Michael Mann is responsible for some of the best crime films ever made, from “Heat” to “Collateral,” but it turns out the crime genre is nowhere to be found on his list of favorite movies. The director assembled his personal top 10 list for a British Film Institute poll and his choices are both standard and shocking. Click through the gallery for Mann’s 10 favorite films.
Mann calls Francis Ford Coppola’s war epic a “masterpiece” that pulls off a narrative with the “highest degree of difficulty” in cinema. “Coppola evoked the high-voltage, dark identity quest, journeying into overload, the wildness, and nihilism,” Mann writes.
According to Mann, James Cameron’s “Avatar” is a “brilliant synthesis” of mythic tropes that brings to mind Lévi-Strauss and Frazier’s “The Golden Bough.” “It soars because, simply, it stones and transports you,” he writes.
“Battleship Potemkin” is one of “the great classics” that “laid the theoretical foundation for much of 20th century cinematic narrative,” says Mann.
Mann calls Alejandro González Iñárritu and Javier Bardem’s 2009 drama “pure poetry.” “‘Biutiful’ is resplendent with grace, pathos and love,” he writes.
Like many of his fellow directors, Mann considers “Citizen Kane” one of the all-time greats and a “watershed” moment in cinema. The director bows down to the “Wellesian brio” and “grand scale” of the story.
“My Darling Clementine” is the “finest drama in the western genre,” according to Mann. “It achieves near-perfection cinematically in many of its passages via its blocking, shooting and editing,” he says.
“No one else has composed and realised human beings quite like Dreyer in ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc,'” says Mann. The director notes just how powerful the film is at conveying human experience through the “visualisation of the human face.”
Mann picks “Raging Bull” as his personal favorite Scorsese film for the way it “immerses us” into the fall of Jake LaMotta and his need for redemption. “The humanity of the picture is extraordinary,” says Mann, “as is Marty’s execution.”
Mann says that Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove” is “devastatingly more effective through hilarious ridicule than are any number of cautionary fables.”
Sam Peckinpah’s violent Western “The Wild Bunch” is a milestone, according to Mann. “No other picture captures the poignancy of ‘the last of’, a fin de siècle sense of the west, of ageing, of the pathos of twilight,” he says.
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