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Filmmaker Daniel Barnz’s Top Ten Films of All Time

I asked Daniel Barnz the filmmaker behind Phoebe in Wonderland [Thinkfilm: 03/06/2009] the incredibly arduous task of naming me what his top ten films all time were. Here is that list (in alphabetical order) as of February 2009.

Have you ever thought about the movies you can’t live with out? The ones that rule your inner sweet spot — the ones that you would not think twice about bringing to a deserted island. I asked Daniel Barnz the filmmaker behind Phoebe in Wonderland [Thinkfilm: 03/06/2009] the incredibly arduous task of naming me what his top ten films all time were. Here is that list (in alphabetical order) as of February 2009.

Being There. [Hal Ashby/1979] God, this movie is smart. How often are satires as moving/ beautiful as they are funny? And that final moment on the water – now you have to re-evaluate everything you just saw.

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and her Lover. [Peter Greenaway/1989] Wonderfully, sumptuously weird… and those amazing, endless dollies through walls blow me away.

Heavenly Creatures. [Peter Jackson/1994] That intersection of reality and fantasy – so infectious and disturbing. You understand and almost begin to root for those girls to kill the mother.

La Jetee. [Chris Marker/1962] I find it really hypnotic, and that sequence of the woman in the bed when the photographs almost move at film speed is stunningly romantic.

The Lady Eve. [Preston Sturges/1941] Brilliant wit – “The fish was a poem” – I mean, come on!

Ordinary People. [Robert Redford/1980] Maybe the most perfectly acted film ever? Every moment is so searingly painful, but never bleak.

Poison. [Todd Haynes/1991] The intersection of those three radically different yet thematically connected storylines is genius.

The Red Balloon. [Albert Lamorisse/1956] (My first love.)

Searching for Bobby Fischer. [Steven Zaillian/1993] A film that so completely and perfectly captures the child’s perspective. I think about that moment all the time when the boy turns to his father and asks, “Why are you standing so far away from me?”

The Times of Harvey Milk. [Rob Epstein/1984] I’ve never seen a documentary capture a person’s essential “goodness” so well, and each of those interviewees is so mesmerizing.

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist and critic at IONCINEMA.com (founded in 2000). Eric is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member 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 served as a New Flesh Comp for Best First Feature at the 2022 Fantasia Intl. Film Festival. Current top films for 2022 include Tár (Todd Field), All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).

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