Nicolas Winding Refn selects the 10 greatest movies of all time

Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn gained success in the late 1990s with the release of Pusher, the first instalment in his crime thriller trilogy of the same name. Despite the failure of his Hollywood venture, Fear X, Refn rose to further mainstream prominence with 2008’s Bronson, which earned a nomination at Sundance Film Festival. 

However, that was only a small taste of the success to come. In 2011 Refn took home the Best Director Award at Cannes Film Festival for his action drama Drive, starring Ryan Gosling in the lead role. The film became one of the most nominated of 2011, scooping up nods from big names such as the Golden Globes, Academy Awards and BAFTAs. Since then, Refn has also directed Only God Forgives and The Neon Demon, citing his colour blindness for his films’ specific visual style, stating: “That’s why all my films are very contrasted, if it were anything else I couldn’t see it.”

For Sight and Sound’s decennial poll of the greatest films of all time, Refn was among other filmmakers and academics who were asked to contribute their picks. The director’s choices reflect a wide range of genres, from horror to fantasy to western. Firstly, Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, widely regarded as one of the most influential slashers ever made, was selected. Refn credits the movie with inspiring his desire to become a filmmaker. 

He once stated: “When I saw Texas Chain Saw Massacre, I realized: I don’t want to be a director, I don’t want to be a writer, I don’t want to be a producer, I don’t want to be a photographer, I don’t want to be an editor, I don’t want to be a sound man. I want to be all of them at once. And that film proved that you can do it because that movie is not a normal movie.” 

Refn also picked out Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, which bore significant influence over Bronson. Similarly, he chose The Battle of Algiers by Gillo Pontecorvo, which he once claimed he “stole everything I could, both visually and technically” from when he created Pusher. Somewhat surprisingly, Refn selected It’s A Wonderful Life, which he declares as one of the only films besides My Life as a Dog “during which I’ve cried because I was happy”.

Check out the full list below…

Nicolas Winding Refn picks the 10 best movies of all time:

  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974)
  • It’s A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
  • Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)
  • The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966)
  • Night Tide (Curtis Harrington, 1961)
  • Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)
  • A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971)
  • The Leopard (Luchino Visconti, 1963)
  • Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
  • Fat City (John Huston, 1972)

Curtis Harrington’s Night Tide made it onto Refn’s list, which also included masterpieces such as Vertigo and Stalker. In an interview with the Guardian, the director claimed that Night Tide is “one of the most important films of the pre-counterculture movement. It reminds me of a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale. It’s almost naively adolescent in its expression of falling in love, being obsessed with something delicate and fragile.” 

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Nicolas Winding Refn selects the 10 greatest movies of all time

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