Top Ten Criterion Films: Spines 1-100.

With the recent milestone Lost in Criterion hitI thought I'd list off my favorites that I've seen only because of the project, which basically just means The Third Man, my favorite film of all time, gets left off the list. Let's go!

10. The Grand Illusion

Spine 1, the pilot, may have been one of our most unwieldy episodes, but Jean Renoir's film itself is one of the best anti-war films I've ever seen. Poignantly written, gorgeously shot.

9. High and Low

A Kurosawa film I'd never seen, let alone heard of. Theatrical in all the right ways, and a fully realized police procedural in it's second act. Plus Donovan Hill joined us for this episode, and any episode with Donovan Hill is a good one.

8. Taste of Cherry

A film that's really just a series of existential conversations, 90% of which take place in the cab of a pick-up truck. Many people, Roger Ebert included, thought Abbas Kiarostami's film is boring. Roger Ebert is wrong.

7. Vagabond

Maybe I just have a thing for existential character studies. Agnes Varda's tale of a teenage girl wandering the French countryside starts with the discovery of a body and then circuitously tells us how it got there. It lingers, both in my mind and in its own cinematography.

6. Nights of Cabiria

I could put almost any Fellini film on here -- And the Ship Sails On almost made it -- but Giulletta Masina's Cabiria is a stand out even among his vast array of colorful characters. Full disclosure: I may have fallen in love with her.

5. Do the Right Thing

As I said when we watched it just a few weeks ago, I long for the day when watching Do the Right Thing doesn't seem timely. Spike Lee crafts a perfectly boiling tale of a neighborhood's race-relations. It hits hard and leaves a mark.

4. Wages of Fear

Henri-Georges Clouzot is a master of suspense. While his film Diabolique out-Hitchcock's Hitchcock, Wages of Fear manages to keep you on the edge of your seat without intrigue or murder, just desperate men and a very rocky path. Oh and a few tons of nitroglycerine. As NYT critic Bosley Crowther said in his review: "You sit there waiting for the theater to explode."

3. The 400 Blows

Francois Truffaut's coming of age story is the coming of age of the French New Wave. I feel bad for never having seen this one before we watched it. I'm pretty sure Pat would put this further up his list, and it was a tough call putting it here for me. Obviously a must see.

2. The Passion of Joan of Arc

Objectively this should be number one. Carl Th. Dwyer's historical docu-drama is the finest piece of cinema to come out of the silent era, and quite probably better than anything in the sound era either.

1. Black Orpheus

What to say about this beautiful film? It's going to stick with me for a very long time. Absolutely gorgeous and perfectly executed. And that's before we even get to the soundtrack. Wow.

Sorry if all of this just boiled down to me saying "beautiful" or "great" over and over.