Jonathan Lethem’s Top 10

Jonathan Lethem’s Top10

Winner of a 2005 MacArthur Foundation Fellows Program genius grant, Jonathan Lethem is one of America's premier contemporary writers. His works include the novels The Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn, as well as a vast array of short stories and essays. He has also contributed essays to the Criterion releases of Robert Siodmak's The Killers, Preston Sturges's Unfaithfully Yours, and the John Cassavetes: Five Films box set.

Oct 28, 2008
  • 1

    Orson Welles

    F for Fake

    It’s truly astounding to consider that Orson Welles invented the postmodern-appropriationist-essay film, along with so much else.

  • 2

    Akira Kurosawa

    Red Beard

    Kurosawa’s secret Dickensian masterpiece: sprawling, sentimental, and encompassingly humane.

  • 3

    Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

    I Know Where I’m Going!

    Powell and Pressburger’s most enchanted and fresh film, storm-tossed and full of gothic romance.

  • 4

    Jacques Becker

    Le trou

    An absolutely riveting prison-breakout story. Becker is the bridge between Renoir and the new wave.

  • 5

    David Cronenberg


    Still Cronenberg’s most nerve-racking, efficient, and, ah, penetrating realization of his vision.

  • 6

    Robert Altman

    3 Women

    A comic-surrealist fugue from the social satirist—one that deepens with each viewing.

  • 7

    Ingmar Bergman

    The Making of Fanny and Alexander

    Really, the whole box set. But let me draw your attention to this remarkably plainspoken and demystifying self-portrait of the artist.

  • 8

    Richard Linklater


    If this dry, hilarious, spooky existential vision had been subtitled in, let’s say, Iranian, would it have been better recognized for the masterpiece it is? Linklate’s sensibility is not so far from Kiarostami’s.

  • 9

    Kihachi Okamoto

    The Sword of Doom

    I’m still recovering from the out-of-kilter intensity of this film, which feels like some interior journey into darkness rendered as a samurai allegory.

  • 10

    Nicolas Roeg

    The Man Who Fell to Earth

    In Walter Tevis’s novel Roeg found material absolutely suited to his hallucinatory, prophetic style. Mutilated on first release, eternally underrated, this is one of the great films of the seventies.