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IONCINEPHILE of the Month: Matt Sobel’s Top Ten Films of All Time List

Have you ever wondered what are the films that inspire the next generation of visionary filmmakers? As part of our monthly IONCINEPHILE profile, we ask the filmmaker (in this case, American indie filmmaker Matt Sobel) to identify their all time top ten favorite films. Sobel’s Take Me to the River receives its theatrical release on March 18th via the Film Movement folks. In no particular order, here is his top ten as of March 2016.

2001: A Space Odyssey– Stanley Kubrick (1968)
Ubiquitous I know, but deservedly so. Watching it is far more than a passive movie going experience.

American Movie Chris Smith Poster

American Movie – Chris Smith (1999)
“This film is so much more than hilarious. Mark Borchart is inspiring. His relationship with uncle Bill is one of the most touching I’ve ever seen. Their spontaneous musings are often more poetic than carefully scripted dialogue.”

Badlands  – Terrence Malick (1973)
“Its mixture of murder and fairytale adventure is so beguiling it somehow makes a killing spree light fun”

Breaking the Waves – Lars Von Trier (1996)
“Currently my favorite film, though it changes every few months. Emily Watson is shockingly committed. The film is a bodily experience while you watch it, and then a polemic argument when you pick it apart afterward.”

Fitzcarraldo – Werner Herzog (1982)
“I can’t decide what is more audacious, Fitzcarraldo pulling a ship over a mountain or Herzog making this film. In the end they are the same thing, and that’s why this film is brilliant.”

Murmur of the Heart – Louis Malle (1971)
“I don’t think a more specific and sensitively observed portrait of a 14-year-old boy exists. Not to mention a mother/son relationship that truly defies description.”

Safe  – Todd Haynes (1995)
“Such and incredible feeling of dread, and one of my favorite ambiguous endings.”

Stalker – Andrei Tarkovsky (1979)
“I can’t really describe what this film did to me, but it was singular, visceral, and unforgettable.”

The Son  – Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne (2002)
“The best example of an elephant in the room imaginable, so simple and yet infinitely gripping.”

The White Ribbon – Michael Haneke (2009)
“It hit me about 30 seconds after the credits rolled that every audience member was a character in this film. I was a townsperson, and my fears played just as large a role as any of the on screen characters. It was a sort of mirror.”

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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