had one of the most exciting new waves of any country.
Masaki Kobayashi's nuanced anti-war epic "The Human Condition" is a Criterion people should try and check out.

March 23, 2014 at 7:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mak

The only thing Lena Dunham has produced worthy of praise is Girls Season 1. Fin.

As for The Thin Red Line, I really enjoyed the film and it has some quite enthralling cinematography, but it's not even Malick's best film.

March 23, 2014 at 8:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Anon

Forgive me, with this limited list-- NO Citizen Kane? (Did I miss it?)-- I'm not sure what value this list has other than a fancy version of the old Video Store's "STAFF PICKS*."

As for Ms. Dunham, Tiny Furniture was great. So much better than most indie "features" folks make. And her show, like it or not, seems to have hit a cultural nerve (the hate here is an example of that). I'm a fan.

*Granted, that would be the coolest video store ever.

March 23, 2014 at 9:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Chriss

This is a Top 10 Criterion label released film list. I don't think Criterion has ever released Citizen Kane under their label, have they?

March 24, 2014 at 12:55AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Anon

Putting Scorsese and Lena Dunham on the same list is criminally insane. You should have saved this post until April 1st.

March 23, 2014 at 9:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Frank Nachtman

It's hard to stay awake during most of Scorsese's films.

March 24, 2014 at 5:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

^^This guy. What an a-hole.

March 24, 2014 at 2:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jinoon

Clearly your comment, besides being juvenile, is a violation of comment policy---not that that matters to most of those running this blog, I've noticed.

Sure Scorsese's stuff is for the most part boring---except Goodfellas, man, what an excellent flick! Is it ok to break with group-think?

March 24, 2014 at 8:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

So... The Wolf of Wall Street, Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, Casino, The King of Comedy, The Departed, and Raging Bull are all considered boring? Sure, call me a troll (I know that I'm being one), but could you at least support your claim with a little bit of evidence to why you think that one of the greatest filmmakers of this generation is a bore? Trust me, I'm not a diehard fan of Scorsese, but you don't need to be a film-buff or a critic to know what great cinema is (don't mean to sound pretentious).

February 1, 2016 at 3:40PM

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Jimbo Jarbo
Guy who just wants to delete their account
82

I forgot to mention that this post is just a pathetic attempt at gaining a few more amazon affiliate dollars.

This usually works better when your content doesn't suck.

March 24, 2014 at 5:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Frank Nachtman

Agreed.

March 26, 2018 at 10:56PM, Edited March 26, 10:56PM

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Ben Schranz
Video Producer/Editor
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Lena Dunham? That's like including Justin Bieber on a list of today's greatest musicians.

March 23, 2014 at 10:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Swissted

Lena Dunham? Really? I saw the name and stopped reading.

March 24, 2014 at 1:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Dave

I like Lena Dunham's work a lot, but I really want to see someone explain why she's supposedly such an intolerable filmmaker.

Her characters, while disposed to do very asinine things, are relatable and compelling. The main characters in GIRLS are compelling to watch because, despite being obviously narcissistic and occasionally openly hostile, they are caring, unexpectedly interesting, and searching for some kind of ends that will provide happiness. Dunham presents them as if they slowly become close friends of the audience. We see something that is interesting or relatable (Your parents are prodding you into financial independence? That was/is a shitty hill to climb.) and continue engaging with them until, despite their obnoxious flaws that we recognize long-term patterns in, we care for them and wish them the best.

March 24, 2014 at 3:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Well I'd say the problem is right there in your comment. All you talk about is Girls, which is not a film. I haven't finished Tiny Furniture, so I can't really speak to it, but it's a bit strange to put someone with only one film on a list of some of the greatest filmmakers today. Argue all you like about the elitism of separating film and television, but the word is right there in the title. If they had said greatest directors or producers, sure, but even then there is the same problem. One film, one show. Hardly enough material to make such a bold claim. I'd say this is simply a case of a bad title, when in actuality it was just whoever Criterion could get to comment.

March 24, 2014 at 1:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Travis

Lena Dunham feels like the closest thing we have to a present day Woody Allen (present day Woody Allen included). I'd rather watch even the most lopsided and ill-conceived episode of Girls than 99% of what's on TV, because at least they are going for broke and manage to continually surprise. I think Dunham has a fair shot at making cultural history in the next 10 years and I hope she is manic and driven enough to become somewhat prolific.

March 24, 2014 at 9:53AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Davíð

+1

March 24, 2014 at 5:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Stu Mannion

Dunham is a product of what's wrong with today's America and overall world society. She is mediocre at best but she is prolific in being obnoxious. She is a recent example of how mediocrity is celebrated when nepotism and connections sky rocket you to stardom where as, other struggling far more talented filmmakers/writers out there will never get an iota of the success that's she had because well they are not in the right circles. That is why I despise her and her show. Now I could have seen past all that if her show was actually good or less obnoxious, or if she didnt pride herself to be the "voice of our generation" like her character said in Season 1. of "Girls".

To David: We live in the golden age of Television. What are you talking about? There are myriad other better shows out there than "Girls'.

March 24, 2014 at 11:59AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Harry

Harry,

I have a love / hate relationship with Girls. I do find her some of her characters obnoxious from time to time (and that's the point), but you need to separate the people in her work from who she is.

As far as nepotism goes, her mother is a photographer and her father a painter... Not studio execs nor fabulously wealthy.

Yes, we live in the golden age of Television, so name some Dramedies that you feel are better than Girls.

March 24, 2014 at 12:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Herb

Her mother is a uber wealthy renowned photographer/artist that lives in a deluxe apartment in Tribeca. You get a good look of it in 'tiny furniture" since she shot her whole movie in that apartment. An apartment valued in the millions. Not fabulously wealthy?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/26/lena-dunham-parents-loft_n_4344...

The main cast for the HBO series Girls is made up entirely of daughters from notable figures in entertainment, such as Brian Williams and David Mamet. Nepotism much?

"Girls" is not a dramedy. It is not the voice of my generation, far from it. It is not entertainment. It is a tragedy. A bitter example on how low and diverse the taste of the masses can be to even renew Girls to season 4.

You want a good dramedy? Watch "Shameless' US/UK doesnt matter, show is what a dramedy should be. Californication? Maybe a bit more towards the comedy side than dramedy but still.

Go re-watch "My so called life" or "Freaks and Geeks" : the pioneers of dramedies. Two amazing shows that got cancelled after one season, maybe it wasnt the right time for them, but for Girls, they are here to stay unfortunately.

March 24, 2014 at 3:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Harry

I've never seen Girls or Tiny Furniture so I can't speak of her. But what you're describing smacks of what has happened with Tina Fey's career. She was mildly funny on SNL, sometimes hit a home run with a line, other times was obviously bad with a line. But she said enough of the correct things to shoot her up quickly to stardom in some people's eyes, she hated all the right people, and loved all the right people---so give her a Mark Twain Prize..... Mark Twain would have turned over in his grave if he hadn't of stopped paying attention to American pop culture long ago. The name Mark Twain should only be associated with names like Steve Martin, Dennis Miller, Bill Murray.... you know, people that actually have real brains.

March 24, 2014 at 9:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

David Cronenberg or Ang Lee, to name just a few notable artists absent from this list of "Today's greatest Filmakers" would take the place f Lena Dunham, that is not there yet, don't you think? Without adding your own perspective on the topic Renee, reading the post becomes irrelevant. The title and a link would do just fine.

March 24, 2014 at 4:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Agni Ortiz

I was expecting some of them to mention their own films. Just for laughs.

Rushmore should have been on Wes Anderson's list.

As for Lena Dunham, love her or hate her, she's obviously doing something right. Those who cry nepotism aren't thinking clearly. The rich powerful and famous ALL have kids. How come they arent all super successful? You're attributing too much to nepotism. It doesnt work like that. The audience doesn't know anything about Lena's parents.
All that matters is the work.

Get to it.

March 24, 2014 at 5:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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She is unfortunately receiving the flack for what she can't control which is being an indie darling that gets a ton of press. I'm not personally a fan of her work but who would turn down any of the success or acclaim? You can't control any of that, you can just make what you feel is quality work. Period. Now, as someone who works in and out of entertainment, dirty secret guys, nepotism is prevalent everywhere and one person's nepotism is another's working with people they relate with. And I think that even though most of the hate is undeserved as even if you don't personally like Girls its a very well made show and she's clearly talented, I think being in camps obscures reality. Yes nepotism matters, no it doesn't explain everything. But it doesn't hurt and anyone who says it's harder to prove yourself when you have wealthy or famous parents is delusional. It's definitely an advantage and it can get you to the starting line faster but what it can't do is make people tune into your show week in and week out. But the amount of press she and the show gets is clearly out of whack to the amount of people actually watch it and are fans of hers. Once again, not her problem.

March 24, 2014 at 6:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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James

You know if you don't like Lena Dunham's work you could have just skipped her listing. The howls of outrage here are telling. Thank goodness for nepotism - there are so few female directors who get a break. There are a lot of people with rich parents, the reason the Dunham's show went ahead was the support of judd Apatow.

It's good to see some age and gender diversity in the list.

March 24, 2014 at 6:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Stu Mannion

So what exactly is brought to the table by artificially including demographics that would not be included without that artificial effort? If men and women are the same, why would it matter if Lena was replaced by a superior male? Why no outrage for the lack of Pygmy and Aboriginal directors?

April 7, 2014 at 11:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pianohero

Scorsese was linking Waiting for Godot to Antonioni's LAvventura, not to Paisa.

March 29, 2014 at 6:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ted Welch

Lena Dunham? I thought I was reading No Film School, not that bullshit IndieWire...

March 26, 2018 at 11:01PM

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Ben Schranz
Video Producer/Editor
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