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Guillermo del Toro Picks 11 Criterion Collection Movies You Need to See

Del Toro recommends classics from the Coen brothers, Jean Cocteau, and Alfred Hitchcock.



Guillermo del Toro may be one of the world’s most beloved filmmakers, but he’s also one of its most avid cinephiles. The director has been making the press rounds nonstop this awards season in promotion of “The Shape of Water,” which is currently nominated for 13 Academy Awards, and he recently made a stop at the Criterion Collection to share 11 titles in the library that every fellow cinephile needs to see.

Included in del Toro’s picks are classics from the Coen brothers, Jean Cocteau, and Alfred Hitchcock. Anyone familiar with del Toro’s work shouldn’t be surprised that he recommends Cocteau’s 1946 “Beauty and the Beast” adaptation, which he has brought up several times when talking about inspirations behind “The Shape of Water.”

Visit the Criterion Collection website for del Toro’s full commentary, including video interviews on each title with “Mythbuster” host Adam Savage.

1.  Jean Cocteau’s “Beauty and the Beast” (1946)
“One of the most magical films ever made, one that truly is in love with the sublime, sophisticated, Freudian quality that a fairy tale really has.”

2. Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Blood Simple” (1984)
“’Blood Simple’ contains most, if not all, of the preoccupations the Coens will articulate throughout their career . . . It’s a perfect first movie.”

3. Felipe Cazals’s “Canoa: A Shameful Memory” (1976)
“’Canoa’ was part of the generation of films that changed Mexican cinema . . . The screenplay is one of the most brilliant ever written . . . Formally and thematically, it absolutely changes the game of what a Mexican movie was able to portray: it breaks with censorship, it breaks with formal rigidity and with what the state-funded cinema considered sanctionable.”

4. Georges Franju’s “Eyes Without a Face” (1960)
“[The main character is] like an undead Audrey Hepburn. It influenced me a lot with the contrast between beauty and brutality.”

5. Carl Theodor Dreyer “Vampyr” (1932)
“The camera becomes a character in the film. It’s more than a witness, it’s an active participant in the narrative, and therefore it’s deeply cinematic.”

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Paramount/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5883864s) James Stewart, Doris Day The Man Who Knew Too Much - 1956 Director: Alfred Hitchcock Paramount USA Scene Still Mystery/Suspense L'Homme qui en savait trop (1956)

“The Man Who Knew Too Much”


6. Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1934)
“There is a haphazard chaos that this version has that I find completely charming . . . You can feel that [Hitchcock] is bringing all the tools of the trade that he acquired in England for one great romp.”

7. Jean Renoir’s “La chienne” (1931)
“Renoir is, above anything else, a humanist, and he doesn’t judge anyone. There is an all-encompassing good will toward humanity in his films.”

8. Luis Buñuel’s “Viridiana” (1961)
“’Viridiana’ reconstructs Buñuel in many ways; it reencounters his identity as a Spanish filmmaker and allows him to regain European prestige, and later allows him to shoot movies everywhere in the world. But it comes at a point when, I believe, he needed it the most.”

9. Masaki Kobayashi’s “Kwaidan” (1965)
“It’s a fairy tale that is both incredibly scary and incredibly beautiful and talks about love and death with equal passion.”

10. Terry Gilliam’s “Time Bandits” (1981)
“With Gilliam, you feel that Time Bandits is a story that must have been with us for centuries . . . There is an incredible humor, an incredible cruelty, and an insatiable desire for fun and creativity that embodies, for me, what a kids’ movie should be like.”

11. Víctor Erice’s “The Spirit of the Beehive” (1973)
“’The Spirit of the Beehive’ is a movie that transformed my life. Whatever I do in life, two shadows are cast upon my own: one is James Whale’s Frankenstein, and the other one is Víctor Erice’s ‘The Spirit of the Beehive,’ and they are both one and the same.”

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