Robin Wood’s Top 10

Robin Wood’s Top10

This month we asked critic Robin Wood—whose books include Hitchcock’s Films and Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan and who recently wrote essays for the Criterion releases The Furies and Le plaisir—to pick his ten favorite films in the collection. Newly retired from teaching, Wood told us he intends to spend the remainder of his life enjoying himself with movies, operas, and concerts on DVD, while writing books and articles on Michael Haneke, Tsai Ming-liang, Satyajit Ray, and others, and spending a happy old age with his partner, Richard Lippe, and their cats.

Nov 21, 2008
  • 1

    Kenji Mizoguchi

    Sansho the Bailiff

    A strong candidate for Greatest Film Ever Made. A perfect and profound masterpiece, rivaled only by its near companion Ugetsu.

  • 2

    Jacques Tati


    Tati invites the spectator into a game of which one never tires, every viewing revealing fresh nuances and discoveries.

  • 3

    Orson Welles

    The Complete Mr. Arkadin

    The critics of Cahiers du cinéma once chose this over Citizen Kane for their “Ten Best Ever” list. I am inclined to agree. The three versions suggest an endless, fascinating “work in progress.”

  • 4

    Akira Kurosawa

    Seven Samurai

    For me, three films stand out in Kurosawa’s uneven career (the other two being Ikiru and High and Low): one of the cinema’s greatest “action” movies, thrilling and sublime. (Beware the dread Hollywood remake!)

  • 5

    Samuel Fuller

    Pickup on South Street

    Mistakenly seen as a crude anticommunist movie, Pickup juxtaposes the commies with an America in which the only characters are criminals or dropouts. The death of Moe, sacrificing herself for a country that abandoned her, is heartbreaking. Arguably Fuller’s best film.

  • 6

    Preston Sturges

    The Lady Eve

    Sturges’s masterpiece, from the long buildup to the most hilarious and brutal payoff in the history of Hollywood comedy.

  • 7

    Yasujiro Ozu

    Tokyo Story

    Influenced by (but in some respects transcending) Leo McCarey’s Make Way for Tomorrow, this is perhaps the greatest film about the Family and its degeneration under the stresses of capitalism.

  • 8

    Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

    I Know Where I’m Going!

    My favorite Powell and Pressburger movie. It’s eternally fresh, unpredictable, yet perfect in its apparent digressions.

  • 9

    Jean-Luc Godard

    Band of Outsiders

    Godard at his freshest, most spontaneous and improvisatory. Inexhaustably captivating.

  • 10

    Alfred Hitchcock


    Arguably Hitchcock’s most perfect (but not necessarily most profound) movie, in which every shot, every look counts, and Grant and Bergman achieve sublimity.