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Filmmaker David Ondaatje’s Top Ten Films of All Time

I asked David Ondaatje the filmmaker behind The Lodger [Sony’s Stage 6 Films: 01/23/2009] the incredibly arduous task of naming me what his top ten films all time were.

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 David Ondaatje the filmmaker behind The Lodger [Sony’s Stage 6 Films: 01/23/2009] the incredibly arduous task of naming me what his top ten films all time were. Here is that list (in alphabetical order) as of January 2009.

A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick) – dark, filmmaking genius.

 

Cinema Paradiso (Guiseppe Tornatore) – will remind me of passing along my love of film to my children.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (John Hughes) – A family favorite. Will remind me of how we all laughed together every time we saw it.

The Godfather, Part II (Francis Ford Coppola) – greatest dual timeline film ever made. Beautiful ‘period’ story juxtaposed against powerful contemporary family drama.

It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra) – Capra makes me cry like no one else. Will need something
uplifting right after seeing (see below on the list) Requiem for a Dream.

Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean) – perhaps the greatest film epic ever made. I have seen it dozens of times and still look forward to watching it a few times a year.

Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock) – the classic thriller…classic cinematic, subjective storytelling…classic Hitchcock. I learned a great deal from this film.

Requiem For a Dream (Darren Aronofsky). A cinematic, psychological masterpiece. Music is extraordinary. Darkest hero film I have ever seen….addiction is the hero.

When the Lion Roars

When the Lion Roars (Frank Martin) – history of MGM studios. Perhaps the greatest film (in 3 parts) about the movie industry. Will remind me of my father and our mutual passion for musicals.

The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming) – incredible contrasts: beauty v ugliness, hope v fear, bleakness v color, fantasy v reality. And a musical.

Runners up:
The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin), Gallipoli (Peter Weir), Cabaret (Bob Fosse), Winged Migration (Jacques Perrin), Bladerunner (Ridley Scott), Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis), That’s Entertainment (Jack Haley, Jr.), Babette’s Feast (Gabriel Axel), Road to Morocco (David Butler), Olympia (Leni Riefenstahl), Dr. Zhivago (David Lean), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff? (Mike Nichols), Henry V (Lawrence Olivier), Sheltering Sky (Bernardo Bertolucci), and Tom Jones (Tony Richardson).

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, 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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