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Stanley Kubric in front of newspapers

The 10 Best Films Ever Made According to Stanley Kubrick


In 1963 the brilliant Stanley Kubrick shared his 10 favourite films with ‘Cinema’ magazine, a selection which underwent some changes over time, but retained a few unconditional pieces.

From the most remote times, the artistic sphere has undergone a somewhat futile, although unexpectedly fruitful argument, between creation and criticism: perhaps because of a romantic affection (that movement, which according to Isaiah Berlin influenced practically all the territories of the world of life like no-other) that believes the creator is well above the critic, and consequently, that the work of the critic is secondary.

Following an argument that seems both valid and sophistic at once, which states it is infinitively more complex (and valuable) to write a book, a symphony, paint with oils or to direct a film, than to write a couple of pages about one of these works, stressing their weaknesses, or perhaps flattering them, but when it comes down to it, merely making it a posteriori, based on something that has already been created.

This position might follow certain logic, and perhaps, at certain moments, be both coherent with itself and with other validation paradigms.

However, isn’t criticism itself also a part of a great artist’s work? Is it not because they rebel against the aesthetic models of their time, against the established manias and mannerisms, against the practices that are considered acceptable, and because of these subversions that they find a new path, and that their work already coexists with a simultaneous critical endeavour?

This is a gesture that is perhaps less subtle, more evident, but which in some way, evidences this restless behaviour that is both dissatisfied with the situation of their time, while it can also recognise the legacy of those who preceded them in their field, the brilliant Stanley Kubrick listed in 1963 —for the first and only time— the 10 films he considered to be the best ever made, after the Cinema magazine posed the question (which was founded the following year and published until 1976), with these results:

1. I Vitelloni (Federico Fellini, 1953)

2. Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries, Ingmar Bergman, 1957)

3. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)

4. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (John Huston, 1948)

5. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)

6. Henry V (Laurence Olivier, 1944)

7. La notte (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1961)

8. The Bank Dick (W. C. Fields, 1940)

9. Roxie Hart (William A. Wellman, 1942)

10. Hell’s Angels (Howard Hughes, 1930)

Kubrick never addressed the issue publicly again, although in private he had 36 years to rectify some of the films. According to one of his closest friends, Jan Harlan, Kubrick always kept Wild StrawberriesCitizen Kane and City Lights among his favourite; while, oppositely, he found Kenneth Branagh’s 1989 adaptation of Henry V more likeable, similarly, in shared judgement with Roberto Calasso, he considered the German Director, Max Ophüls to be “highest of all”, believing he “possessed every possible quality”; likewise he later recognized the work of David Lean, Vittorio de Sica and François Truffaut. In terms of his fellow countrymen and his contemporaries, he considered Elia Kazan to be “the best director we have in America”.

Just like any other list, this can be questioned and debated, but undoubtedly without missing out on the profound implied pleasure of reviewing every single one of its suggestions.

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