J.M. Tyree

J.M. Tyree

Writer-at-large, Film Quarterly; author, BFI Film Classic on Salesman
Voted in the critics poll

Voted for:

Brief Encounter 1945 David Lean
Chronicle of a Disappearance, A 1996 Elia Suleiman
Cleo from 5 to 7 1962 Agnès Varda
Lady Vanishes, The 1938 Alfred Hitchcock
Last Train Home 2009 Lixin Fan
Nanook of the North 1922 Robert J. Flaherty
Salesman 1968 Albert Maysles/David Maysles/Charlotte Zwerin
Sans Soleil 1982 Chris Marker
Tokyo Story 1953 Ozu Yasujirô
Walkabout 1970 Nicolas Roeg


Starting with the 1920s, I have selected one film per decade (with the exception of the 1960s). Such a gallery must be personal, but mine does contain a theme that feels timely to me: journeys of various kinds that connect the personal and the historical, the national and the global, with an increasing lack of triumphalism. In my view, one element that makes these films so durable is, oddly, their strong attachment to their own era. In their specific manner of being dated rather than timeless, they project the feeling that, as Alain Robbe-Grillet put it in From Realism to Reality, “in truth everything is constantly changing and there is always something new.” New technologies might seem to threaten the empire of ‘film’ but many of these productions also suggest the unpredictable formats that emerge during moments of bewildering change.