There is nothing more exciting than The Criterion Collection for a cinephile when it comes to DVDs and Blu Rays. This video-distribution company doesn’t offer only extremely important and classic films but also has an incredible design for its art covers and an interesting material that comes with it, proving that the art of collecting movies it’s an action that deserves respect and care.
With a special section on their website where famous directors and actors have picked up their favorite releases from the Criterion Collection’s archive, I’ve decided to do the same not only because it’s fun but also because it’s a hard challenge since you can easily find several of your favorite movies in their collection. Since the years pass and Criterion adds more movies to their collection and we ended up watching more movies throughout the years, this list had some significant changes. Here they are:
01. “The 400 Blows (1960)” by François Truffaut
If a film could define me, I believe The 400 Blows would be one it. Probably because of the same reasons that make people from all over the world love this movie and even after 50 years, it’s still a masterpiece. The first time I wrote this post I didn’t have a Blu Ray copy of it but now I have it and I can say it’s definitely worth it.
02. “Army of Shadows (1969)” by Jean-Pierre Melville
The first time I wrote this list I was really excited about this film and after several months, it still deserves its second position on this list. Melville creates an extremely complex spy story that I would say it could be the Space Odyssey of the genre, creating a beautiful and almost silent neo-noir movie where everything can and will go wrong. The cinematography is so beautiful that it hurts! They have an incredible Blu Ray edition which is unfortunately out of stock.
03. “Code Unknown (2000)” by Michael Haneke
I’ve almost cried when the Criterion released one of the best films of my favorite director on Blu Ray. With all Michael Haneke’s early filmography out of print in the U.S and Brazil, to actually get a Blu Ray version from such a great distributor it’s a gift as amazing as the movie itself. Being a master when it comes to talking about social problems, Haneke transforms our daily routine into visceral and painful scenes of horror and suffering through a film language that only Haneke can create.
04. “Billy Liar (1963)” by John Schlesinger
Another out of print movie from Criterion, Billy Liar is the movie-anthem for the misunderstood kids of the world who lives in their own mind. A classic from the British new wave with a beautiful performance by Tom Courtenay, this film probably became one of my favorite movies for portraying the story of someone who won’t let go of their vivid imagination.
05. “La Promesse (1996)” by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
La Promesse was an amazing discovery for me. I had already seen some of the Dardenne brothers films but this one was the one that actually got me the most. Talking about a coming of age story through an abusive father, the Dardenne brothers also talks about immigration issues and racism through an amazing mise en scene that can also be seen in his other films such as Le Fils. With a beautiful and colorful version in Blu Ray, La Promesse definitely deserves its place here.
06. “Diabolique (1955)” by Henri-Georges Clouzot
With a simple plot and a great twist, Diabolique can be more tense and shocking than most films nowadays. Hitchcock actually almost directed this film and if you think about it, it could be definitely considered a Hitchcock film. Henri-Georges Clouzot, however, gets the credits for this which is not only a masterpiece of suspense but one of my favorite movies of all times.
07. “Contempt (1963)” by Jean-Luc Godard
If someone asked me what cinema is, I wouldn’t know how to answer. However, Contempt is one of those movies where a piece of real cinema is found. It’s not about telling a story on film, but something else. It’s not achievable but there are certain movies you can almost feel it. Contempt is one of those movies. I wonder when they are going to release a Blu Ray version because it’s at least what this movie deserves.
08. “The Night of the Hunter (1955)” by Charles Laughton
Speaking of noir movies and considering weird subjects are one of my favorite themes in cinema, nothing like the creepy classic The Night of the Hunter, a crime story told through the point of view of two little kids running away from a psycho-killer priest. The movie it’s probably my favorite noir film and one of my favorite of all times. Not mentioning the way the director had put childish songs in a dark thriller like this is amazing. And yes, they do have an amazing Blu Ray version.
09. “The Exterminating Angel (1962)” by Luis Buñuel
I believe the absurdity of this movie speaks for itself. It’s weird, original, funny, agonizing and different. If people have asked themselves if an entire movie could happen in only one room, this is the proof. Especially because they just can’t leave the room. The Criterion Collection also doesn’t have a Blu Ray version of this film, but having it in your shelf in a regular format it’s exciting enough… because this movie it’s just awesome!
10. “Salo or 120 Days of Sodom (1975)” by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Some films seem to get better when you watch them on Blu Ray and Salo it’s definitely one of those movies. After having my first shitty HDVI downloaded experience with this film, I must admit I didn’t consider Salo one of my Pasolini’s favorites. When I watched the Criterion Collection’s Blu Ray version later, I realized how strong the power of the images were, making me have a totally different experience and considering it a masterpiece! If you will watch Salo, please do it on Blu Ray.
As I’ve said before, choosing 10 movies is a challenge. This list could easily go on with Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, Andrew Haigh’s Weekend, Ken Loach’s Kes, Jacques Beker’s Le Trou, Louis Malle’s Black Moon, Jacques Demy’s Lola, René Clément’s Purple Noon and so on. But what about you? What is your Top 10 Criterion Collection?