Christopher Nolan Lists His Top Ten Criterion Collection Titles

Christopher Nolan's Top Ten Criterion TitlesWhat does the director of Inception and The Dark Knight like to watch? What may have inspired some of his visual and storytelling cues? Well, Christopher Nolan has just made a list of his top ten Criterion titles, including one that may be a hint as to what's to come.

I have included his rankings below along with his brief thoughts as well as a link to buy each. Personally, of those he chose I personally love 12 Angry Men and The Thin Red Line and also enjoyed both The Hit and The Testament of Dr. Mabuse enough to purchase each.

I have never, however, seen Bad Timing, The Complete Mr. Arkadin or Greed the latter of which was directed by Erich von Stroheim who may, now, best be remembered as first husband and butler to Norma Desmond in Sunset Blvd. I have never seen any of the films he directed, unfortunately. Greed, however, is not yet part of the collection, which makes me wonder if this may be a less-than-subtle hint of what may be around the corner.

1.) The Hit (dir. Stephen Frears) (buy it here)

That Criterion has released this little-known Stephen Frears gem is a testament to the thoroughness of their search for obscure masterworks. Few films have gambled as much on a simple portrayal of the dynamics between desperate men . . .

2.) 12 Angry Men (dir. Sidney Lumet) (buy it here)

. . . except perhaps this Sidney Lumet classic.

3.) The Thin Red Line (dir. Terrence Malick) (buy it here)

What better than Malick's extraordinary vision of war to demonstrate the technical potential of a carefully mastered Blu-ray? Projecting this disc comes close to the original print quality, and it's hard to imagine a superior consumer format coming along anytime soon.

4.) The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (dir. Fritz Lang) (buy it here)

Lang at his most wicked and entertaining. Essential research for anyone attempting to write a supervillain.

5.) Bad Timing (dir. Nicolas Roeg) (buy it here)

Nic Roeg's films are known for their structural innovation, but it's great to be able to see them in a form that also shows off their photographic excellence.

6.) Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (dir. Nagisa Oshima) (buy it here)

Few films have been able to capture David Bowie's charisma, but Oshima's wartime drama seems tailor-made for his talents. Tom Conti has rarely been such a sympathetic guide for the audience's emotions.

7.) For All Mankind (dir. Al Reinert) (buy it here)

An incredible document of man's greatest endeavor.

8.) Koyaanisqatsi (dir. Godfrey Reggio) (buy it here)

An incredible document of how man's greatest endeavors have unsettling consequences. Art, not propaganda, emotional, not didactic; it doesn't tell you what to thinkā€”it tells you what to think about.

9.) The Complete Mr. Arkadin (dir. Orson Welles) (buy it here)

No one could make much of a case for Welles' abortive movie overall, but the heartbreaking glimpses of the great man's genius preserved here are the most compelling argument for the value of Criterion's dedication to cinema.

10.) Greed (dir. Erich von Stroheim)

Which brings me to Greed, von Stroheim's lost work of absolute genius. Which is not available on Criterion. Yet. Here's hoping.

[via Criterion]

  • G-Man

    Haven't seen any of em, but 12 Angry Men and The Thin Red Line are in my Netflix DVD queue (along with 245 other titles).

  • William

    Love 12 Angry Men. I like The Thin Red Line; but I always get a little pissed by it as it snubbed "The Truman Show" for a Best Pic nomination that year; although I feel that "Elizabeth" should've been the film of that year to be replaced by Truman to keep Thin Red Line in the list. (Shakespeare In Love could've been left off the list completely too for all I care)

    • Chris

      1999 was a pretty strong year for films, but The Thin Red Line was and remains the best film from the 90's.

      • Susan

        This guy gets it.

      • Chris138

        Word. Easily the best movie of the 1990s.

        • Dan

          Nothing is ever "easily the best movie" of an entire decade even if it's your clear favorite. Jesus Christ, man.

          • Chris138

            I guess I should have added this before, but it is... in my opinion. So, there.

            • AmericanNoir

              Fight Club. The Sixth Sense. Magnolia. Being John Malkovich. The Matrix. Eyes Wide Shut. The Insider. American Beauty. The Talented Mr. Ripley. Three Kings.You guys put The Thin Red Line above all of those movies? I must be the crazy one I guess...

              • AmericanNoir

                Also, didn't The Thin Red Line come out in 1998?

              • Chris138

                I have seen each of those movies you listed and yes, I like The Thin Red Line more than all of them. Magnolia and Eyes Wide Shut are the only ones that would come close.

              • Chris138

                And yes, The Thin Red Line did come out in 1998. It had a limited release on Christmas Day and then went wide a few weeks later in January of 1999. It's kind of like how Zero Dark Thirty was released.

    • Chris138

      I'm gonna throw my weight behind Shakespeare in Love. I think it's a terrific movie, and also charming as hell. If anything I'd say Elizabeth should have been left off completely, which I think obviously took The Truman Show's slot for Best Picture that year, not The Thin Red Line.

  • adu

    Fascinating. Thanks for sharing Brad.

  • Criterion10

    I saw this early. I really hope this means that Greed will be joining the collection, which is a film I've been meaning to see for ages. The film is owned by WB, who is notorious for refusing to license out films, but considering Criterion was able to get Badlands out of them, I'm starting to wonder if they were also able to score Greed, among a few others.

  • Randall P McMurphy

    I've seen four of these, I'll be looking at the rest of them sometime soon.

  • RagingTaxiDriver

    Only have seen 12 Angry Men (and own it). And The Thin Red Line has been on my watchlist for awhile, but my little town doesn't have it anywhere for rent or sale.

  • Badge

    I remember seeing the trailer for BAD TIMING at a cinema with a friend, and although we'd really liked Roeg's films up to that point we both said "God, that looks awful" and never bothered to see it when it came out. Several years later I saw it at an indie theatre in a double feature and was surprised that it wasn't 'awful' after all. But then, how do you make a trailer for a Roeg film, really?

  • Chris138

    I also love The Thin Red Line and 12 Angry Men. Unfortunately I have yet to see Dr. Mabuse, Koyaanisqatsi, Mr. Arkadin or even Greed. I read the book which Greed is based on, "McTeague" by Frank Norris, last semester and absolutely loved it. I can't find the movie anywhere so I'd be thrilled if Criterion released it at some point.

  • Xarnis

    I love The Thin Red Line and 12 Angry Men. I haven't seen the others, but i'm going to try to get some criterion titles soon, so i'll have to check these out.

  • JAB

    It's a bit of a shock to a see "Koyaanisqatsi" on his list, but, then again, a person with his intelligence & love of pure cinema it shouldn't be surprising to find it.

  • Jordan B.

    I'm a huge fan of 12 Angry Men, and The Thin Red Line is okay -- a bit scattershot but still decent. Haven't seen any of the others.

  • Django

    12 Angry Men is awesome and i think The Thin Red Line is far superior to Saving Private Ryan. I heaven't actually heard of the rest unfortunately.

  • A man

    Yes- Thin Red Line is a masterpiece, one of the greatest films ever! How an inconsequential however, likable film such as Shakespeare in Love beat it for best picture at the oscars is beyond me. As for the matrix- well a much better Scifi film was released the same year (also made in Sydney) called Dark City- directed by Alex Proyas- the guy who directed the Crow. I found this website when I was looking for info on Greed- yes it would be great if that could be released one day with the 2 existing cuts. I did see Queen Kelly years ago and that was partially made up of stills as like Greed, i assume an original cut does not exist. Interesting list- Mr Nolan is a man of taste.