Aki Kaurismäki’s Top 10

Aki Kaurismäki’s Top10

Our favorite Finn didn’t have an easy time picking his ten favorite titles in the Criterion Collection. On the eve of Janus Films’ 2011 release of his Le Havre, Aki Kaurismäki had this to say: “I didn’t really concentrate for this selection, since all my energy from now on will be solely used for suing Criterion, accusation being torture. It can’t be anything less when a disoriented young mind is put in a situation where he has to leave Chaplin, Renoir, Tati, Clouzot, Malle, Truffaut, Godard . . . outside of a minimal-sized list, the size controlled by these Janus-faced Criterion people, who don’t seem to understand the laws of any reason.”

Oct 21, 2011
  • 1 (tie)

    Jacques Becker

    Casque d’or

    Here we find two versions of the same story, both unique.

  • Robert Bresson

    Au hasard Balthazar

  • 2 (tie)

    Yasujiro Ozu

    Tokyo Story

    It is almost impossible to find sharp prints of these films. But your tears are the ones to blame.

  • Yasujiro Ozu

    Late Spring

  • Yasujiro Ozu

    An Autumn Afternoon

  • 3 (tie)

    Akira Kurosawa


    This double bill gives an excellent chance to compare the acting of Takashi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune. Neither is anything but perfect. It is a mystery how Kurosawa, who always refused to make a film without a social statement, manages at the same time to be one of the most entertaining of all filmmakers.

  • Akira Kurosawa

    Red Beard

  • 4 (tie)

    Douglas Sirk

    Written on the Wind

    The shot with Dorothy Malone walking down the stairs makes all rock videos ever after resemble forgotten, anemic nuns.

    With his small masterpiece, Fassbinder shows us the basic tenderness of his heart, this time not hidden behind his cinematic skills.

  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder

    Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

  • 5 (tie)

    John Cassavetes


    There would be no sense in trying to select one of John Cassavetes’ films, since they are all one expression of a genial and exceptionally generous mind.

  • John Cassavetes


  • John Cassavetes

    A Woman Under the Influence

  • John Cassavetes

    The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

  • John Cassavetes

    Opening Night

  • 6 (tie)

    Jean Vigo and Boris Kaufman

    À propos de Nice

    I have always considered Jean Vigo and Robert Flaherty close relatives. Between Nanook and L’Atalante, you can place practically all cinema except Bunuel’s L’age d’or.

  • Jean Vigo

    Zéro de conduite

  • Jean Vigo


  • Robert Flaherty

    Nanook of the North

  • 7 (tie)

    Michael Powell

    49th Parallel

    Both of these films can be considered B movies in the standards of Powell and Pressburger, but maybe partly because of that they seem to remain extraordinarily fresh, even if the first one (made in 1941) is clearly made partly for war propaganda reasons. All films made by the Archers are among the most beautiful.

  • Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

    The Small Back Room

  • 8 (tie)

    Jean-Pierre Melville

    Army of Shadows

    Jean-Pierre Melville is once more a director from whom one could pick any film for this kind (cruelly controlled by the Criterion criminals) of list. With this double bill there comes a chance to study twice the work of two great actors, Lino Ventura and Paul Meurisse.

  • Jean-Pierre Melville

    Le deuxième souffle

  • 9 (tie)

    Marcel Carné

    Port of Shadows

    As clearly as there is only one Lino Ventura, there is a sole Jean Gabin. Neither have I seen a replica of Michèle Morgan nor Michel Simon (one of the reasons why Renoir’s Boudu should be in this list, but . . .). Port of Shadows is a pure actor-based melodrama full of prewar pessimism.

    Bicycle Thieves proves that even the tiniest dreams can be torn to pieces. Never in the history of cinema has hope been served in so minimalistic but heartbreaking a way as in the last shot of this masterpiece.

  • Vittorio De Sica

    Bicycle Thieves

  • 10 (tie)

    Charles Laughton

    The Night of the Hunter

    These wonderful films are tied together in thousands of hardly visible ways.

  • Billy Wilder

    Ace in the Hole

  • Luis Buñuel

    Simon of the Desert

  • D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus

    Jimi Plays Monterey & Shake! Otis at Monterey

  • 11

    Rob Reiner

    This Is Spinal Tap