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Craig Johnson’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 (read this September), we ask the filmmaker the incredibly arduous task of identifying their top ten list of favorite films. Craig Johnson (who sees his The Skeleton Twins receive its theatrical release on September 12th) put together this top 10 (as of September 2014).

Carrie – Brian De Palma (1976)
Freaky, funny, arty, beautiful, … and fucking scary. Sissy Spacek breaks your heart. And that seventies split screen action? Badass. This movie delivers on all levels at all times.

Election – Alexander Payne (1999)
Every moment of this movie rings true. Painfully funny, painfully smart and so perfectly constructed. My sister and I quote it whenever we see each other. Might be a perfect film.

The Graduate – Mike Nichols (1967)
The look on Mrs. Robinson’s face when Benjamin leaves her in the hallway. Ben in the pool. The final moments on the bus. Simon & Garfunkle. That rack focus as it dawns on Elaine just what is going on. Ben riding the conveyor belt in the airport. “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me?”. Movies are remembered for their moments. ‘The Graduate’ has enough to fill 20 movies.

The Ice Storm – Ang Lee (1997)
No movie I can think of casts a spell like ‘The Ice Storm’. Watching it is like taking a rocketship to a cold and distant planet, populated by unhappy ice creatures from the seventies. It’s both enchanting and haunting, often at the same time.

Mary Poppins – Robert Stevenson (1964)
When the opening strings of the overture kick in, I get chills. No movie is more infused with charm and joy and magic than this film. If I’m feeling down about life, I watch it.

McCabe and Mrs. Miller – Robert Altman (1971)
Haunting, dreamy and poetic and yet so filled with human life. Everything about it feels authentic, lived-in and real. Altman at his best.

My Life As A Dog - Lasse Hallström (1985)

My Life As A Dog – Lasse Hallström (1985)
My pick for best coming-of-age film of all time. Gentle, warm, wise and perfectly captures the feeling of being a kid on the cusp of adolescence trying to make sense of a baffling and beautiful world.

Nights of Cabiria – Federico Fellini (1957)
My favorite Fellini. Every time I watch it, I cringe at Cabiria Ceccarelli’s mishaps and then marvel at her spirit. And that ending…

Raiders of the Lost Ark – Steven Spielberg (1981)
Do I really need to mention why ‘Raiders’ is great? No. I don’t.

The Rules of the Game - Jean Renoir

The Rules of the Game – Jean Renoir (1939)
So rich, so complex, so mirthful and so sad. I re-watched ‘The Rules of the Game’ a few days before shooting ‘The Skeleton Twins’. I was inspired and humbled.

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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