The Back Row’s Film Selection

A list of films which I recommend to all readers. I hope I can help, in my own unwelcome way, those wishing to find something obscure and outre for an afternoon of streaming, or for a browse through DVD titles on sale. Check out these works from what I consider my own private (and ever growing) canon of cinema, let me know what you think of each, and, most importantly, let me know what I’ve left off and should add right away. The list may also be helpful to readers wishing to find some web of favourites to give clues to my tastes and crazy opinions on my blog.

12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

The 40-Year-Old Virgin (Judd Apatow, 2005)

The 400 Blows (François Truffaut, 1959)

After Hours (Martin Scorsese, 1985)

All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

American Sniper (Clint Eastwood, 2015)

Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)

Another Woman (Woody Allen, 1988)

The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)

The Aviator (Martin Scorsese, 2004)

Batman Returns (Tim Burton, 1992)

Behind the Candelabra (Steven Soderbergh, 2013)

Bernie (Richard Linklater, 2012)

The Birth of a Nation (D.W. Griffith, 1915)

Bitter Victory (Nicholas Ray, 1957)

Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky, 2010)

Bonjour Tristesse (Otto Preminger, 1958)

The Break-Up (Peyton Reed, 2006)

Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)

Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011)

Bright Star (Jane Campion, 2009)

Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)

By the Sea (Angelina Jolie, 2015)

Carol (Todd Haynes, 2015)

Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)

Casino (Martin Scorsese, 1995)

Cassandra’s Dream (Woody Allen, 2008)

Changeling (Clint Eastwood, 2008)

The Circus (Charlie Chaplin, 1928)

Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)

Cleopatra (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1963)

Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011)

A Countess from Hong Kong (Charlie Chaplin, 1967)

Creed (Ryan Coogler, 2015)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher, 2008)

Daisy Kenyon (Otto Preminger, 1947)

Damsels in Distress (Whit Stillman, 2011)

The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, 2007)

Distant Voices, Still Lives (Terence Davies, 1988)

The Dreamers (Bernardo Bertolucci, 2003)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)

Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater, 2016)

Fantastic Mr Fox (Wes Anderson, 2009)

Flags of Our Fathers (Clint Eastwood, 2006)

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Nicholas Stoller, 2008)

The Fugitive (John Ford, 1947)

Gentlemen Broncos (Jared Hess, 2009)

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Howard Hawks, 1953)

Get Him to the Greek (Nicholas Stoller, 2010)

Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)

The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)

Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

GoodFellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)

Good Time (Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie, 2017)

Gosford Park (Robert Altman, 2001)

Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood, 2008)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin, 1940)

Guys and Dolls (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1955)

Hail, Caesar! (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, 2016)

Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allen, 1986)

The Heartbreak Kid (Elaine May, 1972)

Husbands and Wives (Woody Allen, 1992)

The Immigrant (James Gray, 2014)

Irrational Man (Woody Allen, 2015)

Joy (David O. Russell, 2015)

The Kid (Charlie Chaplin, 1921)

Kill Bill: Volume 1 (Quentin Tarantino, 2003)

Kill Bill: Volume 2 (Quentin Tarantino, 2004)

A King in New York (Charlie Chaplin, 1957)

Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick, 2016)

Knocked Up (Judd Apatow, 2007)

Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2017)

The Lady from Shanghai (Orson Welles, 1947)

The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 1988)

Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)

Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood, 2006)

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson, 2004)

Little Sister (Zack Clark, 2016)

The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2017)

Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)

Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman, 2016)

Macbeth (Orson Welles, 1948)

Macbeth (Roman Polanski, 1971)

Magic in the Moonlight (Woody Allen, 2014)

Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)

Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979)

Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan, 2011)

Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola, 2006)

Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)

Metropolitan (Whit Stillman, 1990)

Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)

Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)

Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)

Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, 2012)

Mother (Albert Brooks, 1996)

My Own Private Idaho (Gus van Sant, 1991)

Nacho Libre (Jared Hess, 2006)

Napoleon Dynamite (Jared Hess, 2004)

A New Leaf (Elaine May, 1971)

New York, New York (Martin Scorsese, 1977)

Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau, 1922)

Ocean’s Eleven (Steven Soderbergh, 2001)

Ocean’s Twelve (Steven Soderbergh, 2004)

Of Time and the City (Terence Davies, 2008)

The Perfect Catch (Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, 2005)

Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017)

Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)

A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies, 2016)

Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)

Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955)

The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)

Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)

Saint Joan (Otto Preminger, 1957)

Scott Pilgrim vs the World (Edgar Wright, 2010)

Selma (Ava duVernay, 2014)

The Seven Year Itch (Billy Wilder, 1955)

Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese, 2010)

Silence (Martin Scorsese, 2016)

Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly, 1952)

The Social Network (David Fincher, 2010)

Some Like it Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)

Song to Song (Terrence Malick, 2017)

Spy (Paul Feig, 2015)

Strong Island (Yance Ford, 2017)

Sully (Clint Eastwood, 2016)

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F.W. Murnau, 1927)

Superbad (Greg Mottola, 2007)

Tartuffe (F.W. Murnau, 1926)

This is 40 (Judd Apatow, 2012)

To Rome With Love (Woody Allen, 2012)

To the Wonder (Terrence Malick, 2013)

Trainwreck (Judd Apatow, 2015)

The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)

Underworld (Josef von Sternberg, 1927)

Venus in Fur (Roman Polanski, 2013)

We Have a Pope (Nanni Moretti, 2011)

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (Frank Tashlin, 1957)

The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013)

A Woman of Paris (Charlie Chaplin, 1923)

The Yards (James Gray, 2000)

You Only Live Once (Fritz Lang, 1937)

Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)


  1. I believe my quick scroll of your photo picks indicated that you included only one non-American film, "Rust and Bone" --a good choice. You might want to broaden your viewing. One suggestion would be "Separation," the Iranian film.

    1. Thanks for your suggestion. There are actually a few more films here that come from other countries, like "Amelie," "Bright Star," "Mr Turner," "We Have a Pope," "Waltz With Bashir," "Venus in Fur," "A Passage to India," and "Necktie Youth" (Do movies like "Bagdad Cafe," "A Bigger Splash," "Lawrence of Arabia," and "The Dreamers" count as totally non-American, or only partly?); as well as a few films made by foreign emigres working in America, like "12 Years a Slave," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "You Only Live Once," "Scott Pilgrim vs the World," and "River of No Return".

      I have already seen "A Separation," which I enjoyed somewhat, but was not enthusiastic enough about to include here. I definitely do want to broaden my viewing (I can't remember if I said as much in a recent blog post or if it's one I'm still working on), and what I'd particularly like to focus on is the European cinema of the 20th century (the great art-house classics that many directors today speak of being inspired by) and the cinema -- throughout their histories -- of Asia and Africa. I have only one film from each on my list ("Waltz With Bashir" and "Necktie Youth") and I'd very much like to expand that basis. I'd especially like to get to know African cinema, through all its facets, and take from it what I can to learn about my place in it and among its people. So far, the African directors I've checked out that I've heard great things about include Ousmane Sembene, Abderrahmane Sissako, Souleymane Cisse, Mahamat Saleh Haroun, Gadalla Gubara, Oumarou Ganda, Med Hondo, and Djibril Diop Mambety; do you have any further suggestions for me, as to what I can look out for? Also, I can't find any of their works in the usual places that I look (like and Google Play); I'd be happy to let everyone know where they can find these works once I've found out.


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