Fun Fridays – Director’s Favourite Films – Ultra Top 10

Hi Film Folk!

Well a very merry yuletide season to you, our lovely film folk!

We don’t know whether you’re celebrating until the 6th January, were back at work Boxing Day or didn’t celebrate at all, but either way we hope you’ve had a lovely time!


As 2012 draws to a close, The Film Doctor Team have decided to do an ULTIMATE LIST of all our director’s favourite films so far. This should be a go-to volume of favourites considering the masters and geniuses that have recommended them.

Directors include Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, Peter Jackson,  Orson Welles, Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Tim Burton, James Cameron, Michael Haneke, Paul Thomas Anderson, Milos FormanChristopher Nolan, Paul Verhoeven, Clint Eastwood, Sidney Lumet, Cameron CroweJohn Boorman, Danny Boyle, Oliver Stone, Michael Mann, Pedro Almodovar, Sam Mendes, Bernardo Bertolucci, Ridley ScottGillian Armstrong, Mike Newell, Seth MacFarlane, Jim Jarmusch, Catherine BreillatBen Wheatley, Ken LoachJoe Dante, Lukas Moodysson, Stephan Elliott, Terry Jones.

A real brain trust right there!


Here is the list:


Top 10

-Citizen Kane (9 votes – Welles, 1941)

-La Regle de Jeu  (5 votes – Renoir, 1939)

-City Lights (5 votes – Chaplin, 1931)

-The Godfather (4 votes – Coppola, 1972)

 -Raging Bull (4 votes – Scorsese, 1980)

 -Rashomon (4 votes – Kurosawa, 1950)

-2001: A Space Odyssey (4 votes – Kubrick, 1968)

-8 1/2 (4 votes – Fellini, 1963)

-Vertigo (4 votes – Hitchcock, 1958)

-Bicycle Thieves (4 votes – De Sica, 1948)


There you have it. The almost definitive list of world class director’s favourite films. Most films on the list utilise political, technological or technique-based advancement, showing that treading new ground excited our directors.

It was very close, so we’ve decided to include the next few that just missed out on a top ten spot:


Next 10 (3 votes each)

-Seven Samurai (Kurosawa, 1954)

-Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Kubrick, 1964)

-La Grande Illusion (Renoir, 1937)

-Singin’ in the Rain (Donen, 1952)

-Apocalypse Now (Coppola, 1979)

-Lawrence of Arabia (Lean, 1962)

-Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1976)

-The Seventh Seal (Bergman, 1957)

-La Dolce Vita (Fellini, 1960)

-Wild Strawberries (Bergman, 1957)


Viewing the list above we can see that most of the top 10 films were not just chance efforts.  Directors recurring from the first list include Bergman, Kubrick, Hitchcock, Scorsese, Welles, Coppola, Fellini, Kurosawa, Renoir, Wilder and Chaplin. There is obviously something hugely special about these directors, something in their work that specifically strikes a chord with other directors. Perhaps their selected pieces say something so powerful about humanity/life, and say it so perfectly, that they are truly an inspiration to their fellow cinematic artists.

There were heralded directors that kept cropping up on different lists but didn’t have one stand-out film that everybody chose. These directors deserve a special mention and include Lynch, Griffith, Bresson, Keaton, Mankiewicz and Visconti.

Here are the remaining films selected by more than one director:


Final Favourites (2 votes each)

-Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960)

-Chinatown (Polanski, 1974)

-The Apartment (Wilder, 1960)

-Touch of Evil (Welles, 1958)

-The Best Years of Our Lives (Wyler, 1946)

-A Bout de Souffle (Godard, 1960)

-Some Like it Hot (Wilder, 1959)

-The Godfather: part 2 (Coppola, 1974)

-The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Huston, 1948)

-The Wizard of Oz (Fleming, 1939)

-L’enfant du Paradis (Carne, 1945)

-The Searchers (Ford, 1956)

-The Mirror (Tarkovsky, 1975)

-The Gold Rush  (Chaplin, 1925)

-Bad Day at Black Rock (Sturges, 1955)


There are 35 all-time classics listed above, chosen by some of the greatest minds in the history of cinema. If you haven’t seen these then clearly you’re behind on your homework. Knowing what has gone before is the difference between creating original projects based on an informed knowledge of past works and just ‘coming up’ with ideas, not realising that they’ve been done a million times before.

The more you know, the more you can season your work with refreshing twists on movie conventions. Make your 2013 resolution to go out there and buy, rent or catch a retrospective screening of as many of these as possible!

Can you watch all 35 by the end of next year?

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Have a great week!
The Film Doctor Team
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4 thoughts on “Fun Fridays – Director’s Favourite Films – Ultra Top 10

  • December 28, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    I’m intrigued by the implication that the reason to watch these films is to ensure you don’t accidentally remake them.

    The reason to watch them is because they’re mostly bloody good, and you might be able to learn/steal something from them.

    Not watching them is also ok, if you’re sure you can go it alone.


    • December 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm

      Hi Bidmead!

      Principally, the reason to watch these films is that cinematic greats have recommended them and we can learn much from these revered classics. We weren’t so much saying that one might accidentally remake a film on the list, but that if a person hasn’t visited many films then conventions, stories, technique and dialogue that may seem fresh to that uninformed person may seem dull to other (informed) viewers.

      Of course this list is compiled from directors so it has been created with a more artistic eye and many of those films were commercial failures at the time!

      Perhaps that freshness is not needed for box office….!

      That’s interesting RE: going it alone. We would be very interested to know of a successful director who has watched very few films/great films. If you know of any, who have followed an incubation process of sorts, we’d love to hear about them!

      Festive love,

      The Film Doctor Team

      • January 3, 2013 at 12:59 pm

        Re: Going it alone
        I believe Paul Schraeder was brought up in a Puritanical community and did not watch TV or moving art until he was 14; but I could be wrong.
        Also Stevie Wonder writes fantastic and evocative descriptions of colour, perhaps he could have been a screenwriter if he had wanted to be.

        Max Bolash

        • January 3, 2013 at 3:15 pm

          Great examples, Max. We also heard Elvis refused to listen to any music while recording a few of his albums.

          Perhaps it works in both extremes, the incubated and the obsessives!

          The Film Doctor Team


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