My fellow NYU alumnus Spike Lee, now a grad school professor, has posted on Kickstarter the list of films that he considers to be essential viewing for any aspiring filmmaker. He gives it out to his students on the first day of class. It’s a fabulous list! He’s right. Any proper cinephile should have seen all these films. Have you? (Remember, I’m the one who called my college boyfriend a “movie moron” for not having seen “2001: A Space Odyssey”–which isn’t on Lee’s list.) Your Netflix queue awaits. True confession: I am ordering up “Cooley High,” “Dead End,” “Kung Fu Hustle,” “I Am Cuba,” “Miracle in Milan” and “Paisan.”
Lee’s list includes three films each by masters Akira Kurosawa (the filmmaker at the top of my personal pantheon of directors), Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, John Huston, and Federico Fellini. He also includes Arthur Penn’s “Bonnie and Clyde,” Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Conformist,” Billy Wilder’s “Ace in the Hole” and “Some Like It Hot,” Charles Burnett’s “Killer of Sheep,” Charles Laughton and James Agee’s “The Night of the Hunter” (which influenced Lee’s “Do the Right Thing”), David Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia” (number one on my top 20 on Flickchart), Elia Kazan’s “On the Waterfront” and “Face in the Crowd,” Francis Coppola’s “The Godfather” I and II, Martin Scorsese’s “Mean Streets” and “Raging Bull,” and Francois Truffaut’s “Day for Night” and “The 400 Blows.”
The full alphabetical list by director’s first name is posted below the jump. Lee wants us to give him any films he missed: “Send me films you think should be on my list.” He’s got the right directors on the list, including Mel Gibson (“Apocalypto”) but predictably not John Ford and Quentin Tarantino (with whom he has issues), Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah (he may not be a western fan) and John Lasseter and Hayao Miyazaki (no animation) as well as Kathryn Bigelow (the list has no women). Lee also leaves off Frank Capra, Ang Lee, F.W. Murnau, Mike Nichols, Joseph Mankiewicz (“All About Eve”), Preston Sturges (“The Lady Eve”), Howard Hawks, Ingmar Bergman, Jean Renoir and silent masters Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.